Chime review: An online checking account with no hidden fees

A smiling woman looks at her mobile device while sitting on a staircase in the sun.Image: A smiling woman looks at her mobile device while sitting on a staircase in the sun.
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Chime checking account at a glance

Physical locations None
Getting started Easy to set up — no initial deposit or no minimum balance requirements
Monthly service fee None
Overdraft fees None
Other fees Fees apply to out-of-network ATM and over-the-counter withdrawals
How to deposit Direct deposit, mobile check deposits (if eligible) and free cash deposits at select Walgreens locations
How to withdraw Debit card, online transfers and a “checkbook” feature that lets you request paper checks that are sent to people or companies for you
Notable feature Round up your debit purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically deposit that money in a Chime savings account

Chime offers an online checking account with no hidden fees.

It’s easy to get started. But you won’t be able to talk to a banker face-to-face. You’ll have to settle for managing your account virtually.

7 things to know about a Chime checking account

Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to bank through Chime®.

1. Bank from home

Chime is a financial technology company that offers a banking services app. That means you can’t walk into your local branch and speak with a banker in person.

While this might be a deal-breaker for some who prefer face-to-face communication, others will appreciate banking from the comfort of their own home. If you have any questions, you can always call Chime and speak with a real person over the phone.

2. Easy to get started

You don’t have to be rich to open a Chime checking account. Chime doesn’t have an initial deposit or minimum balance requirement. So you can open the account with $0 and add funds at your own pace.

If you want to share an account with a partner or family member, you’ll have to look elsewhere — Chime doesn’t offer joint checking accounts.

3. No hidden fees

Chime promises “no hidden fees.” Most notably, there are no …

  • Monthly service fees
  • Overdraft fees
  • Nonsufficient funds fees

You also won’t be charged any fees for ordering payments by check, depositing mobile checks or depositing cash at select Walgreens.

The only fee you may be charged by Chime is for out-of-network ATM and over-the-counter withdrawals, which is standard for many banks. But you can avoid this fee by using any of Chime’s network of more than 60,000 ATMs.

4. Save money with debit purchase

Chime also offers a high-yield savings account. Unlike the savings account, Chime’s checking account doesn’t pay interest. And it doesn’t offer rewards programs. But if you enroll in Chime’s automatic savings feature, you can begin saving with every debit purchase.

With automatic savings, Chime rounds up to the nearest dollar and transfers the leftover change into your savings account every time you make a purchase with your Chime Visa® Debit Card.

Round-ups can be a good way to put your savings into overdrive. Chime estimates you’ll save $360 a year by making an average of two purchases a day.

5. A ‘checking’ account without checks

The Chime Visa® Debit Card is the primary way to spend money from your account. You can swipe your debit card to make purchases at stores or enter your PIN for over-the-counter or ATM withdrawals. You can also transfer money online to friends or another one of your bank accounts.

But Chime’s checking account doesn’t give you actual paper checks to write. Instead, you’ll have access to the digital Chime checkbook, which allows you to schedule payments for Chime to send on your behalf. This won’t be very convenient if you need a check quickly.

6. A history of consumer complaints

Chime is a financial technology company that deposits your funds with banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. So even if Chime goes out of business, the FDIC will protect insured funds.

But Chime has faced a number of complaints reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some people have complained about Chime closing accounts without their permission and not returning the money in a timely fashion.

Others have had a hard time getting through to Chime after they were locked out of their accounts. While the FDIC protects your money in this sort of situation, if this were to happen to you, it could be a major headache.

7. You could get paid early with direct deposit

When you set up direct deposit, you might be able to receive your paycheck as soon as your employer makes it available, which can be up to two days before traditional banks.

Not sure if Chime is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

Ally Bank: This online bank is worth exploring if you want to open a joint account.

Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo is good for people who prefer going to a local branch for in-person banking.

About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.