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Varo Bank Account review

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Get an early payday without fees with this online-only bank.

finder.com’s rating: 4.7 / 5.0

★★★★★

Varo is a simple checking account that doesn’t charge fees, run credit checks or hold direct deposits. It offers referral bonuses and free access to thousands of ATMs around the world. All banking is done on the app, but Android users miss out on some of the key features, such as bill pay and mobile check deposit.

$0

Monthly fee

0%

APY

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

Monthly fee$0
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$0
Foreign transaction fee0%
Overdraft fee$0
Nonsufficient funds fee$0

Expert review

Katia Iervasi

Review by


Katia Iervasi is a writer from Sydney, Australia. Her writing — and curiosity — has taken her around the world, and she now calls New York home. With a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance and finance 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 fee-free checking account. It stands out for offering speedy direct deposits and forgoing all fees — even for foreign transactions.

But the Android app is missing key features, like mobile deposit, and it’s tricky to deposit checks for more than $2,000.

What are the benefits of a checking account with Varo?

The Varo Bank 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 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.
  • Worldwide ATM network. Access 55,000 AllPoint ATMs around the world for free.
  • 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.
  • Budgeting tools. On the app, you can track your spending habits across your Varo and external accounts. The app also allows you to create savings goals, set notifications and calculate how much money you’ll have left after paying bills.
  • 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 checking account has its drawbacks, including:

    • Android app limitations. Android users don’t have access to some features, such as mobile check deposit and budgeting tools. According to the Varo website, these updates are in the works.
    • No checks or wire transfers. Varo doesn’t offer checkwriting privileges or support wire transfers.
    • Expensive cash deposits. You’ll pay up to $4.95 to deposit cash at certain Green Dot retailers.
    • Mobile check amounts. You can deposit checks less than $2,000 for free on the app. If you have a larger check, you’ll need to contact Varo.
    • 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.

    Compare with other checking accounts

    Name Product APY ATMs Fee
    M&T Bank EZChoice Checking
    Over 1,500 M&T Bank ATMs
    $0
    Get $150 if you open an EZChoice M&T checking account by March 2, 2020, and make qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $500 within 90 days of account opening.
    M&T Bank MyChoice Premium Checking
    M&T Bank MyChoice Premium Checking
    0.05% on balances of $100,000+
    0.03% on balances of $50,000 to $99,999.99
    0.01% on balances of $1 to $49,999.99
    Over 1,500 free M&T Bank ATMs and up to $2 rebates when using all other ATMs
    $24.95/month
    (can be waived)
    Get up to $250 if you open a MyChoice Premium M&T checking account by March 2, 2020, and make qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $500 within 90 days of account opening.
    Chase Sapphire Checking
    0.01%
    Free to use anywhere worldwide
    $25/month
    (can be waived)
    Get a $1000 welcome bonus when you join Sapphire Banking by March 06, 2020. Within 45 days of joining, transfer a total of $75,000 or more in qualifying new money or securities to a combination of eligible checking, savings and/or investment accounts (excludes any J.P. Morgan retirement accounts and CDs), and maintain the balance for at least 90 days.
    BBVA Online Checking
    No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
    $0
    A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks.
    Axos Bank Rewards Checking
    1.25% on balances of $0+ with $1,000+ in direct deposits, 10 $3+ debit card transactions and 5 additional account transactions per month
    ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
    $0
    Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
    Axos Bank Essential Checking
    ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
    $0
    No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How do I open a Varo Bank account?

    This mobile-first bank has a fully online application. To open an account, follow these steps:
    1. Go to the Varo website. Type in your phone number and click Get the App.
    2. You’ll receive a text message with a link to download the app.
    3. Fill out the form with your personal, contact and citizenship details.
    4. Submit your application.

    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

    How do I deposit and withdraw my money?

    There are a few ways to move money around:

    • 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.

    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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