Aspiration Review 2022

An ESG-Friendly Neobank With High Interest Rates & Cash-Back Rewards

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Aspiration These days, online-only neobanks are extremely popular. The very best ones let you earn interest on your cash balances and can even pay cash-back rewards for daily spending.

Aspiration is one of the very best neobanks out there. And right now, new customers can take advantage of lucrative sign-up bonuses and even earn an astonishing 5% APY. Plus, Aspiration offers all these perks while paying you cash back for shopping at ESG-friendly companies and making efforts to reduce your carbon footprint.

But maximizing rewards with Aspiration requires meeting certain spending requirements and paying for a premium plan. Our Aspiration review is covering all of its features, pros and cons, and pricing to help you decide if it's the right neobank for you.

Commissions & Fees - 8
Customer Service - 7
Ease of Use - 9
Tools & Resources - 7
Investment Options - 4
Cash-Back Rewards - 8

8.5

Aspiration offers a cash management account with incredibly high interest rates and cash-back rewards. It also lets you invest in a managed ESG-friendly fund and earn rewards with its cash-back credit card. If you want to put your idle cash to work and monitor your carbon footprint, it's one of the best neobanks you can use.

Sign up for an Aspiration account today

Pros & Cons

pros

  • Earn up to 5% APY with Aspiration Plus
  • Earn up to 10% cash back for shopping at environmentally-friendly companies
  • A pay what you want model for the standard Spend & Save account
  • Earn up to 1% cash back and plant a tree with every purchase with Aspiration's credit card
  • A low $10 account opening requirement

cons

  • Limited investing options
  • No physical branches
  • You have to pay for Aspiration Plus to get the best rewards
  • Aspiration doesn't support cash deposits at ATMs

What Is Aspiration?

Aspiration is a unique neobank that offers a sustainably invested mutual fund, a cash management account and ultra-low pricing. The unique combination of features and feel-good finance makes it an exciting place to put your money.

The fees at Aspiration are arguably the biggest reason to sign up for a new account. Its investment accounts don't charge any fees by default. Instead, you choose what to pay based on what you think is fair. This uncommon model is rare but not unheard of. You can enjoy everything the Aspiration investment accounts have to offer completely free if you enter 0% at signup and start with a $10 opening deposit.

Do note that, while the investment account has no fees of its own, the underlying mutual funds still charge a 0.5% annual fee. That is a bit high for my taste, but when you factor in the fee-free account, it still winds up being a pretty good deal.

How Does Aspiration Work?

Aspiration offers three main products: its cash management services, a credit card, and investment products. Let’s look a bit more in-depth at the products it offers.

Aspiration Spend & Save Account

It seems that every investment company is opening a new cash management side of the business. These accounts typically come with low fees and higher savings interest rates, and Aspiration is no different.

There are two accounts- the Standard and Plus account.

Aspiration Standard Spend & Save Account

The Standard account is a pay-what-you-want model. You can withdraw funds from any of its 55,000 in-network ATMs. One very cool feature for people with a balance of over $250,000 is a sweep to other banks for additional FDIC insurance. Aspiration works with enough banks to offer up to $2.46 million in FDIC insurance coverage per depositor (visit fdic.gov for more information).

You can also get up to 3% to 5% cashback on what it calls “Conscience Coalition” purchases. These are companies that Aspiration has identified as doing good for the planet such as TOMS, Warby Parker and Blue Apron. And you can get a personal impact score that will help you shop at places that match your values.

Aspiration's standard account also pays 3% APY on the first $10,000 in your account if you spend at least $1,000 that month. Funds over $10,000 don't earn interest for standard accounts, and you also don't earn interest if you don't meet the spending requirement. But if you do meet the requirement, Aspiration beats pretty much any high-yield savings account out there right now.

>>> $150 Aspiration Bonus: Open a standard Aspiration account and spend $1,000 within your first 60 days to earn a $150 sign-up bonus.

Aspiration Plus Spend & Save Account

Aspiration Plus has all of the features of the standard account pays you a higher interest rate and more cash back. Specifically, you can get 10% back on Conscience Coalition purchases and earn up to 5.00% APY (annual percentage yield is variable and subject to conditions) on your savings as of June. 6, 2022. You can also get one out-of-network ATM reimbursement per month and they offer carbon offsets on all gas purchases made with their debit card.

You have to spend at least $1,000 per month to qualify for the 5% APY rate, just like the standard plan. Funds over $10,000 earn 0.10% APY. And if you don't meet the spending requirement as an Aspiration Plus customer, funds earn 0.25% APY up to $10,000 and 0.10% APY on additional cash.

Earning 5% APY is an incredible rate that's tough to beat, so hitting the $1,000 monthly spending requirement is definitely worth it. As for monthly pricing, Aspiration Plus costs $7.99 per month or $5.99 per month if you pay annually.

There's also a few other perks, like double the extended warranty on eligible purchases and up to $600 in phone insurance if you pay your phone bill with your Aspiration debit card, that you can take advantage of.

>>> $200 Aspiration Bonus: Open an Aspiration Plus account and spend $1,000 within your first 60 days to earn a $200 sign-up bonus.

Cash Back Program

Aspiration’s cash back program is a bit unique. Instead of earning money for shopping at mostly big retailers, Aspiration rewards you for shopping at places that it identifies as making an impact on the world.

Every company that Aspiration partners with has scored high on what they call the “Aspiration Impact Measurement’s People and Planet” score. They look at things like giving, sustainably, workplace equality and transparency before agreeing to partner with companies in their cash back program. Currently, Aspiration works with TOMs, Warby Parker, Lola, This Saves Lives, Blue Apron, Burst, and more.

Aspiration Credit Card

The Aspiration Zero credit card is one of the more recent features to come to the platform. This rewards credit card requires good credit to apply for and has a $60 annual fee. Some of its main perks and rates include:

  • A $300 welcome bonus if you spend $3,000 within your first three months
  • Aspiration plants a tree for every purchase you make
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on everyday purchases or 1% cash back if you plant at least 60 trees in a month and reach carbon neutral status
  • 11.65% to 21.45% variable APR
  • 2% in foreign transaction fees

Reaching 60 purchases in a month to earn 1% cash back is possible if you use this card for most of your spending. You can also enroll in Aspiration's “Plant Your Change” program to plant even more trees. This program rounds-up your purchase to the nearest dollar to cover the cost of planting a tree similarly to microsavings apps. This means it costs $0.01 to $0.99 extra to plant an extra tree for every purchase. You can use cash back to pay statement credits or plant additional trees at a cost of $1 per tree.

A 1% cash-back rate isn't the highest for rewards credit cards. But a $300 welcome bonus is very competitive, and this is an excellent credit card if reducing your carbon footprint is an important goal

Investment Accounts 

Aspiration only has one mutual fund called the Redwood Fund. It focuses on ESG- environmental, social, and governance. The fund is fossil-fuel-free, so none of your money will be invested in oil companies. You can invest in it through an IRA or a taxable investment account.

There's a $10 minimum investment requirement, making this fund ideal for investing small amounts of money. As of June 6th, 2022, the fund has seen 14.26% annualized returns since its inception in 2015. As for holdings, the Redwood Fund invests in a range of environmentally friendly companies in sectors like information technology, healthcare, energy, industrials, and financials.

Customer Service 

You can access Aspiration’s customer service via phone and email. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 6 am to 6 pm PT, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm PT.

You can also send them an email 24/7 or consult their online question and answer guide.

Security 

Aspiration uses multi-factor authentication and uses industry-standard encryption to keep your data safe. They have a fraud and alert system to notify you of any suspicious activity.

Aspiration Pricing & Fees

Aspiration's standard plan uses a “pay what you want” model, so it can be free and only requires a $10 minimum deposit. As for Aspiration Plus, it costs $7.99 per month or $5.99 if you pay annually.

Just note that “pay what you want” looks great on the surface, but the account isn't 100% free when you dig into the details. The investment funds charge a 0.5% expense ratio per year. The IRA account additionally has a $15 annual fee. The website says that these fees all go to third parties for fees Aspiration has to pay to maintain your account.

That makes the “pay what you want — even free” a little deceiving. But seeing as virtually all robo advisors charge their own fees on top of fund fees, Aspiration is still very competitive when it comes to cost.

Aspiration Alternatives 

Aspiration is one of our favorite online banks due to its incredibly high APY and sign-up bonuses. It's also one of the best banking options if you want to monitor and reduce your carbon footprint. However, this card requires spending $1,000 per month and the plus account to really shine.

Additionally, there are other Aspiration alternatives you can use if you want more comprehensive banking services.

HighlightsAlly BankTD BankChime
Rating8/107.5/108.5/10
AccountsSavings, Checking, Money Market, CDsSavings, Checking, Money Market, CDsSavings, Checking, Money Market, CDs
Online Deposits
Physical Branches
FDIC Insurance
ATM Reimbursement

We like Ally since it has a range of banking features and accounts that make it a very comprehensive online bank. It currently pays 0.25% APY for its checking account and a 0.75% APY for its savings account. You also get commission-free stock and ETF trades if you open an investing account, and there's an automated portfolio you can use to invest as well.

Chime is also a popular alternative to Aspiration. It only pays 0.50% APY, but you don't have to meet a $1,000 monthly spending requirement like you do with Aspiration.. And Chime customers don't pay monthly management fees or overdraft fees, so it's an excellent no-fee online bank.

Finally, TD Bank is a reliable alternative if you want in-person branches, a host of investing and wealth management features, and more account types.

If anything, you can open an Aspiration account to take advantage of the various sign-up bonuses. And if you have $10,000 in idle cash, hitting the $1,000 monthly spending requirement for up to 5% APY is worth going for.

Final Thoughts on Aspiration

Aspiration has one of the best cash management accounts out there right now because of the 5% APY. If you can meet the $1,000 monthly spending requirement to unlock the highest interest rates, it's an excellent choice for parking your idle cash. Plus, the cash-back rewards are competitive and help you spend at more environmentally sustainable companies.

For automatic investing, robo advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront are superior to Aspiration's Redwood Fund. These companies also have ESG and SRI portfolios but only charge 0.25% in annual management fees. Plus, they have other portfolios as well and also use features like automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting.

At the end of the day, Aspiration offers some truly impressive rates and rewards. Leverage these to the best of your ability, especially if you can snag a sign-up bonus and the maximum interest rate.

Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a staff writer at Investor Junkie who specializes in cryptocurrency, investing, and passive income. His work has appeared on numerous publications like The College Investor, Money Crashers, Greedy Rates, and his own blog This Online World. In his spare time, Tom enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling as a digital nomad.

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One Comment

  1. ASPIRATION is HORRIBLE
    After having my account there for nearly two years, frozen my account after a direct deposit from an insurance company is deposited in the multiple of thousands of dollars and pending closure now for two weeks after I tell them to close my account immediately and send me my money without delay. They have blocked me from customer service and will not respond to emails. I have filed formal complaints with multiple entities, but most take 2-4 weeks before they even start an investigation. I have a police report and continuing to do everything possible. I have worked at financial firms and in banks and all of my fifty years of existence I have never seen anything like this company and their actions. but people should sincerely look throughout the internet and they will see that there are many people they are and have done this to.

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