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Aspiration Online Checking Account Review

April 17, 2019
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts
Aspiration Review: Online Checking
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4.0 NerdWallet rating

Where Aspiration shines:

  • Offers a hybrid checking-savings account with a rare 0.5% to 1% cash back on purchases and a 2.00% APY.
  • No monthly fee and no overdraft fees.
  • Reimburses all ATM fees worldwide.
  • Spending tracker for social impact, and 10% of Aspiration’s earnings go to charity.

Where Aspiration falls short:

  • History of customer support issues.
  • No branches or CDs.
  • No cash deposits.
  • Limits on debit card use internationally.

Where Aspiration shines:

  • Offers a hybrid checking-savings account with a rare 0.5% to 1% cash back on purchases and a 2.00% APY
  • No monthly fee and no overdraft fees
  • Reimburses all ATM fees worldwide
  • Spending tracker for social impact and 10% of Aspiration’s earnings go to charity

Where Aspiration falls short:

  • History of customer support issues
  • No branches or CDs
  • No cash deposits
  • Limits on debit card use internationally

Where Aspiration shines:

  • Offers a hybrid checking-savings account with a rare 0.5% to 1% cash back on purchases and a 2.00% APY
  • No monthly fee and no overdraft fees
  • Reimburses all ATM fees worldwide
  • Spending tracker for social impact and 10% of Aspiration’s earnings go to charity

Where Aspiration falls short:

  • History of customer support issues
  • No branches or CDs
  • No cash deposits
  • Limits on debit card use internationally

 

The bottom line

Aspiration

at Aspiration,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

The Aspiration Spend & Save Account, formerly the Aspiration Summit Account, stands out as one of the best checking accounts on the market. The account earns interest and cash back and doesn’t have ATM or monthly fees. In addition, Aspiration doesn’t charge overdraft fees. But as an online-only investment firm, Aspiration doesn’t have bank branches or offer certificates of deposit. And a recent internal change in operations led to customer service issues for some accountholders.

Customer complaints increased this year as Aspiration migrated customers from accounts partnered with Radius Bank to its own system. Some claims included delayed bank transfers and locked accounts due to verification issues. Customers have posted frustrated complaints on various platforms, often citing slowness of customer service response to account problems. The company says it has tripled its service staff this year and told NerdWallet it has an average hold time of less than five minutes as of April 12.

In “adding over 100,000 sign-ups a month and [having] migrated about 100,000 accounts from Radius in just a matter of weeks,” the company told NerdWallet, the “people making complaints are not representative of the experience of the vast majority of our customers.” Aspiration encourages customers to call 800-683-8529 if they have problems. Due to the recent issues, NerdWallet has reduced the company’s Bank Experience rating, and will be monitoring the situation to see whether further changes are warranted.

Best if: You’re looking for a free bank account that earns interest, has a mission to increase social impact, and has international ATM reimbursement.


Read on for more details about Aspiration’s account, overdraft fees and bank experience.

Checking: 5.0/5.0

Aspiration’s Spend & Save account is technically one account with separate checking and savings balances. There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. The opening minimum is just $10.

More upsides:

Has a top interest rate. The Save balance has 2.00% APY on all balances, which is among the best savings rates available. To get the rate, you must either deposit at least $1 a month into any Aspiration account or keep the Save balance at $10,000 or higher. Otherwise, the account doesn’t earn interest. Deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Reimburses ATM fees worldwide. Aspiration doesn’t charge for using ATMs, and it reimburses any charges that hit your account in the U.S. or abroad.

Free paper checks available.

Overdraft fees: 4.0/5.0

The upside:

No overdraft fees. Any checking transaction that would push the account negative is simply declined with no fee instead.

The downsides:

No overdraft protection. Because Aspiration lacks savings accounts, you can’t sign up for overdraft protection that would transfer money from savings to checking to cover overages. Some banks also offer a low-cost line of credit to cover overdrafts, but that’s not an option at Aspiration.

Bank experience: 2.5/5.0

Upsides:

Helpful FAQs. The website has a thorough list of FAQs to answer questions about Aspiration, account features and other information.

Decent mobile apps. Aspiration offers highly rated iOS and Android mobile apps. Both let you deposit checks with your smartphone.

Unique spending feature. If you want to support socially responsible business practices, Aspiration helps make that happen. The firm gives businesses a “social impact score” based on how they treat their employees, customers, community and the environment, and you also receive a score based on where you shop. Cash back for debit card purchases at companies that have high scores is 1%, compared to other purchases, which get 0.5% cash back.

Other benefits. You can get reimbursed for losses due to identity theft as part of a limited insurance coverage that Aspiration offers. There’s also free cell phone protection if you pay your phone bill with an Aspiration debit card.

Downsides:

Not consistently timely in support responses. Aspiration has apologized to customers posting about delayed response times over the past few weeks on its Twitter account.

No live chat, no weekend hours for customer phone support. The main ways to reach support include submitting a written request, calling Aspiration and reaching out on its social media account. Phone hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

No branches. The Spend & Save Account is an online-only account.

Limits on debit card use abroad. Debit card transactions don’t work in every country, so check Aspiration’s list.

If you’re looking for a stand-alone savings account to pair with your checking account, compare these highly rated online options:

Goldman Sachs Bank USA

at Goldman Sachs Bank USA,

Member, FDIC

NerdWallet bank rating:
4.0 NerdWallet rating
NerdWallet bank rating:
4.0 NerdWallet rating
Discover

at Discover,

Member, FDIC

NerdWallet bank rating:
4.5 NerdWallet rating

APY

2.25%





Monthly fees

$0





Bonus features

Excellent CD options



APY

2.25%





Monthly fees

$0





Bonus features

Large ATM network



APY

2.10%





Monthly fees

$0





Bonus features

Solid CD options



See more high-yield savings accounts
Aspiration

at Aspiration,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

If you’re interested in comparing Aspiration to other online banks, read our reviews for Ally, Capital One 360 and Discover, three online banks that have good checking and savings accounts along with add-on services that can help you handle your finances.
But if you’re looking for an online account with great rates and other perks, the Aspiration Spend & Save account could be a great choice.


Ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for banks and credit unions are weighted averages of several categories: checking, savings, certificates of deposit or credit union share certificates, customer experience and overdraft fees.

Factors we consider, depending on the category, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing technology, customer service and innovation.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

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