In this Varo money review, we are going to look into how this startup bank tries to disrupt traditional banking through monthly-fee-free accounts and an entirely mobile experience.
Back in 2013, research conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that 51% of American adults or 61% of internet users in the country do online banking. Meanwhile, 32% or 35% of the total number of cell phone users opt to do banking using their mobile phone.
Fast-forward to 2018, a report published by Statista states that based on a survey conducted, it was found that 693% of Millennials are or have used mobile banking, while 24% of Baby Boomers do online banking as well.
Furthermore, in the said report, it says that probable reasons behind the rise in number have something to do with how flexible and convenient mobile banking is. Well, with people nowadays being always on-the-go, it is not surprising at all if one of these days all traditional banks will focus on strengthening their mobile banking services.
While there are a lot more people who are into online banking particularly mobile banking, there are still a few who are not into it. Some are kind of hesitant or worried about security and if it’s really convenient to do banking online.
These concerns are valid and that is why Varo Bank makes sure it offers plenty of capability for users who are always on-the-go. With a mobile app and broad ATM network, Varo Bank ensures complete basic banking and savings transactions for each of its customers.
Furthermore, when it comes to safety and security concerns, Varo ensures customers’ personal information and money are well-protected by its 256-bit AES encryption.
Now, are you curious to know more about what Varo Bank has to offer?
If your answer is yes, then you are in the right place as we are going to dissect all essential information every customer needs to know regarding Varo Bank.
In this Varo money review, we are going to particularly talk about the following:
- What is Varo Bank?
- What does Varo Bank have to offer?
- How to open an account with Varo Bank?
- Are there fees and charges involved?
- What are the benefits of using Varo Bank?
- What are the downsides of using Varo Bank?
- Is Varo Bank safe?
WHAT IS VARO BANK?
When looking for a mobile bank partner, it is important to take time to get to know the bank you are eyeing for.
A little history of the bank will help establish your trust and confidence in doing business with them. You get to see how credible and how trustworthy they are.
With that said, let’s get to know more about Varo.
Varo was founded in 2015. Compared to other online banks, it is relatively new. No wonder why some people wonder about the reliability and the authenticity of the bank.
Moving on, based in San Francisco and Utah, Varo was established to be an all-mobile bank that offers both checking and savings accounts.
As we have mentioned earlier, Varo aims to disrupt traditional banking and even other online-only banks by providing customers with monthly-fee-free accounts and an entirely mobile experience.
Varo is part of the growing neo in the United States, which makes it the first of the bank scene.
Recently, Varo worked on becoming a fully-fledged bank, making it the first of its kind in the country to receive full approval.
By becoming a full-fledged bank, it means Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will offer Varo customers deposit insurance up to $250,000.
Varo has a very bright and interesting future, to be honest. With it becoming a full-fledged bank is just the beginning of better days ahead for this mobile bank.
Before moving on to our Varo money review, here’s an interesting and very insightful and informative Varo Bank review by MONEY with Eddie Yoon that we thought you should check out:
WHAT DOES VARO BANK HAVE TO OFFER?
Now that you already know a brief history about Varo and what to expect from it in the future, this time around in our Varo money review, we are going to talk about the different products and services that this all-mobile bank has to offer.
As earlier mentioned, Varo offers the following:
- Savings Account
- Checking Account
Now let’s look into each of these items —
Varo does only have one savings account, and this one’s a high-yield account that comes without fees whatsoever.
Since the Varo Savings Account does not charge any fees, savers can earn up to 2.80% APY, which is very competitive as compared to other mobile-only banks out there.
While it all sounds good, the Varo Savings Account is only available for savers who have already an existing checking account with Varo, which they call a Varo Bank Account.
Additionally, savers can only earn the said 2.80% APY if they meet the following requirements:
Ensure a daily savings account balance of up to $10,000
Make at least five debit card purchases for every calendar month
Receive $1,000 or more in direct deposits during the same calendar month
If you fail to meet the above-mentioned requirements, your rate will only be 0.81% APY.
Please take note that all three must be met. If for example a savings account holder keeps a daily balance of $10,000 or more but does not meet the other two requirements, he or she will not be eligible as well for the 2.80% APY.
Just the same, even if a saver meets the two other requirements, but holds a daily savings balance of more than $10,000, the rate automatically drops down to 0.81% as well.
If, however, you do not mind about the APY, it is important to note that Varo does not require a minimum balance on its savings account. A saver needs no more than $0.01 in his or her account to start earning interest.
As mentioned, a saver is required to have a Varo checking account in order to open the Varo savings account. Although there are those requirements, what we find nice about it is that it comes with benefits.
Specifically, Varo Bank has two automatic savings options to help encourage savers to reach their savings goals.
The automatic savings options include:
Save Your Pay – This program by Varo allows savers to select a percentage of every direct deposit into their Varo checking account to have automatically transferred to their Varo savings account.
Save Your Change – This program allows savers to make purchases anytime using the Varo debit card. When used for purchasing, Varo will round up the amount to the nearest dollar, and then, transfer that amount from the saver’s Varo checking account into his or her Varo savings account.
This time around, let’s talk about Varo’s checking account.
The only checking account option from Varo is what they officially call the “Varo Bank Account”.
This checking account comes with an impressive punch for a fairly simple offering.
The key benefits of using a Varo Bank Account include:
- No monthly maintenance charges
- No minimum balance required
- No overdraft fees
- Early direct deposit
The Varo checking account comes with a Visa debit card, which you can use to withdraw, as well as in making purchases.
By the way, while Varo does not charge fees or interest, this is only applicable if users meet the following requirements:
- The user must make five debit purchases every month.
- The user must receive payroll or government direct deposits of at least $1,000 every month.
Furthermore, with regards to the no overdraft fee benefit, Varo checking account customers must enroll in No Fee Overdraft, which is available in the Varo app, so the feature gets activated. In case you did overdraft your account, Varo gives you 30 calendar days to pay the amount back. Varo, however, automatically takes the amount from your next direct deposit.
In addition to the benefits, Varo users also can send money to other Varo accounts without having to worry about getting charged a fee. Varo to Varo instant transfer feature is absolutely free. The downside of this account, though, is that you cannot use your Varo account in making wire transfers.
HOW TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH VARO BANK?
By now, you already know what Varo is all about, and the products that the bank offers.
At this point in our Varo money review, we are going to talk about how one can actually open a Varo account.
If you are interested in opening a Varo account, then, you got to check this section out.
Opening An Account
Anyway, as mentioned earlier, Varo offers an entirely digital service, which means, if you are looking for a physical branch, Varo does not have it.
Similar to most digital banks out there, Varo promises an easy and simple process when opening an account with them. In fact, the process is very straightforward and convenient.
Unlike traditional banks, you can do it in just a few minutes. No need to do paperwork and definitely, no long waits.
To apply for a Varo account, first of all, users have to download the Varo app. The Varo app is available for both iOS and Apple users.
Once done downloading, to proceed with the process, users need to follow the on-screen prompts to complete the whole account application.
As we have said, the process is simple and easy it takes no longer than five minutes to finish.
By the way, just the same as other digital banks, you will be asked to provide some personal information, as well as undergo an identity verification process by providing either a valid ID or a passport.
Should users encounter any problem upon signing up, Varo offers a variety of customer service lines that will offer fast and friendly advice or recommendations.
In relation to opening an account with Varo, we also wanted to share with you how to actually add funds into your account.
As mentioned, Varo does not have a physical branch, so, to make up for that, the bank offers five easy ways to deposit money into your Varo account.
First, the quickest way to put money into your Varo account is through direct deposit. Varo allows you to pay money into the account yourself or you may opt to use it to receive your paycheck directly into your account.
With Varo’s direct deposit option, users get to receive their salary up to two days early. Additionally, users can receive instant pay from Uber and/or Lyft if you are employed by these companies.
The second option to fund your account is by transferring money from an external bank account through the app and through your other bank’s online banking service.
The third option is by making a transfer of funds from PayPal, Cash App, Venmo, and other similar platforms.
The fourth way of putting money into your Varo account is by cashing in a paper check using your smartphone camera.
Last, but certainly, not least the option to fund your Varo account is through cash deposits. Unlike many digital banks, Varo accepts cash deposits. All you have to do is deposit the cash at a Green Dot location or with a MoneyPak.
You see, funding your Varo account is easy. You got not only one but five options to choose from – and we have to say, they’re all easy and very accessible.
ARE THERE FEES AND CHARGES INVOLVED?
The answer to this question is — mostly none.
With Varo, users are free from being charged for the following:
- Monthly maintenance fees
- Overdraft fees or interest owed for overdrafts
- No foreign transaction fees
- No debit card replacement fees
- Money Transfer fees (Varo to Varo)
However, as mentioned, these can only be benefited by the account holder (particularly, Varo Bank Account holder) if he or she meets the following requirements:
The user must make five debit purchases every month.
The user must receive payroll or government direct deposits of at least $1,000 every month.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING VARO BANK?
We are almost done with our Varo money review. But, similar to our previous bank reviews, this review will not be complete without pin-pointing the pros and cons.
So, first, let’s talk about the pros or the benefits of using Varo. Some of the benefits we found include:
- No Monthly Fees – By having a Varo account, you do not have to worry about the minimum balance required, card replacement fees, monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees or interest owed for overdrafts, transfer fees, and foreign transaction fees.
- No Fee Overdraft – An account holder automatically gets eligible for No Fee Overdraft if he or she receives at least a $1,000 direct deposit every month, at the same time, makes at least five debit card purchases per month. No Fee Overdraft means Varo will cover an overdraft of up to $50 without fees and interest owed. The account holder’s next deposit in 30 days will reimburse the overdraft.
- No Overdraft Fees – If in case the user does not qualify for the No Fee Overdraft, any transaction the person makes that would overdraw his or her account is automatically declined.
- Visa Debit Card – Varo Bank Account comes with a Visa debit card that users can use anywhere Visa is accepted. The debit card can also be connected with Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, Cash App, as well as Venmo for seamless payments anywhere. This card also entitles the owner to the Visa Zero Liability guarantee, which ensures the user that he or she won’t be liable for any unauthorized charges on the card.
- Great Mobile App – Varo, being an all-digital bank ensures users have the best digital banking experience. Thus, making sure that the Varo app delivers as it has promised. With the app, users can deposit checks using mobile deposit, send money instantly, receive alerts, as well as track spending.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES OF USING VARO BANK?
In the last section, we ran down a list of benefits. This time, we are going to share with you some of the downsides of using Varo. This includes the following:
- High-Yield Savings Account Only – Unfortunately, Varo only offers a high-yield savings account. Unlike other banks of the same level, Varo does not offer other options.
- Mobile-Only Platform – Although you can sign up on the Varo website, everything else can only be done using the Varo mobile app. So, unless you want app-based banking transactions, Varo may not be ideal for you.
- No Checks – Unlike other mobile banks, Varo does not offer paper checks with its checking account. However, a check via the Varo mobile app is available in case you need one. The check is mailed within three to nine business days, though.
IS VARO BANK SAFE?
Safety and security both personal information and money are two very important things that people look into when it comes to mobile or online banks.
Fortunately, Varo is a safe mobile banking platform. Varo Bank N.A is FDIC insured, which means that the federal government protects the depositors’ money for up to $250,000 per depositor, for every account ownership category. This is particularly important in case of a bank failure.
Furthermore, Varo uses 256-bit AES encryption to ensure the safety and security of all the information they gather from every depositor, as well as their depositors’ money.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS VARO MONEY REVIEW
All in all, we got to say that Varo Bank has a very promising offering. Given the fact that is very new to the market, it offers amazing features that every user or depositor usually looks for in a digital bank.
So, do you consider opening an account with Varo yet?