Chime Review - Control Your Money With No Monthly Fees
One of the biggest innovators in the financial space, Chime is a low-fee “neobank” that helps you put your savings on autopilot. They offer a mobile app experience that’s modern and connected. Best of all, opening an account with them is free.
- Saving money
- No monthly fees
- Little or no money
Chime aims to help its customers lead healthier financial lives by avoiding fees and saving them money automatically. See if it’s a good fit for you.
I hope you don’t mind if I get real for a minute.
When it comes to spending our money, we’ve become a plastic and digital world.
Seriously—do you have any cash in your wallet now?
My guess is no.
Data from 2010 to 2016 shows the volume of purchases made with a debit card increased nearly 57%. And another 2017 study showed that 83% of respondents used a debit or credit card for their everyday purchases.
See what I mean?
So it’s essential that we use a bank that supports this plastic and digital lifestyle.
Gone are the days of being sold on “free checks” (seriously—I find it such a pain when I can only use a check for something) and “free withdrawals from an ATM” (although this is an excellent benefit, nearly all banks offer it now).
We want more. In fact, we need more.
That’s where financial apps like Chime come in. In this article, I’ll take an in-depth look at one of the biggest innovators in the financial space so you can decide if switching your checking and savings to Chime makes sense.
Let’s first take a look at the company and what they offer.
What is Chime And How Does It Work?
Chime was officially launched in 2014 by co-founders Chris Britt and Ryan King as a way to shake up the banking industry. They’re what’s commonly referred to as a neobank in the fintech space.
Okay, so a neobank is a startup company that offers financial products like checking and savings accounts and debit cards without having any actual branches. Usually, they focus on using a mobile-app experience.
They’re not actual banks, though. Meaning they aren’t chartered or protected by the FDIC. That doesn’t say your money isn’t safe, though. Neobanks partner with large banks that are chartered and covered, so you’re good to go.
A neobank is basically like the front-end experience. The salesperson, if you will. They give you the tools and resources to manage your money efficiently and effectively, while their partner bank does all the banking and holding of your funds.
Now that we’ve diverted course for a minute let’s get back to Chime.
Chime has become a significant leader in this neobanking space. Last fall, they raked in $18 million in venture capital funding—nearing a total of $43 million since they launched.
Apparently, someone sees value in this company.
And it shows.
In early 2018, Chime announced it had over 750,000 open and active accounts. They also claimed to be opening about 100,000 new accounts every month.
Talk about growth.
When you sign up for Chime, you get a Chime Visa® Credit Card to use for everyday purchases. You also get a Spending Account (which acts like a checking account) and a Savings Account. You’ll have full access to their mobile app which will let you manage your money and even send money to others electronically. Which leads me to the next point – features.
Here are some of the key features that a Chime account offers:
No Monthly Fees
When you sign up for any typical checking account, there are fees. These include things like minimum balance requirements, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, or fees for withdrawing cash (among many others).
In fact, one study showed that Americans pay $290, on average, every year in banking fees.
Chime charges none of these types of fees, so you’re free to focus on your money.
Get your paycheck up to two days early
Getting paid early is a pretty new feature, even for a neobank, and may not be available with your employer. Chime claims it can get you your paycheck up to two full days earlier when you set up direct deposit. Here’s what they say on their website:
No waiting for your money while it sits in some mysterious electronic limbo, no paper checks lost in the mail. When you open an account with Chime, your money is available as soon your employer deposits it which is often up to two days before most other traditional banks make the funds available to you.
If that works for your employer, it’s a game-changer. Who wouldn’t want to get paid two days earlier?
You can set up automatic savings with almost any bank, but I love the way Chime looks at it. You can save automatically both when you spend and when you get paid.
When you spend money, Chime will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar amount and deposit the difference into your savings account. Bank of America did this years ago with Keep the Change, and it was awesome.
So, if you spend $4.55 on coffee at Starbucks using your Chime Visa® Credit Card, Chime will add an extra $0.45 charge to your account and move that into your savings. So you “spend” $5.00 on the coffee, but you get 45 cents in your savings account. I love this.
You can also easily save when you get paid. You can set up your account to automatically transfer 10% of your paycheck into your savings account the moment you get paid. The automatic savings feature is excellent because it’s not a flat dollar amount (for those whose paychecks fluctuate). It’s also done automatically, so you don’t even miss the money.
Both of these methods may seem minor, but you can rack up some serious savings by using these features—and you don’t have to do anything different.
Here are a few other features:
Real-time alerts and notifications. Some people don’t care for notifications on their phones, but with financial apps I love it. Chime will (if you want it to) send you daily notifications about your balance, as well as on-the-spot transaction notifications. If you’re a budgeter like me, it’ll remind you to track the expense right away. The instant notifications are also lovely in the event your card is stolen or lost—then you’ll know if someone else is using it and you can take action to shut it down.
Pay Friends. This is Chime’s version of Venmo or Apple Pay. You can send money instantly to friends for anything—dinner bills, football games, martinis, whatever. Remember how I mentioned earlier that nobody ever has cash? This is a beautiful way to pay people back instantly without having cash. On a side note, you can add your Chime debit card to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay if you prefer these methods.
Block your card. Most neobanks feature this, but if you lose your card or have it stolen, you can immediately block the card from the app. This will freeze the account from being used until you can find your card or receive a new one in the mail.
Bill pay. Like most other checking accounts, you can pay bills with Chime. If you need to send a check, you can go through the app (they’ll create a check and mail it for you), or you can pay the bill electronically.
Chime Pricing Details
Chime is completely free. They get paid when you use the debit card through Visa. This payment comes from Visa, not you.
There are also no monthly fees or minimum balances, so there’s no real cost to using Chime. There are, however, some downsides to consider, which I’ll cover in a minute. First, let’s talk about some more pros.
Who is Chime best for?
I just got done reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and his main argument is that most companies don’t begin with a sense of why.
They tell you what they do and how they do it, but they don’t tell you why they do what they do.
The sentence he repeats over and over in the book is “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”—and he uses Apple as an example (read the book for more detail on why).
My point is—I feel that Chime has started with why.
Chime aims to help its customers lead healthier financial lives by avoiding fees and saving them money automatically.
They do this by offering a mobile app experience that’s more modern and connected. Chime feels it keeps its members more in tune with their finances and puts them behind the wheel of control.
They only profit when you use their product. Their website states it plainly:
Chime’s business was built on the principle of protecting our members and helping them get ahead. That means we don’t profit off of you. We profit with you: every time you use your Chime debit card, we earn a small amount from Visa (paid by the merchant).
So instead of charging you monthly fees and up-charges, they are transparent about how they make money and how they help you manage your money.
Who should use Chime?
If you’re someone who values walking into your local branch to talk with someone about your checking account or to open a new CD, Chime isn’t for you.
Or if you like to use paper checks and cash, Chime wouldn’t be the best match for you.
Pros & Cons Summary
- Its easy to save money — Enables you to transition from non-saver to savor through regular purchase activity.
- Fees — No annual fees, monthly fees, membership fees, or services fees
- Flexible requirements — No minimum account balance required
- Deposit options — You can set up direct deposit easily, take pictures of paper checks to deposit, or even deposit cash at any Green Dot location
- Chime Checkbook — With Chime Checkbook, you can write and mail physical checks
- Ease of use (+ savings) — A straightforward app with an easy to use savings feature on the app
- No checks or additional banking services — No check writing capabilities or other financial services normally associated with online banks
- No joint accounts — Chime won’t let you open a joint account which can be a deal-breaker for some couples
- Big check limits — Chime Checkbook is maxed out at $5,000 per check
You have plenty of options when it comes to online banking. Let’s take a look at Chime, Juno, and LendingClub Bank.
Bank Monthly fees Other fees Minimum opening deposit
Chime None $25 cash withdrawal fee for out-of-network transactions None
Juno None None None
LendingClub Bank None $5 per month if account is inactive for 12 months or longer $100
Juno doesn’t just give you fee-free online checking, you’ll also earn a 1.20% Bonus on your deposits up to $5,000 (this is subject to change at Juno’s discretion). Over time, that interest can add up. If your balance creeps above $5,000, you’ll still get 0.25% on the funds you deposit above that balance, up to $100,000.
You’ll also earn cash on your purchases with an Juno account. They offer 5% cash back on your purchases on five merchants you choose from (they do have to be participating retailers). Basic accounts are limited to cash back on $500 in purchases per year, but with a Metal Membership, you’ll get 5% back on up to $3,000 in annual purchases.
For cash users, Juno allows fee-free transactions at both MoneyPass and AllPoint ATMs, which gives you 85,000 locations compared to Chime’s 37,000.
LendingClub Bank is an online bank offering fee-free checking that issues both rewards and interest on your balance. You’ll need only a $100 deposit to open an account but after that, there’s no minimum monthly balance requirement.
You’ll earn unlimited 1% cashback on every dollar you spend using the debit card. Every dollar you have in your account will work for you, earning you as much as 0.15% APY on your balance.
One thing to consider, if you tend to use cash often, is that accessing cash will be easier with LendingClub Bank. Chime only covers cash withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs, while LendingClub covers both their own ATM fees and the fees at the bank you use to withdraw the funds.
Chime as a low-fee “neobank” is going to help you put your savings on autopilot. So if you’re open to trying something new, don’t need paper checks, and love stay in complete control of your money (while also saving a bit more), Chime may very well an option to check out as you consider your banking needs.Chime Disclosure - *Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
(1)Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.
^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.