Checking, Savings, Pros & Cons

Digital-first financial services are the wave of the future: all of the money management, none of the getting off the couch.

One of the earliest players and a leading company in the branchless banking game is Chime, a financial technology company founded in 2013 by Chris Britt (current CEO) and Ryan King (current CTO).

Like other online banking options, Chime offers many of the most important features of a traditional deposit account with a much leaner fee schedule — and even has a savings account option that bears a much higher interest rate than a typical savings account.

Chime has become increasingly popular even though a summer 2021 controversy has yet to play out. Nearly 1,000 complaints were lodged with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after Chime abruptly closed hundreds of accounts. Chime said the closures were related to COVID relief fraud but the issue has not been publicly resolved. Pro Publica reported on the situation in July and The Penny Hoarder is watching for resolution.

Chime Review: Accounts

In this review conducted in late 2021, we look at both the Chime’s checking and savings accounts, considering the details you will need to decide if you want to sign up. Chime offers one “checking account” option, called the Chime Spending Account. Every Chime member starts with this account.

If you open a Chime Spending Account, you also have access to a Chime Savings Account, an FDIC-insured savings account with automated savings features, high APY and no fees.

Chime Spending Account

Best for Simple, Fee-Free Checking

Key Features

  • No monthly fees
  • Cash deposit via Green Dot
  • Fee-free overdraft options

Chime’s checking option is the Spending Account. It’s a pretty basic product: a non-interest-bearing deposit account linked to a debit card. It works like most traditional checking accounts, and includes fee-free overdraft options and access to a credit builder account if you want it.

Chime Spending Account

Minimum balance

$0

ATM access

60,000-plus free ATMs

Prime perk

et paid up to two days ahead with direct deposit

More Information about Chime Spending Account

With a Chime Spending Account, you get:

  • Visa debit card: Use your Chime debit card for point-of-sale transactions, ATM withdrawals and Green Dot cash deposits.
  • Mobile deposit: Deposit any check into your account by snapping a photo with the Chime smartphone app. How easy is that?
  • Cash deposits: You can deposit cash into your Chime account at more than 60,000 retail locations with Green Dot, which is a feature many online banks don’t allow.
  • Peer to peer transfers: Send money directly from your Chime account to friends and family, whether they use Chime or not.
  • SpotMe overdraft protection: This fee-free overdraft protection feature is available to if you receive total monthly direct deposits of $500 or more. If you spend more than you have in your account, Chime will cover the difference, starting at a limit of $20 and increasing up to $200 or more depending on your account activity. You’ll repay the overdraft amount out of your next deposit.
  • Bill pay: Pay rent and bills directly from your account through ACH transfer by giving companies your Chime routing and account numbers. Or mail a paper check using the Chime Checkbook feature.
  • Pro Tip

    Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to earn a cash bonus when you sign up for a new bank account.

    Chime Savings Account

    Best for Automatic Savings

    Key Features

    • Cash rewards for saving
    • Automatic savings features
    • No minimum or maximum balance

    The Chime Savings Account comes with no fees, balance minimums or maximums on interest, and it gives you access to automated features to make setting aside money painless. The Savings Account earns interest at a rate of 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), with no minimum deposit required.

    Chime Savings Account

    APY

    0.50%

    ATM access

    60,000-plus free ATMs

    Prime perk

    Auto save with 10% of each deposit going to savings

    More Information about Chime Savings Account

    Anyone with a Spending Account has the option to add a Savings Account.
    Automated savings features include:

  • Round ups: Anytime you make a purchase with your Chime debit card, you can automatically round up transactions to the nearest dollar and stick the digital change into your savings account.
  • Save When I Get Paid: Automatically transfer 10% of each deposit or payment received (of $500 or more) into your savings account.
  • Unlike some online accounts, Chime doesn’t make it easy to set specific savings goals or to further personalize your accounts by purpose. You also cannot deposit money directly into your Chime Savings Account; it has to be funneled through your Spending Account.
    The Chime Savings Account is a federally regulated savings account, so it’s subject to any definitions or restrictions set by the Federal Reserve, including potential withdrawal limitations.

    Other Chime Products

    Aside from a simple checking account and savings account, Chime’s offerings are fairly light. It doesn’t offer any lending, credit cards or investing, so you’ll have to work with different institutions to cover those.

    It does offer a fairly unique credit builder account connected to the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa Credit Card.

    You can open an account with no credit check and pay no annual fees. You’ll just make a deposit of any amount (no minimum), which becomes your credit limit. You spend on the card like any other Visa credit card and repay the balance with the money in your Credit Builder account, and your activity is reported to credit bureaus to build your credit history.

    Chime Fees

    Chime goes easy on the fees, which means:

    • No monthly fees for account maintenance.
    • No minimum balance requirement.
    • No foreign transaction fees.
    • No opening deposit requirement.
    • No fee for SpotMe overdraft protection and no additional overdraft fees.
    • No fee to send paper checks with Chime Checkbook.
    • No ATM fees when you use in-network ATMs.

    You can withdraw cash from more than 38,000 fee-free ATMs in the U.S. through MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.

    You’ll pay the provider’s fee if you use an out-of-network ATM. And you’ll pay a fee to deposit or withdraw cash over the counter at Green Dot locations — Chime charges $2.50 for withdrawals, and you may pay a Green Dot fee, which could be up to $4.95 per transaction.

    Chime Customer Experience

    As with all online bank accounts, Chime’s convenience factor is relative: If you’re looking for the brick-and-mortar banking experience, you’re barking up the wrong (money) tree.

    Because Chime is a technology company, its mobile app is easy to use and lets you manage your money on the go 24/7. If that’s what you’re looking for, Chime makes the grade for online savings accounts and savings accounts.

    It also includes some features you won’t see from many of its online-banking competitors, including cash deposits, free overdraft protection and early paycheck deposit.

    Chime enjoys high ratings on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store — 4.6 and 4.8 stars out of five, respectively.

    The app makes it easy to access and interact with all of Chime’s banking features, including SpotMe overdraft protection, automatic savings options and easy mobile payments, which are made particularly simple for transactions between Chime users.

    Through the app, you can:

    • See your Chime Spending and Savings account balances and transaction history.
    • Transfer money between Spending and Savings.
    • Deposit checks with mobile check deposit.
    • Locate in-network, fee-free ATMs.
    • Contact customer support.
    • Set up automatic savings and Round Ups for debit card purchases. A survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta reported that Americans made an average of 68 payments or purchases a month in 2020, and 23 of those were debit card payments.
    • Transfer money to other Chime members with Pay Friends. The money transfers immediately.

    The app doesn’t carry the wealth of extra features some other digital-first banks offer. Budgeting tools, for example, are a helpful way to reframe your finances, and banks of all types are increasingly working them into their suite of digital tools.

    Chime, on the other hand, remains simplistic — which you might take as a positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for.

    Is Chime Right for You?

    Chime’s suite of offerings and in-app tools are pretty lean, but could be a fit for you if you have relatively simple banking needs. Here’s our take on the best things and the not-so-best things about opening a Chime account.

    Pros and Cons about Chime

    We’ve rounded up the pros and cons of Chime to help you decide if this is the right bank for you.


    Pros

    • Fee-free money services
    • No overdraft fees, plus flexible protection
    • Get paid early
    • Cash deposits


    Cons

    • No interest on checking
    • No small business banking options
    • No budgeting tools or financial services
    • No joint accounts

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chime

    Here are our answers to some commonly asked questions about banking with Chime.

    First off, Chime is not technically a bank but rather an online money management system. What makes a good financial platform or institution is different for everyone. Chime offers a fee-free spending account and savings account, higher-than-average APY, a credit builder card, a free ATM network and fee-free overdraft protection. Its features could be attractive to anyone, but may fall short if you want more comprehensive services, like lending, credit cards, investing or small business banking.

    Is Chime a Legit Account?

    Chime’s deposit accounts are held and FDIC-insured by its partner banks, Stride Bank, N.A. and The Bancorp Bank, both chartered and federally regulated banks in the U.S.

    Can You get Scammed on Chime?

    Your money is safe with a Chime account. Chime uses a secure mobile banking platform that includes two-factor authentication, fingerprint authentication, transaction alerts, easy debit card freeze and Visa Zero Liability protection against fraudulent charges to your Chime Visa debit card. Its accounts are backed by partner banks, Stride Bank, N.A. and The Bancorp Bank, which offer FDIC insurance for your balances up to $250,000.

    Chime’s mobile banking platform is secured with encrypted data, two-factor authentication and fingerprint authentication to keep strangers from accessing your account. And the platform gives you access to real-time transaction alerts and instant debit card freeze.

    Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. Information from former Penny Hoarder contributor Jamie Cattanach is included in this report.




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