Betterment Review: Fee-Free Checking and Savings With Exceptional APYs

GOBankingRates Score

Betterment
4.6
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: As a pioneer in the robo-advisory world, Betterment has done a great job honing and refining its core products. Its checking and savings account options may be limited, but they are completely fee-free. The savings account APY is 11 times higher than the national average, which makes it an attractive option for maximizing savings.
  • Checking Accounts
    4.5
  • Savings Accounts
    5.0
  • Investing Services
    5.0
  • Banking Experience
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Savings account interest rate is considerably higher than the national average
  • No ATM, overdraft or monthly service fees
  • Customers earn cash-back rewards on select purchases

Cons

  • Only one checking and one savings account
  • No CDs
  • Mobile check deposit not available to all customers

Betterment Overview

Betterment is a financial services company that began in 2010 with the mission to make investing simpler for everyone. It pursued this mission by pioneering the “robo-advisory” industry, which uses statistics-based algorithms to compute optimal portfolio allocations for investors.

Since that time, the firm has broadened its financial services capabilities, and now it offers customized retirement plans, access to financial advisors and a cash management suite, including a checking account with a Visa debit card. Today, the company has assets under management worth over $40 billion. These factors demonstrate why Betterment tops the list of GOBankingRates’ Best Neobanks of 2024 and ranks second among the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts of 2024.

Betterment Review: Account Options

Here is a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of banking with Betterment.

Checking Accounts

Betterment Checking is a no-fee checking account with check-writing privileges but no account minimums or opening deposit amounts, so it’s easy to open and maintain. It comes with a free Visa debit card and automatically reimburses ATM fees worldwide. Betterment also reimburses customers for foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, which saves you 3%, on average, compared to accounts that charge the fee. Customers earn cash rewards for purchases they make at select merchants and can track available offers in their accounts.

On the downside, Betterment Checking is not an interest-bearing account.

Savings Accounts

Cash Reserve is Betterment’s high-yield savings account that can be opened with as little as $10. This account comes with an APY of and no minimum balance requirements or monthly service fees. Customers can make unlimited withdrawals from the account penalty-free — no more keeping track of how often you’ve accessed your money. Individual Cash Reserve accounts are insured up to $2 million or up to $4 million for joint accounts. GOBankingRates has rated Cash Reserve as one of the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts of 2024.

Investing Services

Betterment’s investing products include the ones you’re most likely to use, such as automated investing, crypto investing and traditional and Roth IRA. Automated and crypto investing come with services like automated rebalancing and multiple portfolio options that relieve you of having to select funds or coins for your portfolio.

Where Betterment falls short is with investing fees. Customers pay either $4 per month or an annual fee of 0.25% of the account balance, which is steep for small investors. Crypto customers pay a 1% fee in addition to trading expenses. However, for an additional 0.40% annual fee, customers with a balance of at least $100,000 have access to a Certified Financial Planner — a bargain considering that CFPs typically charge $200 to $400 per hour.

Banking Experience

Betterment has no physical branches, so it’s best for customers who already use a mobile app to monitor balances, transfer funds and track purchases. The company currently does not offer bill pay services, so customers have to set up automatic payments with vendors if they do not want to write checks. What’s more, mobile check deposit is restricted. But the app has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Google Play and 4.7 out of 5 on the App Store.

Comparable Neobank Options

Take a look at how Betterment compares to similar neobanks.

SoFi

SoFi offers home, personal and student loans as well as investment and financial planning services, a checking account and a savings account. The checking and savings accounts are fee-free accounts, and customers have access to ATMs on the Allpoint Network and perks like early paycheck deposits and mobile bill pay. Like Betterment, customers receive cash back on select purchases made with the SoFi debit card. While SoFi’s savings account has a slightly lower APY than Betterment offers, it has no restrictions on who can use mobile check deposit — a big plus in terms of convenience.

Chime

Like Betterment, Chime* offers fee-free checking and savings accounts1 with no minimum balances and no foreign transaction fees. Chime also offers a Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card2 for customers who need to build their credit score. After meeting the requirement of having a Chime Checking Account, customers can open a High-Yield Savings Account with Chime. However, the APY3 on the High-Yield Savings Account pales in comparison to Betterment’s .

Final Take

Over the years, Betterment has tweaked its core robo-advisory product, experimenting with different pricing strategies and capabilities. However, it has always relied on Nobel Prize-backed research in developing its algorithm and focused on keeping costs as low as possible for customers. Betterment is No. 1 on GOBankingRates’ list of Best Neobanks of 2024 and is best for customers who travel abroad frequently and can take advantage of the foreign transaction fee reimbursement — or who want to earn top rates on their savings in one of the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts of 2024.

Betterment FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Betterment.
  • What is Betterment?
    • Betterment is primarily a robo-advisor and is not a bank, but it also offers a checking account and savings account through partner banks. Partner banks include Barclays Bank Delaware, Citi, HSBC Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
  • Is Betterment worth the fee?
    • Betterment does not charge fees on its checking and savings accounts. Customers pay a fee for investing and crypto services.
  • What are the cons of using Betterment?
    • Since Betterment is not a bank, it doesn't offer customers a full range of banking products, such as CDs and loans. As a mobile-first account, customers have to do all their banking through the mobile app or an ATM. In some cases, the only way to deposit money is through a transfer and not a mobile check deposit.
  • Can Betterment be trusted?
    • Betterment partners with well-known and trusted banks throughout the country. These banks include Bancorp, Barclays, Citi, HSBC and Wells Fargo. Money deposited into checking and savings accounts is protected by FDIC insurance.

Daria Uhlig, Cynthia Bowman and John Csiszar 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 Dec. 12, 2023. 

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.

To determine rankings for the Best High-Yield Savings Accounts, GOBankingRates looked at the following factors from all banks: (1) minimum deposit to open an account; (2) monthly savings fee ratio (percentage based on the minimum to avoid the fee compared to the monthly fee itself); (3) minimum needed to earn APY; (4) savings APY; and (5) the average mobile app rating between the Google Play (Android) and Apple app stores. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being the best. Factors (2) and (3) were weighted 1.5 times; factor (4) was weighted 4 times; and factor (5) was weighted 0.5 times. To be considered for the high-yield savings account, the product offered had to have an APY above 0.45%.

To determine rankings for the Best Neobanks, GOBankingRates looked at the following factors: (1) monthly checking fee ratio (percentage based on the minimum to avoid the fee compared to the monthly fee itself); (2) minimum needed to earn APY; (3) savings APY; (4) products/services offered (credit cards and investment services); (5) the average mobile app rating between the Android and Apple app stores; and (6) number of extra benefits and perks unique to neobanks. All factors were then scored and combined, with the lowest score being the best. Factors (1) and (2) were weighted 0.5 times, and factors (3) and (6) were weighted 2 times.

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,063 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country between November 27 and November 29, 2023, asking twenty-two different questions: (1) What category best describes your current financial institution?; (2) Have you considered changing Banks within the past year?; (3) If you have considered changing banks in the past year, were any of the following factors? (select all that apply); (4) Which feature, perk, or other offering is most important to you when opening an account with a new institution?; (5) Are you currently satisfied with all your banking products and services offered by your Bank/Credit Union?; (6) Would you ever have different types of accounts across multiple banks? (i.e. Checking at Chase, but Savings at TD Bank); (7) What is your most preferred method of banking?; (8) Which of the following is the biggest factor of you staying with your current bank?; (9) Which of the following bank accounts do you currently use/have open? (Select all that apply); (10) How much is the minimum balance you keep in your Checking Account?; (11) How much do you currently have in your Savings Account?; (12) What amount of a sign up bonus would make you consider switching banks?; (13) Have you considered using any app-only banking platforms (aka neobanks) in the past year (e.g. Current, Chime, Dave, etc.); (14) How important is it to you for your bank to be affiliated with a crypto exchange/platform?; (15) In the past year how often have you written a physical check?; (16) When was the last time you visited your bank in-person?; (17) Why would you choose to visit your bank in-person? (Select all that apply); (18) Have you had an overdraft on your checking account in the past year?; (19) How much do you trust your current bank to act in your best interest?; (20) How much do you trust your current bank to protect your private information?; (21) Do you trust regional banks more than national banks?; and (22) How much cash do you keep at home?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

1There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Chime Savings Account.

2The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.

3The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of Dec. 12, 2023. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.

*Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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