/Varo Bank review: Early direct deposits and no foreign transaction fees

Varo Bank review: Early direct deposits and no foreign transaction fees


  • Varo Bank, N.A. is an online bank with a high-yield savings account and cash-back checking account.
  • If you qualify, you can earn one of the highest APYs available on savings balances up to $5,000.
  • Varo lets you receive your paycheck early, and it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
  • See Insider’s picks for the best high-yield savings accounts »

Varo pays two interest rates. You’ll earn the highest rate on your first $5,000 in savings if you receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits and make five debit card transactions per month. Be careful, though — if your balance goes over $5,000, even by one dollar, you’ll earn the lower rate of 0.2% on your entire balance.

You may like Varo if you have a low balance, but you should also think about whether your savings can grow with you. You’ll earn the lower rate if your balance goes over $5,000. 

Because the savings rate depends on how often you use your debit card, you must open a Varo Checking Account before opening a savings account.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

None

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No minimum opening deposit
    • No monthly service fees
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Get your paycheck up to 2 days early
    • No overdraft fees on overdrafts up to $50, if you qualify for No Fee Overdraft
    • Earn cash-back rewards
    Cons
    • No physical branch locations
    • No overdraft protection if you overdraw by more than $50
    • $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee
    • No joint accounts
    • Access to 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs in the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, UK, and Australia
    • Earn up to 15% cash back at select retailers; see current cash back offers in the Varo app
    • When you receive $5 in cash back, the money is automatically deposited into your account
    • Qualify for No Fee Overdraft by swiping your debit card 5 times per month, AND receiving at least $1,000 in direct deposits per month
    • If you overdraw by more than $50, there will be no fee — your transaction will just be denied
    • FDIC insured


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    A looong arrow, pointing right

    The Varo Checking Account (sometimes referred to as the Varo Bank Account on the bank’s website) could be a good fit for travelers, because Varo doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. The bank also allows you to receive your paycheck up to two days early. You may qualify to overdraw your account by $50 without incurring a fee if you make five debit card purchases and receive $1,000 in direct deposits per month.

    Varo also offers up to 15% cash back at select retailers.

    Varo Bank, N.A. is an online bank with a checking account and high-yield savings account. One of its main draws is its high interest rate on savings balances up to $5,000. You can earn the highest rate by receiving $1,000 in direct deposits and making five debit card purchases per month. However, if your balance goes above $5,000, you’ll receive the lower interest rate on your entire balance. 

    You must open a Varo Checking Account to qualify for a Varo Savings Account. While this may be annoying if you aren’t looking to open a checking account, there aren’t many cons to opening both. Neither one charges monthly service fees, and you don’t need a minimum opening deposit for either.

    You can use over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs for free in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom. If you use a non-Allpoint ATM, Varo will charge you $2.50.

    The Varo mobile app has received 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple store, and 4.5 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.

    Contact customer service either over the phone or via email. Customer support hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET, and weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET.

    Varo doesn’t offer joint accounts. Your deposits are FDIC insured for up to $250,000.

    Varo has received an A+ in trustworthiness from the Better Business Bureau. A strong BBB rating signifies the company is transparent in how it handles business, responds effectively to customer complaints, and is honest in its advertising.

    In contrast, Ally has a C from the BBB, mainly due to the high volume of customer complaints. Wells Fargo has an F due to a history of predatory lending to racial minorities and of creating fake bank accounts.

    Varo doesn’t have a history of scandals, and its A+ rating indicates it has a good relationship with its customers.

    Varo has earned a spot on our list of the best high-yield savings accounts, so we’re comparing it to two other companies on that list: Chime and Ally. We’re also looking at all three institutions’

    checking accounts
    .

    Varo Bank review vs. Chime review

    Varo and Chime have a lot of similarities. Both require you to open a checking account before opening a savings account. Neither have minimum opening deposits or monthly service fees. Both offer early direct deposits, and neither charges foreign transaction fees. Neither offers joint accounts.

    Your choice between the two may come down to whether you qualify for Varo’s highest interest rate. If so, Varo could be the better choice.

    Varo Bank review vs. Ally review

    Varo and Ally both have strong

    high-yield savings accounts
    and checking accounts. But Ally also has a money market account and CDs, so you may prefer Ally if you want to open these types of accounts. Ally allows you to open joint accounts, too.

    Otherwise, your choice between the two will come down to what you want out of a bank. Varo doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, but Ally does; Varo charges out-of-network ATM fees, but Ally doesn’t, and Ally reimburses up to $10 per month if an ATM provider charges you a fee; Varo lets you receive your paycheck early, but Ally does not.

    If you qualify for Varo’s higher interest rate, you may prefer Varo. But Ally has some robust savings tools, including buckets and surprise savings, to help you save.

    Laura Grace Tarpley is the associate editor of banking and mortgages at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her four years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to save, invest, and navigate loans.

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