October 31, 2018

Aspiration Bank Review: Account Good for You?

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Do you focus more on the sustainability of an investment rather than its returns? If so, Aspiration may be the robo-advisor you are looking for.

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Aspiration is a community-minded robo-advisor that focuses on sustainability and the happiness of people rather than profits. Aspiration prides themselves on the availability of "elite" investments for "ordinary" people.

Aspiration dedicates a portion of your fees toward charities. They also let you name your own fees because they believe it builds a better layer of trust between everyone involved.

It's a big gamble that Aspiration takes. Is it worth it?

Keep reading to see how Aspiration stacks up.

What Services Does Aspiration Offer?

At first glance, Aspiration is a robo-advisor, helping you to invest in low volatility mutual funds as either a taxable account or an IRA. They also offer a high-yield checking account, called the Summit Account.

  • Investment account: With just $100, you can invest in a variety of mutual funds that Aspiration deems "less volatile" than the stock market. You don't have to have credentials as an investor to start. As long as you are at least 18 years old and have $100 to invest, you can invest.

  • Retirement IRA accounts: Aspiration offers standard IRAs with just $100 to start. An IRA lets you grow your money tax-deferred. Aspiration targets sustainable and low volatility investments to help you maximize your returns.

  • Interest-bearing checking account: Put your funds in a checking account to easily pay your bills or manage daily living expenses, but make interest on the money that sits in your account. It's like a savings and checking account combined. Aspiration partners with Radius Bank to provide this account.

Using the Aspiration App: The Aspiration mobile app allows you to handle your finances on the go. You can view balances, deposit checks, transfer funds between accounts, and pay bills, all through the app.

You can also check the value of your IRA or taxable investment account as well as buy or sell shares of your investment funds.

The app uses two-factor authentication and touch ID to help you keep your information secure.

Reasons We Like Aspiration

  • You only need $10 to open an account. Many interest-bearing checking accounts require you to have a large opening balance in exchange for the interest paid on the account. Aspiration doesn't have those high minimums and they offer a high interest rate on a checking account, which can be hard to find.

  • You can use any ATM in the US or overseas at no cost. Aspiration has a network of ATMs that won't charge you a fee. If you use an ATM outside of that network, though, Aspiration claims that they will reimburse the fees charged at the end of the month. The one exception to the rule is any currency fees charged overseas; Aspiration will not reimburse those.

  • You don't have to meet a monthly minimum balance in order to earn the interest. Your only restriction is that you open the account with $10. Of course, it works to your benefit if you have more money in the account, as you'll earn more interest.

  • You pay what you feel is fair if you invest with Aspiration. They put the client in charge of the commission they pay, even if it means $0. They feel that trust works both ways, so they let you be in the driver's seat. You can change the amount you pay as often as you want too.

  • You can allocate 10% of your fees to one of six charities. They offer the descriptions of each charity's category on their website. They include poverty, water, education, environment, health, and human rights. You can break up your 10% contribution into each category, put it all in one fund or any variation that you choose.

  • You can link your Aspiration checking account to a variety of third-party apps. The apps include Mint, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. You can link the external accounts just like you would any other checking account.

  • You can invest in socially responsible investments. Aspiration's platform consists of only socially responsible investments. Other brokers have "some" socially responsible investments, but other options as well. Aspiration puts their effort into providing mostly socially responsible investments for its investors.

  • Every time you refer someone to Aspiration, and they sign up for an account, Aspiration will donate $25 to your charity of choice. They will also donate $25 to your friend's charity of choice once their account is open and in good standing for at least 10 days.

  • You can deposit checks into your Summit account via mobile check deposit. You take a picture of the check and it gets deposited into your account. After you have the account for 30 days, it takes about 2 business days for your funds to be available.

  • You can view your Aspiration Impact Measurement score. This tells you how your own spending habits affect the environment. Aspiration bases your score on the impact the businesses you spend your money on have on the environment and the people.

How Does Aspiration Bank Mobile Deposit Work?
You can deposit your checks via mobile deposit by taking a picture of both sides of the check. You must make sure that you endorsed the check and that you write "For Mobile Deposit" underneath your signature.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • Aspiration operates online only. You won't find a physical branch anywhere. If you are the type who likes to conduct your banking in person or you want to see a "real" person before you make investments, you'll want to use a brokerage with physical branches.

  • You only have 2 investment funds to choose from. If you are looking for variety or have an interest in investing in a specific industry, you may not find it within Aspiration's available funds. They have two options: Sustainable Investing and Low Volatility Investing.

  • If you want to deposit cash, you have to be near an NYCE ATM. If you aren't near an NYCE ATM, you'll have to deposit the cash in an external account. You can then transfer the funds from your external account to your Aspiration account. This could take extra time and hassle just to deposit cash.

How It Compares

Ally:
You can open a checking and savings account together at Ally. They offer high-yield interest rates, 24/7 customer service, and more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs.

Chime:
You can open a checking account and get a "bonus" savings account with Chime. Their savings account is a micros savings account, as Chime offers the ability to round up your purchases and have the spare change deposited in your savings account. Chime has about 30,000 fee-free ATMs in their network.

Simple:
If you just need a checking account without all of the fees, Simple offers just that. In addition, they offer budgeting software tied directly to your checking account. This allows you to see your spending, track it, and even avoid overspending, as the software takes into consideration upcoming bills before providing you with a "safe to spend" balance.

Bottom Line

If sustainable investing is important to you and/or you want a checking account with a decent APY, Aspiration may be a viable choice. If you are looking for a traditional checking and savings account, though, you may want to look elsewhere. Aspiration is the robo-advisor/checking account for the environmentally-conscious investor.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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