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Cheese Review | Banking For Asian Americans And Immigrants

For those who want cash back on their card spending plus a checking account, Cheese banking may be what you are looking for. It’s pretty much a no-frills service that focuses on cash back. 

There aren’t any fees (except on foreign transactions), you get a debit card that pays 10% on spending, and security is taken seriously.

And if you want to support Asian communities and businesses, Cheese should definitely be at the top of your banking services list. Keep reading our Cheese banking review to learn all that it has to offer.

Cheese logo
  • Rewards checking with no monthly fees
  • Up to 10% cash back on spending
  • Pays 0.30% APY on deposits

3% deposit bonus for referrals

What Is Cheese?

Extra Financial Inc. (DBA Cheese) is a fintech that provides banking services geared towards Asian communities. It is located in Pasadena, CA, and was formed in 2019. Its founders are Ken Lian, Qingyi Li, and Zhen Wang. It has taken $3.6 million in seed funding.

What Does It Offer?

Cheese (slang for money) is a fintech that provides basic banking services with cash back rewards. While Cheese itself isn’t a bank, it has partnered with Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, to provide banking services to its customers.

Cheese banking is only available as a mobile app and only for iOS. An Android app is supposed to be coming in the summer of 2021. Cheese provides bilingual support. They’re available in Chinese and English with more languages coming.

Money can be moved into and out of your Cheese account from your current bank account. After signing up, search for your bank to link it. Once your bank is linked, you’ll be able to use the mobile app to transfer funds from one account to the other.

Get Paid Earlier

By setting up direct deposit into your Cheese account from your employer, you can get paid up to two days early. Be aware that payer deposit transmission and type of payer can affect the actual payment date.

Cheese Banking early direct deposit

You probably already have direct deposit set up for your current bank account. If you aren’t getting anything extra from that transaction, consider moving your direct deposit to Cheese.

Cash Back

Cheese provides 0.25% cash back on all eligible purchases at over 10,000 stores and restaurants, up to a $10 daily maximum. But it may offer up to 10% cash back at certain retailers. A good many of Cheese’s business partners are Asian-owned, but customers can earn cashback at major retailers such as Walmart, DoorDash, UberEats, Chewy, and Nike too.

Cheese Banking cash back

Nothing needs to be done to earn 10% cash back. It’s automatically paid into your account after you spend money using your Cheese debit card. The debit card is issued by Coastal Community Bank and you can use the card wherever Mastercard is accepted.

The debit card has risk controls and anti-fraud features. You also have zero liability protection and can freeze and unfreeze the account as needed.

Deposit Bonuses

Cheese pays a basic 0.30% APY in deposit bonuses (aka interest) to all of its account holders. Nothing is required to earn this interest. It’s credited to your account on the first day of the following month. Currently, 0.30% is a much higher rate than what is paid by most traditional banks. 

You can also earn the larger 3% bonus by referring people to Cheese banking. This bonus is paid for each new user you refer to Cheese.

Cheese Review | Banking For Asian Americans And Immigrants

Are There Any Fees?

Cheese tries to come off as being a zero-fee company. However, if you dig into their terms and conditions, you’ll find where the fees are hidden. But even then, Cheese doesn’t disclose the exact amounts of these fees, probably because they vary slightly.

To be fair, most users won’t experience any fees. But places that you could run into them include:

  • Foreign transaction fee for point-of-sale purchases made internationally.
  • ATM terminal owners may charge a fee for use of their ATMs (this is not a Cheese fee).
  • You may be assessed a fee by the card association (for example, MasterCard) for using your card at an ATM or making a point-of-sale purchase.
  • Cheese may charge you a fee if you request a debit card replacement.

Most of these fees are related to international use which isn’t uncommon. However, it would be more transparent if Cheese displayed these fees or even mentioned them more prominently.

How Do I Contact Cheese?

Cheese is an online-only company, so there aren’t any physical branches available. However, it was a bit disappointing to find that there is no publicly-listed phone number either.

You can contact them through email at [email protected] and through WeChat. They’re also available on social media at the following profiles:

There’s also regular mail:

130 W Union St,
Pasadena, CA 91103

Customer Service

With a name like Cheese, it’s a bit difficult to find any reviews of the company (dairy products often come up instead). You have to search for something like “Extra Financial Inc. Cheese Review.” Here are the company’s ratings on the Apple App store and the Better Business Bureau.

How Does Cheese Compare?

There are a few other checking accounts that we’ve reviewed that offer cash back rewards or interest. Axos Bank and Discover are two prominent examples, both of which have longer track records. Here’s how Cheese compares:

How Do I Open An Account?

Follow this link to get the iOS download link for the app. You create a new account from within the mobile app. You’ll need the following information:

  • Name
  • Valid U.S. residential street address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • SSN
  • Date of birth

In some cases, additional documentation may be needed. Your SSN is required for know-your-customer (KYC) validations. You’ll also need your banking login credentials to link your bank account to Cheese.

There’s no minimum amount to open a Cheese banking account.

Is It Safe And Secure?

Yes. The Cheese banking mobile app is encrypted and all of your debit card transactions are encrypted as well. Your funds are also FDIC protected.

Is It Worth It?

If you are into cash back rewards cards, Cheese is certainly worth a look. Cheese says that its customers save an estimated $329 a year. But you’ll want to make sure that the retailers Cheese partners with are the same ones you use if you want to get the most value for your account.

If you don’t care about cash back rewards, or aren’t likely to spend at some of the Cheese retailers, Cheese may not be for you. If a high basic APY is what you’re after, for example, you may want to stick with a bank that offers dedicated savings account products. Compare our favorite high-yield savings accounts here >>>

Cheese Banking Features

37,000+ fee-free ATMs within the MoneyPass network

7848, through Community Bank

3% deposit bonus for referrals

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