Fees. FEES. FEES.
According to SNL Financial and CNNMoney, America’s three biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — took in more than $6 billion in 2015 just from ATM and overdraft fees.
That’s $6 billion. And that only takes into account three banks and two of the many fees often charged to customers. But what if I told you there was a new bank in town, and they’re saying, “Enough with all the fees already!”?
I can’t exactly quote them on that, but Chime is that new bank. And it has set out to change the way people feel about banking. What’s its business model? It doesn’t profit off you but rather with you.
Every time you swipe your Chime debit card, Chime earns a small amount from Visa. That’s it. No overdraft fees, no minimum balance fees, no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no transfer fees.
There are no branches, as Chime is fully mobile, but the account does come with a debit card and an optional Automatic Savings Account. Sounds pretty great, right? It just may be — if you can get past the low APY (annual percentage yield) on the Savings Account and some other account limitations, that is.
So, does Chime have a place in your banking needs? We’re here to help you figure that out.
Chime Spending Account basics
|APY||Not an interest-bearing account|
|Minimum balance for APY||N/A|
|Minimum deposit to open account||None|
|Monthly maintenance fees||None|
|ATM access||Yes, up to $500 of ATM withdrawals per day with a $2.50 fee per transaction. Transactions at MoneyPass ATMs are free.|
|Transactions per month||No limit on number of transactions; however, all transactions are subject to the $2,500 maximum amount that can be spent on the card per day.|
Chime Savings Account basics
|APY||0.25% (as of Mar. 26, 2020)|
|Minimum balance for APY||None|
|Minimum deposit to open account||None|
|Monthly maintenance fees||None|
|Transactions per month||Up to six withdrawals per statement cycle by transferring money to your Spending Account|
What we like about Chime
- Get your paycheck early: Chime members who set up direct deposit are automatically eligible to receive their paycheck up to two days early. How? Employers often deposit your money up to two days before it’s made available to you at most banks. Chime makes your money available as soon as your employer deposits it.
- No hidden fees: Basically no fees at all, for that matter. No overdraft fees, no monthly maintenance fees, no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees, and over 38,000 fee-free MoneyPass ATMs.
- Save automatically: Chime’s Savings Account has several features that allow you to automate your savings, such as automatic transfers and an option to save when you spend. You can choose to automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck into your Savings Account to put aside extra money toward your goals. You can also have every debit card transaction rounded up to the nearest dollar. That rounded amount will then be transferred automatically from your Spending Account into your Savings Account.
- Easy deposits: For a bank without any physical locations, it’s pretty easy to make deposits with Chime. Direct deposit is the easiest way to add funds to your account, but Chime also supports mobile check deposits, electronic funds transfers, and cash deposits. Cash deposits are available at over 90,000 retail locations — such as Walgreens, CVS, and 7-Eleven — using the Green Dot Network.
- Write checks: Fewer and fewer checks are written these days, but Chime provides an option for people who still need them. The service is known as Chime Checkbook, and it’s 100% free, takes only a few clicks to initiate, and has no limit on the number of checks you can send each day. Just enter the check details in your Chime Checkbook, either online or through the app, and Chime drops your check in the mail for you. The maximum amount you can send is $5,000 per check per day, up to $10,000 per month.
- Referral bonus: As of Aug. 14, 2019, Chime is offering a referral bonus of $50 for both you and the person you refer. The person you refer must enroll and complete a single direct deposit of $200 or more from their payroll provider within 45 days of opening their new account for you to receive the bonus.
What Chime could improve
- A mediocre savings rate: There’s no way around this one. The APY for Chime’s Savings Account is seriously lacking compared to other online banks. At just 0.25% (as of Mar. 26, 2020), Chime is more comparable to traditional brick-and-mortar savings accounts — and that’s nothing to write home about. In contrast, there are many truly high-yield savings accounts available at other online institutions.
- Limitations on check writing: Chime sets a limit on how much you can send per check. A $5,000 maximum might be more than enough for some people, but if you want to use a check for substantial purchases, such as paying a contractor for work being done on your home, this $5,000 limit can get in the way.
- Fees for depositing cash: Many online banks don’t provide a way to deposit cash, so the fact that Chime even offers a solution to this problem is worth noting. However, depending on how often you’ll need to deposit cash, you might find yourself racking up quite a few fees. Chime doesn’t charge a fee itself, but the Green Dot location that processes the cash deposit might, which could cost you up to $4.95 for each deposit.
Earnings from a Chime Savings Account vs. a traditional savings account vs. an online savings account
The Chime Savings Account by itself isn’t much of a reason to become a Chime member. With more and more banks competing for your money, there’s no need to settle for a less-than-generous interest rate.
To showcase the difference in earning potential, we put the Chime Savings Account, a traditional savings account, and a typical online savings account up against each other. We used the standard interest rates for these types of accounts and an initial deposit of $5,000 for our example.
|Traditional Savings Account
(as of Aug. 14, 2019)
|Online Savings Account
(as of Aug. 14, 2019)
|Chime Savings Account
(as of Mar. 26, 2020)
|After one year||$5,005.00||$5,095.83||$5,012.52|
|After three years||$5,015.02||$5,293.04||$5,037.64|
|After 10 years||$5,050.25||$6,045.34||$5,126.58|
As you can see, the traditional bank offers a better return. But is a guarantee you’ll never get slapped with a fee (for the most part) worth that lower interest? Your answer might be a resounding yes, and you wouldn’t be alone. In one year, Chime more than quadrupled its member base, growing from 750,000 accounts in January 2018 to 4 million accounts in May 2019. It's obvious: lots of people are fed up with fees and willing to sacrifice on their interest rate.
But how does Chime stack up against the high-yield online savings accounts out there? While Chime may have fewer fees, the difference in average APY is pretty significant compared to other online banks. The Ally Online Savings Account offers an APY of 1.50% (as of Mar. 26, 2020), doesn't charge monthly maintenance fees, and doesn’t have minimum balance requirements.
If it’s crucial that your bank charges as close to no fees as possible, Chime might be the way to go. Otherwise, your balance can grow at a much faster rate with another online bank.
How to open an account with Chime
Opening an account with Chime is straightforward and can be completed through the Chime app or website in just two minutes. You must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years old to open an account, and all you need is a few bits of personal information to apply.
To create a Chime account, you’ll provide your first and last name, Social Security number, email, and a password. Once your eligibility is confirmed, you’ll be a new Chime member.
Since Chime is a mobile-only bank, you’ll need to download the Chime mobile app via your smartphone. Once you complete your account in the app, you can set up direct deposit to fund your account.
How to withdraw money from a Chime bank account
Chime members are provided with a debit card when they open a Chime Spending Account, which can be used for purchases and ATM withdrawals.
Other Chime bank account fees
|Stop payment fee||$0|
|Incoming wire||Not offered|
|Outgoing wire||Not offered|
Chime customer service
Chime’s Member Services team can be reached 24/7 through the customer support tab in the Chime app or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact one of their phone specialists by dialing 844-244-6363; they’re available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST or Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.
Common questions about Chime
Is banking with Chime safe?
Chime uses a variety of bank-level security processes to ensure your money is always safe. As a Chime member, you’ll receive instant transaction notifications. If you notice an unauthorized transaction, you can immediately disable your Chime card from your Chime app or the Chime website. Chime bank accounts are also insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) up to $250,000.
Can you withdraw money from a Chime Savings Account?
You can withdraw money from your Chime Savings Account by transferring it to your Spending Account using the website or mobile app. Online transfers from your Savings Account are limited to six per statement cycle, per federal regulations.
How much money can I withdraw from Chime?
Chime doesn’t limit the number of times you can use your Chime Visa Debit Card, but it does limit the amount of money that can be spent using the card each day. While each of the following transaction types has a specific daily maximum, the total of each day’s transactions is limited to a combined $2,500:
|Transaction type||Dollar limit per day|
|Cash back at a register||$500|
|Over the Counter (OTC) withdrawals (at participating banks and credit unions)||$500|
Can I have two Chime accounts?
Chime does not offer members the option of having multiple accounts.
Does Chime offer joint accounts?
Currently, Chime does not offer joint accounts or secondary cards; however, its website states that it is “actively working on this feature.”
If simple, on-the-go banking is your top priority, then opening a Savings Account or Spending Account with Chime might seem pretty appealing. With no fees and a passive-saving feature, banking can be simpler and less expensive. Just don’t expect to earn much on your money.
Disclaimer: All rates and fees are accurate as of Mar. 26, 2020.