Editorial Review

Varo Review: Checking and Savings

Varo is a mobile-only banking app with a hard-to-beat combo: online checking with no hidden fees and high-yield savings.

Spencer TierneySeptember 10, 2019

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Overall bank rating

Varo

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

  • Savings

    Savings

  • Checking

    Checking

  • Banking experience

    Banking experience

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft fees

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Neither Varo's checking nor its savings account have monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Varo also includes a fee-free ATM network and automatic savings tools. Since there are no branches, cash deposits are only available through third-party retailers that may charge a fee.

Pros

  • No monthly fees; no fees for overdrafts of up to $50.

  • Good annual percentage yield, or APY, on savings.

  • Get your paycheck early with direct deposit.

Cons

  • Cash deposits are through a third-party service that charges fees.

Full review

Varo Savings Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

APY

1.61%

With $0 minimum balance

Varo has a tiered rate: 2.80% annual percentage yield for up to $50,000, if requirements are fulfilled, and 1.61% APY for all other balances. The national average for savings accounts is just 0.07% APY. Like its checking account, Varo’s savings account is federally insured up to $250,000.

There's no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. It also offers two automatic savings programs. The first one, Save Your Pay, lets you opt for any percentage of your paycheck to go directly to your savings account. The other, Save Your Change, rounds up every checking transaction to the nearest dollar and transfers those cents to savings.

You must receive at least $1,000 in total direct deposits monthly and make at least five purchases with the Varo debit card per month in order to earn the 2.80% APY.

Varo says: “Varo Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of April 1, 2020. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open account. Balance in Savings Account must be at least $0.01 to earn interest."

Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Monthly Fee

$0

There are no monthly fees or minimum balance for Varo’s main account and customers have access to thousands of ATMs. Varo is part of the Allpoint network, which has over 55,000 ATMs worldwide, with about 42,000 of them in the U.S. If you use a non-Allpoint ATM, Varo will charge you $2.50.

Unlike many banks, Varo doesn’t charge a fixed or percentage fee on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases abroad. Visa will determine the exchange rate on a foreign transaction.

If Varo receives a payroll notification before your payday, it can deposit your money more quickly than many banks.

Since Varo doesn’t have branches, the only way to add cash directly to your account is by going to a retailer that participates in the Green Dot network, such as CVS, 7-Eleven or Walgreens. There’s a fee of up to $4.95 to add cash at their registers.

Varo says: “Early access to direct deposit funds depends on timing of payer’s submission of deposits. We generally post such deposits on the day they are received which may be up to 2 days earlier than the payer’s scheduled payment date."

Banking experience

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

You can track spending and see Varo and non-Varo accounts on the app at once. In addition, the app has transaction alerts and lets you lock your debit card if lost or stolen.

Customers rated Varo’s iOS app 4.7 out of 5 stars and Android app 4.6 out of 5 stars.

You can call Varo for support weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time. Varo also responds via email and on Twitter.

Because Varo has no branches to visit, depositing cash generally requires paying a fee at retailers. Depositing checks via Varo’s free mobile check deposit service is subject to limits, which aren’t something customers usually encounter when depositing checks at a branch. The maximum is generally $2,000 per check for customers, but larger checks may be accepted in some situations. Contact Varo for such requests.

Overdraft fees

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

If your account drops to as low as negative $50 because of a debit card purchase, online payment, check, or transfer, Varo may cover it without a fee. This doesn’t apply to ATM or over-the-counter bank withdrawals. To qualify for the program, called No Fee Overdraft, you must satisfy two requirements on a monthly basis: Receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits and make five debit card purchases at a minimum.

There are no overdraft fees; transactions not covered by Varo that would cause a negative balance are declined.

However, there is also no overdraft protection or line of credit. Unlike many banks, Varo doesn’t provide either of these two overdraft programs, so customers who overdraw beyond negative $50 have transactions declined. Varo offers personal loans, but they’re invite-only and aren’t currently connected with overdraft services.

Varo Savings Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

APY

1.61%

With $0 minimum balance

Varo has a tiered rate: 2.80% annual percentage yield for up to $50,000, if requirements are fulfilled, and 1.61% APY for all other balances. The national average for savings accounts is just 0.07% APY. Like its checking account, Varo’s savings account is federally insured up to $250,000.

There's no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. It also offers two automatic savings programs. The first one, Save Your Pay, lets you opt for any percentage of your paycheck to go directly to your savings account. The other, Save Your Change, rounds up every checking transaction to the nearest dollar and transfers those cents to savings.

You must receive at least $1,000 in total direct deposits monthly and make at least five purchases with the Varo debit card per month in order to earn the 2.80% APY.

Varo says: “Varo Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of April 1, 2020. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open account. Balance in Savings Account must be at least $0.01 to earn interest."

Varo Bank Account

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

at Varo,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Monthly Fee

$0

There are no monthly fees or minimum balance for Varo’s main account and customers have access to thousands of ATMs. Varo is part of the Allpoint network, which has over 55,000 ATMs worldwide, with about 42,000 of them in the U.S. If you use a non-Allpoint ATM, Varo will charge you $2.50.

Unlike many banks, Varo doesn’t charge a fixed or percentage fee on ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases abroad. Visa will determine the exchange rate on a foreign transaction.

If Varo receives a payroll notification before your payday, it can deposit your money more quickly than many banks.

Since Varo doesn’t have branches, the only way to add cash directly to your account is by going to a retailer that participates in the Green Dot network, such as CVS, 7-Eleven or Walgreens. There’s a fee of up to $4.95 to add cash at their registers.

Varo says: “Early access to direct deposit funds depends on timing of payer’s submission of deposits. We generally post such deposits on the day they are received which may be up to 2 days earlier than the payer’s scheduled payment date."

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

You can track spending and see Varo and non-Varo accounts on the app at once. In addition, the app has transaction alerts and lets you lock your debit card if lost or stolen.

Customers rated Varo’s iOS app 4.7 out of 5 stars and Android app 4.6 out of 5 stars.

You can call Varo for support weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time. Varo also responds via email and on Twitter.

Because Varo has no branches to visit, depositing cash generally requires paying a fee at retailers. Depositing checks via Varo’s free mobile check deposit service is subject to limits, which aren’t something customers usually encounter when depositing checks at a branch. The maximum is generally $2,000 per check for customers, but larger checks may be accepted in some situations. Contact Varo for such requests.

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

If your account drops to as low as negative $50 because of a debit card purchase, online payment, check, or transfer, Varo may cover it without a fee. This doesn’t apply to ATM or over-the-counter bank withdrawals. To qualify for the program, called No Fee Overdraft, you must satisfy two requirements on a monthly basis: Receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits and make five debit card purchases at a minimum.

There are no overdraft fees; transactions not covered by Varo that would cause a negative balance are declined.

However, there is also no overdraft protection or line of credit. Unlike many banks, Varo doesn’t provide either of these two overdraft programs, so customers who overdraw beyond negative $50 have transactions declined. Varo offers personal loans, but they’re invite-only and aren’t currently connected with overdraft services.

How does Varo compare?

APY

1.61%

With $0 minimum balance

APY

1.70%

With $0 minimum balance

APY

1.50%

With $0 minimum balance

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

RATING METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, banking experience and overdraft fees. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.