Aspiration Bank Review: Is It Worth It?

Banking
Updated: 21st Jul 2021
Written by Brian Latchford
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If you have been around the investment world recently, then you know all about the Electric Vehicle buzz. Reducing the overall carbon footprint is the main objective.

What if you could combine your investments and the way you spend your money, while also helping reduce the carbon footprint? With Aspiration that is now possible!

Stick around to find out what they offer, the causes they contribute too, and more in this Aspiration Bank Review.

What Is Aspiration?

Aspiration did not set out to build a bank, they set out to build a better world. Aspiration does this by helping make their consumers more socially conscious of how their investments and spending affects the environment.

Aspiration is not a bank, but rather a financial technology company. They currently offer Cash Management Accounts (CMA) that operate the same as checking accounts and savings accounts.

Aspiration offers its customers cash back rewards when they spend money at companies that have a high AIM (Aspiration Impact Measurement) score which is the measurement of how environmentally “green” a company is.

How Does Aspiration Work?

Instead of being a bank, Aspiration offers a Cash Management Account (CMA) that is tied to one of two debit card options.

Your money earns interest while in the CMA and the debit cards earn cash back rewards when used at select stores.

Spending your money at businesses that have a high AIM score offers higher rewards which is a strategy Aspiration uses to make you conscious on who you spend your money with.

If you would like to take part in a high-yield account or a tax-deferred retirement account (IRA), Aspiration allows you to do so.

There is no credit check needed to get started with Aspiration.

Aspiration Bank Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Aspiration donates 10 cents of every dollar to charities that help spread economic opportunity to Americans.
  • Aspiration does not charge fees for transactions, performance, nor redemption.
  • Any fees charged for banking services, such as wires, are done so at cost.
  • With the basic Aspiration account, you decide how much you would like to pay in fees.
  • Aspiration provides access to more than 55,000 free in-network ATMs.
  • With the basic Aspiration account, you receive 3 to 5% cash back on Conscience Coalition (more on this below) purchases vs 10% if you are an Aspiration Plus member.
  • Aspiration offers tax-deferred retirement plans with a minimum $10 opening deposit.
  • You can track your social and environmental impact based on your spending choices.
  • Aspiration offers a $200 bonus when you spend $1,000 within the first 60 days of opening your account.
  • If you opt for Aspirations Standard Spend & Save account and meet the requirements, you earn a $150 bonus.
  • Aspiration will plant a tree with every round up on your purchase.
  • Aspiration offers a Plus membership for added benefits that costs $7.99 a month. When you pay annually that monthly fee is reduced to $5.99.
  • There are 7 charitable causes that a portion of your fees are donates to.
  • If you refer a friend to Aspiration Bank and they open an account and meet certain requirements, you both get $50.

Cons:

  • There are no cash deposits with Aspiration Bank.
  • Certificate of Deposit (CD) is not an option with Aspiration Bank.
  • Aspiration’s debit card does not work worldwide.
  • Customer support is more responsive via email than phone.
  • Aspiration offers high-yield savings but only for their Plus members which is $7.99 per month.
  • There is a $15 annual custodial fee on IRA accounts, charged by a third party.
  • The investment fund, ESG, has a 0.50% yearly management fee, charged by a third party.
  • There is no overdraft protection offered.
  • You cannot send wires within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Aspiration does not currently allow a beneficiary to be added to your account.

Aspiration Spend & Save

Aspirations Spend and Save is the Cash Management Account (CMA) program that gives you two choices of debit cards that are tied to your Cash Management Account (CMA) which is essentially a checking account that can earn interest.

One debit card is called the Classic Aspiration debit card and the other one is the Aspiration Plus debit card.

Aspiration states that neither card will fund fossil fuel exploration or production with funds deposited (they claim most other banks do and that is how they differ from them and their consciousness of the global climate).

Aspiration Debit Cards: How Are They Different?

Classic Aspiration Debit Card

Monthly Fee

You decide your monthly fee with the Classic Aspiration debit card! Aspiration does not charge a set fee, rather they leave it up to you to pay what you think is fair, up to $20.

While they hope you do not choose a zero fee, that is an option. 10% of the fee you decide to pay goes towards charities that help spread economic opportunity to Americans working hard for a better life. The remainder goes to operating costs.

Overview

With the Classic Aspiration debit card, you get access to more than 55,000 free in-network ATMs and your deposits will not fund fossil fuel exploration or production.

You will earn 3 to 5% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases which are companies that Aspiration states put “doing the right things” at the heart of their business.

You also receive a Personal Impact Score that shows how your shopping is impacting the climate (by grading the companies you shop at).

Aspiration gives you the opportunity to round up your purchases and have them plant a tree on your behalf when you do so.

Setting up a direct deposit with your Aspiration account will allow you to receive the funds up to 2 days earlier than a traditional bank.

Aspiration Plus Debit Card

Monthly Fee

The Aspiration Plus debit card costs $7.99 per month. However, if you pay for a year at a time, you can drive that cost down to $5.99 per month.

Rewards

Having the Aspiration Plus debit card enables you 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases rather than the 3 to 5% on the Classic Aspiration debit card. You will also earn up to 1.00% APY on your savings.

Overview

Similar to the Classic Aspiration debit card, the Aspiration Plus debit card deposits won’t fund fossil fuel exploration or production.

You will have access to 55,000+ free in-network ATMs. You will also receive a Personal Impact Score to grade on how you spend your money, and you can choose to have your purchase price rounded up which Aspiration will then plant a tree on your behalf.

The advantages of the Aspiration Plus debit card is 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases, the potential to earn up to 1.00% APY, one out-of-network ATM reimbursement each month, and Carbon offsets for all gas purchases with Planet Protection which is a program that tallies up the carbon output of all your gas purchases, then automatically buys offsets to help counter the climate impact.

Other Financial Products Offered by Aspiration Bank

Aspiration Investing

Aspiration offers two different investment vehicles. Aspiration Investing is a taxable investment account.

You can start with as little as $10. The fund that you invest in is an ESG fund that focuses on environmental, social, and governance, so your investment will not fund fossil fuel companies.

There is a 0.50% fee that goes toward managing the fund.

Aspiration Retirement Account (IRAs)

Aspiration also offers an IRA investment account. Like the taxable investment vehicle, you can start with as little as $10 and the fund is an ESG fund that focuses on environmental, social, and governance, so your investment will not fund fossil fuel companies.

There is a .50% and $15 a year fee to manage the IRA fund.

Charitable Donations

Aspiration offers tax-deductible donations to vetted non-profits across 7 charitable causes covering poverty, water, education, environment, health, human rights, and an opportunity fund. You can either give directly or Aspiration gives 10% of the fees they collect.

Aspiration Features and Benefits

Sweet Mobile App

Aspiration offers all its banking services through its mobile app that is available in the Apple and Google Play store.

Within the app you can search for in-network ATMs, transfer money, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor your debit card transactions, and more!

Fraud Protection

Aspiration offers the latest security features when it comes to online and mobile security. Furthermore, you can be reimbursed up to $1,000 for any fraudulent activity on your account.

APY on Savings Account

Having the Aspiration Plus account allows you to earn up to 1.00% APY. However, that is only up to the first $10,000 and you must spend at least $1,000 per month to be eligible.

The remaining balance will earn a 0.10% APY. If you do not meet the $10,000 balance or do not spend at least $1,000 per month, you will earn at 0.25% APY.

Ability to Earn Cash Back

Both the Classic and the Plus offer cash back rewards. The difference being the Classic earns a modest 3 to 5% while the Plus earns 10% on Conscience Coalition purchases.

Ethical at All Times

Aspiration created the Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) score that rates companies on how they treat people and the planet.

The companies that grade high are the ones you get rewarded, via cash back rewards, for shopping there.

Aspiration Bank Review: Fees, Customer Support, & Experience

Fees

There are very few mandatory fees when it comes to Aspiration. With the Classic account, you decide how much you want to pay if any.

With the Plus account, you can pay as little as $5.99 per month when you pay a year at a time.

Aspiration says that all other fees are fees they pass on to you, at cost, from third parties. This means fees on services like wire transfers are much cheaper with Aspiration than with a traditional bank.

Customer Support

Aspiration encourages email support. However, they do have phone support. Their support hours are Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 4 PM Pacific and Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 4 PM Pacific.

Banking Experience

If you are a mobile banker or looking to become a mobile banker, and you would like to have a positive impact on the planet, banking with Aspiration could be a great fit.

Their fees are minimal, and they offer most banking services as well as a couple of investment options. It is easy to sign-up and since you receive a debit card, there is no credit check needed.

How Does Aspiration Bank Compare?

Here is how Aspiration compares to some other neobank’s.

#1. Aspiration vs. Chime

Chime does not have a minimum deposit requirement and they do offer overdraft protection, up to $20, if you have at least $500 a month in direct deposits. The overdraft limit can be raised to $100 over time. Chime also offers savings accounts and other banking services that Aspiration offers but without the environmental niche.

Learn More: Chime Bank Review

#2. Current Bank vs. Aspiration Bank

Like Aspiration Bank, Current Bank gives bonus cash back rewards for certain stores, up to 15x. You also have access to the same free in-network 55,000+ ATMs as you do with Aspiration Bank.

Current Bank differs in that they have a truly free checking account and offer Teen Banking for $36 a year where parents can educate their children on financial responsibility while monitoring their transactions.

The most you can have in your Current Bank account is $10,000.

Learn More: Current Bank Review

#3. Oxygen Bank vs. Aspiration

Signing up with Oxygen bank is free and gives you access to most services at no cost. Unlike Aspiration, you earn cash back rewards on all purchases with Oxygen Bank and you can deposit cash by walking into any Green Dot location, such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart locations.

Oxygen also allows you to create virtual cards for added security when buying from online merchants.

Learn More: Oxygen Bank Review

Aspiration Review: FAQs

Is Aspiration a Legit Bank?

Aspiration is considered a neobank which means they offer legitimate banking services that are backed by an actual bank, but Aspiration themselves are not an actual bank. Instead, they are a Financial Technology company.

Is Aspiration FDIC Insured?

Aspiration Bank keeps your funds in partnered accounts that are FDIC insured up to $250,000.

How Does Aspiration Make Money?

Aspiration makes money on their Plus debit card as well as on the fee you decide to pay them on the classic plan ($0-20) or the investment accounts (0-2%). Aspiration then donates 10% of that fee and uses 90% for operating costs.

Is the Aspiration Debit Card Good?

Aspiration debit card is good in that you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted. If you are environmentally conscious and only want to spend your money at companies that share the same environmental friendliness, then Aspiration is a great place to park your capital.

The Aspiration team will help you locate such companies. Moreover, they will reward you with up to 10% cash back bonuses which are higher than a typical debit card cash back reward program.

Who Should Use Aspiration Bank?

If you are environmentally conscious and only want to spend your money with companies that share your same environmental consciousness, Aspiration Bank is the right bank for you.

Bottom Line: Aspiration Bank Review

Aspiration Bank is part of the growing neobank list, which means they provide banking services without being an actual bank.

This allows the neobank to offer better rates and or target niche markets as Aspiration has done with rewarding environmental conscious consumers for spending their money with environmentally consciousness companies, up to 10% cash back, all while still insuring your capital up to $250,000 via FDIC insured partners.

All-in-all, Aspiration is a great place to park your capital if you are attracted to their overarching mission of preserving earth and giving back to communities in need.

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Brian Latchford
Brian Latchford
Brian is a serial entrepreneur that loves technology and coffee. From working with start-ups to creating his own recruiting company, Brian is eager to share his experiences with other founders and business executives. Throughout his career, Brian has enjoyed writing on many topics in the Business, Technology, Finance, and Gaming industry and helps other business leaders as a freelancer.