Shopping around for a good digital bank that will free you of fees? I have two that you might be interested in – Chime and Aspiration, and in this direct comparison, we’re looking at how they are similar and different from each other. But first, here’s my short verdict:
Aspiration is a better digital bank than Chime due to its commitment to sustainability, higher savings interest rates, cashback, and nine times higher FDIC insurance of deposited funds. You will have to pay $7.99/m to avail of all the features Aspiration proclaims, though.
If you’re not ready to get another monthly subscription, Aspiration offers a free account, just like Chime.
Pros & Cons
|No minimum balance requirement||Plant trees by swiping your card|
|No monthly fees||Get up to 5% APY on your savings with Aspiration Plus|
|2.00% APY||Get paid two days early|
|No foreign transaction fees||Offset your carbon footprint when buying fuel|
|Mobile check deposits||No minimum balance|
|Paycheck up to 2-days early||55,000+ fee-free ATMs|
|No big bank fees|
|No money given to fossil fuel projects|
|Limited services||Aspiration Plus has a monthly fee|
|Limited cash deposit locations||Most marketed features are on the Plus plan|
|$10 opening fee|
|Must spend $1,000 minimum monthly on a debit card to earn the APY|
|Transfer limits in the first 30 days|
|Limit of $1,000 for incoming transfers|
|Doesn’t accept foreign checks|
Why You Should Choose Chime
If you open an account with Chime, the bank doesn’t charge monthly, minimum, or overdraft charges.
They also don’t charge international transactions and ATM withdrawals as long as it’s within their network. Unlike Aspiration, you won’t need to pay an activation fee once you open an account.
High Yield Savings Account
Chime bank gives all its customers a high yield at 2.00% APY. This rate is higher than most traditional banks.
On the App Store, Chime mobile app has a high customer rating of 4.8/5 and a 4.6/5 on Google Play. Based on these reviews by customers already using the app it’s a clear indication that the app functions exceptionally well.
Through the app, you can access all the Chime banking services online. You can monitor your daily transactions, savings, and account balances.
Why You Should Choose Aspiration
High APY %
As a member of Aspiration Plus, customers can earn up to 5.00% APY. This is a great yield on a savings account and a much higher rate than other financial institutions. The basic account also offers up to 3.00%.
Cash Back Rewards
With the Spend & Save account, customers get cashback on some purchases. If you sign up to Aspiration Plus, you can earn as much as 10% cashback, while Pay What Is Fair members get 5% back when they purchase products from merchants that are part of the Conscience Coalition.
Aspiration is focused on saving the planet. They tailor their rewards around these products. They automatically offset the carbon dioxide from every gallon of gas you purchase using Aspiration Plus.
The Planet Protection feature adds up all the gas purchases to help counter climate change. Therefore, you can build your finances as you take care of the environment.
There is another side to this. If you want to read a different take on Aspiration’s promise to help the environment, read the ProPublica article.
Chime’s headquarters are in San Francisco, California and the Bancorp Bank issues its cards and offers FDIC insurance for deposits up to $250,000.
The company itself doesn’t have a banking license and had to partner with other banks to develop competitive and low-cost financial products that aren’t available in traditional banks.
Chime’s financial products were developed with millennials and young adults in mind. The two founders created an innovative approach to banking for the population struggling to establish a banking relationship.
Their business model doesn’t rely on overdrafts, minimum balances, monthly maintenance, or other consumer fees. Chime is more focused on the consumer’s best interest.
As part of its growth strategy and focus on young adults, Chime acquired Pinch in 2018. This move was critical for this younger generation, especially in helping them improve their credit scores by making timely rent payments to credit institutions.
By 2022, the fintech company had total funding of $2.3 billion and more than 14 million client accounts.
Aspiration was founded in 2013 by Joseph Sanberg and Andrei Cherny but began with operations in 2015. This fintech company is headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, and, like many other digital banks, offers investment products and branchless banking services.
Aspiration stands out from other financial institutions because of its focus on socially and environmentally conscious operations. They reward and support businesses that take care of the planet and don’t use client funds to finance fossil fuel projects.
Because Aspiration is not a bank, their deposits are held by partner banks. Furthermore, the debit card is issued by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, while the Aspiration Zero Mastercard is issued by Beneficial State Bank, Member FDIC.
Unlike other banks, the deposits are FDIC-insured for up to $2,250,000 per depositor!
READ ALSO: Aspiration Vs. Ally Bank (Easy Checklist)
How to Open a Chime Account
As is the case with most digital banks nowadays, there are no documents that you’ll need to submit. All you’ll have to do is enter your full name, email, address, password, and SSN. These personal details will be used to open an account and to quickly verify your identity.
Additionally, there are no credit rating checks, however, you have to be a United States citizen and be at least 18 years old to open a Chime account.
How to Open an Aspiration Account
Signing up for an Aspiration account is equally as straightforward. You’ll need to provide your email address and set up a password. Once your account is active, the company provides you with a virtual card to use for your transactions as they mail a physical card.
Before you open an account with Aspiration, you need to decide whether you want a basic account or a premium one, known as Aspiration Plus. The basic one allows the customer to pay a low fee starting from $0, while the premium one costs $7.99/month.
However, whichever account you choose, you will have to deposit at least $10.
|No monthly or annual fees||No monthly or annual fees for basic account||$7.99/m fee|
|No minimum balance||$10 minimum opening deposit||$10 minimum opening deposit|
|Free to open an account||Free to open an account|
|No fee for using debit card||No fee for using debit card||No fee for using debit card|
|60,000+ fee-free ATMs||55,000+ fee-free ATMs||55,000+ fee-free ATMs|
|$2.50 out-of-network ATM fee||Third-party ATM fees apply||One out-of-network withdrawal reimbursed per month|
Both apps are very good regarding fees and other costs. However, you will have to get the Aspiration Plus account ($7.99/m) to get all the features you see in the marketing material, such as:
- Early payday
- Option to plant a tree with every card swipe
- Personal impact score
- One out-of-network ATM reimbursement monthly
- Purchase Assurance
- 10% cashback
- Deposits won’t fund fossil fuel exploration or production
As you can see in the screenshot above, the basic Aspiration account isn’t “green” at all. They really did make a weird choice to put sustainability behind a paywall.
On the other hand, Chime doesn’t make any claims to be environmentally friendly and only has one account type to boot.
Accounts & Cards
Chime has a checking account that comes with a free Visa debit card that you can use anywhere Visa is accepted, including outside the US. The account has no monthly fees, no foreign transaction fees, no overdrafts, and no minimum balance.
If you have a poor credit score, the Chime Credit Builder credit card will help you improve it. Unlike traditional secured credit cards, it doesn’t have interest, no annual fees, or credit checks during application. Once you pay your monthly balance on time, Chime reports to the major credit bureaus.
There’s also a high-yield savings account with 2.00% APY without limitations on the interest you earn as long as the account has funds.
Aspiration Spend & Save basic plan (or Pay What Is Fair), is a free account, if you want it to be. Basically, you choose your own fee based on what you think the app and the company deserve
This account offers 3-5% cash back on purchases at socially conscious companies. To motivate customers to pay more for their services, Aspiration gives a small incentive by donating 10 cents of every $1 paid in fees to charities.
You can also save money with an APY of 3.00% with a minimum spend of $1000 per month.
Aspiration Plus is a premium account for Aspiration customers. Once you choose this alternative, you need to factor in the charges of $7.99 per month.
The interest rate on the savings is set at 5.00% APY (with $1000/m spend), which is a high yield. Customers who also sign up with this enjoy 10% cash back on purchases at select companies that focus on planet protection.
Aspiration Zero is a credit card that rewards customers for erasing their carbon footprint. If you shop using this credit card, the bank uses the extra fees from the merchants to plant trees and doubles the customers’ cash-back rewards when they reach carbon zero.
It comes with an APR of 13.90%-23.70% and includes perks such as these:
- A tree is planted automatically with every swipe
- Option to plant an additional tree
- Exclusive offers on food deliveries
- Lets you track your progress towards carbon-neutral
- The card is made mostly from corn
However, you will need a “good” credit score to apply for the card.
Credibility & Security
Chime, like some other digital banks, has been targeted by hackers and scammers due to how easy it is to sign up for the service and how easy and fast you can use it. The company itself has also closed thousands of its clients’ accounts.
They were unfortunately caught in the crosshairs when the company tried to stop scammers and money launderers, as they should. That also meant that they couldn’t access their accounts and money (!) for many months.
Apart from that, Chime is known to employ all the industry-standard security features and seems to guarantee its systems and customer data are safe.
Aspiration doesn’t seem to have problems with scammers and hackers. It’s also FDIC insured for up to $2,250,000 per depositor.
However, ProPublica claims that Aspiration’s customer numbers are widely exaggerated and that the company is greenwashing and not actually doing all that it claims it’s doing for the environment.
Chime doesn’t have any investment options. On the other hand, if you have a permanent US address, a US SSN and are 18+, you can open an Aspiration investment account.
There are two investment account types:
- Taxable account
- Traditional IRA account
The Redwood Fund, helps you build your portfolio and be socially conscious at the same time. The fund only invests in companies with a business model sustainable for the environment.
Redwood Fund is managed by USB Asset Management, one of the largest asset managers in the world, on the behalf of Aspiration.
The Redwood IRA, like a traditional IRA, focuses on investing in sustainable companies while removing taxes upfront.
As already mentioned, Chime offers savings accounts with an APY of 2.00%, with interest paid out monthly.
You can open it when registering or at any later date. Regardless, if you choose to close it, you won’t be able to re-open it for three months (per federal law).
There are two methods of depositing money into the savings account:
- Transfer money from your Chime checking account
- Have 10% of your direct deposits transferred
What’s more, you can also easily save your change when you spend by rounding up your transactions to the nearest dollar. In that case, if your purchase was $19.50, Chime will deduct $20 from your account and deposit 50 cents into your savings account.
Aspiration calls its accounts “Spend and Save” accounts. However, they are technically separated.
Aspiration Save acts like a regular savings account, only with slightly different characteristics.
For instance, you can’t make a deposit directly to the savings account. You can, however, transfer money between your Aspiration Spend and Save accounts.
There can be up to 50 transfers a day between the two, and all transfers are instant.
Aspiration Save accounts can earn up to 5% APY per month on the first $10,000 as long as you spend $1,000 or more with your Aspiration debit card that month.
In the case you don’t meet the spending requirement, the APY for that month will be 0.25% on the first $10,000 and 0.10% on any funds over that amount.
Chime has a 3.2-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 74% of 8,115 reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 13% a poor one. With this score, Chime is placed better than traditional banks like Bank of America (1.4), Chase (1.3), Capital One (1.2), and Wells Fargo (1.2) but worse than the likes of MoneyLion (4.7), Current (3.8), or Varo (3.8).
Aspiration has a good score of 4.3 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 70% of 1,167 reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 23% a poor one. With this score, Aspiration is also placed better than traditional banks.
Chime and Aspiration are both good options if you’re looking for a digital bank with many features and excellent savings interest rates. If you are looking for a completely online, low-cost, and convenient bank, Chime is a good option.
Aspiration, on the other side, is a good alternative if you prefer an ethical bank that supports sustainable causes.