About Varo Money

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Apr 12, 2018

Varo Money is an iOS-based banking app that provides full-service banking products and tools to help you cultivate a healthy financial life.

The company was founded in Nov. 2015 by four entrepreneurs: Assaf Guery, Colin Walsh, Mykola Klymenko and Roger Van Duinen. Walsh is the company’s CEO. He is a Cornell grad with an extensive background in fintech and payment processing.

According to their website, Varo’s purpose is to, "This combination of integrated financial solutions and proprietary technology makes us the first entrant to truly challenge the existing banking model. We’re bringing relationships back to banking for everyone."

Our question is: Does Varo accomplish what it’s setting out to do? Is it really challenging the existing traditional banks with customer-friendly accounts? What does it offer and what does it do?

To answer that question, we researched what the company offers through their app, how it works and any rates and fees you should know about.

What Does the Varo Banking App Offer?

Varo’s services can be divided up into five different features: checking, savings, early direct deposit, lines of credit, personal loans and various money-management tools.

Varo Checking

The checking account you get with Varo is pretty much the core account of all your banking with them.

While you aren’t going to use a physical checkbook, you get the typical running ledger of transactions, you can make deposits to and withdrawals from the account and it serves as your money workhorse.

Checks are deposited through the app; there’s no need for a branch and you can use your Varo banking account to pay bills.

You also get a Varo Visa debit card to use when you shop. What makes this card unique compared to traditional banks is that you get zero-liability. What that means is that you aren’t responsible for any fraudulent purchases made to your Varo account.

Normally, you’re liable for $50 of fraudulent purchases if you report those purchases in two days or less. However, if you report the shady charges more than two days after they happen, you’re liable for up to $500 of the charges.

Varo says in their fine print that you get zero liability if you report the fraud "immediately", which, in our opinion, means within two days, based on the regulations laid out in the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. We contacted Varo to clarify this but did not hear from them before publishing.

Things You Should Know About the Varo Checking Account

We did a quick read through of some of the fine print on Varo’s site and found some information about ACH transfers (one bank to another) that you should know.

First, if your account is less than 30 days old, you’re only allowed to transfer in up to $100 at a time and up to $100 per day. You can’t transfer more than $200 in any seven-day period.

The max you can transfer in a month is $500.

Once your account is open for at least 30 days, those daily limits go up to $200, the seven-day limit is $400 and the monthly limit is $700.

You’ll only be allowed to withdraw $300 cash per day from an ATM or point-of-sale and the most you can spend with your card in a day is $2,500.

Varo Savings

Your Varo savings account works the same way a traditional bank’s savings account works. You can send money from your checking account into the savings account.

The difference between your Varo account and brick-and-mortar accounts is that you’ll earn interest on your balance. The bank pays you an annual interest rate of 1.25%. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s more than what you’ll get from a traditional bank like Chase or Bank of America.

While Varo likes to say that their savings account earns 25 times more than a traditional bank’s rate of 0.02%, it’s important to know that there are online banks and savings accounts that offer higher interest rates. Here’s a table that includes traditional banks and online-based savings accounts we’ve reviewed:

Bank Interest Rate
Varo Money 1.25%
Ally 1.25%
SmartyPig 1.15%
Varo Money 0.05%
Bank of America 0.03%
Chase 0.01%
HSBC 0.01%
Wells Fargo 0.01%

As you can see, Varo’s rates are as good or better than all the savings accounts we listed.

Varo Early Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is a popular way to get your paychecks from work. In fact, a little over a year ago the National Automated Clearing House Association said that 82% of American workers get their paychecks via direct deposit.

With Varo, you can get your paycheck up to two days early, they claim, because of their process. Your employer notifies the Federal Reserve that you’re getting paid and the total that you’ll receive. The Fed tells Varo you’ve got money coming and the money is sent to your account.

Varo says this process means that you can get your money two days earlier than normal. In other words, if everyone is getting paid on Friday, you might be able to get your money on Wednesday.

Varo Lines of Credit and Personal Loans

One of the things that makes Varo Money very similar to a bank is that they can offer you lines of credit and loans in addition to checking and savings accounts.

Their lines of credit work like credit cards. They approve you for a certain amount of money and you can withdraw from that approved amount whenever you want. If you leave the money and don’t touch it, it won’t cost you anything.

However, the moment you withdraw some of it, interest kicks in. Their basic terms are lines of credit from $1,000 to $5,000 at interest rates of 13.75%-23.75%. If you want to withdraw that money as cash, then you won’t be charged any extra like you would if you took a cash advance on a credit card.

Based on our research of dozens of credit cards, we think Varo’s APR range is competitive compared to credit cards.

However, it doesn’t quite match up with the Discover it’s low-end APR of 12.24%. Another advantage to using a credit card as a line of credit is that, like in the case of the Discover it, you can earn 1% cash back on the purchases you make.

That rewards rate – with some cards it can get as high as 2% and beyond – is better than the 0.50% interest you get through a VARO savings account.

Varo’s personal loans have repayment periods of three to five years but their site doesn’t reveal the APR of those loans or the average amount they disburse.

At the time of publishing, Varo was able to lend in 17 states.

Varo Money Management

Varo’s money management tools pair up with your accounts to provide some basic analysis of your financial situation.

For example, in your checking account they show you your anticipated spending and bills for the month, then show you how much you can spend each day in order to come in under budget.

In your savings account, you have the ability to set savings goals and spending goals to help you manage your money wisely.

Varo Money’s Rates and Fees

The bank works off the popular no-fee philosophy, in which you won’t pay any fees for ATM withdrawals form Allpoint ATM’s, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees or fees for not having a minimum balance.

You will pay fees for their lending products. Exactly how much you’ll pay depends on which state you’re in. The company’s Policies page provides links to documents that tell you how much those fees are.

Public Opinion About Varo Money

The app has more than 2,000 reviews in the iTunes store; its average rating is 4.7 stars. Recent reviews of the app indicate that you’ll most likely enjoy your user experience.

Earlier reviews of the app included complaints about ATM fees and some issues with limits on how much you can direct deposit.

As for the ATM fees, Varo says you won’t be charged if you use Allpoint ATM’s, of which there are more than 50,000 across the U.S. There will be fees if you go out of network to a place like Chase or Bank of America.

Regarding the direct deposit complaint, we found nothing in Varo’s fine print that says there are dollar limits on direct deposit. We also didn’t find anything indicating that a direct deposit could be split up into two separate withdrawals.

Our Final Thoughts About Varo Money

Over the past couple of years, dozens of online banks and lending services have popped up claiming to offer a better experience than what you’d get from your traditional bank.

Based on public opinion about the app, it seems like users are happy with Varo.

We’d say the app’s strength is that you can pretty much use it to do anything you’d do at a traditional bank, including getting lines of credit and loans. Also, the interest rate for a savings account has a generous interest rate that puts Varo above traditional banks like Bank of America and Chase.

As for drawbacks, the daily deposit and withdrawal limits are cumbersome. Also, if there aren’t a lot of Allpoint ATM’s in your area, that could be a point of annoyance over time.

We believe this app is best suited for someone who makes regular direct deposits via their job and doesn’t mind that their bank has no physical location.

If you aren’t fully convinced Varo is the right fit for you, don’t worry; you have multiple app-based banking options. A few of the ones we’ve reviewed using the format you read here are Chime and Simple.

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23 Consumer Reviews for Varo Money

Average Consumer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 2 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  21
Bottom Line: 9% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 23
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  • Glad I was denied

    • North Carolina,
    • Dec 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Reading all these negative reviews, I was glad that my application was denied. I was really pissed when I was not approved for the checking account because I have never been denied a bank account my whole life. I was never given a reason for denial, but now I am so glad that I don't have to go through all the hassles people are having.

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

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  • Worst bank ever

    • Sacramento, CA,
    • Dec 8, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The worst bank I’ve ever been with. Their app is supposed to link with other accounts, but when I linked my main account, it made me log in every single time I logged into the app as if I never linked it before, so I had to delink and relink every login.

    Then I set up direct deposit and I kept getting pop ups saying I haven’t set up direct deposit yet and need to do so. So I quit have any deposits go to that account.

    Then I tried to cash a $3 check that took 5 days to clear. And eventually I became overdrawn, so I transferred money to that account from another one of my accounts, and it took 5 days to clear, and when it finally did, it said it was reversing the transaction.

    I called customer service and got an agent who put me on hold for 20 minutes and hung up. Then I called back multiple times and someone would pick up and hang up again. So I emailed and three days later got a response that it happened because of our user agreement. I read the attachment which doesn’t explain ANY reason why this happened.

    I would never recommend this bank to anyone. I have no idea where my money went. They will not tell me. It never went back to my other bank. It’s just gone. Chime is a million times better. In every way.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Horrible, time wasted!

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Dec 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I recently had my card stolen while I was going through personal things, and when I returned, my account was drained. I called Varo and they told me wait ten days until I hear something back for a provisional credit. On the 11th day, they didn’t tell me anything, I had to call, only for them to say they aren’t going to refund my money because the transactions look too familiar. That’s BS and not my problem. Visa's policy is to issue the credit because I am not liable. This bank is horrible, and I have to come back up with $700.

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

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Very confused

    • Long Beach, CA,
    • Oct 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Some months ago, I signed up for Varo after hearing it was better. Time goes by, and I realize I never received my card. I then emailed them and asked them to send me a new card. The reply asked me to verify my current email, which I did.

    This morning I got an email saying that my new card has been ordered, so I decided to finally switch my direct deposit info to them. About 30 minutes ago, I got an email that said they were closing my account all of a sudden. The email begins with "Based on a review of your account activity, we have decided to close your Varo Bank Account and, if applicable, your Varo Savings Account." But the crazy thing is, I haven’t even had any transactions yet, so I am very confused. After 4-5 months of me having this account in my name, why are they just now saying they have reviewed my account. Plus how can I have any transactions when I hadn’t even received my card yet.

    I’m not sure what game they are playing, but I don’t appreciate it, especially since I just changed over my direct deposit and now I have to change it again.

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

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    • Oct 23, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Lauren. it's always a difficult decision to close a Varo Bank Account. An objective and detailed analysis of account and transaction history, along with leveraging intelligence from sophisticated technology helps support conclusions and ultimate decisions. Based on this analysis, we strongly believe the appropriate action was taken. We wish you the best in finding a service that works for your needs.

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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Noise

    • Capitol Heights, MD,
    • Sep 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm very upset. They closed my account at the last minute, when I just reloaded my card with money. They emailed me at the last minute about my account with no reason at all. I’m very pissed off, and I have to wait 14 days until they send my refund check.

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

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    • Oct 23, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Brittany. While we wish we never had to close a Varo Bank Account, an objective and detailed analysis of account and transaction history, along with leveraging intelligence from sophisticated technology help support conclusions and ultimate decisions. Based on this analysis, we strongly believe the appropriate action was taken. We wish you the best in finding a service that works for your needs.

    • Nov 21, 2018

      Johnny Y.

      I closed my card after I put money on it. The day after I put money on it! Their phone support won't tell me why. They told me to email them, it has been three weeks. No response to my email. They keep the money for what? Why is this happening?

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Possible Regulation E violation

    • Portland, OR,
    • Sep 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had my phone stolen while I was in London on 8/15/2018. It has been insanely frustrating not being able to review ANY transactions with my own eyes, as they only provide the statements IN-APP.

    I honestly think Varo is in violation of this:

    Reglation E, section 205.4: § 205.4 General disclosure requirements; jointly offered services. (a)(1) Form of disclosures. Disclosures required under this part shall be clear and readily understandable, in writing, and in a form the consumer may keep. The disclosures required by this part may be provided to the consumer in electronic form, subject to compliance with the consumer consent and other applicable provisions of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act)(15 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.). A financial institution may use commonly accepted or readily understandable abbreviations in complying with the disclosure requirements of this part.

    Yes, I did agree to enroll into their online banking service; however, I now have zero access to my transactions and statements. I have no clue if their are unauthorized charges on my account, which if there are could be blamed on me for not disputing timely. Which is where their second violation of Reg is comes in:

    Section 205.6: (a) Conditions for liability. A consumer may be held liable, within the limitations described in paragraph (b) of this section, for an unauthorized electronic fund transfer involving the consumer’s account only if the financial institution has provided the disclosures required by §205.7(b)(1), (2), and (3). If the unauthorized transfer involved an access device, it must be an accepted access device and the financial institution must have provided a means to identify the consumer to whom it was issued.

    I've reported this to the CFPB and encourage more people to do so, as they really need to change this ASAP. The more complaints the CFPB gets for this will def put them on the spot (https://www.consumerfinance.gov/). As for the time being, I finally was able to save up enough money and will be getting a phone this Friday, will attempt to download my statements from the app? I am not even sure if that's possible. If it isn't, please take the time to screenshot and include them in your CFPB complaint.

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

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    • Oct 23, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Wilfred, we're sorry to hear your phone was lost! We understand that can be scary and frustrating. Our service team can help with reviewing transactions, locking your card, or getting access to a bank statement. Simply give us a call at 1-800-827-6526 or send an email to help@varomoney.com. Please, rest assured that Varo closely follows all federal regulations regarding disputes. When you purchase your new device, simply download the Varo Mobile App and log in. You will have full access to your transaction history and statements on the new device. If you have any other questions or concerns, please reach out to us. We're here to help!

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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Closed my account for no reason

    • Virginia Beach, VA,
    • Sep 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    From out of nowhere I get this "account closure" email stating they decided to close my account. I have no idea why nor would they give me any explanation. I have not done anything illegal. I just get my Uber payments deposited through Instant Pay, and bought food, gas, and paid bills. I wrote to Varo again and they said: "they made an appropriate choice based on my transaction history." All I get are vague and generic responses. I didn’t know using my Varo card for Uber Instant Pay and buying food and gas was illegal.

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

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    • Oct 23, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Karin, it's always a difficult decision to close Varo Money accounts, although an objective and detailed analysis of account and transaction history, along with leveraging intelligence from sophisticated technology help support conclusions and ultimate decisions. Based on this analysis, we strongly believe the appropriate action was taken. We wish you the best moving forward!

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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Where is my card?

    I opened this account over a month ago and I’ve supposedly been sent three cards. Two by US Mail and one was supposed to be brought to my front door no later than last Friday. I’ve already set up direct deposit, but without a card, I won’t be able to access my money, and therefore I fear I may have to close my account. I really wanted this to work out.

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

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    • Sep 12, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Caitlin, thanks for reaching out to our customer service team. I see that they were able to update your address and send you out a new card. It looks like your new card was received. Yay! If you need any other assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at help@varomoney.com.

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  • 6 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Don’t do it, it’s not worth the headache

    • New Orleans, LA,
    • Jul 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I decided to open an account with them for almost 6 months now. I randomly get an email stating my account is closed and there is no appeal for it. I immediately contacted customer service and they told me I have to email them in order to get any information. (Calling customer was a waste of time, they never have any answers for you.) So I email them and ask how did I violate the terms and conditions. Apparently, my transactions are a problem, the person emailing me clearly stated that based off my transaction history they made the decision to close the account effectively and immediately. I have direct deposit, so that means now my paychecks will be delayed and thrown off.

    They are so inconsiderate, and they will not give you any specific details such as why my transactions would be an issue with anything, it’s my money. I would not recommend them to anyone, they don’t even deserve one star.

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

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    • Sep 12, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Michelle, we are sorry you are unhappy with our service. However, we do everything we can to help our responsible, trusted customers. Banking is a two-way relationship, we need to verify financial activity to ensure we keep our whole community safe from fraud. When we cannot verify activity we are on the side of caution, in order to maintain the security and quality of our service. We wish you the best in finding a service that works for your needs.

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  • 8 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Great concept, poor performance

    • Brooklyn, NY,
    • Jul 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I opened this account for the higher interest rate for a savings account. It seemed to work well for the first transfer I made, after that, I would sign in and see an error message every day. "There was an issue linking your TD Bank account."

    At first, it was only mildly irritating, but after I noticed it was an ongoing thing, I got tired of it. It seemed like I had to initiate a deposit in order for the message to go away. The transfer process also took longer than any bank to bank transfer I have ever done. It would not post into my Varo account until at least two days after it had been withdrawn from my funding source. This error message has scared me into not using the account at all. There are also extremely low limits for transfers; $200 per transfer. There are better online banks that provide service that is consistent, providing the security one needs for their money. It’s almost as though this app is still in Beta, to be honest.

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

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    • Sep 12, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Patricia, we appreciate your feedback, and we want you to know that we are listening. We are putting in a lot of work to improve the strength of the account connections, and we are also working to improve the speed of bank transfers. There are several ways to transfer money to the Varo Bank Account that have much higher limits. Direct Deposit is the easiest and quickest way (no limit) to get funds into the account. You can also do instant transfers from online wallets such as PayPal, Cash App, and Venmo. If you have any other questions about funding your account, please reach out to us at help@varomoney.com.

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  • 11 out 13 people found this review helpful

    Do not use it!

    • Massachusetts,
    • Jun 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    After a first minor bad experience with Uber instant payments, I decided to continue using it. First time I called they said there was nothing wrong with the account and Uber said it was a problem with the card. Almost two weeks later they responded to my email with an explanation. So I continued using it.

    The second bad experience was with a refund from a body shop, services were paid by the insurance company, and the body shop offered me two refund options, one by check and another one as a refund to my debit card. I accepted the latter. It took almost ten days to release the funds and not a single email to explain what was going on, so I decided to call. They explained what the issue was, we sorted everything out and funds were released shortly thereafter.

    A few days later, without any notices, they suspend my account for the same transaction that had been settled and approved. They requested documents, and they were sent. The money in my account was for child support and operating costs for my work. I desperately explained the situation, but nothing helped. I explained why I desperately needed the funds and the response I received from a supervisor was that "child support payments can wait," and she hung up on me.

    Do NOT use this app! There are better alternatives such as Simple or Chime.

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

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    • Jun 26, 2018

      Varo Money Customer Support, Director of Customer Support

      Hi Tiago - We take security and safety very seriously, and there are rare instances when transactions need additional review. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We perform these to maintain the security and quality of our service. Thank your for sending the requested documentation. I'm happy we were able to get this issue resolved for you. Thanks for being a Varo Customer.

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