Chime is an American-based neobank — meaning that it’s online-only and very similar to a bank. The company was founded in 2013 with a focus on providing a fee-free alternative to traditional banking.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Chime has seen swift growth, boasting over 8 million account holders and $1.5 billion in private funding.
With a minimalist, user-friendly platform, Chime aims to help people get ahead financially by encouraging a mutually beneficial partnership between bank and customer.
Big, traditional financial institutions often come with an overwhelming variety of products — with Chime accounts, things are kept pretty simple.
You’ll only have one option each for checking, savings, and credit card accounts.
Chime Spending Account
The Chime Spending Account is is a no-fee, basic online checking account that comes with a Visa debit card.
You’ll have mobile banking, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and hassle-free transfers between checking and savings.
Chime also makes it easy if you happen to lose your debit card, with an option to disable transactions in the app, rather than waiting on hold for someone to help you.
High Yield Chime Savings Account
The High Yield Chime Savings Account is Chime’s sole option when it comes to savings.
High-yield savings accounts are typically a major selling point card of online-only banks, and Chime is no different, with a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) currently sitting at 0.50%.
As mentioned above, Chime also aims to make saving easier with round-ups and automatic monthly transfers.
Chime Credit Builder Credit Card
The Chime Credit Builder credit card comes with no annual fee or interest rate and has no minimum requirement for a security deposit.
Here’s how it works: All you need to apply is a Chime Spending Account and direct deposits of at least $200 in the past year. Chime doesn’t run credit checks, so don’t worry if your score is low.
Once you’re signed up, simply move money over from your Spending Account, which becomes your available balance.
Each month, your balance gets paid with the money you’ve already moved over, and Chime reports your balance as paid in full, just like a normal credit card — easy, right?
Credit Builder doesn’t come with any point system or intro bonus, so it isn’t recommended if your credit is already in good shape.
That said, for those looking to build credit without the added risk of running up a balance, this could be a great option.
Below are some of the features that set Chime apart:
60,000+ Fee-Free ATMs
Chime partners with the Allpoint ATM network, which gives account holders fee-free access to over 60,000 ATMs throughout the United States. Allpoint is the largest ATM network in the country and many of their ATMs are in convenient locations like CVS, Target, Kroger, Wallgreens, and 7-Elevens. As Chime continues to evolve this gives them a unique advantage since consumers can access more than 3x more ATMs than the big national banks.
This can mean a few things for customers, but the main takeaway is that with less overhead for physical spaces and employees, online banks don’t have the same need to nickel and dime you on monthly fees.
Highly-Rated Mobile App
Chime advertises itself as a bank built by a tech company, so it’s no surprise that it’s on top of things when it comes to mobile usability.
The Chime bank app is flush with options for automation and notifications and comes with everything you need from a bank, right from your phone.
Deposit paper checks, make transfers and monitor your balance — wherever you are.
Current users on both iOS and Android seem to be happy. The app currently holds a 4.8-star rating (out of 5) in the App Store, and 4.5 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.
Early Direct Deposit
When you set up direct deposit with Chime, you’re automatically enrolled into a program that allows your paycheck to hit your account up to two business days early.
You can enroll in direct deposit right from the app, and Chime sends you the required form to give your employer.
Chime’s goal is to help its customers to hit their financial goals. With this in mind, Chime offers some solid options for automating your savings.
For example, the Save When You Spend feature can automatically round up every purchase you make with your Chime Visa Debit Card to the nearest dollar, dropping the remainder into your savings.
The service works similarly to the robo investing app Acorns, with the main difference being that you have instant access to the funds in both your Spending and Savings Accounts.
Chime also makes it easier to build good savings habits through automatic savings deposits. Using this tool, you can automatically send a certain percentage of your paycheck directly into your savings account.
Chime has a mobile feature called Pay Friends, which is an easy, fee-free option for sending money to other Chime users.
The app works in a similar way to Venmo, Zelle, or Cash App, and makes it easy to split the check or pay someone back instantly.
With most online banks, depositing cash isn’t an option, and you’ll have to deposit into another account and transfer over.
Fortunately, with Chime, you won’t have this problem.
Cash deposits are available at over 90,000 retail locations, such as Walmart or Walgreens. You can deposit cash up to three times per day, and up to $10,000 total per month.
This ability to deposit cash makes Chime stand out when you compare it with most online-only banks.
Chime is all about no fees and affordable banking. So as you might expect, there isn’t much to touch on in terms of fees.
Let’s take a look at any fees that could pop up, and other things that you can expect from its pricing model.
Out of Network ATM Fees
If you end up having to use an ATM outside of Chime’s network, you could be hit with a fee from the ATM carrier.
Unfortunately, Chime doesn’t reimburse for these fees, so be sure to locate free options in your area.
With Chime, you won’t pay a fee if you accidentally spend more than what’s in your account. Overdrafts can be stressful, and that stress can build upon itself with traditional overdraft fees.
Fortunately, Chime’s SpotMe feature is a form of overdraft protection that has you covered for overdrafts of up to $200.
To qualify for SpotMe you must have at least $500 in monthly direct deposits. From there, it’s pretty simple.
Chime will cover your negative balance until your next deposit can make up the difference.
Once the negative balance is squared away, you’ll have the option to leave a tip and pay it forward. Tipping is completely optional, and whether or not you feel like leaving one has no impact on your standing with Chime.
Chime accounts all come with none of the monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements that you might see in a traditional bank.
Chime’s banking services repeatedly boast no hidden fees, but there aren’t any in plain sight either.
Signing up with Chime takes less than two minutes on the website or mobile app, and there’s no hard credit pull.
The only info you need to provide is your social security number, birth date, and mailing address.
Once your account is ready, you’ll have full access to all of Chime’s online and mobile features.
You won’t be able to sign up for a Chime credit card right away, but you should be able to once you make your first deposit of $200 or more.
Chime High Yield Savings
Here are some of the best Chime promotions going on right now:
1. Spending Account - $100 bonus
Expires: Limited Time
Chime is offering a $100/$100 bonus (you get $100 and your friend gets $100) when you sign up for a new spending account using an existing customer's referral link.
Not a Chime customer? Use the link below to create an account then start referring friends for some easy money.
How to earn the bonus
The Spending Account sign up offer requires you to set up direct deposits and use a referral link in order to earn the $100 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Open a new account using a referral link from an existing customer.
- Within 45 days, receive a direct deposit of at least $200.
As an online-only fintech, information security is at the top of Chime’s priorities. Here are some of the security features that Chime offers:
Instant Account Blocking
If you lose track of your card or suspect unauthorized use, you can take care of it without having to make a phone call. Just open up the Chime app, and temporarily disable your account.
You can set up alerts on your phone every time a transaction happens with your card. These alerts can help you keep track of spending and notify you if someone else is using your card.
All Chime accounts are backed by its banking partners, The Bancorp Bank, or Stride Bank, N.A. Both of these banks are insured by the FDIC, which means that your deposits are always protected up to $250,000.
Visa Zero Liability
Chime debit cards are protected by Visa Zero Liability, which means that in the event purchases are made with your card prior to you being able to disable it, you won’t be responsible for covering them.
128-Bit AES Encryption
Strong encryption software is essential when it comes to online banking, so you can rest assured that any sensitive information stored within Chime will be unreachable for any potential unauthorized users.
Chime Customer Service
Shifting to online-based customer service is typically the biggest transition for those who are used to traditional banks or credit unions.
Online banks of course don’t offer the in-person service of physical branches, but the good news is that you still can get help when you need it.
For starters, Chime’s website has a ton of FAQs to help you help yourself. If you do need to speak to someone, you can reach out via email or hit up the customer service phone number.
Phone support is available from 6 am to 10 pm Central Time during the week, and from 7 am to 9 pm on weekends. These contact hours are quite good for an online-only bank.
On the whole, Chime’s customers seem to be pretty happy with the level of customer support they’re receiving, as demonstrated by the bank’s 4.3-star rating (out of 5) on TrustPilot.
Chime Pros and Cons
Let’s go ahead and summarize where Chime shines and where they fall short:
- No fees whatsoever
- Excellent online and mobile functionality
- High APY on savings account
- Good customer support
- Great for rebuilding credit
- Fee-free access to 60,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint Network
- No physical locations
- Limited account options and services
- No rewards credit cards
Alternatives to Chime
Chime’s main competition comes from other online-only banks, such as:
Many other online banks offer a similar low-fee structure and competitive interest rates. It’s all about finding the provider that serves your specific needs.
If the idea of an online-only bank sounds good, but you’re not quite ready to take the full leap, you might consider a hybrid bank like Capital One, or a more traditional bank with a strong online presence like Chase.
Here’s a look at the answers to some of the most common questions that come up from those who are considering banking with Chime.
Is Chime a real bank?
This is a little tricky.
Chime accounts are FDIC-insured, so your money is just as secure as it would be with a traditional bank.
On the other hand, Chime itself is not actually a bank. It’s a tech company that operates bank accounts and credit cards.
Chime partners with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, which manage its accounts and carry the insurance policy.
Is Chime FDIC insured?
Yes, The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, which operate all of the bank accounts within Chime, are both insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per account.
Is Chime safe?
Yes, Chime is safe. Aside from FDIC insurance, Chime has all of the security measures in place to make customers feel secure with online-only banking.
Is Chime Right For You?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate banking fees?
The higher you rank on that scale, the more Chime makes sense for you. We aren’t talking low or rare fees here, but totally nonexistent ones.
Add that to outstanding mobile usability, a high-yield savings option, and customer service when you need it, and you’ve got a modern, online option that should serve your everyday banking needs well.
On the flip side, if you like the idea of having a local branch, and a robust offering of account types and services, you might benefit from looking into a bigger, more traditional bank.
Overall, Chime is a solid option for anyone, but I would say that it especially stands out for young people, fee-haters, and people who want to avoid minimum balance requirements. It’s also a top choice for people whose credit score could use a boost.
Now that you know what Chime has to offer, the next step is signing up for an account if the bank’s services make sense.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.