Zelle vs wire transfer [ Comparision ]

Zelle is a Peer-to-peer money transfer app that facilitates transfers from one bank to another. You might be curious whether Zelle is an ACH or a Wire-transfer as Zelle typically transfers money instantly.

Zelle does not work on Wire transfers. Because of its instant service, one might think it uses wire transfer to transfer money.

However, it uses the ACH payments transfer method to transfer money from one bank account to another.

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What is Zelle?

Zelle is a digital money transfer app that allows you to send and receive money all over the U.S. Zelle is a digital payment app that can transfer money to almost anybody in a fast, secure and easy way.

Transactions with Zelle typically take minutes. With the email address or a U.S phone number, you can transfer money directly to anybody in their bank account.

Only the email or phone number of the recipient is required to make a payment. Zelle was developed by more than 30 of the major banks of the U.S. It also has a mobile application for its users. You can also use Zelle through the mobile banking apps of the participating banks.

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What is ACH Transfer

ACH or Automated Clearing House network is an electronic way of transfer of money between banks. The ACH network is a network formed with a group of financial institutions, and credit unions that are ruling transactions between them.

 An ACH network is limited to bank transfers in the U.S. It is run by an organization called Nacha. ACH transfers work by requesting funds from originating bank account to transfer money to the receiving bank account.

ACH transfers can take a certain period to get transferred, which ranges from a few hours to a few days. Hence, ACH transfers are not instantaneous. Most digital payment services like Zelle, PayPal, and Venmo use the ACH network for sending money to friends and families.

What is a Wire transfer?

Wire transfer is also a method of transfer of money directly from one bank to another. 

Unlike ACH transfers, this kind of transfer is not U.S-only. You can use wire transfers to send funds internationally. Wire transfers are mostly instantaneous, unlike ACH transfers. They can be used for large amounts of payments especially for large dollar purchases like paying for a house or for paying off a loan amount.

You may require the bank account number and ABA bank routing number to send a payment to the recipient. When the wire is complete, money reaches the recipient’s account.

Wire transfers are best for frequently changing international payments done by parties to bank accounts located in different countries.

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What is the difference between a Wire transfer and an ACH transfer?


ACH transfers usually take some time to reach the recipient. It may take a few hours to some days for the transfer to get completed.

Wire transfers are used when you want to transfer the money immediately or quickly. With wire transfers, funds are almost immediately transferred in 24 hours.


ACH transfers are mostly cheap and may cost you around a few bucks only. This is the reason they are a popular method of paying. However, they take longer than wire transfers which delay the time you send to the recipient. 

Ach transfers are the most common type of transfers because of the affordability they offer.

Wire transfers are costly and require a fee because of the immediate and urgent mode of transfer. When sending money through wire transfers, your bank may charge you between $20- $30, and the recipient gets charged around $10-$20.


Clearinghouse rules play an important part in maintaining the security of transfers. Hence compared to Wire transfers, ACH transfers are more secure.

Differences between Wire Transfers and ACH transfer

  • ACH transfers are affordable as compared to wire transfers. Due to immediate payment options, Wire transfer costs more.
  • ACH is a U.S only transfer method. ACH transfers money only in the country and not internationally. Wire transfers are well suited for international payments.
  • ACH transfers are considered more secure than wire transfers.
  • Wire transfers are initiated by banks, while Clearinghouse possesses ACH transfers.
  • Only a sender can initiate a wire transfer while with ACH business as well as individuals can receive payments.

Zelle: an ACH transfer

Zelle is available with many banks in the U.S. It lets you send money to friends and family almost instantly. However, as money gets transferred through ACH transfers in Zelle, you can only send money t bank accounts in the U.S. cross border payments are not available with Zelle.

Zelle is free for money transfers however, charges might depend on the financial institution. It was created by Early Warning Services and supports almost 100 financial institutions. 

The payment service works directly with the banks hence, the payments reach instantly from one bank to another. Therefore, even if Zelle delivers money instantly, it is finalized through ACH processing later on.

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