Do you remember how arduous a process it can be to open a bank account? From the queues to the endless sheets of paperwork, it’s no wonder so many people remain unbanked to this day. However, online banks want to change that by making it as easy as creating a social media account. In the race to win over as many customers as possible are Varo Bank vs SoFi, two popular online banks each with millions of customers.
Varo made headlines when it received a national bank charter in July 2020. For online banks, it was big news because it proved that the industry was just as credible as physical banks. Since then, Varo has gained more customers to reach 4 million while revenue tripled over the past year. Today, the company is valued at $2.5 billion, which is impressive for a company that has only been around for about 5 years.
SoFi: Social Finance Inc.
Started in 2011 to help college students access more affordable student loan options, SoFi has since grown to become a major player. Through steady evolution from its roots, SoFi has acquired a number of financial services companies, been listed on the Nasdaq exchange and is now on the cusp of receiving a national bank charter. At a valuation of nearly $9 billion and with 7.5 million users, we believe this will be an interesting matchup.
Varo Bank vs SoFi comparison
|Varo Bank||SoFi Money|
|Savings (APY)||3.00% (Up to $5,000 deposits)|
0.20% (Over $5,000 deposits)
0.42% (Over $100,000 deposit)
|Overdraft fees||$0 (up to $20)|
$0 – $5 (over $20)
|ATM withdrawal fee||Allpoint Network: Free|
|Allpoint Network: Free|
|Cash deposit fee||MoneyPak: $5.95|
Retailer checkout: $4.95
Retailer checkout: $4.95
|Security||Chartered national bank; FDIC insured||FDIC insured; national bank charter (pending)|
|Customer service||Phone call, Live chat, Email||Phone call, Live chat, Email|
Online banks’ main advantage is that they don’t have as much overhead as a traditional bank. As such, Varo Bank has been able to eliminate most of the fees you would have been otherwise charged. For instance, you’re not charged for money transfers, monthly maintenance or ATM withdrawals provided you use ATMs within the Allpoint Network.
If not on the Allpoint Network, a $2.50 fee will be incurred for ATM withdrawals. Some fees, however, are charged by the physical stores you use such as $4.95 for cash deposits at checkout and $5.95 for a MoneyPak. Varo also allows overdraft services, but these attract a fee up to $5 depending on the amount, but all in all the fee schedule is very attractive.
SoFi also does not charge fees for most of its services. Compared to Varo, the fee schedule is even more attractive because there are no fees on overdraft services whatsoever. This is in addition to zero fees for money transfers, account opening and maintenance or POS transactions.
Ease of use
The Varo Bank app is all you need to create an account and start banking with Varo. It is found on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and in each instance has a high rating meaning that current users are happy with the experience.
Creating an account is very simple and should take only a few minutes and you should be able to start banking immediately. After all, you can deposit as little as a penny to get started as there isn’t a set minimum deposit requirement.
To make deposits faster and easier, Varo accepts payments through Zelle, eChecks, direct deposits, ACH transfers and bank transfer. A debit card will also be issued to go along with your bank account at no extra cost to help you shop easier.
Just like Varo, SoFi Money is also primarily used through the mobile apps available for iOS and Android apps. However, SoFi apps have a higher rating than Varo apps showing that this app has an even better user experience. In our review, we found this to be the case seeing as how SoFi apps are more intuitive and simpler to use.
Without a minimum deposit requirement, you can make money deposits through the same methods as Varo as well as cryptocurrency. At the moment of publishing, SoFi is running a campaign that grants users $10 worth of Bitcoin as a bonus for trading crypto. Therefore, not only are you saving money but also earning several perks along the way.
Being among the few online banks with a national bank charter, it’s not surprising that Varo has perhaps the highest APY of 3.00%. Compared to a national average of 0.04%, this is very impressive. But to earn this high interest, you must fulfil certain conditions or else earn the standard 0.25% APY.
In addition, you can opt in to a service that automatically invests extra change after performing transactions. Altogether, Varo can help you increase your balance over time without having to perform any investments manually.
At SoFi, the APY is set consistently at 0.25% regardless of the amount of money you have in your account. While the number may be lower than Varo’s, it’s always the same and thus reliable. To earn higher interest, deposit your money to a CD that can earn up to 0.42% over a 5-year commitment.
Verdict: Which one is better for you?
Varo Bank vs SoFi are quite equally matched in our view because their services are very similar in most perspectives. Some of the differences to note, though, is the lack of overdraft fees on SoFi and the high APY on Varo. These differences make SoFi perfect for someone who performs transactions often while Varo is suited to that individual looking to grow their capital.
How safe is online banking?
The FDIC provides insurance up to $250,000 for deposits.
Do I get a debit card with my account?
Yes, a free debit card will be issued by either Varo or SoFi.
What is the fee schedule like?
Most charges are free except when making cash withdrawals or deposits.
How do I reach customer support?
Both Varo and SoFi provide a phone number to call in case of an emergency.