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Aspiration Review: Online Cash Management Account

Sept. 24, 2019
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts
Aspiration Review: Online Checking
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4.5 NerdWallet rating

Where Aspiration shines:

  • Offers a hybrid cash account with a rare up-to-5% cash back on purchases and up to 1.00% APY with an Aspiration Plus subscription.
  • No monthly fee for the basic Aspiration Save account and no overdraft fees.
  • Optional Planet Protection feature offsets carbon outputs when buying gas.
  • Unlimited free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs.
  • Spending tracker for social impact, and 10% of Aspiration’s earnings go to charity.

Where Aspiration falls short:

  • The highest interest rate comes with quite a few hurdles and a fee.
  • No branches or CDs.
  • No cash deposits.
  • Limits on debit card use internationally.
  • Has had customer support issues.

 

Where Aspiration shines:

  • Offers a hybrid cash account with a rare up-to-5% cash back on purchases and a 1.00% APY
  • No monthly fee for the basic Aspiration Save account and no overdraft fees.
  • Optional Planet Protection feature offsets carbon outputs when buying gas.
  • Unlimited free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs.
  • Spending tracker for social impact and 10% of Aspiration’s earnings go to charity.

Where Aspiration falls short:

  • The highest interest rate comes with quite a few hurdles and a fee.
  • No branches or CDs.
  • No cash deposits.
  • Limits on debit card use internationally.
  • Has had customer support issues.

» Want to see how Aspiration compares? Take a look at NerdWallet’s list of Best Cash Management Accounts

The bottom line

Aspiration

at Aspiration,

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Cash management accounts — or cash accounts — have features that are commonly found in both checking and savings accounts. They’re typically offered by nonbank financial service providers, like Aspiration. Aspiration has an annual percentage yield of 1.00% for customers who meet the requirement of depositing $2,000 into their account per month. This online-only account has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.

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

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

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

Checking and savings features

4.5/5.0

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.

upsides:

Has a decent interest rate but with a caveat. The 1.00% APY is only available with the Aspiration Plus subscription add-on — which costs $3.99 per month or $44.99 per year — and it’s only on the first $10,000 in a customer’s Aspiration Save account. Customers must also spend $1,000 per month with their Aspiration debit card to earn the high APY.

Otherwise, the APY is up to 0.25% on balances of $10,000 or less on the basic Save account. To qualify, customers must deposit $2,000 per month into their Aspiration account and enroll in Aspiration’s Planet Protection feature, which is more expensive by itself than subscribing to Aspiration Plus. If a customer is only enrolled in Planet Protection and doesn’t meet the deposit requirement — or if they have  a balance over $10,000 — they will earn 0.05% APY. Not meeting any of the requirements means no interest will be earned.

Fee-free ATM withdrawals with the Allpoint network. Aspiration customers can use more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs with no fees. Aspiration Plus customers get one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursed per month.

“Planet Protection” feature. For $5.99 per month or $59 per year—or at no extra cost if you’re enrolled in Aspiration Plus — Aspiration will buy carbon offsets to match the calculated carbon output for every gas purchase you make.

Free paper checks available. The first set of checks you order from Aspiration is free. A shipping fee applies to every order of checks after the first.

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

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.

No cash deposits. Aspiration currently doesn’t accept cash deposits into the Spend & Save account, but the company says it’s working on adding that feature.

Customer experience

4.5/5.0

Upsides:

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

Strong 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 0.5%, compared with other purchases, which get 0.1% cash back. At select companies, the rate goes as high as 5%.

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.

Weekend hours for customer phone support: Phone hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT on Saturday and Sunday.

Downsides:

No live chat. The main ways to reach support are submitting a written request, calling Aspiration and reaching out on its social media account.

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.

Issues in the past with customer support. Complaints from customers, including NerdWallet readers, about slow responses, delayed transfers and other account issues increased in early 2019 when Aspiration migrated accounts partnered with Radius Bank to its own system. At the time of publication, response time appeared to have improved, and app ratings were high.

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

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

at Marcus by Goldman Sachs,

Member, FDIC

NerdWallet bank rating:
4.0 NerdWallet rating
NerdWallet bank rating:
4.0 NerdWallet rating
NerdWallet bank rating:
5.0 NerdWallet rating


APY

1.05% APY (annual percentage yield) as of 6/16/2020





Monthly fees

$0





Bonus features

Excellent CD options



APY

1.05%







Monthly fees

$0





Bonus features

Large ATM network



APY

1.01%







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, 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 some appealing perks, the Aspiration Spend & Save account could be a solid choice.

 

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