Chime Banking App Review: $50 Bonus via Referral

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With rates drops everywhere and no end in sight, there are no high APY CDs to open, so I’ve been picking up various cash bonuses while stuck at home instead. Chime is a popular fintech bank app with a $50 cash bonus after a payroll direct deposit of $200+ within the first 45 days of new account opening. To get this offer, you must be referred by an existing user. Here is my Chime $50 referral link. Thanks if you use it! It’s a very simple bonus. Here is a screenshot of my bonus appearing nine minutes after my direct deposit:

Here is the fine print:

*In order for both the referred individual and the referring Chime member to each qualify for and receive the $50.00 referral reward, the following conditions must be met: The referred individual may not have previously opened a Chime Spending Account (“Account”); they must open a new Account between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020; they must open the new account using the referring Chime member’s unique referral link; and they must receive in the new Account a qualifying direct deposit of $200.00 or more within 45 days of opening. The qualifying direct deposit must be made by the referred individual’s employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends 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 are not qualifying direct deposits.

Why is Chime so popular? Chime is the second-most popular online-only bank in the US (only behind Ally) with over 3 million customers and a recent valuation of $5.8 billion. Yet, it pays no interest on checking and only a tiny interest on savings (thus my previous lack of interest). I learned that Chime is very attractive to those who are “unbanked” or underbanked”, those people who don’t like traditional banks due to their monthly fees and $35-a-pop overdraft charges. Instead, Chime offers:

  • No monthly fees. No minimum balance. No minimum opening deposit.
  • No credit check. No Chexsystems check.
  • Access to paycheck 2 days early. If you usually get paid on Friday, you can spend the money on Wednesday.
  • No overdraft fees, and they may even “spot” you up to $100 until you pay them back.
  • Free ATM withdrawals at 38,000+ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

For many folks that have a lot of activity but maintain a low balance, this fee structure is better getting 4% APY or even 10% APY. The key is avoiding those crazy overdraft charges from the big banks and also the various $2 fees hidden inside many prepaid cards. Chime’s only major fee is a $2.50 fee if you make a cash withdrawal at an out-of-network ATM. Chime earns revenue via interchange fees when you buy things on your debit card.

As I opened an account, I noticed that Chime treats you like have never had a checking account before. The sign-up is easily done completely on your phone in a few minutes. You don’t need to deposit a single cent to open. They send basic “Chime 101” emails explaining the effect of bank holidays and how to set up direct deposit.

There is no credit check, so you can have bad credit and even a bad Chexsystems record (meaning you probably left another bank with a negative balance). Nearly every major bank uses Chexsystems to screen new customers. Otherwise, they are referred to as a “second chance” bank account. Chime might have the lowest fees of all such “second chance” banks.

Chime has the most of the usual bank stuff. Debit card. Paper check deposit via mobile app. Optional savings account that helps you save automatically (but pays astonishingly little interest, just like Bank of America and Chase!). FDIC-insured via partner banks, either Stride Bank or The Bancorp Bank. The only major thing missing besides bank branches is that they don’t provide paper checks. Depositing cash is available, but the third-party physical stores may charge a fee.

Bottom line. Chime is an interesting bank startup that targets the underbanked and unbanked by offering a much better fee structure to those with access to direct deposit. No overdraft fees, no credit checks, no Chexsystems. Currently, there is a $50 bonus available only via referral.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

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  1. Just curious, when you sign up for multiple account bonuses, don’t you have to deal with a 1099 for each one? I would try to harvest account sign up bonuses like this, but I don’t want to deal with the taxes and the forms you have to juggle.

    • You get a 1099-INT, which takes a minute in TurboTax to enter, less if it is from a same bank as last year. I usually have over 10 of them at tax time, and I don’t consider it a pain. Tax lots are much more of a hassle when you don’t have auto-import.

  2. How do we earn 4% apy?

    • You could’ve gotten a 4% APY CD in 2018 and various rewards checking accounts paid 4% in 2019. Those are gone again for a while, so it’s onto what else is available.

  3. Katie Cox says

    I’m curious how your deposit from yourself counted as a direct deposit as the fine print seems to exclude that type of deposit. Could you explain further?

    • Many promos require a “payroll” direct deposit. This makes it more likely you’ll switch all your banking needs over to them. Yet all direct deposits = ACH transfers. Many people can split their direct deposit into multiple sources, including myself, but it’s a bit of a hassle and there is a delay in the timing. So sometimes you can make a different kind of transfer and it still works and saves time. Sometimes you try and it doesn’t work, just how it goes. (You do get 45 days here.) I had some existing funds in Apple Cash and you can withdraw from Apple Cash into a bank account with the account/routing number and so I tried it, but it is technically not supposed to work so I can’t guarantee you that it will work for anyone else in the future.

  4. Steve Swinehart says

    Small print says that an ACH from another account does not count.
    What did you do?

  5. Can you close the account after receiving $50 bonus or do you have to keep the account open for period of time?

    • I don’t see anything about a minimum holding period, and I don’t see an early closure fee. There are no monthly fees though, so I am not in a hurry to close mine.

  6. Thank you Jonathan for the post, 2Qs:
    1) you received the bonus minutes after you made the $200 deposit, doesn’t it require direct deposit first?
    2) Will ACH count as Direct Deposit? Social security takes 2 months to change bank.

    Always appreciate your post. Read it daily. Best wishes.

  7. Cooper's Dad says

    Is it possible that the $50 referral bonus they’ve credited to you is not your own $50 bonus as the recipient of a referral, but rather a reward you earned by referring someone else who has opened a Chime account? Otherwise it doesn’t make sense they would pay your new account bonus before you’ve earned it with a qualifying ACH credit.
    If that $50 really is your welcome reward, I’d bet that if you tried to close the account right now, they would withhold the $50 bonus b/c it has not yet been earned with a qualifying ACH deposit. It’s not a sustainable business model otherwise.

    • I hadn’t referred anyone (or even generated the link) before taking that screenshot, so it could only be that the 200 was my qualifying direct deposit.

    • Hey Jonathan,
      For someone who has bad credit, does this help rebuild their credit so they can eventually get an account at a normal bank? I work with people with these issues and usually refer them to Bank On programs in their area. I want to make sure Chime isn’t predatory. Those folks already have enough issues.

  8. Does the account help the unbanked build credit through Chex? I work with a lot of these folks and usually tell them to check Bank On program in their area. Want to make sure Chime isn’t predatory before I send anyone there.

  9. Since Chime is an online checking account, I don’t think this would help with rebuilding credit. I’d look into credit cards that are aimed toward low credit score folks…just watch out for interest rates/fees, and make sure you pay off your balance every month.

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