Updated June 29, 2019

Aspiration Review: Account Good for You?

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Aspiration offers socially-responsible banking services and investment products with a unique "Pay What Is Fair" approach. Is it too good to be true? Read on.

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Aspiration set out to do finances differently. It aims to make the world a better place, starting with socially-conscious banking services and investing products.

Not only do its banking products have no fees, but it also offers a high interest rate and cash-back rewards. Aspiration puts its customers first through trust and fairness.

As for fees? You pay what you think is fair (even if it's $0). That's right. There is no catch.

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

Keep reading to see how Aspiration stacks up.

Shortcut: If you already know you're interested in environmentally and socially-conscious banking services and investing products, compare Aspiration here.

What Is Aspiration

Aspiration combines investment and banking services with social responsibility. It offers two main services:

  • Banking services: Aspiration offers a Spend & Save Account to easily save money or manage daily living expenses. The Spend account offers cash back, while the Save account offers a high interest rate. The minimum to open is just $10.

  • Investment services: Aspiration offers 2 specially-curated professionally managed mutual funds. It selects sustainable and low volatility investments to help you maximize your returns. It offers individual accounts and Traditional IRAs. The minimum to start is $10.

One of the most unique features about Aspiration is the "Pay What Is Fair" approach. You decide what its services are worth - even if it's $0.

Aspiration also donates 10% of what you pay to charities.

See current offer >>

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 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.

Banking Services

Aspiration's main cash management service is the Spend & Save Account. It is one single product with two parts. You can dedicate separate spending and saving balances. Here are some features:

Banking Services at a Glance:
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Account service fee: Pay what you want
  • Balance requirement: None

Is Aspiration Legit? Yes, deposits in your Aspiration account are FDIC Insured* up to $250,000 per depositor by being swept to FDIC Member institutions. For details, visit https://www.fdic.gov.

  • High savings APY: You get a high yield APY on all Save balances.

  • Cash back on purchases: Earn unlimited cash back on all purchases with the Aspiration debit card. Earn extra cash back when you shop with socially-conscious businesses.

      Aspiration

      Bonus Rewards Spending at Socially-Conscious Businesses

      Get your AIM personal People/Planet impact score and see how you can shop with a conscience.

  • No ATM fees worldwide: Aspiration waives all ATM fees in the U.S. and overseas. And plus, it will reimburse ATM fees charged by 3rd parties.

    For ATM overseas, there is a 1% foreign transaction fee that is not waived.

  • No fees: No ATM fees, overdraft fees, check deposit fees, debit card fees, or account inactivity fees.

  • $600 in cell phone protection: When you charge your cellphone bill to your Aspiration Mastercard, you get $600 in coverage against damage or theft to your phone.

  • Identify fraud protection: If your identity gets stolen, Aspiration will reimburse up to $1,000 per claim.

  • Online banking services: Do your business from anywhere with mobile check deposits and online bill pay.

    How Does Aspiration 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.

  • Aspiration Impact Measurement score: You get a score that shows you your personal impact on the Earth based on the vendors you shopped with.

      Aspiration

      Get Personal Sustainability Score

      • AIM (Aspiration Impact Measurement), a feature of Aspiration Spend account, lets you see the impact you're making on People and the Planet based on where you're shopping and spending everyday.
      • People scores reflect company metrics like employee pay, access to healthcare, workforce diversity, and more.
      • Planet scores are based on metrics such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, and renewable energy use.

  • Socially-conscious saving: Your deposits do not go towards Capitol Hill lobbyists or fossil fuel projects that harm the planet.

Who can apply? To open an Aspiration Spend and Save Account, you must be:

  • 18 years old or over
  • A U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (must have 10-year Green Card)
  • Have a Social Security number and permanent address
  • Have a bank account with a U.S. bank to fund the account

Aspiration Investment Services

The other part of Aspiration is an investment service. The goal is to open more complex investment options and strategies to the average investor.

Aspiration Investment Services at a Glance:
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Account service fee: Pay what you want
  • Balance requirement: $10
  • Accounts available: Individual Taxable Account, Traditional IRA

Aspiration offers 2 professionally managed mutual funds.

  • Flagship Fund. This fund aims to provide long term growth while reducing the impact of the volatility of the stock market. This fund is made up of funds with different strategies that had the best performance even when the market is down.

  • Redwood Fund. This is Aspiration's completely fossil fuel-free fund. This fund invests in companies that care about sustainability, diversity, and good environmental practices.

Aspiration charges no fees for their mutual funds, except for operating fees paid to 3rd parties. But these are capped at 0.5% of your assets. Aspiration will cover anything over that.

Reasons We Like Aspiration

  • Only $10 to open an account. Many big banks require you to have a large opening balance. Aspiration only requires $10 to open the Spend & Save Account, and there is no monthly balance requirement.

  • Competitive interest rate. Aspiration offers a very competitive interest rate on Save balances. The APY is in line with those offered by top online banks.

  • No ATM fees worldwide. Aspiration never charges you ATM fees, and will even reimburse fees charged by 3rd parties. However, for ATMs overseas, there will be a 1% foreign transaction fee that cannot be waived.

  • Pay what you feel is fair. They put you in charge of the service fee, 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.

  • 10% is donated to charities. Aspiration commits to donate 10% of their earnings to charity. You can also make a donation yourself through their online giving platform. The charity categories include poverty, water, education, environment, health, and human rights. You can decide which cause you want to donate to, or to all of them.

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

  • Socially-responsible investments. Aspiration's platform offers a socially responsible investment fund. Requiring only $10 to start, this opens up socially-responsible investing to everyone, instead of only to the wealthy.

  • Charity donations for referrals. 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.

  • 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.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • 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.

  • Limited investment options. You only have 2 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.

  • Difficult to deposit cash. Aspiration does not offer ATM deposits, so 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.

Compare Savings Account Promotion

How It Compares

Ally:
Ally is an online-only bank with a full range of services. In addition to checking and savings, Ally offers several flexible CD options. Ally offers high 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.

You might also consider:

Bottom Line

If sustainable investing is important to you and/or you want banking products 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 best for the environmentally-conscious investor.

* The Aspiration Spend Account and the Aspiration Save Account are part of a cash management account offering of Aspiration Financial, LLC ("Aspiration"), an SEC-registered broker dealer. After the close of business each business day, the cash balances in the Aspiration Spend and Save Accounts are swept to an account at one or more federally insured depository institutions (each a "Bank"). The deposits at the Banks are eligible for insurance by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), subject to FDIC insurance coverage limits. For more information about FDIC insurance coverage, please visit the FDIC website. As stated in the Aspiration Financial, LLC Customer Account Agreement (Customer Account Agreement), customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at the Bank to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance. FDIC insurance coverage is in accordance with applicable law and regulations, including the FDIC's laws and regulations relating to "pass-through" federal deposit insurance treatment. The names of the current Banks that maintain the Aspiration Spend and Save Accounts are made available within your periodic statements and may vary over time. Deposits at the Banks are not eligible for SIPC coverage. Aspiration Spend is a non-interest bearing account with electronic transaction functionality. Aspiration Save is an interest-bearing account. Full disclosure about Aspiration Spend and Aspiration Save is available in the Spend & Save Supplement to the Customer Account Agreement. Investments placed in the Redwood or Flagship Funds available through Aspiration are not eligible for FDIC Insurance, are not bank guaranteed and may lose value.

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.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on October 31, 2018. This content may have been updated on June 29, 2019. Information including rates, fees, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check the bank's website for updated information.

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