There are few things more annoying in my life than recurring, nominal bank fees. I find it amazing that, even at the age of 32, few things can rile me up more than looking over a bank statement and finding a $9.99 monthly charge.
Good thing then, that Chime — a new platform that is backed by Bancorp Bank (and FDIC insured) — offers checking, savings, and debit card accounts… fee-free. And as an added bonus for all DoughRoller readers, Chime is also willing to start your account off with a free $5.
Fee-Free Means Fee-Free
The reasons why I would generally incur a fee on my checking account are somewhat universal. They are:
- My average daily balance dropped below the required amount to keep the account fee-free.
- I did not make enough debits from the account in a month.
- The account I had signed up for was discontinued, and I was automatically enrolled in a different program… one that now incurs fees.
However, Chime does not charge for any of these things.
In fact, the only fee you will ever find from using your Chime savings, checking, or debit card account is if you make a withdrawal from an ATM that is not on their network. (They currently have 24,000 different fee-free locations, though, so it’s not easy to bypass this fee).
No minimum fees, no monthly fees, and no overdraft fees. Ever. But that’s not the only reason to consider using Chime for your everyday banking needs.
The layout of Chime is simple: everyone that signs up will have access to a checking account (Chime calls this a “Spending Account”), a savings account, and a debit card.
All money that you deposit into your Chime account will initially go to your checking account. You can use that money to make everyday purchases with your debit card, use it online like a standard checking account (to send money), or write paper checks using the Chime Checkbook app.
Money from your checking account can be transferred to your savings account. Then, you can choose to keep it there or set up external transfer accounts (there is no charge to transfer cash).
What Makes Chime Different?
There are three major differences between Chime and a standard high interest savings account.
1. Chime Savings Round Ups
Every time you use your debit card to make a purchase, Chime will automatically round the change up (to the nearest $1). Then, it will deposit that change into your Chime savings account.
For example, if you make a purchase at the grocery store for $44.26, Chime will charge your debit card $45. The additional $0.74 will be transferred into your savings account automatically. This is done for every single purchase you make.
Savings round up bonuses will be deposited every Friday, and the max amount of bonus money you can earn as a result of these round ups is $500 annually. When you consider the example above, I would venture to say that hitting the $500 figure in a single year would require many thousands of annual purchases. It would be very difficult to do (meaning the cap should not be considered a negative factor).
2. High Yield Interest Rate of 0.01%
Unlike traditional banks that are now paying an APY north of 1%, Chime pays only a 0.01% APY. Your savings account, essentially will not earn an annual interest rate, so parking your money there for an extended period of time is not a wise decision.
That said, you have the ability to transfer out of the Chime savings account to an external account whenever you wish. On a balance of $10,000, a high yield savings account earning 1.15% APY would net you $115 in interest for the year. That’s money left on the table if you decide to keep your savings in Chime at all times.
3. Automatic Savings Feature + Checkbook
Chime allows all of its members to have direct deposits placed into their checking accounts. From there, users can choose to set up an automatic savings feature, which allows 10% of your direct deposit to automatically be placed in your savings account for direct deposits over $500. You’ll find this in your Chime account.
Chime Checkbook allows you to send a paper check free of charge, to anyone you need. The app can be found on any mobile device or inside of your Chime online account. Plus, there is no limit to the number of checks you can send each month. There is a limit of $5,000 per check sent, however, and $10,000 per month in total amount of checks sent.
Should You Become a Chime Customer?
When you consider what Chime has to offer, this is a terrific offer for anyone in need of a fee-free debit card and a fee-free checking account.
To anyone that cannot use a cash back credit card to make routine purchases, this is a fantastic alternative. For this reason alone, I would highly recommend Chime.
I’d also recommend Chime to anyone in need of an online checking account. The ability to send paper checks without cost is a huge plus, and it would be nice not to have to worry about unnecessary banking fees.
That said, this is not the place to park your savings. I appreciate that Chime offers the ability. Without paying a substantive interest rate, though, there are better (high yield) savings accounts available to earn a respectable return. Utilize the Chime savings account and take advantage of their automated savings tools, but also be smart and set up external savings accounts. Interest rates are on the rise and it would be foolish to miss out.