BankMobile Vibe Review: Digital Checking Account for Students

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BankMobile
4.1
SCORE
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Quick Take: BankMobile Vibe looks to meet the demands of students more directly, with features built around the needs of young adults currently matriculated at colleges and universities. In fact, attending a college that's partnered with BankMobile is one requirement for opening up a BankMobile Vibe account.
  • Rates
    4.0
  • Fees
    4.0
  • Rewards
    4.5
  • Features
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Interest checking 
  • Direct deposit of paychecks up to two days early 
  • Rewards program with chance to win cash
  • Fee-free access to Allpoint ATM network
  • Features for easy bill pay and budgeting

Cons

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

BankMobile Vibe Overview

BankMobile Vibe is a checking account marketed directly to students. BMTX Inc. is a company that partners with colleges and universities to help them handle financial aid and refunds through its BankMobile Disbursements platform, and it also offers consumer banking through BankMobile Vibe to those same students who might already be familiar with its services.  

But does BankMobile Vibe 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.

Key Features

To make an informed decision about whether this account is right for you, it can be helpful to learn about its key features. 

Rates

BankMobile Vibe’s checking rate isn’t the highest, but it also isn’t the lowest. You’ll earn APY on balances up to $1,000.99. For balances over $1,000.99, an interest rate of 0.01% applies to the portion of the balance that exceeds that amount.

Fees

The amount and types of fees you’ll have to pay when you open a checking account are important, and the most notable fee that the BankMobile Vibe checking account charges is the $2.99 monthly service fee. This fee applies if you don’t make deposits of at least $300 per statement cycle, which could add up to $35.88 annually. Qualifying deposits to the account include direct deposit, transfers from external bank accounts, check and cash deposits and point-of-sale deposits.

ATM fees can also be a concern. If you use an Allpoint ATM, no fees apply. However, use of an out-of-network ATM will incur a $3 fee.

Beyond those charges, BankMobile Vibe fees are relatively low. In particular, there are no overdraft fees.

Rewards

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. You’ll earn stamps based on your GPA, as well as for paying bills, budgeting and saving.

Once you earn 10 stamps, you’ll have “Adventurer Status,” which means you’ll be eligible for special deals and discounts. Every stamp you earn will also allow you to enter into the semiannual drawing of up to $10,000 along with other BankMobile Vibe customers to put toward your student loans.

Features 

The BankMobile Vibe digital checking account comes with a variety of features that make it easy to manage your money, including the following: 

  • Mobile deposit
  • A network of over 55,000 free ATMs
  • Money Meter and SnapShot budgeting tools
  • On/off switch for the BankMobile Debit Mastercard  
  • Bill pay
  • Direct deposit of paychecks up to two days early
  • Tax refunds up to three days early

How BankMobile Vibe Stands Out

BankMobile Vibe stands out mainly because it is student-centered. You must be a student to open this account. The checking account also pays interest and has attractive features like early direct deposit and budgeting tools. Plus, it has a unique rewards program and offers the chance to win up to $10,000 to pay toward your student loans.

Comparable Options

When deciding whether to open a bank account, it’s helpful to compare other options. Here’s information on a couple of banking accounts that are appropriate for students but don’t have the application restrictions like BankMobile Vibe does. 

SoFi

SoFi offers a checking and savings account package to college students. It offers fee-free ATM transactions at all ATMs in the Allpoint network plus overdraft protection. One of the biggest differences is that it does not charge any service fees. However, it also doesn’t pay interest like the BankMobile Vibe account. All you need is your .edu email address to get started. 

LendingClub 

LendingClub offers Rewards Checking that allows account holders to earn unlimited 1% cash back with the use of the account’s debit card. There are no monthly service or overdraft fees and no requirements regarding a minimum balance or number of transactions. Another advantage is that LendingClub will give you unlimited ATM rebates if you use out-of-network machines. However, while this account does earn interest, it starts at only APY, which is not as good as the starting rate BankMobile Vibe offers.

How To Sign Up

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 it has partnered with BankMobile and how you can sign up. 

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

Who BankMobile Vibe Is Best For

BankMobile Vibe is best for students attending one of BankMobile’s partner schools. For students with good financial habits, a strong academic ability and a regular source of income, BankMobile Vibe offers a lot of great features. Your existing habits in the classroom and with your budget will help you rack up stamps, earn special deals and discounts and improve your chances of winning the semiannual drawing — which can be for as much as $10,000.

Additionally, the checking account’s APY on balances up to $1,000.99 is nothing to scoff at.

Final Take

For the vast majority of consumers, BankMobile Vibe is simply not going to be an option. 

To open a BankMobile Vibe digital checking account, you’ll need to be attending one of BankMobile’s partner schools, which include over 700 colleges, universities or community colleges. It has some good features and benefits, but you might be able to find an account that fits your needs better elsewhere, including one that doesn’t require you to deposit $300 monthly to avoid monthly service fees. 

FAQ

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about BankMobile Vibe.
  • Is BankMobile Vibe only for students?
    • Yes. BankMobile Vibe is a checking account reserved for students who attend one of BankMobile's partner schools.
  • What bank does BankMobile Vibe use?
    • Customers Bank provides the BankMobile Vibe account. 
  • Can you transfer money from a BankMobile Vibe account to another bank?
    • Yes, but you may have to pay an outgoing wire fee of $25.

Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Oct. 26, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 15 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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