Aspiration Account Review: The Pros and Cons of This Online Account

When it comes to successfully managing your finances, you’ll need to take some time to figure out where you want to keep your money.

This is a big decision. You don’t want to stash your money in a checking account that’ll hit you with hefty fees each month. Nor do you want to stick it in an account that doesn’t offer any perks (think: cash back, savings interest).

So, it’s time to shop for an account. One option? The Aspiration Spend & Save Account. (Formerly the Aspiration Summit Account.)

Here, you’ll find our complete Aspiration account review:

Table of Contents: Aspiration Account Review

What Is the Aspiration Spend & Save Account?

Aspiration isn’t your traditional bank account. It’s technically an online-only cash-management account. However, it has features similar to your classic checking and savings account — just with better perks.

The Aspiration Spend & Save Accounts are connected, so everything is linked up together.

The Spend portion has similar features to a traditional checking account. You’ll get an Aspiration debit card to use on your purchases, and you can earn up to 10% cash back. You can use your Spend account to buy groceries, pay your bills, withdraw cash at ATMs, transfer money to other accounts — whatever you need. 

The Save portion has features similar to a savings account. You can stash money in it and earn up to 1.00% APY (or savings interest). Compare that to the average savings account interest rate, which the FDIC reports was just 0.06% at the time we wrote this. That means you can make money on your savings.

The Aspiration account is free to open, then, to tap into these perks, you’ll pay a $3.99 monthly fee to access Aspiration Plus.

And although Aspiration isn’t your traditional bank account, it’s partnered with some, so your money is protected through a sweep program. In fact, your deposits are FDIC insured up to $2 million. The Aspiration app also uses high-level encryption and security measures. Plus, you can set up a thumbprint login.

The Pros of the Aspiration Account

A man smiles as he looks at his phone on the street.

Getty Images

Like anything, the Aspiration account comes with its pros and cons. Let’s start with the pros:

  • There are no sneaky fees. Instead, Aspiration operates on a pay-what-is-fair model, which means you get to choose how much you want to pay each month — even if that’s $0. If you want to tap into all the perks, that’s a flat $3.99 monthly fee. And to sign up, you only need an initial deposit of $10.
  • There are no overdraft fees. In fact, Aspiration won’t allow you to overdraft. This will save you a whole lot of $30 fees.
  • You’ll get unlimited free ATM withdrawals in-network and one free out-of-network withdrawal each month with Aspiration Plus.
  • You can actually make money with your account. Seriously. With Aspiration Plus, you can earn up to 10% cash back on your Aspiration debit card purchases, and you can earn up to 1% interest on your savings balance.
  • You get your first set of checks for free. You can also use Aspiration Payments, which allows you to electronically schedule the delivery of a paper check to an individual or business for free.
  • It’s all-in-one. It’s easy to manage your Aspiration Spend & Save Accounts all online or through the mobile app. Transfers between the two accounts are instant. You can also transfer money up to seven times a day between the two accounts, so you’ve got a lot of flexibility there.
  • It has retirement and investment account options, too. Invest in Aspiration’s Fund with as little as $10. You can also open up a traditional IRA through Aspiration.

Bottom line: With Aspiration, the biggest perks are that you can save a ton on fees — and also even make some extra money from your debit purchases and your savings balance. Plus, it takes only a few minutes to sign up.

The Cons of the Aspiration Account

It’s all sounding pretty good, right? What are Aspiration’s downsides? Let’s review the cons:

  • You can’t deposit cash through an ATM or at a physical location. However, this is something Aspiration is working on. One way to get around this is to purchase a money order with your cash, then deposit it like you would do a check deposit through the Aspiration app.
  • There’s no physical branch. For some people, this won’t matter at all. But if you’re the type of person who wants to pop in and chat with a teller, this might be a downside. Aspiration does, however, have customer support available via phone seven days a week. You can also use its FAQs or submit a request online.
  • You have to meet requirements to earn the 1% savings annual percentage yield. Yes, Aspiration offers some good savings rates, but you’ll have to meet some minimum requirements. To earn the 1% APY, you’ll have to have:
    • A savings balance $10,000 or less (but balances over $10,000 still earn a rate of 0.10% APY)
    • $1,000 in cumulative charges each month using your Aspiration debit card
    • Aspiration Plus turned on ($3.99 per month or $44.99 annually) 

Again, everything has its pros and cons, so you’ll just have to determine if Aspiration is the best fit for you.

What Makes Aspiration Different From Other Financial Firms?

A person drives in the California dessert.

Getty Images

When it comes to choosing where you want to keep your money, sometimes it can be difficult to really figure out what sets one account apart from another. To be honest, they all start looking the same after a while.

What makes Aspiration stand out from the crowd is its commitment to do good. For one, it donates 10% of its profits to charities that help struggling Americans build a better life. Then, there are several different features you can opt into, including:

  • Planet Protection: Have a long commute? Drive a ton? With Planet Protection, Aspiration will automatically purchase carbon offsets when you swipe your Aspiration card at the pump. This is a feature bundled into Aspiration Plus, which costs $3.99 per month (but it’s totally optional). You can read more about Aspiration Plus and the Planet Protection feature on its FAQ page.
  • Conscious Coalition: Remember how you get cash back on your debit card purchases? Well, Aspiration has something called the Conscious Coalition. Its members are companies that are doing good, and you can get more cash back when you shop at these places, which include Warby Parker, TOMS, Blue Apron, Lola and Reformation, to name a few.
  • Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM): For each purchase you make, Aspiration will give you a Sustainability Score. This will help you understand where you’re spending your money. The score (out of 100) is based on how a business treats its people and the planet.

At its core, Aspiration is a socially and environmentally conscious company that can help you make more sustainable choices.

Who is Aspiration Best For?

Really, Aspiration can be great for anyone — no matter their income, spending habits or savings.

Because it doesn’t have any account minimums and there are no overdraft fees, it can be great for college students or anyone getting by paycheck to paycheck. 

It also makes saving money easy. If you’re just starting your savings stash, you’re able to transfer money back and forth between your Spend and Save Accounts instantly. Plus, you get seven transfers a day, so you have some flexibility as you figure out your new savings routine.

Once you’re a bit more established, Aspiration is still a great account, because you’ll earn some decent savings interest as well as cash back on your purchases.

Plus, its pledge to be environmentally and socially responsible is just a huge bonus. Rather than funneling money into some of these big financial firms and corporations that are in it for the profit, Aspiration actually seems to genuinely care about important causes.

How to Open an Aspiration Account (It Takes Minutes)

Is the Aspiration Spend & Save Account what you’ve been looking for? Getting started is super easy.

Just create a log-in and verify your identity. (This requires your Social Security number, but you’ll have to do this for just about any new financial account you sign up for.)

From there, you’ll link up your existing checking and/or savings account so you can funnel your money over. You’ll also want to set up direct deposit.

Signing up shouldn’t take more than a few minutes — no standing in line or sitting on hold with a customer service agent. Plus, you can get started with as little as $10.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This article originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder