Both Zelle and Venmo have upsides and downsides, and which is better for you will depend on your needs. If you don’t have a checking or savings account, for example, you’ll need to open one to use Zelle — and if you don’t want to do that, of course, then Venmo is your only option out of the two. On the other hand, Zelle is more appealing for users who have access to it through their bank, as the transfers only take a few minutes and are free. Venmo, in comparison, charges a fee for instant transfers. At their core, both Zelle and Venmo support iOS and Android, but Zelle users can also send money from a computer by logging in to their bank’s website.
Zelle doesn’t offer credit or debit cards, unlike Venmo, since its users are by definition eligible for cards through their banks. The service also does not maintain a cash balance separate from users’ bank accounts. As well, Zelle may simply lack the name recognition of Venmo, meaning it may be more of a hassle for your friends to accept the money you send them using the platform, assuming they’re already signed up with Venmo.
Venmo users can maintain cash balances on the app itself, with no bank required. All Venmo’s card offerings operate on the Mastercard network, making them widely acceptable to vendors on- and offline. Venmo has even begun exploring the possibilities of cryptocurrency, giving its cardholders the opportunity to receive cashback awards in the form of crypto. However, the social aspect of Venmo remains controversial, and that may be a good reason for some users to pick Zelle as their primary platform instead.