Are Chime’s deposit accounts worth it?
Chime provides online-only spending and savings accounts. The company launched in 2014 as an alternative to traditional banks. Chime doesn’t have any branches or ATMs of its own. As of Dec. 2019, Chime had 6.5 million customers. This in-depth review of the mobile-based banking service can help you decide if Chime is right for you.
Earlier access to direct deposits
Automatic savings options
Leniency for people with previous checking account problems
Fees on out-of-network ATM transactions
There are limited banking services
Low interest rate on the savings account
It’s difficult to deposit cash into your account
Who Is Chime Best For?
Chime should appeal to consumers who want a simple, no-fuss deposit account with minimal fees and mobile-friendly features. It may be a good fit for you if you want to:
- Get access to direct deposit funds earlier
- Open a savings account with no minimum balance requirement
- Open a checking account with a debit card and no overdraft fees
- Instantly send money to Chime account holders with no additional fee
- Have a poor banking history but want to open an account
What Does Chime Offer?
Chime offers a short list of services suited for consumers with simple banking needs. The platform offers you two basic services: a spending account that comes with a Visa debit card and an optional savings account.
Chime’s Spending Account, the equivalent of a checking account, gives you access to your direct deposits as early as two days sooner than traditional banks.
You may not always get your paycheck early, though, as Chime's fine print says early delivery is based on the payer’s support of the feature and timing of the payer’s funding.
While a bank may leave you struggling to figure out how to maneuver around the monthly account, Chime keeps it simple with almost no fees at all. There’s no opening deposit requirement, no minimum balance requirement, and no monthly fee. The only fee listed is an out-of-network ATM fee that Chime charges you when you use an ATM outside the Chime’s ATM network. Chime has even nixed the foreign transaction fee for debit card purchases.
You can write checks to pay bills via Chime’s Checkbook feature. Tell Chime the bill you need to pay and how much you’ll pay. Then, it will write and mail the check on your behalf, provided the recipient’s address is in the 50 states or District of Columbia. The check takes three to nine business days to arrive.
A total monthly direct deposit of $500 or more qualifies you for enrollment in SpotMe, an optional feature that lets you overdraft $20 to $100 without paying an overdraft fee. Rather than penalize you for overspending your account, Chime simply uses your next deposit to cover the negative balance. Chime calculates your SpotMe limit based on your:
- Account history
- Direct deposits
- Spending pattern
- “Other risk-based factors”
Chime uses your direct deposit amount from the previous 31 days to determine whether you qualify for its overdraft protection service. You’ll start out with a $20 overdraft limit and could receive an increase as Chime reviews your account activity.
Chime offers a low-yield savings account option that links to your spending account and provides two automatic savings options.
For starters, you can enable Save When You Spend, a tool that rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the extra amount to your savings account. For example, Chime would round up a $10.62 purchase to $11.00, then transfer $0.38 to your savings account. Those small amounts add up, especially if you make numerous transactions throughout the month.
According to Chime’s in-house data, members who use Save When You Spend save an average of $217 per month, or $104 more than members who don’t use the feature.
Only those with Chime Spending accounts can open a Chime savings account.
Also, Chime’s Save When I Get Paid feature automatically saves a pre-set percentage of your direct deposit and transfers the amount into your savings account. The automatic savings take the pressure off you and helps you build your savings effortlessly.
Otherwise, the only way to fund the account is to transfer money from your Spending account.
Unfortunately, Chime doesn’t offer the best APY compared to the top high-interest savings accounts. You could be getting more interest with a savings account at an online bank. Depositing cash is also a bit cumbersome—you’ll need to visit a Green Dot location and possibly pay an additional fee to the third-party money transfer service.
You can link your savings and spending accounts together, but in keeping with Regulation D, you’re only allowed six withdrawals. Otherwise, you could face additional fees or your account could be reclassified as a checking account.
Chime Customer Service
Chime’s mobile app was designed for banking from a smartphone. It allows you to:
- Check your account
- Pay bills
- Transfer funds between accounts
- Freeze your account after losing your card
- Receive transaction notifications
- Send money to friends and family who also have Chime accounts
Chime partners with the Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A., both members of the FDIC, to provide banking services. Both banks’ FDIC membership means your deposits are federally-insured up to $250,000.
The customer service offering is pretty standard. Customers can send a message to customer service through the mobile app or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 844-244-6363 Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Central Time, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time on Sunday.
How to Bank With Chime
Opening an account with Chime is pretty easy. To get started, visit member.chime.com/enroll and provide some basic personal information.
While you can deposit money into your account via direct deposit and mobile check deposit, Chime currently does not allow wire transfers.
The Bottom Line
In our review, we found that Chime is a consumer-friendly option for anyone who wants free, app-focused online banking. You’ll have access to a slew of features that make banking simple and hassle-free. Early access to your direct deposit gives you more flexibility in managing your money, with no extra fees. Automatic savings options help you boost your savings. And, if you have a blemished bank record, Chime is forgiving. The banking platform doesn’t review your ChexSystems history, so this is a great option if banks have turned you down.
Chime only offers two types of accounts—a spending account and a savings account—and you can’t open a standalone savings account. While the automatic savings options allow you to grow your savings account steadily over time, you won’t earn much interest as your account grows—the current APY is only 0.25%. And if you’re looking for more functionality—the option to deposit cash, open a certificate of deposit, or apply for a loan—Chime isn’t the best choice for you.
Chime Banking. "Can I Send a Check Using My Chime Spending Account?" Accessed April 3, 2020.
Chime Banking. "Fee-free Overdraft." Accessed April 3, 2020.
Chime Banking. "Does Automatic Savings Really Work?" Accessed April 3, 2020.
Chime Banking. "How Do I Deposit Money in My Account?" Accessed April 3, 2020.