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As freelancers, my husband and I have redone our budgeting method about 50 times. With fluctuating incomes, sticking to the budget can get pretty complicated. While we finally nailed down the basics, there was one category we were ignoring altogether: Fun money.
We had our bills paid, set aside an ample amount of savings, and then mostly just sat on the rest until it was time to budget again. We found ourselves either spending too much on date nights or just forgoing them altogether depending on the month. Since we went nowhere for about two full years during the height of the pandemic, we realized pretty quickly that we needed to start prioritizing actually having fun again!
That’s when we did some research and ultimately landed on Chime®. We wanted a separate bank account that only housed our spending money, but we needed that account to be accessible and worth opening. Chime fit the bill, and they have yet to disappoint.
In case you’re wondering, no this isn’t a sponsored post for Chime. I’m just a real customer who also happens to be a personal finance writer. And when I heard that Investor Junkie was looking for stories from writers about the products that they personally use, I volunteered to share some of the reasons that I made the switch to Chime (and why I’m happy that I did).
The Short Version:
- Chime offers Checking and Savings Accounts with absolutely no fees2 or minimum requirements.
- With their automatic savings feature, Round Ups^, that rounds up your purchases, you can use Chime to save for your various savings goals.
- The interest you’ll earn on your Chime’s Savings Account is far higher than interest you’d earn through credit unions and other big-name banks.
What Is Chime?
Technically, Chime isn’t a bank, they’re a fintech company. They partner with other banks to offer you the traditional banking services you’re looking for. Through these partnerships, they can keep a low overhead. They also make up their profits by the kickbacks they receive from their partners whenever a customer makes a transaction. This means they don’t have to pass on fees or minimum balance requirements to their customers.
Chime was founded in 2012 on the heels of the financial crisis with the vision of being a free and flexible option for folks who were tired of the fees attached to traditional banks.
As far as products go, Chime offers three accounts:
Checking account – Their checking account is a fee-free2, completely online checking account. It comes with 24/7 mobile banking, 60,000 fee-free ATMs6, and no membership fees.
Savings account – Chime’s Savings Account is also an online, fee-free account2. You’ll earn 2.00% APY7 on your balance and you can save automatically. Account is optional and requires a checking account.
Credit Builder account – The Credit Builder account9 comes with a Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card that has no annual fee and no interest rate. You’ll move money to your secured Credit Builder account and that will be your credit limit. Spend the money, make on-time monthly payments, and Chime reports those to all the credit bureaus8.
>>> Check out our Chime Review here.
Why I’m In It for the Long Run
In addition to helping us carve out fun money without any additional fees, I fell pretty hard and fast for Chime’s other features. Here are things that I love about Chime.
💡Chime Has No Fees2…Really
I hate paying bank fees. They always end up eating away at the little interest I earn. Many banks dutifully claim “no hidden fees,” and often they’re right, they have no hidden fees, but that doesn’t mean zero fees. With Chime, I have yet to run into a single fee.
Chime has even gotten rid of one of the most common, and often most costly fees: Overdraft fees. With Chime SpotMe®, you can overdraft your account up to $200 and not face membership fees5. While it’s never recommended to spend money that’s not yours, it’s a nice perk if you forget to check your account balance before making a big purchase.
💡It’s Never Been Easier For Me to Sign Up For an Account
The reason it took so long for me to switch banks, in part, was because I hate the tediousness of signing up for anything. Inevitably, I have to get up and search through a box of papers that I hope are all the important documents I need.
Chime, on the other hand, claims their sign-up process takes just two minutes. That’s pretty spot-on — it took me just under that. This allowed my husband and I to immediately start implementing the budgeting system we had talked about. Yes, we had to wait a few days for the debit cards to come in, but that’s to be expected.
Related >>> How to Transfer Your Savings Account
💡Account Alerts Help Me Stick to My Budget
The whole reason I set up a Chime account was to be able to stick to my fun money budget. That means date nights and any miscellaneous spending that isn’t a necessity goes on my Chime card. In the past, this was hard to keep track of without constantly looking at my account, which — let’s be honest — no one likes to do on a regular basis.
Chime goes beyond just sending you notifications when you have a low balance (although they do that as well). Every morning, Chime texts me a friendly reminder of what my current balance is on my account. I also have notifications set so whenever I spend money at all on the card, Chime alerts me and sends me a message with my new balance. It saves me from having to constantly check my account to see how much I have left to spend.
💡Automatic Savings Allows Me to Save For Other Goals
While both my husband and I enjoy having a little extra money to spend on the things we want, we both wanted the option to save some of our spending money for larger purchases, eventual vacations, or just more extravagant date nights. We found that Chime makes this incredibly easy to do.
They have a Round Ups^ feature that rounds up all of your Chime debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the money into a Chime Savings Account. While this takes a while to add up, it gives you a good head start towards your savings goals. And just like with a checking account, Chime promises no fees2 or minimum balance requirements whatsoever.
Related >>> Are Round-Up Savings Apps the Best Way to Save in 2022?
💡I Earn a Decent Interest Rate
Before switching to Chime, we used a credit union to park our spending money. This earned us next to nothing in interest each year. We were lucky if we each saw $0.50/month in interest payments come into our accounts.
One of the driving factors in switching to Chime is the interest we could earn. While the checking account doesn’t offer any interest (most checking accounts don’t), our savings accounts offer us 2.00% APY7. That’s not the highest rate that you can find out there today, but according to Chime, it’s about 11x the national average.
Compare top high-yield savings accounts here >>>
💡There are Actually ATMs Near Me
When you live in a rural area like we do, it’s difficult to find ATMs that don’t charge over $4 in fees for each withdrawal. I honestly thought this wasn’t going to be a problem. I use an online bank, I thought I’d never need cash.
Well, I was wrong. As it turns out, I do take cash out quite a bit. I use it at local farmers markets, where I do a good portion of my grocery shopping. I also use it to budget on categories I really can’t go over in. In short, I was spending $20+ on ATM fees every month just to access my own cash.
Chime, on the other hand, actually has a large selection of ATMs around me:
Through a partnership with global ATM giant Cardtronics, Chime offers over 60,000+ free ATMs around the country6. That means Chime actually seems to cover most areas — a simple, but appreciated, money-saving feature.
Read Our Full Chime Review
Chime has been a welcome relief from banks that charge hidden fees and have a sign-up process that takes forever. Their automatic savings feature helps me save for large goals, their 60,000+ ATMs help me get cash without paying ever-rising ATM fees6, and their alerts keep me accountable to my budget. And it’s all tied together by a sleekly-designed seafoam green debit card.
💸 The best recs from our experts 💸
Chime Disclosures – *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.
^ Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.
2 There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Chime Savings Account.
5 Chime SpotMe® is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
6 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
7 The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of August 25, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
8 On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.
9 Chime Credit Building – To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be made by your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to thich Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.