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Varo is a mobile-only bank that has an excellent high-yield savings account, cash-back rewards, and almost no fees. It also has an interest-free secured card to help people build their credit and even offers cash advances.
Our Varo review is covering all of its features, the pros and cons, and how to decide if this online-only bank is right for you.
Pros & Cons
- No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirement
- No foreign transaction fees
- Earn a high 1.20% base APY and up to 5% APY
- Interest-free credit building tool
- You only earn interest on cash balances up to $5,000
- Requires $1,000 in monthly direct deposits to unlock the best APY
- Varo cash advances can have high fees
Varo is a mobile bank that began in 2015 with the mission of lowering the cost of banking and helping its members improve their finances. Since then, Varo has grown to over four million customers, making it one of the more popular options in the crowded mobile-only banking space.
What Does Varo Offer?
There are two account types at Varo: its checking account and its high-yield savings account. Both accounts are essentially fee-free and come with numerous perks to help you manage your finances and earn rewards.
Varo Checking Account
With Varo’s checking account, you get a no-fee bank account that doesn’t have any minimum balance requirements. You also get several other banking perks like:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free ATM withdrawals at 55,000+ AllPoint ATMs
- Up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance
- Mobile check deposits through Varo’s app
- Instant and free money transfers to other Varo members
- Early paychecks up to two days before you normally get paid
You can use your Varo debit card anywhere that accepts Visa, so spending is easy. And this online checking account also pays you up to 6% cash back when you shop at eligible merchants with your Varo Bank card. Cash back deposits in your account whenever you reach $5, and there’s 50+ partner brands like Nike, Panera Bread, and Zara.
Varo Savings Account
Like its checking account, Varo also has a no-fee savings account that’s one of our favorite high-yield savings accounts right now.
You start with a 1.20% APY, which is already a very competitive rate. But if you get direct deposits of at least $1,000 per month, you get 5% APY instead. You must ensure your savings account balance isn’t higher than $5,000 at the end of the month to earn interest which is the only downside.
However, a 5% APY is tough to find. This rate makes Varo an excellent place to park your emergency fund or to hold some idle cash while you also accept direct deposits from your paycheck.
You can also set up automatic transfers from your Varo checking account to your savings account to consistently save. And Varo also has a round-up tool that rounds-up purchases to the nearest dollar and saves the extra money, similar to microsaving apps like Digit.
Varo Cash Advance
With Varo Advance, you can borrow up to $100, interest-free, to help hold you over until your next paycheck. This can help you avoid overdraft fees or having to rely on your credit card to make ends meet.
To qualify for Varo Advance, your account must be 30 days or older. You also need at least $1,000 of qualifying direct deposits into your checking, savings, or combination of the two accounts within the last 31 days. A “qualifying” deposit means its money from your paycheck, pension, or social security, so person-to-person transfers don’t count.
From there, you can borrow different amounts of cash for various fees:
- $20: Free advance.
- $50: $3 fee.
- $75: $4 fee.
- $100: $5 fee.
It’s nice that Varo has this feature for emergencies. Just note that alternatives like Chime have a free SpotMe feature so you’re not paying fees. And cash advance apps like FloatMe and Earnin are also lower on fees and can have higher cash advance limits.
Varo Believe Card
If you want to improve your credit score, the Varo Believe Secured Credit Card might be what you’re looking for. This secured credit card has no annual fees, interest, or minimum security deposit requirement. It doesn’t run a hard credit check to open a card either.
Here’s how the card works to help you build your credit:
- You transfer money from your Varo Bank account to your Varo Secured Card to create your credit limit (this is how secured cards work)
- Spend with your Varo Secured Card anywhere that accepts Visa
- Pay off your balance automatically with funds you added from your Varo Bank account
- Varo reports your payments to the three major credit bureaus and lets you monitor your score as it increases
You need $500 or more in qualifying direct deposits to qualify for the card. Additionally, your Varo Bank account can’t have a negative balance, and you can’t owe money through Varo Advance.
Varo Fees & Pricing
Pretty much all of Varo’s banking features are free, and you don’t pay monthly fees or need to meet a certain balance requirement to avoid paying.
However, some fees you can encounter include:
- Out-of-Network ATM Withdrawals: $2.50 plus potential ATM fees.
- Third-Party Cash Deposits: Up to $5.95.
- Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawals: $2.50.
You don’t pay fees for card replacements, closing your account, or for foreign transactions. If you’re tired of high bank fees, Varo is definitely a refreshing alternative.
There are several transaction limits for your Varo debit card:
- Daily Spending Limit: $2,500.
- Daily ATM Withdrawal Limit: $1,000.
- Daily Over-the Counter Cash Withdrawal Limit: $1,000.
Is Varo Bank Safe?
Yes, Varo uses encryption to keep your personal information secure. Also, Varo accounts are FDIC-insured for a combined total of $250,000. There’s also a deposit sweep program that can deposit your money in a network of FDIC insured banks if you have over $250,000 and want additional insurance. All you have to do is opt-in to the program and you get up to $1,225,000 in FDIC insurance.
Overall, Varo is a safe mobile-only bank that uses the same security measures as many other banks and FinTech companies.
How Do I Open an Account?
According to its website, opening a Varo account just takes five minutes. All you have to do is download the free app for Android or iOS. Information you provide to open your account includes:
- Full name
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Residential address
In some cases, Varo may request identity documentation to verify your identity, like a picture of your passport or government ID. In this case, it takes one to two business days to verify your identity and open an account.
How Do I Contact Varo?
You can reach Varo’s customer service by emailing [email protected] or by calling 1-877-377-8276. Phone customer support is available Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 6 PM (MT) and on weekends from 7 AM to 3 PM (MT).
At the time of writing, Varo has one of the highest APYs out of all mobile banks. And the fact you don’t pay fees or have monthly balance requirements are two advantages.
However, Varo’s main downside is its $5,000 limit on savings account earnings. It’s also not the best mobile bank for cash advances since you pay fees.
Thankfully, there are several Varo alternatives you can use that are also low-fee and offer a variety of rewards.
Best For: Cash Advances.
Like Varo, Chime doesn’t have any account fees or minimum balance requirements. And while its savings account only pays 0.50% APY, it doesn’t have the same $5,000 limit that Varo does. Plus, Chime also has a free credit-building tool and lets you get paid up to two days early.
And with Chime SpotMe, you can potentially borrow up to $200 against your upcoming paycheck to cover expenses until payday. You don’t pay fees for this service unlike Varo, making it much better for cash advances.
You can try Chime today or read our article on the best Chime alternatives for more options.
Juno (Formerly OnJuno)
Juno, formerly known as OnJuno, is another FinTech company that offers fee-free banking services. It currently pays 1.20% APY and also lets you trade popular cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum right from your account. Plus, you can earn up to 6% APY on certain crypto deposits for some easy passive income.
You don’t pay foreign transaction fees like with Varo and there’s no minimum balance requirement either. And you can also earn 5% cash back for shopping at your favorite brands.
Best For: Earning Interest.
If you like Varo for its high APY, Aspiration is another excellent alternative. It also lets members earn up to 5.00% APY, except you can earn this rate on up to $10,000. There’s also a cash-back rewards program that pays you for shopping for environmentally-friendly companies. And, if you try Aspiration’s credit card, you earn even more rewards and plant a tree after every purchase.
Plus, Aspiration has a sign-up bonus of up to $200 for opening a new account and spending $1,000 within your first 60 days.
If you want a full-service online bank, Varo isn’t for you. But if you want to earn a high interest rate on your savings and avoid bank fees, it’s one of the best mobile banks out there.
Features like Varo’s credit building secured credit card and its cash-back rewards system are also perks. We don’t recommend it for cash advances, but it’s an excellent way to earn interest on up to $5,000.
If anything, you can always park some of your money with Varo and set up direct deposits so you earn 5% APY. You can then move more of your savings over to another high-yield savings account to maximize interest.
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