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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138 Consumer Reviews for Chime Banking

Average Consumer Rating: 3.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 64 4 star: 12 3 star: 4 2 star: 5 1 star:  53
Bottom Line: 58% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 138
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  • Better than traditional checking

    I honestly think that Chime Banking is better than the traditional bank. It has a variety of functions that allow friends and family to transfer funds to your account, and you to theirs. Great customer service representative. Constantly keeping you updated on spending and deposit, to make you aware of any fraudulent activities. If you don't have a Chime checking/savings, apply for one today. It's well worth your time. Signed a very, very satisfied account holder.

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

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  • I LOVE Chime!

    • Peru, IN,
    • Jan 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love Chime. It was so easy to get set up for direct deposit with my employer, and I get paid early! How cool is that! Also, you can deposit checks using your phone. My favorite thing is it lets me know my balance immediately after I make a purchase. It’s so easy to keep track of my account. Chime has so many great features like I can open a savings account and Chime automatically helps me save money. I LOVE Chime!

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

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  • Great card!

    • Ohio,
    • Jan 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This card is really great for saving. It has really helped me a lot. I would recommend this card to everyone. I'm very bad at saving but with this card I'm able to put a little away. For very important things. I just had a new grandbaby and was able to buy him a new travel system.

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

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  • Best card ever

    • Tempe, AZ,
    • Jan 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve had experience with a lot of prepaid cards and Chime is by far the best. You always know how much you have in your account with every swipe and they make saving money absolutely effortless. The app is super easy to work and the best part of all, you get paid two days early. Chime is hands down the best pre-paid card out there.

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

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  • Room for improvement

    • North Carolina,
    • Jan 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Began well but then I did not receive all the promises on my recommendations for friends. I am still hoping but unfortunately have not received it yet. I would hope that my friend I recommended this to is having better luck than I am.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Customer service is a joke

    • Seminole, FL,
    • Jan 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I signed up as a referral from a coworker. I had the referral code in-hand, but nowhere in the signup process did I ever see a place to enter it. Before I knew it, I had opened an account. I immediately emailed and called to inquire about the referral information. My email was never returned and the phone rep told me once I had met the deposit requirement I could submit the code for the $50. Wrong. I waited several weeks to activate my card and contacted customer service again to inquire about the referral. The email rep answered back quickly but clearly hadn't even read the email. Maybe he was a robot. End of story, they said I didn't follow policy by adding the referral code when I signed up so no bonus. I'm closing the account and switching back to Capital One.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Unauthorized transactions

    • Tennessee,
    • Jan 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I kept getting unauthorized transactions on my card, so upon calling Chime, they issued me a new card yet still I get unauthorized transactions with my new card. All I did was activate it so how can the unauthorized transactions happen unless it's coming from Chime itself?

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

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    I'm grateful for Chime

    • Nevada,
    • Jan 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Chime has been awesome! I've been able to save money, get my funds early, and I received a courtesy credit. Chime reversed fees for going out of network as a courtesy for being new to the company. I really appreciate the convenience of Chime and the sense of security that they care about my experience. Thank you!

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

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Great online bank

    • Minnesota,
    • Jan 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Chime has been a great bank for me so far. No or very little fees, and it's a bonus I get my direct deposit a couple of days early. I have had nothing but a good experience with Chime so far.

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

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Great banking card and the app is wonderful.

    • Arkansas,
    • Jan 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    To be honest, Chime Banking is good for people who want their check a little early, with no monthly fees. It has different ATMs you can go to and pull money out for free (the Chime Banking app works wonders by showing you where those ATMs are). It's a good little card, I won't lie about that. I've had it for almost a year now.

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

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    The best debit card I've ever had.

    • Puyallup, WA,
    • Jan 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    No monthly maintenance fees or fees at all. Chime notifies you when you make a purchase, and it notifies you every day about your current balance. Chime is honestly the best debit card I've ever had.

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

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