If you’re looking for a fast, easy way to send money to your friends and family, it’s hard to beat the overall convenience of Zelle.
The US-based company has successfully processed over a half-a-trillion dollars worth of payments between individuals and businesses.
The only problem is that Zelle isn’t available to those with a Canadian bank account. Thankfully, there are several great alternatives to Zelle in Canada. I’ll share some of my favourites below, so you can see which best fits your needs.
Launched in 2017, Zelle is a digital money transfer service owned by some of the top banks in the US, including:
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
- Capital One
- PNC Bank
- US Bank
- JPMorgan Chase
Zelle works with these banks, allowing customers to quickly and safely send money to each other via direct deposit to the recipient’s bank account. It’s pretty similar to how Interac e-Transfers work here in Canada.
Unfortunately, Zelle is not partnered with Canadian banks and doesn’t operate in the country.
If you’re visiting from the US or have a US-based bank account, you’ll still be able to use Zelle while you’re in Canada. For example, you may use Zelle to pay some bills back home or send money to family in the US.
However, you won’t be able to use Zelle to send money to anybody with a Canadian bank account.
If you need to send money to a friend, family member, or business in Canada (or internationally), there are several great alternatives to Zelle in Canada. Although each platform is slightly different, they all provide the same basic service – the ability to transfer money digitally.
Keep on reading to see the best companies like Zelle in Canada.
- Get Started: Sign up for free today!
Formerly known as Transferwise, the London-based online bank recently rebranded itself as Wise. When I first began my journey as a digital nomad, I used Wise to get paid for my online freelancing services. Today, I use Wise to help manage my money while travelling internationally and pay my staff.
First and foremost, Wise is an online bank. However, it’s very different from Tangerine or other online banks in Canada that you may have heard about.
Wise operates in 80 countries and can be used to send, receive, hold, and convert over 170 different global currencies.
For example, I could live in Thailand, operate an eCommerce store in Canada, and use Wise to transfer my Canadian Dollars (CAD) into Thai Baht (THB). Wise also offers a multi-currency card that I can use to spend my money in multiple countries without manually exchanging the currency.
Compared to using a foreign currency exchange service, Wise is a lot cheaper.
Wise isn’t just for international money transfers either. It can also be used to quickly and cheaply transfer money within Canada, the same way that you’d complete an Interac e-Transfer. The only drawback is that the recipient must also have a Wise account.
- Get Started: Try KOHO’s P2P money transfer service
If you’ve been keeping up with the Wealth Awesome blog, you may remember my review of the KOHO cashback card. This prepaid, reloadable debit card allows users to earn cashback the same way as a credit card. The only difference is that your KOHO card isn’t issued based on your credit and won’t affect your credit rating.
Besides allowing users to earn generous cashback on everyday purchases, KOHO also features a built-in budgeting tool, an affordable credit-building service, and a peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer service.
As a KOHO user, you can easily send money to any other KOHO user or request payments to your own KOHO account. The money will contribute directly to your KOHO account balance and can be spent using your KOHO card or transferred into your personal chequing account.
3. Interac e-Transfer
- Get Started: Learn more about Interac e-Transfers
Interac is probably the closest service you’ll get to Zelle in Canada.
Interac is the oldest electronic payment network in Canada. As such, it’s the only digital money transfer service trusted by Canadian banks. Although some big banks charge customers for initiating Interac e-Transfers, smaller banks may offer the service for free.
The great thing about Interac e-Transfer is that it’s one of Canada’s most widely used payment systems. Using Interac, you can send money to or receive money from virtually anybody with a bank account in Canada. You can also use the service to send money internationally (although Wise is a better option for this).
To initiate an Interac e-Transfer, you must log into your online banking portal, navigate to the Interac e-Transfer tab, and enter the recipient’s email address or mobile phone number. From here, the bank will verify the transaction, and the recipient should receive the funds within 30 minutes.
- Get Started: Get cashback with STACK
STACK is a fintech startup that’s trying to compete with KOHO. Like its competitor, STACK offers its users a prepaid debit card through Mastercard, allowing them to earn cashback rewards with Canadian grocery stores, gas stations, and other retailers.
STACK also features a STACK-to-STACK money transfer service that allows STACK users to send money to each other.
I recommend KOHO over STACK, as KOHO has a more extensive user base and is more widely used. STACK doesn’t have as many users yet, and it’s unlikely that the individual you want to send money to (or receive money from) has a STACK account.
- Get Started: Create a PayPal account today
Almost everybody knows about PayPal, as it’s one of the largest money transfer platforms in the world, with over 429 million global users. PayPal doesn’t charge any fees to send money locally or to friends and family. However, PayPal’s fees for international or business-related transfers can be rather costly.
I’m not a huge fan of PayPal, as it imposes high fees, has a lengthy account verification process, and offers very little customer support. It is a good option to have in your back pocket, though.
- Get Started: Learn how to use Google Pay in Canada
Google Pay is easily one of the most underrated money transfer services in Canada. Unlike Apple Pay (which is limited to the US for now), Google is available to all Canadians, no matter which bank you’re a member of.
The Google Pay app can be downloaded on used on your Android or iPhone and syncs with your Google account. From here, you can add your debit and credit cards, allowing you to perform contactless payments by tapping your phone or smartwatch on POS terminals.
Additionally, Google Pay allows users to send money to anybody on their contacts list. If the recipient isn’t on your contacts list, you can still send them money using your linked debit card or your Google Pay balance; you just need to verify their phone number.
- Get Started: Sign up for Wealthsimple today
In early 2020, Wealthsimple launched Wealthsimple Cash (bundled with Wealthsimple Spend) to give its customers an easy way to transfer money to other Wealthsimple users.
Additionally, you’ll also be given the option to request a Wealthsimple Cash Card, which can be used as a prepaid debit card, using your Wealthsimple Cash account balance.
Overall, Wealthsimple Cash is very similar to platforms like Venmo or KOHO. The only drawback is that Wealthsimple Cash doesn’t have a large user base, which means you may have difficulty transferring funds to other people who don’t have the app.
- Get Started: Learn about Meta Pay here
If you’re one of Canada’s 29 million Facebook users, then you can use Facebook’s Meta Pay feature to send money to anybody you’re friends with. To use Meta Pay, you must access your Facebook account settings and add your debit card under the ‘Payments’ tab.
Once you successfully add your debit card, you can send or request money by initiating a Facebook Messenger chat with another individual. Towards the top of the keyboard box, you should see a small ‘$’ icon. When you press this, Facebook will allow you to send your friend money or request a certain amount.
Once the transfer is initiated, the recipient should receive the money in their bank within a few minutes.
Although Zelle isn’t available in Canada, there are plenty of alternatives that allow you to send or receive money digitally. Wise is excellent for international currency transactions. Google Pay and Meta Pay offer the quickest solutions if you just need to send a few dollars to a friend or family member.
However, the safest and most traditional alternative is to use an Interac e-Transfer through your online banking portal is the safest and most traditional alternative. I recommend this for any large transfers.
Interac e-Transfers can only be used if you have a Canadian bank account, though. If you’re visiting or recently moved to Canada, then be sure to read my guide to opening a Canadian bank account as a non-resident next!