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Varo Checking account review

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Get an early payday without fees with Varo Bank.

finder.com’s rating: 4.7 / 5.0

★★★★★

Varo is a simple digital bank account that doesn’t charge fees, run credit checks or put a hold direct deposits. It offers referral bonuses and free access to thousands of ATMs around the world. But you have to use a third-party service for cash deposits, which can be expensive and complicated.

$0 per month

Fee

N/A

APY

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

APYN/A
Fee$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open$0
Intro or bonus offerEarn $75 bonuses every time a friend signs up for an account and deposits at least $200 in one transaction
ATMs55,000 AllPoint ATMs around the world for free
ATM transaction fee$0
Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50
Foreign transaction fee0%
Overdraft fee$0
Nonsufficient funds fee$0
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Review by


Katia Iervasi is a staff writer who hails from Australia and now calls New York home. Her writing and analysis has been featured on sites like Forbes, Best Company and Financial Advisor around the world. Armed with a BA in Communication and a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance and finance topics for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).

Expert review

Varo is best for those looking for a digital bank that offers speedy direct deposits and forgoes all fees — even for foreign transactions.

But the account doesn’t come with checkwriting privileges and depositing cash can be tricky.

How do I open a Varo checking account?

This mobile-first bank has a fully online application. To open an account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the provider’s site and follow the steps to apply.
  2. From the Varo website, type in your email address.
  3. Enter your full name, create your password and click Get Started.
  4. Go to your email, find the six-digit code from Varo and enter it on the site.
  5. Select and answer your security question and click Next.
  6. Enter your residential address and phone number, and click Next.
  7. Follow the prompts to verify your citizenship, submit your application and get the app.
Varo reviews your application and emails you in 24 to 48 hours. Once your application is approved, you can expect your Varo Visa Debit Card in the mail within seven to 10 business days.

To activate your card, call the automated phone service at 800-827-6526.

Eligibility

    To sign up for an account, meet these requirements:
  • 18 years old or older
  • A US citizen or resident with a physical address and Social Security number

You’ll also need to have a compatible device:

  • iPhone: iOS 10 or greater on the iPhone 5s or a newer model
  • Android: OS 5.0 Lollipop or greater, and access to the Google Play Store

Required information

The application will ask for the following information:

  • Personal and contact details
  • Physical address
  • Social Security number
  • A valid government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license

What are the benefits of a checking account with Varo?

The Varo checking account is connected to an app and comes with a debit card that can be linked to digital wallets such as Apple Pay, PayPal and Venmo. It has robust budgeting tools and also boasts these benefits:

  • No fees. The bank doesn’t charge monthly, ATM, transfer or replacement card fees. If you’re traveling overseas, there are no foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals or debit card transactions.
  • No credit checks or minimum balances. Varo aims to make banking accessible to everyone, so it requires no credit check and no minimum balance.
  • Early payday. If you enroll in direct deposit, you could receive your paycheck or benefits up to two days early.
  • Overdraft protection. Varo blocks any transactions that would overdraw your account, so you’ll never pay overdraft fees.
  • Referral bonuses. Once you’re eligible for the referral program, you can earn $75 bonuses every time a friend signs up for an account and deposits at least $200 in one transaction. The limit for bonuses is $500.
  • Eligible for savings account. Current checking account holders can open a Varo Savings account and earn up to 3% APY.
  • Varo Perks. This program rewards you with cashback for everyday purchases when you use your Varo Visa debit card or Varo Believe credit card at participating retailers. The Perks program was announced in March 2021, but specific details about how much cashback you can earn have not yet been released.

Varo Bank’s ATM network and fees

Varo is part of the AllPoint network, which has 55,000 free ATMs worldwide. Just over 40,000 of them are in the US, and they’re often located in retailers like Walgreens, Target and CVS. To find one near you, open the Varo app and go to Move Money > Find an ATM.Varo charges no fees if you use an out-of-network ATM — but the ATM operator might.

What should I look out for?

The Varo checking account has its drawbacks, including:

  • No checks or wire transfers. Varo doesn’t offer checkwriting privileges or support wire transfers.
  • Complicated cash deposits. You can’t mail cash to Varo or make deposits in-person because there aren’t physical branches. Instead, you have to use a third-party money transfer service, which may impose its own fees.
  • Lack of live chat. While customer service is available via phone and email seven days a week, Varo doesn’t have a live chat function.

If you’re an Android user or rely on wires and large check deposits, you’ll want to keep looking. As always, compare your options when choosing a checking account.

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Compare up to 4 providers

How do I deposit and withdraw my money?

There are a few ways to move money around with Varo:

  • Direct deposit. Deposit a portion of your paycheck, government-issued benefits and other regular payments (like insurance refunds or Airbnb income) into your checking account.
  • Checks. If you’re an iPhone user, you can deposit mobile checks directly on the app. Varo can also mail paper checks on your behalf for free.
  • Cash deposits. Submit a cash deposit at 100,000 GreenDot retailers across the US, including participating 7-Eleven, Kroger, Kmart, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart stores. You could pay up to $4.95 per deposit.
  • Electronic transfers. Transfer money from an external bank account via an ACH transfer. There’s a limit of $5,000 per transfer and $10,000 per calendar month.
  • Digital wallets. Top up your checking account with funds from digital wallets like Venmo, PayPal and Cash App.
  • ATM withdrawals. Dip your card in any AllPoint ATM for free. If you use an out-of-network ATM, Varo won’t charge a fee but the operator might.

Where can I earn cashback through the Varo Perks program?

When the Perks program was announced on March 24, 2021, participating retailers included the following businesses.

  • Advance Auto Parts
  • CVS
  • Forever 21
  • fuboTV
  • Grubhub
  • Home Depot
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • McDonald’s
  • Sun Basket

Frequently asked questions

Checking account ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We analyze top checking accounts and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include: monthly fees, the ease at which monthly fees can be waived, the breadth of ATM access, ATM and overdraft fees, and customer service.

Read the full methodology of how we rate checking accounts.

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