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Updated on Wednesday, December 12, 2018
If you can’t recall the last time you walked into one of your bank’s physical branches, are sick of bank fees and want a no-brainer way to save more money, you may be interested in opening an account with San Francisco-based fintech start-up, Chime. Chime offers a mobile-first approach to banking. The full features of its no-fee service are offered through the free Chime app, making Chime an option to consider for individuals banking on the go.
Chime Bank account: At a glance
Chime calls its everyday checking account a “spending account.” The major selling point of Chime is that it charges almost no fees, as you can see from the list above. We can almost forgive the fact that it doesn’t offer any interest on this account because fee-free checking accounts are harder to find these days. However, there are certainly low-fee checking accounts that pay interest, so check out our roundup of checking accounts here.
Upon account opening, Chime will issue you a VISA debit card to use at the ATM and to make purchases everywhere VISA is accepted.
- No minimum deposit amount to open
- No minimum balance requirement
- No overdraft fee
- No monthly fee
- No ACH transfer fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- Send 15 fee-free ‘Friend transfers’ (P2P) each month
- Doesn’t earn interest
- Can’t request an additional card for another user.
- Limited to $500 in ATM withdrawals per day
Get your paycheck early
If you set up direct deposit to your Chime spending account, you may gain access to your funds up to two days early. That’s because Chime makes the money available to you as soon as your employer deposits it. Generally speaking, that’s about two days before you’d see your paycheck deposited to your account with most banks. This is a common feature of prepaid debit cards, but not seen with many traditional bank accounts.
Use MoneyPass ATMs and you’ll incur no ATM fees. If you go to an out-of-network ATM, the fee is $2.50. ATM withdrawals are capped at $500 per day and card purchases that require a signature and PIN are capped at $2,500 per day.
There are no overdraft fees to worry about because Chime won’t allow you to make a charge that will overdraft your spending account. If a transaction will overdraft your spending account, the company will refuse to process the payment. If your spending account becomes negative for whatever reason and remains negative for 15 days, Chime will transfer money from your savings account to bring the account back to a positive balance.
Chime Bank account vs. Aspiration Summit checking account
As Chime Bank is one of a growing number of fintech banking challengers, we wanted to see how it compares with its new peers, specifically the Aspiration Summit account.
Rates. Unlike the Aspiration Summit account, a Chime Spending account does not earn interest (although the optional Chime Savings account does). With the Aspiration account, you will be paid 0.00% on balances up to $2,499.99 and 0.00% on the entirety of balances of $2,500 or more.
Fees. The Aspiration Summit account offers no-fee ATM use anywhere, while Chime will charge an ATM fee unless account holders locate and use a fee-free ATM as designated by Chime. Neither bank charges a monthly account fee, however, Chime takes the lead here with no strings attached. Aspiration offers a somewhat complicated, usage-based fee pricing structure which may or may not charge a fee, depending on the user.
Overdrafts. The Aspiration account charges an overdraft fee, whereas Chime account does not – the bank will simply refuse to process the transaction if adequate funds are not in the account. Aspiration’s account is targeted toward middle-class users, whereas Chime seeks to appeal to the millennial or youthful demographic and pushes mobile account access as the norm, as opposed to simply an option to access an account.
Access. The Aspiration Summit account can only be opened by invite and when responding, an applicant may receive an email that they’ve been added to a “waitlist” and to “stay tuned for updates.” However, anyone who meets the basic account opening requirements can apply to open a Chime Spending account.
The bottom line: For individuals who want free global ATM access, Aspiration Summit account is the way to go. For someone who wants to perform most of their banking from the palm of their hand on a mobile device – a Chime Bank Spending account is the better alternative.
Who Chime Bank is best for
Chime is ideal for someone who is tech savvy, maintains a low bank balance and wants to avoid fees and save money without thinking (too much) about it.
Someone who wants a fee-free prepaid alternative
Because Chime doesn’t run a credit check to open an account and offers early access to your paycheck at no extra cost, it may be a viable alternative to using prepaid debit cards, which commonly offer early direct deposits but often come with hidden fees.
Someone looking for a solution to overdraft fees
The bank requires no minimum deposits and avoids overdraft fees, which can be beneficial to anyone who generally maintains a low checking account balance and regularly incurs overdraft fees as a result.
Someone who wants to save money automatically
The account’s automatic saving feature makes it easy to save money for anyone who isn’t used to regularly saving a chunk of their paycheck or wants to save a little bit more money with each purchase.
Someone who won’t miss brick-and-mortar branches
Chime doesn’t have any physical branches, which can be an inconvenience to some individuals. Additionally, Chime’s customer service hours are limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST most days. If you’d prefer to have a physical branch to walk into in case you need help with your account or 24-hour customer service, you may be better off banking elsewhere.
Chime Bank savings account
Chime Savings Account
Minimum Balance Amount
Only after opening a Chime spending account will you be permitted to open a Chime savings account. The account requires no minimum deposit to open. However, if you maintain a zero balance for nine continuous months, your account may be closed.
At a measly 0.50% variable APY, the interest on Chime’s savings account isn’t impressive compared with other high-yield savings account options currently available. However, the savings account comes with some attractive features that may make up for the poor interest rate.
Save as you spend
Once you open a savings account, you can enroll in Chime’s automatic savings program, called “save when I spend.” Chime will automatically round up every purchase made with your Chime VISA card to the nearest dollar and transfer the amount from your spending account to your savings account for you. You can turn automatic savings on or off anytime using the Chime app or on the Chime website.
Automatically stash away 10%
Chime’s “save when I get paid” feature makes it easy to pay yourself first. Not only can you access funds from your paycheck up to two days early, but you can also set the app to automatically transfer 10% of your check to your savings account each time you’re paid. You can enable the feature using the Chime app.
No excessive withdrawals fee
Like most savings accounts, under federal Regulation D you are limited up to six certain withdrawals or transfers from the savings account per statement cycle. However, Chime won’t charge you a fee once you hit your limit like other banks will; it simply won’t allow you to make any more than your six withdrawals.
Chime’s partner The Bancorp Bank, an FDIC member, insures Chime deposit accounts up to $250,000.
Chime mobile app
Chime users can use the full features of Chime via the free Chime mobile app on iPhones and Android devices. The Chime app comes packed with full banking features. The app includes mobile deposits and notifications directly from the app, but also a few features exclusive to Chime users, like an in-app P2P system and the ability to send checks.
Notifications. The app will let you know how much money you have left to work with each day with daily account balance and a transaction notification each time you swipe your debit card.
Mobile check deposits. Just snap a photo of your check and it will get deposited into your account. Mobile check deposit is only available for Chime users who have their payroll direct deposited to their spending account.
Security. The account’s security features allow you to toggle on and off the ability to make domestic and international transactions. This is useful if you lose your card and need to block it ASAP so no one else can use it, or if you simply want to restrict your own use of your debit card.
Send money to friends with Chime. You can send money to your friends who use Chime using the in-app “Pay with Friends” feature. The P2P payments option can come in handy if you need to split dinner with friends or bills with roommates. You can send money to other Chime users using their name, Chime nickname, phone number, email or by selecting them from your contacts.
Pay with Friends also works with popular P2P payments app, like Venmo, in case your friends don’t use a Chime account. Just select pay with Venmo after entering the amount you’d like to send and Chime will launch the Venmo app.
Chime’s Pay with Friends caps users at $2,000 or 15 transfers per month. Transfers to Chime members will immediately post in the recipient’s Chime account, while transfers from recipient’s Venmo account to their external bank account may take up to two business days.
ATM Map. Chime built its ATM map right into the app, so you can find an ATM easily on the go. Chime is in network with more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs. Chime allows you to withdraw up to $500 per day, only from your spending account.
Send a check. Chime won’t issue you a checkbook, but it will mail a check to whomever you owe on your behalf from the app. Enter the recipient (business or individual) and the amount you want to send, and Chime will take care of mailing the check for you. You can send and unlimited number of checks, up to $5,000 per check.
How to open a Chime Bank account
Signing up for a Chime account is relatively simple and easy. Chime says it takes less than two minutes to enroll.
You can sign up using the free Chime iPhone or Android app, or by visiting Chime‘s website. You must be at least 18 years old and either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid Social Security number to be eligible to open a Chime account. Chime uses a third-party service to verify your information before approving your account. Chime does not run a credit check for approval or require any other forms of identification like a driver’s license number to apply.
The initial enrollment only opens a Chime spending account and so you will still need to open a savings account if you want one. Chime will present you with the option to open a savings account after your spending account is set up, but if you don’t want to do that right away, you can always do it later online or through the app.
Your Chime VISA debit card should arrive within 10 business days after you open a spending account. As of this writing, Chime does not offer joint accounts.
Linking an external account
You can link an external bank account you own to your Chime spending account in the Move Money section of the Chime app or by logging into your account online. Under Move Money, select Transfers and you will then be prompted to enter your other bank’s login credentials. Your external bank account will be instantly linked to your spending account.
How to fund your Chime account
There are currently five ways Chime allows you to put money into your chime account. As of this writing, Chime does not support wire transfers, but says it may later add the feature.
- Set up direct deposit with your employer. Funds will post when Chime receives them (that may be up to two days earlier than your payday!)
- Initiate a transfer to your Chime account from an external bank. Chime says this is the fastest way to move money from your external account to a Chime account. If you use a debit card to transfer funds to your Chime account, the funds will be made available within minutes. There are no limits on direct deposits, but if you use a debit card, the minimum transfer you can make is $25 and the maximum is $200 per day.
- Initiate a transfer from an external account using Chime. After linking an external bank account, you can transfer up to $200 per day, or $1,000 per month to your Chime spending account. It may take up to five business days for the funds to be made available for use.
- Use the mobile app to deposit a check. Chime users can use the app to deposit checks using their mobile devices.The feature is only available to users who receive payroll direct deposit to their Chime spending account.
- Deposit cash at a one of over 60,000 Green Dot locations. Visit a Green Dot location and ask to add the cash to your Chime spending account. You can deposit up to $1,000 within 24 hours, or $10,000 per month. Green Dot may charge up to $4.95 to make a cash deposit to your Chime spending account. Find a location near you here.
Overall review of Chime
Overall, Chime offers fairly standard checking and savings accounts, but it’s mobile-first approach to banking and robust mobile app features make it stand out from others in mobile banking. If you aren’t super excited to use the Chime banking app and aren’t afraid to do a little extra work, you can achieve most of the same features with a higher-yield checking or savings account offered elsewhere.