PayPal to Zelle: How to Move Money (2023)

Written By Branson Knowles

Paypal and Zelle operate in very different ways: Paypal can operate by itself, without a bank, while Zelle needs a bank account connected to operate.

You can’t transfer money directly from Paypal to Zelle, but you can connect an external bank account to both of them and use it as a middleman. Using an external bank account is quick, easy, and, best of all, free.

Just because there isn’t a direct way to transfer money from Paypal to Zelle doesn’t mean you can’t move your money. 

It’s hard to transfer money directly to Zelle anyways; it’s a transfer service that doesn’t hold balances, rather it connects your account to whoever you’re paying and sends the money without ever holding it.

Zelle is the only transfer service or fintech company that doesn’t have to report its customers to the IRS because they don’t hold balances for their customers.

So you’re never really sending money to Zelle. You’re sending it to the bank account it’s connected to.

And plenty of bank accounts are connected to Zelle; the fintech company boasts over 100 million users across the U.S., partnering with over 1,700 financial institutions to give just about anyone an easy way to send money. 

How to Transfer Money from Paypal to Zelle (Step-by-Step)

To transfer any amount of money from Paypal to Zelle, you’ll have to start by linking your bank account to Paypal. Preferably, you’ll be linking the account connected to Zelle. 

Connecting a bank account to Paypal is easy. Start by opening the Paypal app and heading to the Wallet section. It’s the fifth and final tab on the bottom of the screen.

connecting bank account to paypal

Once you’re in the Wallet section, click Add banks and cards towards the top.

paypal account add banks and cards

You can add your debit card or your bank account if you want your money to reach Zelle.

For this article, we’ll go ahead and add a bank account. If your Paypal account is password protected, you’ll need to enter it now to move forward.

Paypal will then bring up a list of popular banks for you to choose from. If you don’t see your bank on the initial list, you can look it up in Paypal’s search bar. 

While most fintech companies use a service called Plaid to connect bank accounts to their servers, Paypal uses a company called Yodlee.

After doing a quick Google search, it looks like Yodlee functions in a very similar way to Plaid.

paypal yodlee

If you’ve ever connected a bank account to a fintech company, you’re probably familiar with Plaid.

It’s an encryption service that aggregates and transports your data. In simpler terms, it sends your bank’s information to the fintech company and vice versa.

Yodlee works in the same way, allowing you to log in to your bank’s online platform with your normal login and password to connect your account to Paypal.

Yodlee will automatically transpose your account and routing numbers, so you don’t have to. 

After you’ve logged into your bank’s online portal, the process should be complete.

You can now transfer money from your PayPal account to your bank account. The process is free and it only takes a couple of business days.

If you want to transfer your funds instantly, Paypal gives you the option. They have a feature called Instant Transfer where you can — you guessed it — transfer your funds instantly. There is a small fee to do so, 1.75% of the total of the transaction with a $25 limit. 

Once the funds are in your bank account, they’re technically in your Zelle account as well. You can initiate the transfer from the Paypal app. 

How to Link Your Bank Account to Zelle

Zelle has partnered with thousands of banks across the country to provide their customers with an easy way to send money to not only each other, but to other bank’s customers as well.

If you want to know how to link your bank account to this awesome service, it’s easy.

If your bank is partnered with Zelle, chances are they are already using some of Zelle’s features in their app.

I bank with Chase, and Chase has integrated Zelle into their transfer system. 

send money with zelle

To set up your Zelle account, log in to your bank’s online platform and head to the transfer section.

Click on either the send or receive money buttons, and you should be met with a prompt right away.

To start using Zelle, you’ll have to choose which account you want to use. You can only use one account for Zelle at a time, so be mindful of your decision. You can always change it later, too, though. If you only have one account, Zelle will select it for you.

After choosing your account, you’ll be choosing your “username”.

I put username in quotes because Zelle doesn’t really do usernames. Instead they allow users to find each other through their phone numbers or their email addresses. 

Again, you can only use one of either your phone number or email address through Zelle, so be mindful of your choice and be mindful of the fact that you can change it whenever you want in your bank’s app or directly in the Zelle app.

Once you’ve gone through the Zelle set up process, the job is done.

Anytime you receive money through Zelle, the funds will go to the account you chose. 

Is Zelle Owned by Paypal?

Paypal is one of the biggest fintech services in the world. They even own their own competitor in Venmo.

Some people wonder if Paypal owns Zelle too, but they don’t. Paypal and Zelle are two completely separate companies that work pretty differently.

Zelle is owned and operated by Early Warnings Services, LLC, a company co-owned by the seven biggest banks in America. About 20 or so years ago, all of the biggest banks came together, looking for a way to let their customers send money to each other. 

Sure, Chase and Wells Fargo are competitors, but their customers aren’t.

They wanted to come up with a way to make sure their customers could send money to each other, even if they didn’t have the same bank. 

In April of 2011, Zelle started as the clearXchange service, one of the first P2P (peer-to-peer) transfer services around. It has since evolved into the Zelle we all know, a powerhouse of a transfer network already integrated into your bank account. 

How Do I Send Money to Zelle?

Sending money to Zelle is complicated because Zelle doesn’t actually hold any balances.

Instead, it’s purely a transfer network built into your bank’s online banking platform.

If you want to send money to someone’s Zelle account, you’re more likely than not sending money to their bank account.

You can do so even if you don’t have a bank account yourself, right from the Zelle app using a Visa or Mastercard.

Zelle users use their phone numbers or email addresses to receive payments, so you’ll want that information from your recipient before you initiate a transfer.

Transfers through Zelle are instant and, therefore, permanent. Once you send your money through Zelle, you’re not getting it back, so make sure you have the right person before confirming.

Can I Use Zelle Without a Bank Account?

Zelle is already integrated with over 1,700 financial institutions, including each of the major banks and just about every credit union you can think of. If you don’t have a bank account though, can you still use Zelle?

Yes, you can, so long as the person, you’re conducting business with on Zelle has a linked bank account themselves. You can send and receive money on Zelle without a bank account so long as you have a valid Visa or Mastercard.

How Do You Deactivate Zelle?

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use Zelle anymore, you can deactivate your connection with it either through your bank’s online platform or directly through the Zelle app.

If you want to close your Zelle account through your bank’s app, head to the transfer section. There should be a button for Zelle settings. Click on it to move forward. 

chase zelle settings

Once you’re in the Zelle settings, you can either change your receiving account, display phone number, or close your Zelle altogether. 

Scroll down through the Zelle settings until you find a button titled deactivate Zelle.

Before you go ahead and deactivate your account, you should know that Zelle will cancel any pending payments you may have.

deactivate zelle

Coming back to Zelle is easy too, if you ever change your mind.

Zelle will provide you with the last 13 months of your transactions, even after you deactivate your account and come back.

You don’t have to deactivate your Zelle to switch accounts though. Head to the previous screen and you can change which accounts will receive your Zelle payments if that is your ultimate goal.  

More Useful Articles About Zelle

About the Author

Lead Researcher, Digital Banking in the U.S. at TopMobileBanks

Branson Knowles is a former banker and current writer at

During his years banking, he helped his clients discover their financial freedom through smart savings and spending goals. He started as a teller before becoming a banker and obtaining his federal licenses, furthering his clients' on their financial journeys.

After becoming one of the top producing bankers in the state, Branson decided it was time to pursue his own financial freedom. He started writing freelance finance articles before joining, breaking down banking like only an ex-banker could.

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