Betterment Checking Review [2020]: A Fee-Free Checking Account for Travelers

Looking for a straightforward checking account? Betterment checking offers a great online fee-free option.
Last updated Sep 28, 2020 | By Larissa Runkle
Betterment Checking Review

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Much like credit cards, when it comes to shopping around for the best checking account, it’s all about the features. Since partnering with nbkc bank, Betterment is able to offer customers a hassle-free, online-only checking account with plenty of desirable features.

Whether you’re looking for a debit card with no international ATM fees or just a safe place to store your funds, Betterment offers a variety of online tools that make it easy to get the most out of your checking account.

This review will cover some of the basics of a Betterment checking account, plus a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering opening a new account with Betterment.

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Betterment checking account basics

APY Not an interest-bearing account
Minimum balance for APY $0
Minimum deposit to open account $0
Monthly maintenance fees $0
ATM access Yes, use any ATM worldwide with fees refunded
Transaction limits Up to $500 per day in ATM withdrawals
Up to $2,000 per day for debit card transactions
Up to $3,000 per day in mobile check deposits
FDIC insured Yes

Although the Betterment checking account does not earn any interest, it should be noted that most checking products are not interest-bearing accounts. If you are looking for an account with a high APY, you might be better off looking into a savings vs. checking account. Specifically, high-yield savings accounts will offer you the best interest rates.

What we like about Betterment checking accounts

The Betterment checking account is truly a hassle-free experience, and offers some key benefits as part of its fintech-oriented lineup. Here are a few of the features of Betterment checking that are most worth mentioning:

  • Contactless debit card: Just tap your Betterment Visa debit card on any contactless pay terminal for even faster transactions. Although this is convenient, it’s also a helpful perk in light of coronavirus concerns.
  • ATM and foreign transaction fee reimbursement: Use your debit card at any ATM worldwide where Visa cards are accepted, and Betterment will reimburse any associated fees. It will also reimburse the 1% fee from Visa that applies to foreign transactions, purchases, and ATM transactions. Translation? You get to shop or withdraw cash anywhere without paying fees.
  • Mobile app: Like many of the best checking accounts, Betterment also offers an easy-to-use mobile app for both Apple iOS and Android devices. From the app, you can do things like check your account balance, initiate a transfer, change your PIN, or even lock your card if you’ve misplaced it. With so much power at your fingertips, the Betterment app allows you to take control of your online banking without the need to call customer service.
  • No sneaky fees: In addition to reimbursing ATM and foreign transaction fees, Betterment has also eliminated overdraft and account minimum fees. If a transaction would cause your account to go into overdraft, Betterment will simply block the transaction from happening, without charging any penalty. You’ll also never need to worry about keeping a minimum balance in your account.
  • No minimum deposit to get started: You won’t need to come up with a minimum deposit or account balance to start using this checking account. Any amount you want to start with is fine, and you can withdraw that money whenever you like.

What Betterment could improve

The Betterment checking account offers an overall great experience, but it still has a few things it could improve on. Here are the major things we’d love to see change in the future:

  • Availability of mobile check deposits: Although the Betterment mobile app allows you to easily complete a variety of transactions, it doesn’t offer mobile check deposits. Although the company has said it plans on adding this feature, it hasn’t specified when. So if mobile deposits are a big part of your banking needs, this may not be the checking account for you.
  • Availability of physical checks: Having the ability to write a physical check is convenient when it comes to paying certain bills. But unfortunately, Betterment doesn’t currently offer paper checks. Much like mobile check deposits, this is stated to be on the company’s to-do list, but it hasn’t announced an ETA for this feature either. If you absolutely need an old-school checkbook, don’t count on getting it from Betterment.

How to open a Betterment checking account

You can sign up for a Betterment checking account online in just a few minutes. In order to complete your new account registration, you must be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S. full time.

You should plan on having some basic personal information ready, such as your Social Security and date of birth, as well as information for the bank account from which you’d like to pull your initial deposit for your new Betterment account. The company can also accept initial deposits via direct deposit, or from peer-to-peer payment platforms such as Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle.

How to withdraw money from a Betterment checking account

You can withdraw money from your Betterment checking account either by using an ATM to withdraw cash or by transferring funds into an account at a different financial institution. Be aware that though ATM transactions will immediately change your account balance, electronic withdrawals can take longer to process so don’t assume your account balance reflects your actual available money.

For example, transfers to an external linked bank account may take up to two business days to be completed. There are other situations in which transactions can take up to six business days. You can check the Betterment Transaction Timetable for more details so you always have an accurate understanding of your account balance.

Other Betterment checking account fees

Overdraft fee $0
Stop payment fee $0
ACH transfers $0
Incoming wire $0
Outgoing wire None, Betterment does not support outgoing wire transfers from checking accounts

Betterment customer service

To get help with your Betterment checking account, you can call the company’s customer line directly at 718-400-6898, Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST. You can also send them an email at cashsupport@betterment.com.

Like many banking services offered today, Betterment operates entirely online, which means you won’t be able to visit a physical bank branch for banking support.

Common questions about Betterment

Is a Betterment checking account worth it?

Yes, for many customers a Betterment checking account is definitely worth it, especially because of the lack of fees that so many traditional banks charge. Betterment checking offers an easy, affordable, and hassle-free debit card solution, which makes it a good choice for someone comfortable using an online-only checking account.

Is Betterment FDIC insured?

Yes, Betterment is FDIC insured. That means your checking account is covered by FDIC insurance for balances up to $250,000.

Can my Betterment checking account be a joint account?

No, joint banks accounts aren’t currently available with Betterment checking. Joint accounts are not commonly available with online-only banks, so if this is a feature you are looking for, you may want to opt for a traditional bank or a hybrid experience, such as the checking accounts offered by BBVA.

Can I direct deposit to Betterment?

Yes, you can get direct deposits with your Betterment bank account. To do this, contact your employer and complete the paperwork to set up direct deposit into your Betterment checking.


Bottom line

The Betterment checking account is a great option for anyone looking for an easy-to-use, everyday checking account. Although Betterment checking doesn’t offer every service you might want (most notably missing mobile deposits and physical checks), it still does a great job offering other convenient services such as mobile banking and reimbursed ATM and foreign transaction fees.

Betterment also doesn’t require customers to have a minimum deposit at account opening or maintain a certain balance in the account at any time. That means you can access the ease of this account without feeling the pressure of not actually being able to use the money in it.

If you do end up wanting to put a lot of money into a Betterment account, it also has other financial services available. It has another cash management account known as a cash reserve account available, and it also offers investment accounts and retirement accounts. So Betterment could be a good bank for you to grow with over time.

With all these features in mind, the Betterment checking account is one of the best bank solutions for anyone who wants the freedom of a debit card without minimum balance requirements, as well as for frequent travelers looking to use their debit card abroad without racking up tons of fees.

Disclaimer: All rates and fees are accurate as of June 4, 2020.

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