Chime Bank Review: Fee-Free Banking
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Few things in life are as frustrating as bank fees. If you’re like me, you hate checking your account balance to see a few assessed on your account. Chime Bank is an excellent solution to this problem.
While difficult to believe, Chime is a fee-free mobile banking platform. Large banks thrive on charging fees to customers. This burden makes it difficult for those attempting to build wealth to break free of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
If you want a bank that is light on fees without sacrificing features, this Chime Bank review covers why they’re a solution to killing bank fees.
What Is Chime Bank?
Chime online banking does not operate as a traditional bank. The financial institution operates entirely online and is backed by The Bancorp Bank, which performs banking services for numerous banks nationwide.
You must have a smartphone that can download apps to use the Chime app. While solely online, the bank offers the same FDIC coverage you receive through a traditional bank with physical branches.
Thanks to a lack of branches, Chime passes on the savings to you by charging minimal fees. Don’t allow the online-only feature to spook you.
Chime offers many of the same features you receive with traditional banking services, including:
- Checking accounts
- Direct deposits
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals
- Savings accounts
The bank also offers other features that truly make them a suitable alternative to people wanting to keep more of their money.
How Does Chime Bank Work?
When you open a Chime Bank account, you automatically receive three things. Those are:
- Checking account
- Debit card
- Savings account
Signing up is easy and quick to do. Any money deposited into your account automatically goes into your checking (or what Chime calls a “spending account”).
You can also easily transfer money to your savings, just like with any other bank. Need checks? Chime has you covered there too.
Even though they’re an online-only bank, they do offer checks via their Chime Checkbook feature. You don’t physically write a check, but they send one for you.
This feature is free of charge, and there is no limit on the checks you can send each month. They also offer mobile deposit if that is an important feature to you.
Chime Bank works like any other bank, except they’re all online. That is the only significant difference that you will notice.
However, if you’re used to doing everything online anyway, switching to an online bank won’t be much of a hassle for you.
One of the best parts of using Chime Bank is they have no minimum account balance. So, you can open an account with as little as you want, and don’t need to maintain a specific balance.
Features & Extras
Chime Bank has an impressive list of features and extras that can appeal to just about any customer.
When was the last time you needed to use your debit card, but did not have quite enough in your account to make the purchase? That happens to a lot of us, but the institution covers you with its SpotMe feature.
SpotMe is a feature that allows you to make debit card purchases, even if it will overdraw your account. However, unlike most banks, Chime won’t charge you any overdraft fees for doing this. Instead, they “spot” you the difference.
The bank does offer you the ability to leave an optional tip if you use the feature, but there is no fee to use SpotMe.
If you decide to use SpotMe, there are some eligibility requirements you must meet. First, you’ll have had to receive $500 or more in direct deposits in the last 31 days.
When you first use SpotMe, the limit is capped at $20. This means that you can’t go over more than $20. After your account history and usage have grown, so can your SpotMe eligibility.
Eventually, you can overdraw upwards of $100 or more.
There are a few things to keep in mind with the SpotMe feature. First, it’s optional to use. Second, you also must be eligible, approved, and accept the terms and conditions before using the feature.
If you try to overdraw your account over the SpotMe limit that you have, the merchant will decline the transaction.
You can only use this feature for debit card purchases, so don’t select “credit” when purchasing if you intend to use SpotMe.
When Chime receives your next deposit, they will deduct the SpotMe owed balance, but you won’t have to pay any fees on that balance.
Most banks require you to open a separate line of credit account that assesses fees, to have a similar feature.
One of the best tips to save money is to save in small amounts whenever possible. Chime helps you with this through their Round-Ups feature.
Here’s how round ups work. Every time you make a purchase using your debit card, the bank rounds up the purchase to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference into your savings account.
For example, if you buy gas and your total is $33.47, Chime will automatically round up to the nearest dollar ($34). The change, equaling $0.53, is then transferred to your savings account.
Keep in mind that if you choose the round up feature, it will apply to every single purchase you make. Chime will also pay you a ten percent bonus on your round ups every single week, up to $500 in total every year.
You can also ask Chime Bank to automatically save up to ten percent of your direct deposit paycheck into your savings account.
Savings account rates are paltry at most banks. Online banking institutions have minimal overhead and set themselves apart by offering higher-paying high-yield savings accounts.
That is also the case with Chime. Their current rate on high-yield savings accounts is 1.00 percent, making it one of the best online savings account rates available. This rate is more than 16 times the national average, according to Chime.
Free ATM Withdrawals
Chime Bank works with over 38,000 ATMs to offer its customers free ATM withdrawals.
If you do use an out-of-network ATM, the fee is only $2.50, which is cheaper than most ATM fees.
If you’re asking yourself, “how can I find a Chime ATM near me?” just go into the app to find the closest location.
There are no hidden fees to use Chime. That includes overdraft fees, ATM fees (unless you go out-of-network, but they’re honest and upfront about that), no minimum fees, and no monthly fees.
If you load an external debit card from your Chime account, there is a three percent charge to process it. Outside of those two fees, Chime is free to use.
Does your bank charge any of the following?
- Account service fee
- ACH transfer fee
- Card replacement fee
- Foreign transaction fee
- Overdraft fee
It’s highly likely they do. Chime online banking avoids all those, and more, with no hidden fees.
Get Paid Early
Do you receive your paycheck via direct deposit? How would you like to gain access to those funds quicker?
If you set up direct deposit with the Chime mobile app, they allow you access to the money up to two days sooner. Your employer must support this feature on their end, so this may not be available to all users.
Split The Bill Option
Do you go out with friends and like to split bills? Or, do you live with a significant other and split your household bills?
If you tend to find it frustrating to split costs with other people, Chime simplifies that problem.
They make it easy for others to pay you back their portion with Venmo, or account-to-account if they also have a Chime account.
The mobile app will send them a text with a link to pay you back easily and securely.
Security is vital when choosing a bank, regardless if it has branches nationwide, or is solely online. Chime Bank offers the same security features you find at other banks.
Like any other bank, they are an FDIC member, and deposits are protected up to $250,000. They also use 128-bit AES encryption, access control, and secure processes to ensure your money is safe while sitting in your account.
Pros & Cons
Chime Bank has some incredible features, and a lot going for it. However, we do need to talk about all of the pros and cons.
Here is what to keep in mind when considering an account with Chime Bank:
- No hidden fees. This means more money in your pocket and less being paid for things that can make a bank rich.
- FDIC-insured, which means your money is protected up to $250,000.
- Free ATM withdrawals at over 38,000 ATMs. If you are out of network, you’ll only pay a withdrawal fee of $2.50.
- Fast direct deposit. You can get your direct deposit up to two days faster than most banks by using Chime.
- Mobile friendly, so you can bank on the go and not feel like your busy life is affecting your money.
- 1.00 percent variable APY rate on your savings account, which means that your money gains interest, just for you being a smart saver.
- Automatic savings. This is a terrific feature for those that forget to save.
- No option for cash users. Because the bank is online-only, if you receive cash or carry cash with you, this may not work for you.
- Lack of customer service. Since Chime is online, they also don’t offer much in terms of customer support. You can only reach Chime Bank customer service via the app, email, and phone. Should any issues arise, you can’t speak with someone face to face and get the issue resolved.
- It’s practically impossible to use an external debit card. While you can link an external debit card to your Chime account, you have to send a photo of the front and back of your card for Chime to link it.
- No rewards on debit card purchases
Banking happens online more and more these days. Chime offers a lot of great perks to attract users and is an excellent tool to use if you like to manage finances from your phone.
The principal drawback to this is the lack of customer service support, and Chime is no different. If you have an issue, you must call customer service to receive help.
You can reach a representative from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays.
You can also contact customer service through the app or via email.
Chime Bank is an excellent choice for those looking to manage their money on the go. The app is easy to use, and the institution offers a lot of helpful features.
The fact that Chime online banking is virtually fee-free sets them apart from other banks, especially if you want an online checking account.
Chime Bank is perfect for the busy professional, phone-in-hand college student, or person that needs faster deposits.
It’s a great option to consider if your bank isn’t offering features you want, or if you’re tired of fees.
The bank isn’t for everyone. If you like traditional banking or don’t want to use your phone for banking, you may want to look for other alternatives. However, for those who want fee-free banking, it’s a terrific option.
How much do you pay in fees at your bank? What concerns you about using an online-only bank? How do you automate your savings?