Chime Bank Review: No-Fee Banking From Your Mobile App
Digital-first bank accounts are the wave of the future: all of the money management, none of the getting off the couch.
One of the earliest players and a leading company in the branchless banking game is Chime, a financial technology company founded in 2013 by CEO Chris Britt and CTO Ryan King.
Like other online banking options, Chime offers many of the most important features of a traditional deposit account with a much leaner fee schedule — and even has a savings account option that bears a much higher interest rate than a typical savings account.
Plus you can link your Chime spending account to popular transfer apps like PayPal and Venmo. Check out our assessment of six of the most widely used money transfer apps that you can link your Chime spending account to.
- What Is Chime Bank?
- Pros and Cons
- Banking With Chime
- Chime Banking Fees
- Chime Customer Service
- Is Chime Right for You?
- 25 Factors Considered for Our Review
Chime’s deposit accounts are held and FDIC-insured by its partner banks, Stride Bank, N.A. and The Bancorp Bank.
Back to top ↑
Here’s our take on the best things and the not-so-best things about opening a Chime account.
- Fee-free banking: None of Chime’s accounts carry monthly maintenance fees or account minimums. This will be a big plus if you are moving from one of the nation’s largest banks and have had to pay overdraft fees. Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo each reported income of more than $1 billion from overdraft fees in 2020, according to The American Prospect.
- No overdraft fees: Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees — and its SpotMe fee-free overdraft protection doesn’t require you to link a savings account. Chime will spot you up to $20 as long as your account has at least $500 per month in direct deposits. That limit can go up to $200 depending on your account activity. And we know you don’t mean to, but a negative balance is never a good thing.
- Get paid early: Chime offers an “early payday” feature that can help you get your hands on your paycheck early with direct deposit. Instead of waiting for the bank to process a deposit, it’s available as soon as the payer files the payment. Depending on when your employer files payment, that could be up to two days ahead of the scheduled payday.
- Cash deposits: You can deposit cash into your Chime account at more than 60,000 retail locations with Green Dot, which is a feature many online banks don’t allow. You can also withdraw cash at these locations for a $2.50 fee. (Cash withdrawals at in-network ATMs are free.)
- No interest: Chime’s online checking account bears no interest.
- Personal accounts only: Chime doesn’t offer a small business banking option.
- Lean features: Chime doesn’t offer a wealth of budgeting tools or additional financial services, like traditional banks and some of its online competitors do.
- No joint accounts: You can’t open a shared account through Chime.
Chime is a stripped-down online bank account for deposit, spending and saving.
It doesn’t offer the robust suite of features you’ll see from many of its competitors, but its fully functioning checking and savings accounts, nationwide ATM network, and features that let you deposit cash and checks make it a solid option to use as your primary bank account.
Chime is a solid choice for someone who needs an online account for checking and savings and wants to do other types of money management and investments elsewhere.
These types of services will likely be better found at a bank or credit union or perhaps stock investment companies either in person or online.
Chime Checking Account
Chime’s checking option, or “Spending Account,” is a pretty basic product: It’s a non-interest-bearing deposit account linked to a debit card.
It works like most traditional checking accounts, but has fewer features than many online banks offer. You get:
- Visa debit card: Use your Chime debit card for point-of-sale transactions, ATM withdrawals and Green Dot cash deposits.
- Direct deposit: Set up automatic ACH deposits into your account by giving your employer your routing and account numbers. These days, many employers pay via direct deposit, especially if you are working from home or remotely.
- Mobile deposit: Deposit any check into your account by snapping a photo with the Chime smartphone app. How easy is that?
- Bill pay: Pay rent and bills directly from your account through ACH transfer by giving companies your Chime routing and account numbers. Or mail a paper check using the Chime Checkbook feature.
Chime Savings Account
Anyone with a Spending Account has the option to add a savings account. Like the Spending Account, the Chime Savings Account comes with no fees or minimums, and it gives you access to a variety of automated features to make setting aside money basically painless.
Automated savings features include:
- Round ups: Anytime you make a purchase with your Chime debit card, you can automatically round up transactions to the nearest dollar and stick the digital change into your savings account.
- Save When I Get Paid: Automatically transfer 10% of each deposit or payment received (of $500 or more) into your savings account.
The Savings Account earns interest at a rate of 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), with no minimum deposit required.
Unlike some online bank accounts, Chime doesn’t make it easy to set specific savings goals or to further personalize your accounts by purpose. You also cannot deposit money directly into your Chime savings account; it has to be funneled through your Spending Account.
The Chime Savings Account is a federally regulated savings account, so it’s subject to any definitions or restrictions set by the Federal Reserve, including potential withdrawal limitations.
As with all online bank accounts, Chime’s convenience factor is relative: If you’re looking for the brick-and-mortar banking experience, you’re barking up the wrong (money) tree.
Because Chime is a technology company, its mobile app is easy to use and lets you manage your money on the go 24/7. If that’s what you’re looking for, Chime makes the grade for online savings accounts and savings accounts.
It also includes some features you won’t see from many of its online-banking competitors, including cash deposits, free overdraft protection and early paycheck deposit.
ATM Network and Green Dot Deposits
You can use your Chime debit card for purchases through any point-of-sale platforms and to withdraw cash from more than 38,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. through MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
You can also deposit cash into your account at more than 60,000 retail locations (think: grocery stores, Walmarts) through Green Dot. Just hand the cashier cash, and they can load it directly to your debit card. The cash deposit limit is $1,000 per day and $10,000 per month.
SpotMe Overdraft Protection
Chime offers a fee-free overdraft protection feature called SpotMe, which is available to Chime account holders receiving total monthly direct deposits of $500 or more.
If you spend more than you have in your account, Chime will cover the difference, starting at a limit of $20 and increasing up to $200 or more depending on your account activity. You’ll repay the overdraft amount out of your next deposit.
(Also, yes, that means Chime has no overdraft fees — which is a pretty big deal.)
Get Paid up to 2 Days Early
Chime includes an “early payday” feature, allowing you to see funds in your account up to two days early compared with a traditional bank when you receive your paychecks via direct deposit.
That’s because it gives you access to funds as soon as your employer processes payroll, while many banks make you wait until the scheduled payday.
The mobile app is a make-or-break part of any digital-first banking enterprise, and Chime enjoys high ratings on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store — 4.6 and 4.8 stars out of five, respectively.
The app makes it easy to access and interact with all of Chime’s banking features, including SpotMe overdraft protection, automatic savings options and easy mobile payments, which are made particularly simple for transactions between Chime users.
Through the app, you can:
- See your Chime Spending and Savings account balances and transaction history.
- Transfer money between Spending and Savings.
- Deposit checks with mobile check deposit.
- Locate in-network, fee-free ATMs.
- Contact customer support.
- Set up automatic savings and Round Ups for debit card purchases. A survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reported that Americans made an average of 68 payments or purchases a month in 2020, and 23 of those were debit card payments.
- Transfer money to other Chime members with Pay Friends. The money transfers immediately.
The app doesn’t carry the wealth of extra features some other digital-first banks offer. Budgeting tools, for example, are a helpful way to reframe your finances, and banks of all types are increasingly working them into their suite of digital tools.
Chime, on the other hand, remains simplistic — which you might take as a positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for.
Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to earn a cash bonus when you sign up for a new bank account.
Small Business Banking
Chime doesn’t offer small business banking accounts or financial services.
Instead, consider these alternative banks for small businesses:
- Wells Fargo Simple Business Checking Account and Business Market Rate Savings Account, loans up to $100,000 and a 1.5% cash-back credit card.
- Chase Total Business Checking and Business Total Savings, SBA Express line of credit up to $350,000 and Ink Business credit cards.
- Capital One Spark Business Checking and Savings, and 1.5% or 2% cash-back credit cards.
- Axos Basic Business Checking or Business Interest Checking, Business Savings, and lines of credit or commercial loans starting at $250,000.
- Navy Federal Credit Union for business owners who are veterans, active-duty military, employees of qualified government agencies and their immediate family.
Chime doesn’t assess any regular bank fees, which means:
- No monthly fees for account maintenance.
- No minimum balance requirement.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No opening deposit requirement.
- No fee for SpotMe overdraft protection and no additional overdraft fees.
- No fee to send paper checks with Chime Checkbook.
- No ATM fees when you use in-network ATMs.
The only fee you’ll pay is a $2.50 cash withdrawal fee for using any out-of-network ATM (plus any fee the ATM owner charges) or making an over-the-counter withdrawal at a Green Dot location.
Chime customer service agents are available by phone, through the Chime app or via email.
- Phone number: 844-244-6363 (Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central; Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
- Mobile app: Log into your account in the app to access the mobile chat feature.
- Email: [email protected]
Chime also has a presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, though these channels probably aren’t appropriate for asking questions about your private account.
Chime’s suite of savings and spending account offerings and in-app tools are pretty lean, but could be a fit for you if you have relatively simple banking needs.
Chime might be right for you if:
- You prefer the easy access and mobility of online banking.
- You regularly run your account balance close to $0.
- You’re often paid through direct deposit — you could benefit from an early payday!
- You’re often paid in cash but want an online bank account.
- You want an easy way to save money automatically.
Chime might not be right for you if:
- You prefer the personal touch and physical location of a traditional bank.
- You only want to open a savings account.
- You want to manage your loans, investments and bank accounts all in one place.
Interested? To open a Chime bank account:
- Download the Chime app for iOS or Android, or sign up online.
- Enter personal information, including your location, birth date and Social Security number to verify your identity.
- No minimum deposit is required, but you can link an external bank account at this time (or any time) to transfer money into your new Chime account.
- You’ll be given the option to open a savings account. You can do that now, or wait and open it later under “Savings” in the app any time.
- Set up direct deposits with your employer to deposit paychecks into your Chime spending account. Direct deposit is an important feature since so many employers pay this way today especially to those working from home or remotely.
The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.
To determine how we weigh each factor for this Chime review, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you and what you want from a financial institution. We think those things will matter to you too.
For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.
Ratings are assigned across the following categories:
- Personal checking accounts
- Personal savings accounts
- Small-business banking
- Mobile banking
Credit card and loan products are not currently considered. However, if you open a Chime spending account, you can also apply for a Chime Credit Builder Visa credit card.
The credit builder account allows you to build your credit and hopefully raise your credit score. Details here on how to get a Credit Builder.
Jamie Cattanach and Dana Sitar are contributors to The Penny Hoarder.