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Banking

What is a Cash Management Account?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Actions have consequences. Staying up too late will turn you into a zombie at work the next morning, eating ice cream for breakfast will force you to buy new jeans — and placing your money in a conventional checking or savings account could yield a piddling amount of interest.

The internet hasn’t found a way to circumvent the biological necessities of sleep and a healthy diet — yet — but it can empower banks and financial institutions to offer accounts with APYs climbing well above 2.0% in some cases, all while providing the ease-of-access and convenience of a checking account. In the evolving world of online banking, these are usually called cash management accounts, and you need to know more about them.

You may have read about cash management accounts. They go by a variety of names: hybrid checking, hybrid accounts, cash management vehicles. Like many consumer financial products, readers may be a bit unclear about how these accounts actually work — and to start, note that they are very different than the “cash management accounts” offered by certain online stock brokerages.

“We’re trying not to think like traditional bankers, with the usual boundaries of how an account should be used,” said David Hijirida, CEO of Simple, which offers its own cash management account. “What we’ve found is that most customers use our accounts in a way that combines both checking and savings behaviors.”

Let’s get to the heart of the matter by defining what these new accounts are and whether they’re right for you and your money.

What is a cash management account?

Whatever the name, a cash management account combines the high interest rates of a savings account or certificate of deposit with the accessibility of a checking account.

With some of the accounts reviewed below — like Aspiration’s Spend and Save and Simple’s Checking and Protected Goals Accounts — the product actually consists of a checking account (which typically earns little to no interest) linked with a savings account (which earns a pretty decent APY) and features instantaneous, unlimited transactions between the two. Others — like Radius’ Hybrid Checking — comprise a single checking account earning a high APY, minus all the usual requirements typical of a traditional high-yield checking account.

While cash management accounts consisting of both a checking and savings account earn some of the highest APYs, you need to watch out that you don’t keep the majority of your funds in the checking or spending portion — where it earns minimal interest. Because transferring funds between the checking and saving portions happens instantly and doesn’t come with any limits, this is an easy mistake to avoid.

The boundary between “cash management account” and “high-yield checking” account can be hazy, but they share the following characteristics that place them in the “cash management” category.

  • Zero fees: One of the more attractive facets of cash management accounts is that most have no monthly maintenance fees (or only charge a small amount). This helps differentiate them from high-yield checking accounts, many of which require users to meet multiple specific requirements each month or pay maintenance fees in order to earn the high APY.
  • A higher APY than your typical checking account: According to DepositAccounts.com (like MagnifyMoney, it too is owned by LendingTree), the average APY a checking account earns is 0.191%. Traditionally that’s been seen as the trade off depositors make with banks in order to have easy, everyday access to their funds. The cash management accounts we review here represent true hybrid accounts that combine the liquidity of checking accounts with the high interest rates of savings accounts. All of them offer a much higher APY than the average checking account and, in many cases, higher than the interest earned in many savings accounts.
  • They’re online accounts, mostly: The institutions offering cash management accounts mostly exist as ones and zeros on the web. Some of these companies, like Aspiration, aren’t even banks themselves, but have partnered with traditional banks to provide customers with their services.

How do cash management accounts earn so much interest?

While the particulars vary from account to account, the principal underlying cash management account combines a traditional checking and savings account in one instrument — you deposit money with a bank or institution, where it earns interest. The financial institution then takes a cut of that interest in order to make money, and passes the rest on to your (which is reflected in the interest that particular account earns).

Because banks prefer customers to deposit as much money as possible for an extended period, they usually give accounts and products that limit customers’ ability to withdrawal their cash higher interest rates in order to incentivize depositors into using those products.

Average Checking Account APYAverage Savings Account APYAverage 1 Year CD
APY
Average 5 Year CD
APY
0.191%0.272%1.373%2.249%

As you can see from the chart above — this data comes from DepositAccounts.com — the more liquid your account, the less interest it earns for you. Checking accounts, which provide almost unlimited access to your money, earn the lowest APY on average. Certificates of deposit with a five-year term, which usually come with a steep financial penalty if you withdraw the money before the term is up, provide the highest interest, on average.

So how do the companies offering cash management accounts bypass this norm to offer customers high interest rates on accounts with little to no restrictions on withdrawals? A big part of the answer is their low overhead, thanks to their online-only operations.

Megabanks like Chase employ thousands and maintain a sprawling network of physical locations, while an online-only institution like Aspiration, offering the Spend and Save cash management account, might have only a few dozen employees on its payroll.

“Because we’re online-only, it helps us pass on those kinds of savings to our customers,” said Andrei Cherny, CEO of Aspiration.

Where does my money go when I deposit it into a cash management account?

Since many of the institutions offering cash management accounts lack the extensive infrastructure of traditional banks, you may be wondering where your money is actually deposited with these accounts.

The answer is almost always that they partner with a bank (or a series of banks) to manage your funds. At the end of the business day, the money in your cash management account is swept into one of these participating bank’s accounts, where it enjoys the normal protections provided by FDIC accounts.

This information should all be disclosed to you when you open a cash management account, and if it’s not you should hesitate before placing a large amount of money in the account.

“As with anything, read the fine print,” said Jonathan Chapman, CFP at WJ Interests based in Sugar Land, Texas. “Look under the hood to see what banks they partner with to ensure they are working with quality institutions.”

Customers should also keep an eye on the individual FDIC-insured accounts where your money is swept at the end of the day. Make sure none of the balances exceed the insurance’s limit ($250,000) — otherwise, the portion of your balance that’s greater than $250,000 is at risk of being uninsured.

The potential pitfalls of cash management accounts

The high interest rates offered by these accounts make them attractive to customers who want their money to grow at a decent rate while still remaining accessible, but they’re not for everyone. Because most of these hybrid accounts are offered by online-only banks or institutions, customers have to feel comfortable banking with a company that may lack decades of history — especially if they’re already accustomed to doing business with another bank.

“As an advisor, my most difficult work is to get people to follow through on my recommendations,” said Jayson Owens, CFP at Bright Road Wealth Management based out of Anchorage, Alaska. “To accomplish this, I rarely recommend changes to a primary checking account. The cost in time typically outweighs the benefit of the change.”

Another related concern customers may have about these cash management accounts is if the companies offering them will stick around for the long haul. “Clients may not lose money but the company may get acquired or shuts down which would cause unnecessary hardship,” said
Deva Panambur, CFA and CFP at Sarsi, a wealth management company based in West New York, N.J.

While you’re not going to be able to waltz into the CEO’s office and demand a look at his five-year plan, you should take into account your gut reaction to how a company offering a cash management account presents itself and whether it has a viable shot at longevity.

The best cash management accounts

Account nameAPY earnedMinimum balanceMonthly Maintenance Fee
SoFi Money2.25% APY on the entire balance$1$0
Simple Account2.02% APY on the entire balance if requirements are met; otherwise 0% on the balance.$2,000 in order to earn the 2.02% APY$0
Aspiration Spend and Save2.00% APY on the entire balance$10,000 (requirement can be avoided by depositing at least $1 a month into the account)$0
Radius Hybrid Checking Account1.20% APY on balances of $100,000 and greater; 1.00% APY on balances between $2,500 and $99,999.99$100,000 to earn the highest APY; $2,500 to earn 1.00% APY$0

SoFi Money

Though it’s probably better known for its mortgages and student loans, this online-only investment firm has staked a claim in consumer banking by offering its Money account, which offers the highest APY out of any of the hybrid accounts we’ve reviewed.

SoFi doesn’t require depositors to maintain a minimum balance in this account in order to earn that high interest rate, one of the few accounts in the market that doesn’t place a barrier between the customer and the high APY. Account holders also get additional goodies like free paper checks upon request and unlimited reimbursement of ATM fees.

learn more Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

Simple Account

Simple was created out of frustration with the banking industry. According to the founders, they were confounded by the complexities of certain bank accounts; their solution was to offer a no fee bank account that earns interest and helps you budget your money “in one simple app.”

What makes this bank account stand apart from other online checking accounts? Well, for starters, it’s a checking account that doesn’t have any fees, not even if you use an international ATM (however, a fee may still be charged by the ATM owner). But what makes it a cash management account is its ability to earn 2.02% APY. To earn such a high interest, you’ll have to have a minimum of $2,000 in the Protected Goals Account — basically a savings account that lives within your larger Simple account, where you can instantly transfer money in and out of as many times as you want without any penalty.

learn more Secured

on Simple’s secure website

Aspiration Spend and Save Account

Aspiration aims to transform personal banking from a chore to an act of social responsibility — at least according to their marketing campaign, which heavily emphasizes the fact that customers only pay whatever they wish in fees, with 10 percent of that money going to charity. But even depositors who don’t buy into Aspiration’s brand ethos will likely find themselves intrigued by the company’s Spend and Save account, which promises a 2.00% APY on what is effectively a checking account.

Similar to Simple, Aspiration has packaged together a savings account and a checking account into a single consumer product allowing users to move their money between both portions instantly and as many times as they wish. Users should be careful not to leave the majority of their funds in the checking portion, which owns zero APY. Instead most of the money should live in the savings account, where it earns the 2.00% APY the company advertises so prominently.

You can move your money between both parts of the Spend and Save account instantly, so having most of it in the savings portion shouldn’t slow you down during a shopping spree; however, it’s important to note in case you get careless and leave a big chunk of change in the spending portion, where it earns no interest.

learn more Secured

on Aspiration’s secure website

Radius Hybrid Checking Account

Radius Bank is a community bank headquartered in Boston. The Radius Hybrid Checking account is free, as long as you open the account with the required deposit and meet three simple requirements: enroll in online banking, receive eStatements and choose to receive a debit card.

Because the Hybrid account offers a much-higher than average interest rate for a checking account without saddling the customer with a laundry list of requirements — like a number of debit transactions required each month — Radius’s account joins the list of best cash management accounts.

learn more Secured

on Radius Bank’s secure website

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here

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Banking

Chime vs Simple: Which Fintech Disruptor is Better?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Chime and Simple are online-only, mobile banking apps that aim to disrupt the way traditional bank accounts work. Both apps offer tightly integrated budgeting features that make managing your money easier and more automated, and give you access to thousands of fee-free ATMs through partner networks.

Chime offers a checking account and an optional savings account, although the prior yields no interest and the latter’s APY is negligible.  Chime’s big claim to being a fintech disruptor is its ability to credit your account with your paycheck two days ahead of schedule. Chime partners with The Bancorp Bank to offer FDIC-insured bank accounts and issue a Visa® debit card.

Simple’s cash management account is a hybrid checking/savings vehicle that yields a competitive APY. Simple’s accounts are managed in partnership with BBVA Compass, which issues the Simple Visa® debit card and provides FDIC insurance on your money.

Chime vs Simple: How their rates compare

 ChimeSimpleNational averageOnline bank average
Savings0.01% APY2.02% APY for balances above $2,0000.27% APY1.69% APY
Checkingn/a2.02% APY0.19% APY0.52% APY

Chime focuses on saving the money you already have, rather than growing your balances at a competitive rate. Chime Spending Account, its checking account product, earns zero interest, while its optional Savings Account earns at only a minimal rate.

Simple’s hybrid account offers a competitive yield for savings, but you must meet a minimum balance requirement to earn the full rate. To earn 2.02% APY, you must shift at least $2,000 from the checking side of the account to the “protected goals” savings side. If your balance drops below $2,000, you’ll earn 2.02% APY instead. The checking account earns a 2.02% APY, regardless of balance.

Chime vs Simple: Which has better account options?

With direct deposits, Chime eliminates the typical one- to two-day “electronic limbo” of waiting for paychecks to move via Automated Clearing House (ACH) from your employer’s bank to your account. Instead, Chime makes your paycheck instantly accessible in its Spending Account when your employer deposits it. This can be a great option for those who live paycheck to paycheck and need more immediate access to that money.

Chime’s Spending Account helps automate the savings process. Its Save When You Spend feature automatically rounds up your debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the extra balance to your Chime Savings Account. You can also choose to automatically set aside 10% of each paycheck towards savings.

Simple offers budgeting tools as well. You can allocate money kept in checking side of the account among expenses, savings and discretionary spending sub-accounts. The protected goals savings component includes multiple sub-accounts, called “savings goals,” letting you earmark funds for an emergency fund, college tuition or your next big vacation. For each goal, you set a total amount to save, a date to save it by and how often you want to transfer money from your Simple checking account. The app then automatically tops up the savings goals over time.

Simple also offers shared accounts for two users — Chime does not currently offer joint accounts. Shared accounts lets you and your partner manage money and save together using the tools outlined above. According to Simple, you can open a shared account with anyone, from your roommate to the person you just met at a hostel.

Chime vs Simple: How they compare on fees

 ChimeSimple
Account monthly fee$0$0
ATM fees$2.50 (out-of-network ATM fee/Over The Counter fee)$0
Overdraft fees$0$0

Simple is serious about charging zero fees. There are no monthly fees, no overdraft fees, and no foreign ATM fees. However, it’s still wise to stick to Allpoint ATMs when you can — Simple may not charge a fee, but the ATM owner still does, and Simple doesn’t reimburse ATM surcharges. You also pay Visa’s International Service Assessment (ISA) of 1% of the transaction amount if you use your Simple card internationally. As for overdrafts, your transaction will simply be declined if you try to make a purchase without sufficient funds.

Chime is only slightly less fee-free than Simple. It doesn’t charge fees for overdrafts, transactions, card replacements and more. However, if you use an ATM outside of the MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance networks or make an over-the-counter withdrawal, you’ll be charged a $2.50 fee. As with Simple, any overdraft transactions will be declined.

Without charging fees, these companies have to make money somehow, right? Both Chime and Simple make theirs by taking a percentage of the interchange fees from your debit card transactions at merchants (they divide the fees with the card issuer). Simple also makes money through the interest margin on deposits.

Who should bank with Chime?

Chime is useful if you find yourself needing access to your paychecks sooner than usual. Its early direct deposit model takes your money out of a bank holding pattern and puts it in your hands as soon as it’s deposited by your employer.

Chime is also a great option for customers who might have bad credit or a compromised banking history. Unlike many traditional banks, Chime doesn’t use ChexSystems, a consumer reporting agency that keeps track of any problems in your banking history. Instead, Chime opens the doors for customers with bad credit to help them get back on their feet through their essentially no-fee account model and automatic savings options.

Who should bank with Simple?

You should bank with Simple if you’re looking for a completely fee-free banking experience and the savings benefits of a high savings account rate. There are no fees, even for out-of-network ATM usage. And if you’re able to keep at least $2,000 stashed away toward savings goals, you’ll snag a competitive APY and grow your savings faster.

Alternatives

One alternative to Chime and Simple is Aspiration. Aspiration sets itself apart by offering “socially-conscious and sustainable” banking and investment products, and donates 10% of its customer-paid profits to American charities. It also operates on a Pay What Is Fair system, where its customers get to choose what to pay in monthly fees, even if it’s $0. You can use any ATM in the world without incurring a fee from Aspiration, which will also reimburse you for any ATM surcharges you rack up.

Its banking product is a cash management account called Aspiration Spend & Save. It earns 2.00% APY on the entire Save account. Even better, the Spend account earns 1% cash back on purchases at socially responsible businesses and 0.50% cash back at not-so-conscious businesses.

Another alternative is Empower, which operates strictly on its mobile app. Empower charges zero fees and provides an AI assistant to help you combine accounts, track spending and find savings. It earns some solid rewards, too, although its website language is slightly misleading in places. By default, using the Empower debit card earns 1% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend each month, and additionally, you’ll earn 2.15% APY on your savings account balance. However, you can snag a 30-day boost, increasing your cash back to 2% and earning you an additional 2.15% APY for every person you successfully refer to Empower.

Empower forgoes all fees, including ATM usage, service fees, overdrafts and more. Empower will also reimburse you for one out-of-network ATM fee per month. Otherwise, you can physically access your cash through MoneyPass ATMs.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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Blast App Review: Grow Your Savings By Playing Games

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you’ve been reading about the gig economy and side hustles, you’ve probably heard more than a few times about monetizing your hobbies. Whether it’s selling your crochet masterpieces on Etsy or hopping around the city with TaskRabbit, side hustles work best when you turn your personal interests into money-making ventures.

For gamers in search of a side hustle, the Blast app is here to help. Blast pays you to play Android games, such as Words with Friends and Diner Dash, on its app. Don’t expect to rake in the big bucks, however, as you’ll likely only earn a few cents each time you play. For a few high scorers, your shot at the big money is getting your name on the competitive leaderboard.

Blast also includes a high-yield savings account to store and grow your earnings at 2% APY. While this is certainly an added perk to a fun gaming app, it’s not made for serious savings. The account imposes low limits on your deposit and withdrawal capabilities, keeping the account confined to the app’s earnings.

Blast features

Via blast.com
  • An extensive list of games and Missions (more below) from which to choose
  • The chance to earn bonus cash by topping leaderboards
  • A high-yield savings account
  • Further automatic savings opportunity through Game-Based Savings

Blast offers a variety of games to play, from “casual to hardcore,” as it puts it. Everybody should be able to find a game that suits their tastes. You can see your options right from the app’s homepage, clocking each game’s earning potential at a glance.

Each game has a set of Missions, or objectives, to complete, such as completing the game’s tutorial or passing a difficult level. You earn your cash rewards, or Mission Rewards, by completing these Missions. Cash rewards aren’t huge, paying out between 5 cents and a few dollars, depending on the Mission. For example, completing the tutorial of an “Easy” game can rake in 25 cents, while beating level 10 in a “Hard” game could reward you with $5.

Missions change periodically, so be sure to check back in to find new ones you haven’t tackled yet.

The chance to earn more than a few cents comes with ranking on the leaderboard. You can do this by collecting eXperience Points, or XP, for every dollar you earn or by completing certain Missions. Each week, a new leaderboard winner is chosen. Each winner is rewarded with an extra $50. Those ranked lower can still win a bit of extra prize money, too, depending on how high up the board they land.

Blast savings account

To take your savings a little further, all the money you earn through Blast Missions is deposited into a Blast account that earns at 2% APY.

While this is a relatively competitive rate, paired with the minimal earnings you get from Missions, it doesn’t yield much savings. Say you start with 50 cents for completing a Mission or two and each month you earn $1 more. In five months, your total savings would equal a whopping $5.53.

You can take a bit more advantage of the APY by setting up recurring deposits, either weekly or monthly, from a linked external checking account. However, even here, Blast limits your savings abilities. The minimum daily deposit amount is $5, while the maximum is only $50. This doesn’t offer much ease or convenience if you’re trying to move around bigger sums of money.

Further, all deposits cannot exceed a combined daily maximum of $100. This includes any recurring deposits and deposits from Blast’s Game-Based Savings feature. This optional feature allows you to save 1 cent for every minute you spend playing any Blast game on your Android. This isn’t a cash reward paid by Blast, though. The money comes out of your personal checking account. You have to earn at least $5 for a Game-Based Savings transaction to go through — which equals more than eight hours of gameplay. However, transfers cannot exceed $10 in a seven-day period. All Blast transfers take one to two business days to fully settle.

You can also transfer money from your Blast savings account to a linked checking account or PayPal account. The minimum daily withdrawal amount is $5. Transfers out of a Blast account will take four to six business days.

Blast fees and fine print

It’s pretty free to open and use Blast. There are no monthly or annual fees.

The only fee you’ll have to keep an eye out for is the 30 cent PayPal transaction fee when you make transfers from your Blast account into a PayPal account.

There are a few steps you have to successfully complete when using the Blast app to earn your Mission rewards. Once you’ve chosen a Mission, you’ll have to hit the “Connect” button. You have to connect through the Blast app before a Mission expires to be eligible to receive Mission rewards. You must also start and finish a Mission on the same device for it to count.

Additionally, to earn Mission rewards, you must not have previously installed or played the game on your device outside of the Blast app.

You can use Blast with almost every game in the Google Play Store, offering the chance to earn just by having an Android. Compatibility with the Apple App Store, Steam and other PC and console titles is not yet available, but it is planned in the future.

As for security, Blast doesn’t play around, implementing bank-level security — provided by Plaid — and maximum FDIC — through a Wells Fargo For the Benefit Of (FBO) account — insurance for a fun and secure experience.

Opening a Blast app account

Blast is only available for Android users. You can sign up online to be placed on the iOS waitlist.

You can find the Blast app in the Google Play Store. To create an account, you’ll need to provide your email. You don’t need to link an external checking account right away, but you’ll need to eventually if you want to transfer your Blast rewards out.

Now, you’re ready to play — and earn.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Lauren Perez
Lauren Perez |

Lauren Perez is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lauren here

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