Is Zelle An ACH Transfer? Time, Limit, and Charges To Know About

ACH transfers are employed by majority of the banks in the US to cater to daily bill payments and direct deposits. Some of these banks also participated in the development and launch of payment app, Zelle. Therefore, users have been wondering is Zelle an ACH transfer as well or does it rely on wire transfer for sending money? You are about to find out!

What Will We Talk About Here?
  • Zelle is an ACH-enabled money transfer app that allows for direct and instant transfers between different banks.
  • ACH transfers can take up to 7 days to complete but the actual time depends on the bank.
  • ACH transfers are typically used for domestic transactions whereas, wire transfers are used to exchange funds internationally.

…and Much More!

Is Zelle An ACH Transfer?

Zelle is an ACH-enabled money transfer app that lets you move funds directly between different banks. The money transfer is instant and the platform is supported by almost all the major banks and credit unions in the US.

  • Although ACH transfers can take up to 3-5 business days to finish, Zelle transfers are completed right away.

This is probably made possible because Zelle does not use any intermediaries when processing the payment. In simpler words, the funds simply go from sender’s account to the recipient bank account.

ACH Transfers – Everything You Need To Know

ACH or the Automated Clearing House Network is simply a mode of transfer used by the banks to send or receive money electronically. Almost all the banks in the US as well as some person-to-person payment apps employ ACH transfer to send money. Some examples of the later include Zelle, PayPal, and Venmo.

ACH transfers are further divided into two categories. These determine how transaction would be processed and, consequently, vary in speed and cost.

  • ACH credit transfers allow you to push money electronically to bank accounts.
  • ACH debit transfers allow you to pull money from different bank account.

Transfer Time

ACH transfers can take up to 7 days to complete in some cases or may be processed in 2 days only. It actually depends on which bank you are using and where you plan to send the money.

  • ACH credit transfers take 24 hours to 48 hours to finish.
  • ACH debit transactions may be processed on the same day.

The processing time depends on different factors but the suggested timings mentioned here were based on the instructions from NACHA, the National Automated Clearing House Association. In fact, NACHA actually encourages that the payments be processed on the same day that they are initiated but the time varies depending on bank’s operational hours and working protocols.

  • There are also instances where the bank needs to hold the funds for a period of time. This can cause further delays in the completion of ACH transfers.

Transfer Charges

As we have mentioned above, there are different types of ACH transfers and so, the charges depend on the kind of transaction you are making.

  • Payroll direct deposits and bill payments are free whereas expedited bill payments may have additional charges.

ACH credit transfers between different banks have a fee of $3. Although this is a type of external transfers, there may be similar transactions that are free. Moreover, transfers done using third-party platforms such as PayPal have a small cost as well. The exact charges depend on payment method that you use.

Note! There are no fees when you receive funds, in any account, through ACH transfers.

Extra Reading

Why Should You Choose Zelle?

Zelle offers several competitive advantages when compared with other leading money transfer apps like PayPal or Venmo. Since both pros and cons are important before deciding which payment processing app you should use, here’s a quick overview of what Zelle has to offer and what it lacks in terms of features and functionality.


  • It is easy to sign up with Zelle as you do not need to fill out long application forms.
  • You can send and receive money with Zelle in just a matter of minutes.
  • There are no additional charges for using Zelle to send money. There may be a fee depending on which bank you have linked with the app.
  • The app can make your payments completely contactless.
  • It allows you to add personalized notes at the time of the transfer. This feature can be used to share any detail regarding the transaction and avoid ambiguity in the future.


  • Currently, Zelle can only be used in the US. There are only indirect method to access Zelle Canada and the app does not support international transactions.
  • Since the operation is limited to US, it does not process any currency other than US dollars.
  • The transfer limits may be set by Zelle but in reality, they largely depend on what your linked bank allows. Your daily or weekly transaction limit may be low depending on the bank you use.
  • Zelle only works when you link a bank account. This means you can not use the app with debit cards or credit cards which is a huge set-back.
  • Although Zelle promises no-fee transfers, these charges also depend on your bank.
  • Zelle does not allow you to cancel the transactions once it has been initiated.

Is Zelle Payment Processing Safe?

Your funds transferred through Zelle are FDIC-insured. The payment app has been designed to keep your data safe at all time. It uses features like data encryption to safeguard personal information of the customers as well as transactional details.

  • Nonetheless, Zelle has been the target of hundreds of online scammers.

Since there is no way to reverse a transaction once you have hit the Send button, scammers pretending to be someone else often get successful ripping people off their money.

It is a sensible approach to only make transfers with account you already know and ensure you don’t share you login information with anyone. Moreover, always use your personal devices to log in account and make transfers.

Is Wire Transfer Better Than ACH Transfer?

A wire transfer is often compared with ACH transactions since it is also an electronic movement of money between different accounts. However, typically, wire transfers proceed quicker but also charge a higher fee.

Because of its basic features, wire transfer is often preferred only when the user needs to send large amount of money, for example, when transferring funds internationally. Some of the basic differences between ACH transfers and wire transfers are listed below.

  • Wire transfers are more famous for international transactions. In fact, the concept of using wire transfer for a domestic transfer is somewhat limited. ACHs, on the other hand, are available for domestic use only.
  • As we mentioned above, only certain types of ACH transfers are charged such as expedited bill pay services. In contrast, wire transfers are almost always costly. You should keep in mind up to $35 charges for each wire transfer that you perform.
  • There is not much of a different when it comes to security of ACH and wire transfers. Both of the modes ensure that the transfer is encrypted and your transaction information is safe at all times.
  • The transfer limit for ACH and wire transfers vary depending on the bank that you are using. However, since wire transfers cater to international payments which are mostly higher, this type of transfer have flexible limit as compared to ACH.
  • You can cancel an ACH transfer once it has been initiated but this is not possible to do so with a wire transfer.
  • Wire transfers are processed quickly. Typically, you will not have to wait more than 24 hours to receive the funds sent through wire transfer. In contrast, ACH transfers can take up to 3 business days to be processed.

The Bottom Line

Zelle is a worthy money transfer app that can be integrated with majority of the US banks to send money to friends and family instantly and without fees. As it turns out, Zelle uses ACH transfers to make that happen!

ACH transfer caters to domestic transactions only. Perhaps, this is the reason Zelle does not support international transfers of funds. In that case, you need to opt for wire transfer instead. It allows you to send larger amount of funds and proceeds more quickly than ACH but wire transfers charge hefty fees as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Zelle a wire transfer?

Zelle is an ACH transfer, not a wire transfer. It works between different US banks but you can not use it for international transactions. Typically, ACH transfers may take up to 3 days to finish.

What are payments that count as ACH transfers?

ACH mode of transfer is used for variety of payments. Some of these include direct deposits, bill payments, mail orders, telephone orders, direct debit transactions, etc.

Is Zelle transfer same as direct deposit?

No. Zelle is not considered similar to direct deposit. The app is mostly used to transfer funds to or from friends and family members between different banks and credit unions.

Is Venmo an ACH transfer like Zelle?

Yes. Just like Zelle and PayPal use ACH transfer for sending money from one account to another, Venmo employs the same method so it is considered ACH transfer as well.

How can you check if the bank you are using is ACH-enabled or not?

It is quite easy to check if your bank is ACH enabled. First of all, you have to open your online account and then browse within the account to reach checking history. Here you have to tap and open the Account details. If your bank uses ACH transfers, you will be able to see a 14-digit ACH number here.