One of the primary purported advantages of choosing an online bank is the higher interest rates and lower fees, which is due to the banks not having to own and operate physical branches. With its Summit Account, Aspiration Bank appears to hold true to that with one of the largest interest rates offered on any checking account.
Take a closer look at Aspiration’s signature offering and decide if it’s the best checking account for your financial strategy.
Aspiration Checking Account Review
Aspiration Bank advertises a checking account that offers up to 100 times the APY of most checking accounts and, for some customers, the bank appears to be delivering on that promise with a whopping 1% APY on checking deposits whereas most banks offer just 0.01% APY, if any.
But that 1 percent checking account interest rate only applies to accounts with at least $2,500 in them. For accounts with less than $2,500, the APY drops to 0.25 percent. It’s worth noting that a 0.25% APY will beat any checking account out there — save for an Aspiration Summit Account with more money in it — but it’s still just a quarter of the advertised rate.
Aspiration’s fee structure seems more generous than most, though. Its free checking account charges no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum monthly balance — as long as it remains positive — and no minimum monthly deposit. Aspiration also has no ATM fees and will even cover fees from other ATMs and banks both in the U.S. and abroad.
That said, Aspiration doesn’t offer a savings account, so there’s no option for overdraft protection. Overdraw your account, and you’ll pay a $25 fee. And any account with a balance below zero will begin to incur a daily fee of $5 after the fifth day and will continue to charge that fee every day the account remains below zero, for up to 30 days.
Aspiration does offer overdraft protection in the form of not allowing ATM withdrawals, debit card purchases or online transfers that would overdraw your account. The only instance where you might still make a mistake is in writing a check.
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Pros and Cons of Aspiration Online Checking Account
Before you make a decision about this checking account, take a look at what Aspiration’s Summit Account excels at and where it might not be what you’re looking for. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the Aspiration checking account:
Aspiration Summit Checking Account Pros
In addition to being FDIC-insured, an Aspiration Summit checking account offers the following advantages:
- High Yield: A 0.25-1% APY is among the highest in the industry by a wide margin.
- No ATM Fees: Not only does Aspiration not charge its own fees, it will cover most of those charged by other banks and ATMs.
- No Monthly Maintenance Fees: There is no monthly charge for your account.
- No Account Minimums: Although it does take $10 to open an account, there are no monthly minimum balances or deposits.
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Aspiration Summit Checking Account Cons
Before you commit to Aspiration for your checking account needs, understand some of the drawbacks:
- Limited Overdraft Protection: You can trigger a $25 overdraft fee if you’re writing a check, and there are no options for overdraft protection.
- Recurring Daily Overdraft Fee: Overdraw your account and fail to make a deposit to bring it back over zero within five days, and you’ll be charged $5 a day.
- No Physical Branches: Aspiration is an online-only bank, so there are no physical branches you can visit.
- No Paired Savings Account: Aspiration doesn’t offer a savings account, so you can’t pair your checking and savings accounts.
Aspiration Bank Products and Services
In addition to its Summit interest checking account, Aspiration offers a number of investment and retirement products. Two professionally managed funds are available: the Redwood fund — which invests in companies committed to sustainability — and the Flagship Fund — which is geared towards low-volatility, long-term growth. Two options for IRA accounts — Redwood and Flagship — are available, offering similar benefits to the similarly-named investment accounts.
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Should You Bank With Aspiration Bank?
Your personal circumstances will likely play the biggest role in deciding whether or not Aspiration is right for you. Someone with the money to maintain a healthy checking account balance can take advantage of the full 1% APY and not have to worry about the overdraft fees, meaning Aspiration could offer them a lot of benefit.
But if you find that you’re frequently drawing your balance close to zero, you might find much less utility from Aspiration Bank’s Summit Account. Not only will you get the lower — but still high — 0.25% APY, but the fees associated with an overdraft and with carrying a negative balance are among the harshest. This makes it a poor choice, especially when other banks will offer you a chance to pair your checking account with a high-yield savings account, and provide you with a better APY and overdraft protection.
Still, any bank account that offers interest rates that are 25 to 100 times better than their competitors while covering all of your ATM fees in and out of the United States is clearly a solid option. That’s unless being able to visit a branch in person is important to you, in which case an online bank is probably not the right choice.
More on Checking Accounts
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This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by Aspiration Bank.