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Neobanks are financial technology — or fintech — companies that typically offer mobile-focused banking accounts with eye-catching features such as low-cost credit or cash-back rewards. Some established neobanks offer loans, credit cards or investing products, too. They generally operate without branches and, since most neobanks lack banking licenses, partner with banks to provide protection from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., among other things. All neobanks on this list have FDIC-insured accounts.
» Learn more: What is a neobank?
The number of fintech firms that can be called neobanks keeps growing. From 2018 to 2020, neobanks skyrocketed from 60 to 256 worldwide, according to a report by the business strategy firm Exton Consulting. With more players comes more competition, and some once-innovative services are becoming more common among neobanks, such as two-day early access to direct deposits and free access to nationwide ATM networks. And some digital wallets, such as Cash App and Venmo, are competing with neobanks by offering some of these same features.
Neobanks are finding ways to differentiate themselves by appealing to certain groups, like freelancers or international travelers, or offering perks you might not find at traditional banks. Here’s an overview of how some current and upcoming neobanks try to stand out.
For high-yield savings
Founded in 2013, Chime is one of the biggest neobanks with over 12 million customers. Partnered with two banks*, it offers checking (called “spending”) and savings accounts, both without monthly fees**, and a secured credit card you can use to build credit. Chime’s savings account has a competitive interest rate of 0.50% annual percentage yield*** with no minimum balance, no maximum amount for earning interest, and no monthly costs. (The Chime Spending Account is required to open a savings account; the Savings Account is optional.) The spending account offers free access to over 60,000 ATMs** nationwide, and for customers with direct deposits, a fee-free overdraft program that covers up to $200. Cash deposits are available at big retailers, a service not all neobanks provide. The sign-up process can be easier than at traditional banks since there’s no check on credit or previous banking records, but Chime has a history of abrupt account closures.
Varo Bank offers checking, savings, and cash advances. Founded in 2015 and originally operating with bank partnerships, it became a nationally chartered bank in August 2020, allowing it to offer its own FDIC insurance. As of mid-2021, it had 4 million customers. The checking account has free ATM access and no monthly fees, plus perks such as cash back at specific retailers and no foreign transaction fees. Its savings account has some hoops to earn a top rate of 3% APY, including a minimum monthly direct deposit of $1,000 and keeping the balance at $5,000 or less. Otherwise, the rate is 0.20% APY.
Read Varo review: checking and savings
For widest range of accounts
SoFi — short for “Social Finance” — is a student loan refinance company that also provides a wide range of services, unlike most neobanks that only offer one or two kinds of accounts. SoFi Money* is its cash management account that can handle money for spending and saving. It has no account fees for overdraft, ATM usage, or monthly maintenance (subject to change at any time). Some perks include earning interest, creating subaccounts for savings buckets, and, for customers with direct deposits, no-fee overdraft coverage up to $50. SoFi also offers many types of loans, active and automated investing, cryptocurrency trading, credit cards, and retirement accounts.
For cheap overdraft
One Finance’s banking account has a cheap overdraft feature, customized budgeting and savings options. It offers customers the ability to organize their money into subaccounts called Pockets, which can be single or joint accounts. The Pockets dedicated to saving are interest-earning. And its low-cost line of credit, at 12% APR, is unique among neobanks. Launched in 2020, One doesn’t charge fees or interest on transactions that go negative if a customer pays back within a month; otherwise a customer pays 1% interest monthly on the unpaid balance. That’s cheaper than big banks’ overdraft fees, which average around $35 per transaction.
» Learn more about overdraft fees
For credit building
GO2bank (and GoBank)
Green Dot Corporation has offered alternative banking products since 1999. Starting with prepaid debit cards, it expanded into its first digital bank, GoBank, in 2013 and its second bank brand, GO2bank, in 2021. All Green Dot deposit accounts are federally insured by Green Dot Bank. Unlike nearly all neobanks, which require online signup, you can pick up GoBank and GO2bank debit cards at retailers such as Walmart and activate them online to use with a mobile app.
Between the two brands, GO2bank is easily the better option with a smaller monthly fee and more perks, though not as many as other neobanks like Chime or Varo. GoBank’s almost $9 monthly fee is waived with $500 in direct deposits, while GO2bank’s $5 monthly fee is waived with direct deposits without a specified minimum. In addition to its bank account, GO2bank offers a secured credit card to build credit and has a savings vault that earns 1% APY for up to $5,000. In contrast, GoBank doesn't offer a credit card and its savings vault doesn’t earn interest.
Read GoBank review: checking
Read more about GO2bank: secured credit card
The credit company Credit Sesame launched a free digital banking account in March 2020 that focuses on serving people living paycheck to paycheck. The account’s features include access to direct-deposited paychecks up to two days early, cash and mobile check deposits, a limited debit card cash-back program, and free access to a nationwide ATM network. With the account, customers get access to Credit Sesame’s free credit monitoring and daily updates to credit scores.
» Compare the best budgeting apps
MoCaFi, or Mobility Capital Finance, is a Black-owned digital platform started in 2016 that provides free checking to serve largely unbanked and underbanked communities, with a focus on closing the racial wealth gap. It provides a bill pay feature that lets customers report rent payments to major credit bureaus to build credit history. As a rare perk, MoCaFi works with its third-party partners to provide free cash deposits at various retailers and free mobile check deposits with fast release of funds.
Dave started in 2017 as a paycheck advance company and expanded to offer a full-fledged checking account. As of mid-2021, it had about 10 million customers. You can get a small advance on your next paycheck without interest or a credit check, and customers with at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits can build credit history through rent payments. Dave also provides budgeting that factors in upcoming bills and the ability to search for side jobs in its mobile app. There are no fees for overdrafts or for using ATMs within the nationwide MoneyPass network and no minimum balance requirements.
Read Dave review: paycheck advance
For cash-back rewards
Current, founded in 2015, offers free and premium checking options with cash back at some merchants, two-day early direct deposit, and fast refunds on gas station debit card holds. The latter two perks are only available for premium accounts, which have a $5 monthly fee. Premium accounts with direct deposits can also have up to $100 in overdrafts covered for free.
Read Current review: checking account
Personal loan company Upgrade, started in 2017, launched a free checking account in 2021 with cash-back rewards more extensive than Current’s. Upgrade’s main perks for their checking customers include 2% cash back on everyday purchases such as at drugstores and restaurants, and up to 20% rate discounts on the company’s personal loans. Customers can also see their credit scores for free and summaries of their credit report through Upgrade’s Credit Health service.
Bella’s approach to banking is, in its words, “built on love.” That translates to a checking account rewards program that gives a random percentage of cash back, anywhere from 5% to 200%, on randomly selected purchases. Launched in 2020, Bella doesn’t charge monthly, overdraft or ATM fees. Currently, Bella also covers fees charged by out-of-network ATM operators. There is also a no-fee savings account, though it has minimal interest rates, and an optional “karma account,” which is a fund to pay for other customers' small purchases or to be a recipient of another’s karma account generosity.
» See our list of the best rewards checking
Started in March 2021, Cheese tailors its digital banking platform to the immigrant and Asian American communities with up to 10% cash back at 10,000 businesses, including Asian-owned businesses and restaurants. Customer support is available in English and Chinese, with more languages soon. Accounts earn interest and don’t have monthly fees or ATM fees in the national MoneyPass ATM network.
» Learn more about four neobanks focusing on specific communities
While the microinvesting app Acorns’ core product is its automated investing for hands-off investors, it expanded into banking in 2018 with Acorns Checking. The account includes a debit card and limited rewards program and is available only in a package with a taxable investment account and an individual retirement account, all for $3 per month (or $5 for a family version). Customers can opt in to a “round-up” feature where each purchase is rounded up by a certain amount and that change gets invested. The rewards program involves receiving a small percentage or amount back from purchases at over 300 companies, and that also gets invested.
Read Acorns review: investing
Aspiration is an online brokerage firm with a cash management account, called Spend & Save, that works like a hybrid checking and savings account. There are two versions of the account. The basic one has up to 5% cash back, but no interest and an optional monthly fee — customers pay what they think is fair from $0 on up. The premium plan has an almost-$72 annual fee, up to 10% cash back and up to 1% APY. There are two impact investing accounts available too, meaning you can invest in companies with sustainable businesses and social causes. As a certified B Corp company, Aspiration is committed to being a socially responsible and environmentally conscious firm and offers customers personalized sustainability scores based on which businesses they spend money at.
Read Aspiration review: cash management account
Albert started in 2016 as a money management app and launched a personalized banking service called Albert Cash in August 2021. It has over 6 million customers. Albert Cash is a banking account that earns cash back and includes the following benefits: no-interest cash advances of up to $250, integrated budgeting and savings tools, and annual savings bonuses of up to 0.10%. To access Albert’s investing feature, get a savings rate up to 0.25% and use its personalized customer support, called Genius, there’s a minimum monthly fee of $4. You must have an external bank account to open an account with Albert.
Started in 2015, the United Kingdom-based Revolut offers appealing features to international travelers who want competitive exchange rates and a debit card that can spend in over 150 currencies. Customers can transfer funds internationally with other Revolut users, withdraw up to $300 monthly from ATMs with no fees, and earn interest on savings. That’s all with the free account. For more perks, including overseas medical insurance, Revolut offers two accounts with monthly fees of $10 and $17.
The U.K.-based money transfer company Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, created a multicurrency account that rolled out to U.S. customers in 2017. Although there’s an initial $9 fee for the debit card, Wise doesn’t charge monthly account fees and converts currencies at a competitive exchange rate with a small upfront fee. Converting a balance of $1,000 U.S. dollars to euros, for example, costs about $4.20, or 0.42%, which is cheaper than many banks’ foreign transaction fees of 1% to 3%. An account can have multiple balances, holding up to 54 currencies at once, and converting may take only seconds.
Read Wise review: money transfers
Launched in early 2020, Oxygen’s digital banking account aims to help freelancers and self-employed workers manage their cash flow. Oxygen doesn’t charge monthly, ACH or overdraft fees, but there are four pricing tiers for the account, ranging from free to $200 annually. All levels provide travel benefits, such as lost luggage and hotel theft protection, and higher levels have more perks, including higher savings rates, cash back and numbers of virtual cards. One unusual perk is the ability to use the Oxygen app to incorporate, or legally become a company, and then open a business account.
Read Oxygen review: business bank account
Launched in 2019, Lili is a free mobile bank account designed specifically with freelancers and independent contractors in mind. With Lili, you can categorize your expenses by simply swiping left for “life,” or personal, and right for “work,” or business. Lili also includes tools to help freelancers save for taxes, as well as an emergency fund. Plus, if you use Lili’s account to deposit your earnings from online platforms and payment apps, you can receive your funds up to two days earlier. This last feature is common among many neobanks.
Read Lili review: business bank account
Neobanks coming soon
Keep an eye out for these four neobanks’ debuts in the near future:
Daylight: Formerly called Be Money, Daylight plans to launch a mobile bank account focusing on the LGBT+ community with features such as access to financial coaches and accounts with a person’s chosen name, rather than their legal name.
Greenwood: The Black-owned digital banking company already has half a million people on its waitlist for spending and savings accounts that emphasize reinvesting wealth in Black and Latinx communities. (See our list of upcoming and current black-owned banks.)
First Boulevard: The Black-owned banking platform focuses on low-cost banking, with cash back at Black-owned businesses, combined with short financial education videos. Its goal is to build generational wealth for Black Americans.
Purple: Purple plans to provide mobile banking designed for the disability community with a checking account and a tax-advantaged savings account called ABLE accounts, which lets people with disabilities save money without risking the loss of any government benefits. There will also be a debit card that sends a portion of Purple’s revenue to the Special Olympics.
From credit tracking tools to travel perks, modern checking accounts offer more than their predecessors did. Before getting one, check whether the fintech company is a bank or partners with a bank, and see which features would best serve your financial life.