Do you have a “free” checking or savings account at one of the big banks? If you’ve ever overdrafted on your account, the $35 per day overdraft charge proves just how “free” your account really is.
Big banks collect big money from overdraft fees, account minimum fees, and bounced check fees. All these fees make it even more difficult to break out from the paycheck to paycheck trap that ensnares so many young people.
But not every bank abides by this philosophy. Chime, a mobile forward, deposit and savings institution is making money management and savings easier. This is how they’re doing it. Plus, see why we think Chime is one of the best free checking accounts.
- An account with a user-friendly and feature-rich mobile app
- As fee-free as you can get!
- Get your direct deposit up to 2 days early
Chime Bank Details
Min Opening Deposit
Min Balance Requirement
60,000+ Free ATMs
Checking And Savings
What Is Chime?
Chime is a financial technology company that was founded in 2013. While Chime itself isn't a bank, it partners with The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank N.A to provide banking services to its customers.
Like many internet banks, Chime keeps their costs low by investing heavily in technology and eliminating brick and mortar outlets. But Chime is by the far the most popular online-only bank available today.
Some industry experts estimate that more than a third of all digital bank accounts are Chime accounts. In August 2021, the company announced that it had raised $750 million in a Series G round at an eye-popping valuation of $25 billion.
What Does It Offer?
So why are so many people who decide to go with online-only banking choosing Chime? Let's take a look at a few of the features that help to set it apart from the crowd.
Intuitive Mobile App
Early on, Chime had the foresight to focus on their mobile platform. Their app makes it incredibly easy to receive direct deposits (and up to two days early), transfer money among your accounts, find an ATM and review your recent transactions.
The Chime app is responsive, easy to navigate, and it has all the information you need. You can see recent transactions, account balances, how to find an ATM, and your linked account balances. Plus, the app supports mobile check deposits.
One of the newest features that Chime has added to the app is instant and fee-free peer-to-peer payments. You can transfer money instantly to anyone who has a debit card, even non-members.
The funds will arrive instantly for members or as soon as non-members claims a payment to their bank accounts. And unlike other payment apps, Chime never charges fees for instant cashouts.
Chime also offers fee-free overdraft up to $200* with their SpotMe service. There is no fee to use the service, but once your negative balance is repaid, there is the option to leave Chime a tip.
Chime members who have received at least $200 in qualifying direct deposits in the past 34 days are eligible to enroll. Overdraft limits of $20 to $200 will apply based on factors such as account activity and history.
Make Saving Simple (And Rewarding)
In addition to keeping the fees out of banking, Chime allows you to set up an automatic savings program. They launched a high-yield savings account that currently pays 0.50% APY¹.
With Save When You Spend, Chime rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar, and sets the money into a savings account. In addition to the Round-Up program, Chime Members also have the opportunity to enroll in Save When I Get Paid, which automatically directs 10% of every paycheck⁴ of $500 or more into your savings account.
If you’re struggling to save for a rainy day, a behavioral tool like Automatic Savings can be a perfect solution. You can always access the money or transfer it back to your spending account, but mentally separating it is an easy solution to a savings problem.
Chime Credit Builder Card
Chime recently launched their Chime Credit Builder Visa® Secured Credit Card. Just like it sounds, the goal of this card is to help you build credit. It's a secured card, so always make sure you check to see how it compares to the best secured credit cards.
Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. But unlike other secured cards, you can use some or all of your deposit to pay off your charges at the end of every month.
The Credit Builder Card is also unusual in that it doesn't have a minimum security deposit. You can deposit as much or as little as you want.
This card has no annual fee and doesn't have a credit check to apply. Best of all, it doesn't charge interest. To be eligible to apply for Credit Builder, you need to have received a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Spending Account within the last 365 days of your application.
Extensive ATM Network
It's common for digital banks to partners with an ATM network to provide cash services to their customers. What's uncommon is for one bank to partner with three different networks.
But that's exactly what Chime does. It offers fee-free cash withdrawals at Moneypass, Allpoint, and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. In total, members have access to over 60,000+ in-network ATMs. And many of these ATMs are located in convenient locations that members may already frequent like Walmart, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, and more.
Unfortunately, none of Chime's ATMs can accept cash deposits. If you want to deposit cash, you'll have to visit a register at one of its retail locations (like Walmart) and ask a cashier to make the deposit to your account. This is not only inconvenient but is also likely to involve third-party fees.
Are There Any Fees?
Chime’s fee schedule is super-short compared to big banks. There are no maintenance fees, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, or bounced check fees.
You'll pay $2.50 for out-of-network ATM cash withdrawals. And you're likely to incur a third-party fee when you add cash to your Chime account at a retail location. That's it!
Chime is about as close to a fee-free account as you can get. They take pride in aligning their business profits with their members needs. If you join, you can expect transparency and a bank account with no fine print.
How Does Chime Compare?
With that being said, here's a quick comparison to other popular banks:
Up to 0.50%
60,000+ Free ATMs
55,000+ Free ATMs
43,000+ Free ATMs
Is My Money Safe?
Yes, Chime customers receive up to $250,000 of FDIC insurance protection per depositor through its partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank.
Chime also works hard to make sure that you're only one who gets access to your account and debit card. It's website is encrypted, its debit cards come with Visa Zero Liability protection, and it supports both two-factor and fingerprint authentication.
How Do I Contact Chime?
Digital banks aren't typically known for their customer service. But Chime is one of the few that seems to mostly get it right.
The company offers 24/7 live chat and email support at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get in touch with them by phone at 844-244-6363. Their phone specialists are available Monday-Sunday, 3 AM to 11 PM (CST). If you're going to choose an online bank, phone support is a pretty big deal as you won't have the option to get in-person assistance at a local branch.
But it's important to point out that "availability" doesn't necessarily mean "competence." Chime's Trustpilot rating is currently 3.8/5 which Trustpilot considers "Great" but not "Excellent."
Is It Worth It?
If you have straightforward banking needs, Chime is an excellent option. It has no monthly fees. It’s got a built-in savings tool. And you can spend money with a Visa® Debit Card or pay bills via the mobile Chime Checkbook.
The beauty of Chime is in its simplicity. However, that simplicity has some drawbacks. The Chime Checkbook only allows $5,000 in a single transaction, for example. Also, Chime doesn't support joint account. So if you and your spouse want to share an account, Chime isn’t a good option right now.
Here are some common questions about Chime:
What is Chime?
Chime is a mobile-first app-based bank that has a free checking account and more features - all on your phone.
Is Chime Free?
Chime is about as fee-free as you can get in a checking account. There are no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, or foreign transaction fees˜.
Does Chime offer free ATMs?
Yes, Chime has a network of over 60,000 fee-free ATMs.
Does Chime have a debit card?
Yes, you get a debit card with your Chime account.
Checking and savings
Foreign Transaction Fee
None (online-only bank)
60,000+ fee-free ATMs that are part of the Moneypass, Allpoint, and Visa Plus Alliance networks
Out-Of-Network ATM Fee
Allows Cash Deposits
Yes, but only at registers inside retailer locations and third-party fees may apply
Cash Deposit Limits
Credit Builder Card Annual Fee
Credit Builder Card APY
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Web/Desktop Account Access
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
35444 through The Bancorp Bank
4091 through Stride Bank
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC
^ Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the employer's submission of their payroll file. We generally make payroll funds available on the day that the payroll file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the employer's scheduled payment date.
˜ Out-of-Network cash withdrawal fees apply. Third-party and cash deposit fees may apply.
* Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires $500 in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Spending Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card purchases, including ATM withdrawals, ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions.
See terms and conditions: https://www.chime.com/policies/bancorp/spotme_terms
¹ The Annual Percentage Yield ("APY") for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of November 1, 2021. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
⁴ Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Spending Account to into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more into your savings account.
Commissions & Fees
Ease Of Use
Products & Services
Chime is a mobile-friendly bank that offers almost-fee-free checking as well as some great products and services for banking customers.
- No monthly fees
- High APY on savings
- Depositing cash can be a challenge
- Lower transaction limits than other banks
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.