A mobile-first bank that’s light on fees.
Chime is an online bank with a unique premise: Its business model doesn’t revolve around profiting off your mistakes.
It might be for you if:
- You’re tired of getting nickel-and-dimed by big banks.
- You want a checking and savings account as a package deal.
- You want access to your paycheck faster.
- You’re OK with conducting most of your banking digitally.
As with all online banks, Chime’s lack of physical branches can be a downside. But if you conduct almost all of your transactions digitally, you might like what Chime offers.
How Chime works
It costs nothing to open an account, and there’s no minimum balance.
ATM network and fees
According to Chime, you can access more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide through its partnership with MoneyPass. You can also get cash back at 32,000 locations that include major retailers like CVS, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and more.
To find an ATM or cash-back location near you, click ATM Finder in the Chime app.
You’ll pay no fees at Chime-partnered ATMs. However, Chime does charge $2.50 in out-of-network fees on each transaction.
Why sign up for Chime?
In many ways, Chime is an improvement on most banks. Its fees are best in class, and it can help you save money more efficiently. It even allows you to get your paycheck deposited up to two days earlier than most other banks.
Consumer-friendly fee structure
Here’s what Chime says about itself: “We will never hide behind fine print or profit from our members’ misfortune or mistakes.”
That’s easy to dismiss as an empty promise. However, Chime backs up its claim with a consumer-friendly fee table.
|Overdraft fee||$0||$27–$35 per overdraft|
|Minimum balance fee||$0||$6–$15 per violation|
|Monthly maintenance fee||$0||$2–$16 per month|
|ACH transfer fee||$0||$0–$5 per transfer|
|Account closing fee||$0||$10–$50, depending on date of closure|
|Card replacement fee||$0||$5–$25 per replacement|
|Foreign transaction fees||$0||3% per transaction|
|ATM fees||$0||$0–$2.50 per transaction|
|Out-of-network ATM fees||$2.50 per transaction||$0–$2.50 per transaction|
Chime eliminates many of the most annoying costs at other banks, such as minimum balance fees, monthly maintenance fees and ATM fees.
You’ll still pay fees if you use an out-of-network ATM. But you may be able to avoid them at more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATMs.
If you have trouble saving money, Chime can help in two ways.
- Automatic Savings. When you use your Chime card, Chime rounds up your purchase amount to the nearest dollar. Then it transfers the rounded amount to your Chime savings account.
- Automatic paycheck savings. You can opt in to transfer 10% of each paycheck into your Chime savings account.
Get paid early
Send your payroll direct deposit to your Chime spending account to get access to your money as soon as your employer deposits it.
According to Chime, that’s usually two days earlier than other banks post your money.
Manage your money through a mobile app
You can manage your Chime accounts through the bank’s mobile app to:
- Check your balance at any time.
- Get real-time alerts for all account transactions.
- Temporarily block your card if you lose it or suspect fraud.
- Transfer funds between your accounts.
- Contact Chime support.
A mobile app alone doesn’t necessarily make one bank better than another. But Chime is on the right track: Its Android app earns a 4.3 out of 5 on Google Play, and its iOS app boasts a 4.8 out of 5 in the App Store.
What to watch out for
You may want to reconsider banking with Chime if you like traditional banking services or want a strong interest rate for your savings account.
- Poor interest rates
When you’re looking for a savings account, you generally want the highest interest rate possible. Unfortunately, Chime clocks in at the bottom end of the spectrum — 0.01% APY.
That’s on par with big banks like Chase and Wells Fargo, both of which offer 0.01% APY for savings accounts. But it’s well under what you can get from other banks.
|Bank||Annual percentage yield (APY)|
|American Express Personal Savings||1.55%|
- No overdraft fees is a double-edged sword
Sure, no overdraft fees sounds great. But that means Chime doesn’t offer overdraft protection.
If you make a purchase and your account has insufficient funds, your purchase is likely declined.
- You can’t visit a branch
There’s a lot to dislike about big banks, but one of the things they offer is physical branches. If you need to deposit money or talk to a teller in person, you simply visit a location close to your home.
With Chime, you must conduct all your banking digitally. And if you need to deposit cash into your bank account, you must visit a Chime partner location — and potentially pay fees to the third party.
- No mobile check deposit
Currently, the app doesn’t support mobile check deposits. Instead, you must deposit checks through a third-party app, Ingo Money. Chime says this feature is coming soon.
Here’s how to sign up
1. Visit Chime’s website and click Apply Now.
2. Create an account by filling in your first name, last name and email address, then choose a password. Click Next.
3. Continue the application process by filling in information like your address and phone number. Click Next.
4. Provide your date of birth and Social Security number, then click Next.
5. Fill out your occupation, source of income and how you heard about Chime. Click Next.
6. Confirm your information is correct. Check that you read and agree to the terms of Chime’s Electronic Communication Agreement and Deposit Account Agreement. Finally, click Submit Application.
Chime offers many consumer-friendly features, and for many people it’s a step up from big banks. Still, it’s not for everyone.
Sign up for Chime if:
- You love the idea of a mobile-first bank, and you rarely visit physical branches.
- You want to deposit your paycheck into your Chime account.
- You hate paying random fees for your checking and savings accounts.
Consider another bank if:
- You want a higher interest rate on your savings account.
- You need to visit a bank branch frequently.
- You deposit a lot of checks.
Compare checking and savings accounts — and learn everything you need to know about them — in our handy guide to banking.