Founded in 2015, Aspiration is a conscious-focused financial firm, offering spending accounts, saving accounts, and debit cards. While you won’t find traditional checking and savings accounts on Aspiration, you can use the firm’s Spend and Save cash management account as a checking/savings hybrid and its Aspiration Plus account to earn up to 1.00% APY.
Aspiration really sets itself apart with its commitment to sustainability. For example, members are rewarded with up to 10% cashback for socially conscious spending. Trees are planted with every purchase. Plus, 10% of all “Pay What Is Fair” profits go toward charities “helping struggling Americans build a better life.”
In this Apriarion review, we’ll explain the ins and outs of using its accounts and debit cards. Let’s take a closer look to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your needs.
Pros and Cons of Aspiration
- Choose your Spend and Save account’s monthly fee (even if it’s $0)
- Get up to 1.00% APY with an Aspiration Plus account
- Use 55,000 free in-network ATMs
- Get up to 10% cashback for ethical purchases
- Aspiration believes in sustainability
- Need an Aspiration Plus account to get the highest APY
- Doesn’t accept cash deposits at ATMs
What Does Aspiration Offer?
Aspiration has two kinds of accounts: Aspiration Spend and Save and Aspiration Plus.
The Aspiration Spend and Save account has no maintenance fee thanks to Aspiration’s “Pay What Is Fair” feature. Basically, this means you can pay anywhere between $0 and $20 per month to maintain your account — completely your choice. Since 10% of all “Pay What Is Fair” profits go to charity, you can also feel good. Additionally, the account only requires a $10 minimum to open.
Plus, another benefit to the Spend and Save is that you earn interest on whatever you don’t spend, making it a true checking/savings hybrid. However, you can’t take advantage of Aspiration’s high interest rates unless you upgrade to an Aspiration Plus Account.
While you aren’t able to pay what you want with an Aspiration Plus Account (there is a fee of $7.99/month), there are a number of benefits that can make the slightly higher price worth it. For example, cashback for purchases from Conscience Coalition companies is bumped up to a consistent 10%, and you can earn up to 1.00% APY on your savings.
Plus, you can take advantage of the Planet Protection benefit, which automatically tallies up the carbon output of all of your gas purchases, then automatically buys offsets to help counter the climate impact. It’s worth noting that Spend and Save account holders can also take advantage of this benefit for a $5.99 monthly fee.
Regardless of what you choose, even though Aspiration isn’t actually a bank, you can rest assured that your deposits are still insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000.
Furthermore, Aspiration debit cards can be used to earn cashback from companies with high Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM) scores or any of the 16 Conscience Coalition companies partnered with Aspiration. A few of these companies, and their respective cashback percentages as of January 2021, can be seen below:
- Reformation: 5%
- Warby Parker: 5%
- TOMS: 4%
- Blue Apron: 3%
- Feed Projects: 3%
What To Expect on the Site
You can bank with Aspiration either online or through their mobile app, which is available on both Android and iOS devices and completely free to download. You can also call them directly for in-person support. If you need to visit an ATM, you can take advantage of their 55,000 free in-network ATMs.
To actually open an account, simply download the app (or sign up online) and follow the prompts. Be prepared to provide all standard banking information, such as proof that you’re at least 18 years old, proof of U.S. citizenship, and so on.
You can also take advantage of Aspiration’s referral program, which gives you $50 cash if the person you referred opens an account as a result of your invitation (referees also receive $50
If you open an Aspiration Spend and Save account, then Aspiration gives you the freedom to choose your monthly fee. So, with this unique fee structure, customers can select a monthly fee between $0 and $20. The company calls this policy “Pay What Is Fair” and says it’s a way to build trust and be fair to customers. The company donates 10% of its “Pay What Is Fair” profits to charity.
As mentioned earlier, Aspiration Plus accounts have a monthly fee. So, if you open one, there’s a monthly fee of $7.99 a month. However, if you choose to pay annually instead, you can save money. The annual fee is $71.88, which comes out to $5.99 a month.
Additionally, there are no fees at 55,000 in-network ATMs. Plus, Aspiration Plus customers get one out-of-network ATM reimbursement per month.
The Bottom Line
While Aspiration may not actually be a bank, its financial services are similar to banking products that traditional banks offer. For example, the Spend and Save account is free (thanks to the company’s “Pay What Is Fair” feature) and acts as the perfect hybrid between a checking account and a savings account. Beyond this, the Aspiration Plus account offers upwards of 1.00% APY.
When you throw into the mix that the company also has 55,000 free in-network ATMs and an experienced in-person support team trained to answer even the toughest of questions, Aspiration is worth exploring as you compare top online banking providers.