Aspiration Banking Review [2023]: Will It Work for You?

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?
Last updated March 23, 2023 | By Lance Cothern | Edited By Melinda Sineriz
Aspiration Spend & Save Review

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When you consider banking products, you usually look at the fees the organizations charge and the interest rates they pay. In a unique twist, Aspiration’s Spend & Save products offer low fees and potentially high interest rates with a bigger purpose. 1

The company aims to help you save money and save the planet at the same time. In an even more unexpected twist, you get to pay what you feel is fair for its basic Aspiration plan. Some of its advanced features (and higher interest rates and cash back) are only available with its paid Aspiration Plus account, however.

Learn the details you need to know before you consider signing up in this Aspiration review.

Quick Summary

Up to 10% Cash Back

  • Earn cash back rewards - up to 10% - when you spend with your debit card
  • Up to 3.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) APY with Aspiration Plus (up to 83 times higher than Big Banks)
In this Aspiration review

Aspiration overview

Aspiration isn’t a bank. Instead, Aspiration Financial is a registered broker-dealer and member of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), which are organizations related to investment firms. Aspiration partners with banks to provide the services for its Spend & Save products.

The company opened for business in 2015 and had more than 360,000 funded accounts at the end of 2020. It has financial backing from actors Robert Downey Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio as well as several venture capital firms.

Aspiration Spend & Save account basics

APY 1.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) with $1,000 per month spend, on balances up to $10,000 2

0.00% APY on balances over $10,000

0.00% APY if you don’t meet the spending requirement
Minimum balance for APY None
Minimum deposit to open account $10
Monthly maintenance fees None
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 3.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) with $1,000 per month spend on balances up to $10,000 2

0.10% on balances over $10,000

0.25% APY if you don’t meet the spending requirement
Minimum balance for APY None
Minimum deposit to open account $10
Monthly maintenance fees $7.99 per month or $71.88 per year
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 we like about Aspiration

  • 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 1.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) APY and their Plus account offers 3.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) APY on balances of up to $10,000 if you have $1,000 or more of qualifying spending on your account. 2
  • “Pay What Is Fair” fee model: Although the Plus account costs $7.99 per month or $5.99 per month if billed annually, 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 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 Aspiration could improve

  • Rewards and high interest have requirements you must meet. To earn the higher APY, you have to spend $1,000 or more from your spend account each month. If you don’t, the APY will be 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 a much lower APY or no interest, depending on your account type.

Who is Aspiration best for?

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

It may also be a good fit for people who can spend $1,000 per month with their regular spending from the account to earn a much higher APY on balances of up to $10,000. It wouldn’t be a good fit for people who need a local branch for their banking needs, though.

Compare earnings with 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 0.37% (as of Mar. 23, 2023).

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

Note: This does not factor in Aspiration Plus’s $7.99 monthly fee.

Traditional savings account
0.37% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) APY
Aspiration Plus

3.00% (as of Mar. 23, 2023) APY, assuming $1,000 in qualifying monthly spending 2

Starting balance $5,000 $5,000
After one year $5,018.50 $5,150
After three years $5,055.71 $5,463.64
After 10 years $5,188.11 $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 must also be a U.S. resident. You can download the app or visit its website 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 credit card, a mutual fund, and enterprise services for businesses.

The credit card helps you neutralize your carbon footprint and allows you to potentially earn up to 1% cash back. Each time you make a purchase, Aspiration plants a tree through one of its partner organizations.

If you get to carbon zero, you’ll get up to 1% cash back rewards on your purchases. You can use your rewards to plant trees or opt for a statement credit. The card costs $60 per year.

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.

FAQs about Aspiration

Is Aspiration legit?

Aspiration is a legitimate broker-dealer offering a cash management account that pays relatively high APYs with qualifying purchases each month. Aspiration is not a bank, though.

The company opened for business in 2015. At the end of 2020, Aspiration had more than 360,000 consumer-funded accounts.

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 in to 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 higher APYs on its accounts than most traditional banks as long as you meet the $1,000 per month spending requirement. Aspiration also focuses on sustainability to help save the planet.

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.

Disclaimer: All rates and fees are accurate as of Jan. 9, 2023.

  • Earn cash back rewards - up to 10% - when you spend with your debit card
  • Up to 3.00% APY interest (up to 83 times higher than Big Banks) 3
  • Unlimited fee-free withdrawals at 55,000+ ATMs
  • Deposits are FDIC insured

Author Details

Lance Cothern Lance Cothern, CPA is a personal finance writer and founder of 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.