Barney was a member of the Huntingdon Valley Country Club and for a time served as the club's Treasurer.
Barney was born in Sandusky, Ohio, the son of a grain merchant. Barney attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan when the American Civil War broke out. Barney's older brother was killed and at the end of 1862, Barney was permitted by his family to enlist in the U.S. Army. After the war, Barney worked briefly as a clerk at a bank in Sandusky.
After two years, Barney moved to Philadelphia, where he married Laura E. Cooke, the daughter of prominent Philadelphia financier Jay Cooke, joining the firm of Jay Cooke & Company Following the collapse of his father-in-law's Philadelphia banking house, in 1873, Barney reorganized the firm as Chas. D. Barney & Co. Barney's brother-in-law, Jay Cooke, Jr., joined the new firm as a minority partner.
Barney retired from day-to-day control of the firm in 1906 but remained involved through the 1930s. In 1938, Charles D. Barney & Co. and Edward B. Smith & Co. merged to form Smith Barney & Co.
Barney died in 1945 at the age of 101 at Elkins Park, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. At the time of his death, Barney was among the oldest living veterans of the American Civil War.
Barney was a director of the Union League of Philadelphia.