Aspiration is an online financial institution known for its commitment to both the environment and socially-conscious causes. While technically not checking or savings accounts, Aspiration offers cash-management accounts that function similarly to traditional bank accounts.
Aspiration features valuable benefits on two different tiers. Aspiration Plan is its basic account that earns cash rewards whenever you use your debit card, while Aspiration Plus earns an impressive average percentage yield — 1.00% APY — but you do have to jump through a few hoops to be eligibly for its high-yield APY.
Additionally, for a limited time, you can earn a $100 bonus when you open an Aspiration Spend & Save Account and meet certain requirements with your debit card. Although this isn’t among the best bank account bonuses around, I recently opened accounts with Aspiration because the bank bonus is easy to earn, and you don’t need to change much about your spending habits.
The amount of cash-back rewards you earn with your Aspiration debit card will vary based on the tier you choose. Here’s some more information about each option.
|Aspiration Plan||Aspiration Plus|
|Deposits won’t fund fossil fuel exploration or production||✅||✅|
|55,000 free in-network ATMs||✅||✅|
|Cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases||✅||✅|
|Personal impact score to help you shop to match your values||✅||✅|
|Option to plant a tree with every roundup||✅||✅|
|Get paid up to 2 days early||✅||✅|
|Free debit card||✅||✅|
|One out-of-network ATM reimbursement monthly||✅|
|Carbon offsets for all your gas purchases with Planet Protection||✅|
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 APY interest earned on your Aspiration Save balance under this plan. Only Aspiration Plus accounts come with interest-earning potential.
With an Aspiration Plus plan, you’ll pay just $7.99 per month or $5.99 per year if you pay annually. While most consumers don’t like the idea of paying for their basic checking services, this monthly 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% average percentage yield (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 $100 Bonus
Bank bonuses come in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, the requirements to earn them can vary, depending on which bank or credit union is offering it. With Aspiration, you’ll earn a $100 sign-up bonus if you open a Spend & Save Account — the bank’s version of a checking and savings account — and fund it with a deposit of $10 or more. Then you’ll need to make at least $1,000 worth of cumulative transactions with your debit card in the first 60 calendar days from account opening.
Note that $1,000 in net purchases is required to earn the Aspiration sign-up bonus. So if you spend exactly $1,000, then get a refund on a purchase for $50, you’ll need to make up that amount with more purchases to ensure your bonus. Once you’ve met the requirements, you’ll receive the money in the form of a statement credit within 120 days of account opening, as long as your account is still open and in good standing.
As with any bank bonus, the $100 will be considered interest income, so expect to receive a 1099-INT form from Aspiration so you can claim it on your tax return.
Referral Bonus Program
Once you become an Aspiration member, you can invite friends and family to sign up as well. When a loved one opens an Aspiration account with your personalized referral link, Aspiration will give you and your referral $50 cash.
In order to be eligible, accounts must be open and in good standing for a minimum of 10 business days, the referred customer must use their Aspiration debit card to make at least $250 worth of cumulative transactions within 60 calendar days of account opening, and that there is a $1,500 per month per person limit for referral bonus cash. Visit Aspiration for more details around its referral bonus program.
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.
Spend & Save 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.
Receive a free Aspiration debit card that earns between 3.5% and 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases.
No ATM Fees
Use your Aspiration debit card for unlimited fee-free withdrawals from Allpoint’s network of 55,000 ATMs worldwide. However, out-of-network transactions will result in ATM fees.
Get Paid Early
Many online banks now feature early direct deposits. With Aspiration, you can receive your paycheck up to two days early when you set up the direct deposit from your employer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Open An Account With Aspiration
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.
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
- Girlfriend Collective
- Known Supply
- This Saves Lives
- United By Blue
- Warby Parker
The Bottom Line
Aspiration offers some valuable 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, the high-yield 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.