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Aspiration – Ethical Banking and Investing: Learn More Here. 

Aspiration offers simple, fair and ethical banking and investing services for socially-conscious and environmentally-friendly consumers.

What Is Aspiration Bank?

Aspiration is an online bank that engages in socially-conscious and sustainable banking services. The institution engages in the following activities to achieve its mission:

  • It doesn’t use any of its profits to fund fossil fuel production or exploration or to donate to political campaigns that work against its customers.

  • Aspiration donates 10% of the fees its customers pay to charitable organizations.

  • Its Planet Protection feature keeps track of the carbon output of all of your gas purchases. Then the bank buys offsets to help counter the impact of your carbon footprint on the environment.

  • You’ll earn cash back when you use your debit card to shop with retailers in its Conscience Coalition, which is made up of merchants who also maintain socially-conscious missions.
     

But whether or not you care about how socially conscious your bank is, Aspiration provides significant features, rewards and perks, including its $100 bonus, making it one of the top online banking choices available.
 

The online bank also offers investment options, including retirement savings.
 

How Does Aspiration Work?

Aspiration manages its bank accounts a little differently than other banks and credit unions. Instead of offering multiple types of checking accounts and savings accounts, you’ll get a Spend & Save Account with one of two plans: Aspiration or Aspiration Plus. Pricing and benefits vary between the two options.
 

Regardless of which plan you choose, you’ll get access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs, the option to plant a tree with every swipe and access to your personal impact score, which can help you determine how your shopping matches your socially-conscious values.
 

You’ll also earn cash-back rewards when you shop at Conscious Coalition retailers, which include:

  • Arcadia Power

  • Blue Apron

  • Burst

  • Causebox

  • Feed

  • Girlfriend Collective

  • Goodwings

  • Known Supply

  • Lola

  • Parachute

  • Reformation

  • Soapbox

  • This Saves Lives

  • Toms

  • United By Blue

  • Wag!

  • Warby Parker

The amount of rewards you earn will vary based on the tier you choose. Here’s some more information about each option.

Aspiration Plan

The Aspiration plan is the bank’s basic plan. With this tier, you get to choose how much you pay on a monthly basis for your Spend & Save Account — and that choice can be nothing at all. Aspiration calls this a “Pay What is Fair” fee, and you set your own monthly fee when you open a new account. The monthly fee comes out of your Spend Account.

With this plan, you’ll also earn between 3% and 5% cash back on purchases with Conscious Coalition retailers. There is no interest earned on your Aspiration Save balance under this plan. Only Aspiration Plus accounts come with interest-earning potential.

Aspiration Plus

With an Aspiration Plus plan, you’ll pay just $3.99 per month or $44.99 per year if you pay annually. While most consumers don’t like the idea of paying for their basic checking services, this fee is much lower than what you’d normally expect from bigger banks.

To compensate for the fee, Aspiration offers 10% cash-back rewards on all of your debit card purchases with Conscious Coalition retailers. Depending on how often you spend with the above merchants, you could easily get back your monthly fee and more.

You’ll also get one out-of-network ATM fee reimbursement each month and access to the Planet Protection feature, which provides offsets for gas purchases.

Finally, you’ll earn up to 1.00% APY on your Save Account balance. To maximize this benefit, you’ll need to spend $1,000 or more monthly with your debit card. The high-yield 1.00% APY interest rate applies only to the first $10,000, and if you don’t meet the requirements, your APY will be 0.25%. If you have more than $10,000 in savings, your balance above that threshold will earn just 0.10% APY.

Aspiration Account Features

While Aspiration offers a unique take on online banking, many of its functions and features resemble what you would find at other financial institutions. Here’s what you need to know about Aspiration’s bank accounts.

Aspiration offers a cash management account called Spend & Save. These two accounts are the only bank accounts offered by Aspiration, and you receive access to both when you open a new account. Aspiration customers can’t opt-out of either account because they are a package deal.

Aspiration’s Spend account resembles a checking account and is meant for everyday use. Only the Spend account is accessible with the Aspiration debit card. Like a traditional checking account, you can also receive paper checks to use with your Spend account. Your first set of checks is free with Aspiration.

Your Save account works like a savings account and provides a safe place online to keep your funds.

Deposits

  • Currently, there is no option to deposit cash into an Aspiration account. Deposit options are limited to:

  • Direct deposits

  • Electronic transfers from other financial institutions

  • Mobile check deposits

  • Wire transfers
     

Keep in mind that processing and cutoff times vary between transaction types. Direct deposits are administered by one of Aspiration’s partner banks, Coastal Community Bank.

Withdrawals

Both plans come with a complimentary Aspiration debit card and access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs through the Allpoint ATM network. Aspiration customers have access to unlimited withdrawals at domestic Allpoint ATMs without any fees. There’s a $4 fee per transaction when withdrawing from one of Allpoint’s international ATMs. Aspiration Plus accounts come with one ATM fee rebate per month at any out-of-network ATM (domestic or international).

Other withdrawal options include electronic transfers, wire transfers, and through third-party apps like Venmo or PayPal.

Overdrafts

Aspiration doesn’t charge any fees for accidental overdrafts.

Aspiration’s Spend & Save accounts are considered cash management accounts, not a traditional checking account or savings accounts. Deposits made to Aspiration are FDIC insured up to $2.46 million per depositor through the use of several partner banks. Like other cash management accounts, Aspiration sweeps your funds into bank accounts at partner banks. Because more than one partner bank is used, they can offer FDIC protection beyond the standard $250,000 limit.

Mobile App

Aspiration customers also have access to its highly-rated mobile app, available for iOS and Android. You can use the mobile app to deposit checks, pay bills, and send money to people.

Investment Options

In addition to its valuable Spend & Save Account, Aspiration also offers customers the chance to invest in the Redwood Fund, a fossil-fuel-free fund that invests in companies that engage in sustainable environmental and employee practices. If you’re planning to save for retirement, there’s also a Redwood Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that provides the same sustainable investment options.

With both investment accounts, the minimum opening deposit is $10. You do not need a Spend & Save account to open an investment account through Aspiration.

How to Apply

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident over 18 years old to open a new account through Aspiration. Other account terms and restrictions may apply, so read the fine print before applying for an account.

Customers also need another bank account to fund their Aspiration account. There’s a $10 minimum deposit required to open an account.

To verify your identity, Aspiration performs a soft credit check, also known as a soft pull. This type of credit check doesn’t affect your credit score negatively and won’t show up on your credit report.

The Bottom Line

Aspiration offers some incredible benefits to its customers, especially ones who are intentional with their impact on the environment and want to give their money to socially-conscious and sustainable businesses.

 

The bank incentivizes using your money to do good by spending with and investing in like-minded companies.

The Spend & Save account functions similarly to a traditional checking accounts and savings accounts; so if you’re new to the concept of a cash management account, don’t let the Spend & Save account intimidate you.

Even if you’re not particularly excited about the bank’s mission, you can still take advantage of its $100 bonus for new customers, its high APY on Aspiration Plus accounts and its cash-back rewards. Make sure you can make at least $ 1,000 in cumulative transactions within the allotted time before you sign up so you know you’ll earn the bank bonus. To earn even more rewards, check out the other top bank bonuses available right now to review some of the top checking bonuses available.