FDIC Insured: YES
ATM LIMIT: NONE
ATM FEE: FREE
ENTERPRISE OPTION: N/A
APP: iOS & Android
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Email, Telephone or Live Chat
MONTHLY FEE: FREE
LOADING OPTIONS: Bank transfer, Debit Card , Direct Debit & Apple Pay
CARD DELIVERY CHARGE: Free
- What is Chime?
- How does Chime work?
- ATM Withdrawals
- Chime Fees
- Signing Up To Chime
- Chime Safety & Security
- Chime Customer Support
- Advantages & Disadvantages
- Opinion On Chime
What Is Chime?
Chime is a mobile bank that offers easy banking without any fees. The main difference between Chime and traditional banks, is that you won’t find physical branches on the street. The bank operates entirely online and customers can manage their account via their phone.
Although there has definitely been a surge in popularity for mobile banks, Chime has been around a while. It was founded by Christopher Slattery and Jeffrey Immanuel back in 2013. Today it is still regarded as one of the best “challenger banks” operating in the United States.
How Does Chime Work?
If you are already familiar with online banking then the interface of Chime should be familiar. The app functions in a simple fashion with full control over transfers, direct deposits and perhaps one of the best features is the security controls for your Chime debit card. There are several features that really stand out so let’s take a closer look.
Overdraft Without Fees – SpotMe
The SpotMe feature is designed to allow you to make purchases that exceed the money in your account. This is particularly handy for unplanned spending in emergencies especially when traveling. You may be thinking that this is just a standard overdraft where you will incur a fee, however with Chime this does not cost anything. The only thing that they ask is for an optional tip when the balance is repaid. The tips are what allow Chime to offer this service so we do recommend tipping if you use the SpotMe feature.
There are some requirements to use this feature. In order to be eligible you must have received a minimum of $500+ in direct deposits in the past month. If you meet this criteria the SpotMe feature will be active and ready to use. However, the amount you can access will depend on your account history and usage. The limit goes from $20 up to over $100, but again this will depend on your account activity.
We think this feature is pretty reasonable. With traditional banks fees for unplanned overdraft can become very expensive. As far as we are aware there are no other banks with this approach to unplanned spending.
Chime Saving Features
This feature is designed to help you save money. Most of the time you won’t even realize you are saving and it’s always a nice surprise when you see the amount of money you have put aside after a few weeks. The feature essentially works by rounding up amounts for all transactions you make. You can set how much you want to round up within the app. For example if you buy a coffee for $3.50 using your Chime debit card, you can round up the purchase to $4.00 and the 50 cents i automatically transferred into your savings account. It may not seem like much but this soon adds up if you are using Chime for your daily spending!
It’s worth noting that many prepaid card companies that offer apps to manage your money are not really fully functional banks. This means while your money is in your account it is not earning any interest. The key difference with Chime is that, (like the name suggests) it is a fully functional bank, not just a debit card. This means that you do earn interest on your balance whilst it is in your account. The interest rate is by no means amazing but at least you do earn something. Remember, Chime is more focused around spending on a day to day basis so we do not recommend leaving large sums of money in the account as an investment. The rate of interest for Chime customers is only 0.01% so you may need to consider other options for serious saving.
Usually with mobile only banks, checks can be an issue. Many online banks simply do not offer a feature to send checks which can be frustrating. Like we mentioned before, as Chime is actually a fully functional bank, you can still send an unlimited amount of checks each month. There is one thing to bear in mind, the maximum amount for each check is $5,000 and you can only send a maximum of $10,000 in one month. If you regularly use checks above this limit then maybe Chime bank is not for you.
As far as cash withdrawals are concerned, you can withdraw free of charge most of the time. Just make sure the ATM is part of the MoneyPass or Visa Plus network. If the ATM is not part of the network then it will cost $2.50 for a withdrawal which is not ideal but still considerably cheaper than most banks.
Surprisingly, there is not a great deal to cover in terms of fees. For the most part, Chime accounts do not charge fees. Realistically, the only time you will incur a fee is if you withdraw from an out of network ATM, like mentioned above.
If you travel outside of the US you won’t be charged any foreign transaction fees by Chime. However, some banks or ATMs may add a fee so its worth checking this before you use your card. This is still a massive advantage as you don’t have to worry about spending and incurring extra fees whilst traveling.
Signing Up To Chime
The actual signing up process for Chime is pretty straight forward. You can sign up via the app or website. The only slight inconvenience is the time it takes to receive your debit card. Most people have reported it takes around 2 weeks to arrive. It’s important to consider this if you need to use your account instantly after sign-up. All things considered this is not a huge problem but worth mentioning nonetheless.
Chime Safety & Security
Perhaps the most important question to address is the security and safety of Chime. As we have previously mentioned, Chime is a fully functional bank and is bound by the same policies, laws and legislation as traditional banks.
Your money is secure with Chime, they are approved by FDIC as you would expect from any legitimate bank so you can rest assured your money is in safe hands.
If your Chime, debit card becomes lost or stolen, you can easily control the security settings via the app. This means you can deactivate the card and even change the PIN number to minimize the damage. This is particularly useful and beats long calls to customer service to have your card blocked.
Chime Customer Support
As Chime is an online only bank, when it comes to customer support, it is all handled via the app or website. This may not suit some people who like to be able to walk into a branch however, they do make it very easy to get support. The knowledge base is very comprehensive and answers a lot of questions you may have. Failing that, you can get support via live chat or telephone too.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- No fees — Being a customer of Chime means you won’t incur fees for normal banking activity. This is a huge advantage over other accounts and will save you money in the long run.
- Insured by FDIC — This gives you peace of mind that Chime is legitimate and your money is in safe hands.
- No fees while overseas — It won’t cost you extra to use your Chime debit card whilst traveling. A huge plus for customers that travel outside of the US regularly.
- Large ATM Network — As long as you only withdraw from ATM’s inside the approved network, you won’t have to pay a fee for getting cash.
- Easy deposit for paychecks — You can easily set up direct deposit and have your salary paid directly to your Chime Bank account. Historically, this was a huge hassle but thankfully with Chime you can do this in a few easy steps.
- Low interest rate — If saving and making your money earn interest is your goal then Chime is not for you. We recommend a dedicated savings account for savers.
- Online only — You may be used to being able to visit your local bank branch when you need to get help or deposit money. Please remember with Chime you cannot do this as they exist online only.
Opinion On Chime
With all things taken into consideration, we believe that Chime is one of the better mobile only banks available in the US. Like we mentioned, many services will appear to be proper banks but are merely a prepaid debit card and a mobile app. Chime comes with all features you would expect from a traditional bank but simplifies them within their easy to use interface. Arguably, some features like the fee free overdraft for emergencies are even better than offerings from other banks. If you are looking for an account to have your salary paid into and daily spending then we highly recommend Chime!