If you’re looking for a digital bank, you’ve probably considered Chime, which has been the market leader for a few years. However, not all consumers who use digital banks agree that Chime is the best choice. Let’s take a closer look at Chime and some top alternatives to Chime.
The Pros and Cons of Chime
Chime Financial, Inc. is a “neobank”, offering a number of financial technology or FinTech services to consumers. Its fee-free digital bank services are actually not provided by Chime itself, but rather by its partners, The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, N.A.
Chime’s Advantages for Consumers
Chime offers two different types of account plans for consumers: a checking account and a high-yield savings account. Because these accounts are provided by Chime’s bank partners, account deposits are insured through the FDIC up to $250,000.
Chime accounts offer several attractive benefits, including the ability to receive direct-deposit funds up to two days early. Checking account owners who have also enrolled in direct deposit can incur overdrafts of up to $200 without fees. Account owners also receive a Visa debit card to use with their Chime account without a credit check.
The Chime savings account features an annual percentage yield (APY) of 2.0%, which is competitive with other digital banks’ savings accounts. There is no monthly fee and no minimum required deposit for the savings account. However, only checking account owners can open a Chime savings account.
Drawbacks to Banking With Chime
As is true of most digital banks, Chime doesn’t offer any brick-and-mortar branches for personal service. Additionally, customers can only take advantage of mobile check deposit services if they’ve also enrolled in a direct deposit program through an employer.
Of greater concern is a recent history of customer complaints regarding Chime’s closing of accounts and withholding of funds on deposit. ProPublica investigated the issue and reported on the company’s practices in 2021, noting that over 900 customers had filed complaints with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Other consumers have raised concerns about alleged fraudulent transactions in their Chime accounts, for which the company is said to have offered no assistance. Some complaints indicated that money was taken from accounts in transactions the customers insisted were unauthorized. Chime said its investigations disproved the claims.
Best Online Bank Alternatives to Chime
Now that you know a little more about this bank, let’s take a look at some reputable alternatives to Chime competing in the market today.
Ally Bank is one of the leading alternatives to Chime, offering a fairly diverse array of account types, including checking and savings accounts. One of its biggest benefits to checking customers is its lack of monthly fees and minimum balances.
Ally also offers credit cards, personal loans, and investments. Its interest rates for funds on deposit in savings accounts remain consistently among the highest in the industry at 2.75% APY for the high-yield savings account.
Ally’s business services are somewhat limited and it has no business checking account on offer.
It also does not support outgoing wire transfers to international recipients, although customers can receive international transfers. As with most digital banks, it does not provide physical locations and there’s no way to deposit cash.
Some consumers have raised concerns about the length of time Ally takes to clear a deposited check.
Aspiration offers a unique way to bank online for consumers who want to put their money where their conscience is.
Built on a promise that funds on deposit will never be used to finance ecologically damaging industries and businesses, Aspiration also rewards its consumers when they patronize brands that demonstrate social awareness and consciousness with cash back rewards from between 3% and 5% on qualifying purchases made with the Aspiration debit card.
Remarkably, customers can set their own monthly fee for this account through a “Pay What Is Fair” term—even if the customer wants to pay nothing at all. Customers can upgrade to Aspiration Plus accounts for added benefits and a small monthly fee.
Aspiration doesn’t quite have the breadth of account options that some other companies offer, and it doesn’t pay interest on standard saving account deposits.
If you’re committed to environmental causes, Aspiration is an option you’ll want to consider. If you’re not, Aspiration’s support of those interests won’t necessarily add value.
3. Axos Bank
Axos Bank offers a number of different types of accounts and banking products for both consumers and small businesses.
You can choose from several types of no-fee accounts, from the basic, no-frills Essential account to CashBack checking with 1% rewards for signature-based transactions. There are even specialized accounts for specific demographics, such as Golden Checking for customers over 54 years old and First Checking for young teens.
Axos products aren’t without some downsides. For example, many digital banking companies offer increasing interest rates for their CD products over time, whereas Axos maintains its rate no matter what the CD’s term.
You’ll also pay some transaction fees for certain services, including international card payments.
4. Capital One 360
The Capital One 360 Checking account combines the best features of neobanks with some benefits of traditional banks, such as physical branch locations across the U.S., allowing users in-person access to assistance when needed.
This fee-free account comes with no minimum balance requirements.
You can choose between an online-only account or a hybrid form that allows physical access. Many customers appreciate the stability of a more established, long-lived company that’s part of an expansive ATM network. That makes it one of the most popular Chime alternatives on this list.
Capital One’s digital accounts usually do not permit international wires, so if that’s important to you, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Additionally, users are charged fees for certain types of transactions, such as outgoing wire transfers to other U.S. recipients.
Current offers mobile-only checking accounts with features that especially appeal to parents and teenagers.
Customers enjoy low fees overall but be aware that there are some fees that can’t be avoided such as $3 fee + 3% International Transaction fee for cash withdrawals at an International ATM, for instance. Basic checking accounts are no-fee, as well as the premium version, and the popular Teen Banking account.
Current accounts do not offer the opportunity to earn interest on deposited funds. Additionally, if you’re searching for more robust or sophisticated banking solutions with a variety of features and tools, you might find Current products a bit too restrictive and bare-bones.
If you lose your debit card, you’ll have to fork over $5 for the replacement, or $20 for an express fee to get it as soon as possible.
6. Discover Bank
Discover, a major credit card company with over 40 million customers, also offers online banking services.
Its accounts carry no annual fees and extremely competitive interest rates on its money market and savings accounts, up to five times the national average for similar accounts. The company provides an intuitive digital interface with a good user experience (UX).
Discover’s products also extend to personal loans, home equity loans, and several credit cards with varying types of bonuses and rewards offered.
As with many digital banks, Discover Bank does not offer in-person services or brick-and-mortar branch offices. You can also probably find better initial sign-up bonuses from other providers, but if that matters less to you than keeping most or all of your digital banking at one location, you’ll want to give Discover a closer look.
7. One Finance
One Finance offers savings and checking services to consumers featuring a commitment to competitive interest rates for savings accounts and lines of credit through its partnership with Coastal Community Bank. It wraps both savings and checking into a single account that offers a debit card, overdraft protection, early access to direct-deposit funds, and savings benefits such as an APY of 1.00%.
That single account might appeal to many consumers in its simplicity, but it might also strike others as highly limited. And, like other digital banks, it offers no physical branch locations or offices for in-person service.
Quontic bills itself as an “adaptive digital bank” that offers interest on checking accounts with a $100 minimum opening deposit in an attempt to meet the needs of consumers who are underserved or shut out by traditional banking institutions.
It offers a diverse array of checking and savings accounts, as well as mortgage lending services.
Quontic does have some physical locations for mortgage lending services in the U.S.
Although Quontic charges no fees for many of the most common checking and banking services, such as incoming wires, cashier’s checks, money orders, and overdrafts, you will incur fees for a dormant account, stop payments, and other services.
Revolut lets its customers choose from three tiered account levels: Standard, Premium, and Metal. Each account carries its own set of terms, from the no-fee Standard to the $15.39 per month Metal account.
It offers users free transfers to other Revolut customers, early direct deposit access, and a competitive rewards program including cash back for purchases made at partner vendors.
Customers will also appreciate Revolut’s financial tools, including analytics and budgeting aids.
Revolut has no brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S. or elsewhere, and some features are limited to other geographic markets outside U.S. borders. Additionally, in order to access the greater benefits of the premium accounts, customers must pay high monthly fees.
Varo Bank offers no-fee checking accounts through its own banking charter (no partner banks). You can choose from a checking account, a savings account, and cash advances, as well as take advantage of financial planning and credit-building tools to help you reach your money goals faster. Varo products mostly carry no fees.
Varo is a member of a large ATM network, assuring access to cash when and where you need it.
The APY is fairly competitive starting at 2% for customers who receive direct deposits of $1,000 per month or more. Customers can later qualify for an APY of 5% by receiving direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more, and ending the month with a positive balance in both the Varo Bank Account and Savings Account.
On the downside, Varo offers no sign-up bonuses, whereas many competitors do. Like most digital banks, it has no physical locations. And some users may find its account choices somewhat restricted.
Compare Chime Alternatives
|Bank||Monthly Account Service Fee||Minimum Balance Requirements||Free Debit Card||Overdraft Fees||Get Paid Early||Savings APY||Credit Builder|
|Aspiration||$0-$7.99||$10||Yes||$0||Yes||Up to 3.00%-5.00%||No|
|Capital One 360||$0||$0||Yes||$0||Yes||3.00%||Yes|
|Revolut||$0-$15.39||$0||Yes||$0||Yes||Up to 1.95%||No|
Bank on Digital for Your Financial Needs
If you’re looking for a new bank, digital banks are an increasingly attractive option. Chime and these alternatives to Chime offer many of the same banking services you’d get from a physical bank, often at attractive terms.
A little research and time can help you identify the company that comes closest to fitting your needs.
Consider questions based on common and key features covered above, such as:
- Will you be opening both a checking and a savings account?
- Do you anticipate making or receiving international payments?
- Do you value simplicity over complexity? Would you prefer a single account that meets most of your needs, or a few accounts that, between them, tick all your boxes?
- How important is earning interest to you?
- Do you want to explore other financial tools such as investing or cryptocurrency?
Let your answers to these questions guide your search. Be sure to look up independent reviews for any digital bank, whether it’s Chime or one of these alternatives to Chime, and don’t hesitate to reach out to customer support for your top candidates and ask any remaining questions you may have. Sometimes, a positive customer service experience can tip the scales in favor of a decision.