Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve: Online Cash Management Account Review

Betterment’s cash management options have strong features, including a high annual percentage yield for Betterment Cash Reserve.
Chanelle Bessette
By Chanelle Bessette 
Updated
Edited by Sara Clarke

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Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion
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at Betterment

Like most cash management account providers, Betterment is not a bank. It’s an online financial service provider that helps customers invest their money. Betterment (paid non-client promotion*) sweeps customers’ funds into accounts at program banks, where they benefit from Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. insurance. Betterment has two complementary accounts: Betterment Cash Reserve and Betterment Checking.

Betterment Cash Reserve offers a solid annual percentage yield with no fees and no minimum balance requirement.

Betterment Checking has a debit card available and reimburses ATM fees worldwide. This account also has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirement.

NerdWallet doesn’t invest its money with this provider, but they are our referral partner – so we get paid only if you click through and take a qualifying action (such as open an account with or provide your contact information to the provider). Most importantly, our reviews and ratings are objective and are never impacted by our partnerships. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here’s how we make money.

Where Betterment shines

Where Betterment falls short

  • 5.50% annual percentage yield** on Betterment Cash Reserve for new account owners for three months once they fund their account (with a qualifying deposit within 14 days of opening the account); 5.00% after promotion ends and for current customers.

  • No monthly fees or minimum balance.

  • ATM fees reimbursed worldwide for checking account.

  • Federally insured through third-party bank.

  • Offers debit cards for Betterment Checking account.

  • No interest on checking account.

  • No branches.

  • No check deposit or writing.

  • Limited live phone support hours and only virtual chat support.

Betterment says: "Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients' brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities. Learn more: https://www.betterment.com/cash-reserve"

Betterment says: "*Current promotional rate; annual percentage yield (variable) is 5.50% as of 4/2/24, plus a .50% boost available as a special offer with qualifying deposit. Terms apply; if the base APY increases or decreases, you’ll get the .75% boost on the updated rate. Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank; cash transfers to program banks conducted through clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities."

Betterment says: "For Cash Reserve, Betterment LLC and Betterment Securities do not charge fees on your CR balance."

Betterment says: "‡Checking accounts and the Betterment Visa Debit Card provided and issued by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. Checking made available through Betterment Financial LLC. Neither Betterment Financial LLC, nor any of their affiliates, is a bank. Betterment Financial LLC reimburses ATM fees and the Visa® 1% foreign transaction fee worldwide, everywhere Visa is accepted."

» See how Betterment compares on NerdWallet's full list of best cash management accounts.

Checking and savings features

5.0/5.0

Upsides:

Strong APY for Cash Reserve. The APY on Betterment Cash Reserve is currently a high 5.00%.*** New customers can earn 5.50% for three months after they fund their accounts, which they must do within 14 days of opening it. While not a bank account itself, this account has a rate that’s higher than most traditional brick-and-mortar bank accounts.

***Betterment says: *Current promotional rate; annual percentage yield (variable) is 5.50% as of 4/2/24, plus a .50% boost available as a special offer with qualifying deposit. Terms apply; if the base APY increases or decreases, you’ll get the .75% boost on the updated rate. Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank; cash transfers to program banks conducted through clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities.

No monthly fees or minimum balance. Both the Betterment Cash Reserve and Betterment Checking products have no monthly fees or minimum balances.

Customers can withdraw cash, and ATM fees are reimbursed. Betterment reimburses all ATM fees incurred worldwide on its Betterment Checking account.

Debit cards are available. Customers can use a Betterment Visa debit card to access their funds in Betterment Checking.

» What is a cash management account? Check out NerdWallet’s guide to this financial product

FDIC coverage up to $2 million through affiliated partner banks. The FDIC typically insures up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution and per account ownership category. Betterment sweeps customers' funds into multiple partner banks to ensure coverage of up to $2 million (and up to $4 million for joint accounts).

Downsides:

No check deposits or check writing. With Betterment Cash Reserve, the only way to deposit and withdraw funds is through online transfer to or from a linked checking account.

Things to consider:

APY can fluctuate without notice. As with other cash management products, the program banks that Betterment partners with are subject to the changing federal funds rate, which is the set rate at which banks loan money to one another. This means that the APY Betterment offers customers varies in conjunction with the rates of its program banks. As with savings accounts at regular banks, the APY you open your account with is not guaranteed.

» Looking for more information about Betterment? Check out NerdWallet’s review of its investment services

Customer experience

4.0/5.0

Upsides:

Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion
NerdWallet rating 
Learn More

at Betterment

High-quality website. The Betterment website is well-designed, and information on its different products is easy to find. There is also a robust Frequently Asked Questions section on the site that provides additional information on how Betterment’s products work.

High app store ratings. The Betterment mobile app is highly rated in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

Twitter support available. Betterment provides Twitter support to its customers on its @BettermentHelp channel.

Downsides:

No branches. Betterment is an online-only service provider, so customers can receive help only through remote means of communication such as phone, mail and Twitter support.

Limited live phone support hours and no chat support. Phone support and email is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. The site has no live online chat support, although a virtual chat assistant is available.

Wealthfront logo
Learn More

on Wealthfront's website

Wealthfront Cash Account

Wealthfront logo
APY

5.00%

Min. balance for APY

$1

Betterment logo
Learn More

on Betterment's website

Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion

Betterment logo
APY

5.50%

Min. balance for APY

$0

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