If you’re looking for a high-yield savings account online with no added or unexpected fees, Varo delivers. Varo is an online bank launched in 2017. In 2020, it became the first consumer fintech granted a national bank charter, which means deposits are FDIC insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and backed by Varo Bank, not a third-party bank.
Since 2020, SoFi also earned the same distinction as a nationally chartered bank.
Is Varo Bank safe?
Varo is currently valued at $1.9 billion, which is down from its 2021 valuation of $2.5 billion. However, recent reports say the neobank is seeking $50 million in funding. In 2022, reports had said the bank might run out of money by the end of the year. However, it is still in business and still offering record high APYs for its high-yield savings account and tons of other perks for account holders.
It’s important to remember that whatever happens, Varo Bank is FDIC insured up to federal limits of $250,000 per account holder, per account category. Joint accounts are insured for $500,000 per account category.
If finding a checking account and savings account with no minimum balance, no minimum deposit, no overdraft fees, no monthly fees, early direct deposit and cash back is important to you, then you might want to give Varo a chance.
Varo Checking Account
When it comes to checking accounts, Varo has only one, simply called “the Varo Bank Account.” It is packed with features that you want from a top online bank, including:
- Rewards Visa debit card
- Early direct deposit
- Free mobile deposit
- Access to Zelle for P2P money transfers
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance requirements
Plus, your Varo debit card gives you access to the nationwide network of 55,000 allpoint atms where you can access your money with no fees. Keep in mind, using out-of-network ATMs for withdrawals can result in a fee of $3 per transaction, plus any fees charged by the ATM owner.
You’ll also have no foreign transaction fees when you use your Varo debit card overseas. And if you happen to lose your card, there’s no replacement fee, as long as you ask for regular shipping through the U.S. Post Office.
Varo Savings Account
Varo often makes headlines for its high-yield savings account. The bank currently offers an annual percentage yield up to 5.0%. But you’ll start your Varo savings account with a 3.0% annual percentage yield and move up to 5.0% annual percentage yield the next month if you meet a few requirements.
If you receive direct deposits in either your Varo savings account or Varo checking account of $1,000 or more and end the month with a positive balance in both accounts, you’ll earn 5.0% on up to $5,000 of your savings account balance. Any part of your balance exceeding $5,000 will still receive the 3% APY on savings.
Easy Ways to Save More: Automatic Savings Tools
In addition to fee free ATM withdrawals and no monthly fee, your Varo savings account also comes with automatic savings tools that can help Varo customers manage money. and take advantage of the high interest rate your Varo account offers.
Save Your Pay
When you choose “Save Your Pay” with Varo Bank, you automatically transfer a percentage of any direct deposits straight into your savings account. Whether you are looking to “pay yourself first” by adding 10% of each check to your high-yield Savings with Varo or looking to bolster your emergency savings by adding 20% or more, Save Your Pay makes it easy – and automatic to have funds deposited into savings each time you get paid.
Save Your Change
Small change can lead to a bigger savings balance when you round up your purchases and put the difference in your Varo savings account. Set up this feature so that every time you make a debit purchase, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar, with the extra money placed in savings.
Other savings accounts through traditional banks, including Bank of America, also offer similar automatic savings tools. But few savings accounts deliver such a high APY as your Varo bank account.
Other Accounts and Services
Varo offers checking and savings accounts with no monthly maintenance fees, a high APY on savings, and an intuitive app to help you manage your account. It also has other programs to help consumers build their credit, cover emergency expenses, or catch up on bills. The following programs are available to users with an active Varo bank account.
Varo Advance allows qualified customers to borrow up to $250 at a time and pay it back within 30 days from your Varo bank account when you get paid. You can avoid overdraft fees, buy what you need or pay bills, and avoid high interest charges. Any advances over $20 have fees associated.
Your cash advance account has no monthly subscription fees, and no late payment or return payment fees. Each cash advance, however, has a fee ranging from $0 (for advances of $20 or less) up to $15 for advances of $250.
Varo Believe is a secured credit card with no minimum security deposit, no annual fee or interest charges, and no credit check to apply. If you are a Varo customer, you can apply for this secured account to build your credit.
Turn on Safe Pay to ensure you don’t miss a payment. You will pay your credit card from your Varo bank account balances.
On-time payments will be reported to the three major credit bureaus to build your payment history. You can even track your credit score in the Varo mobile app.
Varo Bank Best Features
There are so many great features about Varo Bank, it’s hard to pinpoint the best elements of Varo accounts. Here are some features that come up time and again in Varo Bank reviews.
Early Direct Deposits
Access direct deposit funds up to two days earlier than you could with a conventional bank. Varo releases qualifying direct deposits from your employers as soon as the bank receives them. Often, this is up to two days before the payer’s scheduled payment date.
How soon you receive direct deposit funds depends on when your employer releases the funds. Weekends and bank holidays could delay a deposit to the next business day. But you will typically get paid at least two days earlier than you would with a traditional bank.
You can also use your Varo checking account to receive tax refunds from the IRS or your state government agency through direct deposit. During the pandemic, many people had their government stimulus payments deposited directly into their Varo Bank checking accounts.
Cash Back Debit Card
Not many banks offer a cash back Visa debit card, but Varo Bank does. Earn up to 6% on purchases through select retailers online and in stores when you use Visa cash back card or your Varo secured credit card. Once your cash back balance reaches $5, the money will be accounted directly into your Varo checking account.
Zelle allows you to send person to person payments easily with no fees. As one of more than 1,800 financial institutions in the Zelle network, Varo makes it easy to split checks at a restaurant, send money to family and friends, or receive funds directly into your Varo Bank account instantly.
Varo Bank App
The Varo mobile app puts all the functionality of the bank right at your fingertips. You can turn your Varo cards on and off with a simple click, apply for cash advances, and transfer money between your Varo bank accounts easily from your mobile phone.
Cash Deposits at Thousands of Locations Nationwide
If you want to make cash deposits into your Varo savings or checking accounts, you can do so at any Green Dot Network locations. You can deposit cash at the register at the following stores:
- Dollar General
- Family Dollar
- Rite Aid
Stores charge a fee of up to $4.95 for cash deposits and up to $5.95 for a Green Dot MoneyPak. The MoneyPak is a prepaid card of $20 to $500 that you can link to your Varo Bank account. When you do, those funds will be deposited into your checking account.
- 55,000 AllPoint ATMs (Fee-free)
- Early Direct Deposit
- Cash Back Debit Card
- No monthly fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- Cash Advance options
- No minimum deposit to open an account
- No minimum balance requirements
- Must meet requirements to earn 5.0% APY
- No brick-and-mortar branches
- No money market account
- Financial difficulties leave some concerned about the bank’s future
- Limited customer service hours for phone support
Varo doesn’t have many fees. The bank doesn’t charge monthly fees or overdraft fees. But the bank may decline transactions if you don’t have the funds to cover it.
Varo checking account fees include a $3 fee for withdrawals from ATMs outside the AllPoint network, and $2.50 per transaction if you withdraw money at a retailer using your Varo debit card. Additionally, if you make a cash deposit using a third party money transfer service, including wire transfers, you could pay up to $5.95 per transaction.
How does Varo Bank compare to other online banks?
More frequently today, online banks offer no monthly fee, no minimum deposit, and no minimum balance requirements. But it’s a little harder to find an online bank that offers cash back, a secured credit card with no minimum deposit for security, and cash advances with no interest charges.
Chime is one financial technology company that offers some of the same benefits as Varo with no monthly fee. How do they compare?
Varo vs. Chime
First, it’s good to know that Varo is a chartered bank, while Chime is a fintech backed by Bancorp Bank, NA and Stride Bank, NA, both Members FDIC. However, for security purposes, consumers should know that Chime offers the same protection as Varo. All accounts are insured up to $250,000, with joint accounts covered for up to $500,000.
Chime also has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum deposit to open an account. Like Varo, you can access your direct deposit funds up to two days earlier than most conventional banks. Chime doesn’t offer cash advances, but with fee-free overdraft protection for up to $200 with the SpotMe program, you can make cash withdrawals or debit purchases even if your account is in the negative.
Like Varo, Chime offers a secured credit card, called the Credit Builder Visa. It has no annual fee, interest charges, or security deposit required and no credit check is needed to apply.
Where Varo really shines is its high APY on savings. Chime doesn’t offer any options for savings accounts or money market accounts to earn interest on the cash you keep with Chime.
Varo Bank Reviews
Varo Bank earns high marks from personal finance website reviewers and also consumer review sites. Varo received an average of 3.4 stars on TrustPilot, with 76% 5-star reviews. Varo mobile banking apps in the App Store and the Google Play store earned 4.9 and 4.7 stars, respectively.
Some of the reviews claiming horrible customer service noted that their account was closed without warning. Often, this relates to extra-vigilant fraud protection.
The good reviews outnumber the bad on TrustPilot and personal finance websites. For instance, one Varo review said the chat support is “very prompt” and “always friendly.” Another Varo Bank review on ConsumerAffairs.com called the online bank: “an amazing company and very good bank as long as you Yourselves do what is needed. Pay things on time, follow instructions and do the best you can.”
Find out everything else you need to know about Varo bank accounts.
Does Varo have branches?
As an online only bank, Varo does not have branches for in-person service. However, Varo customers gain access to 55,000 AllPoint ATMs. You can withdraw money, check balances, and deposit cash
What happens if someone steals my card or card information?
If someone steals your card or you realize someone has your debit or credit card information, you will want to lock your card immediately in the Varo app. This prevents any purchases or withdrawals until you unlock the card. You should also do this if you’ve misplaced or lost your card.
Your direct deposit, ACH transfers and online bill payments will still process if your card is locked.
Once you’ve locked your card, reach out to Varo customer support through the Chat function in the app. Notify the representative that your card has been lost or stolen and you’d like to order a replacement card.
If you notice fraudulent charges on your account, you can reach out via Chat or call customer support at 877-377-VARO, Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM Mountain Time to dispute the charge.
How do I open an account?
You can find Varo Bank’s website at Varomoney.com. Click the purple “Open Account” button in the top right of the screen, choose the account you’d like to open, and apply for an account. There is no credit check required.
You will need a cellphone to open an account, as Varo may verify your personal information or account information via text messages.
Are checking and savings the only accounts Varo offers?
Varo offers a checking account, a savings account, a secured credit card (Varo Believe) and Varo Advance. Varo Advance allows you to use your Varo direct deposits and timely repayments to allow you to borrow up to $250 in cash advances. You pay it back within 15 to 30 days with no interest charges. You’ll pay a fee for every Advance over $20, up to $15 for a $250 advance.
Is Varo FDIC insured?
As a nationally chartered bank, Varo is FDIC insured up to $250,000 per account holder, per account category.