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Chime Bank Review 2021 – Account Features, Pros & Cons

At a Glance
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4.2 / 5
Rating

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Chime Bank Review

  • Accounts: Checking (Spending Account), Credit Builder Account and credit card, Savings Account
  • Bonuses: None
  • Monthly Maintenance Fees: None
  • Minimum Deposit Requirements: None
  • Benefits: Mobile banking, automatic savings, mobile wallet integration

Chime Bank merges the best attributes of traditional bank accounts and automated savings apps in a sleek, low-cost package. It’s a mobile-first solution for on-the-go consumers serious about saving and spending wisely.

Anyone with a U.S. address can open a Chime Bank account. Every account holder gets an FDIC-insured checking account (known in Chime parlance as a “Spending Account”), an FDIC-insured savings account, and a Visa debit card connected to the checking account. Fees are minimal: There’s no monthly maintenance fee for the Spending Account, for instance. And Chime has a cool automated savings feature that takes the grunt work out of setting funds aside.

Chime Bank is definitely not a full-service online bank. If you expect it to be, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You won’t find any CDs, money markets, investment options, or loan products here — other than a handy but limited secured credit card. But you should read on to learn more about what Chime has to offer.


Key Features

If all you need is a low-cost checking and savings portal that helps you save every day, Chime could be your bank. Here’s what you need to know about its features, advantages, disadvantages, and overall suitability.

Deposit Account (Spending Account)

Chime Bank’s central feature is its deposit account. This is a standard-issue checking account, known internally as the Spending Account, with FDIC insurance up to the $250,000 statutory limit per account.

The Spending Account has no opening deposit requirement, minimum balance requirement, or monthly fees. You can set up an individual or joint account, depending on your lifestyle and preferences. If you don’t have direct deposit or mobile check deposit set up, you can transfer money from external bank accounts into your Chime Spending Account, subject to certain transfer limits and restrictions.

Savings Account

Chime Bank also offers an FDIC-insured savings account to every Spending Account customer, but you’re under no obligation to open one.

Outbound transfers are limited by law to six per month, so this account isn’t suitable for day-to-day use. You can make unlimited inbound transfers from your Spending Account, however. There’s no minimum or maximum balance requirement, although accounts with $0 balances for nine consecutive months are subject to closure.

Chime Savings has a solid yield on all balances, subject to change with prevailing interest rates.

Chime Debit Card

All Chime Bank deposit account holders get a fee-free Visa debit card that can be used to make purchases anywhere Visa is accepted. You can make fee-free cash withdrawals at more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide and get cash back on point-of-sale transactions at a comparable number of retail locations.

Fee-Free Overdraft (SpotMe)

Chime’s Spending Accounts come with an optional fee-free overdraft protection plan called SpotMe. With SpotMe in place, eligible account holders get up to $200 to cover debit card purchases that result in negative balances. Once the negative balance is repaid, account holders have the option to “tip” (pay a small fee) to repay Chime’s generosity, but this isn’t a condition of coverage.

Credit Builder Account (Visa Secured Credit Card)

The Chime Credit Builder Visa Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card designed for first-time credit card users and for people looking to bounce back from events that adversely impacted their credit, such as bankruptcies.

Unlike most secured credit cards, there’s no annual fee, no interest, no credit check to apply, and no minimum required security deposit. To increase your credit limit, simply move money from your Spending Account to your Credit Builder Account. Your credit limit is your Credit Builder Account balance.

Early Direct Deposit

If your employer or benefits provider permits direct deposit payments, you can take advantage of Chime’s Early Direct Deposit feature. From the payee’s perspective, Early Direct Deposit functions just like any other direct deposit or ACH transfer. Chime claims direct deposit payees receive their money up to two days faster than payees who opt for traditional paper checks. It’s not clear how this time frame compares to other banks’ direct deposit arrangements.

Mobile Check Deposit

Chime has a user-friendly, fee-free mobile check deposit tool that lets you deposit paper checks using only your mobile phone. You’re not automatically permitted to use this feature, however: Chime has sole discretion over who it approves (and when).

Automatic Savings Transfers

Chime Bank gives account holders two ways to save more of what they earn:

  • Save When You Spend: Chime Bank automatically rounds up every debit card transaction to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference into your savings account. This helps you save up to $0.99 per transaction with no action required on your part.
  • Save When You Earn: You can opt into Chime’s paycheck savings transfer program and automatically transfer up to 10% of your direct deposits into your savings account. Chime does need to give its approval for this option, and you can reduce or cancel your transfer allotment at any time if it becomes too burdensome.

Bill Pay (Chime Checkbook)

The Chime Checkbook feature is a user-friendly mobile bill pay system that lets you pay one-off or recurring debts at your discretion. It’s free to use, although third-party processing fees may apply should your payees choose to levy them. You can send paper checks, pay with your Chime debit card, or use direct debit to pay without entering your card number.

Send Money to Friends

Chime’s Pay Friends feature lets you send money instantly to friends at no cost, subject to aggregate monthly transfer limits of $2,000 or 15 discrete transfers. You can use this feature to settle any personal debts, such as paying a friend back for picking up the restaurant tab or paying your share of your household’s monthly electricity bill.

Mobile Wallet Integrations

Chime Spending Accounts integrate seamlessly with three popular mobile wallet solutions: Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Once set up, these solutions are easier to use than Chime’s traditional debit card. In person, all you have to do is tap your phone to the card reader. Online, these solutions support one-click ordering without requiring card number entry.

Block Card

If you lose or misplace your card or suspect it’s been stolen, Chime’s Block Card feature lets you put a temporary freeze on it until it’s located or cancelled.

Customer Support

Chime’s customer support team is available by phone and email. Phone support is live 7am to 7pm Central Monday through Saturday and 9am to 6pm Central on Sundays. Email queries are answered during business hours.


Advantages

Chime is a low-cost mobile banking solution that makes it easy to organize your financial life and save some money in the process.

  1. No Monthly Maintenance Fees. Chime Bank doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees for Spending Accounts, savings accounts, or debit cards. That puts it in a dwindling group of banks, mostly online, that offer no-strings-attached free checking and savings accounts.
  2. Seamless Savings Up to 10%. Chime Bank offers two easy ways to boost your personal savings: rounding up every debit card transaction to the nearest dollar and capturing up to 10% of your direct deposit paychecks. By removing the legwork from saving, these automated options make it far more likely that you’ll incorporate regular saving into your household budget.
  3. Direct Deposit Payments Come Up to Two Days Early. When you set up Early Direct Deposit with Chime Bank, you can receive your paycheck up to two days faster than your colleagues. The exact timing varies by employer and may not be much different than other direct deposit arrangements, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s nice to get paid early.
  4. Build Credit With a Secured Credit Card (Credit Builder Account). Chime’s Credit Builder Account and the associated Credit Builder Visa Secured Credit Card is an excellent way to build or rebuild credit. Chime claims the Credit Builder Account can raise your credit score by an average of 30 points, although your mileage may vary.
  5. No Fees to Send Money to Friends. It’s free to send money to friends with Chime Bank’s Pay Friends feature. The service isn’t totally unlimited: You can send up to 15 transfers and no more than $2,000 in the aggregate per calendar month. This discourages misuse by businesses looking to skirt ACH transfer fees. Still, it’s probably enough for the occasional split check.
  6. Access to 30,000+ Fee-Free ATMs and Cash-Back Points. Chime Bank users enjoy fee-free access to more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs in the U.S. and a similar number of retail locations authorized to provide cash back during point-of-sale transactions. In short, it’s fairly easy to tap your Chime Bank account for hard cash.
  7. Multiple Mobile Wallet Integrations. Chime Bank integrates with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay — three increasingly common mobile payment tools accepted by thousands of retailers across the United States. Soon, you might be able to get away without using your physical Chime Bank debit card at all.
  8. Cash Deposits Through Green Dot. Chime Bank permits cash deposits at more than 60,000 Green Dot cash points nationwide. This is a key benefit for account holders who occasionally take payment in cash. After all, running a cash business isn’t necessarily nefarious: plenty of small-business owners and solopreneurs do it.

Disadvantages

Chime does have some drawbacks that impact its accessibility, and its pricing and incentives are not competitive with other top online banks’.

  1. Modest Savings Yields. Chime Bank’s savings account has a yield (APY) in line with other online banks, but it’s not best-in-class. And even when prevailing interest rates rise, this yield doesn’t seem to budge. If you’re looking for a high-yield savings account that keeps ahead of — or at least pace with — inflation, you may need to look elsewhere or seek a different type of yield-bearing deposit product, such as a cash management account.
  2. No Account Opening Bonuses. You won’t find Chime Bank on our monthly best bank account promotions list because, at least for the time being, Chime Bank isn’t running any promotions for new account holders. Many leading online banks offer account opening bonuses of $100, $200, or more when applicants meet certain conditions. If boosting your balance right out of the gate is a top priority, consider CIT Bank, Capital One 360, or any of the dozens of other banks offering sign-up bonuses right now.
  3. No Physical Branches. Chime Bank doesn’t have any physical branches. While this certainly helps keep fees low, it’s an issue for customers who appreciate face-to-face interaction. Gabbing with a faraway customer service rep just isn’t the same as sitting down in the same room as an experienced banker. Even some “online-only” banks, such as Capital One 360, have opened physical branches in recent years.
  4. No CDs or Money Markets. Chime Bank doesn’t have any CD or money market options, both of which typically yield more than traditional savings accounts. Full-service online banks, such as TIAA Bank, do offer these products, as do established brick-and-mortar banks.
  5. No IRAs or Investment Products. Chime Bank doesn’t offer any retirement or investment products: no individual retirement accounts (IRAs), money market, or brokerage accounts, and no taxable brokerage accounts either. If you’re looking for a full-service financial institution that lets you invest in market-traded securities, check out Ally Bank, whose Ally Invest division is a great low-cost option for everyday retail investors.
  6. No Loans. Chime Bank doesn’t offer any loans. For big-ticket financing — auto loans, mortgages, personal loans — you’ll need to look to a traditional bank like Chase Bank, a nontraditional financing provider like Kabbage or OnDeck, or a full-service online bank like Ally.
  7. Limited Customer Support. Chime Bank’s customer support team isn’t available around the clock, a notable disadvantage relative to established online banks like Ally. Chime reps answer the phone from early morning to early evening, and answer emails within one to two business days. For customers who work long, odd hours, and those who need urgent assistance outside regular business hours, that might not be good enough.

Final Word

Chime Bank isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it’s definitely a big step forward in consumer banking’s ongoing evolution. As free checking accounts grow ever rarer and more restricted, it’s nice to see at least one ambitious company holding it down for fee-averse folks seeking somewhere — anywhere — to stash their spending money and short-term savings while building credit in the process.

Verdict
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4.2 / 5
Rating

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Chime Bank Review

Chime Bank is a lightweight banking option for consumers seeking a reliable place to stash their everyday spending money and short-term savings. With no monthly maintenance fees, a debit card, a secured credit card designed to build credit, and a slew of everyday banking features, it’s appropriate for a wide range of use cases.

That said, Chime Bank is by no means a full-service banking option. If you’re looking to invest in securities or fixed-term savings products, or need a loan with more leverage than the secured credit card, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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