As traditional banks offer more online features, customers visit their local branches less often. Why visit your nearby branch to deposit a check when you can take a picture instead? Even if you barely visit your local bank, the bank still has to pay for each building. Those costs often result in more fees and stricter balance requirements for customers.
Challenger banks like Varo and Current do not have any physical branches. As a result, these online entities have less overhead and can pass the savings to their members. In addition, online banks tend to have more leniency with fees and a suite of features to strengthen your finances. We will compare Varo and Current to help you decide the best online banking experience for your needs.
What are Digital Banks?
Digital banks do not have physical branches and operate online. Many of these banks, including Current and Varo, provide FDIC insurance for their members. This is the same protection you will find at any traditional bank. Members have to use ATMs to withdraw paper cash, but online banks usually have vast ATM networks that eliminate fees at some locations.
Digital banks usually feature higher interest rates on their savings accounts without any minimum account balance requirements. They also have customer support, just like financial institutions, and some online banks offer 24/7 support. Digital banks are challengers to the traditional model, and as traditional banks embrace an online banking experience, digital banks have gained viability.
Overview of Current
Current is a mobile banking app that helps members save money and build wealth. Members can create checking, and savings account on the Current app. Current was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in New York.
Overview of Varo
Varo is a mobile banking app that makes money work for all of us instead of some of us. You won’t have to worry about monthly account balance requirements or hidden fees. Varo Bank was also founded in 2015, but unlike Current, it is headquartered in San Francisco.
Comparing Varo vs. Current
Varo and Current are both enticing online banking apps. We have outlined some similarities and differences between the fintech companies to help you choose the right one for you.
Varo has no hidden fees or monthly maintenance costs. Varo also provides some leniency for overdraft fees. You can get a Varo Advance which provides instant cash instead of overdraft protection. One simple fee applies if you want to get a Varo Advance above $20 (Varo members can borrow up to $100). You will need $1,000 in combined deposits to your checking account, savings account, or both within the past 31 days. Varo has a $2.50 fee for each out-of-network ATM withdrawal.
Just like Varo, Current has no hidden fees or monthly maintenance costs. Current also helps with overdraft fees, but they let you overdraw your account. Instead of providing a cash advance, Current lets you overdraw up to $200 before charging overdraft fees. Current gives you more space than Varo before charging overdraft fees. Current has a $2.50 out-of-network ATM fee and a $3.50 fee for each transaction where you add cash.
The fintech company also has a $4.99/mo for Premium Accounts, which let members access Current Overdrive. You can get an ROI if you have $6,000 across your Savings Pods, but it’s good to keep this fee in mind. You can also use Current for free and get access to most of the essential features.
Varo has better interest rates than Current. While a savings account starts with a 2% APY (lower than Current), you can get it up to 5% APY. To qualify for 5% APY, you have to receive $1,000 or more in direct deposits this month and have positive balances in all of your Varo bank accounts. The 5% APY only applies to the first $5,000 in your savings account. Every dollar above $5,000 generates 2% APY.
Current offers a universal 4% APY on its savings accounts, also known as savings pods. You can only store $2,000 in a Current savings pod and create up to three savings pods. That means you can only earn 4% APY on up to $6,000. That’s $240/yr which is the same amount you would make with $4,800 in a Varo savings account yielding 5% APY. Varo also lets you earn 2% APY on every dollar past $5,000, while Current has a hard cap of $6,000.
Savings and Checking
Varo savings and checking accounts have no hidden fees or minimum account balance requirements. Varo has a network of 55,000 AllPoint ATMs where you won’t have to pay fees to withdraw money.
Current savings and checking accounts have the same advantages as Varo accounts. However, Current only has a network of 40,000 AllPoint ATMs, which is still impressive. However, Current members cannot exceed $10,000 for their debit card balances. If you exceed this limit, you will have to move funds to a different bank to get below the threshold.
Customer Experience and Service
Varo has several support articles, an email address, and a phone number. The company does not make you jump through hoops to find contact information in case the support articles do not answer your questions. Varo’s customer support hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm MT every day of the week. The fintech company’s customer service representatives take off on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The Varo mobile app has over 116,000 App Store reviews averaging 4.9 stars and over 151,000 Google Play reviews averaging 4.8 stars.
Current has a live chat and a ticket submission feature that lets you reach out to customer support. The online bank also has an FAQ and Knowledge Base section. A phone number is not posted on Current’s website, but they have 24/7 customer support. The Current mobile app has over 130,000 App Store reviews averaging 4.7 stars and over 139,000 Google Play reviews averaging 4.6 stars. Varo Banking has a slight edge in average stars, but that should not be the decisive factor in your decision. It would be more noteworthy if either banking app had an average rating that was one star higher than the other.
Safety and Security
The funds in your checking and savings accounts are insured by the FDIC. In addition, all Varo debit cards include EMV chips.
Current offers FDIC-insured bank accounts through Choice Financial Group. Their debit cards also feature EMV chips which add an extra layer of protection.
Other Account Features
- Varo Advance: Receive your paycheck up to two days ahead of schedule
- Round up: Grow your savings with each purchase by rounding to the nearest dollar
- Save Your Pay: automatically move a percentage of each paycheck to your savings account
- Credit history: The Vary Believe secured credit card does not require a hard inquiry to obtain. Varo will report your credit activity to the major credit bureaus. Varo credit cards have no APR or security deposit requirements
- Cashback debit cards: Varo sends money to your bank account each time you reach $5
- Budgeting tools: Track your spending and discover ways to better manage your money
- Cashback debit card: Earn up to 15 x points on qualifying purchases.
- Teen Banking: Make banking more accessible to your child. They get more control over their finances, but you can still monitor their spending and block certain merchants.
- Faster Direct Deposits: Get paid up to two days early
- Crypto: Current members can invest in over 30 cryptocurrencies from the mobile banking app. When you cash out on crypto, the funds are immediately available in your bank account. You don’t have to wait for the money to transfer from your brokerage account to your checking account.
Where Does Varo Stand Out?
Varo has a great APY on savings accounts and reports your credit card activity to the major bureaus. The company lets you receive paydays up to two days in advance. If you go with their debit card instead, you still get rewards for your purchases.
Where Does Current Stand Out?
Current has a vast array of money management tools that can improve your spending and help you hit your income goals sooner. While Varo offers a higher APY on savings accounts, Current still offers a respectable 4% APY for their savings pods. Current also lets you trade crypto without any fees. Making these trades from a central source eliminates delay times when converting crypto into cash for an emergency expense. Both banks have overdraft protection, but Current has more coverage.
How to Open an Account with Varo
You can create a Varo account by visiting their website or downloading the mobile app. You will need a personal ID and your social security number. Varo is approaching seven million users.
How to Open an Account with Current
You can create a Current account by visiting their website or downloading the mobile app. Current has the same requirements as Varo. You will need a personal ID and social security number. After creating your Current account, you will join over four million users who use the Current app for their banking needs.