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What Is a Neobank? All the things You Have to Know

You probably have hung out on the lookout for a brand new financial institution or are sifting by way of Swagbucks provides to earn bonus factors, you have got undoubtedly seen a number of adverts for on-line checking and financial savings accounts. 

Many of those choices are from “neobanks,” which provide banking providers that may be cheaper and extra modern than a standard financial institution. However what’s a neobank, and what can it do for you?

On this article, I’ll reply these questions and share the advantages of neobanks and the way they differ from conventional banks like Wells Fargo or Financial institution of America.

Desk of Contents
  1. What Is a Neobank?
  2. Who Can Be a part of a Neobank?
  3. How Do Neobanks Make Cash?     
  4. How Neobanks Work
  5. Variations Between Neobanks and On-line Banks
    1. Most Neobanks are Younger
    2. Restricted Premium Companies and Buyer Service
    3. Many are Cell-Solely
  6. Neobank Professionals and Cons
    1. Professionals
    2. Cons
  7. Finest Neobanks within the US
    1. Chime
    2. Cleo
    3. Present
    4. Lili
    5. SaveBetter
  8. Varo
  9. The Backside Line on Neobanks

What Is a Neobank?

A neobank isn’t an precise financial institution however a monetary know-how firm (fintech) that gives digital banking providers.  

Legally, they can’t name themselves a financial institution, though they nearly all the time companion with an FDIC-insured financial institution. Generally, these platforms are also referred to as “challenger banks.” 

Neobanks can supply larger rates of interest on financial savings than common banks as a result of they’ve fewer overhead prices. With neobanks, there aren’t any financial institution branches to keep up, and so they don’t require almost as many staff. Additionally they have a tendency to supply distinctive merchandise that you simply gained’t discover at most banks.

Some examples embrace:

In as we speak’s aggressive, tech-centric world, it’s extremely tough for a fintech to grow to be a financial institution. Concurrently, it’s difficult for typical banks with a constitution to supply modern providers. 

In consequence, neobanks assist innovate the banking sector as they’re topic to fewer bills and laws. To safeguard buyer deposits and construct belief, they companion with a federally-insured financial institution to offer FDIC Insurance coverage and broaden their buyer base.

Who Can Be a part of a Neobank?

Membership is open to authorized residents at the very least 18 years previous. Many platforms require a Social Safety Quantity, though a number of are migrant-friendly and solely require a government-issued ID, passport, or matrícula consular

These platforms are favored by the underbanked, millennials, and folks on the lookout for a banking service specializing in a selected area of interest. 

You might also think about a neobank you probably have an imperfect banking historical past, as they’re simpler to affix. Fortunately, many of those banks don’t use ChexSystems, a service much like a credit score rating examine that critiques your banking historical past for account closures and potential dangers. 

How Do Neobanks Make Cash?     

As most Neobanks don’t cost month-to-month or annual service charges, they have to earn cash from debit card interchange charges. They obtain a share each time a buyer purchases with their debit card.

Neobanks also can earn curiosity on shopper account deposits. And a few could supply premium plans that present unique options however are nonetheless cheaper than an everyday financial institution.

Neobanks additionally have a tendency to supply fewer concierge providers and don’t have to keep up a bodily community which helps preserve bills low.

Generally, neobanks remodel into full-fledged chartered banks, with SoFi being a chief instance. 

How Neobanks Work

The banking expertise is much like many nationwide banks which can be on-line solely. 

After downloading the cell banking app, you possibly can create a checking account to obtain direct deposits. Your account can even include a debit card to make purchases and request ATM money withdrawals.

Listed here are among the membership options you can obtain:

  • Deposit accounts: Every platform provides a checking account (typically known as a spending account). Financial savings accounts may additionally be accessible, however not each neobank provides them. As a substitute, you’ll have financial savings targets to put aside funds for particular functions inside your spending account.
  • Debit card: Relying on the neobank, you’ll obtain a free Visa or Mastercard debit card for on-line and native purchases. Your purchases may additionally earn money again.
  • Cash transfers: Direct deposit is the best method to obtain funds right into a neobank account. And you’ll normally hyperlink your account to digital wallets or straight connect with exterior accounts to shortly switch funds to mates, household, and companies.
  • Studying instruments: A number of neo-banking platforms supply instructional instruments that may assist adults and instruments to find out about saving cash, spending cash, and budgeting.  
  • FDIC Insurance coverage: Most providers supply as much as $250,000 in FDIC protection. Some platforms could companion with a number of banks to offer as much as $1 million in federal insurance coverage.

Associated: Finest Free Checking Accounts (in the event you nonetheless want a standard native or on-line financial institution)

Variations Between Neobanks and On-line Banks

Whereas there are lots of similarities between neobanks and online-only banks akin to Barclays Financial institution, there are a number of variations in accessible providers and the organizational construction.

Most Neobanks are Younger

Neobanking has been round for a number of years, the earliest beginning after the 2008 Nice Recession. They’ve extra buyer belief because the trade has expertise however stays comparatively younger and may be riskier than well-established banks with wholesome stability sheets. 

Like several trade, some platforms inevitably fail, making it tough for purchasers to withdraw their funds. A notable instance is Beam Monetary in 2019. Subsequently, inspecting a neobank’s monetary well being and on the lookout for buyer complaints earlier than becoming a member of can be finest.

Because the area is comparatively new, platforms could exit of enterprise in the event that they fail to draw sufficient prospects or investor funding. As an illustration, Easy Financial institution ceased operations in 2021, though prospects got advance discover to maneuver their belongings to a different platform. 

Restricted Premium Companies and Buyer Service

Neobanks are perfect for getting free banking accounts whereas incomes rewards. Nonetheless, many neobanks restrict customer support hours and supply few further providers to save cash. For instance, buyer brokers could solely be accessible throughout daytime as a substitute of 24/7. It’s additionally not unusual to solely present chat and e-mail assist.

It’s possible you’ll not have entry to on-line invoice pay, distant examine deposits, paper checks, or wire transfers. The listing of obtainable providers varies by platform, so it’s necessary to match your membership advantages and customer support choices and determine what’s necessary to you.

Additionally, neobanks don’t supply private, auto, and residential buy loans, although you’ll have entry to money advances if it is advisable borrow cash.

Many are Cell-Solely

Some neobank platforms are mobile-only and lack a desktop net browser utility.

Whereas fewer folks entry their monetary accounts by way of desktop computer systems, it’s good to have this functionality when wanted.

Neobank Professionals and Cons

There are a number of benefits to coping with a neobank, however as I’ve identified, there are a couple of drawbacks, too. Right here’s my listing of neobank professionals and cons:


  • Supreme for the underbanked, Gen-Z, or new immigrants
  • No-fee banking
  • Earn money again rewards on checking and financial savings
  • Extra more likely to focus on a selected area of interest or background
  • Supply distinctive merchandise, like free credit score reporting, rewards debit playing cards, and many others.
  • Can normally supply FDIC insurance coverage protection by way of a companion financial institution.


  • On-line-only
  • Lack of conventional banking providers, like wire transfers or cashier’s checks
  • Restricted examine writing functionality (if any)
  • You’re not coping with a chartered financial institution
  • Restricted buyer assist
  • Much less-common banking providers are normally unavailable. 

Finest Neobanks within the US

If coping with a neobank sounds interesting, I like to recommend you do the correct analysis earlier than signing up. That can assist you get began, listed here are six prime neobanks to contemplate. As you’ll see, every one places its distinctive spin on banking and managing cash.


Chime is likely one of the greatest neobanks and provides many options that make it an incredible different to a typical financial institution. 

A few of its advantages embrace:

You will have to obtain at the very least $200 in month-to-month direct deposits to unlock the credit score constructing and overdraft safety advantages. Be taught extra in our full Chime banking overview.

Be taught extra about Chime


You should utilize Cleo to avoid wasting for varied targets, make a finances, and analyze your transactions. Cleo Save makes use of roundups to make saving straightforward. Cleo rounds the quantity as much as the closest greenback each time you make a purchase order and strikes the become financial savings.

The service additionally consists of interest-free paycheck advances of as much as $100 and credit score builder loans. Cleo is value a glance in the event you’re on the lookout for a neobank that may make it easier to finances, save, and construct credit score whereas being enjoyable to make use of.

Our Cleo Evaluate has extra particulars.

Be taught extra about Cleo


Present provides free private accounts for high-interest financial savings pods (4.00% APY), incomes money again on debit purchases, and as much as $200 in overdraft charge safety.

The service can also be a wonderful teen banking possibility. Mother and father can schedule allowance funds and block retailers. In the meantime, teenagers could make purchases and save with interest-bearing Financial savings Pods. Get all the small print in our Present Financial institution Evaluate.

Be taught extra about Present


Half-time freelancers and sole proprietors can use Lili to keep away from the charges and hassles of a standard enterprise checking account. A number of the most beneficial options embrace invoicing software program, an expense write-off tracker, plus automated tax financial savings transactions.

The free enterprise checking account is passable for a lot of small, single-employee companies. 

A Lili Professional account prices $9 month-to-month after a 30-day free trial and allows you to earn a high-interest charge on deposits. You can even earn money rewards on purchases and cut up expense classes. For extra info, take a look at our Lili Evaluate.

Be taught extra about Lili


Some neobanks concentrate on interest-bearing financial savings accounts as a substitute of checking rewards. SaveBetter companions with banks and credit score unions from throughout the USA to supply financial savings accounts, cash market accounts, and CDs with aggressive yields.

The minimal deposit is $1 for a lot of merchandise, and a number of other banks supply unique charges solely by way of this platform which can be larger than on the financial institution web site. As well as, all SaveBetter banking companions are FDIC or NCUA-insured. For extra info, learn our SaveBetter Evaluate.

Be taught extra about SaveBetter


Varo Cash is a free banking service that provides a number of totally different merchandise:

  • Financial institution Account: A spending account with 55,000+ in-network ATMs and no hidden charges
  • Financial savings Account: Earn as much as 5% curiosity on deposits when receiving at the very least $1,000 in month-to-month direct deposits.
  • Varo Advance: Obtain as much as $100 in interest-free money advances (most $5 charge applies)
  • Varo Imagine: A secured bank card with out a minimal safety deposit, annual charge, or laborious credit score examine. Earn money again from over 50 manufacturers and construct credit score with the three main credit score bureaus.

Our Varo Cash Evaluate has all the small print.

Be taught extra about Varo

The Backside Line on Neobanks

A neobank may be a wonderful method to begin banking as an grownup or to assist your teen study the ins and outs of saving and spending. These platforms can deal with most each day banking actions. You possibly can hyperlink your payroll direct deposit, make debit card purchases, and save for the long run.

Ultimately, you could want to modify to a standard financial institution to entry extra providers akin to invoice pay, examine writing, and 24/7 buyer assist. If you happen to want a chartered financial institution, attempt to seize a financial institution bonus for opening a brand new account and finishing the mandatory actions.

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