Chime Review: An Online Banking Option With No Monthly Fees
Breadth of Products
Opening Deposit Requirements
Chime is very different from the traditional banking experience. It’s often referred to as a “challenger bank” — a term used for fintechs, or financial technology companies, that don’t have an official banking charter but can provide many of the same services. Check out this Chime review to find out why twelve million people have switched to Chime and if it’s right for you.
- Full-featured mobile app
- $0 monthly maintenance, minimum balance or overdraft fees
- Get paid up to two days early1 with direct deposit
- Round up debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and the spare change goes to your savings account
- Great for bad credit checking/second chance banking, as it does not rely on ChexSystems or credit checks
- FDIC insured
- A credit-builder secured Visa credit card is available. Eligibility requirements apply.2
- Current savings rate of 0.50%3 is higher than most banks
- Access to over 60,000 in-network ATMs
- One fee to watch out for — out-of-network ATM fees for $2.50
- No joint accounts are available yet
- Limited account options
- No branch locations
Chime is headquartered in San Francisco and launched in 2014. Chime offers mobile and online financial services with an award-winning app that allows you to manage your money on-the-go! Chime doesn’t have any physical branches — online banking is key, using the simple-to-understand mobile app and debit card to handle your everyday finances.
Chime is not a bank. This approach lowers Chime’s operating costs and cuts out many of the fees you’re used to paying. A good example is Chime’s partnerships with Stride Bank and The Bancorp Bank, which adds FDIC protection for Chime account holders, up to $250,000.
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.
The foundation of your Chime experience is the Checking 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 60,000+ fee-free ATMs4 or by asking for cash back at 40,000 participating locations. Chime works with retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS and Rite Aid that don’t charge you a fee for cash back.
You don’t have to worry about overdraft charges either. Chime created SpotMe®, which covers overdrafts starting at $20 and up to $2005 over time for eligible members. For any larger amount, the transaction is declined to save you an overdraft 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.
You can receive direct deposits up to two days earlier1 than scheduled with early access direct deposit. Note that bank transfers can take up to five to seven business days to clear, however. One of the big complaints about online-only banks is what to do with cash. Chime solved the issue by partnering with many of the same retailers that allow you to get cash back, to accept cash deposits6 on your behalf.
Chime’s optional savings account has one of the highest interest rates of all savings accounts at this time, at 0.50% APY — Annual Percentage Yield (APY)3 — 8x7 the national average, ranking in ninth place in GOBankingRates’ study on the Best Savings Accounts of 2022. 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. There are $0 monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance required.
Save When I Get Paid allows you to designate a percentage of your direct deposit to your savings.8 You have to enable it in settings. You can also use rounding up — a clever way to put a few cents extra for each purchase you make towards your savings account. You won’t be able to directly deposit to the account, however.
All you need to do is toggle on rounding up and each time you make a payment or purchase with the debit card, Chime will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and send the amount to your savings account.
Chime’s Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
If you 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 their decisions on ChexSystems reports or credit scores. And best of all, you can start on your credit-rebuilding journey by applying for Chime’s Credit Builder secured Visa® Credit Card. Eligibility requirements apply.2
The credit card secures the credit limit from funds you move from your Checking Account to your secured credit builder account and won’t pull your credit. There is no annual fee or interest charges, either, which is rare for secured credit cards. Turn on Safer Credit Building and have your monthly balance automatically paid on time.8 Chime will report your activities to TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax®. Balances won’t affect your credit utilization ratio.
Enabling Safer Credit Building will help you. It makes an automatic payment towards your balance on time every month to avoid late payments.8 Chime will also report your payments to the credit bureaus. Note that the money you put towards securing the card is locked and unavailable for spending or bills.
Chime Review: Best Features
GOBankingRates awarded Chime with an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 based on four features it found to be the strongest.
As mentioned already, Chime is a fintech firm that prides itself in a user-friendly experience, transforming banking into something that can be completed by nearly anyone from a smart device or computer. It’s arguably Chime’s biggest strength. The app and website are extremely simple to navigate and feature helpful explanations along the way.
Breadth of Products
Other online banks and fintechs may have a wider variety of products including CDs, money markets and loans. However, the typical Chime customer is in search of a simple, no-frills way to bank. In many cases, they’re just starting on their financial journey or looking to rebuild credit. A checking and savings account — as well as one credit card option — can be the perfect package.
Opening Deposit Requirements
Chime makes banking extremely accessible to everyone by keeping the requirements down to a minimum. Knowing you can open an account with no money upfront is a great barrier to break down. You can always have your paychecks direct deposited later or contribute as much as you can afford to the account without stressing out.
Chime’s no-fee policy is refreshing. You’ll spend less time diving into the fine print, knowing that there are no monthly maintenance, minimum balance, overdraft with SpotMe®5 or inactivity fees to worry about. Considering that most Americans waste an average of $100 per year in bank fees, Chime can help you redirect the money to more useful things, such as your savings.
Chime’s Pay Friends feature lets you make mobile payments to people you know. You can send up to $2,000 per month to friends or family as long as they have a phone or email address. It can simplify your life by cutting out the need to use apps such as Venmo, PayPal or CashApp.
Chime doesn’t have any physical branches, so the banking experience is pretty much digital, except for the occasions of ATM visits or making cash deposits6 at participating retailers.
Contact Chime by calling 1-844-244-6363 or through the mobile app.
Accessibility and Branch Availability
Chime does not have any locations. However, you have access to more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs.3 In addition, you can make cash deposits and request cash back at participating retailers including:
- Circle K Stores
- Cumberland Farms
- Dollar General
- Duane Reade
- Family Dollar
- Rite Aid
Mobile and Digital Experience
Chime’s app is the control center for your banking and is 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 information remains safe. You can view balances, send money to friends, find nearby ATMs or cash deposit6 locations and toggle features, such as debit card transactions or rounding up, on and off in seconds.
Chime reviews from customers rank the app at about average:
- Google Play: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 290K votes
- Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5 stars, 346K votes
Where to download the app:
Convenience and Ease of Use
Chime is all about ease of use. Their products and services are member-first and designed to help everyone move forward on their financial journey.
How To Open an Account
Chime makes opening a checking account simple. As mentioned, nearly anyone can open an account since credit history doesn’t factor into the decision. As long as you’re aged 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or resident, you can get started using the mobile app or website by:
- Clicking/tapping on Apply
- Entering your name, email address and Social Security number
- Answer if you’d like to open an optional linked savings account now or later
- Create an account password
- Wait for approval
- Set up direct deposit by providing your employer with your Chime account number and routing number
- Wait for a Chime debit Visa card to arrive in the mail
The only fee associated with a Chime account is a $2.50 out of network fee per non-network or over-the-counter ATM withdrawal.
Chime vs. Competitors
Take a look at this comparison between Chime and some of its competitors.
|Ally||Broader account options|
|Capital One||Online banking with some physical branches|
Chime vs. Ally Bank
Ally Bank is also an online bank 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 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.
Chime is reinventing banking — and people are responding well to the concept. The app is working on removing all the objections that hold people back from going fully digital. You can make cash deposits6 at participating retailers, pay friends and bills without the need for checks and finally have a account, even if you have bad credit.
Chime FAQHere are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Chime.
- Are Chime cash-backs 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?
- Chime's daily ATM limit for withdrawals is $500 per day.
- Are there Chime locations?
- Chime doesn't have any physical branches, but you can make free withdrawals at any 60,000 ATMs.
This article was updated on May 2, 2022 to include additional disclosures from Chime.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC
1Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
2To be eligible to apply for Credit Builder, you need to have received a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account within 365 days of your Credit Builder application. The qualifying direct deposit must have been made by your employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.
3The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of Dec. 20, 2021. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
4Get fee-free transactions at any Moneypass ATM in a 7-Eleven location and at any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Otherwise, out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply.
5Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
6The retailer that receives your cash will be responsible for transferring the funds for deposit into your Chime Checking Account. Cash deposit fees may apply if using a retailer other than Walgreens.
7The average national savings account interest rate of 0.05% is determined by FDIC as of January 18, 2022 based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Visit https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/ to learn more. Rates are subject to change. Information on accounts is accurate as of April 1, 2022.
8Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Checking Account into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
9On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian® and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.