Chime Bank Account Review: A No-Frills Online-Only Bank With No Fees

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Digital-first bank accounts are the wave of the future: all of the money management, none of the getting off the couch. 

Like other online-only banking options, Chime offers many of the most important features of a traditional deposit account with a much leaner fee schedule — and even has a savings account option that bears a much higher interest rate than the national average (again, with no monthly maintenance costs or minimum balance requirements). 

Chime’s suite of offerings and in-app tools are also pretty lean. This is a pared-down banking option that works best for someone whose finances are relatively simple.

Read on to hear exactly how we feel about doing business with Chime.

Chime Bank Account Review: The Pros and Cons

What we like:

  • None of Chime’s accounts carry monthly maintenance fees or account minimums.
  • Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees — and its SpotMe fee-free overdraft protection doesn’t require you to link to a savings account. Rather, Chime will spot eligible members up to $100, which is taken out of their next available deposited funds.
  • Chime offers an “early payday” feature that can help you get your hands on your cash up to two days sooner with direct deposit.

What we don’t like:

  • Chime’s checking account bears absolutely no interest whatsoever.
  • Chime doesn’t offer a small business banking option.
  • As with all online-only checking accounts, it’s difficult to deposit cash into your Chime Spending Account — you’d have to mail in a money order or transfer the funds from a separate bank account.
  • Chime doesn’t offer the same wealth of integrated budgetary tools that some of its competitors do.

Checking

Grade: B+

Chime’s checking account, or “Spending Account,” is a pretty basic product: It’s a non-interest-bearing deposit account linked to a Chime Visa debit card, which can be used at point-of-sale platforms as well as within Chime’s network of over 38,000 fee-free ATMs

Chime doesn’t assess any regular bank fees, like monthly maintenance costs or minimum balance and opening deposit requirements. In fact, at the time of this writing in late February 2020, the only fee Chime charges its customers is a $2.50 cash withdrawal fee, which you’ll encounter at out-of-network ATMs or while taking out over-the-counter withdrawals.

Chime offers a fee-free overdraft protection feature called SpotMe, which is available to Chime account holders receiving total monthly direct deposits of $500 or more. If you spend more than you have in your account, Chime will cover the difference up to $100 without any cost to you, and the balance will be taken out of the next available deposited funds. 

(Also, yes, that means Chime has no overdraft fees — which is a pretty big deal.)

Chime also advertises an “early payday” feature, allowing those who receive direct deposit to see their funds in their account up to two days earlier than those working with traditional banks. And, as with all online-only bank accounts, Chime’s Spending Account is managed through both a browser-based platform and a mobile app — which we’ll cover in more detail in just a moment.

Savings

Grade: A-

Chime offers all of its members access to an optional Savings Account. Like the Spending Account, Chime’s Savings Account comes with no fees or minimums, and it comes with a variety of automated features to make setting side money basically painless.

For instance, Round Up Transfers allow you to funnel the spare change from every transaction directly into savings, and Save When I Get Paid transfers 10% of every received direct deposit of $500 or more. 

The Savings Account earns 0.06% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), with no minimum deposit required.

Unlike Simple and other online bank accounts, Chime doesn’t make it easy to set specific savings goals or to further personalize your accounts by purpose.

Small Business Banking

Chime doesn’t offer small business banking.

Convenience

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Grade: A-

As with all online bank accounts, Chime’s convenience factor is relative: If you’re looking for the brick-and-mortar banking experience, you’re barking up the wrong (money) tree.

But as far as customer support is concerned, Chime has a lot of coverage: Its email address and direct phone number are both listed at the bottom of the website, and the phone lines are open for a substantial chunk of the week (Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST; Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST).

Chime also has presences on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, though these channels probably aren’t appropriate for asking specific questions about your private account.

Mobile Banking

Grade: B

The mobile app is a make-or-break part of any digital-first banking enterprise, and Chime enjoys high ratings on both the Google Play Store and the App Store — 4.6 and 4.7 stars, respectively. 

The app makes it easy to access and interact with all of the features we’ve discussed above, including SpotMe overdraft protection, automatic savings options and easy mobile payments, which are made particularly simple for transactions between Chime users.

That said, the app doesn’t carry the wealth of extra features some other digital first banks offer. Budgeting tools, for example, are a helpful way to reframe your finances, which banks of all types are increasingly working into their suite of digital tools. Chime, on the other hand, remains simplistic — which you might take as a positive or negative, depending on what you’re looking for.

Our Bank Review Methodology

The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features. 

To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you. 

For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully.

Ratings are assigned across the following categories:

  • Personal checking accounts
  • Personal savings accounts
  • Small-business banking
  • Convenience
  • Mobile banking

Credit card and loan products are not currently considered.

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.