Varo Bank Review: Should You Consider It?

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Varo Bank Bank Review

About Varo Bank

You might say that for a bank that entered the banking arena about five years ago, Varo Bank has accomplished a great deal in terms of reach and popularity.

Positioning itself as a mobile-only bank, they penetrated the fickle and volatile banking market with an aggressive marketing thrust that countered traditional bank offerings.

For starters, they don’t charge a minimum balance fee nor an overdraft fee.

Then, they threw in a bunch of other innovative offers such as higher-than-industry-average APY for a qualified savings account. Now you have a modern bank that is setting itself up to become a serious competitor to the more well-established brands. 

varo bank review

On Varo Secure Website

Account Types

No Minimum Deposit

PROS

CONS

Varo Mobile App

Their competitive advantages rest heavily on their Varo mobile app where you can do nearly all your banking transactions.

They also scrapped many of the pesky fees that often came with bank accounts: minimum balance fee, overdraft fee, ATM withdrawal fee, foreign transaction fee, debit card replacement fee, and transfer fee.

They also have loan products and a digital financial advisory service that is available 24/7. Customers find this helpful for their budgeting and spending analysis.

The mobile app also keeps the customer updated with push notifications on their mobile phones especially on their transactions and account balances.

Although the younger consumers perceive it to be an intelligent and state-of-the-art bank, it is still a work-in-progress as many common banking products are absent in their line-up.

55,000 ATMs, Bancorp As The Provider

But with mobile banking app technology as one of their strongest suits, there’s a lot of potential for a more present-day take on traditional products like CDs & Money Market accounts.

Their partnerships and networks also sit well with the public as it paints a picture of stability. About one year into their operations, they received the financial backing of about $27 M from the firm Warburg Pincus.

This is a financial management company with around $58 B in managed assets.

They also partnered with Allpoint for their ATM network which makes 55,000 ATMs accessible to Varo clients all over the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

Varo’s banking services rely on Bancorp as the provider. It is one of the most trusted banking solutions technology providers in the world. Varo has also partnered with Chime Bank, Visa, and PayPal.

No Physical Branches

And because Varo has no physical branches, customers who wish to make a deposit may do so through their partner Green Dot that has a presence in thousands of locations all over the country in stores such as Walmart, 7-11, Walgreens, etc.

Varo also offers an early direct deposit service where customers who are on a regular payroll or allowance can get their money 2 days early. This is another service that sets Varo ahead of other banks of their peer.

Varo helps depositors save money through their Save Your Change and Save Your Pay programs.

In Save Your Change, they simply round off eligible transactions to the nearest dollar and put the change into your savings account. In Save Your Pay, customers can nominate a percentage of their earnings that the bank will transfer automatically to their savings account.

Here are the main products Varo bank offers for savers:

Varo Bank Savings Account

No minimum deposit

Initial Deposit

None

Minimum Balance

0.81 - 2.80%

APY

Varo Savings Account
Savings account
up to 2.80% APY
no fees
No minimum balance
Two automatic savings program

This savings account is a virtual account so there is no physical bankbook. To monitor your transactions and balances, the Varo App has a utility that lets you view, download, and print your bank statement.

The app also provides up-to-date push notifications of your transactions and your current balance.

You will find that this bank offers one of the highest APYs in the industry. The APY (annual percentage yield) is the amount of interest your money would earn in a year with a bank account. If you can meet the requirements, your money can qualify to get more than 1.5% APY up to $50,000.

All you need to do is set up a direct deposit account that has a minimum monthly deposit of $1,000 and use your Varo Visa debit card at least 5 times in a month. If you can’t meet this requirement, you’ll only get a slightly lower APY.

Like the Varo Account, this savings account does not require depositors to maintain a minimum balance. This means you can keep a very, very low amount in your account and the bank won’t charge a fee.

Plus, the same no-fee feature of their checking account also comes with this savings account. This is potentially a money-saving advantage that this mobile bank provides.

Withdrawals can come through Allpoint ATMs free of charge.

However, if you use other bank’s ATMs, the ATM provider may charge you a fee – but Varo Bank will not.

Customers can make cash deposits through Green Dot locations all over the country. Although Varo will not charge a fee for this service, the store may collect around $4.95 for this service.

For those seriously looking to save money, Varo offers some very helpful budgeting tools on their app.

You can use it to track your spending on your Varo (and even non-Varo) accounts. For your security, it provides transaction alerts and notifications. In case you lose your debit card through theft or accident, you can lock it via the mobile application.

Varo Bank Checking Account

Checking Account
No minimum balance required
No fee for monthly maintenance, transfers, debit card replacement, foreign transactions
No interest
Access to more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs
No physical checkbook but Varo will issue the check
$75 referral bonus; get paid early scheme

When you open a Varo Bank Account, you’re opening a checking account with a twist. You won’t receive any personal checkbook but they will give you a Varo Visa debit card.

In case you need to issue a physical check, the bank will be the one to issue for you.

And if you enroll in their Save Your Change program, they will round off your bills to the nearest dollar and you get to keep the cents in your Savings Account.

The main feature of this product is that it is basically fee-free which is attractive to many consumers. They also allow you to have an overdraft up to $50 without charges.

However, if you go over this limit, the bank will decline your transactions. To qualify, you should receive a minimum of $1,000 in direct deposit and make at least 5 debit purchases within the month.

At this time, the bank does not offer any overdraft protection schemes such as a credit line.

If you avail of their direct deposit service, the bank will let you get your money 2 days early. This is like getting your salary earlier because Varo Bank will release the funds to you when they receive the money from your employer.

Instead of spending millions of dollars in marketing campaigns, Varo has launched a member referral program.

If an existing depositor refers to their friends, family members, acquaintances to open an account at Varo, the bank will give a $75 referral bonus. The condition is that the new account should receive a direct deposit of $200 or more within the first 45 days.

Pros

Cons

Varo Bank – The Benefits

Here are the main benefits we found:

No Fees

I guess this is their biggest ‘come on’ right now. When most banks fall into the mold of “a fair-weather friend”, it’s good to have a bank who shows that they won’t take advantage of you.

Bank customers are always conscious of the fees they need to pay for bank services.

But a bank like this that doesn’t charge anything for things such as minimum balance or foreign transaction (that other banks collect) deserve our thumbs up.

High Deposit Interest Rate

This is way above the average rate that most banks offer.

Although when you break it down into dollars and cents, it’s not exactly like winning the lottery – but it makes you feel good, nevertheless.

Anything you get just by letting your money lie idle is a good benefit.

No Minimum Balance Requirements

For an average depositor, maintaining a minimum balance is a stressor.

I mean, who has time to keep track of your bank balance and then work to make sure that it doesn’t go down beyond a certain point?

Without this at the back of your mind, you can go through life with one less problem to worry about.

Promotional Offers

It’s not really how big the promotional offers are. It’s the fact that this bank is going this way with their marketing strategy.

Who knows that down the road, they may think of rewarding their customers big time?

Other Perks

Being a Varo bank depositor automatically gives you access to ATMs all over the world – although some partner ATMs abroad may levy a fee for some transactions.

While customers enjoy the convenience of online banking, what they don’t see is that behind all the digital interface, Varo Bank makes sure that security is top-notch.

Customers’ information and transactions enjoy the highest technological safeguards available. And in case a customer has any concern, Varo Bank has live customer support that’s available 7-days a week.

They also have a toll-free number and an online help center.

Varo Bank – The Drawbacks

Like any other bank, we should always take into account the downsides:

Limited Products

If I’m looking for a bank that can serve my banking needs, this bank falls short because of the absence of other traditional bank products.

Not all customers would be okay with just checking and savings account.

If they need other products, they would have to find another bank and go through the account opening process all over again.

Charges For Deposits

The customer profile they want to draw in skims those who may want to put money into their account through cash deposits.

It’s not very appealing (nor fair) that you have to pay a fee to put money into your bank account.

Although the fee may go to the collecting partner and not to the bank itself, it’s still the depositor who bears the load.

Shortcomings Of The App

Yes, this is a mobile-only bank. But why discriminate against non-Apple users? The app doesn’t work on Android phones.

And even the iPhone users are complaining about bugs and glitches on the app. I guess their tech team needs to work double-time on perfecting the app.

Alternatives Banks For Consideration

Here are our alternatives to Varo Bank:

Citibank is a great bank for customers that are looking for a financial institution with many services that help their customers.  Citibank works tirelessly to create the best outcomes for their clients and customers that are simple, creative, and responsible.  Citibank works with its customers to optimize their daily operations to promote financial growth.

Citibank is a global financial service that serves more than 100 million customers in 98 countries around the world.  Citibank is a great option is you are looking for a reliable financial service that you can safely and securely open a checking and savings account with no minimum deposit. 

This is a great way to organize your finances and access your funds due to the more than 60,000 ATMs that are available for you to use to access your money.  You can also easily obtain a credit card, which is a great tool to use to increase your credit rating organically.

Along with many of the supportive tools to increase your financial gains you should also be aware of some setbacks within the Citibank system.  Citibank requires you to meet certain benchmarks to waive their monthly fees on checking accounts.  This may be a disservice to users that are not in a financially stable position yet.  You are also charged when you use another bank’s ATM. 

All of the positive and negative aspects of banking with Citibank offer a complex choice for you to decide whether or not to bank with them.

Chase bank is a national US company that offers in-personal and online services for investment and lending activities. It provides checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), mortgages, commercial and business banking.

Checking accounts have no withdrawal charges, free ATM charges, mobile check deposit options, no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum balance. There are two savings accounts; chase savings with $25 minimum deposit and a 0.01% APY, and chase plus savings with $100 minimum deposit. CDs have a minimum deposit of $1,000 with an APY of 0.01%, however, customers with a linked checking account may be entitled to an APY of 0.02%. Chase bank CDs have no monthly charges. Clients have the option to choose in-person banking or to transact via the mobile platform. Also, they may be entitled to special sign-up bonuses.

Clients may have to submit certifications to open a checking account like name, residential address, contact info, citizenship details, social security number, driver’s license and state identification card. 

Chase bank deducts monthly charges up to $12 and offers interest rates that are much lower than other savings accounts. CDs have a $15 for inbound wire transfers from other banks.

JD Power ranked Chase bank at a second position with a score of 846 for customer satisfaction in 2019. Better Business Bureau awards an A+ for customer support.

They may be a quiet bank without much fanfare going on but they do their job well.
In fact, Money Magazine awarded them the Best Bank in the Pacific Region of the US in 2019.

For the last 4 years, Forbes named them in the top 100 Best Banks. Bauer Financial gave this bank a five-star rating.
What started out as a small thrift bank in 1890 has now grown to be a big full-service bank with headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington.

Their operations mostly cover the west, providing banking products as well as services in commercial real estate, construction, residential, agricultural and consumer loans. The bank employs around 2,149 employees.

Banner Bank is the 3rd largest bank in Washington and ranks 126th of all the banks in the United States. The bank reports an asset of more than $12.6B.

They are present in over 175 locations dispersed all over Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Although they have leveled up their use of technology, Banner Bank is still a traditional brick-and-mortar bank.

Summary 

Varo Bank holds a lot of promise.

It is a good first bank for young first-time customers, especially millennials who may not immediately qualify to open an account in the bigger banks.

The idea for a mobile-only bank is both innovative and forward-looking. This could be the way banking will be moving towards in the next few years.

With some refinements in their app and addition of new deposit and investment products in their menu, they could give the older and more popular banks a run for their money.