Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
Updated on Monday, February 24, 2020
Aspiration Spend & Save is a cash management platform that combines the utility of a checking account with the earnings potential of a savings account, plus an overall focus on social responsibility. Aspiration wants you to do good by doing well, racking up cashback rewards and earning a decent return on your money.
What is Aspiration Spend & Save?
Aspiration Spend & Save offers its users a two-pronged approach to managing money: an interest-earning savings account and a liquid account option with a range of features like you get with a typical checking account.
When you deposit money in Aspiration Spend & Save, the funds are held in accounts at Aspiration’s partner banks, which provide Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insurance for your cash. Since your deposits are spread among accounts at several of Aspiration’s partner banks — the specific institutions may vary over time — your money can get up to $2 million in FDIC coverage.
You can deposit money in Aspiration Spend & Save via ACH transfers, wire transfers and third-party money transfer apps like Venmo or PayPal. In addition, the Aspiration Spend account accepts mobile check deposits — you cannot deposit funds in the savings side via check.
You can withdraw funds from Aspiration Spend & Save by ACH transfers, wire transfers and third-party transfer apps. In addition, you can make ATM withdrawals from Aspiration Spend using the debit card that comes with the account.
It’s worth noting that you cannot choose to close the savings account side of your Aspiration Spend & Save account — doing so would result in the closure of the entire account. Aspiration pointed out that there are no inactivity fees for Aspiration Spend & Save — so there is no requirement to keep any funds in Aspiration Save if you’d prefer to use a different savings account option.
What is the Aspiration Spend account?
Aspiration Spend works like a checking account, and includes a Mastercard debit card you can use to make purchases and ATM withdrawals. Aspiration does not charge any fees for withdrawals, plus it will reimburse up to five third-party ATM fees per month. International ATM withdrawal fees are reimbursed at a flat rate of $4 per transaction.
A big differentiating feature of Aspiration Spend is that it offers unlimited cashback rewards when you use your debit card — and it boosts your rewards when you spend money with companies that are a part of Aspiration’s Conscience Coalition. The coalition is a group of companies that Aspiration has deemed as helping build a better world, including businesses like TOMS and Warby Parker. You can earn up to 5% cash back when using your Aspiration debit card.
Aspiration Spend lets you send paper checks for free via its Payments tool, available in the app. You can use Payments to pay bills and send checks to anyone, using the funds in your Spend account. Choose a check amount and recipient in Payments, and Aspiration will mail a physical paper check to your payee within five to seven business days, with your name and address printed on it. There are no limits to the number of checks you may send via Payments.
What is the Aspiration Save account?
Aspiration Save works like an online savings account and currently pays 0.00% APY on a monthly basis, as long as you meet at least one of the following requirements each month:
- Deposit at least $1,000 in your Save, Spend or Aspiration investment account.
- Maintain an Aspiration Save account balance of $10,000 for at least one day per month.
If you don’t meet at least one of these requirements, your APY will be 0.00% for that calendar month.
Aspiration permits you to make up to 50 instant, free transfers between Aspiration Spend and Aspiration Save per day. This feature lets Aspiration promise you the liquidity of a checking account with the interest incentives of a savings account. Note, however, that Aspiration limits the number of transfers to and from your Aspiration Spend & Save account and an external, linked bank account to one per day.
What is Aspiration Impact Management?
Aspiration’s Impact Management score (AIM) provides you with a personalized sustainability score based on your spending habits. Your AIM score is based on the environmental and social impact of the businesses where you spend money.
Aspiration said that it uses over 75,000 environmental, social and governance data points across thousands of businesses to calculate its AIM scores. A company is evaluated on a People score, which measures metrics like employee pay, diversity and job safety, and a Planet score, which measures metrics like greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
Aspiration Spend & Save fees and minimums
One of the most prominent aspects of Aspiration’s products is its approach to fees — the company has a “pay what you think is fair model.” Simply select what fee you think is fair (and yes, it can be $0) and change it any time you’d like. Also, there are no overdraft fees. The minimum to open an Aspiration Spend & Save account is $10, though.
Aspiration does charge a slate of fees for certain actions — like wire transfers — but note that it charges just what it costs to process that transaction, and nothing extra. These fees are few and far between, but they include a $15 international wire out fee and a $35 expedited debit card fee.
Aspiration pros and cons
- Aspiration provides reimbursement of up to five ATM fees per month (international ATM fees are reimbursed at a flat rate of $4 per transaction).
- Aspiration provides cell phone insurance if you pay your monthly phone bill with your physical Aspiration debit card.
- You have the ability to set recurring transfers on a frequency of your choosing.
- Aspiration offers identity fraud expense reimbursement.
- Aspiration said it gives 10% of its earnings to charity.
- Aspiration is compatible with Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay.
- Aspiration Spend & Save supports joint accounts.
- You cannot deposit a check directly into Aspiration Save. You first have to deposit it into Aspiration Spend, and then you can transfer those funds over to Aspiration Save.
- Checks larger than $5,000 must be mailed to Aspiration’s partner bank Coastal Community Bank after being deposited via the mobile app.
- Mastercard charges a 1% foreign transaction fee, and Aspiration does not reimburse it.
Aspiration Spend & Save vs. other cash management accounts
Aspiration holds its own when stacked up against its peers. Here’s how it compares. Note that all of the accounts below have no monthly maintenance fees.
Aspiration Spend & Save vs. Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve
- Aspiration offers unique sustainability rewards and features, including cashback rewards on spending at businesses in its Conscience Coalition, and AIM scores.
- Aspiration offers a wide range of perks that Betterment lacks, such as cell phone insurance and identity theft expense reimbursement.
- Betterment Everyday reimburses all third-party ATM fees, for both domestic and international withdrawals. Aspiration caps reimbursements at five refunds per month.
Aspiration Spend & Save vs. Simple
- Simple has a suite of built-in budgeting tools. Aspiration doesn’t track your budget — although it does track how sustainably you shop.
- Aspiration reimburses five ATM withdrawal fees per month. Simple does not offer ATM withdrawal fee refunds.
- Aspiration offers cashback rewards, while Simple does not.
Aspiration Spend & Save vs. SoFi Money
- Whereas Aspiration maintains separate accounts for its savings account and checking account features, SoFi keeps all your funds in one account that earns interest.
- SoFi Money provides unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, while Aspiration caps it at five refunds per month.
- SoFi Money lacks the sustainability features that are the core of Aspiration’s service.
Who is Aspiration best for?
When it comes to cash management products, Aspiration does not reinvent the wheel. Its APY is standard among its competitors, as is its FDIC insurance coverage, ease of transfers and fee structure. Where Aspiration does stand apart, though, is with its altruistic approach to money management. For the socially conscious consumer who cares just as much about making an impact on the world around them as maximizing their money, Aspiration is a good bet.
What happened to the Aspiration Summit account?
The Aspiration Summit account was Aspiration’s original iteration of a high-yield checking account, and it offered an APY of 1.00% on balances that had a minimum of $2,500. The Summit account has since been discontinued, and Aspiration said that all of its Aspiration Summit accounts have been converted to Spend & Save accounts automatically.