Do you have a “free” checking or savings account at one of the big banks? If you’re a financial boy scout or girl scout, the account is truly free to you. But for the rest of us, big banks are making a killing from our accounts. 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 online banks.
- A mobile-app based bank that is user friendly
- As fee-free as you can get with a checking account
- Get your direct deposit up to 2 days early^
Chime Bank Details
Min Opening Deposit
Min Balance Requirement
38,000 Free ATMs
Checking And Savings
How Chime Works
Like many internet banks, Chime keeps their costs low by investing heavily in technology and eliminating brick and mortar outlets. However, they’ve also had the foresight to focus on their mobile platform. Recently, they’ve been featured by Apple as one of the top money management apps.
The app makes it incredibly easy to set up direct deposit, to transfer money among your accounts, find an ATM and review your recent transactions.
The app is responsive, intuitive, and it has the information you need. You can see recent transactions, account balances, how to find an ATM, and your linked account balances. It’s easy to pay a bill or transfer money right in the app.
They recently added in mobile check deposit, which I think is a huge win!
Chime’s fee schedule is super-short compared to big banks. There are no maintenance fees, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, bounced check fees˜. You can even use MoneyPass® to have access to more 30,000 ATMs for free.
You will pay $2.50 to use an out of network ATM and a 3% external debit charge (when you load your account via debit instead of a direct transfer). That’s it.
Chime is 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 Chime, you can expect transparency and a bank account with no fine print.
Chime also offers fee-free overdraft up to $100* 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 with total monthly qualifying direct deposits of $500 or more are eligible to enroll. Limits are determined by Chime 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.
The bank 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 now have the opportunity to also enroll in "Save When I Get Paid," which automatically directs 10% of every paycheck⁴ into our Member's savings account.
If you’re struggling to save for a rainy day, a behavioral tool like Chime 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.
But Will it Meet My Needs?
If you have straightforward banking needs, Chime is an excellent bank for you. It’s fee free. It’s got a built in savings tool. You can spend money with a Visa® Debit Card, pay bills via the mobile Chime Checkbook.
The beauty of Chime is in its simplicity. However, the simplicity has some drawbacks.
The Chime Checkbook only allows $5,000 in a single transaction but otherwise, there is no limit to how many checks you can send per day. Lump sum expenses like a rental deposit (first, last and security deposit) typically requires a big check, and $5000 might not cut it.
Also, Chime is not set up for joint account holders. If you and your spouse want to share a checking account, Chime isn’t a good option right now.
How Does Chime Compare?
With that being said, here's a quick comparison to other popular banks:
Up to 0.50%
38,000+ Free ATMs
55,000+ Free ATMs
43,000+ Free ATMs
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.
This card has no annual fee and doesn't have a credit check to apply.
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. The qualifying direct deposit must have been made by your employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.
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. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.
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?
Chime has a network of over 30,000 fee-free ATMs.
Does Chime have a debit card?
Yes, you get a debit card with your Chime account.
Chime is a financial technology company. 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 $100 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 APY—Annual Percentage Yield. Effective December 9, 2020 the interest rate will be 0.50%. These interest rates are variable and may change at our discretion at any time. 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
- Customer Service
- Ease Of Use
- Products & Services
- Specialty Services
Chime is a mobile first bank that offers almost fee free checking, as well as some great products and services for banking customers.
- Fee-Free Checking
- High APY on Savings
- Depositing Cash Can Be A Challenge
- There are lower transaction limits compared to 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.