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In-Depth Analysis

Aspiration | Reviews by Fortunly

G. Dautovic Image
ByG. Dautovic
August 19, 2021

Most of us aspire to change the world, but very few actually do something about it. That’s why Aspiration offers everyone the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. This isn’t a bank focused on growing its earnings. It’s a brokerage that offers so-called Save & Spend plans.

These accounts are attached to debit cards and enable you to earn up to 1.00% APY while tracking the environmental impact of your spending. Online Aspiration reviews only serve to underscore the fact that this company cares about both its clients and the environment. 
 
But while these accounts include features that many unsatisfied bank customers are sure to find appealing, it’s important to delve deeper into the profitability of Aspiration’s sustainable approach to investing, saving, and spending. 

APY:
Up to 1.00%

Up to 10% cashback

Account type:
Cash management
Min. initial deposit:
$10.00
Min. account balance:
No requirements
Account fees:
“Pay What Is Fair” model, $5.99/month for Aspiration Plus
ATM fees:
No fees for in-network ATMs
Foreign transaction fees:
1%
International ATM fee:
$4
APY:
Up to 1.00% with Aspiration Plus
FDIC-insured:
Yes
pros thumb up Strengths
  • Excellent APY
  • Up to 10% cashback
  • “Pay What Is Fair” model
  • No hidden fees
  • Sustainable investing
  • Free withdrawals at more than 55,000 ATMs
pros thumb up Weaknesses
  • Online only
  • Slow customer support response times
  • 1.00% APY only available with Aspiration Plus

What Can You Sign Up For?

The Aspiration banking replacement options currently include two separate Save & Spend plans: Aspiration and Aspiration Plus. Attached to debit cards, these cashback accounts are tailored primarily to risk-averse investors.

How does Aspiration compare to other accounts?

Aspiration Logo Aspiration
Minimum initial deposit:

$10.00

APY:

1.00% on balances of up to $10,000

Visit Website
Capital One Logo Capital One
Minimum initial deposit:

No

APY:

0.20%

Visit Website
USAA Logo USAA
Minimum initial deposit:

$25

APY:

0.01% on balances of $1,000

Visit Website

The Benefits of Using Aspiration

It’s important to remember that banks make a sizable chunk of their profits by charging fees. For your average customer, there is no such thing as fees that are low enough. That’s why Aspiration uses the “Pay What Is Fair” model. This means that the monthly payment with all Aspiration Spend & Save accounts can be any amount that the customer chooses up to $20.00.

When it comes to savings, customers can benefit from an exceptionally high annual percentage yield, which tops some of the best APY offers on the market. However, the option to earn 1.00% APY interest on balances of up to $10,000 is only available to customers who sign up for an Aspiration Plus account. The APY on balances exceeding $10,000 is 0.10%. This is still higher than what many traditional banks offer to their customers at the moment. 

There is also an excellent cashback program that rewards customers for spending at retailers that have an ethical approach in the way they treat their employees and the environment. Online Aspiration debit card reviews offer further proof that many customers like the idea of spending smarter. 

Those enrolled in Aspiration Plus can earn up to 10% cashback for purchases at businesses that are members of the company’s so-called Conscience Coalition - a group of businesses focused on sustainability. Some of the companies in this coalition include TOMS, Girlfriend Collective, Soapbox, and Cloud Paper. 

Apart from the coalition members, Aspiration also gives other companies environmental scores that are determined using a proprietary algorithm. These Aspiration Impact Measurement scores are available on a long list of merchants. And by shopping at businesses with the highest AIM scores, you can earn 0.5% cashback.  

It’s also important to mention that Aspiration’s deposits are still FDIC-insured up to $2.5 million per depositor through the banks Aspiration partners with. You can also rest assured that you’ll be reimbursed in case of identity fraud with up to $1,000 per claim. 

Last but not least,  Aspiration promises that customer deposits don’t fund fossil fuel production or exploration, unlike with many big banks. Using the company's services can also reduce your carbon footprint. Moreover, Aspiration supports and funds Cool Effect and 3Degrees, two big names in the renewable energy sector. 

Now that we’ve outlined the main reasons to sign up for the Aspiration card, let’s review what each of the two accounts offers.

Spend & Save Account

In 2019, Aspiration rolled out a replacement for your traditional checking account. Aspiration’s Spend & Save option offers a spending and savings account in one place, effectively operating as a seamless cash management account. 

Some of the most notable benefits include the “Pay What is Fair” monthly fee model and the fact that there are no hidden fees. With this account, customers get a debit card to make purchases and withdraw funds from ATMs. The debit card is made entirely from recycled plastic, which is just one of the features environmentally conscious readers of this Aspiration debit card review will find impressive.

Debit card holders can use any of the more than 55,000 free-in-network ATMs to make withdrawals with no fees involved. Additionally, there aren’t any overdraft fees or other hidden costs. 

Aside from enabling customers to save a ton of money on fees and take advantage of the aforementioned cashback promotions, the account also comes with a limited-time offer for a welcome bonus. This offer nets you $150 if you spend $1000 within 60 days of opening the account. 

Let’s talk about sustainability now. While using the Aspiration mobile app for your online banking needs, you can check the AIM scores of individual businesses and see whether these merchants adhere to your set of values. You can also find the best cashback offers with a single click. 

Next, customers have the option to join the Plant Your Change program. With this feature, purchases you make with an Aspiration card will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the money will then be used to plant trees. Members can earn cash rewards for hitting tree-planting milestones. 

It’s important to mention that the Aspiration Save account, which we’ve been referring to as the savings part of the cash management account, isn’t your typical online savings account. 

Aspiration Plus

This is the most beneficial product that you can sign up for with Aspiration. The Plus account currently costs $7.99 per month, or $5.99 per month with an annual subscription.

One of its more exciting features is Planet Protection, which automatically buys carbon offsets every time you purchase gas with the debit card.

With the plus plan, your cashback percentage can be as high as 10% at certain businesses, which can in itself cover part of the monthly fees if your spending habits already include the member companies of the Aspiration Conscience Coalition.

Aside from the high yield of up to 1.00% APY on $10,000 deposits in the Save account when you spend $1,000 or more monthly, the plus plan offers one out-of-network ATM reimbursement each month and a personal impact score that helps you shop in a way that matches your values.

IRAs and Investments

Now, it’s time to cross over to investment opportunities that are fossil fuel-free and help you save for your future while saving the planet. The investments go into companies with sustainable environmental and employee practices, in line with the company’s primary goal. Options have a $10 minimum opening investment.

Customer Service

When talking about financial services, the provider of your choice must have exceptional customer service. Since we’ve already mentioned that Aspiration is fully online, many may wonder what would happen if something goes wrong and how they can contact Aspiration's customer service to get it resolved. 

Most issues can be resolved by turning to the extensive FAQ section, which is available on the website and contains detailed explanations for some of the more common inquiries from customers. These range from questions about transfer options to more technical issues.  

If you still need help resolving a problem, the customer service team is available by phone from Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends. However, it’s essential to mention here that the customer support team isn’t always the fastest option, a sentiment echoed by some online Aspiration reviews. 

If you prefer asking for help online, you can submit a request through a contact form available on the site or send Aspiration an email. While we’re confident the support team will resolve your issue, we’ll refrain from praising their response times. 

Should You Sign Up for Aspiration?

If you’re not a fan of good old brick-and-mortar banks with their high fees and often impersonal approach, then Aspiration is an ideal alternative. With such a cash management account, you save on fees and earn interest and cashback rewards for shopping with particular retailers. And let’s not forget that the company planted 15,368,193 trees at the time of writing this Aspiration review.

On the other hand, Aspiration is not a chartered bank. It doesn’t offer many different accounts, and its reports won’t help with credit building. Ultimately, it boils down to what you need from an account and whether or not sustainability plays a crucial role in your lifestyle. If you prefer a transparent online solution with a focus on sustainability, then Aspiration is the perfect fit.

FAQ
Is Aspiration a legit financial services provider? +

Aspiration is undoubtedly legit, but it’s not a bank. It’s a brokerage firm offering a cash management account. If we were comparing Aspiration to a bank, one of the first points of divergence would be the fees. While big banks charge sizable fees for their services, Aspiration’s Pay What is Fair model allows customers to decide how much they wish to pay.

Who is the Aspiration neobank owned by? +

Aspiration’s largest owners are its founders, Andrei Cherny and Joseph Sanberg. It currently has a partnership with ​the Coastal Community Bank, which issues its debit cards.

How does Aspiration make money? +

Aspiration makes money through its Aspiration Plus subscription fee, through the Pay What is Fair model, and interchange fees paid by merchants when you use your debit card.

Will Aspiration save you money? +

On average, users save $300 per year on multiple fees that established banks charge for maintenance, ATM withdrawals, and much more. Still, it is important to mention that while the media celebrates Aspiration for its 1.00% APY, it has a pretty steep spending requirement. It’s more accessible 0.25% APY is nevertheless above average and will help you save.

How do I deposit money into my Aspiration account? +

Online Aspiration reviews echo some of the concerns surrounding the process of depositing funds. If you’re looking to deposit cash, you should purchase a money order with cash available at most convenience and grocery stores and then deposit the money order into your account via mobile check deposit.

The Aspiration Spend & Save Accounts are cash management accounts offered by Aspiration Financial, LLC, a registered broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC, a subsidiary of Aspiration Partners, Inc. (“Aspiration”). Aspiration is under separate ownership from any other named entity. The Aspiration Save Account’s up to 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) is variable, subject to change, and is only available to customers enrolled in Aspiration Plus after conditions are met. Aspiration is not a bank. 

ATM use is free and unlimited, at Allpoint ATMs only. Transaction amount caps may apply. ATMs not included in the Allpoint network are considered out of network and customers may be charged a fee from that third-party ATM provider. Allpoint ATMs can be found via our ATM Locator here: aspiration.com/atms. Customers enrolled in Aspiration Plus may receive one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement per month. Please note, there is also a foreign transaction fee of one percent that is not waived when using foreign ATMs, which will be included in the amount charged to your account. Aspiration Debit Card is issued by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.