The Bottom Line: Chime Bank is banking made awesome. No hidden bank fees, get paid up to two days early, grow your savings automatically and always be in control of your money with our mobile banking app.
No Fee Online Bank
AT A GLANCE
- Overdraft fee-free
- Get early paycheck deposits
- No overdraft
- High yield savings accounts
Best No-Fee Online Bank
Pros & Cons
There are lots of fees you’ll need to pay for — a bank account shouldn’t be one of them.
Yes, not all banks charge account or overdraft fees.
Think of the overdraft charges you could save yourself per day (some places charge at least $35 a pop, that money adds up).
Luckily, companies like Chime Bank aim to change the way you bank.
They’re an online-only bank that can keep their costs low by eliminating much of the overhead costs many traditional brick and mortar banks have.
Chime Bank also has a state of the art mobile app — it’s really easy to transfer money, deposit cash, review your statements and locate an ATM.
You can even conduct bill pay, even on the go.
Account Minimum: $0
Monthly Fees: $0
Promotion: $50 refer a friend cash bonus
What is Chime Bank?
Let’s talk about what Chime Bank is before getting into the details of what it offers.
The Bancorp Bank — a company that offers banking services for a whole slew of private label banks — white-labels the bank services Chime Bank offers.
The Bancorp Bank is an FDIC institution and has been since July 2000.
What this means is that all The Bancorp Bank handles all the legal aspects of running a bank.
What Chime does is it adds in their services — including their apps, debit cards and rewards program — on top of what Bancorp already offers.
In this sense Chime is its own separate entity in terms of the features and perks it offers.
Chime’s design is to help you use is your main bank — you’re encouraged to get direct deposit into your accounts and rewards you for your spending.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using Chime alongside other banks and finding other ways to deposit cash.
It’s also designed for mobile users since most features are available on their app.
Think of Chime’s spending account is a simple checking account that doesn’t offer any interest , minimum balance amounts or paper checks.
There is a feature called Chime Checkbook where you can send someone a paper check. To do so, log into your app and into your account to the bill pay section.
Then follow the app’s prompts and fill in the required details. Once complete, Chime will process your payment and will mail a physical check within three to nine business days.
Other features include managing your money, transferring money between Chime and external accounts, and the ability to view all your transactions.
You can even analyze your spending plus instant notifications from your account.
If you opt into direct deposit, Chime claims you can receive your paycheck up to two days earlier than your co-workers.
Since your debit card is linked to the spending account, you can use it to make purchases and pay online bills easily and securely.
Once you get an approval for your spending account application, you’ll receive a free Chime Visa debit card, mailed within 10 business days.
The card is linked to the account and you can use it anywhere in the U.S. that will accept it.
Your debit card can also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs. In fact, if you do so at any MoneyPass ATMs, you don’t have to pay any surcharges.
You can find them using your Chime app — there are more than 24,000 locations.
Otherwise, you can get cash back when you check out at participating retailers like CVS, Safeway, Target and Walmart among numerous others.
Savings and Micro savings
Once you have a spending account, you can also open a savings account.
You’ll need one if you want to opt into Chime’s automatic savings program, or their micro savings feature. Yes, it means you need to sign up again by filling out another application form.
The Automatic Savings Program helps you automatically save each time you make a purchase.
Whenever you do so with your Chime debit card, the program will round up your purchase to the next dollar and the difference is moved into your savings account.
There is no limit to how many round ups you get.
Other Cool Features
Cash Back Rewards
Chime also features a cash back rewards program when you use your debit card.
If you use it to pay bills to participating retailers and utility companies, you’ll receive the opportunity to redeem for rewards.
Think cash back rewards you’ll normally find with credit cards or savings apps. You’ll find that rewards are frequently updated and are either for a certain category or a specific retailer.
Split The Bill
Split the Bill is another feature that can be helpful when you’re splitting a payment with other people.
How it works is that you can split utility bills, or other purchases using Chime’s app.
Then it’ll send a text message to your intended recipient with a link for them to pay you back using their own Chime account or via Venmo.
SpotMe is another nifty feature. It’s similar to overdraft protection except you won’t be charged a fee.
Chime will spot you on debit card purchases — up to $100 for eligible account holders. When you make your next deposit, Chime will apply the overdraft amount to your negative balance.
Once your balance is repaid, you can tip Chime any amount you wish to help pay it forward, though it’s not required.
To qualify for this feature, you’ll need to make at least a total monthly direct deposit of $500 at a minimum to be able to enroll. Upon approval, your limit starts at $20 then up to $100 or more.
Chime determines your actual limit by various factors, including your account activity and history. To find out, contact customer service representatives for your specific situation.
Chime’s list of fee is minimal. You won’t be charged any overdraft, maintenance, foreign transaction and bounced check fees.
Plus, you won’t need to pay ATM fees if you use one of the 24,000+ machines in the MoneyPass network.
However, you will need to pay $2.50 to use an out of network ATM and 3% of the amount transferred when you add money to your account using a debit card instead of a direct transfer (also known as an external debit charge).
In other words, it’s pretty much a free account as long as you make sure to use an in-network ATM and conduct bank transfers only.
There’s also no overdraft fee because this overdraft protection isn’t available, unless you qualify for their SpotMe feature.
That means if you try to withdraw cash or make a purchase that’s higher than your balance amount, your transaction will be denied.
As for account balance minimums, there are none or either savings or spending accounts. You will face cash back, paper check and transfer limitations.
Your external bank will have different limitations, so here are Chime’s:
Chime vs. Competitors
Who Chime Is Best For?
Chime is best for those who want a simple bank to store their cash and one that helps them save on the side as well.
If you’re someone who doesn’t care about visiting a branch to do transactions and are comfortable with using a mobile device to do banking, then give Chime a try.
It’s also best for single folks who don’t intend on making large transactions, as currently you’re only allowed $5,000 in a single transaction.
However there’s no limit to the amount of checks you can send. Plus, you can’t have joint accounts so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want one with your partner.
If you’re also someone looking to do all their banking (including taking out loans), Chime isn’t for you.
Don’t dismiss the bank just yet because you never know what other features and product it’ll expand into.
How to Get Started With Chime
Signing up for a bank account takes less than a few minutes.
Log in through the smartphone and make a deposit by electing to use direct deposit or send money manually.
To do so, you can link to another bank within the Chime app or through your external bank.
You can also use Green Dot, a prepaid card company to make deposits.
There are also wire transfers and using a U.S. based external debit card (there could be limitations, see below).
Once you’re all set, you’ll need to do your banking through their mobile app — activating a new debit cards, transferring money and opening a savings account.
Should You Use Chime Bank?
Chime Bank can be a good option if you’re looking for a simple banking option and hate the thought of paying fees, then it’s worth opening an account.
It will help you with automatic savings and earn rewards every time you use your debit card.
If you’re worried about the technology, know that Chime’s mobile banking app is intuitive and there have been many positive reviews.
Unfortunately, if you’re after the highest account rates, you won’t find that here, though a fraction of a percent here and there might not make much of a difference with smaller balances.
Considering you pay little to no fees, at least give Chime Bank a chance.
Who knows, with time Chime could expand to have more features, comparable to the major players.
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