If you’re looking to wire money directly to or from your bank account, you’re really only limited to services like Western Union and MoneyGram, or through your bank. The problem is that, regardless of which option you choose (and the amount of money involved), you could spend a lot in fees during the process.
To disrupt this trend, ChimpChange promises to provide a digital banking platform where customers can easily and reliably send, spend, and manage their money for less. This involves two parts: 1) an iOS or Android app and 2) a prepaid MasterCard, which are linked. What does this accomplish?
Using ChimpChange’s app, we’re told you’ll be able to send money in real time to other ChimpChange users, as well as to anyone with a cell phone, while “managing your money on the go.” Then, with ChimpChange’s MasterCard, you’ll be able to make in-store and online purchases almost anywhere in the world—and even withdraw from any ATM with a MoneyPass logo.
In a nutshell, ChimpChange promises to help you send payments and do all your daily transactional banking from a single app—for less than a traditional bank.
Given this, ChimpChange claims they’re out to disrupt the banking industry, based on lower fees and simplicity. But is ChimpChange a good option for everyone? Are there other options competing in the same space? Will it really help you save money?
In order to make sure you have all the information you need, there are several big concepts to tackle, which we’ll walk you through here. To begin, let’s take a closer look at how ChimpChange works.
Funding Your ChimpChange Account & Checking Your Balance
Step 1: Download the App & Activate Your Card
To set up you ChimpChange account, the first thing you’ll need to do is download the iOS or Android app. Then, you’ll be required to enter your personal details, accept the terms, and enter the 5-digit verification code sent to you via SMS.
Once your ChimpChange app has been activated, you’ll also need to activate your MasterCard. First, log back into your app, go to the Settings screen, select Activate Card, and then enter the last 4 digits of your card, as well as your entire social security number.
Note: According to the company, this is required by law as part of the US Patriot Act. However, ChimpChange never sees or stores this information.
Step 2: Verify Your Bank Account
Although the exact steps you’ll need to take here depend on the banking institution, you’ll basically need to transfer funds from your bank account to your ChimpChange account (which is why it’s called a prepaid card). But first, you’ll need to link and verify your bank account before you can load your ChimpChange account with funds.
To do this, you’ll need to go to the Transfer Funds section of your online bank account and add an external account. Here, you’ll enter the routing and account numbers found on the back of your ChimpChange card.
Over the next 2-3 days, your bank will make two small deposits into your ChimpChange account. Once they post, you’ll need to log back into your bank account, enter the amounts to complete verification, and you’re all set.
If you choose, you can also link your ChimpChange account with a PayPal account.
Step 3: Load (or Unload) Your ChimpChange Card
Now that you have a way to fund your ChimpChange account, it’s time to transfer money, which you should be able to quickly accomplish by logging into your online bank account.
Step 4: Sending & Receiving Money
After loading, you’ll need to log into your ChimpChange app by entering your cell number and password, your 4-digit PIN, or Touch ID, select the Send Money Icon. Then, touch the Send To field to open your contacts and choose the person you want to send money to, and enter how much you’d like to send in the Amount field. You can include a memo if you like.
We’re told that sending money through the ChimpChange app is as easy as a few taps.
Finally, you’ll be shown a confirmation page. Once you’re ready to go, select Confirm to send your funds, and you’ll receive a receipt for the transaction via email.
Unloading money from ChimpChange back to your bank account works much the same way, just in reverse.
Alright, so we’ve covered ChimpChange’s ease of use. Now let’s cover their other claim to fame: lower cost.
What Are ChimpChange’s Fees & Eligibility Criteria?
How Much Does a ChimpChange Account Cost?
Signing up for a ChimpChange account is completely free, doesn’t require a credit check, and comes with no minimum balance requirement. You also won’t be subject to any monthly fees as long as you spend, withdraw, or load money at least once every 60 days.
If you don’t use your card at least once every 2 months, you’ll be charged a $4.95 inactivity fee per month. ChimpChange claims they’ll send you a reminder before this occurs.
Other potential fees include being charged $1.50 each time you withdraw money through a bank teller, and $1.95 every time you withdraw money from an ATM that doesn’t display the MoneyPass logo. You’ll even be charged $0.50 for checking your balance at an ATM!
Important note: Also, keep in mind that if you load funds at 7-11, CVS, K-Mart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, or Walmart, they will charge you an additional fee of $4.95. To avoid loading fees altogether, you can complete a form and hand it to your employer in order to have funds direct deposited to your ChimpChange account.
For a more complete look at potential fees, be sure to check out ChimpChange’s Pricing page. The good news is that for every fee, the company seems to go the extra mile and provide suggestions on how to minimize or avoid them.
Does ChimpChange Have Strict Eligibility Criteria?
All ChimpChange accounts are offered through Eagle Bank and Trust Company of Missouri or Central Bank of Kansas City. In order to qualify for one, you’ll have to be aged 18 or older, with a US SSN and a US residential address. However, ChimpChange accounts are not available to residents of CT, NH, RI, or VT.
When loading your ChimpChange card, you’ll only be able to transfer up to $2,500 each time, with a maximum of 2 loads per day. Daily withdrawals max out at $1,000, while you can make up to $1,500 in purchases per day. The account maximum is $10,000.
Have other pricing or eligibility questions? ChimpChange’s customer service department can be reached at 855-HICHIMP (855-442-4467).
How do ChimpChange’s fees compare to other methods of transferring money?
Does ChimpChange Have Any Competition?
Until very recently, there’s no doubt that traditional banks were sticking it to their customers when it came to transferring money. After all, according to MyBankTracker, these fees can reach as high as $30 to send money, and up to $20 to receive it.
However, this increasingly isn’t the case anymore. What do we mean? Likely to keep their customers happy (and to respond to competition like ChimpChange), many larger banks no longer charge fees to transfer money from one bank to another.
Perhaps the best-known example of this is Chase’s QuickPay, although there are increasingly popular options like TD Bank’s Person-to-Person Payment, Wells Fargo’s Sure Pay, Bank of America’s send money service, and more. And if you’re looking to move outside of traditional banks you have even more options, including well-known services like PayPal, as well as up-and-comers like Google Wallet, Square Cash, Venmo, and many more.
Obviously, if you’re just looking for a mobile banking app or for a prepaid debit card (which might not offer all the same features as ChimpChange), you’ve got even more options.
The point? ChimpChange has a lot of competition vying for your business.
Who Founded ChimpChange? Is the Company Getting Good Reviews?
ChimpChange is the brainchild of 34-year old Australian Ash Shilkin, who claims he first had a vision of “zapping money to each other using [a] wristwatch” back when he was 14, which eventually led him to the company’s creation.
Prior to founding ChimpChange, Ash worked within the climate industry, first as CFO of CO2 Australia and then as Director of Yonderr.com. Today, he’s based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Despite being in business since 2011, there were few online customer reviews for the ChimpChange service at the time of our review. We found one detailed writeup in The Sydney Morning Herald back in April 2015, which is outdated, with little feedback elsewhere.
ChimpChange’s iOS and Android apps had well over 1,000 reviews, however, with 3.5 and 3.8-star ratings, respectively. There, most users seemed to be pleased with the app’s ease of use.
On the other hand, common complaints cited declined transactions (even with money in the account), inactivity fees if you don’t use the card regularly, and less-than stellar customer support (specifically, long wait times for replies, even in emergency situations).
Should You Open a ChimpChange Account?
Considering everything we’ve covered so far, let’s walk through this last part, step by step:
Exactly What Is ChimpChange?
Here at HighYa, we enjoy helping you clear away the hype, so that you can take a fresh look at a product through the lens of what you need (instead of what a company’s marketing department wants you to believe). From this perspective, ChimpChange is basically just a prepaid debit card with a fairly useful (at least according to most customers) app.
ChimpChange Pros & Cons
Outside of their app, the biggest difference between most other prepaid debit cards is that with ChimpChange, you’ll be subject to very few fees, which could save you a ton of money if used on a regular basis.
However, with ChimpChange, we think you might experience many of the same downsides as traditional prepaid debit cards. Like what? Here are a few examples:
- If you already have a checking account (which you’ll need in order to fund your ChimpChange account), it’s very likely that you already have a debit card. So, for point of sale purchases, you’ll likely be able to use it at just as many retail locations—without having to transfer money beforehand.
- Speaking of which, like many other prepaid debit cards, it can take a couple days for transferred funds from your bank to show up in your ChimpChange account. So, if you’re relying on it as your primary payment method and you quickly run out, you could be short on money for an uncomfortable period of time.
- If you have an account with one of the larger banks, they very likely offer a low- or- no-fee service that allows you to transfer money between individuals, or even businesses, which means you won’t have to create yet another new account or download another app.
Other Important ChimpChange Considerations
Are there any other important aspects about ChimpChange you should keep in mind? Outside of everything we’ve discussed so far, one of ChimpChange’s main claimed benefits is that they can make “transactional banking” much easier, which typically references handling day-to-day finances.
However, we’d have to wonder how easy it would be to consistently pay bills through your ChimpChange account. After all, you’d still have to transfer money from your primary bank account to make sure there are adequate funds, which seems like it’s only complicating the process by adding another step (not to mention that the transfer process can take days). On the other hand, by knowing exactly what’s in your account at any time, ChimpChange might make a useful budgeting tool.
Instead, we think ChimpChange might work best for someone who frequently transfers money to other individuals (at least once every couple months, in order to avoid fees). Also, if you’re a US resident and plan on going overseas for a short, ChimpChange might offer a relatively easy solution for avoiding many associated bank fees.
Do you use ChimpChange? If so, for what? What do you like and dislike? Tell us your opinions by writing a review below!