Niyo, Fi Money, Jupiter Money, Freo etc. are the neo-banks that claim to give a better banking experience than traditional banks. In fact, they are positioning themselves as an alternative to traditional banks. Thus I think this is an opportune time to look into the fine print and T&Cs of these neo-banks. The intention is to highlight the fine prints that come with these accounts, thus helping you make a better decision.
Niyo, Fi Money, Jupiter Money – Fine print
The neo-banks such as Niyo, Fi Money, Jupiter Money, Freo etc. are not banks. However, they are just tech companies who have made a cool app, which wraps around your bank account and provide you better user experience. Ultimately, your bank account is with an RBI-regulated bank for eg. Federal Bank, Equitas Bank, State Bank of Mauritius (SBM), DCB, IDFC First Bank etc.
Niyo, Fi Money, Jupiter Money, Freo etc market themselves as an alternative to banks without hidden charges. However, I am not able to understand, “if “the underlying banks they operate with have hidden charges (as per them), how come they don’t have any?
That’s not all, the RBI has regulated that every bank puts up its rates and charges on its website and every bank does that. Just that most of us choose not to read them.
Jupiter Money – Fine print
Underlying Bank: Federal Bank
Jupiter Money claims that your money is insured for up to 5 lakhs. The fact is your money with any RBI-regulated bank is insured up to 5 lakhs. Thus, Jupiter Money is not doing anything here. They are just marketing a fact that banks in India probably never did. In fact, the bank pays the insurance premium to safeguard your money, in this case, Federal Bank and not even Jupiter Money.
Claims of 0-balance account with no hidden fees: As mentioned before if the underlying bank has hidden fees, anything built on it will also have hidden fees. It is the same with Jupiter Money. Few examples:
IMPS is charged from the 6th transaction onwards. This is mentioned on the page “Fee-Rates-Charges”, much like every other bank. However, banks charge hidden fees and we do not. 😈
Debit card rewards only if balance is above 10k: Jupiter Money markets its debit card with having 1% reward rate. In fact, there is not even the famous “*” mark on the 1% reward rate. However, deep down in the T&Cs page this is what they have mentioned.
0 forex charge appears to be a sham: Another marketing tool Jupiter Money uses is that it offers 0 forex charges. However, that’s only for Pro accounts only up to 25k per month and up to 1lk for salary accounts. Beyond that, 3.5% +taxes is applicable on all spends. If you ever go on a foreign vacation, you will end up spending 25k within a couple of days. Have a query here, Jupiter Money. What about the interest I lose on charges for 7 days? And will the taxes will be refunded too?
Jupiter charges 100/ instance if you enter an incorrect PIN: Ever seen this? Don’t know about you but I haven’t come across any bank that has this kind of charge.
T&Cs mentioned on Federal Bank’s website supersede anything mentioned here.
This means whatever is mentioned on Jupiter Money’s website is irrelevant. Basically, T&Cs on Federal Bank website matters.
No call 24×7 call support:Under the pretext of digital, you don’t even have a 24×7 number.
FI money – Fine Print
Underlying Bank: Federal Bank
Claims money up to 5lk is insured: Again this is not something Fi has done. As mentioned earlier, it’s the underlying bank, here Federal Bank is paying the insurance premium. If you want to thank someone for it, thank the RBI and Federal Bank. Not Fi Money for sure.
Advertises 0 balance account: Fi Money advertises a 0 balance account, but quietly slips a condition in the Fees page, that only if you keep 20k with us, you get max from us. Talk about no hidden conditions. 😈
Savings bank rate: Savings rate mentioned is 3%. However, smoothly insert some condition in eloquent English and give a link to Federal Bank’s website. Fact: The interest rate offered is 3.05% now.
0 forex markup is a sham again.Much like Jupiter Money, 0 forex charges are only for Salary/Infinite accounts.
Quietly, at the end of the page, they mentioned that there are taxes on this.
After going through the fees and charges, I don’t know what this term means as per the Fi Money team. 😊
Niyo –Fine Print
If you have come this far, you would have realised that these neo-banks are no different from the underlying bank. However, there could be areas where they could have been better, especially customer communications. However, my personal experience with Niyo hasn’t been great.
There was a recent LRS ban on SBM on 23rd Jan 2023 (link). However, neither the bank (SBM) nor Niyo sent an email regarding the same until 2 days into the ban. Then got a very jargonised email from SBM on 25th Jan.
A day later, another email from SBM gave some clarity. However, all this while Niyo didn’t send any emails. The only email from Niyo was pitching a new secured credit card from the same SBM Bank to bypass the LRS. 😲
Figuring out what the fees and charges are for Niyo SBM Global is a task, as I could not find out which page on Niyo’s website gives that information. In case you know where to look, please share the link.
Freo – Fine Print
Underlying Bank: Equitas Small Finance Bank
Freo takes marketing to another level: Claims “Safer than savings account”.
I mean how? 😵. Insurance is by the bank, Equitas SFB here. Freo is doing nothing here apart from making borderline false marketing claim.
Misleading graphic to show that SA interest rate is higher
Freo uses a graphic showing RD rates at 3.5% and FD rates at 4.5% to prove their SA rates are higher. Freo please wake up. We are in 2023 and FD rates are touching 8% with many banks. In fact, even your partner bank, Equitas is offering 8% FD rates.
“Contact us” Email id:
You will be surprised to see the mailing address of Freo. Its “email@example.com”. You can check for yourself, by clicking the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page. I am at loss of words here. 😔
Schedule of charges:
I could not find fees and charges on Freo’s website. However, the same is available on Equitas SFB’s website. Interested? Here it is.
Learnings from reading the T&Cs of neo-banks
Get to know the underlying bank where you are opening the bank account. You need to be comfortable with that bank. All neo-banks claim that money is safe up to 5lks and it is. But thanks to the RBI and the underlying bank; not the neo-banks. I am sure, in the worst case, if it comes to claiming the insurance too, these neo-banks will not assist any customer.
The charges and interest rates may change overnight, and it all depends on the bank. These neo-banks may have no role to play.
Always have a plan-B. The Niyo-SBM ban has proven that if you are travelling abroad, always have a backup in form of a credit card and also carry some hard cash with you. As per me good credit cards for forex spends are Axis Magnus (Apply Now), HDFC Infinia, HDFC Diners Black, HDFC Regalia, StanC Ultimate, RBL World Safari, OneCard (Apply Now) and SBI Cashback (Apply Now)
The idea behind highlighting the nuances/fine print of these neo-banks is not to dissuade you from opening an account with them but to make you aware of what you are getting into. You need to make the final decision about whether you are okay with that.
However, I am sure few of us will have a certain use case where these neo-banks will fit the bill. Go ahead and open the account. Nevertheless, do make note of asterisks and hidden charges. There are always asterisks in life. ALWAYS.
Disclaimer: The snapshots and T&Cs are from respective companies’ website as on 11th Feb 2023. E&OE.
In the interest of full disclosure, Credit Cardz may earn a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the links in this post. However, opinions and views expressed here are of the author's alone and not those of the bank, credit card issuer, or anyone else and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.