Chime Bank Review

FT Contributor  | 

Chime is a non-traditional bank that users access through a mobile app. It has a set of features that are user-friendly but very basic.

What Is Chime?

Chime Bank is an online-only bank, and users access their accounts through their smartphones. Despite this non-traditional approach, Chime is a full-fledged bank. It is insured by the FDIC and offers both checking and savings accounts. The bank does not issue checks, but users do get a Visa debit card.

Chime calls itself a fee-free bank because it does not have monthly fees, minimum deposit requirements, or overdraft penalties. You also get fee-free access to MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.

Though it offers checking and savings accounts to all users, it does not have any additional investment accounts, loan products, and other options that brick-and-mortar banks usually offer.

Chime is an ideal banking option for people who cannot get approved for other bank accounts. Though you need the usual identity documents to open an account, the bank does not run a credit check or use ChexSystems to investigate your banking history.

How Does Chime Work?

To sign up with Chime, you download the mobile app or visit their website. You need to provide identity information, such as a physical address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The signup process usually only takes a few minutes.

When you open a bank account with Chime, you get three things: a checking account, which the bank calls a “spending account,” a savings account, and a Visa debit card. Unlike most traditional banks, you cannot get a savings account at Chime unless you also open a checking account.

You deposit money into your checking account via the mobile app, and you can then transfer it to savings, withdraw cash via a MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance ATM, or make purchases with a debit card. You can also send money to other Chime users. Chime does not issue paper checks, but you can go through a process to write a check through the mobile app.

Chime offers regular features, such as a direct deposit option. In fact, a direct deposit can be the easiest way to meet the deposit requirements to qualify for some of the bank’s fee-free programs.

Chime offers customers support through chat, email, and telephone. Since the bank does not have any brick-and-mortar locations, you cannot interact with a teller or representative face to face.

Chime Bank Features

Chime bank has many basic banking features, and it also has a few unique offerings.

ATMs

Chime users can withdraw cash without incurring fees at 38,000 ATMs around the United States with their Chime Visa debit card. Chime is part of both MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks. You can find ATM locations through the mobile app.

You can also make a cash withdrawal from out-of-network ATMs. However, Chime charges a $2.50 fee in these instances. Other ATM networks may charge additional fees as well.

Fees

Chime bills itself as a fee-free bank. It does not charge any fees for its checking or savings accounts. You also do not have to pay fees for in-network ATM withdrawals. Perhaps the most attractive fee-free feature is Chime’s policy of not charging penalties on overdrafts up to $100. To avoid overdraft fees, however, you do need to meet deposit requirements.

Chime also does not have foreign transaction fees or fees for using features such as online bill pay or transfers to other Chime members.

Interest Rates

Until recently, Chime savings accounts had very low interest rates. Chime customers who kept a balance in their savings account earned only 0.01% interest. However, the bank recently began offering a high-yield savings account that has a 1.6% annual percentage yield (APY).

Mobile App

Chime customers manage their accounts through the bank’s mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android. The app has high ratings on both Google Play and the Apple App Store; it has earned 4.7 out of five on iOS and 4.6 out of five on Android as of this writing.

The mobile app provides transaction alerts and balance updates in real time. You can integrate it with mobile wallets such as Google Pay, and you can also use it to block transactions if you lose your debit card.

The app also has a chat support feature and ATM locator.  

Savings Round-Ups

Chime offers a unique feature that customers can use to grow their savings account. Savings Round-Ups automatically deposit money in your savings account when you make a debit card purchase. As the name suggests, Round-Ups increase the total cost of the transaction to the nearest dollar amount. The extra money goes into your savings account.

For example, if you purchased a $6.49 sandwich for lunch, the Round-Up program would automatically increase the amount of the purchase to $7. $6.49 would go to the sandwich shop, and $0.51 would go into your savings account. In a way, Round-Ups are like putting your coins in a piggy bank if you used cash.

SpotMe

SpotMe is an overdraft forgiveness feature. You can make overdrafts of up to $100, and Chime will not charge you any overdraft fees. The bank will let you hold a negative balance until the next time you make a deposit.

You need to meet several requirements to become eligible for SpotMe. First, you need to set up a direct deposit, and the amount of this deposit has to be at least $500 within the past 31 calendar days. Secondly, the maximum amount of SpotMe protection is $100, but Chime can limit the amount further depending on your transaction history. Also, your card will get disabled, and transactions will get declined if you try to make purchases that exceed your SpotMe limit.

Should You Get Chime?

Chime is a personal banking option for those who only need basic checking and savings accounts and are comfortable managing their finances via a mobile app.

Pros of Chime

  • Chime is a fee-free bank, and it does not have minimum balance requirements.
  • The bank is FDIC insured.
  • Both the iOS and Android versions of the Chime mobile app have positive reviews.
  • Chime offers two fee-free ATM networks for a total of 38,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.
  • You can qualify for overdraft protection by setting up a direct deposit.
  • Savings accounts come with a round-up feature that facilitates automatic savings deposits.

Cons of Chime

  • Chime does not have face-to-face customer service.
  • You cannot deposit cash directly into your bank account.
  • Chime does not issue paper checks.
  • Chime does not offer investment products or joint accounts.
  • You need to set up a direct deposit of at least $500 per month to qualify for overdraft protection.
  • You need to be comfortable using a mobile app for account management.

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