The Complete Guide To Using Zelle For Business
Zelle is a money transfer service that businesses can use to make and receive payments. Our guide tells you how to set up and use Zelle For Business.
A Zelle business account offers businesses a promising potential alternative payment method. Namely, Zelle bypasses the need for both credit card payments and digital wallets such as PayPal. Instead, businesses can use Zelle For Business to request or receive funds directly from customers, as well as send or request payments from vendors and contractors.
At the same time, Zelle For Business offers only limited payment processing services. Access to the service and features depends on which bank you use, and Zelle is only available within the US.
Read on for an in-depth look at what Zelle For Business is, what services it offers, what it costs, and what you need to be able to use Zelle For Business.
Table of Contents
- What Is Zelle?
- Can I Use Zelle For Business?
- Which Banks Offer Zelle For Business Accounts?
- How To Set Up A Zelle Business Account
- How Much Does Zelle Cost?
- Don’t Like Zelle For Business? Try These Alternatives
- Beware Of Zelle Business Account Scams
- The Bottom Line On Zelle For Business
- Frequently Asked Questions About Zelle For Business
What Is Zelle?
Zelle is a real-time peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer service that transfers payments between consumers using hundreds of pre-vetted banks that are part of the Zelle processing network. You can access Zelle using your bank’s online banking app or the standalone Zelle app.
Zelle users can send or request money using the email address or phone number associated with their bank account. The other party gets a text or email from Zelle that lets them know about the payment or request. If the person has a bank account with one of Zelle’s participating banks or credit unions, they can quickly sign up for Zelle through their bank or credit union’s mobile app or website.
Can I Use Zelle For Business?
Zelle now supports business and personal transactions. You and your customer(s) will need access to Zelle, which shouldn’t be a problem since most major US banks already use the Zelle network. Before getting started, you should set up Zelle For Business using your business banking account, business credit card, and an email address and phone number that are different from your personal ones.
The main difference in using Zelle for business transactions vs. personal is that personal transactions are free; business transactions may have fees imposed by one or both banks involved in the transfer of funds. You’ll want to confirm your bank’s policies on using Zelle For Business, as not every bank in the Zelle network supports this use. Also, banks supporting Zelle for business transactions will usually have maximum transfer limits and possibly transaction fees.
Here are the main things to consider when using Zelle for business purposes:
- Nearly-instant funds transfers
- No transaction processing fees (some banks)
- Transactions are very secure and FDIC-insured
- Contactless payment method
- Available through most major US banks
- No buyer purchase protection
- Only available in the US
- Only supports transactions in US dollars
- Transaction fees may apply (with some banks)
- Usually subject to maximum transfer limits
In some ways, Zelle has similarities to third-party money transfer apps such as PayPal and Venmo. However, like ACH, it relies upon the customer’s bank account rather than a digital wallet. Zelle transfers are faster than ACH payments, which may be an incentive for some users that need their funds quickly. (We have a post on what an ACH payment is and how they work if you need a quick course on them.) However, speed shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding whether a Zelle business account is right for you.
Which Banks Offer Zelle For Business Accounts?
Hundreds of banks across the US are part of the Zelle payment network, although it’s important to note that not all of them offer Zelle For Business accounts. Some of the banks that offer Zelle For Business are Bank of America, Capital One, and Wells Fargo. Other best-known banks that offer Zelle For Business are:
- Ally Bank
- BMO Harris Bank
- Discover Bank
- Fidelity Bank
- Morgan Stanley
- PNC Bank
- US Bank
You can use Zelle For Business through either the proprietary Zelle mobile app or your bank’s mobile banking application. Several well-known banks and credit unions currently partner with Zelle but don’t yet integrate Zelle with their banking app (including Morgan Stanley and several others).
Zelle is operated by Early Warning Services, LLC, a consortium owned by several of the largest banks in the US, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and several others. However, a bank doesn’t have to have an ownership stake in the company to use Zelle.
Keep in mind that the above list of participating banks isn’t exhaustive; check with your bank to see whether it supports Zelle For Business and integrates Zelle transfers with its mobile banking application.
Do I Need A Business Bank Account To Use Zelle?
The good news is your customers don’t need a business account to make payments to you. There are some other limitations on accounts, however: business accounts cannot send or receive money from personal accounts that have enrolled in the Zelle app with only a debit card. For both you and your customers, enrolling in Zelle requires that you provide both a bank account number and a routing number.
You, on the other hand, will need a business bank account for your Zelle account. For additional information on business bank accounts, please consult our post on how to open a business banking account. If you don’t have your own business checking account yet, don’t worry. The process isn’t hard, but it helps to be prepared.
First, make sure you double-check and have all of the documents needed to open a business bank account.
After that, you can assess which bank might be the right fit for your small business by reading about our best options for business bank accounts.
How To Set Up A Zelle Business Account
Setting up a Zelle account for your business is easy. In fact, it’s pretty much a one-two-three process that you can complete in a matter of minutes.
Before you get started, double-check with your bank that you can use Zelle with its mobile banking app or online banking service, and confirm that you have a cell phone number or email address that you can associate with your new Zelle account. Note that you cannot use the same email or phone number for your Zelle business account that you already use for your personal Zelle account.
Now that you’re ready to upgrade to a Zelle business account, follow these three simple steps to get started:
- Access Zelle by enrolling an eligible US phone number or email address through your bank’s mobile banking app or directly through the Zelle mobile app.
- Once you’re signed up, enter your recipient’s email address or US mobile phone number through your mobile banking app’s integrated Zelle service or the Zelle app.
- Finally, choose the amount of money you want to send your recipient, whom Zelle notifies with instructions to claim their funds once you transfer the money.
How Much Does Zelle Cost?
Zelle currently charges no fees to receive or transmit funds for either individuals or business users. This policy applies to sending or receiving money with Zelle through both a participating bank’s mobile banking app as well as through that bank’s online banking service. However, Zelle recommends that users confirm with their bank or credit union that they don’t need to pay additional fees for using Zelle, as some participating banks might charge such fees.
Zelle Payments Transfer Limits
Zelle’s transfer limits vary depending on a user’s participating bank. Typically, though, there’s a limit on the amount and the number of payment transfers users can send per day, week, and month. For example, Bank of America’s current transfer limits for small businesses are as follows:
Referring to the above example, small business users can process a single $15,000 transfer or 20 $750 transfers in a 24-hour period. The same goes for the seven-day and 30-day limits.
Remember that since member banks control many details of Zelle, including transfer limits, it’s important that you verify what your bank’s specific limits are for daily, weekly, and monthly transfers. Lastly, note that a transfer limit typically applies to outbound transfers. Usually, banks don’t limit how much you can receive through Zelle.
Don’t Like Zelle For Business? Try These Alternatives
What if your business needs don’t match up with any of the common use cases we’ve outlined above? Luckily, you have other options.
Spurred on by the surge in eCommerce transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative payment methods have flourished recently. Today, your customers have more ways to pay you than ever before. Each method offers its own unique features (and shortcomings), but all of them have the potential to improve the cash flow of your business.
Beware Of Zelle Business Account Scams
Unfortunately, Zelle has been in the news recently for some not-so-great reasons.
Specifically, its lack of buyer protection has quickly made it a popular tool for online scammers, con artists, and cyber thieves. If someone can reach you on the phone and convince you to send them money through Zelle for any reason, you have no recourse whatsoever once you discover that you’ve been scammed. Your bank will not refund your money — period.
While this issue doesn’t directly affect your ability to receive legitimate payments from your customers, be aware that many of them will be understandably reluctant to pay you with Zelle. This is especially true if they don’t already use the service and have only heard about it through stories about Zelle scams in the news.
Zelle recommends only sending payments to people you know and trust, so it’s best to have a secure, comfortable relationship with your customers before asking them to pay you with Zelle. It’s also a good idea to offer a variety of other payment methods instead of relying solely on Zelle to get paid.
The Bottom Line On Zelle For Business
Zelle can be very useful for both businesses and customers needing to navigate a new world of remote purchasing, selling, and banking. Because Zelle is readily accessible through a huge number of major participating banks and is free to use, it’s no wonder the app has made waves even amongst equally large and well-known competitors. However, with the COVID-era policies and programs winding down and inflation surging, it’s uncertain how long Zelle will remain free to use.
Zelle makes a lot of sense for businesses and users in the US that want lightning-fast payment transfers between US bank accounts. It’s also a great choice for small business owners who wish for an equally fast signup process that doesn’t require creating a new account number to start sending payments.
At the same time, the current proliferation of Zelle scams and the lack of any purchase protection guarantees could (understandably) make your customers uncomfortable with using it.
While the fact that Zelle is free to use is its strongest selling point, we anticipate that, eventually, it will have to start charging for its services — both to ensure a profit and to offer some buyer protection. Zelle may adopt a pricing structure similar to Venmo, where consumer-to-consumer transactions are free, but business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B transactions require a processing fee.
For now, however, it’s a great option for any business looking to avoid the high cost of credit card processing and offer customers an easy, quick way to make a payment.