Chime Bank Review: What Are The Pros And Cons?
“We’re changing the way people feel about banking”–that’s the Chime motto. Are they succeeding?
Let’s do a deep dive into this banking service called Chime and see if they’re making it happen.
Founded in 2013 and based in San Francisco, Chime is operating as a non-traditional banking service, designed to help members avoid fees, and save money automatically. The service charges no fees whatsoever, including overdraft fees or foreign transaction fees. Chime is one of the fastest growing bank accounts in the country, and currently has over 1 million open accounts.
The service works by providing customers with a spending account, a savings account, a debit card, and a mobile app–all designed to give customers greater control over their money.
Chime functions as a non-bank banking service, and the accounts are held through The Bancorp Bank. Bancorp provides private label banking and technology solutions to meet the business needs of non-bank companies. They have over 100 private label non-bank partners, issuing over 75 million prepaid cards, with a combined annual processing volume of $232 billion.
Though not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the agency has given Chime a rating of A- on a scale of A+ to F.
How Chime Works
When you open an account with Chime, you’re provided with three financial products:
The Chime Spending Account is an online transaction demand deposit account that can be used to make payments and transfers to third parties online. The account pays no interest, but you can link it to the Chime Savings Account, which is an interest-bearing account.
The Chime Spending Account is not a checking account in the traditional sense. In fact, they don’t even provide paper checks to their members. But they do offer their Chime Checkbook Feature absolutely free. It allows you to send checks directly from your Chime mobile app anywhere in the U.S. Checks typically arrive within three to nine business days (see more information under “Chime Mobile App” below).
You can make cash deposits into your Spending Account at over 60,000 retail locations, such as Walgreens, CVS, and 7-Eleven. The retail deposit system uses the Green Dot Network.
There is no limit to the number of times you can make deposits into the account, nor is there a maximum dollar limit. However, cash, paper checks, and foreign currency are not eligible deposit sources.
This is an optional account, but it’s only available when you open a Spending Account. The Savings Account, like the Spending Account, is available for individuals only, not joint account holders.
Money must be moved into and out of the Savings Account through the Spending Account. And since it is a savings account, you are limited by federal law to no more than six withdrawals from the account each monthly statement cycle.
The Savings Account is an interest bearing account, but it pays a rate of only 1.00% APY.
Automatic Savings: Chime uses its Automatic Savings system, similar to Acorns and other micro-savings apps.
Basically, you save money every time you make a purchase or pay a bill using your Chime Visa® Credit Card, The amount of the purchase is automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar. The difference between the rounded up amount, and the actual purchase price is transferred from your spending account into your savings account app. For example, if you make a purchase for $7.25, it will be rounded up to $8 even, with 75 cents moved into your savings account. In that way, the more you use your Chime Visa® Credit Card, the more savings you can accumulate.
You also have the ability to automatically transfer 10% of every paycheck you receive directly into your Savings Account. The combination of automatic transfers, plus debit card roundups, will make it easy to save large amounts of money quickly.
Chime Visa® Credit Card
The Card is automatic when you open a Chime spending account. it can be used at any merchant that accepts Visa. It can also be used with mobile payment providers, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
One of the benefits with the credit card is that you will receive instant transaction notifications anytime your card is used. You also have the ability to instantly block your card and order a replacement credit card, quickly and easily through the Chime mobile app.
The Chime Visa® Credit Card can also be used outside the U.S., anywhere Visa is accepted. As well, there are no foreign transaction fees for using the card abroad or for overseas purchases.
Since the credit card is issued by Visa, you’ll also enjoy the Visa Zero Liability Policy. The policy insures you will not be responsible for unauthorized charges on your card.
Chime Visa® Credit Card transactions are subject to the following limits:
Chime Features and Benefits
Chime Fees: Chime has none of the fees typically charged by banks. This includes monthly service fees, overdraft fees, and even foreign transaction fees.
However, there is one fee Chime does charge. You will be charged $2.50 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals from a financial institution or for using an out-of-network ATM.
Funding your Chime account: You can fund your account by linking it to an external bank account, by setting up direct deposit, or a combination of both. When you set up direct deposit, you can get your paycheck up to two days early. Chime can do this by making your funds available immediately, rather than subjecting you to a waiting period.
When you open a Chime Spending Account, Chime will email you a pre-filled direct deposit form that you can give to your employer to start the process.
Pay Friends feature: You can use this feature to send money to other Chime members instantly, and completely free of charge. It works through the Chime mobile app, and requires only the receivers name, phone number, or email. You can even select the contact information from your contact list on the platform.
You can send up to a maximum of $2,000 per calendar month using the Pay Friends feature.
Customer support: You can contact Chime by phone, email, or you can message the Member Services team through the Chime mobile app. Customer support is available Monday through Saturday, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Central time, and Sundays from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, excluding holidays.
Account protection and security: All accounts held with Chime are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor, through The Bancorp Bank. The service uses bank level security to protect your sensitive personal information, as well as to prevent unauthorized use. Specific security measures include 128-bit AES encryption, access control, and security processes to ensure your money is always safe with Chime.
The Chime Mobile App
The Chime Mobile App is available for iOS devices through the App Store. The app requires iOS 10 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
You can also download the app on Android devices through Google Play. It requires Android 5.0 and up.
The app can be used to deposit checks through mobile check deposit, as well as locate a free ATM machine. You can also use the app to send money instantly to family and friends. Chime also works with money sending apps, like Venmo, in case you want to send money to people who aren’t Chime users.
It also supports Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, just in case you decide to head out without your wallet (or you just forget to bring it).
Check-free check writing: If you need to mail a check, you can have one sent directly from the Chime mobile app. All you need to do is enter who you need to pay, and Chime will mail the check for you.
How to Open an Account with Chime
In order to qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, and 18 years or older. The service is available only to those living in the U.S., who have a valid Social Security number.
To open an account, you start by entering your full name, email address, and a password that you choose. You will also be required to verify your identity, which is a requirement when opening a financial account with any institution.
That will include providing your address, date of birth, Social Security number, and any other information that will help Chime to identify you. They may also ask for a copy of your driver’s license or other identifying documents.
Chime Pros and Cons
- There is no minimum initial deposit required to open an account, and no minimum balance requirement.
- Chime is a free banking service, other than use at non-network ATMs, or the receipt of cash over-the-counter from other financial institutions.
- The use of Automatic Savings, using spending round-ups, as well as direct deposits, is an excellent way to save money passively.
- The interest rate paid on the Chime Savings Account is 1.00%.
- Customer service is available seven days a week.
- The Chime Spending Account is available for individuals only. There is no ability to open a joint account. There is also no payable on death (POD) capability, or “In Trust For” (ITF) provision.
- No physical checks are available with your account, but as described above, Chime offers other ways to issue a check when necessary.
- Chime does not offer a credit card, but they promise they’re working on it.
- No physical bank branches.
- The Spending Account does not offer overdraft protection.
- Accounts can be closed after just nine months of inactivity.
Question: If I make a mobile check deposit, how soon will the funds be available?
Answer: Check deposits made by 5:00 PM , Eastern Time, on a business day, will be available on that day. If they are deposited after 5:00 PM, they will be available on the next business day. Similarly, the deposit of U.S. Treasury checks will also be available on the next business day. Most other checks will be available on the second business day after the deposit.
Question: How much sense does it make to have a checking account with no check writing capability?
Answer: The lack of check writing capability isn’t as big a limit as commonly assumed. Check writing is becoming increasingly less common, as consumers use pay by phone and other electronic payment methods, as well as debit cards. In addition, Chime’s Check-free Checking will allow you to send paper checks for the very few times they are needed each year.
Question: Does Chime provide paper statements?
Answer: No, but you can always access your statements and other information online, including through the mobile app. Both online banks and traditional banks are increasingly moving away from providing paper statements.
Question: How does Chime make money if they don’t charge fees?
Answer: Chime makes money from “interchange.” When you use your Chime Visa® Credit Card, Visa charges a small transaction fee to the merchant, usually between 2% and 3% of the purchase amount. Chime gets a percentage of that fee every time you use the debit card.
Should You Open an Account With Chime?
Chime is mostly a banking app that will work well for people who are completely comfortable with online banking, and have no need for bank branches or use of a traditional checking account.
The absence of those amenities is more than offset by the fact that Chime does not charge fees on the accounts, as well as providing the ability to save money through completely passive strategies. It’s a perfect banking service for someone who has been unable to save money in the past, and needs a system of savings that will take place completely out of sight.
However, Chime will not work for customers who look for traditional banking services, like actual checking accounts, as well as loan accounts, like mortgages, credit cards, and auto loans. Even if you do take advantage of the service, it’s likely you’ll need to maintain a relationship with a brick and mortar bank to gain access to the services that are not provided by Chime.
If you’d like more information, or you’d like to open an account, visit the Chime website.Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
1Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.
Chime APY Disclosure - The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of July 13, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
Chime ATM Disclosure - Get 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.