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Zelle Australia: Why It's Not Available, and How To Save Money With Alternatives

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jun 14, 2022
Affiliate disclosure

If you're a Zelle user, you probably know that it's one of the best ways to send and receive money right from your smartphone. But if you've ever tried to use Zelle to send money across the border to Australia, you'll probably not have found a clear way of doing so.

This is because, sadly, Zelle is only available in the US and doesn't work in Australia. If you want to transfer your money to Australia, you'll need to pick a Zelle money transfer alternative to Australia instead, such as Remitly for cash pick-up or Wise for bank transfers.

In this short guide, we look at why Zelle doesn't work in Australia in the first place. Then, we'll delve into the best Zelle alternatives for sending money to Australia to help you make the best money transfer choices.

Zelle doesn't work in Australia. Compare providers instead:

Why Isn't Zelle Available in Australia?

As we saw above, Zelle is not available in Australia, and the app is currently only available to US residents. —

To use the Zelle app in the first place (let alone send and receive money via online banking), both the sender and the recipient must have US bank accounts. And while you will be able to use Zelle in Australia if you're an American in that country, you won't be able to transfer money via Zelle to an Australian-based bank.

So why exactly doesn't Zelle work in Australia?

In a nutshell, Zelle transfers to Australia aren't possible because foreign exchange is a hugely complex market, with many rules, regulations, and industry standards that companies are obligated to follow. Over and above this, the profit margins tend to be very tight and competitive.

Simply put, this leads to many mobile payments apps avoiding international transfers altogether. It saves them a lot of time, money, and stress! Zelle isn't the only app to avoid foreign exchange for this reason: Venmo and Square Cash do the same. And those mobile payments apps that do get involved in foreign exchange usually charge exorbitant fees to cover the costs (e.g. Paypal).

Zelle Alternatives for Transfers to Australia

The good news is that if you're a Zelle user who'd like to send money abroad, you'll have plenty of options to choose from to send your money overseas instead. In summary, here are the main two:

  1. Transfer via a digital provider: Many money transfer providers offer low fees to Australia, as well as fast transfers, and a great user experience to suit your needs. The best are Wise for bank transfers, and Remitly or Small World for cash pick-ups. However, pricing and exchange rates vary constantly, so compare providers on Monito to find the best deal every time.
  2. Send an international bank wire: US banks such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and others charge very high fees and poor exchange rates because they transfer over SWIFT. We therefore don't recommend them for transferring money abroad for most people. You can learn more about bank charges for international transfers here.

We go over both of these options in detail below:

Option 1 — Digital Providers

Digital international transfer providers are online platforms that have grown in popularity in recent years as a low-cost, savvy, and safe way to send money across borders. If you're a Zelle user, we think switching over to a digital provider is a natural choice for a number of reasons:

  • Savviness: The user-friendly, seamless experience is usually slick and similar to Zelle in terms of accessibility and convenience.
  • Cost: They're (by far) the cheapest way to send money to Australia, usually costing between 0.5% and 3% in total fees.
  • Speed: Money usually arrives overseas in a matter of hours or, at most, around one to two days depending on the provider.

To learn more about digital providers and how they differ from banks, take a look at our bank vs digital provider comparison.

In the end, the digital provider that's best for you will depend on factors such as 1) which country you're sending to, 2) how much you're sending, and 3) how your recipient will receive their funds. According to millions of searches on Monito's real-time comparison engine, here are the three best digital providers for transfers from the US to bank accounts abroad:

CurrencyFair

CurrencyFair is an Irish-based money transfer platform that offers some of the cheapest rates for transfers from the US to Australia. Although not as popular as Wise, CurrencyFair nonetheless offers a top-notch user experience and fast, seamless money transfers.

Transfer cost (US to Australia): 0.3-0.9% on average.

Transfer time:1-3 business days.

More info: See our CurrencyFair review, or visit their website.

Wise

One of the most popular and widely-used money transfer services out there, London-based Wise has built a solid reputation on fast, affordable bank transfers over its user-friendly web and mobile platforms.

Transfer cost (US to Australia): 0.7% on average.

Transfer time: 1-2 business days.

More info: See our Wise review, or visit their website.

Instarem

An excellent service with easy and fast transfers, Instarem is another good option for sending money from the US to Europe instead of Zelle. Instarem's fees are usually one of the cheapest on Monito.

Transfer cost (US to Australia): 0.9% on average.

Transfer time: 2-3 business days.

More info: See our full Instarem review, or visit their website.

Option 2 — Banks and PayPal

The second (and generally the far worse) alternative to using Zelle for Australia-bound transfers is to use your bank or PayPal.

Not only is using your bank or PayPal the slower and less convenient to transfer abroad, but going this route also comes with high hidden fees, as both your bank and PayPal will typically give you a poor exchange rate on top of the standard service fees for transfers to Australia.

For example, our research revealed that sending $1,000 from the US to a Eurozone country with Wells Fargo would cost $30 in service fees and $50 in exchange rate margin fees. Together, these fees amount to around 8% of the amount transferred, which is about 10 times more than the cheapest available service compared on Monito's comparison engine for the same transfer. And given PayPal's similarly high exchange rate margins, the story isn't very different with them either.

But it doesn't stop there. When sending money to Australia with your bank, your funds will go over SWIFT, meaning third-party banks (called correspondent banks) can potentially charge additional fees (called correspondent bank fees) that can further reduce the amount that arrives in your beneficiary's account.

This makes banks a costly way to send money abroad — and finding a cheap solution is as crucial as ever.

As we explored above, by offering bank-beating exchange rates, very low fees, and a top-notch user experience, digital providers are fortunately doing what Zelle does within the US, but internationally! And depending on where you're sending money to, providers such as WiseRemitly, and Small World will probably be your best choice. See the table below to understand why:

Last updated: 2022/06/02

In summary, if there were one thing to take away from this article, here's what it'd be:

You cannot use Zelle to transfer to Australia. This means you'll need to find alternatives. Banks (and PayPal) charge high service fees and exchange rates, making them a poor choice for most. Digital providers, on the other hand, are by far the cheapest, fastest, and savviest options, making them the best Zelle alternatives for transfers to Australia.

Get started now by comparing your options below: —

Compare leading digital providers:

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Zelle in Australia

Popular Money Transfer Comparisons on Monito

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