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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Chime® Checking Account Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Reviewer: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Chime® Checking Account Review

Rated 4.1 /5.0 ★★★★

Online financial services continue to flourish because they provide convenience, flexibility, and excellent interest rates. They come with debit cards that let you make purchases online and at merchant locations without cash or checks.

In this article, we’ll review the Chime® Checking Account that comes with a Visa® Debit Card, no monthly fees, and no minimum balance requirements. Members can activate their cards and manage transactions in the Chime app.

We’ll also check out three competing online bank accounts and their offerings. All provide excellent value and convenience without the costs associated with brick-and-mortar banks.

What to Know About the Account

      • Chime is an award-winning mobile banking app that comes with a debit card and access to over 60,000 fee-free ATMs1 and one-tap card blocking.

      • The account has no monthly/annual maintenance fees, transfer fees, overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, or foreign transaction fees, but out-of-network ATM fees may apply.

      • Chime does not have any physical locations but does provide 24/7 customer service via phone or online chat with a real human.

    How to Qualify & Apply

    It takes only a couple of minutes to apply for the Chime® Checking Account. You’ll need to provide your name, email address, date of birth, phone number, home address, Social Security number, and password. You must also indicate your income source, annual income, and profession.

    You can start the ball rolling by clicking on the “APPLY NOW” link below:

    Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

    Advertiser Disclosure

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    Chime® Checking Account Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★

    4.1

    OVERALL RATING

    • Your Chime Checking Account comes with a Chime Visa® debit card, no monthly fees or maintenance fees.
    • Avoid out-of-network ATM fees and access to 60,000+ fee-free ATMs¹ — more than the top 3 national banks combined!
    • Direct deposits arrive up to 2 days early.²
    • Disclosures: Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
    • ¹Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
    • ²Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    $0
    Not applicable

    Chime welcomes applications from US citizens and legal residents 18 years and older. While its cards work all over the world, Chime can only offer accounts to members with valid Social Security numbers.

    Chime does not perform a credit check when you apply for an account. There is no minimum balance requirement. Once you enroll, your Chime Visa® Debit Card should arrive in seven to 10 business days.

    To start using your card, find the widget that says, “Your card has been delivered” on the homepage of Chime’s app. You can then tap “Activate,” enter your card’s CVV (this is the three-digit number next to the signature strip on the back), and set and confirm your PIN. Alternatively, you can activate the card over the phone.

    Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

    Checking the good and bad points of an online checking account helps you pick the best bank for how you use money. You’ll discover their attractive features, such as getting your paycheck early3 or using ATMs for free1.

    But also knowing the downsides, including how hard it might be to put cash in or not having bank buildings to visit, helps you decide if an account is the right choice or if you need to look at other banks.

    Benefits

      • Transparent costs: The Chime® Checking Account prides itself on transparency, ensuring you won’t be caught off guard by unexpected charges.

      • Early direct deposit: Set up a direct deposit and get your paycheck up to two days earlier than some of your co-workers.1

      • Overdraft protection: With SpotMe®, Chime will spot eligible members up to $2005 when they need that little extra cushion to cover an expense with no overdraft fees.

      • Automatic savings: The optional Chime High Yield Savings Account can help you boost your savings with automatic savings features.4

      • Large ATM network: Enjoy fee-free ATMs1 at 60k+ locations, including Target, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, and more.

      • Mobile banking: Chime’s comprehensive mobile app provides 24/7 account access, allowing you to manage your finances, deposit checks, and track your spending anytime, anywhere.

      • Security: Benefit from FDIC insurance6 up to the legal limit. Take advantage of instant transaction alerts and card control features for added peace of mind.

    Drawbacks

      • No physical branches: Chime operates solely online, which can be a drawback for those who prefer in-person banking services or need to deposit cash frequently.

      • No joint or business accounts: Chime doesn’t offer joint accounts or business accounts. Its accounts are for individual and personal use.

      • Deposit limitations: Adding money to the account can be cumbersome, as it requires visiting third-party retailers that may charge fees if you don’t have direct deposit set up.

      • Interest rates: While Chime’s savings account offers the convenience of automatic savings features, its interest rates may not be as competitive as those available from other financial institutions or high-yield savings accounts.

      • Customer service: Some users report problems with Chime’s customer service, including difficulties in resolving issues quickly due to the lack of physical branches and direct customer service access.

      • Overdraft limits: Although Chime’s SpotMe® feature offers overdraft services, it comes with a $200 maximum, account eligibility requirements, and does not cover all overdrawn transactions.4

      • ATM fees outside the network: Using an ATM outside of Chime’s extensive network will result in fees.

    Other Cards Worth a Look

    The following three accounts provide many of the same features as those from the Chime® Checking Account. The biggest difference is that these alternatives offer cash back rewards on purchases. Some may also charge higher fees.

    Discover® Cashback Debit Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★★
    4.6

    OVERALL RATING

    • Cashback – Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
    • No. Fees. Period. That means you won’t be charged an account fee on our Cashback Debit account.
    • Early Pay – Get your paycheck up to two days early with no charge
    • No Credit Impact - You can apply without affecting your credit score.
    • Fraud Protection - You’re never responsible for unauthorized debit card purchases. If you suspect someone else has used your debit card without your permission, let us know.
    • Member FDIC
    • Fee-free overdraft protection
    • No minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance
    • Add cash into your account at Walmart stores nationwide
    • Cash access at over 60,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide
    • 100% US-based customer service available 24/7
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    $0
    No Credit Needed

    You get the Discover® Cashback Debit card when you open an online Discover® Checking Account. The account allows you to deposit checks, transfer funds, check your balance, and authorize payments from your mobile device, tablet, or desktop. You can access more than 60,000 no-fee ATMs at locations nationwide.

    The Discover® account differs from Chime in that it provides cash back rewards. You earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 spent each month – see website for detail. The Discover® account also offers free overdraft protection and a high-yield savings account.

    GO2bank Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.1

    OVERALL RATING

    • Overdraft protection up to $200 with opt-in and eligible direct deposit*
    • No monthly fees with eligible direct deposit, otherwise $5 per month
    • Earn up to 7% cash back when you buy eGift Cards in the app
    • Get your pay up to 2 days early - Get your government benefits up to 4 days early.*
    • High-yield savings account, 4.50% APY paid quarterly on savings up to $5,000.*
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    All Credit Types Considered

    The GO2bank offers many of the same features available from Chime. The primary difference is that GO2bank provides a high cash back rate when you purchase eGift cards through the mobile app.

    Otherwise, both accounts offer essential online banking services without monthly fees (conditions apply), high-yield savings accounts, and extensive ATM access. Overall, the two accounts impose similar fees for deposits and transfers, but GO2bank charges overdraft protection and foreign transaction fees.

    Current Visa Debit Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.0

    OVERALL RATING

    4.0/5.0
    • Earn points on swipes: Earn up to 7x the points on card swipes at over 14,000 participating merchants, then redeem them for cash back in your account.*
    • Get paid up to 2 days faster with direct deposit*
    • Qualifying direct deposits receive fee-free overdrafts*
    • No minimum balance fees, no overdraft fees, no bank transfer fees
    • Access to more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs*
    • *View product disclosures here.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A

    The Current Visa Debit is a versatile account that offers cash back rewards. It has a network of more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs and doesn’t charge an annual fee, minimum balance fee, or bank transfer fee.

    When you set up qualifying direct deposits, you can access your funds up to two days faster through its Early Direct Deposit feature. You may also qualify for fee-free overdrafts, which cover you in case you go over your balance.

    Customer Reviews On Reddit

    Customer reviews of online bank accounts offer real-world insights into how a bank operates, highlighting both the positives and potential issues from users’ viewpoints. They help you understand what to expect in terms of service quality, app functionality, and problem resolution. Here are a couple we found on Reddit:

    ApricityFades is a contented customer:

    “[I’ve had the account for] almost a year now with never an issue. And it’s vastly improved my credit. Now I’ve got my wife on, and we’re working on hers. We have a separate bank account into which we deposit money for savings, but Chime is where it all gets directly deposited first. I’m not sure where the negative comments are coming from as my experience with Chime has been MUCH better than dealing with my bank.”

    13PKO has had some challenges with Chime:

    “I tried to like Chime, but I’ve had too many issues. For whatever reason, you can’t use Zelle with Chime…I’ve also had issues with setting up payments for various accounts. For whatever reason, Chime is not recognized and can’t be verified. These are for payments that require the routing and account number…Transfers from Chime into other accounts can take up to four days. In the end, I did receive my paycheck half a day sooner than I would’ve with my previous account, but it’s just not worth the trouble when you need to move money around or make online bill payments.”

    Smoke_mon074 hasn’t had any issues:

    “I’ve never had any issues with Chime. Been using them [for about] 7 years now. No issues. Once a certain deposit drops, I usually can expect that type of deposit around that time each time.”

    Reviews are a mixed bag, but positive experiences seem to generally outweigh negative ones.

    FAQs: Is Chime a Bank?

    Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. The Bancorp Bank, NA or Stride Bank, NA, Members FDIC., provide FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts for Chime customers.

    This innovative approach enables Chime to focus on delivering user-friendly, tech-driven financial solutions directly to you. Through its partnerships, you receive the security and reliability of traditional banking alongside the convenience and modern features that the platform offers. Chime bridges the gap between conventional banking services and the digital-first mindset of modern consumers.

    How Do I Manage Funds in My Chime® Checking Account?

    Managing funds in your Chime® Checking Account is straightforward and user-friendly, thanks to its intuitive mobile app and online platform. These tools offer various features to help you monitor your spending, save money, and control your finances efficiently, all from your smartphone or computer.

    Deposits

    You can put cash into your Chime® Checking Account through several convenient methods tailored to fit your lifestyle and preferences.

    Direct Deposits

    One popular option is the direct deposit of your paycheck or government benefits into your Chime® Checking Account automatically. This method lets you access your money up to two days early.

    Cash Deposits

    If you want to add physical cash, you must visit one of the 8,500+ retail locations that partner with Chime. You can generate a barcode in the Chime mobile app, which the retailer can scan before accepting your money.

    Alternatively, a retailer can accept cash by swiping your Chime Debit Card. Once the retailer accepts your money, the funds will move to your Chime® Checking Account. Cash deposit fees may apply if you use a retailer other than Walgreens and Duane Reade.

    You can add up to $1,000 per day to your Chime® Checking Account, which you can spend using the Chime Debit Card. You can make a maximum of three deposits within 24 hours and deposit up to $10,000 per month.

    You cannot use an ATM to add cash to your Chime® Checking Account.

    Inbound Transfers

    It’s easy to instantly transfer funds from one Chime checking account to another Chime checking account.7 You can also transfer money from another financial institution into your Chime® Checking Account through the mobile app. Simply enter the username and password for your other bank to transfer funds, which you’ll be able to access within 10 business days.

    Conversely, you can use the app of your non-Chime account to transfer money into Chime. While the transfer time will depend on your other bank’s policies, you’ll usually see the funds in your Chime® Checking Account within a few business days.

    You can also transfer money to Chime using an external debit card. Just link the debit card by adding its card number to the Chime mobile app.

    Mobile Check Deposit

    Chime allows eligible members to access Mobile Check Deposit8. You can use the Chime app to take a picture of your check and transmit it to your Chime® Checking Account.

    Sending Money

    Chime’s Pay Anyone feature allows members to send money instantly7 to anyone, whether they are a Chime member or not, without any fees. You can search for friends in your contact list by using their username, phone number, or email.

    Pay Anyone performs instant payments by automatically debiting your checking account and depositing the funds within seconds, although transfers may sometimes experience delays.7

    Pay Anyone instructions
    Members can instantly send money to others with Chime’s Pay Anyone feature.

    Non-Chime members must claim the funds because they won’t automatically appear in their accounts. They have 14 days to claim the money using their valid debit card.

    You can also use Pay Anyone to receive money through your mobile app. Click on the link to get a friendly email or text message to claim your funds online. Chime currently doesn’t allow wire transfers but hopes to add them in the near future.

    Spending

    You can use your Chime Visa® Debit Card for in-store, online, and in-app spending. It works like any other bank debit card, allowing you to pay merchants in the checkout line or via an online purchase. You can use your Chime Debit Card anywhere merchants accept Visa® cards, including outside the United States, and with no foreign transaction fees.

    The Chime Debit Card connects to the Chime® Checking Account – you can only spend the money you have. If you try to spend more, Chime will decline the transaction unless you set up the fee-free SpotMe® service.4

    With SpotMe, Chime will spot eligible members when they need that little extra cushion to cover an expense..4 Your SpotMe limit starts at $20 and can be increased up to $200 based on your account history and activity. Chime will decline any transaction that would overdraw your account past your limit.

    You’ll swipe, tap, or insert the card when transacting in person. You’ll need to enter your PIN or provide a signature. You can also add your debit card to a digital wallet for card-not-present purchases.

    ATM Withdrawals

    Chime has contracts with three ATM networks to provide fee-free access to ATM withdrawals.1 These networks give you access to more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. You can withdraw cash from a MoneyPass ATM located in a 7-Eleven store or any Allpoint or Visa® Plus Alliance ATM. Members can use the in-app ATM map to find fee-free locations.

    The amount you can withdraw at one time varies by account. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees apply.

    What Are the Differences Between the Chime Visa® Debit Card and the Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card?

    The Chime Visa® Debit Card provides direct access to funds in your Chime® Checking Account for everyday purchases without impacting your credit score and comes with no annual fees.

    In contrast, the Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is a secured credit card that can help you build or improve your credit scores.9 It requires a deposit to the secured deposit account that serves as your credit limit.11 It does not charge any annual fees or interest.10

    This chart contrasts the key features of the two cards:

    FEATURE Chime Visa® Debit Card Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
    Type of Card Debit card linked to Chime Checking Account A secured credit card designed to help build credit with on-time payments9
    Primary Use Access and spend funds in a Chime Checking Account Help build or improve credit scores9
    Annual Fee None None
    Interest Charges Not applicable None
    Credit Check Not required for opening an account No credit check is required to apply
    Secured or Unsecured Unsecured, as it accesses existing funds Secured, requires a security deposit11
    Deposit Required Not required Yes, the amount deposited becomes your credit limit
    Reporting to Credit Bureaus Not applicable Yes, it reports payment history to major credit bureaus to help you build credit9
    ATM Withdrawals Free at over 60,000 ATMs nationwide Can be used for withdrawals at ATMs (fees may apply)10
    Rewards Not typically offered There are no rewards; the focus is on building credit

    The good news is that you can own both cards at the same time. For example, you may want to start with the debit card and then add the secured credit card if you need help improving your credit over time.9

    This Account May Be For You If…

      • You’re budget-conscious: This account offers a straightforward, cost-effective solution if you’re looking to avoid unnecessary fees and manage your finances without the worry of overdraft charges or monthly maintenance fees.

      • You are tech-savvy: If you prefer managing your finances digitally, the account provides features that include mobile banking, instant alerts, and automatic savings tools at your fingertips.

      • You care about security: If you prioritize the safety of your financial transactions and personal information, this account offers advanced security features, such as instant transaction alerts and card lock/unlock capabilities, that help promote your peace of mind.

    Please check out the competing accounts reviewed above before applying for the Chime® Checking Account. That’s the prudent way to ensure you choose the option that best matches what you’re looking for.

    Disclosures from Chime:

    Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or  Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A.  Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A. pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your Card for its issuing bank.

    1 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal and over the counter advance fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

    2 To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Chime Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer-to-peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

    3 Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. Chime generally makes these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to two days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

    4 SpotMe® on Debit is an optional, no fee overdraft service attached to your Chime Checking Account. To qualify for the SpotMe on Debit service, you must receive $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to your Chime Checking Account each month and have activated your physical Chime Visa® Debit Card or secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card. Qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their Chime Checking Account for up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially but may later be eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. The SpotMe on Debit limit will be displayed within the Chime mobile app and is subject to change at any time, at Chime’s sole discretion. Although Chime does not charge any overdraft fees for SpotMe on Debit, there may be out-of-network or third-party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe on Debit will not cover any non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. SpotMe on Debit Terms and Conditions.

    5 Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Checking Account into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your Savings Account.

    6 Deposits in Chime accounts are FDIC insured through The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.

    7 Pay Anyone transactions will be monitored and may be held, delayed or blocked if the transfer could result in fraud or another form of financial harm. Sometimes instant transfers can be delayed. Non-Chime members must use a valid debit card to claim funds.

    8 Mobile Check Deposit eligibility is determined by Chime in its sole discretion and may be granted based on various factors including, but not limited to, a member’s direct deposit enrollment status.

    9 On-time payment history may have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to  Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.

    10 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal and OTC advance fees may apply. View The Bancorp agreement or Stride agreement for details; see back of card for issuer.

    11 Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.

    About the Author

    Eric Bank
    Eric Bank Finance Expert

    Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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    Eric Bank