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.


Read 39 Varo Money Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 1.8
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 8 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  31
Bottom Line: 21% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 39
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  • Best banking app out there!

    • Georgia,
    • Dec 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Best banking app out there! Most of my coworkers use major banks. I use Varo, and receive my direct deposit a day before them. On top of a fifty dollars overdraft protection. Plus no ATM fees at certain ATM's.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Very good

    • Canby, OR,
    • Dec 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This product is good for people that need a little help with money, good savings account, easy to use. They have good programs to get and good savings going.

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

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  • Help when needed

    • Texas,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Made it easy to open a bank account to save money. I'm trying to rebuild my credit score so that I can buy a house and a car...will be making my first deposit into my account this week.

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

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  • Varo Bank is awesome!

    • Florida,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Great and east app and awesome overdraft up to $50 with no penalties. Awesome bank and would definitely recommend to friends and anyone who never used online banking before. Can link other accounts to it and transfer money easily from one to the other.

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

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  • Amazing

    • Ledyard, CT,
    • Dec 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Amazing app and bank, they are very responsive if I have an issue and they have amazing benefits. I will recommend this to all my friends, co-workers, and random people on the street. I have used other banks and nothing but issues, this one is great, I never had an issue and will keep using this bank until I die.

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

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Refusing to give me my money

    • Ellicott City, MD,
    • Nov 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had a Varo account for a while and a few friends sent me money through Zelle to help me cover emergency expenses. Varo froze my account and demanded proof of their ID’s, transaction history, and bank statements from the people who sent me money. I provided all the information they had asked for and they proceeded to close my account. After speaking to a representative, I was assured I would be sent my account balance which was around $5500 in a check-in 14 days from the date my account was closed. It has been 20 days so I called Varo, to be told they aren’t sending me my account balance. I called today and they are refusing to send me the money from my account. If this isn’t resolved, I am filing a police report.

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

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  • 4 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Wow!

    • Butler, PA,
    • Oct 31, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was using Chime Bank for a few months and had numerous issues with them. I saw an advertisement for VARO banking so I decided to fill out the application for them. I receive my card just today and I called in and activated the card and set up my pin. After doing so once my card was activated I downloaded the app and had a few problems with answering my information. The app said to contact VARO if there were any issues so I did so. I was on hold for exactly 43 minutes and got frustrated so I decided to hang up. After that, I looked up reviews on this company and there was not one good review about this company. I am glad that I read all the reviews before I decided to set up my direct deposit. After re-reading these reviews, I would not recommend this company to my worst nightmare. Thank you all for giving honest feedback and reviews about this company.

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

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Terrible

    • Baton Rouge, LA,
    • Oct 28, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was with Varo for a couple of months. They were always good to me until money got stolen from my account. They claimed to find no error and $630 was taken from my savings account and transferred to my checking account. They also lie between their teeth. My friend found an error but, they said they didn’t. So, I concluded that they don’t care about their customers. They really don’t.

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

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Love them

    • Kent, WA,
    • Oct 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I got my Varo card 6 months ago and then lost my job. Because of some unavoidable credit issues, no traditional bank would allow me to open an account.

    Unlike a typical bank, they didn't close my account because I hadn't made a deposit, and unlike my previous account with a BANK, I didn't have to pay $0.50 to $4.00 per transaction.

    They truly have no-fee ATMs and the reload fees are minimal, and if you get cash back when you are shopping, there are no fees.

    I love these guys.

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

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  • 7 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Never got my balance returned to me

    • Texas,
    • Sep 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My account was closed the very same day my $200 deposit came through and couldn't be told any reason why and that my balance would be mailed to my address on file via check-in within 2 weeks, but that was a month ago and I've called and called and can't even be informed whether or not my money has been mailed to me and that was all I had to live on. Very inconsiderate and if I had kept someone's money from them for as long as they have mine, I would've been arrested for theft.

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

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  • 4 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Terrible, never again

    • Colorado,
    • Aug 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was introduced to Varo by my coworker. The bank claims they can give you your paycheck two days early. Obviously I was intrigued. I had Varo for a while and never have any "major" issues with them. I was upset that their whole two days early is really a day earlier unless you want to wake up at 2 AM. I get paid on Fridays so two days before should be Wednesday but I always receive them on Thursday. I had a fraud on my account for $150. Varo doesn’t offer any temp cards or anything, so if you lose your card or your account gets hacked, good luck waiting 3 weeks! Yes, they take forever to send over the card as well to have access to your money again. On top of that, they said that my fraud wasn’t fraud after an "investigation" and proceeded to take another $150 out my account after I’ve been hacked and already lost $150 from whoever was hacking my bank account. Customer service girl Mickey, whatever her name was, was very rude and unprofessional and no help what so ever. They can’t even tell you why they came to the conclusion it wasn’t fraud they just tell like "oh well."

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

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