While Wells Fargo was creating millions of fraudulent bank accounts to collect falsified fees and boost its sales, another financial firm was creating a checking account with zero mandatory fees (including ATM fees) and a rarely seen 1.00% interest rate.
Aspiration is a financial firm offering banking and investing that was conceived as taking everything people don’t like about Wall Street and the big banks — and doing the opposite.
Instead of high and hidden fees, Aspiration has a voluntary “pay-what-is-fair” fee structure, meaning you pay zero or can choose to “tip” whatever amount you deem appropriate.
Rather than primarily serving the very rich, Aspiration puts elite financial tools — traditionally available only to the wealthy — back into the hands of ordinary Americans.
And in contrast to the more than $60 million big banks spend on lobbying that’s often against the interests of consumers, Aspiration donates 10% of its revenue to charities providing microloans to Americans struggling to build a better life.
Leading the team at Aspiration is its CEO, Andrei Cherny who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House at age 21, served as a financial fraud prosecutor, and went on to join with Elizabeth Warren in the fight to launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
In many respects, Aspiration can be seen as taking Warren’s ideas for a more consumer-focused banking system and bringing them to life. For instance, Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account, offers 1.00% interest paid to you on your deposits (a minimum of $2,500 is needed to get the full 1.00%, but all accounts get at least 0.25%), unlimited fully reimbursed ATM fees worldwide, no hidden fees, no monthly service fees, $10 to open, and they are FDIC-insured.
Compare this to Wells Fargo’s Everyday Checking Account, which offers no interest or ATM reimbursement while charging monthly service fees of up to $10. Though Wells Fargo does have some interest-earning checking accounts, the rates are 20 to 100 times lower than what Aspiration offers with monthly service fees of up to $30.
“It’s no surprise that American families are fed up with their financial institutions. Big banks pay basically zero interest on checking accounts while often charging unconscionable and hidden fees. Middle-class families deserve to have access to a personal bank account that puts the customer first,” said Cherny. “We founded Aspiration on the belief that profits matter, but that people do, too. That’s why our new Aspiration Summit Account puts the trust back in the hands of the customer by letting them choose how much we earn.”
So, what do you need to get started with an Aspiration Summit Checking Account? It’s simple. You need $10 to start the account. You need online access, as Aspiration does not have a brick-and-mortar presence, and you need to have a checking account established elsewhere to transfer your minimum $10 over to your Aspiration account. Simply go to aspiration.com/summit and click on the Secure Your Spot button at the top of the page. Aspiration will respond with an invitation and simple set-up instructions within a few days. The Summit Checking account also has a mobile app which allows account holders to check their balance and deposit checks from their phone.
If charitable giving, high yields on interest, and a pay-what-you-want fee model aren’t enough to get you on board, check out the accolades that are already pouring in for the Summit Checking Account and Aspiration. Summit was named “Best Checking Account in America” by Money Magazine (2015–2016), and Aspiration has landed three times on Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in the World” list: number four in Finance, number three in Social Good, and number 43 in overall most innovative.
If you’re wondering how the optional fee structure is faring, 90 percent of investment account holders choose to pay a fee. This kind of response and Aspiration’s thousands of customers in under two years of operation, are evidence that the company is hitting a nerve with customers dissatisfied with and distrustful of America’s big financial institutions.
Along with the Summit Checking Account, Aspiration offers investment products including its sustainable investment strategy. Launched in late 2015, this strategy is 100-percent fossil fuel free, 100-percent firearms free, 100-percent free of defense manufacturers, and 100-percent palm oil free. It focuses strongly on innovative companies that are forward-thinking, socially conscious, and doing good in society. Recently, the Sierra Club partnered with Aspiration to help more Americans divest from big oil and invest in this kind of sustainable strategy.
Aspiration’s first investment strategy was built to help its customer’s protect themselves against the roller coaster of the stock market. At a time when Americans are fighting for social justice and to keep their money out of the hands of untrustworthy big banks, Aspiration offers an alternative to the same old banking story. There are myriad choices when it comes to your bank accounts and investments, but many of these options are reserved for the wealthiest Americans or cost hundreds a year in fees. At Aspiration, building wealth and investing wisely are not tantamount to a loss of conscience and a bending of progressive values.
Join Aspiration today and do well while doing good.
This story is brought to you by our sponsor, Aspiration Partners.