Chime Bank is part of a wave of online-only financial technology companies that partner with banks to provide a user-friendly banking experience. Chime’s banking partner is The Bancorp Bank, which holds FDIC-insured customer deposits behind the scenes. For most customers, it appears as if Chime is its own bank — and that’s a good thing. Chime has an excellent banking interface and provides simple, easy-to-understand banking transactions with minimal fees.
Chime customers have access to both checking and savings accounts and a Visa debit card that has no foreign transaction fees and provides access to a fee-free ATM network of over 38,000 terminals. With no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees or minimum deposit requirements, Chime is designed with the fee-averse consumer in mind. However, the bank does have some notable drawbacks. Limits on deposits are one area where the bank falls short, though its abysmal savings account interest rate is perhaps its biggest drawback.
Chime account features
Chime Bank offers both a checking account, known as the spending account, and a savings account. The checking account pays no interest at all, while the savings account pays a token rate of 0.01% APY, as of the date of publishing.
Customers have the option to turn on a feature in the spending account that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, with the excess amount automatically deposited into their savings account. For example, if you use your debit card to pay for a $9.67 purchase, Chime will round up that charge to $10 even and deposit the additional $0.33 into your savings account. This is a good way for many customers to jumpstart their savings. However, with a savings rate of 0.01% APY as of the date of publishing, savers won’t be able to build up much more than the money they actually contribute to the account.
Chime checking account features
Here are some of the most noteworthy features and benefits of the Chime spending account.
Direct deposit. Chime not only allows direct deposit, it provides customers access to their cash up to two days earlier than other financial institutions.
Cash deposit. Customers can deposit cash via third-party vendors up to three times per day in increments of up to $1,000 each, with a total daily limit of $1,000 and a monthly limit of $10,000.
Debit card. Free to use, with no hidden fees or foreign transaction costs. ATM withdrawals are free at the more than 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
Overdraft fees. Chime doesn’t allow customers to overdraw their accounts, so there are no overdraft fees.
Send money. You can send money instantly online to other Chime Bank members through the app and website.
Paper checks. Technically, Chime doesn’t offer paper checks. However, the Chime Checkbook feature allows you to send paper checks to payees with addresses in the U.S. up to $5,000 at a time, with a $10,000 monthly maximum.
Bill pay. Chime allows direct debit transfers if you provide your account number and the Chime routing number to merchants.
Mobile check deposit. You can use your smartphone to take a picture of your check and deposit up to $2,000 per check, up to 10 checks a month, with a total monthly limit of $10,000 after your spending account has been open for at least 30 days.
FDIC insurance. Deposits are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 through Chime’s partner bank, The Bancorp Bank.
Referral bonus. If you open an account, refer a friend and they receive a direct deposit of at least $200, you’ll each earn $50.
Chime savings account features
The Chime savings account is only available to customers who have an open and active Chime checking account (also known as the Chime Spending Account). Once opened, the savings account serves as the depository for the rounded-up transactions that customers charge to their debit cards. As with any savings account, additional deposits may also be made at any time.
Withdrawal limit. Online transfers from the savings account to the spending account are limited to six per statement cycle.
FDIC insurance. Just like the Chime checking account, the savings account is FDIC-insured up to $250,000 via The Bancorp Bank.
Automatic savings. When you sign up for Automatic Savings with Chime, your purchases get rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the excess automatically deposited in your savings account. You can also sign up to have a certain amount of your paycheck automatically diverted into your savings account.
Chime fees and fine print
Chime Bank promotes itself as a no-fee account, which is largely true. You won’t find any of the fees that are common with other banks, from maintenance fees to overdraft fees. There are no minimums required to open either a checking or a savings account, and there are no ongoing balance requirements either.
Just about the only way you’d trigger a fee at Chime is if you use one of the bank’s out-of-network ATMs. Although there are more than 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs available, the $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee is likely to hit a few customers at least some of the time.
|ACH bank transfer fee|
|Card replacement fee|
|Foreign transaction fee|
In addition to limit on cash deposits imposed by Chime, the following limits are also in effect:
Minimum of $25; maximum of $200 per calendar day
Up to $200 per day, maximum of up to $1,000 per calendar month
Using the Chime mobile app
As Chime is an online-only bank built by a fintech company, its mobile app is the key interface to your accounts. You can use the app to control any aspect of your account, and most users will probably prefer to manage their accounts from the app rather than from a desktop.
Once you’ve set up an account, you can log in either with your fingerprint, if your phone is so enabled, or via a passcode of your choosing.
The home page for your account will show four action buttons at the bottom: Home, Move Money, Pay Friends and ATM Map. At the top, you’ll find icons for the settings menu or live chat.
The “Move Money” tab is the heart and soul of the Chime app, as this is where you can deposit money, transfer money between accounts, mail a check, pay bills or send money to friends.
Overall, the app is very easy to use, even though it is packed with features. By keeping the page options limited and well-organized, the Chime app is intuitive and feels uncluttered.
Opening a Chime account
Applying for a Chime account is an easy process that takes about two minutes and doesn’t ding your credit score. You can sign up for a Chime account either on the website or after downloading the mobile app. You’ll need to provide basic personal information, such as your name, physical address, email address, phone number, date of birth and Social Security number.
Only citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. who are at least 18 years old with a valid Social Security number are eligible to apply for an account. Additionally, you must have an open and active Chime checking account to qualify for a savings account. Chime is a good option for those with checkered financial histories, as the bank doesn’t check credit reports or use ChexSystems in the account approval process.
What else you should know about Chime
Since Chime’s fees are extremely limited, how does the bank make money? The answer is almost exclusively through bank interchange fees. Every time you swipe your Chime debit card to make a purchase, Visa collects a fee from the merchant. Chime earns a portion of this fee.
Since Chime’s source of income is limited, it can’t afford to pay the high interest rates offered by many of its online competitors. You could be earning over 2% APY on comparable online savings accounts.
Customer service is also an issue with Chime. Although the bank claims that its customer service team is “available 24/7,” phone reps are only available from Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST. Live chat is always available, but responses are via chatbot. Answers that can’t be handled online by canned responses are sent to member services, as are emails to [email protected]
Overall review of Chime
Chime’s cash management account is a few steps away from greatness, but it’s not quite there yet. Designed from the ground-up as an online-only account, Chime is great for those who are comfortable with a mobile banking experience and looking for an easy, fee-free way to save. However, other competitors in the space have more to offer.
Compared with traditional banks, Chime is a refreshing alternative, as it has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements and no fees for almost any type of transaction. Chime has the capability to send paper checks, pay bills and transfer money to other Chime members instantly and free of charge, so in many ways, it’s similar to a traditional checking account.
However, there are some significant shortfalls that make other options in the space more appealing. Prime among these is the essentially nonexistent interest rate paid on the Chime savings account. At 0.01% APY, as of the date of publishing — and zero for the checking account — Chime is overmatched in this area. The optional ability to round up debit card transactions to the nearest dollar, with the excess being automatically deposited into Chime savings account, is a nice feature for savers, but they’ll earn next-to-nothing on those deposited amounts. Customer service is also lacking, as phone hours are not 24/7 and the “always-on” chat feature usually results in a customer service rep having to get back to you after a period of time.
For those just starting out in the online banking space, Chime offers some nice features in a more-or-less no-fee package. However, considering competitor banks also pay a high interest rate on top of having no account fees, Chime still has some work to do to become the top dog in the space.