Aspiration Review – Great for Socially-Conscious Consumers
Put your money where your heart is. Aspiration has great features for socially-conscious consumers. Read our full review to find out how Aspiration can help you do good with your money.
- Socially-conscious consumers
- Pay what you want standard account
- Up to 1.00% APY with Aspiration Plus**
Everyone needs a checking account. Checking accounts serve as the hub of your financial life. Your employer deposits your paycheck to the checking account and you pay your bills with the money in the account.
You can get a checking account from almost any bank but some people want to feel good about the companies they work with and feel like they’re making a difference. Aspiration is a company with a strong social focus that helps customers feel good about opening a spend and save account with them.
These are some of the top features of Aspiration’s accounts.
Climate-consciousness and philanthropy
Aspiration’s slogan is “Do Well. Do Good.” The company follows through on that slogan with a focus on philanthropy and climate-friendly activities.
When you put money in a bank account, the bank may use that money to offer loans to other customers. The bank collects interest from borrowers and pays interest to the people who deposit money. Aspiration pledges that your deposits will not fund fossil fuel exploration or production so you can feel good that your money doesn’t help to fund climate change.
Aspiration can also plant a tree for every round-up enabled transaction, which can help fight climate change. You can even earn cash rewards when you reach a milestone number of trees planted.
Aspiration also partakes in other philanthropic activities. It makes it easy for customers to donate to charities that fight poverty, fund education, and secure access to clean water.
Personal impact score
Beyond being socially-conscious itself, Aspiration works to help customers make a positive impact on the planet.
One way it does this is through its personal impact score. When you shop using your Aspiration debit card, the company will keep track of the places you shop and the companies you buy things from.
If you shop at green and socially-conscious companies, your personal impact score will increase. If you shop at companies that have a negative impact on the planet, it can hurt your score.
This helps encourage customers to shop local and buy from sustainable businesses and can make it easier for you to be a responsible consumer.
Cash back on some debit card purchases
To further encourage conscious consumption, Aspiration offers customers cash back when they use their debit card to buy things from members of the Conscience Coalition.
The Conscience Coalition is a group of companies that work to have a positive impact on the communities and on the world. The coalition includes companies such as Wag!, Toms, and Blue Apron.
Aspiration customers can get up to 3% to 10%* back when buying from these businesses.
55,000+ fee-free ATMs
One of the most important things about a checking account is how easy it is to use. You want a checking account that is simple and makes it easy to access your money.
Aspiration is a part of the nationwide AllPoint ATM network of more than 55,000 in-network ATMs that you can use fee-free.
If you sign up for Aspiration Plus, Aspiration will reimburse you for one ATM fee each month, giving you more freedom to use the ATMs that are most convenient for you.
Related: Best ATM Locator Apps
Everyone likes some free money, so Aspiration offers a $150 welcome bonus to people who sign up for a new Spend & Save account.
When you open an account, you’ll receive an Aspiration debit card. You can earn a $150 bonus ($200 with Aspiration Plus) by spending $1,000 through the debit card within sixty days of opening your account.
Pricing and Fees
One of the most unique aspects of Aspiration is its fee structure.
Aspiration offers two levels of account service, Aspiration Standard and Aspiration Plus.
Aspiration’s basic service comes with the base features: a promise not to use our deposits to fund fossil fuels and cash back on some purchases. As for the cost, you can pay whatever you think is fair.
If you want to pay $0 for the account, Aspiration will let you use its standard account and their features for free. If you want to pay $2 per month, you can do that. If you’d like to pay $10 per month, you’re free to do that too.
You can even change how much you pay from month to month. It’s up to you to decide what you feel Aspiration’s Standard service is worth.
Aspiration Plus adds some extra features, including cash back up to 10% on Conscience Coalition purchases, up to 1.00% APY** on savings balances when conditions are met, carbon offsets for your gasoline purchases, and a monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursement.
Aspiration Plus costs $7.99 month-to-month, or it drops to $5.99 per month if you pay annually.
Signing up for Aspiration is just like signing up for any other account. First, you’ll provide your email address. You’ll then have to answer some basic questions, like where you live, and give Aspiration some identifying information.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to fund your account. The easiest way to do this is to link another bank account and transfer funds electronically.
You’ll get your debit card in the mail in a few days and you’ll be ready to start using the account.
Aspiration has a fully-featured mobile app that you can use on iOS and Android. It includes all the basic features you’d expect from a banking app including a dashboard to view your accounts, mobile check deposits, and options to transfer money between accounts.
You can also log in to your account without the app, using Aspiration’s website. The website is mobile responsive and looks good on desktop and mobile devices.
Related: Best Mobile Banking Apps
One of the most important things to think about anytime your money is involved in your interactions with a business is keeping your money safe.
Aspiration, like banks, uses state of the art security technology to keep your money safe, including firewalls, encryption, and access controls. The company protects your personal data and has committed to not sell or give away your information to third parties.
Related: Is Online Banking Safe?
When you have a problem with your account, you want to be able to get help easily.
Aspiration has seven-day-a-week phone support. You can call for help during the following hours:
- Monday – Friday: 6 AM – 6 PM Pacific Time
- Saturday – Sunday: 8 AM – 4 PM Pacific Time
Aspiration also has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ guides that you can reference to get answers to any questions you might have.
Pros and Cons
Before opening an account with Aspiration, consider these pros and cons.
- Pay what you want — You can pay what you want for your account on the Aspiration Standard account.
- Up to 1.00% APY — Up to 1.00% APY** on savings for Aspiration Plus members. To earn 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield on Aspiration Save Account balances up to and including $10,000.00 in any calendar month, customer must be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and spend $1,000 or more, monthly, with their Aspiration debit card. Other conditions may apply.
- Socially-conscious banking — Aspiration pledges that deposits will not fund climate change. The company also encourages customers to be responsible consumers by increasing or decreasing their personal impact score depending on where customers shop or spend money.
- Investment options — Invest through an individual investment account, a traditional investment account (IRA), or both.
- Aspiration Plus fee — $7.99 monthly fee for Plus service.
- No lending — Aspiration does not offer lending services.
- Limited product offerings — No loans or credit cards are offered.
I have not used Aspiration, but it has a lot of features that make it appealing to customers. If you’re the kind of person who cares about conscious consumption, Aspiration is committed to helping you be a socially-conscious consumer. It’s fee-free account options and account features are also solid perks of opening an account.
The drawback of Aspiration is that some of its best features, including up to 1.00% APY on their save accounts, are locked behind a $7.99 monthly fee for Aspiration Plus. In addition, to earn 1.00% APY interest on Aspiration Save Account balances up to and including $10,000.00 in any calendar month, customer must be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and spend $1,000 or more, monthly, with their Aspiration debit card. It also doesn’t offer some important banking services, such as lending or the option to deposit cash.
If you’re not the type who cares about working with a company that focuses on philanthropy and the climate, Aspiration is still a fine cash management account, but lots of the things that set it apart won’t matter to you.
If you’re considering another online account, these are some alternatives to consider.
|Ally||Full-service online bank |
|Schwab||International ATM reimbursements |
|Chime||Fee-free overdraft |
Ally Bank is one of the best-known online banks. It offers almost every financial service that you could need from a bank, including checking and savings accounts, investing, and lending services.
Ally has no minimums for its checking and savings accounts and charges no monthly fees, which makes it very easy to open an account. While its interest rates aren’t as strong as some of its online bank competition, it’s a great choice for someone who wants the full banking experience from an online bank.
Schwab is a large financial services company that might be better known for its investing services than its banking. However, Schwab offers a great checking account, especially for people who like to use cash on a regular basis.
Schwab’s checking account has no minimum balance and no monthly fees to worry about. You can also earn a small amount of interest on the money you’ve deposited to the account. One of its top features is its ATM fee reimbursements. Schwab will reimburse all of your ATM fees, without limit, meaning you can use any ATM on the planet for free.
Chime is an online financial app that offers checking and savings accounts as well as a secured credit card that can help you build your credit. Both the checking account and savings account have no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees.
Chime’s checking account offers a few useful features. For example, if you sign up for direct deposit, you can get your paycheck up to two days before your payday, meaning you can use the money earlier than typical.
If you’re usually living paycheck to paycheck, the SpotMe service is also useful, offering up to $200 in fee-free overdrafts.Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
Related: Best Business Checking Accounts
These are some of the most frequently asked questions about Aspiration.
You can feel confident that even if Aspiration has financial issues, your money will be safe.
Scoring the Product
Aspiration’s Standard service has one of the best fee-structures around, letting you set your own monthly fee, whether you pay anything or not. However, the company’s premium service is $7.99 per month. Many other banks offer similar account features and a way to make the account fee-free.
The greatest drawback of Aspiration is that the features will mostly appeal to socially-conscious consumers. It also offers support primarily through the phone. The hours are long, but you may find trouble contacting support on the weekends.
Who is it For?
Aspiration clearly targets socially-conscious consumers. Everything from the company’s slogan to its philanthropic and climate-focused account features appeal to people who want to do good for their community and the world.
While anyone can take advantage of the fee-free spend account, there are plenty of other banks out there with free checking accounts. Socially-conscious consumers will love Aspiration while people who just want a good banking experience may find better service elsewhere.
Aspiration is a solid choice that is heavily focused on bettering its community and the world. Anyone will enjoy its fee-free spend and save account but consumers who aren’t attracted by its social mission will probably be better off with another option.
If you care about Aspiration’s social mission, Aspiration offers a solid account and you’ll feel good about working with a company that is so dedicated to bettering the world.
*Aspiration’s Cash Back program is subject to change at any time and without notice, including reversal of rewards for abuse, fraud, and other illicit activity. Cash Back rewards are generally credited on the first day of each calendar month. Aspiration Standard customers receive up to 3-5% cash back while Aspiration Plus members receive up to 10% cash back. Everyday cashback is earned through AIM. For additional Cash Back details, click here & here.
**To earn up to 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield on Aspiration Save Account balances up to and including $10,000.00 in any calendar month, customer must be enrolled in Aspiration Plus and spend $1,000 or more, monthly, with their Aspiration debit card. Balances over $10,000.00 will earn 0.10% APY. If the requirements are not met each month, the APY will be 0.25% on Save Account balances up to and including $10,000.00. Balances over $10,000.00 will earn 0.10% APY.