Digital-first bank accounts are the wave of the future: all of the money management, none of the getting off the couch.
One of the earliest players and a leading company in the branchless banking game is Chime, a financial technology company founded in 2013 by Chris Britt (current CEO) and Ryan King (current CTO).
Like other online banking options, Chime offers many of the most important features of a traditional deposit account with a much leaner fee schedule — and even has a savings account option that bears a much higher interest rate than a typical savings account.
In this Chime bank review:
What Is Chime Bank?
Chime is a personal finance app that offers digital banking services, including checking and savings accounts with none of the typical fees associated with traditional bank accounts.
Chime’s deposit accounts are held and FDIC-insured by its partner banks, Stride Bank, N.A. and The Bancorp Bank.
Here’s our take on doing business with Chime.
Here’s what we like about Chime:
- Fee-free banking: None of Chime’s accounts carry monthly maintenance fees or account minimums.
- No overdraft fees: Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees — and its SpotMe fee-free overdraft protection doesn’t require you to link a savings account. Chime will spot eligible members up to $100, which is taken out of your next deposit.
- Get paid early: Chime offers an “early payday” feature that can help you get your hands on your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit.
- Cash deposits: You can deposit cash into your Chime account at more than 60,000 retail locations with Green Dot, which is a feature many online banks don’t allow.
Here’s what we don’t like about Chime:
- No interest: Chime’s checking account bears absolutely no interest whatsoever.
- Personal accounts only: Chime doesn’t offer a small business banking option.
- Lean features: Chime doesn’t offer a wealth of budgeting tools or additional financial services, like some of its competitors do.
- No joint accounts: You can’t open a shared account through Chime.
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Banking With Chime: Here’s How We Rate It
Chime is a stripped-down online bank account for deposit, spending and saving.
It doesn’t offer the robust suite of features you’ll see from many of its competitors, but its fully functioning checking and savings accounts, nationwide ATM network, and features that let you deposit cash and checks make it a solid option to use as your primary bank account.
Chime Checking Account
Chime’s checking option, or “Spending Account,” is a pretty basic product: It’s a non-interest-bearing deposit account linked to a debit card.
It works like most traditional checking accounts, but has fewer features than many online banks offer. You get:
- Visa debit card: Use your Chime debit card for point-of-sale transactions, ATM withdrawals and Green Dot cash deposits.
- Direct deposit: Set up automatic ACH deposits into your account by giving your employer your routing and account numbers.
- Mobile deposit: Deposit any check into your account by snapping a photo with the Chime smartphone app.
- Bill pay: Pay rent and bills directly from your account through ACH transfer by giving companies your Chime routing and account numbers. Or mail a paper check using the Chime Checkbook feature.
Members have the option to add a Chime Savings Account. Like the Spending Account, Chime’s Savings Account comes with no fees or minimums, and it gives you access to a variety of automated features to make setting aside money basically painless.
Automated savings features include:
- Save When You Spend: Anytime you make a purchase with your Chime debit card, you can automatically round up transactions to the nearest dollar and stick the digital change into your savings account.
- Save When You Get Paid: Automatically transfer 10% of each paycheck (of $500 or more) into your savings account.
The Savings Account earns interest at a rate of 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), with no minimum deposit required.
Unlike Simple and other online bank accounts, Chime doesn’t make it easy to set specific savings goals or to further personalize your accounts by purpose. You also cannot deposit money directly into your Chime savings account; it has to be funneled through your Spending Account.
The Chime Savings Account is a federally regulated savings account, so it’s subject to any withdrawal limits the Federal Reserve sets (unlike that of many online banking competitors, which use checking accounts as savings vehicles). The typical six-per-month withdrawal limit has been suspended, but that could return in the future.
As with all online bank accounts, Chime’s convenience factor is relative: If you’re looking for the brick-and-mortar banking experience, you’re barking up the wrong (money) tree.
But because Chime is a technology company, its mobile app is easy to use and lets you manage your money on the go 24/7.
It also includes some features you won’t see from many of its online-banking competitors, including cash deposits, free overdraft protection and early paycheck deposit.
ATM Network and Green Dot Deposits
You can use your Chime debit card for purchases through any point-of-sale platforms and to withdraw cash from more than 38,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. through MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
You can also deposit cash into your account at more than 60,000 retail locations (think: grocery stores, Walmarts) through Green Dot. Just hand the cashier cash, and they can load it directly to your debit card. The cash deposit limit is $1,000 per day and $10,000 per month.
SpotMe Overdraft Protection
Chime offers a fee-free overdraft protection feature called SpotMe, which is available to Chime account holders receiving total monthly direct deposits of $500 or more. If you spend more than you have in your account, Chime will cover the difference up to $100 without any cost to you, and the balance will be taken out of the next available deposited funds.
(Also, yes, that means Chime has no overdraft fees — which is a pretty big deal.)
Get Paid up to 2 Days Early
Chime includes an “early payday” feature, allowing you to see funds in your account up to two days early compared with a traditional bank when you receive your paychecks via direct deposit.
That’s because it gives you access to funds as soon as your employer processes payroll, while many banks make you wait until the scheduled payday.
The mobile app is a make-or-break part of any digital-first banking enterprise, and Chime enjoys high ratings on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store — 4.6 and 4.8 stars out of five, respectively.
The app makes it easy to access and interact with all of Chime’s banking features, including SpotMe overdraft protection, automatic savings options and easy mobile payments, which are made particularly simple for transactions between Chime users.
Through the app, you can:
- See your Chime Spending and Savings account balances and transaction history.
- Transfer money between Spending and Savings.
- Deposit checks with mobile check deposit.
- Locate in-network, fee-free ATMs.
- Contact customer support.
- Set up automatic savings and Round Ups for debit card purchases.
- Transfer money to other Chime members with Pay Friends.
That said, the app doesn’t carry the wealth of extra features some other digital first banks offer. Budgeting tools, for example, are a helpful way to reframe your finances, which banks of all types are increasingly working into their suite of digital tools.
Chime, on the other hand, remains simplistic — which you might take as a positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for.
Small Business Banking
Chime doesn’t offer small business banking accounts or financial services.
Instead, consider these alternative banks for small businesses:
- Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking Account and Business Market Rate Savings Account, loans up to $100,000 and a 1.5% cash-back credit card.
- Chase Total Business Checking and Business Total Savings, SBA Express line of credit up to $350,000 and Ink Business credit cards.
- Capital One Spark Business Checking and Savings, and 1.5% or 2% cash-back credit cards.
- Axos Basic Business Checking or Business Interest Checking, Business Savings, and lines of credit or commercial loans starting at $250,000.
- Navy Federal Credit Union for business owners who are veterans, active-duty military, employees of qualified government agencies and their immediate family.
- Azlo for online-only, fee-free business checking.
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Chime Banking Fees
Chime doesn’t assess any regular bank fees, which means:
- No monthly fees for account maintenance.
- No minimum balance requirement.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No opening deposit requirement.
- No fee for overdrafts (and no fee for SpotMe $100 overdraft protection).
- No fee to send paper checks with Chime Checkbook.
- No ATM fees when you use in-network ATMs.
The only fee you’ll pay is a $2.50 cash withdrawal fee for using any out-of-network ATMs (plus any fee the ATM owner charges) or making an over-the-counter withdrawal at a Green Dot location.
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Chime Customer Service
Chime customer service agents are available by phone, through the Chime app or via email.
- Phone number: 844-244-6363 (Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central; Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Mobile app: Log into your account in the app to access the mobile chat feature.
- Email: [email protected]
Chime also has a presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, though these channels probably aren’t appropriate for asking questions about your private account.
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Is Chime Right for You?
Chime’s suite of offerings and in-app tools are pretty lean, but could be a fit for you if you have relatively simple banking needs.
Chime might be right for you if:
- You prefer the easy access and mobility of online banking.
- You regularly run your account balance close to $0.
- You’re often paid through direct deposit — you could benefit from an early payday!
- You’re often paid in cash but want an online bank account.
- You want an easy way to save money automatically.
Chime might not be right for you if:
- You prefer the personal touch and physical location of a traditional bank.
- You only want to open a savings account.
- You want to manage your loans, investments and bank accounts all in one place.
Interested? To open a Chime bank account:
- Download the Chime app for iOS or Android, or sign up online.
- Enter personal information, including your location, birth date and Social Security number to verify your identity.
- No minimum deposit is required, but you can link an external bank account at this time (or any time) to transfer money into your new Chime account.
- You’ll be given the option to open a savings account. You can do that now, or wait and open it later under “Savings” in the app any time.
- Set up direct deposit with your employer to deposit paychecks into your Chime Spending account.
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Our Bank Review Methodology
Codetic’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.
To determine how we weigh each factor, Codetic surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.
For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.
Ratings are assigned across the following categories:
- Personal checking accounts
- Personal savings accounts
- Small-business banking
- Mobile banking
Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.
Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.