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Chime app review: What we like, what we don't

The Chime app puts fee-free checking and savings accounts at your fingertips

Smartphone showcasing the chime app on a desk
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Chime app is a banking industry disruptor that offers fee-free checking accounts and high-yield savings accounts for customers tired of banking fees and looking for a simple way to manage cash on their devices. But it has a few shortcomings, such as mobile check deposit is only available if you're signed up for direct deposit and doesn't provide joint accounts.

Pros

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    Free and easy-to-use

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    No monthly fees or overdraft fees

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    No credit check

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    Direct deposits may arrive up to two days sooner

Cons

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    Online-only bank accounts

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    Third-party fees could apply for certain transactions

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    Limited banking services

Budget-conscious customers tired of getting nickel-and-dimed by traditional bank accounts will benefit the most from using the Chime app.

Chime offers checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees or foreign transaction fees. Plus, there’s a credit-building tool you can use to build credit from scratch for free.

The trade-off is that banking with Chime happens entirely online. So if you want to visit a bank from time to time, Chime won’t be the best option. And if you’re looking for a financial institution with a full suite of products, like rewards credit cards or loans, going with a bigger bank could be the better choice.

However, as you'll see in our Chime app review, Chime is a banking industry disruptor for a reason. With perks like direct deposits up to two days early, savings round-up and overdraft protection up to $200, it's easy to see why so many are interesting in this app.

Here are the pros and cons. 

Chime app review: Features

Chime is a banking app that helps users manage their money. But Chime is not a bank itself; instead, it’s a tech company that created the banking platform. The banking services are actually handled by Chime’s FDIC-member partners, The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank. Here are the ins and outs of what Chime has to offer:

Chime checking accounts

Chime’s main product is checking accounts, which lets you handle everyday banking transactions like depositing a paycheck, paying bills and making withdrawals. 

Each Chime account comes with a Visa debit card that you can swipe in stores or connect to your digital wallet. Below are notable features:

  • No credit check: The application for a Chime Checking Account doesn’t involve a review of your past banking or credit history, which could be a boon if poor history is holding you back from qualifying for other bank accounts.
  • Fee-free ATMs: Cardholders get access to 60,000+ fee-free ATMs worldwide. You could be charged a third-party ATM fee if you go to one out of network. 
  • Paychecks up to two days faster: If you set up paychecks to direct deposit into your Chime account, you may get paid up to two days sooner. 
  • Savings round-up: The round-up feature can group each of your bank account transactions and save the change. 
  • Free overdrafts: Qualifying account members who have at least a $200 direct deposit into their Chime account each month qualify for Chime SpotMe, which is an optional overdraft service that covers overdrafts up to $20. 
  • Transaction controls: You can turn on and off your card using the app, and enable or disable international purchases when you go abroad for security.
  • Special offers: Chime users may get access to special discounts and cashback offers from companies that partner with Chime.

How to add money to Chime

To fund your Chime account, you can set up direct deposit, transfer money from external banks, make a mobile check deposit, or deposit cash at deposit partners.

How to withdraw money from Chime

To take money out of your Chime account, you can withdraw at an ATM, transfer money to an external bank account, send money to a friend, mail a check, or pay a bill with your card.

Chime high-yield savings accounts

In addition to checking accounts, the Chime app offers savings accounts you can open to stash money for emergencies or other goals.

Chime Savings Accounts currently offers an APY of 1.00%, far higher than the national average of 0.08% APY for savings accounts.

Chime credit builder accounts

Chime’s Credit Builder Account works like a secured credit card with no annual fees or interest rates. 

There’s also no credit check, so if you have a limited credit history or poor credit history, you may still qualify. 

Here’s how the Credit Builder account works:

  • Sign up for a Credit Builder Account through your Chime Checking Account.
  • Transfer money from your Chime Checking Account to your Credit Builder Account; this money acts as your credit line. 
  • Use your Credit Builder Card anywhere Visa is accepted. 
  • The cash in your Credit Builder account will automatically pay your credit card bill.
  • Payments on the account are reported to all three credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — to help you build positive credit history.

(Image credit: Chime)

Chime limitations

Outside of the banking features above, the Chime mobile banking app is fairly limited in its financial services. Traditional banks can have some frustrating rules, like a minimum balance requirement, but they do typically offer more bells and whistles.

For example, big banks may offer loans, joint accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and investment services. Banks and credit unions might even let you manage bank accounts and loans from one app profile. The Chime app can help you manage basic banking but not much else related to your finances, which is something to consider.

Chime app review: Pricing

The Chime mobile app is free to download and banking services are also free. So how does Chime make money? Every time you use your debit card, the merchant you purchase from is charged a transaction fee, and part of that fee goes to Chime. 

Chime app review: Ease of use

Clarity and simplicity are what we all look for in an app’s onboarding process, and the Chime signup flow provides that. In a friendly way, Chime walks you through what information is needed to get an account.

The Chime app is available on iPhone or Android. To get started, you’ll need to provide your email, home address and Social Security number. Chime says it only uses your social security number to verify your information and won’t result in a credit hit.

Once setup is complete, Chime shows you how to fund your account. The main app screen also prominently shows your balances, which is ideal for whenever you want to quickly check if you have enough cash for a purchase.

Chime app review: Support

Chime customer support is available Monday through Sunday from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m. CST. When you call, Chime tries to answer your question without getting you to a live person by first taking you through several automated customer service options. But if you press 0, you can connect to an agent quickly who’s ready to assist with account questions.

How the Chime app stacks up against the competition

Chime is very similar to Varo, another mobile banking app that offers banking services. However, one area that Varo stands out is it offers a higher savings APY, ranging from 1.20% APY to 5% APY, compared to Chime’s 1.00% APY. So if you’re looking to maximize interest earnings, Varo could be a better option.

Chase is a major bank that has a banking app that offers some of the same features as Chime, like the option to set up saving automation and transfer money to peers with Zelle. But Chase checking accounts have monthly fees unless you maintain a certain daily balance or have direct deposits of $500 or more each statement period.

Like Chase, Bank of America is a major bank that offers banking products, mortgages and other loans. Using the Bank of America app, you can send cash, set savings goals, make mobile deposits and more. But again, Bank of America checking accounts may also have a monthly fee if you don’t meet the direct deposit and balance requirements. When it comes to having no fees with no strings attached, Chime reigns supreme. 

Chime app review: Verdict

Chime is a great app for handling simple day-to-day transactions like depositing your paycheck, paying your bills and saving some money for a rainy day. But it is pretty basic. 

Chime customers don’t get access to physical branches or expanded banking services, making it less ideal if you want to open many types of accounts in one place. A benefit of managing many different accounts at a major bank is that it sometimes comes with loyalty perks, like loan interest rate discounts or rewards bonuses.

Ultimately, Chime is a good choice if you need a basic bank account. But if you want to make more complex money moves or have many assets to manage, you could be better off considering other banking options.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Does Chime offer online banking?

Chime is a tech company that offers banking services through its app and website, but Chime itself isn’t a bank. Banking services that support the app are handled by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, and both of these banks are FDIC members.

Does Chime charge any fees?

The Chime app is free to download. Chime doesn’t charge monthly, overdraft, or international transaction fees for its checking or savings accounts. A Credit Builder Account, Chime’s version of a secured card, also has no annual fee or interest rate.

What type of accounts does Chime have?

Chime has bank accounts, checking accounts and credit-builder accounts that work like a secured card that you can use to build credit history.

Taylor Medine
Taylor Medine

Taylor Medine is a personal finance writer with over eight years of experience writing books, courses, guides, and articles that demystify personal finance topics, such as how to repay debt, build credit, shop for credit cards, and more. In 2013, Taylor started documenting her efforts to stretch a dollar as a recent college grad on a personal blog. Eventually, her passion for finance writing grew into a full-time career in explaining intimidating money topics to the everyday consumer. Taylor’s work has been featured on Bankrate, Experian, Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Business Insider, Credit Karma, and more. Follow her on Twitter @taytalksmoney.