SoFi vs. Chime®: Which Reigns Supreme?

BANKING - CHECKING ACCOUNTS
We recommend SoFi over Chime due to its higher APYs and range of financial products.
Updated May 19, 2024
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SoFi and Chime® are online financial companies offering banking services like checking and savings accounts and debit and credit cards.1 For most people, we recommend SoFi over Chime due to its range of financial products and higher annual percentage yield (APY) on bank accounts.

That said, Chime may be a better choice if you have a less-than-stellar credit history because it offers a Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, a charge card with no annual fee.23

Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of SoFi and Chime so you can determine which may be the best option for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Both SoFi and Chime offer interest-bearing savings accounts, but the APY on SoFi’s accounts is more than double what Chime offers, making it a better choice for most.
  • SoFi and Chime both offer checking and savings accounts with no monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements.
  • SoFi offers a “one-stop shop” for a number of different financial products.
  • Chime only offers checking, savings, and a credit card account.
  • Chime doesn’t require credit checks to apply for accounts, while SoFi does a soft credit pull.
  • SoFi’s checking and savings accounts come as a package deal. It doesn’t offer standalone checking or savings accounts.

SoFi vs. Chime comparison

SoFi Chime
Year founded 2011 2012
Number of fee-free ATMs 55,000+ 60,000+4
Products offered
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Mortgage loans
  • Small business loans
  • Insurance
  • Auto loan refinancing
  • Investing
  • IRAs
  • ETFs
  • Crypto trading
  • Checking
  • Savings5
  • Credit Builder Credit Card
Checking APY 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) with direct deposit N/A
Savings APY Up to 4.60% with direct deposit6 2.00% (as of Oct. 25, 2023)
Note: You can’t open a Chime Savings account without opening a Chime Checking account7
Best for … One-stop shop Rebuilding credit
Visit SoFi Visit Chime

Our verdict

We recommend SoFi over Chime for the average person due to its higher APYs and extensive range of products. SoFi is the best option for having all your financial needs in one basket because it offers everything from checking accounts to loans to insurance and more.

However, Chime is a great option for banking services if you need to build or rebuild your credit because you can apply for a Chime credit card account without having your credit and banking history scrutinized.

How does SoFi work?

Pros
  • Offers 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY on checking accounts with direct deposit
  • Offers up to 4.60% APY on savings accounts with direct deposit
  • Doesn’t charge monthly service fees or overdraft fees
  • Gives you access to your paycheck two days early
Cons
  • Limits ATM transactions to $1,000 per day
  • Requires direct deposit for high APY
  • Doesn’t have physical branches
  • Doesn’t allow you to open just a checking or savings account (the accounts come as a package)

SoFi is on our list of the best banks because it offers customers a “one-stop shop” for all their finances. The company has over 6 million members that use it for banking, mortgage loans, personal loans, investing, insurance, student loans, small business loans, and more. SoFi offers a competitive APY of up to 4.60% with direct deposit on its savings account and 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY on its checking account.

The bank has no monthly fees or required minimum balances, and it enables you to get paid up to two days early with direct deposit. SoFi also offers overdraft coverage of up to $50 on debit card purchases, but customers must have monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more to qualify for that coverage.

SoFi is FDIC-insured. You can also opt to participate in the SoFi Insured Deposit Program, which gives you access to up to $2 million in FDIC insurance.

Visit SoFi | Read our SoFi review

Perspectives
Yahia Barakah, CEPF
Yahia Barakah, CEPF
Editor

Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

WHY I LIKE THIS BANK

As a client of SoFi banking products, I highly value their efficiency. The convenience begins with my paycheck, which lands in my SoFi Checking account up to two days early. From there, I can instantly transfer the amount I'd like to save to my SoFi Savings account.

The funds I transfer begin growing right away, thanks to an impressive APY of 4.60%. This efficiency extends to SoFi's customer service as well, which consistently addresses my inquiries with remarkable speed.

How does Chime work?

Pros
  • Doesn’t charge monthly service fees or overdraft fees
  • Gives you access to your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit8
  • Offers fee-free overdraft protection up to $200 for eligible members with SpotMe®9
  • Allows for automatic savings10
Cons
  • Checking account doesn’t earn interest
  • APY on savings account is lower than that of competitors
  • Doesn’t have physical branches
  • Doesn’t offer financial products beyond checking, savings, and credit cards

Chime is a financial technology company (not a bank) founded in 2012. It doesn’t charge monthly service fees or overdraft fees. It also doesn’t have minimum balance requirements on the accounts it offers.

Since Chime is a fintech company and not a bank, its services and debit cards are provided in partnership with FDIC members The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank. Chime members can access their money through over 60,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.

The company’s SpotMe overdraft program covers up to $200 on overdraft debit card purchases for those who are eligible.9 To qualify, Chime members must receive a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account, and limits for SpotMe are determined by Chime based on account activity and history.

Chime also offers a secured Visa credit card that’s designed to help members build their credit. There is no credit check required to apply for the card as well as no annual fees, interest, or minimum security deposit required.114 You do, however, need qualifying direct deposits of $200 or more and a Chime Checking account to be eligible to apply for the Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa Credit Card.

This is an important difference from the SoFi credit card, which is recommended for those who have excellent credit.

Visit Chime | Read our Chime review

SoFi vs. Chime: What both companies excel at

  • Both SoFi and Chime are online financial companies that offer checking and savings accounts with no fees or minimum balance requirements.
  • Both enable you to get your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit.
  • Both provide access to thousands of fee-free ATMs.
  • Both are FDIC-insured. Chime is insured through its partnerships with The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank.

SoFi vs. Chime: checking

SoFiChime
  • 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY with direct deposit
  • No monthly service fees
  • No balance minimums
  • Overdraft coverage up to $50
  • Get paid up to two days early with direct deposit
  • $1,000 daily limit on ATM transaction
  • No APY
  • No monthly service fees
  • No balance minimums
  • Overdraft coverage up to $200 with SpotMe9
  • Get paid up to two days early with direct deposit8
  • $515 daily limit on ATM withdrawals

When it comes to who has the best checking accounts, SoFi and Chime are pretty similar. Both have no monthly service fees, no minimum balance requirements, and enable you to get paid up to two days early with a qualifying direct deposit.8

However, SoFi’s checking account earns interest at 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY with direct deposit, while Chime’s checking account doesn’t earn interest at all.

While both SoFi and Chime have access to thousands of ATMs, they differ on how much you can withdraw daily. If overdraft protection is important to you, Chime offers coverage up to $200, depending on your account history. SoFi offers only $50 of overdraft coverage, and you’ll have to set up direct deposit to qualify for that coverage.

Winner: SoFi due to the higher APY and more generous daily ATM withdrawal limit.

SoFi vs. Chime: savings

SoFiChime
  • Up to 4.60% APY with direct deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance required
  • Ability to set up automatic roundups on debit card purchases to build savings
  • AutoSave feature automatically puts a portion of your direct deposit into savings
  • 2.00% (as of Oct. 25, 2023) APY
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance required
  • Offers round-ups on debit card purchases to build savings12
  • Offers the ability to automatically transfer 10% of direct deposits over $500 into savings10

Saving is important, and both SoFi and Chime make it easy with automatic round-ups on debit card purchases and automatic transfers to savings accounts so you can grow your money.1210

While Chime’s automatic transfer takes 10% of direct deposits over $500, with SoFi you can set the amount or portion you want to be transferred.

SoFi offers a higher APY on its savings account, but you must have direct deposit to earn that high rate. Chime’s savings account APY is lower, but you are only required to have one penny in your account to start earning interest.

Winner: SoFi due to its higher APY.

3 important differences between SoFi and Chime

1. SoFi offers higher APY on its accounts.

It’s always nice when your money can grow without you having to do much. High-yield savings and checking accounts can help you earn interest on the money you have.

SoFi offers a competitive APY of up to 4.60% with direct deposit on its savings accounts and even provides 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY on checking accounts with direct deposit.

On the other hand, Chime only provides 2.00% (as of Oct. 25, 2023) APY on its savings accounts, which is on the low end. Chime checking accounts aren’t interest bearing.

Winner: SoFi because it offers higher interest rates on its savings and checking accounts.

2. Chime has generous overdraft protection coverage.

Overdraft protection helps you if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a purchase or charge. Chime’s SpotMe overdraft protection covers qualifying members for up to $200 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals without fees or interest. (Note that SpotMe limits start at $20 and can be increased up to $200 based on your account history and activity.)

SoFi also offers overdraft coverage with no fees. However, not everyone is eligible to receive it. To be eligible for overdraft protection, you need to set up a qualifying direct deposit of at least $1,000 or more per month. If you are eligible, the most SoFi will cover you for overdrafts is $50.

Winner: Chime because the potential overdraft coverage is four times the coverage SoFi offers.

3. SoFi has more financial products available.

There’s something to be said about having all your financial products under one roof. SoFi offers almost every financial product you need, from loans and banking services to insurance and investing. Chime provides only accounts for checking and savings and a credit card.

Winner: SoFi for being a one-stop shop for all your financial needs.

Which company should you choose?

When you should choose SoFi

  • If you like all your financial needs under one roof
  • If you want to earn high APY on your checking and savings accounts
  • If you need more FDIC insurance than the standard $250,000 coverage

When you should choose Chime

  • If you need more than $50 overdraft coverage
  • If you need to rebuild your credit
  • If you prefer to send paper checks (through an app)

What factors to consider before choosing

SoFi and Chime are both great options for online services with minimal fees and no minimum balance requirements. Both also enable you to get paid up to two days early when you set up direct deposit. However, several factors should be considered when deciding which one is best for you.

  • Is earning a high interest important to you? SoFi is the better choice because it offers a competitive APY of up to 4.60% with direct deposit on savings accounts and 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) on checking accounts with direct deposit.
  • Do you need to rebuild your credit? Chime’s Credit Builder Secured Visa Credit Card is specifically designed to help customers with bad credit get back in good standing. Chime also doesn’t check your credit before you apply for an account.
  • Do you have more than $250,000 in your accounts that you want to ensure is covered by FDIC insurance? With SoFi’s Insured Deposit Program, you can opt in for up to $2 million in FDIC insurance coverage. SoFi offers this extra coverage through partnerships with a network of other FDIC-insured banks. If you don’t opt in for additional coverage, then you have the standard $250,000 of FDIC insurance with SoFi.

FAQ

What is the downside to using SoFi?

The downside of using SoFi is that it probably isn’t the best for people who don’t use direct deposit. SoFi offers high-yield savings and checking accounts, but you need to set up direct deposit to get the highest APY. You also need to use direct deposit to be eligible for SoFi’s overdraft protection.

What are the benefits of using SoFi?

The benefits of using SoFi are no monthly fees, no overdraft fees, and no minimum balance requirements. Another benefit is the high APY SoFi offers on its savings and checking accounts for those who set up direct deposit.

Is Chime a good option for students?

Chime is a good option for students looking for a checking account, savings account, or secured credit card. A student may not have a strong enough credit and banking history to get many credit cards. Chime doesn’t require a credit check or a review of your banking history to open an account. And the Chime Credit Builder Card could help students build their credit.

Is SoFi a good bank for college students?

SoFi is a good bank for college students. In addition to banking products, it offers student loan refinancing as well as private student loans to cover school costs like housing, books, supplies, and more. SoFi also offers low fixed and variable rates on its student loans and doesn’t charge fees or pre-payment penalties.

SoFi vs. Chime: bottom line

Overall, we recommend SoFi over financial technology company Chime due to its higher APYs and product availability. It’s convenient to have your bank accounts and other accounts, like personal loans and investments, all in one place.

If you are just starting out on your personal finance journey and have no credit history or if you are at a time in your life when you need to rebuild your credit, Chime will be a better option for you. Chime doesn’t require a credit check when you open a checking or savings account, and the Chime Credit Builder Card could help with that goal as well if you apply and qualify for the card.

SoFi Checking and Savings Account Benefits

  • Earn up to a $300 bonus and up to 4.60% APY13 on your money
  • No account, overdraft, or monthly fees
  • Get your paycheck up to two days early14
  • Savings of up to 20% or more on select trips booked through SoFi Travel
  • Access additional FDIC insurance up to $2 million

Author Details

Danielle Letenyei Danielle Letenyei is a professional writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. Her interests include budgeting, travel, credit cards, insurance, and creative side gigs. She hopes her work on these topics can help others navigate the intricate landscape of personal finance.

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