Varo Bank is a fairly recent addition to the long list of online, app-based banks. If you’re thinking of opening an account, you probably have questions. Find out if Varo Bank is legit and what features it offers in this in-depth Varo Bank review.
Varo Bank is an online bank that lets you manage your money without brick-and-mortar branches.
Accounts are mostly app-based using the mobile app for Android and Apple devices.
Varo customers can access all of their account features on the go using the app.
Get up to $500* and build your credit.
In addition to being completely online, Varo sets itself apart from traditional banks through its mission.
The Varo mission is to make banking accessible and fair for everyone —regardless of their net worth.
They believe that banks should work for their customers to help them reach their financial goals.
Like other app-based banks, Varo offers FDIC-insured accounts to safely store and manage your money.
You’ll need to be at least 18 years old and a US citizen or permanent resident to apply.
You also need to have a device that can support the banking app.
To apply, you simply download the app and follow the prompts to sign up.
You’ll need a form of identification and your Social Security Number to apply.
You should be able to open an account in minutes.
Varo has several different account types in addition to their basic bank account.
You can apply for Varo Savings, Varo Advance and Varo Believe accounts after meeting basic requirements in your Varo bank account.
This is the basic account you receive after initially signing up with Varo. It’s a checking account—minus the physical checks.
You’ll get a Varo Visa debit card that can be used to make purchases. You can use your debit card to withdraw money through the Allpoint ATM network with no ATM fees.
There are no maintenance fees for a Varo checking account. You also don’t need to make a minimum deposit or maintain a minimum balance.
You can fund your account using direct deposit, transferring from another financial institution, or even moving money using apps like PayPal.
Depending on your employer, you could be eligible for early payday direct deposits. Cash deposits can be made at Green Dot locations in stores like CVS or Walgreens.
The Varo Savings account is a high-yield savings account just for Varo Bank members.
You can earn an even higher annual percentage yield (APY) by meeting certain requirements. There’s no minimum savings balance to open a Varo savings account, but you’ll need at least $0.01 to earn interest.
Varo provides two ways to get automatic savings:
Varo Advance is a cash advance program for eligible Varo account holders. You can get up to $100 in cash sent directly to your Varo account.
The program is fee-free if borrowing $20, with a small fee added for larger amounts. You can repay your advance in as many payments as you want—in any amount.
However, you’ll only have 30 days to repay your advance.
A Varo advance could help you avoid overdrafts, but it’s not the best option if you need cash fast. The short repayment period can make it difficult to pay the money back.
A better alternative could be a short-term installment loan, like those from Possible. Possible lets you borrow up to $500 in minutes, depending on your eligibility. You’ll be able to pay it back over months and build your credit history, all through our easy-to-use app.
The Varo Believe card is a secured, prepaid credit card. You add money to your Believe account and make purchases using your Visa credit card.
There’s no minimum deposit, no annual fees, and no APR. The Believe card could help you build your credit with on-time payments.
Only eligible Varo customers are invited to apply for the Varo Believe program.
Perks is the debit and credit card rewards program from Varo. It lets you earn cashback on every purchase you make with a Varo debit or credit card.
Once you earn $5 in rewards, the cash is automatically deposited into your Varo account.
While you can access your Varo account using a web browser, it’s designed to be used with the mobile app.
The Varo app can be found in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
All of Varo’s products use the latest industry-standard encryption systems to ensure your information stays private.
You’ll need a photo ID to open an account, which Varo uses to check that you’re who you say you are.
While it hasn’t been around as long as other online banks, Varo Bank is a legitimate bank that includes FDIC insurance on your account balance.
What are other people saying about Varo and how does it compare to other online banks? Let’s take a closer look.
Varo earns a “Great” rating at just over 4 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot.
A large 81% of reviews give an “Excellent” rating. Many reviewers mention that they enjoy having no fees.
It earns a similar rating—at 3.83—from Better Business Bureau reviewers. Varo is a BBB-accredited business and has an “A” rating.
Varo offers many services and features similar to other online banking apps. For example, both Varo and Dave let you get a small cash advance to avoid overdraft fees. Varo and Chime, on the other hand, both offer early direct deposit for qualifying customers.
While many of Varo’s features are similar to other banking apps, one difference stands out. Varo is a registered national bank and member FDIC. Other mobile banking services piggyback off of other banks for their financial services. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—a government agency that’s part of the U.S. Treasury—approved Varo for a bank charter in June of 2020.
Varo Bank seems to offer premium banking products with little-to-no fees. It could be a good option if you’re looking for app-based banking with cashback rewards on debit card purchases.
However, Varo doesn’t offer loan products and the Varo Advance program has a short repayment period.
If you need cash to cover an expense, you may want to look at other options.