What Is Chime Banking?

Published on: Apr 25, 2017

Chime Bank is an online bank that offers checking accounts and an automatic savings plans with 10% cash back rewards up to $500 every year.

The bank was founded in 2013, according to its LinkedIn profile, under the leadership of co-founders Chris Britt and Ryan King. Britt is the company’s current CEO, while King is Chime’s CTO.

Britt has a lot of experience working in the credit card and prepaid card industry. He was chief product officer and a senior vice president at prepaid card company Green Dot Corporation, as well as a Senior Product Leader at Visa.

King has a lot of experience working IT in Silicon Valley – he was CTO and Vice President of Comcast Silicon Valley from May 2011 to November 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The bank has grown in popularity as Millennials have shunned big banks in search of smaller, online banks who don’t charge fees and function through app-based banking.

“It is an upstart bank account that pitches itself as being built for a more technologically savvy-generation,” a Jan. 2016 Fortune article said. “Unlike big banks, Chime was created during the smartphone era and, therefore, features an app that is more than just a way for customers to review their bank accounts.”

Chime certainly has, from our perspective, brand recognition and relevancy, but what exactly do they offer? Are they really fee-free? What are other people saying about them? These are the topics we’ll cover in this review.

What Does Chime Bank Do? Checking, Savings, App

Chime offers the basics you’d get with a traditional banking experience: checking, savings, and an app. However, as you’ll read, these features have nuances that separate them from big banks.

Chime Checking

Chime’s checking accounts are called “Spending” accounts and are purely online. There are no Chime brick-and-mortar stores.

You might be wondering how you deposit money into your spending account if there’s no branch office, right?

At the time of publishing, Chime offered three ways to deposit money into your account: Direct Deposit, ATM deposits, and bank transfers.

Direct Deposit

Direct Deposit is pretty standard among banks, but Chime says that you might be able to receive your paycheck up to two days early.

ATM Deposit

Chime gives you a Visa debit card with which you can pay for stuff like groceries or bills, but you can also use it to deposit cash to your Chime account via Green Dot ATMs. If you remember from our introduction, Green Dot is where Chime’s CEO used to work.

According to Chime’s website, you may have to pay fees to do a transaction at a Green Dot ATM.

Bank Transfer

Chime says that you can deposit money from any of your existing bank accounts into your Chime account for free.

In our opinion, this option is great when you’re starting your Chime account and moving money over, but loses its value the longer you have your traditional bank account open. Your fees will most likely continue and you’ll be defeating the purpose of Chime’s fee-free banking model.

Photo Check Deposits

At the time of publishing, Chime had yet to launch the bank’s photo check deposit function.

Basically, this function allows you to deposit a check simply by signing it and, through your banking app, uploading photos of the front and back of the check.

No Joint Accounts

At the time of publishing, Chime Bank did not offer joint spending accounts.

A Quick Word About Chime Rewards

Chime’s website also indicates that you can earn rewards on certain purchases throughout the year. Six examples of rewards purchase categories on their website include: groceries, restaurants, utilities, internet, entertainment and streaming services.

We called Chime to find out what those rewards rates were and got nowhere. The phone representative repeated what was on the website, but could not explain any of the rewards wording.

Pro tip: In order to set up a Chime spending account, you’ll also need to sign up for a savings account.

Chime Savings Account

Chime’s savings account is one in which you deposit money with what’s known as a “round-up.” If your grocery bill, for example, comes out to $51.63, then Chime automatically deposits $0.37 (the “round-up” to the next dollar).

This is nothing new – Bank of America started a program like this around a decade ago. What’s unique about it, though, is that Chime will give you a 10% bonus on whatever your deposit as the result of round-ups. The cap on this bonus is $500 and bonuses are deposited every week.

The Chime App

You can follow your account, spending, and other data through Chime’s app, which is available for Android and iOS.

The app is, basically, your bank. It’s where you go to check your balance, find out if deposits have arrived in your account and see where your money is going.

Like other banking apps, you can use Chime’s app to find ATMs, conduct transactions and check your balance. The app also notifies you when transactions take place.

The Fine Print: Will Chime Charge You Fees and Are There Limits to What You Can Do?

One of the things we found intriguing is Chime’s claim that banking with them is free. We were also curious about the fine print – would we find something suspicious or disadvantageous?

Chime Bank’s Fees

After reading through Chime’s fine print, we found only one fee: a $2.50 charge for using out-of-network ATMs.

Chime says you’ll definitely be charged $2.50 for withdrawing money and that some financial institutions may charge a fee for checking your balance or attempting a withdrawal without actually withdrawing money.

Here’s how their fine print puts it:

“If you use an ATM not owned by us for any transaction, including a balance inquiry, you may be charged a fee by the ATM operator even if you do not complete a withdrawal. This ATM fee is a third-party fee amount assessed by the individual ATM operator only and is not assessed by us. This ATM fee amount will be charged to your Spending Account.”

Chime’s Fine-Print Limitations

Further reading in Chime Bank’s fine print revealed a series of limits on transactions that would be helpful for you to know about.

Delays on Big Deposits in First Thirty Days

For the first 30 days, you have your account, any check deposits above $5,000 will be split up. The first $5,000 is available the next day, but it could take up to nine days to see the remaining amount in your account.

Limit on Dollar Amount of Checks You Write

Chime puts a $5,000 limit on the payment amounts you can make at one time with a check and a $10,000 limit on all checks written in a month.

Using Another Bank’s Debit Card to Make a Deposit to Chime

You’re allowed to do this three times during your account’s lifetime, with a maximum of $200 a day. If your account is less than 30 days old, you’ll be limited to one transfer of this type.

Overdrawn Accounts

Chime will not process a payment if it requires more money than what you’ve got in your account. If your account has a negative balance for 90 days, Chime says they’ll close your account.

Debit Card Restrictions

You can do an unlimited amount of Chime debit card withdrawals during any given day, your withdrawal totals will be capped at $500 per day. The same rules apply to getting cash back at a point-of-sale.

Chime says your debit card purchases will be limited to $2,500 per day.

We also discovered that Chime pre-authorizes $75 or more for gas purchases. If your fill up costs more than $75, your card may be declined, Chime says, and you’ll have to go inside to the cashier to pay.

There’s a similar procedure for restaurants, hotels, and car rentals. You’ll be pre-authorized for the transaction amount plus 20%.

So, if your bill at the hotel is $100, Chime will pre-authorize $120 and that amount will be unusable for up to 7 days. This means that if your charge is $120, that amount of funds will be unavailable until the transaction clears.

Pro tip: Chime will send you paper checks if you need them.

Reviews of Chime Banking

There are several different reviews of Chime Banking, but some of them are pretty outdated. We’re going to focus on two more recent reviews, as well as the reviews the Chime Bank app gets in the Google Play and iTunes stores.

Rockstar Finance

Rockstar Finance gives Chime Bank 4.5 stars out of 5, saying the bank is a good fit for “anyone looking for a great (simple) online bank, mixed with features often found in apps, like round-up savings.

The review went on to say that they liked how Chime was fee-free but disliked how the app was only available to residents of the United States.

“If you’re looking for a solid, fee-free bank that helps you save more, Chime is worth the consideration,” the site said.

The College Investor

The College Investor’s review of Chime Bank resulted in 4 stars out of 10 for the fee-free bank. The review’s main complaints were that it wasn’t a good fit for people who use cash, there was no mobile check deposit feature and the bank’s transaction limitations were inconvenient.

“If you have straightforward banking needs, Chime is an excellent bank for you. It’s fee-free. It’s got a built-in savings tool. You can spend money with a visa debit card, pay bills via the mobile Chime Checkbook,” the site wrote. “However, the simplicity has some drawbacks.”

Google Play

More than 2,800 reviewers on Google Play gave Chime Bank an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Nearly 2,000 of those reviews were 5 stars and 240 were 1 star.

A recent review from “Shaneka Howell” gave the app 5 stars and also gave some feedback about Chime, saying she loved the instant transaction notifications and the absence of overdraft fees. However, she said, she faced a long wait time to talk with customer service.

Her experience was similar to ours. The customer service line has limited options, it took five minutes of waiting and working through the menu to talk with someone and, when we did, we were given unhelpful answers.

Our Final Thoughts About Chime Bank

Chime Bank is the prototypical modern-era personal finance tool. It’s purely online platform and fee-free banking are similar to investment apps like Betterment and Acorns that charge miniscule fees for their services.

In that sense, Chime Bank is a great tool for anyone who is comfortable doing all their banking online.

Furthermore, Chime’s 10% bonus up to $500 on money you save is pretty unprecedented. The bank is literally giving you free money, which is usually only done when you sign up for an account and not given as a regular reward.

The downsides to Chime are that you can’t have a joint account and there are spending limits that may hamper the efforts of someone with an above-average income who writes a lot of checks or makes multiple, high-dollar transactions on a daily basis.

If you’re not comfortable doing all your banking online and you want to explore other options, check out our review of Capital One’s 360 checking account. This account, as our review details, doesn’t charge you a fee for using it and has plenty of ATM machines across the country that provide you free transactions, too.

See Also: How to Make a Personal Financial Plan: A Step by Step Guide

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5 Consumer Reviews for Chime Banking

Average Consumer Rating: 1.6
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 0 4 star: 1 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  4
Bottom Line: 20% would recommend it to a friend
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  • Love it

    My car needed a new radiator, and I needed to get paid faster as my bank stopped during the early deposit. I signed up a got an extra 25 and got paid two days early. I had a question and the chat question was responded within an hour. It's easy to use. I love the alerts. I had it for a few months and no problems. Great alternative. I use this for a partial paycheck just to get money a few days early. So you know.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Worst bank (if you can call it that) ever! They should be sued and shut down.

    • Seattle, WA,
    • Nov 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    They lack any ability to be able to provide customer service to their bankers, any time that I have had a problem with my account they not only refuse to help me and problem solve. In order to get any progress on my problems, I have to get aggravated and rude. I have experienced a number of times I have needed to contact merchant services, and they will not help you no matter what! They go by a bankers book for dummies and will only provide you with three steps they are able to take; their problem-solving sucks!

    Right now I am waiting on a dispute for $100, so I can cancel my account. You would be a fool to bank with these people. I know I made a fool out of myself. I would give zero stars, but that's not an option.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Worst banking experience in 40 years

    I have been banking for 40 years. I recently became frustrated with fees and inconvenient access due to a recent move. I read about Chime, and thought it may fit my needs.

    I opened an account on their website, submitted required documentation and soon received my Chime debit card in the mail. A few days later I took my newly activated Chime debit card, and with my verified cell phone and number made an opening funding deposit, via a Green Dot MonePak transaction. The deposit amount was for $500. I immediately received an email confirmation of that deposit. I went to the China app to verify also. It showed that the $500 was credited and part of my balance.

    After about one hour I went to the ATM at my usual bank to withdraw funds. It printed a receipt that read something like "transaction error, try again." I thought I had perhaps chosen the wrong account option. I repeated the $300 withdrawal request, received another printed transaction record stating unauthorized transaction.

    I went into my branch and spoke with my regular account representative (I was at my brick and mortar bank where they know me) about it. She was as perplexed as I. I went back and attempted to do a balance inquiry. It immediately gave the screen message of "account closed," my deposit was now in a "spending account," and the ATM retained my new card. I couldn't believe it. I then tried to login to the Chime app, and received an error message, stating I had my access removed. Same message on the website.

    I then immediately called the customer service number given as a contact us number on the website, and it gave the recorded message customer service closed. I had no option but to wait until the following day, and I called the same number. I spoke with a rep who told me that any account related questions or inquiries were answered by email only. They could provide zero info.

    I emailed Chime at the support address and received an auto-response that it was an error. I tried again, went thru verification that I wasn't a robot, and again response received of not valid. I then called once again and was informed I needed to include the email address of the account with all communications. I did that and never received a personal response. I did keep trying and then began to receive an auto-reply that said to email them with specific account inquiries, if it was that they would get back to me, hold on, it read.

    I called again after several days of no communication of any type was told by the rep. I didn't include a copy of my ID with my email, which they only could see one email from me. They could not answer any account questions. I submitted a new email at the address I verified with that rep, including this time an attachment of my driver's license photo. No response. I emailed again, and nothing.

    I call again, same runaround. No rep is able to answer any account questions nor give me an explanation. When I requested to speak with someone in a supervisory or manager capacity I was told there is not one to speak with. The only option I was told was to email. This is now day 8 of no type of explanation, and zero response. I emailed again, even trying several other possible email addresses I've located on the internet.

    Today is now two weeks exactly, it's been 14 frustrating days, and I've yet to receive even one human reply. I have continued, though, to receive emails from Chime regarding account services and promotional type messages.

    I've never had, in my 49 years, a relationship with any financial institution where I could not speak or receive written communication regarding my account specifics. I'm now angry, in disbelief and shock that a company could be in any position that they felt they did not have to answer to their account holders. It's my hard earned money, not theirs, they are keeping.

    I've read again my Chime small print and agreement. Yes, I believe I deposited too much for my opening deposit. If that be the case, then I can accept that error, and do what I need to make it balance out. Just tell me, communicate how to fix it, and no problem whatsoever. It's when I'm being ignored that I start to feel that a fraud has been perpetrated. Perhaps their non-response will eventually result in my giving up and they keep the funds. Is that what's happening?

    I now see that they are set up to attract those that may have limited finances and banking options. They prey on that circumstance, and once they have access to your info and money, feel they have the upper-hand to dictate how and when you are able to access YOUR money. Opportunists, not a company that thinks of you, but preys on those that for whatever reason, are not in a financially strong position.

    I have no option but to think the worst at this point. I would give this advice to anyone contemplating becoming a member or account holder with Chime. They do not respond to telephone inquiries; all are deferred to email only. Customer service phone hours are restricted to essentially bankers hours. No 24/7 support, even if there's technical, fraud or lost card issues. Unless you have a direct deposit option, the ability to deposit into the accounts are very limited. Instead of being part of a personal and small bank that cares about you as they promise, you are a part of a larger Bancorp company. A customer without a voice or a face.

    Not the future in personal banking I had envisioned or they so deceptively have promised you. At this point, I'm just wishing myself luck here.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Will deny disputes and accuse you of stealing your own money.

    We had someone skim our card information and use it fraudulently. We opened a dispute and sent in a copy of the police report I filed. Disputes take 10 business days.

    I called back to get a status update and found out the dispute had been denied because my husband supposedly made the transaction. We called the company the charge was made with and their fraud department told us that they did not tell Chime any such thing and even verified that the shipping address for the fraudulent order did not match our address or any address we would have used. I was forced to rebut the dispute but could only do it by emailing it in.

    I did get upset and yelled, but they hung up on me 3 times and my husband once. My rebuttal will take another 10 business days. When I asked to speak to a higher up supervisor, I was refused multiple times. I asked to speak with the "investigations" department, and that was refused as well. DO NOT use Chime Card or Bancorp!

    I found a law firm advertising specifically to sue Chime Card for the exact same thing we are going through. So not only do they not want to help you when you are ripped off, a law firm is actively looking for other Chime Card victims.

    Oh and even if you get a new card, watch out. We got a notification that someone tried to use the NEW card at around 3 am the day after we activated it. Make sure you keep your transactions turned off. I only gave one star because I can't give zero.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Chime is the worst bank ever

    • Tennessee,
    • Sep 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    An ATM ate my card and I didn't receive my withdraw, so I call Chime and they said the would get me a new card in 3-5 business days. It is going on two weeks and I have no card and don't have access to my money. Every time I called them they told me a different story. I'm on the verge of being kicked out of my apartment, losing my car, I have no gas to get to work, and they do nothing to help me. They make my life difficult and they have the worst manager ever. Her name is Lauven Daniel (#2127) and she was very rude and hung up on me. I hope she gets fired.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Oct 25, 2017

      Kris

      I am in the same situation! Someone skimmed my card and got my information, I put in a dispute and requested a new card. I was told that I will get a card within 3-5 days. Now almost two weeks later, still no card. I called again and I was told that they shipped my card to me via express UPS that day. Well, later that night I get an email saying my card wasn't even printed because my name was too long. Their customer service sucks and I will be switching banks as soon as I get access to my money.

      It would be different if I was a new customer with no money in this bank, but ALL my funds go to Chime and without a debit card, brick or mortar locations I can't get any money. It should not take two weeks to get a new debit card after someone steals my card numbers. The lady on the phone told me that I should be "happy" my card was being express shipped because people that didn't lose their card or get their card stolen are patiently waiting two weeks. This is crazy!

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