Personal Finance

Best Neobanks for 2021

A neobank is a tech company that partners with an established bank to offer specialized services. They are sprouting up every day so let’s compare the features and fees of the top neobanks on the market.

Editor's Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

As technology becomes an even greater part of everyday life, more tech companies are looking for new ways to integrate themselves into customers’ routines and to provide them with valuable services.

This is one of the reasons behind the rise of neobanks: partnerships between tech businesses and established banks to offer unique banking tools to consumers.

Neobanks are exciting and offer many options that traditional banks can’t or won’t. If you’re looking for a high-tech bank, well cover some of the top neobanks on the market.

What Are Neobanks?

Neobanks are formed through partnerships between tech companies and existing banks. The tech company comes up with an idea for a new or unique type of banking service. They set up an app to offer that service to customers and partner with an established bank to handle the banking side of the operation.

This means that the tech company can focus on its core competencies: offering highly functional mobile or online apps and innovating new and exciting banking services. In return, the partner bank gets access to new customers who open accounts with the neobank. Because the money is held with the traditional bank, neobanks are able to offer FDIC protection to their customers.

Unlike traditional banks, neobanks usually focus on a few specific services. Checking accounts are among the most commonly-offered accounts by neobanks. Products like savings accounts and CDs are less common.

What Are the Most Important Features to Look for in Neobanks?

Neobanks are usually designed to solve a specific problem or with a specific goal in mind. For example, Aspiration was designed to help environmentally conscious people bank in a way that can help them support green businesses. Others try to help customers avoid fees or access their paychecks early.

The number one thing to look for in a neobank is whether its unique value proposition matches your desires and needs. If you’re not concerned about the environment, a neobank focused on being green won’t appeal. However, if you want a checking account that offers cash back rewards, there might be a neobank out there for you.

Beyond that, you want to look for the same features you’d be looking for at a traditional bank. Make sure the neobank offers the types of accounts you need. Also, look for things like low or no monthly fees and perks like ATM fee reimbursements.

The Best Neobanks

There are many neobanks out there, with more popping up every day. If you’re in the market for a new bank account, these are some of the top contenders.

BankMonthly FeeAPYMinimum BalanceFeatures
ChimeNone0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) 1- 8x2 the national average! on savingsNone-Savings round ups
-60,000+ fee-free ATMs
-Lock and unlock your debit card from the app
-Get direct deposits two days early
AspirationPay what is fair
$5.99 / month for Aspiration+
Up to 1.00% APY with Aspiration+None ($10 to open)-Deposits won’t fund fossil fuels
-Up to 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases
-One out-of-network ATM fee reimbursed each month
Revolut$0 - $16.99 per monthUp to 0.07% on savingsNone-Exchange between 28+ fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies
-Card security features
-Travel benefits
RobinhoodNone0.50%None-Fee-free investing with linked brokerage account
-Up to $1.25 million in FDIC insurance
-75,000 domestic and 15,000 international fee-free ATMs.
Wealthfront CashNone0.35%None-$1 million in FDIC insurance
-Fast transfers to linked investing portfolio
-Automation tools
LendingClub BankingNone0.15%None-Unlimited ATM fee rebates
-Earn cash back on debit card purchases
-Variety of financial services available
UnifimoneyVariesup to 0.20%None ($100 to open)-Automatic investments
-Rewards credit card that adds money to your portfolio
-Lending services
N26NoneNoneNone-2 ATM fee reimbursements per month
-Savings tools
-Earn cash back on debit card purchases
LiliNoneNoneNone-Freelancer-focused account
-Card security features
-Tax tools

Chime

  • Fees: None
  • APY: 0.50% on savings
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: Savings round-ups, 60,000+ fee-free ATMs, lock and unlock your debit card from the app, get direct deposits two days early

Chime is a neobank offering both checking and savings accounts, making it easy for customers to access their money and grow their savings without needing to open a separate account.

The Spending account is Chime’s equivalent of a checking account. There is no monthly fee to keep the account open and no overdraft fees to worry about. You can also use more than 60,000 ATMs, many located at major retailers, to withdraw cash without paying a fee.

If you don’t work with cash regularly, you’ll enjoy the option to lock and unlock your debit card from inside the app. This can protect you from fraud and help you control your spending. You’ll also get access to direct deposits from your employer up to two days early.

The Savings Account is a basic savings account offering 0.50% APY. You can add to your balance with manual and automatic transfers. You can also round up your debit card purchases to the next dollar, depositing the additional money to your savings automatically.

Once you have cash in your savings account, you can use it to secure a credit builder credit card. You can qualify for the card even with no credit or poor credit and use it to start building your credit history.

For more information, check out our full Chime review.

Chime SpotMe® Disclosure - Eligibility requirements and overdraft limits apply. 

Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

1Chime cannot guarantee when files are sent by the IRS and funds can be made available.

^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on payer 

Chime APY Disclosure - 1The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of November 1, 2021. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest. 2The average national savings account interest rate of 0.06% is determined by FDIC as of November 1, 2021 based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Visit https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/ to learn more.

Aspiration

  • Fees: Pay what is fair or $5.99 / month for Aspiration+
  • APY: Up to 1.00% APY with Aspiration+
  • Minimum Balance: None ($10 to open)
  • Features: Deposits won’t fund fossil fuels, up to 10% cashback on Conscience Coalition purchases, one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursed each month

Aspiration is a neobank for the socially conscious. The company focuses on trying to stay green and making sure that customer deposits won’t be used to fund fossil fuel businesses or exploration.

The company uses a unique pricing model that lets customers set the monthly fee that they feel is fair, even if that fee is $0 per month. Customers can optionally sign up for Aspiration+ which costs $5.99 per month or $71.88 per year. Aspiration+ augments the services that Aspiration offers.

Customers can open both spending and savings accounts with Aspiration and get access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs. You’ll also earn cashback when you use your Aspiration card to shop at certain green businesses.

Aspiration+ customers earn a higher rate of interest, more cash back, and get one ATM fee reimbursed per month, making it a good deal for many of the neobanks customers.

Beyond the spending and savings account, Aspiration offers a credit card. The company claims that it plants a tree every time you use your card, which means you can have a positive impact on the environment when you use the card. There are also climate-focused investment funds that you can buy shares in. Aspiration offers both taxable accounts and retirement accounts if you want to invest in its funds.

Related: 5 Options When You Can’t Open a Bank Account

Revolut

  • Fees: $0 - $16.99 per month
  • APY: Up to 0.07%
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: Exchange between 28+ fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies, card security features, travel benefits

Revolut is a fintech company that aims to make it easy for customers to exchange between different currencies. If you’re a frequent traveler, that might make it the right bank for you.

You can quickly and easily exchange your money between more than 28 currencies in seconds and send those funds to your friends through the Revolut app. Other travel benefits include overseas medical insurance, delayed baggage insurance, and flight insurance, and free lounge passes when your flights get delayed.

Domestically, customers will enjoy fee-free ATM withdrawals and the ability to get paid up to two days early when they sign up for direct deposit. Other perks include the ability to lock and unlock your debit card or make single-use card numbers for online purchases, which can help you keep your card safe.

Revolut’s basic service is free to use but to unlock its best features, such as overseas insurance, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee as high as $16.99. It’s important to consider whether the benefits of Revolut are worth the cost as even some of the most expensive traditional banks charge less each month.

Robinhood

  • Fees: None
  • APY: 0.50%
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: Fee-free investing with a linked brokerage account, up to $1.25 million in FDIC insurance, 75,000 domestic and 15,000 international fee-free ATMs

Robinhood is a popular investing app that is known for offering fee-free stock and options trading. The company also offers a cash management account which functions as a combination checking and savings account.

Like a checking account, Robinhood’s cash management account comes with a debit card you can use to make purchases or withdraw cash at an ATM. Like a savings account, the account pays interest on your balance.

Your cash management account is linked to your Robinhood brokerage account, so you can sell investments to fund the account or use your cash to quickly invest. You can also transfer money into and out of the account electronically.

Robinhood splits your balance between five banks, giving the account up to $1.25 million in FDIC insurance, making it a great place for people with large balances that they want to keep secure.

For more info, check out our full review of Robinhood.

Advertiser Disclosure – This advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and Doughroller, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. Doughroller is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.

Wealthfront Cash

  • Fees: None
  • APY: 0.35%
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: $1 million in FDIC insurance, fast transfers to linked investing portfolio, automation tools

Wealthfront is a robo-advisory company that offers a cash management account. Like Robinhood’s cash management account, Wealthfront Cash combines aspects of checking and savings accounts.

The cash management account comes with a debit card you can use to make purchases and withdraw cash. There’s also a bill payment function that you can use to pay things like utility or phone bills.

Leveraging its robo-advisory technology and experience, Wealthfront adds a suite of automation tools to its cash management accounts. For example, you can automate savings and let Wealthfront automatically track your budget for you.

If you also sign up for Wealthfront’s robo-advisory services, you can quickly and easily transfer money between your cash account and investment portfolio, making it even easier to access your investments or buy additional shares when you want to.

For more information, check out our full review of the Wealthfront Cash Account.

LendingClub Banking

  • Fees: None
  • APY: Up to 0.15% on checking
  • Minimum Balance: None ($100 to open)
  • Features: Unlimited ATM fee rebates, earn cash back on debit card purchases, variety of financial services available

LendingClub Banking is a more traditional bank that offers many of the perks that fintech companies have.

Like a fintech company, LendingClub Banking offers fee-free checking accounts with lots of perks, including unlimited rebates for fees charged by other banks’ ATMs and cashback on debit card purchases. That makes it a great choice for frequent cash users or those without rewards credit cards.

LendingClub Banking also offers services that most fintech companies don’t. For example, LendingClub offers business banking services and personal loans.

If you’re looking for a high-tech bank with a strong checking account, LendingClub Banking could be a solid choice. For more information, check out our full review of LendingClub Banking.

Unifimoney

  • Fees: Varies
  • APY: Up to 0.20%
  • Minimum Balance: None ($100 to open)
  • Features: Automatic investments, rewards credit card that adds money to your portfolio, lending services

Unifimoney is an investing-focused fintech company that also offers a checking account. The checking account comes with all of the basic features you’d expect, including a debit card and checkbook. The account has a $100 minimum opening deposit and will charge a monthly fee unless you deposit $2,000 or more each month or maintain a minimum balance of $20,000. However, the company does not clearly state what it will charge if you fail to meet those requirements.

You can link your cash account to Unifimoney’s investment service. You can use Unifimoney to easily invest in cryptocurrencies, precious metals, stocks, ETFs, or sign up for a robo-advisory service that will manage your portfolio.

Unifimoney will also soon release a credit card that offers cashback redeemable as gold, bitcoin, or cash contributions to your investment account. That means you’ll get rewarded with investments each time you use the card.

Beyond the credit card, Unifimoney also offers lending services including student loan refinancing and home loans.

*Editorial Note: This offer is no longer available. Please visit the Unifimoney website for current terms.

N26

  • Fees: None
  • APY: None
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: 2 ATM fee reimbursements per month, savings tools, earn cash back on debit card purchases

N26 is a mobile-focused fintech company that offers one simple account, the N26 account. It’s a fee-free account that has no minimum balance requirements to worry about.

The account comes with a number of perks, including the ability to get paid up to two days early and savings automation tools. For example, you can sign up to have your debit card purchases rounded up to the next dollar, with the difference going to one of your savings Spaces.

With N26 you can set up Spaces to keep track of your savings. You can set up multiple Spaces, making it easy to save for multiple goals and keep track of your progress.

Your debit card also gets a boost with N26. You can earn cashback from popular retailers when you use the card, or use it to withdraw cash from an ATM. N26 has a network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs and also reimburses two out-of-network ATM fees per month.

Lili

  • Fees: None
  • APY: None
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Features: Freelancer-focused account, card security features, tax tools

Lili is a freelancer-focused fintech company that offers a business checking account. This checking account includes tools that will make it easier for freelancers to manage their money.

The account has no minimum balances and no monthly fees. You can also use the linked debit card to withdraw cash at more than 38,000 ATMs nationwide.

Tax preparation tools are the real benefit of Lili. Your account will keep track of your income and expenses and automatically categorize your finances to help make it easier for you to file your taxes and take every deduction you’re eligible for. Additionally, Lili can automatically set aside money to pay self-employment taxes.

For more information, check out our full review of Lili.

How Did We Choose the Best Neobank?

When looking at neobanks, we considered a few things.

The most important thing is whether the neobank offers a valuable service. You can get a basic checking account from almost any bank. A good neobank has to offer something unique, like unlimited ATM fee rebates or some other perk to differentiate it from the competition.

Another important factor is cost. Most neobanks have fee-free accounts, but there are a few that charge a monthly fee. For the account to be worth opening, the benefits of the account must be worth paying for.

Which Neobank Is Best For You?

Which neobank is right for you depends on your personal situation and what you’re looking for in a bank account.

If you use cash on a regular basis, neobanks that offer large ATM networks and ATM fee rebates are the best choice for you. Someone looking to integrate their banking and investing might want to work with a company like Robinhood or Wealthfront.

Think about what you like and dislike about your current bank, then consider whether there’s a neobank that addresses your current bank’s drawbacks.

Neobanks vs. Digital Banks

Neobanks are distinct from digital banks. Digital banks are largely traditional banks that offer their banking services online and through mobile apps. Some operate purely online while others are brick and mortar banks that have expanded to offer online services as well.

Digital banks typically have a full set of banking services, including deposit accounts and lending.

By contrast, neobanks are usually operated by technology companies in partnership with traditional banks. They often offer just one type of account and aim to meet specific needs, such as designing an account specifically for freelancers or eliminating overdraft fees for frequent overdrafters.

FAQs

Are neobank accounts real bank accounts?

Yes, the accounts offered by neobanks are real bank accounts. Most neobanks partner with traditional banks that hold customers’ money and handle the banking side of things while the neobank handles the technology and innovation.

Are neobanks safe?

Yes, neobanks are safe to use. Most neobanks partner with traditional banks that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, so they receive the same level of FDIC protection.

The FDIC offers insurance for up to $250,000 per depositor, per account type at covered banks. If the bank is unable to return the money you deposited, the FDIC will reimburse you for the amount lost.

Can you get a loan from a neobank?

Whether a neobank offers loans will depend on the bank in question. Some neobanks offer loan products, such as credit cards or other types of loans. However, most neobanks tend to focus on just one or two products, most often a checking account or cash management account, and don’t offer loans.

Bottom Line

Neobanks are exciting newcomers to the world of banking and their innovative offerings could be a great fit for your financial needs. Take the time to look at the different neobanks and compare their accounts. You just might find the right account for you.


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