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Credit Cards, Reviews

Chase Sapphire Reserve Review: Is the Annual Fee Worth It?

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.

Looking for a travel rewards card with a big bang for your buck? Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be right for you.It comes with a litany of benefits for frequent travelers including:

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Your points are worth 50% more when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
  • Ability to transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to major airline and hotel rewards programs.
  • $100 statement credit after you pay for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application.
  • The first $300 you spend on travel during each 12-month period measured by your sign-up date will be automatically reimbursed through statement credits.
  • Currently, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

These benefits do come at a cost. The card has a $450 annual fee — and it is not waived in the first year. While the benefits are top-notch, they’re only accessible to those who can float the $450 in upfront costs.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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The information related to Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual fee
$450
Rewards Rate
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
Regular Purchase APR
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

How to earn points

The best way to earn points with Chase Sapphire Reserve® is by placing all of your travel and dining purchases on this card exclusively. These purchases will get you 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.

What, exactly, qualifies as a travel purchase? The obvious things, like hotels and car rentals, are included. But don’t forget merchants like Airbnb, Expedia, or even your state DOT when you drive on toll roads.

Certain travel-related expenses do not count as travel purchases. Amusement park tickets, excursions purchased directly through tour companies, and that Starbucks latte you purchased at the airport will not be counted as a 3-point-per-dollar travel expense, for example.

If you’re making a big purchase, but you’re not sure if it will qualify as a travel expense, it’s worth it to call the company you will be purchasing from. You want to find out how they are coded to credit card companies. Do they come through as “travel” or is the business classified into another category? Finding the answer to this question can help you decide if you should make the purchase on your Chase Sapphire Reserve® or if you should charge it somewhere else where you’ll get more than one measly point per dollar.

Best ways to redeem points

Whether you’re purchasing a plane ticket for a work trip or booking your next family vacation, you want to make sure you’re maximizing all those points you’ve earned.

One of the best ways to redeem your points at booking is by using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Here, you’ll be able to find flights, hotels, and more with no blackout dates. Because you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve® holder, your points will be worth 50% more here. That means that instead of your 50,000-point bonus being worth $500, it will actually be worth $750.

Another potentially great way to book is by transferring your points to one of Chase’s partner airline or hotel rewards programs. This can be done in real time on a 1:1 basis. Sometimes, it may even be a better deal than booking through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

For example, a flight from New York City to Tokyo may run you $1,200. If you booked within the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, that would cost you 80,000 points.

However, if you transferred your points to United MileagePlus® miles, you could score a flight for 70,000 points if you booked at the “Saver Award” level in economy class. There is limited seating at this award level, so you would want to book far ahead, but doing so would save you 10,000 points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards has several transfer partners aside from United. The full list includes:

  • British Airways Avios
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards
  • Marriott Rewards/Ritz Carlton Rewards

How to qualify

Those with the best chance of qualifying for Chase Sapphire Reserve® will have a credit score of 700 or above without a history of chronically late payments. Those with a credit score below 650 are unlikely to qualify.

This card is only for people with excellent credit. In general, that means your score should be above 700. In addition, Chase (and other credit card issuers) have been cracking down on people who go from one bonus offer to the next. If you apply for a lot of credit cards, don’t be surprised if you are declined.

What we like about the card

There are a lot of reasons to love Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you’re big on travel.

The bonus is nothing to laugh at.

Fifty thousand points is on the high end of standard spending bonuses for credit cards, but when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal, Chase’s offer is even more stellar.

Your annual fee is effectively lowered to $150 every year.

Because you will receive up to $300 in statement credits for travel reimbursements per year, the $450 annual fee is effectively lowered to $150 — as long as you actually spend $300 on travel.

Rewards points are generous on dining and travel purchases.

Three points per dollar is a large multiplier in the world of travel rewards credit cards.

No foreign transaction fees.

When you’re traveling, the last thing you want to deal with is foreign transaction fees. They can quickly eat away at any value you’re getting with your rewards points, so we’re glad to see that this card doesn’t have any.

Additional $100 statement credit specifically for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Both of these programs can save you a ton of time and hassle, especially if you travel frequently. The $100 statement credit reduces or even eliminates the application fees, depending on which product you pursue.

Plentiful travel protection benefits. When you book your travel with your Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, you automatically have a lot of coverage as long as 100% of the purchase goes on the card. Coverage includes:

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver. You won’t have to purchase collision insurance from your rental company as physical damages to the vehicle will be covered by this waiver provided via Chase.
  • Roadside assistance. You’re covered up to $50, four times per year. Covered services include locksmiths, tows, tire changes, jump-starts, and gas.
  • Baggage delay insurance. If the airline has issues locating your luggage at your destination airport for six hours or more, this insurance policy will reimburse you for essential purchases, like shampoo or slacks. The policy maxes out at $100 per day over the course of five days.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. What if the airport never finds your bag? Or damages your belongings? Chase will reimburse the value of your belongings up to $3,000.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance.Certain emergencies, such as severe weather or illness, will merit a reimbursement of up to $10,000 if they force you to cancel or cut your trip short.
  • Trip delay reimbursement. If your flight is delayed for over six hours and the airline is offering little to nothing in the way of reimbursement, Chase will pay you back $500 per ticket to cover things like food and hotel stays.
  • Emergency coverages. Chase provides coverage for emergency evacuations, emergency medical and dental services, and accidental death or dismemberment while you’re on a trip that you’ve paid for 100% with your Chase Sapphire Rewards card.

What we don’t like about the card

While Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s rewards are out of this world, they do come at a steep price.

The annual fee is colossal.

A $450 annual fee is huge—especially since it is not waived in the first year. This limits the number of people who will even be able to afford to open a card, nonetheless justify the expense.

Rewards points are scant on everyday purchases.

While this card is generous with rewards points for dining and travel, purchases in every other category only earn 1 point per dollar. Even when you account for the 50% bonus when booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal, it would be wise to put these purchases on one of many other cards on the market that will earn you more points.

Travel hackers will have a hard time qualifying.

Banks (and not just Chase) are making it more difficult for people to jump from bonus offer to bonus offer. If that sounds like you, it will probably be difficult to get approved.

Who the Chase Sapphire Reserve® best for

Those who travel frequently, spending a good portion of their budget on related purchases including dining, will benefit most from this card. These applicants have a solid credit history and score and are more likely to have a higher income as they have the funds available to front the $450 annual fee without hurting their budget. Their travels enable them to get the most out of not only the rewards points but also the statement credits that make this offer so attractive.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you have the $450 to spend up front, and know that you will be able to take advantage of the annual $300 travel reimbursement, Chase Sapphire Reserve® is likely a better card for you than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card‘s annual fee of $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 is only $55 less than the Chase Sapphire Reserve® effective $150 fee after travel reimbursements ($300 Annual Travel Credit – $450 annual fee).

For an additional $55, your Chase Sapphire Reserve® points are worth 1.5 points each when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card‘s 1.25 points. Let’s look back at our trip from New York City to Tokyo. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you would need 80,000 points to book your $1,200 flight. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you would need 96,000 points. That’s a 16,000-point difference. In order to make up the difference, you’d have to spend $6,400 on travel or dining on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Fifty-five dollars starts to look like a deal.

You also earn 3 points instead of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card rate of 2 points on each dollar you spend on travel and dining.

Given the increased point values, making up the $55 difference is easy. Having the income to support opening the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in the first place is the challenge. Not only do you need to have on hand $450 up front, but you’ll also need to have an income that justifies a credit line of $10,000+. If you will have trouble achieving either of these things, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may be a better card for you.

Alternatives

While Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers fantastic benefits, it’s not for everyone. If you want a credit card that offers travel rewards without such large impositions, you do have other options.

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The information related to Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is much like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® option, except the annual fee is $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95. It doesn’t have all the same perks, but it does offer 2 points per dollar spent on dining and travel while offering 1 point on all other purchases. When you redeem points in the Ultimate Rewards portal, they’ll be worth 25% more instead of Chase Sapphire Reserve®‘s 50% incentive.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, with each mile worth one cent when redeemed against a past travel purchase. The annual fee is waived in the first year ($0 intro for first year; $95 after that), and the current sign-up bonus is a One-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

FAQ

Yes, though you should keep in mind the credit requirements above. If you currently have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, it’s wise to transfer them to the Reserve so you can take full advantage of the 1.5-point redemption rate in the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Yes. As long as you share the same address, you will be able to transfer points one to another instantaneously. You cannot combine or share points with a family member who lives at a different address.

No. Once you transfer points to another program, you cannot convert them back to Ultimate Rewards points. Be sure you understand the redemption process for each program before you transfer to ensure you’re getting the maximum value for your points.

No. As long as you keep your account open, your points will not expire. If you have other Chase cards that are eligible for the Ultimate Rewards program, you could close your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account and transfer them to your other card, but as of today Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the best redemption rate in the Ultimate Rewards portal, so this may not be the best move.

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.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Reviews

Review of Netspend Prepaid Card

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 cannot get a traditional bank account, you may have few options but to manage your money via a prepaid card. That’s where companies like Netspend come in. Netspend issues prepaid cards which allow you to receive your paycheck, government benefits and tax refunds via direct deposit. You can also use Netspend to pay bills, conduct financial transactions online, track your spending automatically via Netspend’s app and complete most other tasks you would be able to with a traditional checking account. In this review, we’ll explain what Netspend has to offer, fees and fine print and how it compares to other prepaid options out there.

Netspend Prepaid Card features

Your name is embossed on your card. If a cashier ever asks you for an ID to match to your card, but your card says “Valued Customer” or something of the like on it in lieu of your name, you could be denied the purchase. It would also prevent you from receiving funds via MoneyPak, and could cause other disruptions in your financial life. The fact that the Netspend Prepaid Card has your name printed on it alleviates a lot of friction.

Free direct deposit. If you want to receive your paycheck, government benefits or tax refund on your Netspend card, you can do so at no cost.

You will also be able to use the app to send money to anyone with Netspend FlashPay. While the app does offer mobile check deposit, there may be fees charged by the service provider Netspend partners with in order to enable this feature. That being said, Netspend does not charge any fees for this service directly.

Cashback rewards. Netspend issues these rewards when your spending lines up with sponsored offers, which are preselected for you based on your spending habits.

NetSpend also has a refer-a-friend feature which rewards you both with a $20 when your friend uses your referral link to open a new card and loads at least $40 onto it.

High-yield savings account. As long as you’re not currently subject to IRS backup withholding, another perk Netspend offers is access to a savings account with an APY of 5.00% for balances under $1,000. This can be a huge perk for those who are having trouble opening a bank account as it could potentially establish a more positive banking history. Beyond that, the APY is phenomenal.

Netspend Prepaid Card fees and fine print

Monthly fees range from $5 to $9.95 per month. Although the Netspend Prepaid Card comes with a lot of benefits, it comes with a lot of fees, too. Different plans will incur different monthly fees. For example, the FeeAdvantage Plan, which allows you to circumvent a $1 charge for every purchase requiring a signature and a $2 fee for every purchase requiring a PIN, will run you $9.95/month. If you have a regular direct deposit of at least $500/month set up, you qualify for the Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan, which does the same thing at a much lower price point of $5/month.

Reload fees can sting. While there are no activation fees or check deposit fees charged by Netspend, you will have to contend with reload fees everytime you want to put cash on your card.

Lots of miscellaneous fees. There are fees if your purchase is declined, fees if you want to stop a pre-authorized payment, ATM fees, foreign transaction fees and account inactivity fees should you let your account sit for 90+ days without any transactions, withdrawals or deposits.

Checking your balance via text, email or your online account center is free. However, checking via ATM or a customer service agent will incur a $0.50 fee. You will also be charged this fee if you make a balance inquiry via the automated telephone service, though the $0.50 fee is waived in this instance if you have a Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan.

Overdraft protection plan is limited. While you can opt into overdraft protection to protect yourself from declined purchase fees, you will have to go through the steps of enrollment in the program first. You will only be allowed three overdrafts per calendar month, and each one will cost you $15. Unless you’re getting your purchases declined 15 times or more per month, this service may not be worth it.

Try not to lose your card. If you lose your card, there is a $9.95 fee to replace it. If you need your replacement card within less than seven business days, you will have to pay $20 to $25 in shipping costs depending on how quickly you need it.

NetSpend Prepaid Card Fees
Activation feeNone
Monthly Plan FeePay-As-You-Go Plan: None; FeeAdvantage Plan: $9.95/month; Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan: $5/month
Reload feeVaries depending on location and deposit type.
Check deposit feeNone
ATM fees$2.50 at domestic ATMs; $4.95 at foreign ATMS
ATM decline fee$1.00
Foreign transaction fee3.5% of withdrawal or purchase in USD, in addition to the $4.95 foreign ATM fee
Account-to-account transfer fee$4.95 when initiated by customer service representative
Bill payment feeVaries
Stop payment fee for ACH debit/preauthorized payment transactions$10
ACH debit/Preauthorized payment transaction decline fee$1
Card replacement fee$9.95
Balance inquiry fee$0.00 to $0.50 depending on plan and modality of deposit.
Account inactivity fee$5.95/month after your account has been inactive for 90 days

Using the Netspend Prepaid Card mobile app

Netspend’s mobile app allows you to deposit checks via mobile, send or receive money from anyone with Netspend’s FlashPay and find the lowest-cost reload locations near you.

If you’re looking for the more advanced budgeting features some financial institutions offer to their mobile users, you’re out of luck. But you will still be able to monitor your account balance and transaction history.

Opening a Netspend Prepaid Card Account

Ordering a card is easy and can be done online You simply provide your name, address and email and your card will be shipped to you in 7-10 days.

However, in order to activate your card, you’ll have to meet some eligibility requirements. First, you must be 18 years of age and not live in Vermont. You will also be required to verify your identification by supplying your name, address, date of birth and government-issued ID number. In some cases, Netspend will require you to provide your actual ID in order to verify your identity.

Your credit history and checking history will not be run as a part of the application process.

Overall review of Netspend Prepaid Card Account

There is no way around it: Netspend Prepaid Cards are loaded with fees that will eat into your paycheck or any other source of income. If you can get a traditional checking account, you should as it is extremely likely that it will be leagues cheaper to manage your money.

However, Netspend isn’t built for those who can easily get a bank account. It is built for those who have been shut out of the traditional financial system. If you need a way to get your money into digital form to conduct financial transactions, cards like Netspend’s can be one of the few ways to take care of business, despite the dramatic fees. A better option would be to find a prepaid card option with lower fees, like Walmart’s Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Debit Card or the Chase Liquid Prepaid Card.

Do note that if your employer offers to pay you via a prepaid card, you do not have to accept. Specific laws vary by state, but regardless of where you live, your employer must give you the option of either a paper check or direct deposit. If you have access to a bank account, it’s likely not to your advantage to accept your paycheck via prepaid card. If you don’t, you may still choose to use cash checking services if they end up being cheaper than the fees on a card like Netspend’s Prepaid Card.

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.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Acorns Spend Review

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.

Acorns Spend is the third product offered by popular micro-investing tool Acorns. Spend is a checking account integrated with the firm’s two existing products, Acorns Core and Acorns Later. Combined, the three products are designed to get people saving and investing on an automatic basis.

Acorns Spend has all the features of a traditional checking account, including a debit card and ATM access. The Acorns twist is that purchases made using the account are rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the excess money being invested in six different exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.

When you pay the $3 monthly fee for Acorns Spend, you’re automatically enrolled in Acorns Core and Acorns Later, although you’re not required to fund or use these products.

If you’re curious about Acorns Spend, we’ll take a look at the features and benefits of the account, along with its associated fees and drawbacks to see if its a good fit for you.

Account features

No minimum balance or overdraft fees. You don’t have to fund an Acorns Spend account to open it, and you don’t have to worry about ever overdrawing the account.

Includes Acorns Core and Acorns Laterfor no additional fee. Although some online checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee at all, the Acorns Spend account is part of a financial universe that rounds up your money and invests it for you; the $3 monthly fee also includes IRA services through the Acorns Later program.

Unlimited free or reimbursed ATM withdrawals nationwide. With out-of-network ATM fees often topping $2.50, unlimited fee reimbursements alone may make the $3 monthly charge for Acorns Spend a bargain.

A host of mobile banking services. The account includes free bank-to-bank transfers, digital direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and check sending.

Found Money rewards program. When you shop with specific merchants, they will credit your Acorns account with rewards cash within 90 to 120 days after your purchase.

Integrated with the Acorns ecosystem. Acorns Core already has over 3 million customers, meaning its being used by lots of people. Acorns Spend is an easy add-on service for those already familiar with how Acorns works.

Money invested according to Modern Portfolio Theory. Your spare change is invested in one of five ETF-based portfolios that Acorns has developed in line with Modern Portfolio Theory, which aims to generate the highest possible returns with the lowest possible risk.

Fees and fine print

Acorns is pretty transparent when it comes to its fees and pricing structure. With no overdraft, ATM or minimum balance fees, your monthly service charge is the only fee you’ll have to worry about. This account is the most expensive product available from Acorns, but the fee remains modest.

Pricing

The original Acorns product, now named Acorns Core, charges $1 per month. If you add on the IRA services of Acorns Later, that fee jumps to $2. Acorns Spend, which includes all three products, is $3 per month.

There are a few small twists in the pricing structure. Students do not have to pay the $1 fee for using Acorns Core, so they can access the complete Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend package for just $2. If you’re a millionaire, the fee structure jumps quite a bit, with Acorns charging $100 per million invested.

Other fees and fine print

Although fees for this account are low, they are flat; this means that customers with lower balances can see a significant percentage of their balances eaten away by the monthly fee. For example, if you have just $100 invested via Acorns Spend, the $3 monthly fee amounts to 3% of your balance every month.

ATM fees$0, with unlimited nationwide reimbursements of any non-preferred ATM fees
Withdrawal limits$500 per day
Overdraft fees$0
Card replacement fee$0

Pros and cons

The main pro of the Acorns Spend account is that it “forces” you to save and invest. Like the Acorns Core account, your purchases using the Spend debit card are rounded up and placed into an investment portfolio matching your investment objectives and risk tolerance. The idea behind Acorns Spend – and indeed, the entire Acorns investment philosophy – is that while you’re not likely to miss the additional $0.23 you’ll be charged on your $3.77 cup of coffee, over time, those $0.23 deposits add up.

Another prime benefit of Acorns Spend is its low cost. Yes, there’s a $3 monthly fee, but you are getting a lot for that cost. While some checking accounts charge fees just to provide basic services, the account automatically invests your money for you; not only that, but Acorns Spend invests your money for you in small increments. When was the last time you called your broker and asked him to buy $0.23 of an ETF? At most firms, that’s not even possible, and if it is, commissions will likely eat a large portion of your investment.

The unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement is another significant feature of the Acorns Spend account. Although some firms, such as Charles Schwab, offer unlimited international ATM fee reimbursements, many banks charge their own additional fees for out-of-network ATM transactions, on top of the fees that are imposed by ATM operators themselves.

There aren’t a lot of obvious “cons” to this account; ironically, the same features that are “pros” for many customers can end up being “cons” for others.

For example, some customers may not enjoy the “forced savings” method that Acorns employs; these customers may prefer to choose their own investments and may not like the portfolios that Acorns creates for customers. After all, Acorns only has five investment options, and they are categorized generically as “Conservative,” “Moderately Conservative,” “Moderate,” “Moderately Aggressive,” and “Aggressive” — and all five portfolios use the same six ETFs, in varying measure.

Another “pro” that may end up being a “con” for some customers is the $3 monthly fee. For those integrated into the Acorns ecosystem, paying this fee makes sense. For those that aren’t interested in the Acorns investment philosophy, or for those who don’t make a lot of reimbursable ATM transactions, the $3 fee could outweigh the benefits, especially when considering that plenty of online banks, from Discover to Capital One, offer no-fee checking accounts.

Overall, this account is a bit different than some of its major competitors, such as the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® and the Venmo debit card.

The Acorns Spend account is primarily focused on saving and investing, with round-ups automatically finding their way to predetermined investment portfolios. The Venmo and PayPal cards, on the other hand, are primarily focused on money transfer/access to and from Venmo and PayPal accounts, respectively, although they also operate as debit cards for purchases.

The Acorns Spend account has another advantage over these cards in that it is a fully functioning checking account, rather than just a money transfer or investment portal.

However, things are changing a bit in the competitive landscape, and PayPal and Acorns have recently formed a financial partnership. Now, you can use your PayPal account to open an Acorns account and begin funding your investments, starting with as little as $5.

How to open an Acorns Spend account

Log in to your existing Acorns account. The fastest way to sign up for Acorns Spend is if you are already an Acorns customer. If you log in to your account, you can pre-order the Acorns Spend debit card in a few clicks. The first 100,000 Acorns Spend debit cards sold out in four days, but the company is still accepting pre-orders for additional cards as of February 8, 2019.
Open an Acorns account online. If you’re not already a customer, you’ll have to sign up for an Acorns account to access Acorns Spend. You can access the application at this link. Once there, click “Don’t Have an Account?” You’ll need to provide your email address and create a password to open an account.

To finish opening your account, you’ll need to connect your spending cards, such as your debit and credit cards, so that Acorns can set up the “round-up” portion of the process. Next, you’ll provide personal information, such as your address and Social Security number. The last step of the process is to choose your investment allocation.

Overall review of Acorns Spend

Acorns Spend was a smart idea for Acorns itself because it’s something of a no-brainer for its existing three million-plus strong customer base. For those that already have Acorns Core and Acorns Later, Acorns Spend is just an additional $1 per month, and it provides access to a feature-packed checking account. For existing customers, Acorns Spend is another easy way to keep rounding up purchases into an investment account.

For potentially new customers, whether or not to switch from an existing checking account to Acorns Spend is an open question. On the plus side, Acorns Spend combines the key benefits of the best online checking accounts, such as mobile check deposit and no minimum deposit requirements, to the low fee structure most customers want, with no ATM fees, overdraft fees or card replacement fees.

One of the few outright negatives of the Acorns Spend account is the $3 monthly fee; although it’s lower than what many traditional, national banks charge, it’s $36 more per year than the $0 charged by many online banks.

For many customers, the unlimited ATM fee rebates will more than compensate for the monthly fee. However, for customers that have limited a need for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, or for those that aren’t interested in the Acorns ecosystem, this may not be the right product for them.

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.

John Csiszar
John Csiszar |

John Csiszar is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email John here

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