When we look for banks that will enable our shopping adventures, we always have some standards in mind. Discounts, perks, and deals are among the things we consider when we pick a debit card.
What about, say, environmental impact?
Climate change might not seem relevant to your banking and shopping exploits. In reality, though, the fate of the environment is intertwined with your banking decisions, whether you choose to believe it or not.
This is the cause that Aspiration invites you to advocate for. This financial firm (not technically a bank, mind you) is keeping a close eye on the steadily worsening climate crisis. In its own way, Aspiration does its part to help. By harnessing its financial resources for initiatives that benefit the environment, the company slowly but surely brings back some green to our lovely planet.
Sounds like a great place to get your next debit card from, yes?
Andrei Cherny, the CEO of Aspiration, is the child of immigrants from Czechoslovakia. He had to live off food stamps during his formative years in North Hollywood. Due to the circumstances of his childhood, Cherny realized the need for financial services that level the playing field for those with meager incomes. With this vision in mind, Cherny and Joe Sanberg launched Aspiration in 2013.
Aside from positioning itself as a more customer-friendly investment manager, the company has pursued its advocacy right from the get-go. Aspiration presented customers with the option to channel their money into a single mutual fund that exclusively invests in socially responsible companies.
Those would be companies that do right by Mother Nature and uphold high standards of people management. Aspiration has also pledged to not pump its customer deposits and fees into companies that execute oil drilling and pipeline projects. Gutsy, huh?
In 2017, Aspiration was fixing to achieve its revenue target of a million dollars. By 2021, it had raised around $250 million from A-list investors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and the Footprint Coalition run by Robert Downey Jr. (We always knew Iron Man would save the planet!)
It’s safe to say then that Aspiration will continue to, well, aspire for more Earthlings to support its advocacy in the years to come. Here’s how you can get involved in this action.
The advantages of opening an Aspiration account
For starters, Aspiration doesn’t offer a typical savings or checking account. (It’s not a regular bank, remember?) Instead, it provides customers with a CMA (cash management account) for their various transactions.
The basic CMA is called Aspiration Spend & Save. Adhering to the company’s “Pay What is Fair” policy, a Spend & Save account allows the customer to set their monthly fee to…well, nothing. Sounds fair, right?
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At the same time, Spend & Save accounts can produce as much as a 3% annual percentage yield (APY). This number goes up to 5% if you avail yourself of a higher-tier account called Aspiration Plus (though this APY is applicable for the first $10,000 of your balance). Whether you have a Spend & Save account or an Aspiration Plus account, you have the potential to earn a higher yield compared to what traditional banks offer.
Here’s another way that you can get money with next to no effort at all. If you purchase products from members of a group called the Conscience Coalition, you’ll get anywhere between 3% and 10% cashback. In other words, Aspiration is giving you an incentive to financially support companies that are doing their part for the environment. These companies include TOMS, Tony’s Chocolonely, Blue Apron, Zero Waste Store, and Warby Parker.
Oh, and if you happen to have spare change from a particular transaction, Aspiration will help you put it to good use. Through the Plant Your Change initiative the company launched in 2020, customers can fund the planting of a tree by rounding up debit or credit card purchases to the nearest dollar. To date, Aspiration has planted trees not only in the United States but also in Kenya, Brazil, and other locations in Africa and Central America.
Apparently, financial perks and planet-saving efforts don’t have to be at odds. By opting for an Aspiration account, you can work on both without breaking a sweat. To get started with Aspiration, click here.