Aspiration Banking Review [2024]: Will It Work for You?

BANKING - BANK REVIEWS
Aspiration offers a cash management account that could pay significant interest and also help save the planet, but is it a good solution for your needs?
Updated Jan. 2, 2024
Fact checked
Aspiration Spend & Save Review

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Aspiration’s Spend & Save accounts1 charge between $0 to $7.99 in monthly maintenance fees and offer savings growth potentials in the form of annual percentage yields (APYs). On top of that, these accounts give you access to a bigger purpose.

Aspiration aims to help you save money and save the planet at the same time. Its accounts help you track the environmental impact of your purchases, as well as help plant trees for purchase roundups you make.  

Learn more about how the Aspiration accounts work and the perks you can benefit from in this Aspiration review.

Quick Summary

Earn up to 10% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases with Aspiration Plus

  • Help plant a tree for every purchase roundup
  • Earn up to 3.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) APY with Aspiration Plus when you spend $500 in qualifying debit card purchases
In this Aspiration review

Key takeaways

  • Aspiration offers a standard account with an APY of up to 1.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) and a Plus account with an APY of up to 3.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023).2
  • To earn higher APY rates, you need to spend at least $500 on qualifying debit card purchases. The higher APY rates only apply to balances up to $10,000.
  • Aspiration has a focus on sustainability, including options to plant trees for each purchase, not funding fossil fuel projects, and offering debit cards made from recycled ocean plastic.
  • Aspiration scores businesses based on their social and environmental impact to provide you with a sustainability score to guide your spending choices.
  • Aspiration Plus members can earn up to 10% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases at specific retailers, supporting businesses aligned with sustainability.

Aspiration Spend & Save account basics

APY Up to 1.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) on balances up to $10,000 with $500 per month in qualifying debit card transactions3
Minimum balance for APY $0
Minimum deposit to open account $10
Monthly maintenance fees Pay-what's-fair structure, starting from $0
ATM access Fee-free ATM access with Allpoint ATMs

ATMs outside the Allpoint network are subject to fees
Transactions per month No limit
FDIC insured Yes

Aspiration Spend & Save Plus basics

APY Up to 3.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) on balances up to $10,000 with $500 per month in qualifying debit card transactions
Minimum balance for APY $0
Minimum deposit to open account $10
Monthly maintenance fees $7.99
ATM access Fee-free access with Allpoint ATMs
If you use out-of-network ATMs, you’re eligible for one fee reimbursement per month
Transactions per month No limit
FDIC insured Yes

What is Aspiration?

Aspiration is a financial technology company that was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 2013 by Andrei Cherny and Joseph Sanberg. It has financial backing from actors Robert Downey Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as several venture capital firms. It officially opened for business in 2015.

Aspiration itself isn’t a bank but works with the Coastal Community Bank to offer its banking accounts. Aspiration Spend & Save accounts work as hybrid savings and checking accounts. Deposits in these accounts are protected by insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $2 million through its banking partners.

Aspiration is a registered broker-dealer and member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

What we like about Aspiration: benefits and perks

  • Sustainability mission: The company focuses on ways to help the planet. These include the option to opt in to plant a tree for each purchase you make, not using deposits to fund fossil fuel projects, carbon offsets from each gallon of gas you purchase (called “Planet Protection” and available with Aspiration Plus only), and by issuing debit cards made from recycled ocean plastic.
  • Plant your change: This program is open to everyone, even if you don’t have an Aspiration account. You round up your purchases, and with each purchase, Aspiration works with its partners to plant a tree. You can track the number of trees you’ve planted.
  • Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM): Aspiration scores businesses based on their social and environmental impact. When you use an Aspiration account, you have access to a Sustainability Score, which shows you the AIM scores of businesses where you’re spending money. You could use this information to adjust your spending habits to support businesses that better align with your values.
  • High APYs with qualifying spending: Aspiration’s regular account offers up to 1.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) APY and its Plus account offers up to 3.00% (as of Oct. 11, 2023) APY on balances of up to $10,000 if you make $500 or more of qualifying debit card transactions.
  • “Pay What Is Fair” fee model: Although the Plus account has a monthly fee of $7.99, the regular account allows you to pay what you want for its service.
  • Ability to earn cash back: Aspiration Plus members earn 10% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases at retailers that belong to Aspiration’s Conscience Coalition. Aspiration members without a Plus account earn:
    • 5% cash back at Burst, CARIUMA, Causebox, Cloud Paper, For Days, Goodwings, LOLA, Miir, Parachute Home, Reformation, Rumpi, Seatopia, United by Blue, and Warby Parker.
    • 4% cash back at Known Supply, Soapbox, and Toms.
    • 3% cash back at Arcadia Power, Blue Apron, Dropps, Feed Projects, Girlfriend Collective, Imperfect Foods, This Bar Saves Lives, and Tony’s Chocolonely.
  • Phone protection benefit: If you pay your monthly phone bill with your Aspiration debit card, you may be covered with up to $600 in phone insurance. Terms and conditions of the program apply.

What we don't like about Aspiration: drawbacks

  • Higher interest rates have requirements: To earn the higher APY, you have to spend $500 or more in qualifying debit card purchases each month. If you don’t, the APY will be either zero or very low, depending on whether you have an Aspiration Plus account.
  • APY applies only to a limited balance: The higher APYs offered with Aspiration accounts only apply to the first $10,000 in your Save account. Balances above that amount earn zero or much lower APY, depending on your account type.

Who is Aspiration best for?

Aspiration’s accounts could be a good fit for people who are environmentally conscious and don’t want their deposits funding loans for oil and coal projects.

It could also be a good fit for people who regularly spend $500 per month or more on a debit card. This would allow them to earn a higher APY on balances of up to $10,000.

Aspiration wouldn’t be a good fit for people who need a local branch for their banking needs, though. Aspiration's banking services are only available online.

Compare Aspiration Plus vs. traditional savings account

You may not think a higher APY makes much difference on a balance of $10,000 or less. However, traditional savings accounts only pay an average APY of 0.47% (as of Feb. 8, 2024).

Here’s how much a hypothetical higher APY could impact your savings account after one, three, and 10 years, assuming you don’t touch the money.

Traditional savings account with 0.47% APY Example savings account with 3.00% APY
Initial balance $5,000 $5,000
After 1 year $5,023.50 $5,150
After 3 years $5,070.83 $5,463.64
After 10 years $5,240.03 $6,719.58

How to open an account with Aspiration

Opening an account with Aspiration is relatively straightforward. To qualify for an account, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident over 18 years old. You can visit Aspiration to get started.

You start by entering your email and creating a password. Next, you select a debit card and input basic information, including your name and birthday. You must also provide other information, such as your:

  • Social Security number
  • Address
  • Phone number

You are required to fund your account with a minimum of $10. To complete this process, you need a checking or savings account from a U.S. bank or credit union.

How to withdraw money from an account with Aspiration

You can withdraw funds from your Aspiration account in several ways online or using its mobile app. Aspiration doesn’t charge any fees for withdrawing funds or liquidating your account in general, but using certain methods may result in fees.

Ways to withdraw funds from your account include:

  • Using your debit card to pay for purchases
  • Completing an ACH transfer
  • Wiring money out of your account (incurs fees)
  • Withdraw cash from an ATM (may incur out-of-network ATM fees)

Other Aspiration fees

Overdraft fee N/A*
Stop payment fee $1.19
ACH transfers None
Incoming wire transfers $2.06 (Domestic) - $2.06 (International)
Outgoing wire transfers $4.50 (Domestic) - $19.50 (International)
*Aspiration doesn’t allow transactions to go through that could result in a negative balance

Aspiration customer service

If you need to contact Aspiration customer service, you can do so in a few ways. Customer support is available by phone at 800-683-8529 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday hours for the phone number are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT. You can also submit a contact form on Aspiration’s website to get your questions answered.

Other Aspiration products

In addition to Aspiration’s Spend & Save financial product, they offer a mutual fund and enterprise services for businesses. Aspiration’s mutual fund, the Redwood Fund, focuses on sustainable investing and has a $10 account minimum. 

It’s fossil-fuel free, and its portfolio includes companies from several sectors, including information technology, financial services, and health care. It’s only available to Aspiration customers. You could also opt to invest in the Redwood Fund with a Redwood IRA, and there’s a $15 annual fee for IRA accounts.

Aspiration FAQ

Is Aspiration legit?

Aspiration is a legitimate broker-dealer and financial service company that offers cash management accounts that pay relatively decent APYs with qualifying purchases each month. Keep in mind that Aspiration is not a bank, but it works with partner banks to offer its services. 

What bank does Aspiration use?

Aspiration’s debit cards are issued through Coastal Community Bank. Aspiration uses up to eight partner banks to deposit customers’ funds and receive up to $2,000,000 in FDIC insurance, but it does not clearly disclose which banks it uses on its website.

What is the difference between Aspiration and a traditional bank?

Aspiration is not a bank. Instead, it offers a cash management account as a registered broker-dealer. Because it is not a bank, it cannot directly offer FDIC insurance. Instead, it must deposit customers’ funds in FDIC-insured institutions to obtain FDIC insurance.

From a product perspective, Aspiration offers decent APYs for its accounts compared to most traditional banks as long as you meet the $500 per month spending requirement. Aspiration also focuses on sustainability to help save the planet.

Aspiration review: bottom line

If you strongly believe in Aspiration's mission to help save the planet and fight climate change while using financial services or simply like the features the company offers, you may want to consider opening an account. Before you commit to any new financial account, you should compare your options to make sure it’s the best fit for you.

Compare Aspiration to our list of best banks to help you feel more comfortable with your decision before opening an account.

Author Details

Lance Cothern Lance Cothern, CPA is a personal finance writer and founder of MoneyManifesto.com. Lance's work covering several personal finance topics has been published in U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Credit Karma, Investopedia, and several other publications.
Yahia Barakah, CEPF Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt