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Aspiration was founded in 2013 as an online-only financial firm (not a bank) that focuses on helping customers make ethical choices with their money. Aspiration does not offer traditional checking or savings accounts, but customers can use its Spend & Save cash management account (CMA) for their day-to-day financial needs and transactions.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
“Pay What Is Fair” policy regarding fee structure
Impressive APY on savings
Earn cash back on purchases with ethical retailers
Deposits do not fund fossil fuel exploration or production
Highest APY only available with a higher fee account with several eligibility requirements
No way to deposit cash
Highest cash back only available with a higher fee account
Out-of-network ATM fees are unclear
- 1.00% to 3.00% APY on savings
- 0.5% to 10% cash back rewards from certain merchants
- Choose your own monthly fee
- Aspiration offers cash management accounts that yield interest at competitive rates.
- Customers can earn cash back at specific socially responsible businesses.
- Withdrawals are fee-free at Allpoint ATMs.
- Funds are FDIC-insured up to $2.25 million per depositor.
- Year Founded 2013
- Official Website www.aspiration.com
- Banking Products Offered CMA
- Customer Support Phone line: Monday–Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (PST); Saturday–Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PST): 800-683-8529.
Aspiration is a financial services company that helps you do good with your money. It's not a bank, but rather an online-only financial firm, and it offers a cash management account instead of traditional checking or savings accounts. Some transactions with an Aspiration debit card can earn cash back, and your deposits are eligible to earn interest if you meet certain qualifications.
Aspiration aims to stand out from the crowd by providing incentives for socially and environmentally conscious spending. Customers looking for a focus on sustainability may appreciate Aspiration's planet-friendly initiatives like planting trees and buying carbon offsets.
- "Pay What Is Fair" policy regarding fee structure: With the basic Aspiration Spend & Save account, customers can choose their monthly fee amount, even if it's $0.
- Impressive APY on savings: Savers can earn 1.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest with Aspiration Save Accounts and 3.00% for Aspiration Plus subscribers on the first $10,000 of their balance. However, there are spending requirements, and Aspiration Plus balances greater than $10,000 earn a 0.25% APY, which is still higher than many savings account rates with traditional banks.
- Earn cash back on purchases with ethical retailers: Customers can earn between 5% and 10% cash back when they make purchases with their Aspiration debit card at one of the businesses in the Conscience Coalition. This coalition is made up of companies who have put "doing the right thing" at the heart of their businesses, including such retailers as TOMS, Warby Parker, and Blue Apron.
- Deposits do not fund fossil fuel exploration or production: Aspiration promises its customers that their deposits will not inadvertently fund climate change. Though the Aspiration website does not provide explicit information about how it ensures that deposits do not fund fossil fuels, research website AltEnergyStocks.com has determined that Aspiration deposits "are fossil fuel free by all but the most strict definitions of the term."
- Highest APY only available with a higher fee account with several eligibility requirements: The 3.0% APY is only available with the Aspiration Plus account, which has a $7.99 monthly fee if paid monthly, and a $5.99 monthly fee if paid annually. In addition, to be eligible for the 3.0% APY, you must spend at least $500 per month with your Aspiration debit card. Otherwise, you'll earn 0% APY (or 0.25% with Aspiration Plus).
- No way to deposit cash: Though Aspiration is hardly novel in being an online-only institution with no branches, unlike some other digital-only banks, Aspiration offers customers no options whatsoever for depositing cash.
- Highest cash back only available with a higher fee account: Customers can receive cash back for making Aspiration debit card purchases at companies within the Conscience Coalition, but the highest levels of cash back are reserved for the Aspiration Plus account.
- Out-of-network fees are unclear: Aspiration is part of the Allpoint ATM network, which gives customers access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs. However, the website does not spell out how much customers can expect to pay if they use an ATM outside of the network.
Who Is Aspiration Best For?
Aspiration will appeal to socially and environmentally conscious customers who are comfortable with a nontraditional financial institution. Aspiration will be a good fit if you:
- Prefer to earn interest in a CMA
- Want to bank with an institution that cares about sustainability and social issues
- Would like the flexibility of choosing your own monthly fee
- Want incentives to spend your money with ethical companies and retailers
- Do not often need to deposit cash
- Are comfortable with an online-only banking experience
- Need access to a large network of fee-free ATMs
What Does Aspiration Offer?
Aspiration does not offer traditional checking or savings accounts. Instead, Aspiration customers have a CMA, an account that allows you to manage cash, make payments, and earn interest. The Aspiration CMA offerings allow customers to use a single account for their checking account and savings account needs.
Though Aspiration is not a bank, and CMAs are not the same as traditional bank accounts, customer deposits are still insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000. That’s because the money you deposit to Aspiration is held at one of the institution’s partner banks, all of which offer FDIC insurance.
Aspiration Spend and Save
Aspiration Spend & Save is the basic CMA for customers. This account allows customers to spend and save from the same place while still providing you with many of the benefits of a checking account. There are no minimum balance requirements, and you get to choose your monthly fee, which you can set as low as $0. The opening minimum is just $10.
Customers receive a debit card with this account, which earns cash back on purchases from a variety of retailers. You will also earn interest on money that is not spent, which means you can earn money with both the Spend and the Save sides of the CMA.
To earn cash back, customers can spend money with one of the 35 companies that are part of the Conscience Coalition. You will receive a different cash back percentage with a Conscience Coalition purchase, depending on the company from which you made a purchase.
|Company||Cash Back Percentage|
|United by Blue||5%|
|This Bar Saves Lives||3%|
In addition to Conscience Coalition cash back, you can also earn cash back by spending money with companies that have high Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) scores. The AIM score rates companies based on their ethical treatment of people and the planet, and the companies with the highest scores earn Aspiration debit card purchasers 0.5% cash back. Companies with lower scores earn lower percentages of cash back.
Any money you do not spend is considered to be in the “Save” side of an Aspiration CMA. However, unlike a traditional savings account, you are not limited to six savings withdrawals per month.
If you only have the basic Aspiration Spend & Save Account, you do not qualify for the maximum interest on your savings balance. To take advantage of the high-yield savings aspect of the Aspiration CMA, you will need to enroll in the Aspiration Plus Account.
The biggest benefits of Aspiration’s CMAs are exclusively for Aspiration Plus customers. Unlike the basic Spend & Save account, Aspiration Plus has a set monthly fee of $5.99 a month billed annually or $7.99 if billed monthly.
With Aspiration Plus, your cash back rewards for spending with Conscience Coalition members are raised to 10% across the board, although the amounts you earn by shopping with companies with high AIM scores remain the same. Aspiration Plus account holders also receive one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement per month.
An interesting perk of Aspiration Plus is the Planet Protection benefit, which automatically buys carbon offsets based on the number of gasoline purchases an account holder makes with the debit card. This allows Aspiration Plus customers to offset their fossil fuel usage automatically.
The savings portion of your Aspiration Plus account also has added benefits. If you spend less than $500 per month on your Aspiration debit card, you'll earn a 0.25% APY on your savings balance. However, if you spend $500 or more per month, you'll earn a 3.0% APY on your savings.
Other Financial Products Offered by Aspiration
In addition to its two CMAs, Aspiration also offers the following products and services:
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
- Managed Investment Portfolios
Aspiration Customer Service
Aspiration offers both current and potential customers a thorough FAQ section on its website that can help you find the answers to nearly any question about its offerings. The institution’s mobile app receives strong customer reviews by both Android and iPhone users.
If you need to talk to a customer service representative, the support phone line is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST on Saturday and Sunday at 800-683-8529. However, there is no live chat option available on the website. To reach customer service, you either have to call or submit a written request.
How to Bank With Aspiration
Opening an account with Aspiration is an easy online process. Once you have opened your account, the mobile app will make transactions simple and convenient. You can also withdraw money and check your balance at any Allpoint ATM for free.
Banking customers who worry about the social and environmental impact of their financial choices may be well served by an Aspiration Spend & Save account. Not only can you rest assured that your deposits with Aspiration are not funding fossil fuels, but your ethical purchases can also reward you with cash back. And the flexibility of choosing your own monthly fee and accessing your savings more often than six times per month can be an added benefit for socially conscious customers. That does not mean Aspiration is the right choice for everyone. To start, the highest level benefits are reserved for a higher-fee account, which may put such benefits out of reach of some customers. Additionally, the fact that Aspiration is not a traditional bank and does not offer traditional savings and checking accounts, credit cards, or other banking products may mean it is too niche of an institution for a general customer who needs more services under one roof.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an Aspiration Account Worth It?
If you're interested in reducing your climate impact through your financial activities, are likely to spend with Aspiration's selection of socially responsible businesses, and don't mind using an online financial firm instead of a bank, the Spend & Save account might be worth it. Keep in mind that although Aspiration pays up to 3% APY on balances, you'll need to pay for the Plus subscription and meet other requirements to receive it.
Does Aspiration Charge a Monthly Fee?
You can use the basic Aspiration cash management account without paying a monthly fee thanks to the Pay What Is Fair fee structure, where you decide what fee to pay. However, if you want access to their Plus subscription, the costs is $7.99 a month, or $5.99 a month if billed annually.
Does Aspiration Give You Free Money?
Yes, you can earn both interest and cash-back rewards when you use an Aspiration cash management account, but there are limitations. To earn 1.00% APY interest, you'll need $500 in qualifying debit transactions each month. You can earn 0.5% cash back at merchants with high Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) scores, which you can see in the Aspiration app. You can earn up to 10% cash back when you use your debit card with brands featured in Aspiration's "Conscience Coalition." To earn the maximum cash back, you'll need to be a member of the paid Plus subscription tier.
How much can I withdraw from my Aspiration account?
The maximum you can withdraw from your Aspiration account in cash from an ATM is $1,000 per day. You can use your Aspiration debit card to make up to $4,000 in purchases daily.
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Aspiration. "Spend & Save."
Aspiration. "What Interest Rates Are Offered for Aspiration Save?"
Aspiration. "Conscience Coalition."
ALT Energy Stocks. "Are Aspiration’s Deposits Really Fossil Fuel Free?"
Aspiration. "How Can I Deposit Cash?"
Allpoint. "Find Allpoint ATMs."
Aspiration. "What ATMs Can I Use?"
Aspiration. "Aspiration Insured Bank Deposit Program Disclosure Statement," Pages 1,6.
Aspiration. "How Do I Earn Cash Back Rewards on Purchases?"
Aspiration. "What is Aspiration Plus?"
Aspiration. "Daily Limits."