Aspiration is a socially conscious online-only bank based out of Marina del Rey, California.
Since 2015, Aspiration has been operating in the banking space with one simple mission: To change the world. Taking a community-driven approach, and with a focus on sustainability, Aspiration strives to help its customers do well financially while still doing good for the world.
When you combine Aspiration’s goals with a low fee banking platform and attractive high-yield savings account, there’s a lot to like.
First, let’s take a look at what account options Aspiration has to offer:
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
You can easily transfer money between the two accounts from the mobile app.
Spend comes with an Aspiration debit card. This card pays 0.5% cash back on debit card purchases from merchants with a high AIM score, and 3 to 5% cash back on purchases from merchants that are part of the Conscience Coalition.
When it comes to fees, Aspiration leaves it up to you. Seriously.
Aspiration’s Pay What Is Fair feature lets you choose the monthly fee for your Spend & Save account, even if it’s $0.
The bank aims to empower customers to contribute what they can, on a shared mission to do good. You can change your fee to whatever you want at any time.
It should be noted that if you spend at least $1,000 per month, you’ll earn 3.00% APY on the first $10,000 in your account.
Aspiration Plus is an upgraded subscription service that you can add to your Spend & Save account.
For a monthly fee of $7.99 (reduced to $5.99/month if you pay annually), you’ll get all the same features as the standard Spend & Save, with a few added perks.
Here’s a look at what you’ll get for the additional cost:
- Planet Protection: Aspiration makes a carbon offset contribution for every gas purchase that you make.
- Up to 5.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY): If you spend at least $1,000 per month, your interest rate is 5.00% on the first $10,000 in your account, and 0.10% on any funds on top of that. If you don’t meet the spending requirement, your funds up to $10,000 earn 0.25% APY.
- 10% Cash Back: Earn up to 10% cash back on purchases from Conscience Coalition
- ATM fee reimbursement: Customers get up to one reimbursement per month for out-of-network ATM fees.
- Debit Card: You’ll get a new debit card with an upgraded design that is made from recycled ocean plastic.
Aspiration Zero Credit Card
Aspiration Zero is a rewards credit card offered by Aspiration. It’s not just another rewards card though – aligning with their other products, Aspiration will plant a tree with every purchase you make.
On top of that, each month you reach carbon zero, they’ll reward you with up to 1% on all of your purchases. You can track your progress right from the app. These rewards can be redeemed for cash, or if you’d like, they can be redeemed to plant more trees.
It does come with a $60 annual fee; however, that’s a small price to pay to help our environment. As if all this wasn’t enough, Aspiration is offering a $300 sign-up bonus when you complete $3,000 in purchases within 90 days.
The Aspiration Redwood Fund is a sustainability-focused mutual fund managed by UBS Asset Management, a partner bank.
Instead of sacrificing financial gains for social consciousness, the Redwood Fund analyzes companies with sustainable practices that have real growth potential.
Forward-thinking companies with positive ratings in environmentalism, social, and governance are considered and prioritized.
It takes only $10 to get started, and the annual fee for operating expenses is capped at 0.50% of your assets.
There is no fee for withdrawing funds. As with a Spend & Save account, you can choose to contribute more in monthly fees. If you do, the bank will donate 10% of it to charitable causes.
Aspiration offers a Traditional IRA with a $10 minimum deposit. Similar to the Redwood Fund, investments are made into companies that demonstrate sustainability practices.
Since this is a traditional IRA, you won’t have access to the funds until you’re 60 years old, and you’ll get hit with a 10% penalty if you have to withdraw funds early.
Now, let’s take a look at Aspiration’s most popular features.
Giving back is at the core of everything Aspiration does. The bank aims to pivot from the traditional bank experience for its customers while improving the world as a whole.
For starters, Aspiration donates 10% of all its earnings to causes that support Americans who are struggling for a better life.
This means that $0.10 out of every dollar it makes is directly going to a cause, such as poverty prevention, water, and food access, and education. How cool is that?
Aspiration also has a deep commitment to environmental preservation and sustainability.
As such, the bank will never use any deposits or profits to fund fossil fuel projects, such as oil and gas pipelines, off-shore oil rigs, fracking operations, or coal mines.
Plant Your Change
Aspiration’s Plant Your Change program rounds off every debit card purchase to the nearest dollar and sends the remainder to organizations that plant new trees.
Every round-up plants one new tree. You can even track how many trees you’ve planted, and earn cash rewards for every planting that you fund.
Here’s a rundown of what the Plant Your Change rewards look like:
- 30 Trees: $5 cash reward
- 100 Trees: $10 cash reward
- 500 Trees: $25 cash reward
- 1,000 Trees: $50 cash reward
- 2,500 Trees: $100 cash reward
- 5,000 Trees: $500 cash reward
55,000 Free ATMs
Aspiration has a partnership with Allpoint, so account holders have access to its network of over 55,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.
Aspiration is an entirely online bank, so you have access to a physical branch or in-person support.
Aspiration does offer checks, but otherwise, all of your bank account transactions will be made digitally or with a debit card.
Aspiration also offers mobile check deposits, direct deposits, and wire transfers.
Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM)
One of Aspiration’s most unique features is Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM), which is a score that lets you know how much of a social impact your purchases are making.
AIM is broken into two categories: People and Planet. Your AIM score ranges from 1 to 100 and is based on how your purchases affect the planet and those who live on it.
Businesses also get an AIM score, and you’ll be able to see which retailers are doing their part before you decide where to buy.
You’ll even be able to earn better rewards by shopping at locations with higher AIM scores.
Cash Back Rewards
All Aspiration accounts come with cash back rewards on Mastercard debit transactions. The amount you get depends on where you shop, and which account option you choose.
You can also get a boost by shopping at retailers with a higher social conscience.
Aspiration has an excellent mobile experience. Its mobile banking app currently holds a 4.8-star (out of 5) rating in the App Store, and 4.3 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.
You can also link your Aspiration debit card to Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Aspiration Bank Fees
Aspiration makes a point to avoid the typical fee structure that is all too common with traditional banks.
There are no required monthly fees, no overdraft fees, and no minimum balance fees, which is a huge perk.
There are a couple of fees that you might see, so here’s what you can expect:
- Pay What Is Fair: This feature lets you choose what you want to pay for a monthly service fee. Set it at $0, or $5, or whatever you want, and change it up any time.
- Aspiration Plus: The monthly fee for Aspiration Plus is $15, or $12.50 per month ($150 total) if you choose to pay annually. This is sort of a hefty fee for a deposit account, and unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it. Pro Tip: If you are considering an Aspiration Plus account, run the numbers to see if the 5.00% APY that you can earn offsets the monthly fee.
- ATM Fees: Account-holders get free ATM withdrawals at 55,000 Allpoint ATMs. You might get hit with a fee if you take money out from a non-Allpoint ATM, depending on what that specific ATM charges. Aspiration Plus members can get reimbursed for non-Allpoint ATM fees once each month.
As an online bank, signing up with Aspiration is quick and easy.
You can enroll via their website or through their mobile app.
Before you do, however, keep reading to learn about their new customer welcome bonuses. Shame to miss out on free cash!
Aspiration Bank Promotions
Here are some of the best Aspiration promotions going on right now:
1. Aspiration Zero - $300 bonus
Expires: September 30, 2022
Aspiration recently launched their "carbon-neutral" credit card, coined Aspiration Zero, which aims to fight climate change with every swipe.
To further motivate customers to adopt the card, Aspiration is offering a $300 welcome bonus when you spend $3,000 on your new card within the first 3 months.
This is in addition to their typical rewards structure, which gives you 1% cash back each month you get to carbon zero.
How to earn the bonus
The Aspiration Zero sign up offer requires you to make purchases using the account's card in order to earn the $300 bonus. Full requirements to receive this bonus are:
- Open a new Aspiration Zero credit card.
- Within the first 3 months, spend $3,000 using your new card.
- Bonus will be applied as a statement credit on the next billing cycle after meeting the requirement.
Aspiration operates on a secure online platform with proper safeguards for protecting your personal and financial information.
Here are some of the security measures that the bank has in place:
- Industry-standard SSL encryption
- Strict routing, firewalls, and controlled access
- Automated fraud monitoring and alerts
- ID verification and automatic logouts
- Multi-factor authentication
- FDIC insurance
Aspiration Customer Service
Aspiration offers customer support over the phone, in the mobile app, or on the website.
As is common for an online bank, Aspiration has a huge list of FAQs in every category you could think of.
Phone support is available 7 days a week, from 6 am to 6 pm PST Monday through Friday, and 8 am to 4 pm PST Saturday and Sunday, which is pretty impressive for an online bank.
Overall, Aspiration customers seem pretty happy with its service efforts. The bank has an above-average TrustPilot rating, in comparison with its competitors.
Pros & Cons
- Impressive APY on Aspiration Plus account
- Very few fees
- Extra cash back on socially conscious spending
- Unique “giving-back” banking option
- Limited account options
- No interest in standard saving accounts
- No physical locations
Alternatives to Aspiration Bank
Aspiration is in a category of its own due to its unique fee structure and sustainability focus.
That said, some convenient, online-only bank alternatives, that are sort of in the same wheelhouse include:
Each of those options has a low fee structure and interest-bearing savings accounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Aspiration a safe bank?
Yes, Aspiration is a legit and safe bank. Aspiration has robust online security and FDIC deposit insurance to protect your hard-earned money. It’s safe to say that Aspiration is as safe to use as any other leading online bank.
Is Aspiration Bank FDIC insured?
Yes, Aspiration is covered by the FDIC, so your deposits are covered up to $250,000 if the bank goes under.
Who is Aspiration Bank owned by?
Aspiration is a privately-owned, independent financial institution that was founded by Andrei Cherny and Joseph Sanberg in 2013. The bank has been able to secure more than 200 million dollars in investor funding.
Is an Aspiration account worth it?
It all depends on what’s important to you.
If you’re an environmentalist, or socially conscious, there is no other bank that will make you feel better about being its customer.
If you’re strictly concerned about finance, a standard Aspiration account is not going to earn interest at the same rate you would find in other top high-yield savings accounts (HYSAs).
The no-fee structure is nice to have, but without earning interest, it just doesn’t stack up in terms of earning potential.
On the other hand, the 1.00% APY available for Aspiration Plus account holders is about as it gets (aside from the monthly fee).
Is Aspiration Right For You?
Most banks try to nickel and dime you with maintenance fees.
Furthermore, most banks are primarily concerned with earning a profit, without any regard for doing what’s good for the environment, or others. Not at Aspiration.
If you expect a little more social accountability from your bank, Aspiration might be the perfect fit.
You won’t have to worry that your deposits are funding initiatives that are harming the planet. You can also rest easy at night knowing that the fees you do pay are donated to benevolent causes. It’s a win-win.
What’s more, Aspiration has a slick online platform, and cash back earning options that can compete with any leading bank out there.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bank that offers credit cards, brokerage accounts, or mortgage loans, in addition to checking and savings accounts, you’ll probably want to check out a big national bank like Chase or Wells Fargo.
Now that you understand how Aspiration works, the next question is: does this bank fit into your personal finance strategy? If so, you know what to do.
The Aspiration Spend & Save Accounts are cash management accounts offered through Aspiration Financial, LLC, a registered broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC, and a subsidiary of Aspiration Partners, Inc. (“Aspiration”). Appreciation is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Aspiration is not a bank.