Peer-to-peer money transfers are growing in popularity, particularly with younger generations who prefer to avoid a trip to the ATM. There are a variety of ways to transfer money, but many come with fees. Two free options are Zelle and Venmo, each of which has its own benefits. Since you likely won't want to download both apps and connect them to your bank account, you'll probably want to know the differences so you can find the one that works for you.
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What Is Zelle?
Zelle is usually found through a consumer's banking app, since more than 30 U.S. banks back the service. Its standalone app launched in 2017, allowing the broad consumer market to take advantage of its services. Once you sign up, you'll be prompted to enter your bank account information to transfer money from the account to your app and vice versa.
The original bank-backed app was limited in its features, simply serving as a way to transfer money from one person to another and move your account balances to your bank. However, the new app extends this functionality to splitting payments between friends, making it worth the download for those consumers who want more advanced functionality.
What Is Venmo?
Venmo dates back to 2009, but it took a few years to catch on. As consumers have grown increasingly comfortable with digital wallets, Venmo has won customers over many other apps. The social media like interface makes paying friends fun, since each transaction is logged and displayed for friends to view.
If you buy concert tickets for yourself and a bunch of friends, for instance, when they pay you back, it will show all of your friends within the app. "Josh paid Maria for concert tickets," is all they'll see. There are privacy settings if you'd prefer your transactions to remain top secret, but the social sharing feature is something that appeals to the app's user base.
Pros and Cons of Zelle
One of the biggest benefits of Zelle is its ease in sending money. If you send money to someone who doesn't have the app, she'll be invited to choose her bank in order to claim the money. Another great feature of Zelle is its instant transfers. Since it started as the force behind the most popular banking apps, Zelle specializes in moving money quickly between banks. So within minutes of someone paying you, the money will appear in your account.
A potential downfall of Zelle, when compared to Venmo, is that there is no newsfeed to display your activity to your friends. You can't like or comment on transactions. All you'll be able to do is move money, which may be all you care about doing in the first place. Although Zelle is free, partner banks do have the right to charge a fee on their end for using the app. This hasn't been reported as being a widespread issue, though.
Pros and Cons of Venmo
Venmo has been around long enough now that plenty of people already have the app on their mobile devices. Because of this, often people first learn about the app when someone offers to send money that way. Currently, the app has the largest market share of any mobile or digital peer-to-peer platform, which means it's likely to be around a while.
Transferring money is one of the biggest downsides of Venmo, especially when compared to Zelle. You'll need to connect an account to be able to transfer your balance to your bank account, but from there, moving funds will be simple. It just won't be immediate. The first payment can take one to three days but after that, you should have money in your account the next day, as long as you initiate the transfer by 7 p.m. EST. The app also has an instant transfer feature that puts money in your account in 30 minutes, but it costs $0.25.