Aspiration is not a bank but rather a financial services company that has come up with quite the aspirational product – a hybrid checking/savings account with the goal of making the world a better place.
Aspiration has taken the best features of checking and savings accounts (ie cash back on debit purchases, unlimited ATM reimbursements and a solid APY on idle cash) and combined that with a streamlined way of investing in ethical companies.
The Aspiration Spend & Save account was named one of the best cash management accounts on the market for 2020 by NerdWallet— “it lets you invest sustainably and save while you do it.”
Today, the Spend & Save account by Aspiration comes with two plans to choose from:
- Aspiration – free – 3 to 5% cash back on conscious coalition purchases.
- Aspiration Plus – $7.99/mo or $5.99/mo if you pay annually. Earn up to 1.0% APY on savings plus up to 10% cash back on conscious coalition purchases AND Aspiration will offset your carbon footprint every time you drive.
If you’re in the market for a cash management account that is as personally fulfilling as it is financially rewarding, continue reading our review of both plans below.
Aspiration Spend and Save at a Glance
The Aspiration Spend and Save account is a cash management account that is divided up into two plans – Aspiration and Aspiration Plus.
As mentioned, the regular Aspiration plan is free and has several noteworthy benefits. These include:
- An Aspiration Debit Card issued by Coastal Community Bank, based in Washington State.
- A guarantee your deposits won’t fund fossil fuel exploration or production
- 55,000 free in-network ATMs using Allpoint locations (found in Walgreens, CVS and Target)
- 3-5% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases
- Personal impact score to help you shop to match your values
- Option to plant a tree with every purchase roundup
- FDIC insurance up to $2.46 million using bank sweep programs which “sweep” your funds up into member FDIC banks to leverage their FDIC insurance
- pay whatever monthly fee you think is fair (even if it’s zero)
The fact that the Aspiration Spend and Save account will never be used to pay for fossil fuel exploration or production is taking direct aim at America’s largest banks. The four leading banks in the U.S. — Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America — are responsible for the most fossil fuel production by any banks in the world.
If you opt for the Aspiration Plus plan at $7/mo or $69/annually you have the ability to unlock more features and rewards. On top of all the bulleted items listed above, the Aspiration Plus plan will also include:
- 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases
- Up to 1.00% APY on your savings up to $10,000
- Planet Protection which purchases carbon offsets to balance out your gas consumption. Drive all you want with a clear conscience!
Both the 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases and the Planet Protection program are novel benefits and unique differentiators for Aspiration.
All Aspiration Spend and Save customers will be able to see their spending impact in the form of an impact score which not only gives you spending bonuses but also shows you how the companies you’ve supported use their profits to do social and environmental good.
Conscience Coalition Partners
Aspiration has teamed up with corporations that put morals and ethics at the heart of their business.
Every Conscience Coalition partner that Aspiration has is an impact leader. These companies achieve high scores on the Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) tool. These companies are made up of pioneers in giving, sustainability, workplace equality, or transparency.
Remember, when purchasing form these companies your cash back will vary based on your Aspiration plan. If you’re on the regular, free plan you’ll earn between 3 and 5 percent cash back and if you’re on the Aspiration Plus plan you’ll earn 10% cash back.
It’s no secret that driving our cars is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. With the Aspiration Planet Protection program; however, you’ll be able to drive your car as much as you want with a clean and clear conscience.
The Aspiration Planet Protection program purchases carbon offsets based on every gallon of gas you purchase with your debit card. This means that regardless of what kind of car you drive, you can rest assured that Aspiration will be neutralizing your carbon output.
This feature is only available with the Aspiration Plus plan.
Spend and Save Rate (APY) + Details
For the Aspiration Plus plan members, you have the chance to earn one of the highest APYs on the market at 1.00% on balances up to $10,000.
The biggest “catch” with earning the exceptional APY is that the plan requires you to also spend $1000 or more, monthly, with your Aspiration debit card. If this requirement is not met your balance will earn a more modest 0.25% APY.
A minimum deposit of just $10 is required to open to open the account, but you must enroll in Aspiration Plus to earn the APY.
Aspiration Plus APY
|$10 – $10,000||1.0%|
To put these yields in perspective, the current national average for a savings account and an interest checking account are just 0.06% APY and 0.04% APY, respectively.
|$10 – $10,000||0%|
The regular Aspiration plan does not provide any yield on your balance.
FDIC Insurance up to $2.46 Million
Aspiration deposits are insured up to $2.46 million per depositor by the FDIC. This is just shy of 10x what a typical bank provides. This is possible through the use of the FDIC Deposit Sweep Program, which “sweeps” your funds into FDIC-insured bank accounts at day’s end to protect them.
Operating as your custodian and agent, Aspiration will select these banks for you from a long list of at least 10 participating Program Banks. They will post a Priority List of these selections for your viewing. This list will tell you which banks your funds will be put into and what the priority will look like (i.e. which bank will get the first tranche, second tranche, third and so on until all your money is safely parked).
As mentioned, at the end of each business day your cash balance is “swept up,” and distributed amongst, one or more of Aspiration’s partner banks up to $246,500 per bank.
Here is a current list of Aspiration’s current Program Bank members. All are members of the FDIC:
- Coastal Community Bank
- Ion Bank
- Bremer Bank, NA
- Bank of New Hampshire
- Manufacturers Bank
- C3Bank, NA
- The Freedom Bank of Virginia
- Bridgewater Bank
- Nano Banc
If the $2.46m is exceeded, you will have an excess bank for this additional amount. Deposits in the Excess Bank will not be insured. Contact Aspiration at (800) 683-8529 if you are over this limit in one or more of the banks on this list or if you would like to alter your Priority List.
Though your money won’t be held at Aspiration, it can still be accessed as usual through Aspiration. A Spend and Save account is not technically a deposit account, so deposits into it need to be distributed into other deposit accounts in order to still receive insurance coverage.
Accessing Your Funds
Accessing your funds is simple and straightforward and on par with many online bank savings accounts and money market accounts. The following methods are allowed.
Depositing funds can be down via:
- ACH Transfer
- Wire transfer
- Mailed check
- Mobile-deposited check
Withdrawing funds can be down via:
- ACH transfer
- Wire transfer
- Request a mailed check
- ATM withdrawal
- Point-of-sale withdrawal
Aspiration’s “Pay What is Fair” fee is certainly an interesting approach to fees. They simply state that you choose their fee.
They’re confident in their ability to bring you best in class digital financial products and in return they hope you will be kind enough to pay them something for the value you received. But you certainly don’t have to and the ball is entirely in your court. The fee you pay can be $0 for as long as you’re with them if you so choose.
Aspiration Spend and Save Fee Schedule
|Monthly Maintenance||Pay what is fair|
|Minimum to Open||$10|
|Overdraft||NA. The account won’t allow it.|
|Domestic Wires (In and Out)||$0.82 each|
|International Wire In||$2.50|
|International Wire Out||$15|
|Return Item Charges||$1.15 per item under $5,000|
$5.33 per item over $5,000
|Foreign Item Collection||$30 plus the foreign bank’s fees|
|Canadian Item Collection||$5|
|Expedited Debit Card||$35|
You may write checks with an Aspiration Spend and Save, but you will need to order paper checks. Aspiration tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible, so you’ll have to go out of your way to get paper.
Aspiration also makes investing easy by offerings users professionally managed funds that are 100% free of any fossil fuel investment(s).
If you utilize this service your money is placed in the redwood fund (REDWX) which only invests in companies with sustainable environmental and employee practices. A $10,000 minimum is required.
Aspiration also allows its users to open an IRA through Redwood IRA. The same investment principles apply in that they only invest in sustainable businesses and companies who care about their employees. A $10,000 minimum is required.
Aspiration Spend and Save Reviews + Customer Sentiment
Customer satisfaction with this financial firm is mixed and fairly average overall. This cash management product comes through for users with competitive rates, high FDIC-insurance and simplicity, but some users are frustrated with how often rewards, rates, and features change.
Customer service is said to be good and accessible and the online banking platform is generally thought to be more than sufficient—easy to use and complete.
To reach a customer support representative, call (800) 683-8529 during business hours of 6 AM – 6PM Pacific Time Monday through Friday and 8 AM – 4 PM Saturday and Sunday. You can also follow the corporation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
This account is a clear winner for anyone that wants to use their money to better the world.
The Spend and Save account (along with membership to Aspiration Plus) has everything a good cash management account should. They feature good rates of return, great perks, and the convenience of spending, saving, and investing all under the same umbrella.