April 16, 2024

In case you have frolicked on the lookout for a brand new financial institution or seen a few of the new private finance apps, you’ve in all probability seen fairly a number of “neobanks.”

Generally they’re apps which might be layered on high of a associate financial institution. Generally they provide a full suite of banking companies however your cash is held with a associate financial institution.

What precisely is a neobank? Are these neobanks protected? 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’s a Neobank?
  2. Who Can Be 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 Providers and Buyer Service
    3. Many are Cell-Solely
  6. Neobank Execs and Cons
    1. Execs
    2. Cons
  7. Finest Neobanks within the US
    1. SaveBetter
    2. Chime
    3. Cleo
    4. Present
    5. Lili
    6. Varo
  8. The Backside Line on Neobanks

What’s a Neobank?

A neobank will not be an precise financial institution however a monetary know-how firm (fintech) that gives digital banking companies.

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

Neobanks can provide 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 take care of, and so they don’t require practically as many staff. Additionally they have a tendency to supply distinctive merchandise that you just received’t discover at most banks.

Some examples embody:

  • Larger rates of interest on financial savings (i.e., 5% financial savings accounts)
  • Rewards debit playing cards
  • Banking companies for minorities and immigrants
  • Free checking accounts
  • Environmental-friendly banking practices

In at this time’s aggressive, tech-centric world, it’s extremely tough for a fintech to turn into a financial institution. Concurrently, it’s difficult for standard banks with a constitution to supply progressive companies. 

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

Who Can Be part of a Neobank?

Membership is open to authorized residents not less than 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 take into account a neobank if in case you have an imperfect banking historical past, as they’re simpler to affix. Fortunately, many of those banks don’t use ChexSystems, a service just like a credit score rating verify that critiques your banking historical past for account closures and potential dangers. 

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How Do Neobanks Make Cash?

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

Neobanks can even earn curiosity on consumer account deposits. And a few might provide premium plans that present unique options however are nonetheless cheaper than an everyday financial institution.

Neobanks additionally have a tendency to supply fewer concierge companies and don’t have to take care of a bodily community which helps hold bills low.

Generally, neobanks rework into full-fledged chartered banks, with SoFi being a main instance. 

How Neobanks Work

The banking expertise is just like many nationwide banks which might be on-line solely. 

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

Listed here are a few of the membership options that you would be able to obtain:

  • Deposit accounts: Every platform provides a checking account (generally referred to as a spending account). Financial savings accounts may additionally be obtainable, however not each neobank provides them. As a substitute, you might have financial savings objectives 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 simplest solution to obtain funds right into a neobank account. And you’ll often hyperlink your account to digital wallets or instantly hook up with exterior accounts to rapidly switch funds to mates, household, and companies.
  • Studying instruments: A number of neo-banking platforms provide academic instruments that may assist adults and instruments to find out about saving cash, spending cash, and budgeting.
  • FDIC Insurance coverage: Most companies provide as much as $250,000 in FDIC protection. Some platforms might associate with a number of banks to offer as much as $1 million in federal insurance coverage.

Associated: Finest Free Checking Accounts (if you happen to nonetheless want a conventional native or on-line financial institution)

Variations Between Neobanks and On-line Banks

Whereas there are various similarities between neobanks and online-only banks comparable to Barclays Financial institution, there are a number of variations in obtainable companies 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 business has expertise however stays comparatively younger and will be riskier than well-established banks with wholesome steadiness sheets. 

Like every business, some platforms inevitably fail, making it tough for patrons 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 could be finest.

Because the house is comparatively new, platforms might exit of enterprise in the event that they fail to draw sufficient clients or investor funding. For example, Easy Financial institution ceased operations in 2021, though clients got advance discover to maneuver their property to a different platform. 

Restricted Premium Providers and Buyer Service

Neobanks are perfect for getting free banking accounts whereas incomes rewards. Nonetheless, many neobanks restrict customer support hours and provide few further companies to economize. For instance, buyer brokers might solely be obtainable throughout sunlight hours as an alternative of 24/7. It’s additionally not unusual to solely present chat and e-mail assist.

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

Additionally, neobanks don’t provide private, auto, and residential buy loans, although you might have entry to money advances if it’s essential to borrow cash.

Many are Cell-Solely

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

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

Neobank Execs and Cons

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


  • Preferrred for the underbanked, Gen-Z, or new immigrants
  • No-fee banking
  • Earn money again rewards on checking and financial savings
  • Extra prone to concentrate on a selected area of interest or background
  • Supply distinctive merchandise, like free credit score reporting, rewards debit playing cards, and so forth.
  • Can often provide FDIC insurance coverage protection by way of a associate financial institution.


  • On-line-only
  • Lack of conventional banking companies, like wire transfers or cashier’s checks
  • Restricted verify writing functionality (if any)
  • You’re not coping with a chartered financial institution
  • Restricted buyer assist
  • Much less-common banking companies are often 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 high neobanks to think about. As you’ll see, every one places its distinctive spin on banking and managing cash.


Some neobanks deal with interest-bearing financial savings accounts as an alternative of checking rewards. SaveBetter companions with banks and credit score unions from throughout america to supply financial savings accounts, cash market accounts, and no penalty CDs with aggressive yields.

The minimal deposit is $1 for a lot of merchandise, and a number of other banks provide unique charges solely by way of this platform which might 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 Overview.

Be taught extra about SaveBetter


Chime is without doubt one of the largest neobanks and provides many options that make it an ideal different to a typical financial institution. 

A few of its advantages embody:

You have to to obtain not less than $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

Chime is a monetary know-how firm, not a financial institution. Banking companies offered by The Bancorp Financial institution, N.A. or Stride Financial institution, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Financial institution or Stride Financial institution pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and could also be used all over the place Visa debit playing cards are accepted. Please see again of your Card for its issuing financial institution.


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

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

Our Cleo Overview 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 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 Overview.

Be taught extra about Present


Half-time freelancers and sole proprietors can use Lili to keep away from the charges and hassles of a conventional enterprise checking account. Among the Most worthy options embody 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 fee on deposits. You can too earn money rewards on purchases and cut up expense classes. For extra info, try our Lili Overview.

Be taught extra about Lili


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 not less than $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 Consider: A secured bank card with out a minimal safety deposit, annual charge, or laborious credit score verify. Earn money again from over 50 manufacturers and construct credit score with the three main credit score bureaus.

Our Varo Cash Overview has all the small print.

Be taught extra about Varo

The Backside Line on Neobanks

A neobank will be a wonderful solution to begin banking as an grownup or to assist your teen be taught the ins and outs of saving and spending. These platforms can deal with most day by day banking actions. You’ll be able to hyperlink your payroll direct deposit, make debit card purchases, and save for the longer term.

Ultimately, you could want to modify to a conventional financial institution to entry extra companies comparable to invoice pay, verify 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 required actions.

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