What is Chime?
Chime is a US fintech (financial technology) company founded in 2013. It is growing rapidly with more than 12 million customers as of February 2021. It does not have its own banking license but provides its app-based services via FDIC-insured bank partners.
So, is it an online bank? Well, to be precise, it isn't, but modern jargon might apply the term "online bank" for Chime. So while it is not a bank, it provides financial services. It does not have any so-called brick-and-mortar locations, as all business is handled in an online environment.
You will receive a debit card for free when you open your account, e.g. a Chime spending or savings account. With its emphasis on saving money through its high interest paid and its feeless overdraft, you have a great degree of flexibility.
Also, the Chime Credit Builder provides a great opportunity for you to start building that credit score. Chime is a great choice if you are a US resident and you're looking for a simple, safe and cheap way to handle your checking and savings transactions.
Chime Review 2021
Chime pros and cons
- No monthly fees, overdraft fees or minimum balance required
- Great savings options, pays high interest
- Get paid early via direct deposit
- Only available to US residents
- Cannot use a debit card to top up, deposit money to the card
- Customer service is not always helpful
Chime Review 2021
Account opening and maintenance fee
At Chime, the account opening is free, and maintaining your account is also free, with no monthly maintenance fees, minimum fees or cash deposit fees. There is also no minimum balance required. Everything is handled in your online account on the app or website.
Getting a Chime debit card, including delivery, is also free. Even getting a stolen or lost card replaced is free. This isn't the case with online banks. There is no fee for international transactions with your Chime card. For clients, a Visa debit card is provided.
Withdrawing money at over 60,000 ATMs in the US in the MoneyPass, Visa Plus Alliance (VPA) and Allpoint networks is free. However, there is a $2.50 fee for every withdrawal transaction outside these networks in the US and globally.
An out-of-network ATM provider may charge additional fees. By the way, there is also a $500 daily limit on ATM withdrawals.
Transferring money from your Chime spending account to other Chime members is free, and Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers are also free.
It is not possible to make international wire transfers to or from Chime as it is not a bank.
However, there's a transfer limit when using ACH transfer on the "neobank" called Chime:
- $10,000 per calendar day
- $25,000 per calendar month
- No limit to the number of times per day
Chime does not charge a fee when you top up (add money to) your account using direct deposit, bank transfer from within the Chime app, mobile checks, or cash deposits at retail locations like Walgreens, Walmart and 7-Eleven.
So, monthly direct deposits are also mostly free.
Chime Review 2021
Chime vs. Aspiration
|ATM withdrawal fees||Free within the network, $2.50 otherwise||Free within the network, otherwise provider's fee applies|
|International wire transfer fee||NA||$19.50|
|Interest paid on savings (APY)||0.50%||0% (up to 1% only for premium clients)|
Chime Review 2021
Chime account opening
Opening a Chime account is a breeze: it takes only a few minutes via your phone or online, and you should have your new Chime debit card in your hands in about a week.
At Chime, you can open an account only in USD. Foreign transactions are not permitted, as there is no wire transfer service available.
Sometimes the "online bank" Chime refers to conversion fees as foreign transactions, e.g. when you purchase something that is not denominated in USD. There are no foreign transaction fees in this sense. Within the app, you can only hold money in one currency as well, which is USD.
Is your money safe at Chime? Yes, it is safe as they have considerable protections over your transactions.
Is Chime a bank?
Even though Chime itself is not a bank and does not hold a banking license, Chime accounts are insured up to $250,000 through its partner banks, Stride Bank, N.A. and The Bancorp Bank, which hold your deposits and are both members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Partner bank locations
Stride Bank is based in Oklahoma, while The Bancorp Bank is based in South Dakota. Chime decides which bank will issue your card and manage your deposits, you cannot choose.
Chime cards overview
What kind of card does Chime provide?
Chime cards are provided by Visa. Therefore is only one kind of physical card, a Visa debit card. Chime provides EMV chip cards, which cannot be used for making contactless payments.
How long till I get my Chime card?
It takes about a week for your card to arrive at your home address after ordering. Once your debit card arrives, you can activate it through the Chime app.
What happens if my Chime card is lost or stolen?
If your Chime debit card is lost or stolen, you can immediately disallow card transactions within the app, and order a replacement card via the app or by phone. There is no cost for getting a replacement card, which should arrive in about a week.
Can I use my Chime card abroad?
Yes, you can use your Chime card anywhere Visa is accepted, for payments and for withdrawing money from ATMs.
However, you have to turn on International Transactions in your settings within the app. Chime does not charge a fee for international transactions, but there is $2.50 fee for international ATM withdrawals.
How easy is it to get a Chime account?
It is extremely easy! It takes only a few minutes. Another benefit of Chime checking accounts is that they do not have stringent rules for opening a bank account in regard to previous credit scores.
Especially considering the Credit Builder account, it is a great opportunity for those who need to rebuild their credit score.
How can I deposit money in a Chime account?
At Chime, you can use the following methods to top up, i.e. deposit cash to your account:
- Direct deposit from employer.
- Bank transfer: either directly from your home bank or from within the Chime app after linking it to your bank account (not all banks supported). In the latter case, there is a $200 daily and $1,000 monthly limit on transfers.
- Mobile check deposit (only if a direct deposit has been enabled).
- Cash (at over 90,000 retail locations in the US): you can deposit a maximum of $1,000 per 24 hours or $10,000 per month in cash.
There are no cash deposit fees unless the service provider charges something for the transfer.
Chime Review 2021
Chime offers three accounts that can help you manage your money in different ways. The first is the Spending Account, which you need to open first. The second is the Savings Account where you can earn returns on your cash. The third is the Chime Credit Builder account, which helps you level up your credit score.
Chime Spending Account
There are a few things to know about the Chime Spending Account (essentially a checking account). First, you can only use USD.
However, if you have set it up, the money spent with the debit card is what the automated saving tool uses to automatically deposit in your saving accounts.
You receive a notification every time money is spent, ensuring the safety of your bank account. If you suspect something is off with your spending account, you can instantly deactivate it through the Chime app.
Remember, when you use this account you can spend up to $200 more than your balance, with no overdraft fee. Just be sure to use Chime's SpotMe service. You can remain with a negative balance until you deposit more money or receive your monthly salary.
Chime Savings Account
Chime offers a saving account that some say is one of the best online savings accounts. Let's see why, and how it differs from the traditional bank services.
It shines in its saving services as you can easily set up an efficient savings plan. If you set up the automatic savings program, everything gets deposited here. Let's see how it works.
The system automatically rounds up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and directly deposits the remainder in your savings account. Say you spend $10.75. This is rounded up to $11, meaning that 25 cents get deposited straight into your savings.
What's nice about this is that if you save more than you wanted to in one month, it's quite easy to draw money back into your debit card account.
You might be wondering, 'what does the Chime savings account offer me that traditional banks don't in terms of return?' The primary point in their favor is the high interest it pays on your savings. Unlike most offline or online banks, Chime gives 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) (as of June 17, 2021).
In comparison, normal financial institutions had an APY of 0.04% at the same time. While these are subject to change regularly, that is a startling difference in the Annual Percentage Yield provided by the Chime savings account.
Chime Credit Builder
The last option, the Chime Credit Builder, is highly important to anyone looking to increase their credit score. The important part of this deal indicates you won't get charged for 'loaning' money on this plan as long as the right sum is in deposit.
What does borrowing money and building a score look like without actually doing it? Well, once you have a checking account set up, you can set up the Credit Builder. Once you have, all you have to do is move a certain amount of money into a separate account.
When you spend with your Chime Credit Builder card, it shows up as if you are using credit. However, you already have the money in your Chime account. Once the month is over, you will be charged no feeds. Chime immediately lets all relevant authorities know, and your credit score increases.
Chime Premium accounts
Chime has no premium accounts.
Chime Review 2021
Here is a list of all the important features Chime provides.
List of Chime features
- You can see your spending categorized by the type of transaction (e.g. shopping, restaurants).
- You can send money to other Chime users instantly and for free, up to a $2,000 per month limit.
- Smart savings are also available, where Chime will round up the amounts you spend to the nearest dollars. This excess is stored in your Savings Account.
- These savings are stored separately in your Savings Account for easier overview and management.
- You can earn interest on your savings (0.50% as of June 17, 2021).
- You can also save when you get paid, whereby 10% of your paycheck (if it is more than $500) automatically goes directly to your savings.
- Setting up or canceling direct debits is possible with Chime.
- Overdrafts are possible. If you receive at least $500 per month in direct deposits, the SpotMe feature allows you to overdraw your account for $20 to $200 (depending on your account activity and history) with no overdraft fees.
- You can set up Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.
- Credit Builder account option to build up your credit score.
What is missing?
Chime lacks features that some other traditional banks offer:
- You cannot set monthly budgets or spending goals.
- You cannot send money requests to friends or contacts, or use the app to split bills.
- Joint accounts are not available.
- 3D Secure online payments are not supported.
- Contactless payment features are not available with the physical card.
Chime Review 2021
Chime additional features
You can use Chime services through a mobile app or on a computer through the Chime website. One of the main features touted by Chime is that it lets you get paid 2 days early through direct deposits sent by your employer. This is compared to traditional banking policies and paper check deposits made by employers or government agencies that send you money, such as your paycheck or monthly benefits.
You can set up direct deposits by giving your bank routing number and your Chime account number to your payroll or benefits provider. You can find this information in the Chime app. Naturally, you can set up charges to your account to pay bills.
Chime does not have features like a Premium account, virtual cards, or cryptocurrency trading.
Loans, investments, or insurance available at traditional banks are also not directly available via the app. There is only an 'Offers' section for such services by third parties, which are practically advertisements that take you to the providers' website.
Chime Review 2021
Chime customer service
You can contact Chime customer service via:
- Chat: The app has a built-in robo-chat function, but if your question is more complicated you have to send an email or call them on the phone to get an answer.
- Phone: You have to get past several automated menu choices before you can select to talk to a personal advisor. Once there, we connected within a few minutes and got mostly useful answers.
- Email: Your best bet is to send an email if you have a specific question that is not answered in the FAQ. We received responses usually within a few hours. Some of the answers were not helpful. However in other cases, we received comprehensive and useful answers.
Customer service is not available 24/7.
Chime Review 2021
Should you bank with Chime?
Before you bank with Chime, you should consider what your goals are. If you live in the US, want to save some money that earns a decent annual percentage yield, and build a good credit score, a Chime account might be a good option. If none of these interest you, then another bank might be more suited to you.
Remember it's a neobank, a financial institution that exists solely online. If you are interested in taking to the fintech world, Chime has been at the forefront of making innovations.