Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve Review 2023: Does It Hold Up?

GOBankingRates Score

Betterment
4.8
SCORE
GOBankingRates Best Banks 2023 scores and rankings are objectively determined by our research/editorial team. Our scoring formula weighs several factors that differ from category to category depending on what consumers want from varying products and banks.
Quick Take: Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve are a solid one-two punch for investors looking to pay no fees while still earning an above-average APY.
  • Mobile App
    4.5
  • APYs
    4.5
  • ATM and Foreign Transaction Fees
    5.0
  • Account Minimums
    5.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • High APY for Cash Reserve
  • Easy transfers between accounts
  • No monthly fees
  • Reimbursement of ATM and foreign transaction fees
  • Cash-back rewards
  • No overdraft fees or minimum balances

Cons

  • Mobile-only account

About Betterment

Betterment is a financial technology company that brought its robo-advisory service to market in 2010. Since then, the company has expanded its product line based on the guiding principle that wealth management shouldn’t be just for the wealthy.

In addition to its ever-expanding robo-advisory platform, Betterment now offers an alternative to a savings account — its Cash Reserve account — along with a no-fee checking account. While not a full-service institution, Betterment’s offerings are still worth considering; see if any of its products are a match for your financial goals.

Betterment Products

Betterment only offers two true banking products, its Checking and Cash Reserve accounts.

Product Details
Savings Account Above-average yield
No fees
No minimums
High level of FDIC insurance
Checking Account No minimums
No fees
Unlimited global ATM fee reimbursements
Reimbursement of foreign transaction fees

Betterment Savings Account

Betterment’s savings account, known as its Cash Reserve account, isn’t technically a savings account. Betterment isn’t a bank, so its savings account is properly referred to as a cash management account.

Betterment does work with partner banks who actually hold customers’ funds, which is why it can take one to two business days for money to be transferred from the Cash Reserve account to the Betterment checking account.

Features

  • Complementary account to Betterment checking
  • Unlimited money transfers
  • Spending analysis and guidance
  • Separate savings buckets available

Pros

  • $0 minimum
  • No monthly fees
  • Above-average APY
  • Insured up to $1 million by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 
  • Joint accounts available 

Cons

  • No instant access to cash, as transfers can take one to two business days.

Betterment Checking Account

The Betterment Checking account is the firm’s only checking option. However, it is feature-rich.

Features

  • Mobile-first checking account
  • No monthly fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • Cash-back rewards

Pros

  • Reimbursed ATM fees
  • Reimbursed foreign transaction fees
  • No minimum balance
  • No-cost cellphone insurance, up to $600 per claim with a $50 deductible

Cons

  • No interest 
  • No physical branches

Banking Experience

Betterment is not a bank, but it provides a bank-like experience with its Checking and Cash Reserve accounts. Here’s how the firm rates relative to common banking evaluation metrics.

Customer Service

You can reach Betterment customer service at 718-400-6898. Customer service hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Betterment also has a virtual assistant available to chat on its website at any time.

Physical Branch Locations

The Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve accounts are mobile-only. Betterment has no physical locations.

Mobile and Digital Experience

As an online-only financial institution, Betterment relies on the quality of its mobile app to provide its customers with a good banking experience. According to user reviews, the Betterment apps are top-notch, scoring 4.5 stars on Google Play and 4.7 stars on the App Store.

Betterment’s app incorporates all aspects of the firm’s offerings, from checking and cash reserve accounts to investment accounts. Features of the app include:

  • A big-picture homepage, focusing on client goals, progress and the future
  • Easy-to-add personalized investment goals
  • Quick-access buttons for moving money in and out of accounts
  • Visualizations of investment performance

Betterment users can get similar features by logging into their accounts on the firm’s website.

How To Open an Account

You must open a Betterment account online, as the firm doesn’t have any physical branches. The process begins by providing your email address.

From there, you’ll have to provide the same standard personal and financial information that you would as if you were opening an account at a bank. Namely, you’ll have to provide your name and address, your Social Security number and a form of government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license or passport number.

Betterment Fees

Betterment is a champion when it comes to combating fees. Its Checking and Cash Reserve accounts don’t have any of the fees you might find with a typical bank. Betterment doesn’t have minimum balance requirements and doesn’t charge monthly maintenance, overdraft or ATM fees.

In fact, Betterment reimburses all ATM fees, domestic and international, even those charged by third-party operators. It even reimburses the 1% Visa foreign transaction fee worldwide.

Good To Know

Betterment’s global reimbursement of ATM and foreign transaction fees are priceless, especially for world travelers. The whole Betterment ecosystem is devised around having no fees while still maintaining many features, making it an easy and convenient choice.

Betterment vs. Competitors

Betterment has a limited reach but still competes with other credit unions and national banks.

Bank Best For
Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve Unlimited global ATM fee reimbursements
Wealthfront Cash Account Checking and high-yield savings features in a single account
Aspiration Spend & Save Top APY
SoFi Money Promotions, FDIC insurance limits

Betterment vs. Wealthfront Cash Reserve

Customers who prefer their checking and savings in a single account may prefer the Wealthfront Cash Reserve account. While Betterment separates its Checking account and Cash Reserve account, Wealthfront combines those accounts into a hybrid cash management account that pays a high APY and offers checking features.

Betterment offers global ATM fee reimbursement at any terminal in the world, whereas Wealthfront Cash Reserve only has access to 19,000 fee-free terminals.

Betterment vs. Aspiration Spend & Save

Aspiration Spend & Save offers up to APY on its Aspiration Save account for Aspiration Plus members. Aspiration also pledges that deposits aren’t used to fund fossil fuel production.

Betterment doesn’t charge any fees for its Cash Reserve account, while the Aspiration Plus account charges $5.99 per month when billed annually or $7.99 when billed monthly.

Betterment vs. SoFi Money

SoFi Money is offering a $250 new account promotion through March 31, 2023, if you sign up for direct deposit. SoFi Money also offers cash back rewards with the SoFi debit card and $1.5 million in FDIC insurance.

Betterment Cash Reserve offers cash-back rewards with its Visa debit card, plus unlimited global ATM fee rebates.

Final Take

Betterment’s Checking and Cash Reserve accounts complement the firm’s original investment advisory business. By offering these types of banking accounts, Betterment makes life easier for its investment clients. However, the features of the Checking and Cash Reserve accounts are solid enough to stand on their own.

Both the Checking and Cash Reserve accounts have no fees or minimums, and they each offer additional perks. The Checking account offers unlimited ATM and foreign transaction fee reimbursements across the globe, and the Cash Reserve account offers an above-average APY. Coupled with the lack of other fees, including overdraft fees, the Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve accounts have a lot to offer.

Betterment FAQ

Now that you know more about what Betterment offers, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about its deposit accounts.
  • How does FDIC insurance work at Betterment?
    • Betterment works with partner banks that can provide FDIC insurance. As soon as deposits arrive at these partner banks, customers are insured for up to $1 million for individual Cash Reserve accounts and $2 million for joint Cash Reserve accounts and the standard $250,000 FDIC insurance for Checking accounts.
  • Does Betterment have a monthly fee?
    • Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve accounts have no monthly fees. The investment side of the business does charge annual management fees. 
  • Does Betterment accept cash deposits?
    • As Betterment doesn't have any branches, it cannot currently accept cash deposits.
  • What are Betterment's daily transaction limits?
    • Betterment's daily mobile deposit limit is $1,000. The daily debit card transaction limit is $2,000, and the daily ATM withdrawal limit is $510.
    • ACH deposits into a checking account are limited to $10,000 per day, and ACH withdrawals are limited to $5,000 per day.
    • Cash Reserve deposits have a limit of $300,000 per day.
  • Does Betterment offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • Betterment is not currently offering any promotions for signing up for a Checking or Cash Reserve account.

Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Rates are subject to change; unless otherwise noted, rates are updated periodically. All other information on accounts is accurate as of Feb. 19, 2023. Additional requirements may apply for promotions. Offers and terms are subject to change.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Is this your bank?

Stay Up to Date on the Latest From Your Bank

Keep a good thing going with top financial tips and advice from GOBankingRates.

Please enter an email.
Please enter a valid email address.
There was an unknown error. Please try again later.

Thank You For Signing Up!

Get ready to receive top financial tips from the experts at GOBankingRates.

Take Advantage of our Best Offer(s)

DIVE DEEPER

Discover the Best Banks of 2024: Unveiling Our Top Picks!

We've compiled a list of the top banks for this year!

TAKE POLL

TAKE ACTION

Here Are the Pros and Cons of Using Multiple Banks

Shot of a woman using a laptop while going through paperwork at home.

Many banks are one-stop-shop financial institutions...

BEFORE YOU GO

See Today's Best
Banking Offers