If you're comfortable with online banking and want to open a checking account with a financial institution that doesn't charge you all sorts of hidden fees, Varo Bank may be just what you're looking for.
Varo is a mobile bank that provides plenty to love — including the ability to get your paycheck up to two days before it's deposited. But although there are big benefits to this checking account, there are also some downsides to be aware of, including a daily spending limit on your debit card.
This Varo Bank review can help you decide whether this bank and this checking account are a good fit for you.
- Varo online checking account basics
- What we like about Varo bank accounts
- What Varo could improve
- How to open a Varo checking account
- How to deposit cash into a Varo account
- How to withdraw money from a Varo bank account
- Other Varo checking account fees
- Varo customer service
- Common questions about Varo
- Bottom line
Varo online checking account basics
|APY||Not an interest bearing account|
|Minimum balance for APY||N/A|
|Minimum deposit to open account||$0|
|Monthly maintenance fees||$0|
|ATM access||Yes, but you're limited to $750 in daily withdrawals|
|Transactions per month||Spending limit of $2,500 per day on your debit card|
|FDIC insured||Yes (through the Bancorp Bank)|
What we like about Varo bank accounts
- Get paid up to two days early with direct deposit. If you sign up for direct deposit, Varo posts the money from your paycheck into your account as soon as your employer provides it. Many of even the best banks keep you waiting for that money until your actual payday. The early direct deposit feature from Varo means you can get your money up to two days early.
- Varo charges very few fees. Varo has no minimum balance requirement and doesn't charge monthly fees no matter how low your balance is. There is no foreign transaction fee if you use your debit card internationally and no charge to replace your debit card if you need it. Transfers to other Varo accounts; over-the-counter withdrawals at a physical bank; bill pay via paper check; and ACH bank transfer are also all fee-free with Varo.
- Your ATM card can be used with no fees. With Varo bank, you'll get a Varo Visa debit card that can be used to withdraw funds fee-free at all ATMs in the Allpoint network. There are more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs, including at popular stores such as Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger.
- Mobile check deposit is available. Varo makes it easy to deposit your paper checks with mobile deposits. Although there is a limit to how much you can deposit via mobile banking (the amount of which is determined based on how long you've had your Varo account open and your past activity), it's still a lot more convenient to deposit checks on your phone or tablet rather than having to mail them in or visit an in-person bank branch.
- Varo offers a full-featured mobile app. Varo has a mobile banking app for both iOS devices and Android devices. The app makes it easy to track spending, sign up for account alerts, transfer money to and from external accounts, and instantly send money for free to anyone who also uses Varo.
- Varo provides overdraft protection with no fees. Varo protects you from overdrafts without charging any fees or interest charges. You need to qualify for this perk by meeting certain requirements such as receiving at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits and making at least five quarterly debit card purchases. If you meet these requirements, you'll receive up to $50 in overdraft protection on your debit card purchases and you won't pay any fees if your account goes negative. The negative funds will simply be repaid by your next deposit and that deposit must be made within 30 days to avoid charges.
- Varo also offers other banking products. If you decide you want a savings account in addition to a checking account, Varo could be a good bank for you. The Varo savings account is a high-yield savings account so you’ll also get a great interest rate.
What Varo could improve
- You won't earn interest on your checking account funds. Many checking accounts don't pay an APY (annual percentage yield) on the money you put in your checking account (that's one of the key differences between checking vs. savings accounts), but there are a few do. Varo isn't one of them, so money you have deposited in your checking won't earn you any interest.
- Physical checks aren’t available. If you frequently find yourself needing to write a paper check, then a Varo checking account won’t be a good fit. That said — although you can't get a physical check, it is possible to send checks from within your Varo account.
- There are daily limits on ATM withdrawals and debit card use. With this account, you're limited to $2,500 per day in debit card transactions and $750 per day in ATM withdrawals.
How to open a Varo checking account
If you’re ready to open a Varo checking account, you’ll be glad to hear it’s easy. In fact, it's all done through the mobile app.
To open a Varo bank account, you do need to meet a few basic requirements, including:
- Being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Being 18 or older
- Having a valid Social Security number
- Having an iPhone 5s or newer with iOS 10 or greater or an Android device with access to the Google Play store and OS 5.0 Lollipop or greater
If you qualify, there are just a few steps required to complete the signup process:
- Download the Varo app from the iOS or Android app store
- Tap "Sign up"
- Follow the on-screen prompts, which will ask for some basic information including your Social Security number as well as your driver's license details or information from another form of personal identification if you don't have a license.
The entire process can be completed within five minutes and there's a support email (email@example.com) you can use to seek assistance if you run into trouble.
How to deposit cash into a Varo account
Varo, as with most online banks, doesn't have physical branches you can go to in order to deposit money. But you can still put cash into your account. You just have to go to a retailer in the Green Dot network to make your cash deposits. There are thousands of retailers participating in the Green Dot Network, including Family Dollar, Kmart, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, and Dollar General.
When you visit one of these locations, go to a checkout cash register and tell them you want to add cash to your Varo Visa debit card. Although Varo won't charge you to do this, it's possible the store you're at will charge up to $4.95.
You can also purchase a MoneyPak at any Green Dot location to deposit between $20 and $500 in one transaction. Again, Varo won't charge a fee but the MoneyPak itself does cost $5.95 to purchase. You'll also have to create a secure login at www.moneypak.com, verify your identity, and link your Varo Visa debit card to your account in order to add cash.
How to withdraw money from a Varo bank account
You have a few options for getting cash from your Varo bank account:
- You can make purchases with your Varo Visa debit card. You're can spend up to $2,500 a day with your Varo account. Although this won't give you physical cash, it does allow you to use the money in your bank account to buy the things you need. You also have the option to ask for cash back from merchants and you can get up to $500 cash this way every day.
- You can withdraw money from an ATM. You can withdraw up to $750 at an ATM each day. There's no fee for withdrawing from an ATM if you use one that’s in the Allpoint network. If you use a non-Allpoint ATM, Varo will charge a fee of $2.50 for cash withdrawals.
- You can do an over-the-counter cash withdrawal. This is something you can do at most traditional banks or credit unions using your Varo debit card. You'll have to ask for cash from the teller and you may want to call ahead to make sure this particular financial institution allows these sorts of transactions. You'll be limited to withdrawing $1,000 a day using this method.
Other Varo checking account fees
|Overdraft fee||$0 if you qualify for no-fee overdraft|
|Stop payment fee||$0|
|Incoming wire||Wire transfers aren't available with Varo|
|Outgoing wire||Wire transfers aren't available with Varo|
Varo customer service
Varo provides customer service via phone and email. Its contact information is:
The call center is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST on Saturdays and Sundays. It is closed on holidays.
Common questions about Varo
Is Varo a real bank?
Varo is very much a real bank. In fact, deposits made with Varo Bank are FDIC insured through The Bancorp Bank. That means your deposits are protected up to at least $250,000.
Does Varo really pay early?
Yes, Varo may actually pay you early. If you receive your paycheck via direct deposit, Varo may be able to get you paid up to two days early. It does this by making your money available immediately after receiving notification from the Federal Reserve that your employer has started the direct deposit process. Most banks hold the funds during this time, but Varo doesn’t. So if your company's payday is Friday, Varo will generally get the alert from the Fed on Wednesdays, which means you can get your money two days ahead of schedule.
Can I load my Varo card at Walmart?
Yes, you can load your Varo card at Walmart. Walmart is part of the Green Dot network so you can visit your local store to deposit cash into your Varo account.
Does Varo do a credit check?
Varo doesn't check your credit when you apply for a bank account so you don't have to worry about having a hard inquiry on your credit report or getting denied for an account due to a low credit score.
Does Varo bank accept ACH?
Yes, Varo accepts ACH payments. Varo also allows ACH transfers with no fees.
If you're looking for a bank account that provides overdraft protection, helps you get your paycheck a couple days early, and charges minimal fees, the Varo Bank Account may fit the bill for you.
Although you need to accept daily spending and withdrawal limits and you have to be prepared for limitations on how you can deposit cash, these sorts of downsides are common to online banking and shouldn't bother most users.
You'll need to decide if the perks are worth the downsides, but we think the Varo checking account compares with some of the best checking accounts out there.