Chime bank review

The Ultimate Chime Review: Fees, Money Transfers, and Monito's Verdict

Oct 1, 2021
Affiliate disclosure

Chime is an excellent financial app and online account (8.8/10) that Monito roundly recommends for everyday spending and in-network ATM withdrawals in the US and most countries abroad. Essentially living up to its fee-free promise, Chime comes with some of the lowest fees we've seen on the market (9.8/10) on a secure and primarily transparent web and mobile app (8.9/10). Chime is also widely praised by its customer base (8.4/10) and offers a capable checking account and debit card loaded with interesting features (8.1/10).

What Monito Likes About Chime

  • No transfer fees, foreign transaction fees, opening deposit, or balance minimum.
  • Ability to add a savings account, which automatically rounds spending up to help you meet financial goals.
  • Savvy mobile app compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • The app is rated very highly by Apple and Android users.

What Monito Dislikes About Chime

  • Wire transfers aren't possible.
  • Only available to US citizens and permanent residents.
  • Depositing cash can be difficult and may involve racking up third-party fees. (This is because the retailer that receives your cash will be responsible for transferring the funds for deposit into your Chime Checking Account. Cash deposit fees may apply if using a retailer other than Walgreens.)
  • No way to send money internationally and no international ATMs.
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We recommend Chime if you'd like to optimize your savings on everyday card use and checking, including dodging maintenance fees and maximizing interest via savings. Because withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs are (usually) free, we also recommend Chime for cash withdrawals, which are fee-free at most ATMs around the nation. However, a limitation for some may be that you cannot deposit money into your account with a wire transfer.

Who Is Chime For?

Chime is currently only available to residents of the United States.

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Chime is not a bank but a financial technology company. Its banking services and debit card are provided by The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, both of which are licensed banks and Members FDIC.

  • We are trusted.

  • We go the extra mile.

  • We are independent.

  • We are principled.

How Monito Reviewed Chime's Services

As with all services reviewed by Monito, Chime underwent a rigorous evaluation to assess the quality of its service. To begin with, our experts analysed several key criteria, including customer reviews, the percentage cost of various transaction types, top-up options, access to customer service, as well as business and legal metrics such as revenue, appropriate authorization, and company size. As with all Monito Scores, Chime's score was peer-reviewed by at least one Monito expert.

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Reviews are written independently by Monito's editors and recommendations given are our own. Services you sign up with using our links may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Trust & Credibility

8.9

Background check

Partnered with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank to provide deposit insurance to more than 12 million customers across the US.

Security & reliability

Accounts are fully secured using segregated user accounts and HTTPS and cards are 3-D Secure.

Company size

Founded in 2013 with around 12 million customers and 1,100 employees in the US.

Transparent pricing

"Fee-free" pricing is advertized across the website, but it takes some digging to find out those few costs actually are.

Is Chime Safe?

Many Chime users have expressed concern over the safety of digital-first checking accounts. The ability to walk into a branch can and see some professionals in pants suits can boost your confidence in banking. 

But just as with any big-name bank, your deposits at Chime are FDIC insured up to $250,000 through its partners, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank.

Chime also utilizes a 128-bit AES encryption system, and you can disable your Chime debit card instantly and at any time using the app. While the company boasts about its more than 75,000 five-star reviews, however, there are more than a thousand complaints at the Better Business Bureau — although Chime has responded to all of them and attempted to reach a mutually beneficial resolution. 

Service & Quality

8.1

Using the mobile app

Easy-to-use and well designed with interesting features, although lacking automatic spending categorization.

Managing the account

Supports only a limited number of top-up methods and only one currency (USD).

Contacting support

FAQ, live chat, and phone support are readily available to users of all plans.

Making card payments

Contactless, online payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and social payments are all supported.

Chime's Product & Service Quality

Chime, founded in 2013 and based out of San Francisco, California, is one of the US's leading digital banks. It offers free deposit accounts with a convenient Visa debit card and an optional savings account -- all of which are packed with convenient features.

The financial experience of Chime is based on a simple idea — you work hard for your money, so it only makes sense that you want to keep it someplace both accessible and safe.

For decades, this safety and accessibility has meant brick-and-mortar banks, where you can walk into a location and speak with a human teller (or, sometimes, with a highly sophisticated ATM.) But in the current day and age, another option is garnering increasing appeal: online banks, also sometimes called digital-first banks or neobanks, where everything is done through the internet. After all, with today’s technology, there’s a digital solution for just about everything banking-related, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks.

So what, exactly, do you get with your Chime membership? Here’s how everything works:

Chime Checking Account

The main financial product you get with Chime is a checking and savings account, similar to a checking account you’d get at a brick-and-mortar bank. You can easily add funds to your account via direct deposit. In qualified cases, you may receive your paycheck up to two days earlier¹ than you would at a traditional bank.

You can also deposit money in your account using mobile check deposit² or electronic transfer from other financial institutions. Adding cash to your account requires using the Green Dot Network, available at over 90 thousand retail locations, including convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. However, Green Dot does often charge a fee for this service — so if you deposit a lot of cash into your checking account, Chime might not be the best solution for you!

Chime Savings Account/Automatic Savings

While it’s only optional (and you don’t automatically get one when you sign up though you will need a Chime checking account), Chime also offers a savings account (for which you'll first need to open a Chime Checking Account to be eligible) that comes with a built-in automatic savings feature to help you reach your financial goals without thinking about it. The feature will automatically round up your debit card purchases and put the spare change in savings, giving you a boost toward your next vacation, big purchase, or just building an emergency fund.

Similarly, Chime's nifty 'Save When I Get Paid' feature automatically moves 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more directly into your savings account — a handy feature if you like to put a bit of cash aside each month. The Chime Savings account accrues a 0.06% annual percentage yield (APY)¹. Bear in mind that, as with all financial services, the APY can change at any time.

Chime Visa Debit Card

You can spend money in your Chime account using the Chime Visa debit card, which can also be paired with mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The debit card can also be used at Chime’s network of more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States allowing you to make fee-free transactions at any MoneyPass ATM in a 7-Eleven location and at any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Otherwise, out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply.

Expedited Direct Deposit

As mentioned above, qualified direct deposit funds will hit your Chime account up to two days earlier than they would at other banks (though this depends on the timing of the submission of your payment file). All you have to do is give the platform’s payment file to your employer, and you’ll be automatically enrolled. According to Chime, the funds are generally made available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

Chime Comprehensive Banking App

You control and manage your Chime account exclusively online, and the main tool for doing so is the Chime mobile app. Along with giving you a bird’s-eye view of your account, the Chime app also gives you daily balance notifications and instant transaction notifications any time your card is used. You can also use the app to instantaneously block your card if it’s lost or stolen or order a replacement. 

The Chime app also includes a built-in transfer option called Pay Anyone that makes it easy for you to send money to others whether or not they hold Chime accounts, and its suite of online tools includes an option for writing a paper check (which can then be sent by Chime on the sender's behalf).

Wire Transfers at Chime

As of January 2021, Chime does not offer wire transfers to domestic or international bank accounts. According to Chime, this is a feature in development and will be released at some point in the future.

To send money to another bank account in the US, you'll therefore need to use an ACH transfer instead of a wire transfer (see more about the difference here.) To send money to a bank account outside of the US, we recommend you make use of a money transfer specialist service, to which you'll be able to send money directly using Chime.

¹ As of 1 November 2021, as determined by the FDIC.

Fees & Exchange Rates

9.8

Everyday use

Zero everyday costs such as monthly fees, transfer fees, and local ATM withdrawal fees.

ATM withdrawals

Free withdrawals from partner ATMs (which include most ATMs in the US), otherwise $2.50 per withdrawal.

Online spending

Ordinary online spending comes at no cost, neither in the default currency nor in a foreign currency.

International spending

Very low fees for spending overseas, although Visa's exchange rate applies to foreign currency spending as well as the $2.50 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals.

Chime's Fees and Exchange Rates

One of the biggest selling points of Chime is its promise of “no monthly fees” — and indeed, many of the fees you’d find at traditional banks are absent. Chime has no minimum balances or opening deposits, no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no transfer fees.

Which might understandably lead you to wonder, “Well then, how does Chime make money?” In fact, so many people have asked this question that it’s in the company’s FAQs

And this is where the one — honestly pretty annoying — fee does come into the picture. While some of Chime’s earnings come from the back end as part of an interchange fee charged and processed by Visa, there is a $2.50 fee charged when you withdraw cash from your account via an over-the-counter withdrawal or from an out-of-network ATM. However, they have a fee-free network of 60,000 ATMs, which means the fee is avoidable, but those ATMs are only in the US — not overseas.  Note that it's impossible to withdraw money from Chime without a card.

Finally, third-party money transfer services that you use to deposit or withdraw funds to your account may assess their own fees, as well. This is something to be particularly aware of when you use Green Dot locations in stores such as CVS and 7-Eleven to deposit cash into your account.

Going International

You can use your Chime debit card at international point-of-sale terminals that accept Visa cards, and you won’t be assessed any foreign transaction fees for doing so. That said, its fee-free network of ATMs with MoneyPass (in a 7-Eleven location) and at any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATMs is only available in the United States, so you won’t be able to quickly and affordably pull cash out of your account in any other country.

There is no easy option for sending money internationally from within the account itself. However, although free peer-to-peer transfers are available through the Pay Anyone feature, which is available to pay Chime members and non-members alike, who, as mentioned above, must be US citizens. If you’re looking for the best way to send money internationally, you can check our comparison site for international money transfers here

Customer Satisfaction

8.4

Customer review score

Average Trustpilot rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars.

Number of positive reviews

More than 6,000 four- and five-star reviews.

Chime Customer Satisfaction

Chime is rated a respectable 3.9 out of 5 stars* by customers on the review platform Trustpilot. In general, customers report favorably about Chime, although some customers took issue with various aspects of their service. Take a look at the summarized sentiment below:

Chime Positive Reviews

  • Convenient and easy-to-use digital banking services.
  • Helpful notifications.
  • Services are available without fees.

Chime Negative Reviews

  • Does not accept wires.
  • Customer service can take time to respond.

* As of 01/10/2021

How To Open an Account With Chime

Opening an account through Chime is free, easy, and all done online. It only takes about two minutes, and there’s no impact on your credit score.

However, Chime accounts are only available to US citizens and permanent residents aged 18 or older, and you must have a valid Social Security number to apply. While proof of address, such as a utility bill, isn’t required during the application process, Chime may ask to verify your information with additional documentation, such as a driver’s license.

To sign up, you’ll need to enter your email address, create a password for the account, and then type in basic demographic information, such as your name, birth date, and Social Security number. Chime also requires employment information and estimated income level, though you can choose “decline to answer” on many of its prompts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chime

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¹ Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

² Mobile Check Deposit eligibility is determined by Chime in its sole discretion and may be granted based on various factors including, but not limited to, a member's direct deposit enrollment status.

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