Zelle is a United States-based digital payments used by Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, PNC, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. Zelle allows for funds to be moved from one bank account to another in minutes, using only a recipient’s email address or mobile number. You can send as little as $1 to anyone within the same bank, or any of the banks within the network for free. My own Zelle account is limited on the upper end to something like $2000 per day, with other limitations on weekly and monthly transfer.
Zelle is gaining popularity, at least among my own friends and family, because it allows for sending instant payments between some banks. I’m willing to bet that the idea for Zelle was proposed to compete with other digital payment networks like Cash App and Paypal (+Venmo), which are extremely popular with Millennials and Zoomers. Personally, I use Zelle at least once a week.
Naturally, bitcoiners with access to Zelle on their bank accounts would like to know how to buy bitcoin with Zelle. Why not? Actually, there are some good reasons not to.
While it is possible to buy bitcoin with Zelle, there are some things to consider before moving forward with this route.
Most importantly, as I interpret the rules for using for Zelle, buying buying bitcoin with Zelle seems to be against the terms of service.
You agree that you will not use the Service to request, send or receive money related to any of the following: Traveler’s checks, money orders, equities, annuities, or currencies, including digital currencies, such as bitcoins;[source]
If that wasn’t enough, they actually say it’s against the TOS to send money to someone you don’t know.
THE SERVICE IS INTENDED TO SEND MONEY TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND OTHERS YOU TRUST. YOU SHOULD NOT USE THE SERVICE TO SEND MONEY TO RECIPIENTS WITH WHOM YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR OR YOU DO NOT TRUST.
Who knows how serious this second one is. I’ve used Zelle to pay for tacos at a taco truck before, and I don’t exactly know or trust the taco guy.
Either way, it’s a sad state of affairs, but they could literally shut your bank account down for any reason related to bitcoin and you’d have little recourse. They might just turn off Zelle. They might give you a warning. They might close your account and tell you to go somewhere else. You won’t know until it happens.
Also important to understand is that to buy bitcoin with Zelle, you’ll be doing a p2p trade. You are not buying bitcoin through a traditional bitcoin exchange like most people do. You’ll be sending money via Zelle directly to a person completely unknown to you and they will send you bitcoin in exchange. Trading bitcoin p2p is common, legal, and there are many apps or websites that facilitate p2p trades.
The p2p websites and apps are built with various styles of bitcoin escrow. You’re not just sending someone money and hoping for them to send you some bitcoin in return. There are systems in place to prevent fraud, but fraud is possible, and there’s no refunds.
Furthermore, regarding p2p trades, your account reputation could possibly get tied up with their reputation. Imagine you send a Zelle payment to someone who is engaging in some sort of illegal activity on the other end with their Zelle account. Your own Zelle account might be implicated. I’ve never actually heard of this happening in the US, but it’s something to consider.
Finally, it’s actually a little complicated to buy bitcoin with Zelle, so if you are trying to use Zelle because you imagine it’ll be easier than other ways to buy bitcoin, you are wrong. It’s actually much simpler to create an account with Cash App or Strike, which will allow you to buy bitcoin within minutes of signing up (withdrawing to cold storage can take longer due to verification requirements).
Oh, and one more thing. If you decide not to use Zelle, but like the idea of buying bitcoin directly from another person, there are many other payment methods available on these p2p sites listed below.
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle Using P2P Exchanges
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Robosats
Robosats is one of the newer p2p bitcoin exchanges, and actually it’s my favorite so far of the three I’ve personally tried. It’s simple and it’s fast, and it doesn’t require an account. The cool thing about Robosats is that you get a unique ID every time you log in so your trades are secured completely by their escrow protocol over lightning. You don’t need a reputation because the contract does the work.
I haven’t been a victim of fraud on any p2p trades yet, so perhaps my perspective will change if it ever happens, but from my standpoint, what’s the purpose of a reputation system if the funds are managed securely through escrow? I don’t want to develop a relationship with a seller. I want the bitcoin, not a friendship.
Robosats is still quite small, but they are growing. They are also the only lightning-focused p2p bitcoin exchange, but I think you can do on-chain as well if lightning fails to find a route or something like that, but the default is lightning so it’s nice to be able to buy smaller amounts of bitcoin. Some p2p exchanges have quite large minimum buys, or extremely high fees for small buys.
The other thing I’ll say about Robosats is that everything is done over Tor. This is great for privacy. Although you can access the site over “clearnet”, you can’t execute any trades. This means it’s private by default. The downside is that if you’re a total n00b you have to get the Tor browser and be comfortable using that (it’s not as hard as it sounds).
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Hodl Hodl
Hodl Hodl is a web-based p2p bitcoin exchange, and my experience using it was great. Hodl Hodl is for buying normal on-chain bitcoin. They use an escrow contract system to ensure that you receive your bitcoin safely. They have a decent amount of payment options available, quite a few trading partner options, and a wide range of minimum/maximum purchase.
You’ll need to create an account using an email address, but they do not require personal information like name, address, or government ID. You can choose your trading partner based on reputation, payment method, minimum purchase amount, or bitcoin price offered.
I did find it a little odd that at least one of the trading partners was asking for government ID verification and that this was allowed on the platform. The trade partner was a massive account with a long history, so I guess people go for that. I don’t really get what the point is of uploading your government ID to an unknown individual so that you can buy bitcoin p2p. I guess that’s not important because you have many other options available. I just thought it was weird.
When executing my trade with Hodl Hodl, I found their step-by-step system to be very clear, and very easy to navigate, even for using it for the first time. My recommendation is to pay attention to your “payment window”. My trade partner’s deposit window was 18 hours or something like that, but once they deposited the bitcoin into the contract my payment window was only 90 minutes. Both of us were chill so we still did the trade even though both of us missed our window, but it’s something to be aware of.
Hodl Hodl also offers bitcoin lending services where you can lend bitcoin to other users get USD liquidity in return. Periods range from 1-12 months, and lending rates range from 12% up to 30% APR. It’s an interesting model, though I’m not quite sure how the lending escrow works. I was quite happy with how my trade escrow went though, so I imagine they have a system that works for them.
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Bisq
Bisq is the most popular and longest running p2p bitcoin trading platform, but so far, I’m running into some issues using them. Just getting the application up and running required that I run some command line on my Mac computer, and then actually connecting to a peer has been impossible so. Each time you open the application you have to wait for the blockchain to sync in order to execute a trade. Last night I waited for over an hour to sync the blockchain, and then still couldn’t trade because the DAO hadn’t synced yet.
Bisq has a ton of offers though, so it must be worth it because it seems a lot of people are using it. In fact, it had the most offers and most payment methods possible of any p2p platforms I visited. You can even send money via Moneygram, Western Union, direct bank transfer, or physical cash in the mail. You can’t get more private than physical cash, as all banking apps are heavily KYC’d.
I’ll update here when I actually execute a trade on Bisq.
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Simlix
Simlix is a site I’d never heard of before making this list. They offer multiple cryptocurrency pairs, gift card trading, and you can even chat in the community to find a trading partner. Someone is trying to trade their Applebees gift card for bitcoin as I type this out. Apparently you can even meet up and trade cash for bitcoin in person, though you should understand the risks involved when doing this before you do it.
You can see people’s profiles and their location on a map. Someone lives an hour away from me and is offering to buy bitcoin for cash in person. Should I try it? Hm. I think I’ll pass for now, but it’s interesting to see this happening. I’m not sure what the purpose of the map on the home page would be other than for local in-person trades, but it’s interesting to mess around with. I couldn’t sort the map by type of trade though, so it was just kind of random to see who was buying and selling bitcoin in my area.
I did check about ten different profiles for a variety of payment methods (including Zelle) and location (local, national, and international), but nobody had any reviews, positive or negative. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Is this an old site no longer in operation?
I’ll update when I have more information, but for now, proceed with caution!
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Binance
Binance is not a company I personally trust, and not one I would recommend to friends and family, but it’s an option for buying bitcoin with Zelle. Considering p2p trades are a one-time deal, and as long as you send your bitcoin into a wallet you control the keys to, then I guess it doesn’t matter where you buy your bitcoin.
You should be aware that Binance seems to be heading towards a murky situation regarding regulation, and their CEO is a figure of controversy. Despite the issue of Binance being a shitcoin casino, it’s probably the most popular crypto exchange in the world, so you may find a large number of p2p trading partners here. I didn’t really look around that much. Just including it here as an option.
The dollar side of their trades seem to be focused on USDT, so if you end up wanting to sell some bitcoin for dollars in the future, don’t expect to be able to withdraw your funds to your local bank account without jumping through some hoops to get there.
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on Paxful
Paxful was shut down for a while, but seems to have reopened for the time being. In previous years, it was one of the biggest marketplaces for buying and selling gift cards, but I’m not sure what the status of that is right now. It was quite impressive to see people selling Walmart and Starbucks gift cards for bitcoin in an international p2p bitcoin marketplace, but I guess there’s always a market for everything. They are web based.
Paxful has very low minimum purchases for some of their trades, with a little as $10 USD an option.
I found it odd that bitcoin is selling for a discount from some sellers, versus a premium on other sites. Right now as I look at the price of bitcoin, it’s $27.4 k, but there are several of offers willing to sell me bitcoin at 24.6k. These are accounts with good reputations from over 200-400 reviews. I don’t really know what’s going on here. Is this a scam with fake reviews? Is there some sort of arbitrage trade happening here, or some other dynamic I’m unaware of?
I’ll update with more information when I get the chance to try Paxful.
Buy Bitcoin With Zelle on BitValve
BitValve is another one I not only haven’t tried, but I have never heard of either, so proceed with caution. It’s a web-based application, but they seem to have apps on both Google Play. They have a wide range of minimum purchase requirements, payment methods, and allow for trading at least 10 other cryptocurrencies outside of bitcoin, some of which I’ve never heard of.
From viewing the site it looks like many of the offers have quite high premiums on the bitcoin price, and not as many payment methods as some of the bigger p2p options.
I’ll update more when I get a chance to try this one, but it’s not high up on my list. There aren’t any legit reviews out there (all just scam affiliate sites), so it’s not a high priority right now to prove anything. Proceed at your own risk!
Misinformation About Exchanges Accepting Zelle
There is actually quite a bit of misinformation about how to buy bitcoin with Zelle. Some articles are simply outdated. Others are straight up lies by writers who didn’t do proper research. Most are created by outsourced writers who churn out articles based on what they read from the original fake news source.
For example, one line I read was “Some popular exchanges that accept Zelle payments include Kraken and Paxful”, but it’s clear that Paxful isn’t an exchange (it’s a p2p marketplace), and Kraken explicitly says that they don’t accept Zelle. They use Plaid to connect to your bank, as most exchanges do.
At this time, our USD banking providers do not accept Zelle or ACH transfers. Only wire transfers are accepted.[source]
My Top 3 P2P Bitcoin Recommendations
I’ll update this section periodically as I try more p2p sites. I’ll probably write a full post just about p2p bitcoin trading at some point in the future, but for now, I’d like to close out with my top recommendation for buying bitcoin with Zelle, assuming you do plan to go through with it despite the risk to your account. Zelle does seem like a popular option, and I saw it on every single p2p site listed here. So who knows how closely they monitor who you are sending money to. I can’t say that I actually recommend buying bitcoin with Zelle because I don’t see the advantage, but people are going to do what they are going to do.
As far as the best p2p sites go, I’d recommend Robosats #1, Hodl Hodl #2, and Bisq #3, in that order. What do you think, or do you have any other p2p sites or apps you recommend? I know there’s Peach, but they are non-US, so Zelle isn’t an option for them. Let me know in the comments.