In today’s world, everyone wants to put their money toward organizations that do good. Climate change is an issue at the front of many peoples’ minds, but it can be difficult to find financial organizations that support the environment and manage your money.
Aspiration aims to change the impact that large financial organizations can have on our planet. Their pledge to be environmentally and socially conscious has earned them status as B-Corp certified.
Aspiration might be for you if you’re looking for a company that supports important causes while also boasting top financial perks. In this review, we’ll tackle why Aspiration is an excellent option for people who want their money to work for them and the greater good.
What is Aspiration?
Aspiration’s main differentiator in a world of financial institutions is its commitment to doing good for the planet and humankind.
Many assume that when they put their money in a bank, their funds sit in an account until they decide to use them, but that is not the case. Most major banks reinvest the money you deposit into profitable but environmentally harmful ventures, like oil drilling or coal mining.
Aspiration pledges never to use your funds to finance environmentally or socially damaging causes. Instead, they invest in ventures that help our planet and even donate 10% of their profits from monthly fees to charities that help Americans get back on their feet.
One of Aspiration’s features that speaks to its commitment to the environment is its sustainable banking features. Customers can opt into these programs that can help them do more to save the planet:
If you drive a lot and would like to offset your carbon footprint, Aspiration’s Planet Protection feature can help you do that. If you opt in, Aspiration will automatically purchase carbon offsets whenever you swipe your card at a gas station. This feature is only available for Aspiration Plus members.
Conscience Coalition companies have pledged to do good, and you can earn cash back when you shop at them with your Aspiration card. These companies include TOMS, Blue Apron, and Warby Parker.
Personal Sustainability Score:
Want to know if the places you shop are kind to people and the planet? Aspiration will give you a Sustainability Score (out of 100) based on the company’s business practices and how it treats its people and our world. This can help you make more informed purchasing decisions in the future.
Plant Your Change:
If you were to opt-in to this feature, Aspiration will round up every purchase you make on your Aspiration card to the nearest dollar. They will use every cent to plant trees. Talk about extra change!
Is Aspiration Legit?
You may be wondering, “All of this sounds great. But is this bank too good to be true?” Aspiration is legit, but they aren’t actually a bank.
Aspiration is a financial technology company that partners with FDIC-member banks to hold and insure your money. Accounts are offered through Aspiration Financial LLC, an investment broker insured through the Insured Bank Deposits Program.
As for where your money goes, Aspiration is partnered with ten banks that hold your money. Interestingly, this means that your money is covered by more insurance – up to $2 million – than if you were to bank with a single institution.
Aspiration Products & Fees
Aspiration offers three main products to customers: the Spend & Save account, investment accounts, and a credit card.
You will be charged a monthly fee when you create an Aspiration account. However, you get to decide what the monthly fee will be. With its “Pay What Is Fair” model, you can choose a monthly payment that you believe is fair for your wallet and reflects the service you’re receiving from Aspiration. You are allowed to change your price at any time.
If you want extra perks, like the sustainability programs mentioned above, you will need to become an Aspiration Plus member. Becoming a member will earn you 5% APY on savings, 10% cash back on purchases made to Conscience Coalition companies, monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursement, and a debit card made from recycled ocean plastic. Membership costs $5.99 per month, billed annually, or $7.99 billed monthly.
Spend & Save Account
Aspiration’s Spend & Save Account sounds like a separate checking and saving account. However, it is actually one account with separate checking and savings balances. There is no minimum balance requirement, and the minimum opening deposit is $10.
The Spend & Save account has features like a regular checking account. You will get a debit card for all your purchases, and you can use your Spend balance to pay bills, run errands, withdraw cash, or do virtually anything you need to do. You will earn up to 10% cash back on purchases made with your debit card.
The Save portion of your account operates like a typical high-yield savings account. You can put money into it, and it will earn interest as time goes by. Aspiration Plus members can earn as much as 5% APY on their Save balance, while regular members earn 3% APY on their balance.
Aspiration customers must meet certain conditions to earn the interest on the Save account. You must spend at least $1,000 on your Aspiration debit card, and the APY is only available on the first $10,000 on a customer’s account. Any balance beyond that will not earn the high APY.
One of the most unique features of Aspiration’s Spend & Save account is that it allows you to track your impact score on your purchases. Aspiration assigns ratings to companies based on how they treat their people and the environment. Then, it shows you what your sustainability impact is by supporting them. This can help you decide where to shop to defend Mother Earth.
As a financial institution committed to sustainability, Aspiration is involved with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds. It offers two investment products for customers who want to invest in sustainable ventures.
The Aspiration Redwood Fund is one of the earliest sustainable investment funds. It evaluates companies’ environmental, social, and governance impacts through initiatives like ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and commitment to addressing climate change. It then invests money in these companies based on performance in these areas.
The Redwood IRA is another account similar to a traditional, tax-deferred IRA. USB Asset Management manages both the Redwood Fund and Redwood IRA.
To get started, you must make a minimum initial deposit of $10. This means that average Joe investors can participate in the Redwood Fund or Redwood IRA. When investing through Aspiration, you are also subject to a “Pay What Is Fair” fee.
Aspiration Zero Credit Card
Aspiration’s Zero Credit Card is perfect for those that want to maximize their impact through their credit card purchases. Every time you swipe your Aspiration Zero Credit Card, Aspiration plants a tree. They will also give you the option to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar to plant the next one.
The Aspiration Zero Credit Card also encourages you to make purchases on the card to become carbon neutral. If you make a purchase on the card each day, you will earn 1% cash back on all purchases for a month.
The credit card is a Mastercard issued by Beneficial State Bank. You must pay an annual fee of $60 and have a minimum credit score of 680 to qualify for the card. If you sign up now, Aspiration will give you a $300 bonus if you spend $3,000 within your first three months.
Security & Customer Support
Aspiration has stellar customer service that is available to prospective and current customers. If you cannot find the information you’re looking for in the FAQ section on their website, you can contact their team through a written request or by phone. There is no option for a live chat on their website.
You can contact the Aspiration customer service team at the number and times below:
Mon – Fri, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (PST)
Sat – Sun 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (PST)
Getting started with Aspiration is free, but like many financial accounts, it is a somewhat lengthy process that requires several days to complete. If approved for an account, you can have a new Aspiration bank card within seven to 10 days.
The great thing about signing up for an Aspiration account is that you can do it entirely online. It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to input all your information. Here are the steps to follow to get started:
- Select the “Get Started” button.
- Provide essential details, such as name, email address, Social Security number, and bank account information.
- Verify your bank information. (Note: this can take up to two days because it involves Aspiration sending a few cents to your account.)
- Transfer a minimum deposit to open your account. The lowest amount is $10.
- Verify your identity with a passport, driver’s license, or another form of suitable ID.
- Provide additional documents, such as bank statements, if necessary.
- Activate your account.
Pros and Cons
Banking with Aspiration means working with an institution that puts its money where its mouth is when supporting the greater good.
However, there are some drawbacks to consider before using their services. Here are some pros and cons to consider before opening an account with Aspiration.
- Sustainability features
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals through the Allpoint network
- No overdraft fees.
- Doesn’t invest in environmentally harmful ventures
- No overdraft protection
- Cash deposits are not available
- No branches
- Some customers report slow customer service response times
Alternatives to Aspiration
Amalgamated Bank is another great option if you are drawn to the idea of a bank that works for environmental and social causes.
Aspiration is focused most on sustainability, but Amalgamated Bank has committed itself to supporting several worthy causes. They talk about where they stand on specific issues on their website.
As for financial products, Amalgamated has a Give-Back Checking and Give-Back Savings Account. These are relatively similar in features to the Aspirations account. You can even choose from six charities to which you would like Amalgamated to donate half the interest they earn on your account.
City First Bank
If you live in the District of Columbia, the odds are that you are passionate about specific issues like community development. City First specifically focuses on community development in the DC area.
Like Aspiration, City First promises to reinvest deposits into ventures that have a positive impact. They use deposits to disperse loans, with 80% going toward causes like charter schools, community service organizations, and urban housing development.
The only drawback to City First is that it is only available in the DC area. If you’re a resident of the district, you should consider banking with City First.
Have you ever heard the term “financial feminism?” It’s all about women building financial stability and wealth for themselves to increase their opportunities. If you’re a woman who wants to achieve financial wellness, Ellevest is committed to your goal.
Ellevest is a banking platform similar to Aspiration. They offer a Spend and Save account linked to an ATM card. But whereas Aspiration is focused on sustainability, Ellevest is focused on women building wealth. However, they offer investment funds that focus on environmental and social causes, and up to 53% of your investment portfolio can be invested in ESG funds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Aspiration a trustworthy bank?
Aspiration isn’t a bank, but they are a legitimate and trustworthy financial technology company that partners with FDIC-insured financial institutions. They are partnered with ten financial institutions that are FDIC members and insure up to $2 million per depositor.
Who is Aspiration owned by?
Aspiration Partners, Inc. (Aspiration) is comprised of Aspiration Financial, LLC, a registered broker-dealer, and Aspiration Fund Adviser, LLC, a registered investment advisor (RIA). They are, however, partnered with several banks to provide banking services.
If you deposit money into your Aspiration account, it may be held at one of the following banks:
- Amalgamated Bank
- Bridgewater Bank
- Coastal Community Bank
- The Freedom Bank of Virginia
- Manufacturer Bank
What ATM does Aspiration use?
Aspiration is partnered with Allpoint to provide its customers with ATM access at over 55,000 locations. You can withdraw money or check your balance at any Allpoint ATM.
Is Aspiration bank FDIC insured?
Yes, deposits made through Aspiration are FDIC-insured. Because Aspiration works with FDIC-insured financial institutions, all deposits are insured for up to $2 million.
Is Aspiration Best for You?
Just because Aspiration is a charitable company doesn’t mean they don’t also have great financial products.
The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account with features similar to standard checking and savings accounts. It’s great for people who would like to manage their funds without having to open two separate accounts. It also boasts an impressive interest rate that will allow your savings to grow over time.
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