Aspiration Spend & Save: Do Good While Maximizing Your Savings Interest Rate

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Even late in 2022, with interest rates constantly rising, the fact that Aspiration is offering up to 5% interest on savings is enough to catch people’s attention.

If you’re wondering whether there’s a catch, yes, there are a few.

Aspiration is focused on environmental and social issues, leveraging its checking and savings products, its credit card and its investment fund to that end. So if your values match, it can be a great company through which to conduct your financial business.

However, you won’t get 5% interest — free and clear — on any dollar you put into savings through Aspiration.

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What Is Aspiration, and Is It a Bank?

Founded in 2013 in Marina del Ray, California, the founders opened Aspiration for business two years later.

Similar to Chime and other fintech companies, Aspiration is not actually a bank. But it works with partner banks and offers the equivalents of checking and savings accounts.

Aspiration calls itself a company that deals in “clean money.” It criticizes America’s four biggest banks. (Money expert Clark Howard also dislikes the big banks but for different reasons).

Aspiration criticizes those banks for lending “more than $210 billion of their customers’ money to fossil fuel projects” every year.

The company launched the Aspiration Redwood Fund in 2015, a mutual fund that avoids investing in companies involved in alcohol, tobacco, weapons manufacturing, gambling and oil, among other things.

Aspiration pledges to donate 10% of its profits to environmental and social charities.


All of the company’s products are loaded with features that embrace environmental issues, which I’ll discuss further in the rest of this article.

Aspiration Plus: Cost & Benefits

If you want to go all in with Aspiration, look into the premium Aspiration Plus subscription.

At a cost of $71.88 billed annually or $7.99 monthly ($95.88), Aspiration Plus offers you a nice collection of benefits:

  • Up to 5% APY on your first $10,000 in savings (more on the specific terms later)
  • Up to 10% cash back when you use an Aspiration debit card to make purchases at 36 “Conscience Coalition” brands including Warby Parker, Blue Apron and Allbirds
  • Planet Protection, which offsets your gas purchases with carbon credits to neutralize your environmental impact
  • A debit card made of recycled plastic from the ocean*
  • Option to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and allow Aspiration to plant trees with your change*
  • $1,000 in free identity fraud expense reimbursement*

*These are not unique to Aspiration Plus.

The benefits sound great. And they can be. But depending on how much money you have in your savings account and how much money you spend at companies included in Aspiration’s Conscience Coalition, you may net a few hundred dollars a year after paying the subscription fee.

Aspiration can outpace a lot of the best online savings accounts and cash-back credit cards … within some pretty specific limitations. It’s much more attractive if it aligns with your values — specifically protecting the environment.

(As a side note, the identity theft reimbursement is a nice offer, but Clark has a better suggestion: Freeze your credit.)

Aspiration Spend: A Checking Account Equivalent

Aspiration resembles an online bank.

There are no physical branches. To open an account, you need a minimum deposit of $10. You can fund your account via your balance at another bank or through a payment app such as Venmo.

In a unique touch, you get to decide your own bank fees. You can choose $0 if you want and can change that amount at any time.


On the Aspiration app, you can even see your personal sustainability score on every purchase you make. In other words, Aspiration provides a score based on every company that you do business with and can help you compare options with sustainability practices in mind.

You receive a free set of checks and free access to 55,000+ ATMs (via the Allpoint network). You can also get paid up to two days in advance if you set up direct deposit through your employer.

Your debit card won’t allow you to make transactions in certain foreign countries.

As Aspiration emphasizes, it won’t take any of your deposits and invest them in oil companies.

Aspiration Save: A Savings Account Equivalent

Can you earn 5% interest on your savings through Aspiration? Yes.

Your dollars are FDIC-insured through Aspiration’s partner banks, even though it doesn’t have its own bank charter.

You also need to spend at least $1,000 a month via your Aspiration debit card in order to earn more than 0.25% APY on any of your balance, even if you pay for Aspiration Plus.

And the top interest rates — 3% for Aspiration, 5% for Aspiration Plus — apply only to your first $10,000 in savings.

Here’s a chart that may make those terms a bit easier to understand:

Other restrictions may apply. APY is subject to change and is variable.

Most people should work toward establishing an emergency fund that holds more than $10,000. That’s in addition to saving for vacations, a car, a college education or a down payment on a house, among other things.


Clark encourages people to use different banks for checking and savings. So if you want to get the 3 to 5% APY, even on $10,000 or less, and support Aspiration’s causes, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just know that you won’t earn much interest unless you spend at least $1,000 a month via your Aspiration debit card and unless you limit your balance to $10,000 or less.

Other Aspiration Products

Aspiration Credit Card

The Aspiration credit card comes with a $60 annual fee.

It does offer up to 1% cash back on purchases as well as a sign-up bonus of $300 if you spend a qualifying $3,000 in a certain time frame.

Aspiration says it plants a tree every time you spend from your credit card. It gives you the option to round up to the nearest dollar and plant an additional tree with every purchase.

The website touts exclusive offers on food delivery, a carbon-neutral tracker and a credit card made mostly from corn.

Aspiration Investment Fund

Now seven years old, this is one of the oldest and most established ESG funds.

ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance investing. All the investments in ESG funds must adhere to strict standards for environmental impact (pollution, waste, emissions), social behavior (donating to charity, treating employees well) and governance (diversified leadership, transparency).

Final Thoughts

If you care about your impact on the environment and want your checking and savings to go through a company that shares your values, Aspiration is a great choice.

Aside from those values, Aspiration is a restrictive and niche option for savings.


In order to get 5% interest, which is significantly better than the best high-yield savings accounts, you have to spend at least $1,000 a month with your debit card, pay a $72 annual fee and limit the amount in your savings to $10,000.