Banking » Reviews » Aspiration Review 2024– Savings Account, Redwood Fund & IRA
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Aspiration Review 2024– Savings Account, Redwood Fund & IRA

While Aspiration packaged their company differently from their bank competitors, there are some big drawbacks to consider
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: June 3, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: June 3, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

Aspiration Bank

Aspiration-Bank logo
Aspiration-Bank logo

Aspiration Banking

Fees

$0

Minimum Deposit

$0

Our Rating

3
3/5

APY Savings

Up to 3.00%

Aspiration offers a variety of accounts, with a focus on rewarding customers with cash back when they make purchases from ethical businesses. Aspiration is not a bank that is federally insured or chartered.  Aspiration also makes banking simple by being an exclusively online bank and offering a very lean menu of cash management products.

Customers familiar to seeing mile-long lists of bank offerings from traditional banks would find it surprising that they only have a handful of products to offer. In fact, they have more types of charitable causes to support than real bank products.

Aspiration may be a good option for customers who want the convenience of online banking without having to visit a branch. Customers' deposits with Aspiration are held at one of its FDIC-insured partner banks.

Aspiration can be a perfect fit if:

  • You prefer online bank with good savings rates

  • You need a checking account including rewards and flexible fees structure

  • You would like to support a green company

  • High APY on Small Balance
  • Get paid up to 2 days early
  • $10 minimum opening deposit
  • Voluntary Fees
  • No Promotion
  • Not A Real Bank
  • Limited Products

Aspiration Review

Aspiration - Pros & Cons

Aspiration has some benefits and drawbacks that Individuals should know the following before opening an account:

Pros
Cons
Voluntary Fees
Not A Real Bank
APY on your savings
Limited Products
55,000 Free in-Network ATMs
Future Uncertainty
Get Paid Up To 2 Days Early

Many consumers love everything free and Aspiration gives them the option to avail of services without any charge – or just pay what they think is fair.

So, if a depositor feels the bank does not deserve to collect X dollars in charges, he can always dictate how much to actually pay.

Aspiration banking offers quite competitive APY (in spite of not among the highest APY savings accounts) on your savings, helping your money grow over time at a higher rate compared to traditional banks

You can access your funds conveniently and without fees from a vast network of 55,000 ATMs, making cash withdrawals and transactions easier and more cost-effective.

With Aspiration banking, you may receive your direct deposits up to 2 days earlier than traditional banks, giving you quicker access to your funds for managing expenses and financial planning.

Aspiration is not a chartered, federally insured bank but a brokerage that has a tie-up with a bank. 

Customers with very wide banking needs will find that this bank will be unable to help them.

Their shortlist of bank products automatically skims the market but unfortunately, it leaves many customers outside the fence.

If one is looking for a credit card or a CD, this isn’t the place to go to.

In April 2023, Aspiration underwent a companywide restructuring that resulted in the unfortunate layoff of over 180 employees. These job cuts came after a previous round of layoffs in December, during which approximately 100 employees were let go.

This significant reduction, affecting around half of the workforce, has cast a shadow of uncertainty on the company's future prospects.

Aspiration Spend & Save Account

Aspiration is not included on our best online banks picks, but it  allows you to save money in a savings account and spend using a debit card easily. Customers can do their transactions online and via an app.

This cash management account offers one of the highest APYs for a savings account and customers can withdraw 5 times from an ATM without having to pay anything. Depositors can transfer funds from their Spend and Save accounts without limit.

Aspiration used to offer Summit account, their version of a checking account. But the bank has phased this product out and transitioned it to the Spend & Save account. This means that Spend & Save is a hybrid account that you can enjoy both checking and savings account benefits, so you can enjoy.

While customers don’t have to abide by any fee schedule, the bank even gives unlimited cashback rewards to their Spend & Save depositors. The bank will credit back a portion of the money that customers spend using their Aspiration debit card. Plus, if they patronize ‘businesses with a conscience’, depositors get extra cashback rewards.This is an attractive formula: Pay what you think is fair + high APY + cashback rewards + automatic giving to charity. No other bank does all of this.

Here are the main key specs you should know about Aspiration's spend & save account;

  • Up to 1.0% APY on the entire balance of your Save account
  • No minimum balance fee (choose your own monthly fee)
  • 0.25% cashback reward on your Spend account
  • 5 free ATM withdrawals per month
  • Unlimited transfers between your Spend account and Save account
  • Online and mobile banking service
  • Cell phone protection insurance available
  • Identity fraud reimbursement feature

If you need to close your account for any reason, you can do that online on Aspiration website.

Aspiration promotes what they call sustainable investing. This means that your money doesn’t just go to fund any company. They filter where to invest your money and find companies that pass their criteria on three factors: environmental, social, and governance.

They also don’t charge a fixed management fee like most companies. You determine what the fund managers should get and pay them.

Here are the main key specs you should know about Aspiration's Redwood fund;

  • Open to new investors
  • $10 minimum to open an account
  • Pay fund management fee that you think is fair

This is similar to most traditional IRAs in the market in terms of features and requirements. What makes it different is that you only need $10 to start an account.

Aspiration will collect your share in the annual operating expenses and underlying expenses but will not collect any administrative or management fees.

Your money also goes through the same criteria they use for sustainable investing.  Here are the main key specs you should know about Aspiration's Redwood IRA;

  • $10 minimum to open an account
  • Traditional IRA
  • Tax deferred growth
  • No extra fees

Customer Experience

Aspiration has a toll-free number that is operational from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT on weekends. Aspiration has social media channels, but it does not encourage users to use them to contact the support team.

Aspiration has an app to help you manage your accounts on the go, and it has a rating of 4.7/5 on the Apple Store and 4/5 on Google Play.

Aspiration's entire website is centered on making a more environmentally friendly impact, so if this is not of particular interest to you, you may find the site lacking in details.
For example, while the product pages explain how your spending habits can help you achieve carbon neutrality, it's difficult to find information about credit card rates and other terms. The site of Bank of America is far more straightforward.

You can simply choose the products you're interested in and even compare them if you're not sure which one is best for you.

Aspiration Banking
App Rating (iOS)
4.7
App Rating (Android)
4
BBB Rating (A-F)
A+
Contect Options
phone
Availability
6am – 6pm

The Freedom To Choose Your Fees - Is It Real?

One feature that sets them apart from their peers is that they give their customers the freedom to decide how much to pay for the services. The customer can set the fee that they think is fair or what is commensurate to the level of service they receive. This means that customers can pay zero – if they feel that the bank deserves it. The customer can change the fee any time he wants to. Plus, 10% of the customers’ fees go to charity.

It’s an arrangement that the bank bases on trust. They will try to give the best products and services to the public and the customers decide how much to pay. For extra services such as a wire transfer, the bank will charge the customers at cost. In these days when banks seem to just want to “take and take”, this sounds like a fair deal. 

Aspiration FAQs

Aspiration used to offer promotions from time to time, but currently there is no promotions for new accounts. If you're looking for promotions, check out the best banking promotions of June 2024.

Aspiration has been operating as an online only finance firm since 2015. While this means that it is not a chartered bank, you can access a variety of accounts and enjoy cash back for your purchases with ethical companies.

Aspiration works with partner banks that have FDIC insurance, so any money you deposit through Aspiration is protected.

Aspiration is a financing firm rather than an actual bank. This means that while it does offer various accounts, this online organization is not technically a real bank.

However, Aspiration has relationships with partner chartered banks, which offer FDIC insurance to protect any funds you deposit into your Aspiration account.

Aspiration Bank is a good option if you’re looking for a financial institution that promotes positive environmental and social change.

Aspiration offers cash back on purchases with ethical companies and even has a “Pay What Fair” fee structure policy. While it is an online-only operation, consider Aspiration if you’re happy with not having access to branches and want more than what you can get on a personal checking account.

Both Aspiration and Chime are online banking services offering low fee banking services. While Chime savings rate is 2.00% , Aspiration offers Up to 3.00% APY.

Aspiration commits to positive environmental change by taking actions when you “round up” your purchases. The other advantage that Aspiration has over Chime is that you can enjoy one fee-free ATM withdrawal outside the US each month.

While Ally does not offer any sign-up bonuses or promotional offers, it offers 4.2% APY on saving accounts, much higher than Aspiration. Also, Ally's checking account provides some great benefits for customers. Our Ally bank rating, 4.5 out of 5,  is higher than Aspiration.

Like CIT, Aspiration is primarily an online banking service, but CIT bank's reputation seems to be a bit better. CIT bank deposit rates are much higher, and you can also invest in CDs.

Online Banks Alternatives

aspiration bank logo
Chime
APY Savings The annual percentage yield (APY) is a percentage that represents the amount of money or interest earned on your savings account over the course of a year. The APY factored in compound interest. A savings calculator can help you quickly determine how much you'll earn with a given APY.
Up to 3.00%
2.00%
Up to 0.61%
Checking Account Fee The monthly fee on checking account
$0
$0
$0
Checking Minimum Deposit
$0
$0
$50
Mobile App Rating
4.7/5 on iOS, 4/5 on Android
4.8/5 on iOS, 4.6/5 on Android
4.7/5 on iOS, 4.6/5 on Android
BBB Rating
A+
F
A+

How We Rate And Review Banks: Our Methodology

The Smart Investor team extensively reviewed hundreds of banks and credit unions. We assessed them based on four main categories, each with specific features:

  • Diversity of Products and Their Attractiveness (40%): We extensively analyzed the breadth and appeal of each bank's product offerings, including savings accounts, checking accounts, loans, investment options, and more. Higher ratings were assigned to banks with a diverse range of products that are attractive in terms of interest rates, fees, terms, and additional features. This category provides insights into the variety and value of the bank's offerings, crucial for meeting customers' diverse financial needs.

  • Account Features (30%): This category delves into the features and benefits accompanying each bank's accounts. We scrutinized factors such as promotions, deposit and withdrawal options, ATM accessibility, online and mobile banking functionalities, as well as additional perks like overdraft protection and rewards programs. Banks offering comprehensive and convenient features received higher ratings, reflecting the overall value of their accounts to customers.

  • Customer Experience (20%): A positive customer experience is paramount in banking, so we evaluated each bank's performance in this area. This included assessing the ease of account opening, quality of customer service, availability of support channels, and overall user satisfaction. Ratings were based on factors such as responsiveness, efficiency, and the bank's commitment to meeting customer needs, ensuring a seamless and satisfactory banking experience.

  • Bank Reputation (10%): The reputation of a bank is a critical consideration for customers. We examined factors such as financial stability, regulatory compliance, and public perception to determine each institution's overall trustworthiness and reliability. Higher ratings were awarded to banks with strong reputations, reflecting their credibility and ability to inspire confidence among customers.

  •  

By considering these categories, individuals can make informed decisions that align with their financial needs and preferences, ensuring they choose a bank that offers competitive products, excellent features, a positive customer experience, and a solid reputation.

Compare Alternatives Banks

Aspiration has a streamlined banking product line that includes a hybrid account with a $7.99 per month upgrade option and only one credit card option. Aspiration's premise is to help you live a greener life, so the products are heavily weighted in this category. This means that you can earn cash back and other rewards for making environmentally conscious purchases and taking action.

Ally offers a much broader range of banking products. In addition to checking, savings, and CD accounts, you can also get investment and retirement products, mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans. This brings it more in line with a traditional bank, which may make switching from your high street bank easier.

Read Full Comparison: Aspiration vs Ally Bank: Where to Save Your Money?

Bank of America is a nationwide network that offers deposit, loan, and credit card services. There are also increased daily limits on ATM and debit purchases, which is an excellent incentive to improve your financial situation. Aspiration's company was presented in a very different manner than their bank competitors.

One feature that sets them apart from their competitors is that they let their customers decide how much they want to pay for their services. The fee that the customer believes is fair or appropriate for the level of service they receive is set by the customer.

Read Full Comparison: Aspiration vs Bank of America: Which Bank Account Is Better?

Aspiration and Chime both have a fairly streamlined banking product offering. Aspiration offers only one hybrid account with a $7.99 per month upgrade option and one credit card option. Chime offers a savings account, a checking account, and a credit card. The product lines' premise, however, differs.

While Aspiration is a banking service aimed at assisting people in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, Chime's products are aimed at assisting those who want to build their credit. This will help you decide whether Aspiration or Chime is a better fit for you.

Read Full Comparison: Aspiration vs Chime: Which Banking Service Wins?

Banking Reviews

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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