BankMobile Vibe Review: Digital Checking Account for Students

Students should look into this account for its high APY.

The advent of online banking has brought on a slew of new options in the personal banking category, and one such option is BankMobile Vibe — a new checking account being marketed directly to students. BankMobile is a company that partners with universities to help them handle financial aid and refunds, and it’s branching out to offer consumer banking to those same students who might already be familiar with their services. To reel them in, it has offered a student checking account that pays a 1.49% annual percentage yield to people making regular deposits — a rate that’s competitive with many of the saving accounts on offer elsewhere.

But does BankMobile offer enough in the way of perks to make it a better choice than one of the many other options for online banking? Here’s a deeper dive into the benefits, features and drawbacks of banking with BankMobile Vibe and whether or not it might be the right account for you.

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BankMobile Vibe Overview

BankMobile Vibe looks to meet the demands of students more directly, with features built around the needs of young adults currently matriculating at colleges and universities. In fact, attending a college that’s partnered with BankMobile is one requirement for opening up a BankMobile Vibe account.

Among the more interesting features offered is the Passport Recognition Program. Through this, BankMobile Vibe offers “stamps” for things like performing in the classroom or meeting certain financial goals. Those stamps will enter you into the quarterly drawing of up to $10,000 along with other BankMobile Vibe customers. You’ll earn stamps based on your GPA, as well as for paying bills, budgeting and saving.

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There is also a feature that allows people with participating employers to receive their paychecks up to two days early. However, the biggest selling point is clearly the chance to earn a whopping 1.49% APY on your checking account.

BankMobile Vibe at a Glance
Monthly Fee$2.99
ATM Access55,000 ATMs in AllPoint Network
ATM Transaction Fee$0
Out-of-Network ATM Fee$3
Overdraft Fee$0

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BankMobile Vibe review

Who Is BankMobile Vibe Best For?

While BankMobile Vibe is clearly geared toward students specifically, that doesn’t mean it’s right for every student. Here’s a closer look at just who might be best served by its features and options.

Pros:

  • Rewards program with chance to win cash
  • Fee-free access to AllPoint ATM network
  • Features for easy bill pay and budgeting
  • Excellent interest rate on checking account
  • People interested in getting their paycheck up to two days early

Cons:

  • Monthly service fee
  • Only offered to students at colleges partnering with BankMobile

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Who Might Want To Choose BankMobile Vibe?

For students with good financial habits, a strong academic ability and who have a regular source of income, BankMobile Vibe offers you a lot of great features. Your existing habits in the classroom and with your budget will help you rack up tickets and improve your chances of winning that quarterly drawing — which can be for as much as $10,000.

However, the Passport Recognition Program is really more of a perk when taken in context with that 1.49% APY available to anyone who is making monthly deposits of $300 or more. That’s an interest rate that’s on par with what you will receive at many of the high-yield savings accounts on offer — and from a checking account, no less. In that context, any student who has the option to open a BankMobile Vibe account should seriously consider doing so.

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Who Might Want To Skip BankMobile Vibe?

Unfortunately, the benefits of BankMobile Vibe erode rapidly when you’re not making those monthly deposits. Not only will you miss out on that fat 1.49% APY, but you’ll also begin paying a $2.99 monthly service fee — essentially meaning your interest rate goes negative once you’re not regularly making deposits. That’s especially relevant for those students who might not have regular work and/or student loans making routine income possible. If you’re primarily focusing on your studies right now and not working, the BankMobile Vibe account really loses most of its luster. It does have a variety of features — a mobile app, budgeting help, bill pay — but those are all commonplace for today’s bank accounts.

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How To Bank With BankMobile Vibe

Signing up for a BankMobile Vibe account is more difficult than it is for most normal accounts where you could simply visit the bank’s homepage and follow the instructions. Because the accounts are limited to students at participating colleges or universities, you’ll need to get your BankMobile login and password before you can sign up for an account. Inquire with your school about whether they have partnered with BankMobile and how you can sign up with them so that you can access your BankMobile Vibe account.

However, once you do have a login, you should find it easy to bank with your Vibe account. BankMobile offers a mobile app that can be downloaded from either Google Play or the Apple App Store, and you can also bank online through the website.

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What Happens To My BankMobile Vibe Account After I Graduate?

If you open a BankMobile Vibe account while you’re a student, you can continue to use it as your primary account after graduation.

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Fees

The most notable fee is the $2.99 monthly service fee owed by anyone who doesn’t make monthly deposits of at least $300. Once again, given that you will also miss out on the substantial interest rate paid on Vibe accounts that do have large enough regular deposits to qualify, these regular deductions from your account will add up over time.

However, beyond that charge, BankMobile fees are relatively low. In particular, there are no overdraft fees, which have a reputation of being the scourge of good budgeting over the years.

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Availability of Funds

Most deposits are available on the same day, up to $1,000. Not only does that include direct deposit and wire transfers, but also financial aid refunds. For money orders, treasury checks and cashier’s checks, the first $1,000 is available by the next business day. Paper checks, meanwhile, will have the first $500 available on the first business day after deposit, with the next $500 coming the day after.

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Interest Checking Made Easy … for a Select Few

If you are on the lookout for a new banking institution and attend a university that’s partnered with BankMobile, you might be hard-pressed to find a better deal than BankMobile Vibe — as long as you can trigger the interest. If you do work regularly enough to bring in $300 a month — or have some other source for those regular deposits — getting 1.49% APY on a checking account is a solid offer. You can get all the flexibility of a checking account with an interest rate that puts most savings accounts to shame.

In fact, the main catch for BankMobile Vibe appears to be its limited availability. For the vast majority of consumers, Vibe is simply not going to be an option for them. So, while you should be careful to review the account for how its benefits fit into your personal financial needs, anyone who can open a Vibe account should seriously consider doing so as long as they can meet the requirement on monthly deposits.

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Rates and fees are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of May 22, 2020.

This content is not provided by BankMobile Vibe. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by BankMobile Vibe.

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About the Author

Joel Anderson is a business and finance writer with over a decade of experience writing about the wide world of finance. Based in Los Angeles, he specializes in writing about the financial markets, stocks, macroeconomic concepts and focuses on helping make complex financial concepts digestible for the retail investor.