With so many different online and digital banking options, it can be challenging to figure out which of the best USA digital banks is right for you. If you’ve researched your options, you’ve probably realized by now that two heavy-hitter choices are between Varo vs Chime.
Dominating the market in digital banking, these two online banks offer significant benefits that make them especially popular amongst younger generations. Because of their easy interface, great perks, and ability to help people on track with their financial goals, the decision between Varo vs Chime is difficult, because both are two great choices for online banking.
Both Varo money and Chime Bank are designed very similarly and, as a result, have many overlapping features. That being said, in our opinion, Varo bank has a slight edge on Chime, and our final verdict is that Varo is the superior digital banking service.
Varo Bank: The Basics
Varo Money is an online banking system, so you get the convenience of banking that you can’t get with one of the major banking companies. In addition, because of Varo’s easy-to-use interface, their app is a breeze to navigate, making it easier than ever to manage your finances.
Always protected and always secure, Varo Money makes it easy to bank on the go. With features like not needing good credit to open a credit card, they are an excellent resource for younger people trying to build their finances or for people trying to get back on their feet after making poor financial decisions.
Varo also keeps its banking system simple by only offering one checking account, one savings account, and one credit card. They never charge monthly maintenance fees, never require minimums, and promote the ability to get paid from your direct deposit two days ahead of traditional banks.
Chime Bank: The Basics
Chime Bank is another solid option for those starting out in their financial journey or trying to gain better control of their finances. Because of their simplified banking and great perks like overdrawing your account with no penalties, Chime Bank is an excellent digital banking service.
Chime Bank keeps their online bank simple so that you can pay attention to your finances. So say goodbye to overly complicated systems with a million different programs: at Chime, customers only have one checking account, one savings account, and one credit card.
As an online bank, Chime is only used through their highly-rated mobile bank app, which has high ratings on both Google Play and the Apple Store. In addition, because Chime works with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, you can use your Chime debit card anywhere that accepts Visa. That means you have access to more than 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance fee-free ATMs.
All you need to open a Chime account is to be a United States resident or citizen, be 18 years or older, and provide both your social security number and home address.
It is important to note that Chime technically isn’t a bank but is instead a financial service.
Both Varo and Chime offer checking accounts, and they both have similar features.
- No monthly account fees
- No transfer fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- No fees at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs in places you already shop
- Tts lack of fees
- No monthly account fees and
- Doesn’t require a minimum balance.
- No foreign transaction fees
With Varo, you can get your money early with a direct deposit. At typical banks, it can take days or even a week to access your funds. At Varo, they promote that it only takes two business days to access your funds.
Another perk of Varo checking is that you can transfer money for free and instantly to anyone else who uses Varo. Lastly, when you use your Varo debit card, you gain real rewards. This is different than most banks, which only offer rewards when using credit cards.
With Varo, you earn up to 15% cash back on select purchases and services. Plus, you automatically get money in your account every time you reach $5 in cashback. The cashback rewards are easy to track in the app, too.
Like Varo, the most significant feature Chime Bank promotes is its ability to give you access to your funds from your direct deposit up to two days ahead of typical banks. Another benefit of Chime Bank is its convenience with checks. Should you need to send a paper check, you can generate one from the Chime mobile app, and Chime will send the check in the mail for you.
Overall, both Varo and Chime are relatively comparable in their checking account benefits. There are some minor differences (Chime’s ability to send paper checks, Varo’s ability to earn cashback on debit purchases). In terms of checking accounts, the better service comes down to your individual banking needs.
Next, let’s take a look at the differences between savings account with each bank.
- No minimum account balance
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance needed to start or keep your savings account
- A high-yield savings account offers an 0.50% APY
- No monthly fees
- You’ll always earn interest (even if there are only a few cents in your account)
Varo Money has a pretty solid savings account. First, with one of the highest APYs in the country, you start earning 0.20% APY and can earn 3.00% APY on a balance of only $0.01 if you meet specific requirements. That rate is over double the national average, which is about .07.
Saving is easier than ever with Varo bank. They have two programs: Save Your Pay and Save Your Change, which works by taking a percentage (you choose the percentage) of your direct deposit and transferring it to your savings account. The Save Your Change program rounds up every transaction to the dollar and moves the amount to your savings account.
Another added benefit of a Varo savings account is that you can instantly access your funds and transfer them to your checking account.
Similar to Varo, Chime Bank has comparable features for their savings account.
Like Varo, Chime makes it easy to save with their two optional savings programs. Their Save When You Spend program takes the extra cents you spend when you use your debit card and transfers it directly to your savings account. They also have a Save When You Get Paid feature, which automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposit into your savings account when you deposit 500 dollars or more.
Chime Bank has a higher APY rate, but Varo Bank allows you to choose the percentage you’d like for their Save When You Get Paid service. But, again, these services are so similar in terms of saving accounts. Ultimately, it depends on your specific needs to determine which would be a better fit.
- You can monitor your score on your Varo Bank app for free
- Varo reports payment history to the 3 major credit bureaus
- You can use your credit card for all purchases
- No upfront deposit
- No monthly fees
- No APR
- Chime reports payments to all three major credit bureaus to build your credit
- No APR
- No monthly fees
- No minimum security deposit
There’s a lot of overlap between Varo bank and Chime bank regarding digital banking and credit cards. For example, Varo and Chime allow you to build credit if you have low, poor, or nonexistent credit. This means that if you’re just starting out and are trying to build credit from nothing, you can do so without a cosigner. It also means that you have an excellent opportunity to build your credit back up if you have poor credit.
And with Varo, applying for a credit card doesn’t impact your credit score. You can also monitor your credit account right on your Varo app for easy access.
Both Chime and Varo offer programs to automatically pay your balance on time every month in a further effort to help build up credit. However, Chime credit accounts are capped at a limit of 2,000 dollars. And since you only get one credit card when you bank with Chime, you’ll always be at that limit.
All in all, for a credit card, in our opinion, it seems as though Varo might be the superior digital banking service.
Since both Varo and Chime operate exclusively through their online platform, it’s no wonder that both their apps are user-friendly and are highly rated on app stores. The Varo app pulls in a rating of 4.6 out of 5 at the App Store and a 4.5 out of 5 at Google Play. Similarly, Chime is also highly rated on both the App Store and Google Play.
For Varo, you can easily manage your accounts, finances, savings tools and customize your push notifications to keep you on track for your financial goals. Another great feature of the Varo app is that if you misplace your card, you can lock it from the Varo app so it can’t be used. Replacement cards sent by USPS are free; expedited shipping is available for $25.00.
Chime is built for mobile, so it’s no surprise that their mobile account is excellently designed. With an intuitive interface, their app is highly rated. In addition, it has top features such as savings tools to improve your spending habits, a simple lineup of free account options, and early receipt of direct deposit payments.
However, Chime is done exclusively through their mobile service and has no in-person branches, making face-to-face service no longer an option. While this could be a problem for Varo, Chime customers appear to have more customer service problems than Varo.
Security and Liability
Both Varo and Chime accounts are always secured because all accounts are FDIC Insured. As per FDIC guidelines, all accounts are insured up to a maximum of $250,000 per depositor for each ownership category. That means that if there’s some sort of bank failure, your accounts are still secured.
In addition, since Chime and Varo work with Visa, all Varo and Chime debit card accounts are secured through Visa’s Zero Liability Policy. This means that if, say, your debit card is stolen, you do not have to pay for charges made from whoever stole your card or account information.
In this sense, both online digital banking systems are comparable, and neither one is above the other in terms of security and liability.
While both online banking services allow you to overdraw your account with no fees or interest charges, Varo allows you to overdraw a considerably less amount than Chime. With Varo, you can overdraw your account by up to $50 when making a debit card purchase, whereas with Chime, you can overdraw up to $200.
However, one major benefit that sets Varo apart from Chime is the Varo Advance Program, which gives customers a small financial cushion to help avoid overdrawing the account.
But in terms of simply being able to overdraft your account, Chime’s Spotme program is far superior as it allows you to overdraft from your accounts with zero fees for up to 200 dollars for eligible members. They’ll then apply your next deposit into your Chime Online Spending Account to your negative balance. Chime also gives eligible members boosts every month to increase your or your friends and family’s Spotme limit.
Varo fairs pretty well on review sites. On Better Business Bureau, Varo Money gets a 3.99 out of 5 stars from over 300 reviews. Customers report being happy with the features and have a positive experience with customer service representatives.
While Chime is endorsed by a slew of household names such as Forbes, The New York Times, Nerdwallet, Fast Company, and Business Insider, on certified review websites like Consumer Affairs, Chime doesn’t rate as well. For example, out of 250 reviews on Consumer Affairs, Chime pulls in an average of 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Though many customers praise the features and design of Chime Bank (early access to direct deposit, easy app interface), most customers have a poor experience with customer service and report having difficulty getting in touch with customer service representatives. In addition, when they can get in touch, some customers say they had subpar customer service interactions.
Because both Varo and Chime operate only online, in our opinion having accessible, friendly service is imperative to a digital banking service functionality and success. When you’re a customer of an online bank, the last thing you want is for you to feel like you can’t get in touch with help should you need it. That’s why Varo is far superior when it comes to reviews, ratings, and customer service.
Varo vs Chime: The Verdict
Varo and Chime have a lot of overlaps. They both operate solely online, have similar checking account and saving account features, and have very similar saving programs.
Our final verdict in the Varo vs Chime debate is that Varo Money is the better digital banking service in the current market. While it may still be worthwhile to check out the features of Chime, you can never beat excellent customer service.