Wealthfront is a financial services platform based out of Palo Alto, California. It was founded in 2008 by a former venture capitalist and a former trader, with the goal of providing automated investment services to anyone, anywhere. Though its roots are in investing, Wealthfront expanded into banking products in 2019, with an all-in-one deposit account called the Wealthfront Cash Account.
In this post, we’ll focus on Wealthfront’s Cash Account. You’ll learn exactly how the account works, with an overview of the most exciting aspects along with its limitations.
Wealthfront Cash Account Features
Let’s jump into all of the features that you can expect to find.
Cash Management Account
It’s important to note off the bat that while the Cash Account can serve the role of both a checking account and a savings account, it’s technically neither.
It’s a cash management account, an increasingly common alternative to traditional deposit accounts.
Cash management accounts are most often seen with non-bank account providers like Wealthfront. They’re similar to Money Market accounts in the sense that both checking and savings features are available.
The account comes with standard checking account features like a debit card, direct deposit, and bill pay. You can easily make deposits and withdrawals and move money between your Cash Account and your Wealthfront investment account.
The account has no monthly fee and requires a minimum deposit of just $1 to open.
19,000 Free ATMs
Wealthfront doesn’t have any of its own ATMs, but it’s part of the Allpoint network of more than 19,000 fee-free ATMs for its account holders.
You can easily find a nearby ATM from the app or website. Wealthfront charges a $2.50 fee for out-of-network ATM use, and it doesn’t reimburse for any ATM fees, so it’s important to keep track of free options near you.
Wealthfront is a mobile-driven platform, so its mobile app enables most of your account maintenance.
You can monitor your account balance, move money around, and set up automated transfers.
Mobile check deposit makes it easy to get funds into your account, and you can easily have a check sent out to take care of bills.
App functionality is essential for neobanks like Wealthfront, and this is an area where it stands out.
The easy-to-use app has rave reviews, with a 4.8-star (out of 5) rating in the App Store and a 4.8-star rating (out of 5) in the Google Play Store — making it one of the highest-rated personal finance apps on the market.
With Wealthfront, everything starts with automation. The platform was built on the idea that an automated brokerage account makes investing more accessible, and the Cash Account sticks to the same basic principles.
The account aims to put your money on autopilot — whether you’re saving for a vacation or a down payment on a house. You can set your priorities, and Wealthfront’s software will divide your deposits accordingly.
You can optimize your paycheck by breaking it down into different categories. Once you determine how much you need for everyday expenses and an emergency fund, Wealthfront helps allocate the rest toward your savings goals or hands It off to its robo-advisor.
The idea here is to effectively organize your funds and paint a clearer personal finance picture without the extra log work.
The Cash Account has an annual percentage yield (APY) of 5.00% on all balances.
Unlimited Free Transfers
You could conceivably use a Wealthfront Cash Account as your lone bank account, but it’s more likely that you’ll keep external accounts as well.
With this in mind, the ability to transfer money in and out easily is essential.
The Cash Account comes with free unlimited transfers, and funds are generally available in one to three business days following a transfer.
Your Cash Account debit card is fully compatible with both Apple Pay and Google Pay, and the platform supports popular payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal.
Wealthfront presents the Cash Account as an entirely fee-free banking option, but this is only partially true.
While the account mostly steers clear of common banking costs like monthly fees and minimum balance requirements, there are still some charges that could pop up. Let’s take a look.
- ATM Fees: You have fee-free ATM access within Wealthfront’s network, but if you have to use an out-of-network ATM, there’s a $2.50 fee. This charge is on top of whatever the ATM itself charges, so fees can add up in a hurry. Wealthfront unfortunately does not offer ATM fee reimbursements, so locating in-network ATMs should be a top priority when considering the account.
- Overdraft Fees: Fortunately, Wealthfront doesn’t charge any overdraft fees. Overdrafts are possible due to the automated nature of the platform, but for debit card transactions, your card will decline if you try to spend more than you have in your account.
- International Transaction Fees: If you’re using your debit card abroad, you’ll be charged a fee of 2.75% of the total amount of the transaction. This applies to both purchases and ATM withdrawals.
- Advisory Fees: There are no advisory fees associated with the Cash Account itself, but it’s important to note due to the investment-driven nature of the platform. There’s a 0.25% annual advisory fee for Wealthfront’s investment platform, which it assures is more than covered by the returns you’ll see.
To get started with a Wealthfront Cash Account, you can head to the Wealthfront website or download the app.
The sign-up process is very simple — just enter your personal information and the account you’re using for initial funding, and you’ll be good to go.
There’s no current sign-up bonus for new Cash Accounts, but when you sign up for a new investment account, you can get $5,000 of your funds managed for free.
Considering the standard 0.25% annual advisory fee, this is equivalent to a $50 bonus.
The offer is technically a referral bonus, so you’ll need a referral link to take advantage of it. If you don’t know anyone currently investing with Wealthfront, you can easily find a link online with a quick Google search or by checking your favorite finance influencers’ links.
Like most online banking options, digital security is a top priority for Wealthfront. Your Cash Account is closely monitored for any signs of fraud, and you’ll get an alert if Wealthfront sees something suspicious.
It might also place a restriction on your account, which you can lift by verifying your identity through the app.
Wealthfront uses multi-factor authentication to curb unauthorized account access, and you can easily lock your debit card if you think it’s been compromised.
The Wealthfront Cash Account is FDIC-insured by its partner banks. Wealthfront can insure up to $8 million across multiple accounts, which exceeds the typical coverage of $250,000.
Wealthfront’s online Help Center is full of useful articles and FAQs to help you troubleshoot any account issues you run into. If you need to get in touch with someone, you can send an email or secure message or give them a call.
Wealthfront’s phone line is available Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm Pacific Time and has no availability on weekends. There’s no live chat function, and without branches, you won’t have the luxury of in-person support. It will generally reply to customers within 24 hours.
Wealthfront doesn’t have the most flattering rating on TrustPilot, but it only has 11 reviews and even more limited reviews on other popular sites, including Best Company and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). We’ve pulled a sampling of the available reviews so you can make an informed decision on whether or not the company’s reputation fits your needs.
I’ve been an account holder for years, and I’ve plowed even more money into my account due to the high-interest rates. Their customer service is amazing. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a certain threshold but they’re great! I love the high rates, the super cool app, and the great customer service. How cool is it that I can call someone at this tech company and get an answer faster than my Merril reps?!
Dee Perez Trustpilot
Vanguard is better. The return is about 8% more with the same stocks. They're taking money from your returns.
Hoko Le Trustpilot
They do not care about their customers at all, they do nothing to help protect your money. Also, if you invest with them you'll probably lose hundreds like I have.
Pros & Cons
- Automated banking
- Excellent mobile app
- Very few fees
- Linked investment account
- Out-of-network ATM fees
- No sign-up bonus
- No physical branches
Alternatives to Wealthfront Cash Account
If you like the sounds of the Wealthfront Cash Account but want to see what your other options are, you should check out SoFi and Betterment.
Both of these robo-advisors come with similar online banking and investing platforms, but they may not be as competitive as other online banking options.
It’s worth looking into other full-service online banks if you’re after higher interest rates.
Ally Bank is one of the nation’s leading online banks. While it doesn’t offer any physical locations, its services are comparable to industry veterans with thousands of branches.
Ally Bank account holders can enjoy fee-free online banking and access to competitive financing options. Like Wealthfront, Ally Bank gives customers the option to invest within the platform.
Overall, customers sing their praises for Ally Bank, specifically highlighting ATM reimbursements and high-interest rates.
While Ally Bank and Wealthfront offer similar features, Ally’s security is stronger, so we’d generally recommend it over Wealthfront.
UFB Bank is a division of Axos Bank, a well-known and reliable financial institution. While UFB offers competitive interest rates, it requires customers to maintain a $5,000 balance in a money market account to waive maintenance fees. All other accounts are fee-free.
Because UFB Bank has access to Axos’ wide network of resources, its security capabilities are further reaching than Wealthfront. The app is protected by voice, fingerprint, and digital image verification.
UFB is also an FDIC participating institution, so deposits up to $250,000 are inherently protected. Wealthfront secures its deposits through partner banks, but it has to transfer the funds there first. That means if anything happens during the transfer, you can lose money with little recourse to get it back.
Varo Bank is one of the biggest players in the online banking industry. While its checking accounts don’t offer any interest, the savings account has a competitive 3% interest rate. This rate is lower than other competitors in the market, but customers love Varo Bank for its intuitive mobile app and commitment to customer service.
And that’s important when you don’t have any physical branches. Varo’s most compelling offering is its Second Chance Bank Account. Users who would otherwise struggle to qualify for a bank account due to poor or insufficient credit history can enjoy the benefits of online banking so they can develop better financial habits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is my money safe with Wealthfront?
Yes. Wealthfront Cash accounts come with FDIC insurance, provided by its partner financial institutions.
Does Wealthfront charge fees for cash account?
There are no monthly fees associated with the account, but there are still some, like out-of-network ATM fees, that could pop up.
Can I withdraw money from Wealthfront?
Yes. You can withdraw cash at an ATM or transfer money to an external account. Transfers generally take one business day to clear.
Is Wealthfront reliable?
Yes, Wealthfront is a well-known and reliable financial institution backed by the FDIC insurance of its partner banks. The Cash Account offers higher APY than similar account types at other banks, so it’s certainly worth consideration. Remember to read reviews, ask for referrals, and request clarification from customer service representatives so you can arrive at your own conclusions.
What are the downsides of a Wealthfront Cash Account?
Wealthfront Cash Accounts can have advantages for users who already invest through the platform, but it may not be the best solution for everyday consumers looking for a place to hold their money. We’ve outlined a few of the disadvantages below:
- Clunky transferring interface from Cash Account to investment account
- Doesn’t automate transfers
- FDIC insurance doesn’t always work the same way as other financial institutions
Is the Wealthfront Cash Account Right For You?
The Wealthfront Cash Account is a relatively new banking option. With this in mind, there are some important things to consider when you’re weighing whether or not it’s the right account for you.
First, it’s important to acknowledge that Wealthfront is driven by its investment platform first. If the stock market isn’t something you’re interested in, then the benefits of the Cash Account might not quite be worth it.
Another important aspect of Wealthfront is automation. Automated tools can make your financial life a little easier, but if you prefer a hands-on approach to organizing your account or you’re worried about cashflow, the Cash Account could be a poor fit.
Overall, the Wealthfront Cash Account is an interesting new player in a crowded field of non-traditional bank accounts. There’s plenty of room for it to grow, and with automated financial planning, generous APY, and a clean, easy-to-use platform, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
That said, we’d recommend novice investors and anyone who can’t afford to lose funds to consider their options carefully. In some cases, it can make more sense to choose a different online banking option.