Chime Review: An Online Banking Option With No Monthly Fees

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Our take: Chime is very different from the traditional banking experience. In fact, the financial technology company is often referred to as a "challenger bank." Depending on how comfortable you are with change, this could be a good thing, especially when you can save on the niggling bank fees that tend to add up. Check out this Chime review to find out why 5 million people have switched to Chime.
  • Fees
    5.0
  • Opening Deposit Requirements
    5.0
  • Breadth of Products
    4.0
  • Digital Platform
    5.0
How did we calculate this?

Start with a quick overview of what the company does well — and what needs improvement.

Pros

  • Practically no fees
  • Early direct deposits
  • Full-featured mobile app
  • Round up debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and the spare change goes to your savings account
  • Second-chance banking option for those with bad credit; does not rely on ChexSystems or credit checks
  • FDIC-insured
  • A credit-builder secured credit card is available
  • Current savings APY of 0.50% is higher than rates at most banks

Cons

  • There is one fee to watch out for — a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee
  • No joint accounts available yet
  • Limited account options
  • No physical locations

    About Chime

    Chime is headquartered in San Francisco and was launched in 2014. Its innovative fintech roots are the top reason why it’s different from traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Chime doesn’t have any physical branches — most everything can be handled using the simple-to-understand mobile app and debit card.

    Chime’s partnerships with Stride Bank and The Bancorp Bank help the company create “member-first financial products.” The approach lowers Chime’s operating costs and cuts out many of the fees you’re used to paying. Chime’s partnerships with these banks also add FDIC protection for Chime account holders, up to $250,000.

    Chime Products

    Chime does not have a comprehensive list of bank account options, but you may not need much more than the following:

    Type Key Details
    Spending Account (Checking)
    • No minimum opening balance
    • No monthly fees
    • Early direct deposits
    Savings Account
    • No opening balance requirement
    • No fees
    • APY of 0.50%
    Credit Builder (Secured Visa)
    • No credit check
    • No annual fee
    • No interest
    Direct Deposit
    • Get paid electronically
    • Access your paycheck up to two days earlier
    SpotMe
    • Available if you receive at least $500 per month in direct deposits
    • Chime covers $20 to $100 in overdrafts for free
    Automatic Savings
    • Rounds up your debit card purchases to send to savings
    • Turn the feature off and on as needed
    Pay Friends (Mobile Payments)
    • Send up to $2,000 per month to friends
    • Send to Chime members or anyone with a phone or email address

    Chime Accounts

    Chime wants to make banking accessible for everyone, regardless of credit history. You don’t have to worry about credit checks or ChexSystems to open an account. Here’s a more detailed look at Chime’s products.

    Chime Spending Account

    The foundation of your Chime banking experience is the Spending Account — you’ll receive and send money from it. Opening one is easy — there are no monthly fees, minimum requirements or opening balances to meet.

    As for charges, there is only a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee. You can easily avoid the fee if you stick with the 38,000-plus free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs that Chime offers access to, or by asking for cash back at participating locations. Chime tries to work with retailers that don’t charge you a fee for cash back, such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid.

    You don’t have to worry about overdraft charges either. Chime created SpotMe, which covers overdrafts starting at $20 and all the way up to $100 over time. For any larger amount, the transaction is declined to save you an NSF charge. If you’re wondering how you would even bounce a check, Chime covers overdrafts from debit card transactions and Chime Checkbook, which is similar to bill pay.

    One of the big questions some people have about online-only banks is about what to do with cash. Chime solved the issue by partnering with the same retailers that allow you to get cash back, to accept cash deposits on your behalf.

    Pros

    • Comes with a linked ATM card
    • Cash deposits at participating retailers clear within two hours
    • Receive direct deposits up to two days earlier than scheduled
    • No ATM fees at over 38,000 locations
    • Bad-credit friendly

    Cons

    • Paper checks are not available
    • Bank transfers take up to five business days to clear

    Chime Savings Account

    Chime has one of the highest interest rates of all savings accounts at 0.50% APY. However, it’s more than a place to park money for an emergency or for a goal. You can set up automated savings to grow your balance. Save When I Get Paid allows you to designate a percentage of your direct deposit to your savings. You can also use rounding up — a clever way to put a few extra cents for each purchase you make toward your savings account.

    All you need to do is toggle the option for rounding up and each time you make a payment with the debit card, Chime will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and send the amount to your savings account.

    Pros

    • High-yield interest rate of 0.50% APY
    • No monthly maintenance fees
    • No minimum balance requirements
    • Round up your purchases to grow your savings
    • The monthly limit of six transfers from Chime Savings to Chime Spending has been removed

    Cons

    • You can’t deposit directly to the account

    Chime Credit Builder

    If you’ve had some past financial challenges that you feel still come back to haunt you, you may be relieved to know that Chime won’t penalize you for them. Chime is committed to giving a fresh start to everyone by not basing its decisions on ChexSystems reports or credit scores. And best of all, you can start on your credit-rebuilding journey by signing up for Chime’s Credit Builder secured Visa.

    The credit card secures the credit limit from funds in your Spending Account and won’t pull your credit. There is no annual fee or interest charges, either, which is rare for secured credit cards. The point of the card is to show the credit agencies that you can spend responsibly and pay your bills on time.

    Enabling Safer Credit Building will help you. It makes an automatic payment toward your balance on time every month to avoid late payments. Chime will also report your timely payments to the credit bureaus.

    Pros

    • No credit checks
    • No annual fee or interest
    • Safer Credit Building automates payments so you don’t miss one
    • Chime reports your payment history to the credit bureaus to improve your score
    • Balances don’t affect your credit utilization ratio

    Cons

    • The money you put toward securing the card is locked and unavailable for spending or bills

    Banking Experience

    Chime doesn’t have any physical locations, so the banking experience is pretty much digital, except for the occasions of ATM visits or making cash deposits at participating retailers.

    Customer Service

    Contact Chime by calling 844-244-6363 or through the mobile app.

    Accessibility and Branch Availability

    Chime does not have any locations. However, you have access to over 38,000 free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. In addition, you can make cash deposits and request cash back at participating retailers, including:

    • 7-Eleven
    • Circle K
    • Cumberland Farms
    • CVS
    • Dollar General
    • Duane Reade
    • Family Dollar
    • Rite Aid
    • Speedway
    • Walgreens
    • Walmart

    Mobile and Digital Experience

    Chime’s app is the control center for your banking and extremely simple, full-featured and user-friendly. After all, it’s built by a tech company. The bank uses 128-bit AES encryption to ensure your personal data remains safe. You can view balances, send money to friends, find nearby ATMs or cash deposit locations and toggle features, such as debit card transactions or rounding up, on and off in seconds.

    User reviews of the Chime app are generally positive. Here’s a look at the app’s average ratings:

    Convenience and Ease of Use

    Chime is all about ease of use. Its products and services are member-first and designed to help everyone move forward on their financial journey.

    How To Open a Chime Account

    Chime makes opening a bank account simple. As mentioned, nearly anyone can open an account since credit history doesn’t factor in to the decision. As long as you’re 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or resident, you can get started using the mobile app or website by following these steps:

    1. Click or tap on the “Get Started” button in the upper right corner of the homepage.
    2. Enter your name, email address and Social Security number.
    3. Answer if you’d like to open a linked savings account now or later.
    4. Create an account password.
    5. Wait for approval.
    6. Set up direct deposit by providing your employer with your Chime bank account number and routing number.
    7. Wait for a Chime Visa debit card to arrive in the mail.

    Key Information

    Customer service phone number: 844-244-6363

    Routing number: Can be found in the Settings or Move Money section of the mobile app

    Promotions: Newest Chime Promos and Bonuses

    Hours: See Chime’s Hours

    Login: Chime Login Help

    Chime Fees

    The only fee associated with a Chime account is a $2.50 fee per non-network or over-the-counter ATM withdrawal.

    Chime vs. Competitors

    Here’s a look at how Chime stacks up against its competitors:

    Banking option Best For
    Chime Full-featured mobile app
    Ally Bank Broader account options
    Capital One Online banking with some physical locations

    Chime vs. Ally Bank

    Ally Bank is also an online-only banking option with low fees and high-yield savings. Chime’s mobile app is better designed, but Ally beats Chime when it comes to comprehensive products. You’ll have access to multiple account options, including checking, savings and money market accounts, as well as loans and investments.

    Chime vs. Capital One

    Capital One also offers free online banking but edges out Chime with innovative Capital One Cafes, where you can talk to an advisor or attend a financial seminar. Cafes are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but should be open again when it’s safe.

    Final Take

    Chime is reinventing banking — and people are responding well to the concept. The company is working on removing all the objections that hold people back from going fully digital. You can make cash deposits at participating retailers, pay friends and bills without the need for checks and finally have a bank account, even if you have bad credit.

    More Low-Fee Banks

    Bank Branches

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      Editor’s Favorite

      With the round-up feature, you can automate your savings without having to feel the pain in your budget. If you buy a latte for $4.59, Chime rounds up to $5 and the additional 41 cents moves to your savings account. It’s a good way to start a lifelong habit of growing your savings.

      Chime FAQ

      Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Chime.
      • Are Chime cash-back requests free?
        • If you're able to get cash back at a participating retailer, it's free since Chime pre-negotiated the service.
      • How much money can I withdraw?
      • Are there Chime locations?
        • Chime doesn't have any physical branches, but you can make free withdrawals at any of over 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.

      Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of May 20, 2021.

      This content is not provided by Chime. 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 Chime.

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      About the Author

      Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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