Beam Bank Review: Is It the Right Bank for You?

This mobile app offers a unique way to save.

Beam is not technically a bank but rather a San Francisco-based fintech app. The account offers savings rates of up to 4% annual percentage yield, with even higher rates temporarily available. The Beam experience is completely app-based, so it’s not for everyone. But its unique structure could be just the savings vehicle you’re looking for. To help you make that decision, here’s a closer look at how Beam works. 

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Who Is Beam Best For?

Beam is only available via a mobile app, and it offers a single savings product, so it’s not for everyone. The pros and cons of Beam spell out pretty clearly who might be interested in using Beam.

Pros:

  • No fees 
  • Unlimited transfers in and out
  • Permanent APY as high as 4%, with temporary boosts to 7% available 

Cons:

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  • Available via app only 
  • Only a single savings account available
  • Basic 0.20% APY only increased through daily activity 
  • Maximum account opening size currently limited to $15,000 

Compare: Pros and Cons of Online Savings Accounts

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Who Might Want To Choose Beam?

Beam offers a single account with a sole purpose: to pay as high of an APY as possible, with no fees. Delivered in a mobile app format, the account is best for those without the need for branches or in-person customer support. 

To gain the highest available APY, customers must engage with the app daily. Those with time and determination to consistently interact with the mobile app will enjoy all of the benefits that Beam has to offer.

See: 9 Best Mobile Banking Apps — Functionality and Convenience To Manage Your Money

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Who Might Want To Skip Beam?

As Beam only offers a single savings account, it’s not a great choice for those who want a comprehensive banking experience, including checking, CD, investment and loan accounts. It’s also not appropriate for those in need of full-service branch banking or ATM access, as Beam doesn’t offer either.

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Beam requires customers to interact with the app at least daily to earn higher yields, so it’s also not a good choice for those who just want to set money aside and have it grow on its own.

Find Out: Are High-Yield Savings Accounts Worth It? 

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Types of Accounts Available

Beam offers a single, mobile-only savings account, with no web or ATM access. 

Beam Account Types
Account APY Fees
Beam Savings Account 0.20%-7% $0

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Beam Savings Account

The Beam Savings account has no fees and offers the potential to earn a high APY. The standard APY on the account is just 0.20%. By sending referrals to the company, however, you can increase that rate dramatically. Beam breaks down these rate increases into temporary and permanent tiers.

To temporarily increase your APY, Beam will ask you to participate in daily activities on the app. For example, if you collect free Daily Rate Rewards in the app, known as “Billies,” you can potentially increase your rate up to 7% daily. Inviting friends to subscribe to the app’s mailing list is another example of how you can increase your daily rate. 

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By participating in certain activities, you can also permanently increase your APY on the account in various tiers. Available rate tiers are 0.50%, 1.00%, 1.50%,  2.00%, 2.50%, 3.00%, 3.50% and 4.00%. The promotions to earn these permanent interest rate bumps are disclosed in the app and can vary from day to day. 

Beam calculates your interest daily based on your qualifying rate. Accounts are insured for up to $500,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. through the company’s bank partners.

Essentially, the Beam app is a savings account with a modest APY that offers incentives to generate additional interest. If you want to keep up your earnings rate, you’ll have to be constantly involved with the app. Between sending out referrals and checking the account daily, you’ll have to actively participate to earn a high rate of interest. Otherwise, your APY will dwindle to the lowest tier level that you’ve previously attained.

Beyond the APY games in the app, there isn’t much else to the Beam account. There is no ATM access or check writing available with the account, and there are no other account types available. 

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Check Out: Best Online Savings Accounts for Earning High-Yield Profits

Pros:

  • Temporary rates of up to 7% APY
  • Permanent rates of up to 4% APY

Cons:

  • Starting interest rate of 0.20% APY
  • No physical locations
  • No website for account servicing
  • Maximum opening deposit of $15,000

See: Best Checking Accounts of 2020

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How To Bank With Beam

To open an account, you’ll have to join the mailing list on the Beam website. The company will then email you a download link for the app. When you sign up, you’ll have to verify your identity with information such as your Social Security number and address. You’ll also need to link an existing bank account to Beam for funding purposes. Once your account is open, you can begin earning your Billies by following the instructions the app provides, including sending out referral links to your friends.

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Mobile and Online Banking

Unlike nearly any other bank or financial institution, there’s no online banking available with Beam. The Beam account is only accessible via a mobile device. To get the app, you’ll have to provide Beam with your email address. From there, you’ll be asked for your phone number, so Beam can text you a link to download the app. 

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Fees

Beam’s fee structure is simple: It has none. There are no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, account closure or ATM fees, all of which are common with other checking and savings accounts. 

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Availability of Funds

Beam doesn’t offer an ATM card or physical branches, so funds transfer is the only way to get money into or out of the account. Transfers out of your Beam account are typically available in the destination account within three to five business days. 

See: Guide to Daily ATM Withdrawal Limits and Debit Purchase Limits 

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Beam: For Actively Engaged Savers Only

Beam advertises a no-fee savings account with an ongoing 4% APY that can temporarily spike to as much as 7%. However, the starting rate only amounts to 0.20% APY. To earn the 7% rate, or even the 4% rate, the app requires you to enroll other customers and collect daily tokens known as Billies from the app. 

For customers willing to round up referrals and engage with the app daily, Beam can be a good deal. However, for those who just want a no-fee, high-yield savings account, it might be much easier to find one of Beam’s online savings account competitors. Those banks can’t generally top Beam’s headline yields, but they can trounce the ongoing 0.20% APY that inactive customers receive from Beam.

Up Next: Best New Bank Promotions and Bonuses

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Rates and fees are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of April 27, 2020. 

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

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About the Author

John Csiszar

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.

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