Cheese Bank Review

Cheese Bank

Overall Rating

9

Bottom Line

Cheese bank was designed with Asian-American communities and immigrants in mind, though anyone can open an account. The platform is entirely mobile-based provides easy-to-use banking services to whoever needs them.

Pros

  • Completely free
  • Solid APY earning potential
  • Support for AAPI communities
  • Cash back rewards on debit card purchases

Cons

  • Only one account option
  • Limited customer service
  • No physical branches or desktop access

Cheese is an online bank that comes with cash back rewards, a generous savings bonus, and the opportunity to stand in solidarity with Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.

In a world where neobanks are packing in as many modern features as possible, Cheese keeps it simple.

To learn all about what Cheese is and how it stacks up against other digital banking platforms, keep reading.

In This Article

What is Cheese Bank?

Cheese Co-Founder and CEO Ken Lian is a Chinese immigrant that started the company after being repeatedly denied checking accounts at major US banks.

Despite having an excellent credit score, Lian found himself limited to bottom-of-the-barrel bank account and credit card options, so he decided to try and do things differently. And just like that, Cheese was born.

While Cheese was designed with Asian-American communities and immigrants in mind, anyone can open an account. The platform is entirely mobile-based provides easy-to-use banking services to whoever needs them.

To give you a better idea of what you can get from Cheese, let’s jump into its main features.

Cheese Bank Features

With Cheese, you get an all-in-one account with no traditional bank fees and no minimum balance requirements. Cheese accounts are provided by its partner, Coastal Community Bank, which is a member-FDIC institution.

Mobile Banking

Cheese is completely mobile-based, so you must download the app to sign-up for an account. You can’t access your account from its website.

Fortunately, the Cheese app is a good one. It currently has a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) in the App Store and a 4.4-star rating (out of 5) in the Google Play Store — although it’s much more popular on Android than iOS.

Fee-Free ATMs

Cheese is part of the MoneyPass ATM network, so its users can use any MoneyPass ATM nationwide for free. There are more than 33,000 ATMs in the network, and you can easily find the nearest one in the Cheese app.

Up to 3% Deposit Bonus

Cheese offers deposit bonuses across all accounts, which work in the same way as an interest rate or annual percentage yield (APY).

All deposits earn 0.30% each month, based on the total monthly balance. Also, if you refer a friend who opens a Cheese account, you both get a 3.00% bonus for the month that they sign up. There’s no limit here, so the more folks you bring in, the more you can earn.

Cash Back Rewards

All eligible Cheese debit card purchases earn a base rate of 0.25% cashback, up to a maximum of $10 per day.

When you shop at Asian-owned businesses and restaurants, you can earn up to 10% cashback, which is one of the highest rates I’ve seen.

Cashback rewards don’t require any enrollment or activation, and you can easily find eligible merchants near you in the app.

Cheese GiveBack Fund

Cheese is stepping up to the plate in response to the pandemic and a rise in anti-Asian violence.

Through the Cheese GiveBack Fund — which is also backed by actor and musician Jimmy Wong — Cheese is raising $100,000 to support Asian-focused nonprofits.

What’s more, for every new Cheese member, the company adds $10 to the fund. Collectively, nearly $30,000 has been raised to support these causes.

Early Direct Deposit

When you enroll in direct deposit, Cheese offers the chance to get your paycheck up to two days early. This is an increasingly common online feature among online banks.

Cheese Bank Fees

Cheese is an entirely fee-free platform. That’s right, literally zero fees. Some of this is due to having limited functionality compared to other online banks. But for the most part, it’s one of Cheese’s most appealing aspects.

Getting Started with Cheese Bank

To open your Cheese account, download the app or head to earncheese.com. Accounts are available to anyone over 18 with a Social Security number or a valid passport and visa.

It only takes a few minutes to get started, and you can quickly make your initial deposit through a linked external bank account.

Cheese doesn’t check your credit history when you sign up. So, if your credit score is a little low, you shouldn’t have a problem getting an account.

Promotions

Cheese is currently offering a $5 sign-up bonus to all new account-holders. There aren’t any other requirements other than opening an account.

If you’re feeling benevolent, you can choose to donate your five bucks to the GiveBack Fund. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Security

Cheese is a secure platform that takes care of your personal and financial data. Here are some of the security features that come along with every Cheese account:

  • 256-bit encryption
  • Mastercard Zero Liability Protection
  • FDIC insurance through Coastal Community Bank
  • One-click card freezing in the app

Customer Service

Cheese is still a new platform and its customer support options are pretty limited. If you need help with your account, you can send an email to support@earncheese.com or submit an online request.

Now here is an area where Cheese stands out: The company offers bilingual support with English and Chinese-speaking team members.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • Solid APY earning potential
  • Support for AAPI communities
  • Cash back rewards on debit card purchases

Cons:

  • Only one account option
  • Limited customer service
  • No physical branches or desktop access
  • Few options for transferring funds

Alternatives to Cheese Bank

Cheese isn’t the only modern bank with a social conscience. Here are a few leading alternatives to Cheese Bank.

Aspiration

Aspiration is an online bank that’s committed to combating climate change. It uses a percentage of all deposits to fund clean energy and never invests in projects that will harm the planet. Customers can earn a 1.00% APY for its premium account, plus cash back opportunities on climate-conscious purchases.

Ally Bank

Ally Bank is the largest online bank, hands down. It makes a positive impact with the Ally for Social Good program, which supports economic mobility, employee volunteering, and diversity and inclusion. Ally accounts are fee-free and tend to come with well above average savings rates.

Atmos Financial

Atmos is an online bank that pledges to support climate-positive projects. Customers have access to fee-free checking accounts and high-yield savings accounts. Account-holders can earn cash back on debit card purchases and up to 0.51% APY on deposits.

FAQs

What bank does Cheese use?

Cheese partners with Coastal Community Bank, a member-FDIC financial institution.

What is a Cheese card?

The Cheese card is a debit card, issued by Mastercard, that links to Cheese accounts.

What is Cheese mobile?

Cheese mobile is the app that houses all of the bank’s accounts and features. As mentioned above, Cheese is completely mobile-based, so you’ll need to download the app to get an account.

Is Cheese Bank Right For You?

As the latest wave of neobanks hits the scene, we’re starting to see some new trends. Digital banking mainstays like low fee schedules and above-average APYs aren’t going anywhere.

On top of features that bolster your balance, socially conscious platforms like Cheese come with a greater purpose. By choosing a bank account that gives back, you can spur positive change toward the causes that matter most to you.

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a traditional bank account with a ton of options and features, Cheese is probably not a good fit. But if AAPI causes are important to you, Cheese stands alone.