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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203 Consumer Reviews for Chime Banking

Average Consumer Rating: 3.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 111 4 star: 17 3 star: 5 2 star: 7 1 star:  63
Bottom Line: 65% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 203
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  • Love it

    • Idaho,
    • Mar 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love most of the things about Chime. My only wish is being able to pick a different card design. I love the convenience, getting paid early, the app is great and super easy. I love the round-up feature to save more. Chime, you're doing great, just let us pick a different card design PLEASE.

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

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  • Convenient

    • Eureka, CA,
    • Mar 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had issues trying to get a bank account prior to Chime

    and I'm glad I looked into Chime and signed up. The card came quickly, my money is deposited one day before the usual payday.

    I like the many saving options, and will never need another card again.

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

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  • Chime Bank is the best

    • Kentucky,
    • Mar 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I get my money a lot faster when it comes to paychecks. I can transfer money from other accounts and pay friends. I have had Chime for well over a year, they are better than the brick and mortar banks you always have access to your money. I've only paid one ATM fee and the following day the charge was reversed back to my account. Customer service is very helpful and friendly. I would recommend using Chime to anyone. I give Chime Bank a 10.

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

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  • Why I Chime

    • St. Louis, MO,
    • Mar 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Over a year ago a friend told me about Chime. It's a pre-paid card, however, it's treated, or shall I say treats you more like they are your bank, so I applied, downloaded the app, and got started when my card came in the mail. Since I have had the Chime card, it's been a much more pleasant experience than let's say Netspend whom I hate, this is more banking and makes you feel like it also. Chime sends annual reports to you, they send ways to save or ways to win things. All and all Chime wants the person who uses the card to feel good and also comfortable when using it. I would recommend Chime to everyone.

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

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Excellent customer service

    • Norfolk, NY,
    • Mar 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have gone from one bank to another and very recently decided to give online banking a try. Concerned about not being able to get a reply back if I had a problem especially it being online, I was hesitant...but decided there weren't many good local banks around my area so gave it a try.

    Best decision ever! Chime responded back quickly when I had a concern. Very good customer service.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Stay away

    • North Carolina,
    • Mar 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Their customer service is terrible. They always use bots to answer people's problems and they don't work. The real people say the same thing as the bots, which makes it even worse. This bank claims they take mobile deposits. They rejected my cashiers check from Bank of America saying they don't accept that and a whole bunch of other checks. I had to sign my name and put "Chime mobile deposit" on the back. Who is going to take it now with that written on the back?

    This is supposed to be my bank. I can't cash it with that written on there now. When I complained to them about it, a representative gives me the bot answer. Tells me it was rejected because they couldn't identify the image. BS! It was clear as day. So before I complained they tell me it was rejected for being a cashiers check. Bank somewhere else. Don't be fooled by getting paid two days early.

    Absolutely would not recommend this as a bank option!

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

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Great service

    • New Jersey,
    • Mar 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love this card, your funds actually come on time. If the card declines it immediately emails you and tell you why. Customer service is very important to me. It has a chip card, I got my card really fast, and it walked me through the steps to start my direct deposit, and I was very impressed by all the things I used my card first.

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

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  • Best company

    • Loveland, CO,
    • Mar 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Recently I lost my phone and was not able to check my balance or access my card info due to my temporary number not matching my account.

    I was able to e-mail Chime and a member got back to me right away. They were able to assist me with updating my phone number by me providing some documents that proved I was me. I was happy to know they weren't just going to change the number without verifying it was me, the process was super simple super easy, and my number was changed within 24 hours.

    I would definitely recommend Chime to anyone due to the customer service that they have has been the best customer service I have ever experienced, especially since you only deal with them online, Chime is the way to go, the best online bank that I have ever come across. Thank you Chime for being super amazing!

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

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  • It's good

    • Eatontown, NJ,
    • Mar 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have had Chime for a few months now. I like it. It's really good because it is helping me not overspend. I also love the fact that it has a savings account with it.

    It's very easy to set up everything. There is one thing that I don't like. In the area where I live, there aren't many ATMs that take Chime. So my account is being charged that $2.50 fee, which adds up.

    It would be nice to use an ATM in the mall without a fee, and not having to open an account with the bank the ATM supports.

    Aside from this, everything else is good.

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

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  • Love Chime

    • Junction City, OR,
    • Mar 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Chime is great. I normally would get paid on Fridays, but instead with Chime, my check gets deposited on Tuesdays. Also, I love the fact that I could set up the savings account and have all my purchases rounded up and the difference deposited into my savings.

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

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  • Beat card ever!

    I simply love this card! The app is easy to use and I appreciate the alerts that come directly to my phone. My paycheck is direct deposited right on my card and funds are available immediately.

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

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