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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88 Consumer Reviews for Chime Banking

Average Consumer Rating: 2.7
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 31 4 star: 6 3 star: 3 2 star: 3 1 star:  45
Bottom Line: 44% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 88
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  • Worst customer service I've ever seen.

    • California,
    • Nov 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Customer service is so bad, you'll think I made it up, but if it gets one person to avoid these sisters it's worth it.

    One night I noticed when I spent money a nearly duplicate charge went through within 15 minutes. I noticed because while trying to buy toilet paper my card was declined even though it should have had hundreds. Of all the times to buy TP, right? I went online and shut down my debit card when my disabled 8-year-old got food poisoning. So it was a few days later when I called Chime about my stolen card, although the card never left my possession. Yet the duplicate charges weren't online, they were at my small town Walmart. If so, the thief apparently followed me around and only stole from me in my presence? Makes no sense. Who else could it be but the bank?

    So I call Chime to dispute the charges and was told I'd be sent paperwork and be credited in 10 days. The paperwork never came. I called and they said they'd send them again, but still nothing. On the 10th day when I went to see if there was a credit and call again, my account suddenly gets suspended. This is already overlong, but what followed was a nightmare. Hours on the phone and two dozen emails later they finally unsuspend my account after I threaten to go to the BBB, etc. At one point I was told they didn't even know their supervisor's name and I was lucky they were doing it at all. By then my paycheck was delayed nearly a week so all my bills had late fees, and you guessed it, I still haven't gotten any paperwork or credit.

    Oh, and getting direct deposit two days early? I used to, but now my paycheck is always late. I guess they don't need access to my money early when I'm not going to let them steal as they please. So if you want to earn no interest with a company that not only causes the loss of hundreds of dollars, is also vindictive if you object - bank with Chime.

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

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  • Best bank, period

    • Washington,
    • Nov 18, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Between having zero fees and no overdraft penalties, plus the ability to disable transactions on your debit card at will makes Chime the best bank I've ever used, online or otherwise. It's even better than every credit union I've tried.

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

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  • Excellent banking

    • Chicago, IL,
    • Nov 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I read about Chime online and decided to try it. I was unhappy with my current account. I got my card in the mail and got the app. It was super easy to set up. I decided to have my payroll check deposited on it and instantly loved it. I like the feature of round ups into your savings account. The alerts are a great feature as well. It's a Visa, so it gets accepted pretty much everywhere, and has a chip. It is also really secure, and I feel like my money is very well protected with this card. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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

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  • Great!

    • Indianapolis, IN,
    • Nov 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    First off, I just love, love, loveeeee Chime! They really are the best. The app is super easy, fast, and convenient. It doesn’t allow you to overdraft, which is a big plus! They allow you to do mobile check deposits. You can load/upload your card with ease or set up direct deposit. Not to mention the fact that you get paid up to two days early! It’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better pre-paid card. I will never use a normal bank again!

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

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  • Chime card review

    • Ohio,
    • Nov 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been with Chime for several years, HOWEVER, I did not use it consistently until the last 30 days. I was looking for a replacement for my GoBank account, which I had for almost 5 years. My requirements were: no fees, early access to direct deposit, large ATM network, check deposits from mobile, cash deposits, and of course an easy to use and secure app and website. Chime fulfilled all of these thus far. The check deposit was reasonable for a mobile deposit (GoBank just went to 10 business days...Chime was considerably less). They have consistently had early access to direct deposits, as well as worked with the Instant Pay function with both Lyft, Uber, and the Square Cash App, just like a "normal" bank issued debit card. GoBank has its challenges in this area. So far, so good!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Terrible, no live customer service, chatbot fiasco

    • Tennessee,
    • Nov 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I first got Chime, I enjoyed the app, and although they did not have photo check deposit at the time, the overall experience was positive for over a year, possibly close to two. Recently they dropped their live customer service and they now try to force you to use a program chatbot, any contact with him is email or chatbot. The chatbot does not work, it has a lot of difficulties understanding any questions and there can be complex issues that arise that the bot cannot handle, and having to wait a day for email feedback is terrible customer service. Do not use Chime if you want good customer service. For a bank card that is online, only live customer service is a must. They were trying to save money, and it gives you terrible service. The immediate feedback of a live customer service representative is absolutely essential. You can't go down to a branch and talk to a person, so you need a live customer service, or at the minimum a live chat, not a computer program.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Chime is the WORST!

    Chime Banking is the worst! I had a transfer from my account that was not done with my permission, so I filed a dispute! I completed the forms, sent them in and was told to wait two days on an answer! On the tenth day, I called to get the status of my claim and was told I would receive an email by midnight with a decision and for me not to worry! Fifteen minutes later I received three emails stating that Chime was closing my account and all funds in my account would be sent to me in a check in 30 days!

    I called customer service and was basically told there was nothing they could do and I would have to wait the 30 days! Chime sucks, as well as the customer service! They are NO help at all and do not care about their customers! I have no money and have bills due, but they didn't seem to care! I filed a complaint with the BBB because this is unacceptable!

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Scam and unprofessional customer service reps

    • Alabama,
    • Nov 1, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had Chime for only a month and I'm regretting never signing up for their service. The first problem is I never receive my direct deposit two days earlier like that advertise, even though I know my employer supports the feature. I've called because my deposits we're going in at 9:45 pm. When I addressed the issue with customer service, they denied holding the funds and insist they receive them from my HR department at that time, which is a lie because our home office HR rep closes at 4:30 Central Time.

    Today I called to check my balance and the automatic system couldn't find me, which was strange. I call in to have the rep tell me my SSN doesn't match up. How did that happen no one knows. But they told me I have to send in a copy of my driver's license and Social Security card to have the matter resolved. That just set off all kinds of red flags. And the timing of it all, I have a direct deposit scheduled to go in that day. I'm not happy with Chime at all.

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

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  • Return to the account

    • Beacon, NY,
    • Oct 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My only complaint is when the retail store I purchased an item from is returning your money back to your account, these guys don’t email me to let me know about that transaction. And the long wait I have to wait for that money to go back into my account...Other than that, this online banking is great! I love that I can also save with my purchase and it goes straight to the saving account. Thank you!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Chime Banking

    • Kansas City, MO,
    • Oct 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Chime Banking makes banking easy. It’s convenient and so easy to use. The app shows each transaction in real time so tracking my balance is simple. Having the Chime savings is great too. Together it’s the easiest banking I’ve ever used.

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Dispute

    • Georgia,
    • Oct 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My times at come was so-so until I had money taken out of my account from unauthorized transactions while I was in Afghanistan. Chime failed to notify me or freeze my card, so I filed a dispute for the amount of $4500 that was taken, and every time I call they tell me there aren't any updates. I express to them they need to speed this process up, I have bills and things I need to take care of but can't because Chime is prolonging, but little do they know I have gotten my lawyers involved.

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

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Showing 1-11 of 88

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