Varo Money Review

Mobile-first banking with no fees and competitive savings rates

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Varo Money

Founded in 2015, Varo is a mobile-first firm that offers checking and savings accounts. As a startup, Varo seeks to disrupt traditional banking (even the online-only variety) by providing monthly fee-free accounts and an entirely mobile experience.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
  • No-monthly-fee checking and savings accounts

  • No- or low-fee cash advance

  • Access to over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs

  • Impressive savings rate

  • Cash deposit is only available through a third party that charges fees

  • No checks

  • Only two deposit accounts are available

Key Takeaways
  • Varo is a mobile-first firm that provides checking and savings accounts with no monthly fee.
  • It's part of the Allpoint ATM network which offers fee-free use of over 55,000 ATMs.
  • Varo isn't set up to accept cash deposits. You must use a third-party retailer if you want to deposit cash.
  • Varo might not be a good match for you if you write a fair number of paper checks for payments because it doesn't issue them.
Company Overview

Varo describes itself as a "branchless" banking institution because it's digital and mobile-focused, but it does maintain a brick-and-mortar headquarters in San Francisco. However, its customer service is based in an area using Mountain Time. It's a member of the FDIC and all deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

  • Year Founded 2015
  • Official Website
  • Banking Products Offered Savings and checking
  • Customer Service Phone line: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MT) 1-877-377-VARO

Pros Explained

  • No-monthly-fee checking and savings accounts: Varo offers checking and savings accounts with no monthly fee. You'll pay no maintenance fees, no overdraft fees if you're eligible for this perk, no in-network ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees, no debit card replacement fees, and no transfer fees. The biggest exception is a $3.00 out-of-network ATM fee, which is easy to avoid by using one of over 55,000 in-network Allpoint ATMs.
  • No- or low-fee cash advance: Varo Advance provides up to $250 as an advance for qualified account holders. Advances of up to $20 have no fee. Advances of more than $20 come with a fee depending on how much you're borrowing. You must qualify for the Varo Advance program by receiving at least $1,000 in direct deposits each month, having your debit card active, and the account being more than 30 days old.
  • Access to over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs: Varo is part of the Allpoint ATM network which has over 55,000 ATMs.
  • Impressive savings rate: Savers with Varo can earn between 3.00% APY and 5.00% APY depending on their balance.

Cons Explained

  • Cash deposit only available through a third party that charges fees: You'll have to visit a retailer that participates in the Green Dot network, such as Dollar General, Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, or Walmart, and pay up to $4.95 to add cash to your account at the register if you want to deposit money into your Varo checking account. You can't deposit cash directly into your Varo savings account. You must deposit it into your checking account first then transfer it to savings on the mobile app.
  • No checks: Varo doesn't provide paper checks with its checking account but you can send payments through the mobile app. There's no fee for this service.
  • Only two deposit accounts available: Varo doesn't offer any deposit accounts other than checking and savings accounts. It doesn't offer certificates of deposit (CDs) or money market accounts.

Who Is Varo Best For?

Varo will appeal to customers who prefer a mobile experience, who want to avoid fees, and who want a competitive savings rate. Varo would be a food fit for customers who:

  • Are tech-savvy and enjoy handling their banking on their phone
  • Want a fee-free banking experience
  • Don’t often need to deposit cash
  • Want a high interest rate on their savings account
  • Don’t need more than the basic checking and savings account
  • Want easy access to fee-free ATMs
  • Don’t write many paper checks

What Does Varo Offer?

As an online and mobile-first startup, Varo keeps its offerings very simple. The only accounts offered by Varo are savings and checking.

Savings Account

The sole Varo savings account is a high-yield account with no fees whatsoever. Savers can earn up to a 5.00% APY on some of their balance with the account. You must first open a checking account known as the Varo Bank Account to open a Varo savings account.

The base interest rate that the account automatically earns is 3.00% APY as of May 2023. Account holders can qualify to earn 5.00% APY on the first $5,000 of deposits if they meet two conditions. The first is having $1,000 per month of qualifying direct deposits. The second condition is to have a positive balance in both of your Varo accounts at the end of the month.

You're required to have a Varo checking account in order to open a Varo savings account, but the institution offers some benefits with this structure. Varo has two automatic savings options to help encourage you to reach your savings goals.

  1. Save Your Pay: This program allows you to choose a percentage of each direct deposit into your Varo checking account and have it automatically transferred to your Varo savings account.
  2. Save Your Change: Anytime you make a purchase with your debit card, Varo will round up the purchase to the nearest dollar with this program and transfer that amount from your Varo checking account to your Varo savings account.

Checking Account

The only checking account option is officially known as the Varo Bank Account, and it packs quite an impressive punch for a fairly simple offering. The benefits of this account include all of the following:

  • No Monthly Fees: You really can enjoy monthly fee-free banking with no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fee, no overdraft fees or interest owed for overdrafts, no transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no debit card replacement fees,
  • Early Direct Deposit: You may be able to access your money as many as two days earlier than payday if you set up direct deposit of your paycheck. Varo will deposit your money in your bank account as soon as it receives the direct deposit notification. You may also be able to access the direct deposit of your tax refund up to two days early.
  • Varo Advance: You're eligible for Varo Advance if your account is at least 30 days old, you have activated your debit card, and you receive at least $1,000 in direct deposits per month. You can receive cash advances of up to $250. Advances of up to $20 have no fees, but small fees apply on all advances larger than $20.
  • Visa Debit Card: The Varo Bank Account comes with a Visa-branded debit card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. You can connect Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Cash App, and Venmo with your debit card for effortless payments anywhere. You're also eligible for the Visa Zero Liability guarantee that ensures that you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges on your debit card. Replacement cards are free.
  • Excellent App: Varo needs a great mobile app because it's a digital-only, mobile-first bank, and it definitely delivers. The app allows you to deposit checks with mobile check deposit, send money instantly to other Varo customers, track spending and account activity with instant alerts, and even link external accounts so you can transfer money and track your finances across Varo and other financial platforms. The app has a 4.9-star rating on the Apple App Store and a 4.7-star rating on Google Play.

The Varo Bank Account has a lot to offer the right customer, but it’s not a good fit for everyone. The fact that you have to pay a third party to deposit cash means that anyone who regularly receives cash may want to look elsewhere for a basic checking account.

It’s also a good idea to double-check if there are Allpoint ATMs in your area before signing up for a Varo Bank Account. A network of 55,000 ATMs covers a lot of territory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone can easily find an Allpoint ATM near them. The one exception to this fee-free account is the $3.00 out-of-network ATM fee. This could be an expensive exception if there are no convenient Allpoint ATMs near you.

Varo Customer Service

There's a robust help section on Varo's website that's set up as an easy-to-use FAQ and is searchable. Chat support is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Phone support is available at 877-377-VARO on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time. These hours exclude federal holidays.

How to Bank With Varo

Signing up for an account with Varo starts on its website. You can enter your email and some other identifying information and create your account on the website. You can download the app to finish opening your account from there.

It's impossible to bank with Varo without a smartphone or computer.

Final Verdict

Varo doesn't have a wide array of products and services, but it makes sure that what it does offer is excellent. The no-strings-attached fee-free accounts make this a good option for young and newly-banked customers, and the impressive APY on the high yield savings account can tempt even veteran savers.

The fact that Varo is digital-only and mobile-first, and doesn't have a great solution to the problem of cash deposits means that this isn't necessarily the right institution for everyone. But Varo is an excellent competitor in the world of online and mobile banking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does Varo give you money instantly?

You can access cash through any Allpoint ATM. There are over 55,000 of them. You can take cash advances of up to $250 each if you're a qualified account holder, and there's no fee for advances of $20 or less. You can also use your Varo Bank Visa debit card to access cash from most stores and many banks or credit unions.

How long does it take to get money from Varo?

You can access your money from a Varo account at any Allpoint ATM, and you might be able to get it two days earlier than usual if you arrange to have your paycheck or tax refund directly deposited.

What is Varo's withdrawal limit?

You can withdraw up to $1,000 a day from ATMs or by using your debit card at a bank or credit union. The limit on debit card cash advances at a store is $500 a day.

Can I use Zelle with Varo?

You can enroll in Zelle at Varo if you had a Zelle transaction in your Varo account before Nov. 3, 2022. You can send, request, or receive money with Zelle in your Varo app after you enroll.

Will Varo let you overdraft?

Varo will honor overdrafts and there are no overdraft fees for eligible accountholders, but the bank recommends tapping into Varo Advance instead if you have any forewarning that you don't have sufficient funds in your account to honor a payment you issued.

You have to qualify for Varo Advance, but you can access cash instantly this way rather than physically withdraw it from your account and deplete your balance. But you must repay your advance plus and any fee within 30 days if you want to take another advance in the future.


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