*****12/1/2020 update: I raise my rating from one star to three. Varo earned my upgrade by 1) obtaining their banking charter in October and 2) recoding their app and website. Varo will earn a perfect score when it offers 1) beneficiary designation for an account, 2) joint accounts, and 3) better-trained service reps. See updates to my original critiques below for details on the above.*****
Varo isn't the only fintech that uses borrowed credentials (via Plaid) to access third-party accounts - I allow my HSA fintech to access my brokerage in this manner.
Varo, however, is a different story altogether.
First, Varo uses Bancorp as their back office (transaction processing), so there are actually three potential security targets. Three! Varo claims that they are moving to have their own banking charter (so they don't have to rely on Bancorp), but in the meantime... *****12/1/2020 update: Bancorp (and Plaid, if you create an external link using the website) is out of the picture, as I can now link accounts external to Varo with micro-ACH deposits.*****
Second, I have never experienced such a level of incompetence/dereliction in staff and systems in a financial institution. For example, one day I received an automated email that I would begin to earn the lesser rate because I failed to meet the requirements of the higher rate. After I inquired as to which requirement, I received the normal automated email congratulating me on earning the higher rate. Two days later, a rep responded to my email, saying that my earned rate will be lower because I had kept my savings account balance under $10K. Can you believe that I had to tell him that that IS one of the three requirements for earning the higher rate? *****12/1/2020 update: Responses to email takes at least two days and when you get a response, it still requires multiple exchanges where one or two is warranted.*****
Third, neither the checking ("Bank") or savings accounts can be jointly held (eg, by husband and wife). Another future feature, I was told. *****12/1/2020 update: No change.*****
Fourth, and critically important because of the previous point, there is no way to indicate one's beneficiary designation. *****12/1/2020 update: No change, but why not? Seems easy enough to implement.*****
Fifth, the web portal has limited function compared to the app. You can't transfer money; you have to use the app. The checking and savings balances match those shown in the app, but the transaction detail has a one-day lag so you have to use the app to see what hit the accounts. Speaking of their app, what kind of dev puts the logout function in Settings rather than on the main page? *****12/1/2020 update: You can now accomplish the same task either within the app or the website. Website access, however, now requires two-factor authentification via an access code over mobile. That's not unusual. The app is also more responsive and better designed.*****
Sixth, my brokerage rejected my attempt (in July) to create an ACH link because Varo/Bancorp could not be found in their universe of financial institutions. *****12/1/2020 update: I was initially unable to create a link to the newly chartered Varo accounts from another bank, but that was resolved after I requested that that bank update their ABA database.*****
If you do decide to pursue an account with Varo, keep one eye open at all times.
It took only 2 days to transfer our money into Varo, but getting the money out is another story. Varo has been delaying access to our money for over three weeks now with no sure sign of when it will ever arrive. This has forced us to take out a 401k loan to avoid forfeiting our earnest money deposit on a house purchase.
First they said it would take 14 days. After 14 days passed, they clarified and said it would actually take 14 *business* days, so 20 real days. Now it's been 21 days, and we still have no confirmation that the money has been sent. Instead, they said they've sent a request to Galileo, who is apparently the company that actually has our money, to send it us. But this was 4 days ago with no updates since. Since the check hasn't been sent yet, it looks like it will take at least 27 days to get our money.
The representatives say different things, contradicting each other and sometimes making up tales. One representative said that our original check had been sent but the USPS failed to deliver, which we find very difficult to believe. Another representative said the money is still in the (closed) account, so no check had been sent yet, but some other representative said that money being in the account doesn't mean the check hasn't been sent.
Anytime we call the representative can't do anything, instead they put us on hold and try to contact someone in another department who actually has more information and authority. Then they invariably fail to contact that other person and say we'll get an email by the end of the day. Then we get some sort of unhelpful email a few hours later. So there are three levels of people involved, (1) the representative that talks to the customer, (2) the Varo backend employee whose authority extends to sending requests to (3) the third party banking platform (Galileo). And Galileo doesn't seem to be in any rush to make things happen and there's no way for customers to contact them.
We would give Varo less than 1-star if we could. Please stay away from this unreliable financial firm.
I have good credit, am current on my bills, have no problems with my local bank or online brokerage account. But got this terse email message when I filled out the online application:
"Your Varo account application has been declined. Thanks for applying, and we wish you the best finding a bank that fits your needs."
Never had that happen to me before...
Varo Bank has made an authorized debit from my cashapp account and is refusing to give it back. For 3 days I have been told I would have access to my money by the end of the closing time. I have yet to recieve it. I have placed a complaint with the BBB and hope that a class action lawsuit is taken against this organization. This has caused me a terrible inconvenience as well as a excessive amount of stress. I have repeatedly been lied to just to pacify me. With a click of a button they stole my money and with the click of a button they should've returned it immediately when they were notified. I have been told I am not the only customer this has happened to and it is my hope that me and the other parties Involved can join together and seek just and rightful compensation for this unacceptable business practice. What has taken place is not only unacceptable it is against banking policy and I hope that Varo Bank is revoked from all banking business in the future.
So I opened an account with them and wanted to play with their system after transfer $100 in to it to see if I would really want to transfer all my savings in to their account for 1.92% annual yield. Here's what I thought about them
1. It is a security glitch if they are linking to your external accounts by taking your external account credentials. That should never be the case. This is just a quick work around for implementing something more robust. Being a computer software architect, I can vouch for this. I am sure they won't store your credentials but they do have access to your external accounts which is a BIG BIG NO NO NO. Keep in mind that if they system is compromised (easy to do I think), your external accounts will also get compromised. There are ways to work around it but, how many of you are tech savvy people who would want to spend time around working around their flaky security system.
2. Their iPhone app is pretty flimsy. I tried to transfer my $100 back to my external account from their savings account and I wouldn't let me. So I transferred the money to their checking account first and tried to transfer money to my external account from their checking account. The moment I would hit submit, it would reset "from account" selection field. I had to log out and log in multiple times to make it work.
3. I tried to link another account of mine and it would always throw errors. I called their customer care and they suggested to send them a screen shot for their engineers to take a look at. They were not able to see my tries to link to this external account in their system. Any decent bank would have an audit trail of literally anything and everything to your account. These guys are far away from such a thing.
Apart from the above, I found the following really weird:
1. You can't wire money from an external account in to varo accounts.
2. You can only deposit $1500 max per week. This was as per the phone rep I spoke with.
In lieu of above, I can say with authenticity that their systems are flaky and not at all secure. Even though everything is insured by FDIC, do you really have time to be on call with them so frequently?
Please check frustration shared by many other at this website: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/varomoney.com
Varo allows only one method to link your Varo checking account to your checking or savings accounts at another bank for electronic transfers. Instead of using test deposits and verification thereof like other banks do, Varo requires that you give them your sign-in ID and password at the other banks website. This is especially dangerous because Varo does not even do the account verification itself. Instead it gives your ID and password to some third party named PLAID.
Furthermore, PLAID's disclosures admit that they will be able to view all your various accounts at your other bank including your credit cards. They will be able to view the details of every credit card purchase, every payment by check, and every electronic payment you have made as well as all personal data which your other bank has. Your records may indicate your medical conditions when they show what medical specialists you have paid. It is completely unnecessary for PLAID to have all your records in order to do the account verification. This is evidenced by PLAID's own disclosures which describe a much more limited amount of data collection for persons who reside in Europe.
Then you have to trust PLAID not to use all your records that they have collected for their profit or reveal it to yet other companies for them to use (if they really won't use your records, then why do they collect them?). PLAID is not a bank and therefore not subject to the extensive federal regulation and oversight that most US banks are. You have to just trust PLAID to protect all your records from hackers and from their own employees abusively using all this information from your banking and credit card transactions. All this by a company that hides from consumers as PLAID's website reveals no phone contact, no email address, and no physical address. The only way to contact them is in text on their website (even that is designated for commercial sales, not for consumers).
There is a way to avoid PLAID while still having an electronic link of your bank accounts. Set up the electronic link to your Varo account at your other bank and initiate all transfers in either direction between the 2 banks at your other bank's website.
UPDATE: New California law gives California residents new opt out rights regarding use of data collected by companies. Some companies are now offering those new opt outs to all Americans rather than just Californians. Other companies are offering those opt outs only to Californians, thus giving treating Californians better than other Americans. It seems that Varo is one of those companies that treats Californians better than other Americans.
|FDIC Certificate #||59190|
|Return on Assets - YTD||-21.03%|
|Return on Equity - YTD||-25.54%|
|Annual Interest Income||$72.00K|
|Assets and Liabilities|
|Equity Capital||Q3 2020||$122.6MM|
|Loan Loss Allowance||Q3 2020||$129.00K|
|Unbacked Noncurrent Loans||Q3 2020||$0|
|Real Estate Owned||Q3 2020||$0|
Always verify rates and promotions with the bank or credit union. We are not Varo; we are a rate comparison website and cannot provide official rates or promotions.
* The APY shown varies based on the deposit amount. Expand the listing to see APYs for other deposit amounts.
|APY||MIN||MAX||ACCOUNT NAME||VIEW DETAILS|
|2.80%*||-||$10k||Varo Savings Account|
|OTHER TIERS: 0.40% → $10k+|
|APY||MIN||MAX||ACCOUNT NAME||VIEW DETAILS|
|0.00%||-||-||Varo Checking Account|
Varo is an Internet only bank and does not have branch locations. Its headquarters is located at 111 Sutter Street - San Francisco, CA 94104