The checking account that puts customers, not greed, first

Sick and tired of Big Banks that hit their customers with outrageous and unnecessary fees and then turn around and use that money to lobby Washington for the ability to keep right on doing more of the same?

If the answer is yes, there’s various actions you can take. You can wring your hands. You can complain to your friends. You can sign a petition. You can send the banks a letter.

Or you can hit the Big Banks where it hurts while putting potentially hundreds of more dollars a year in your pocket. (Click here to see how much)

Every year, Money magazine surveys the “Best Banks in America.” The winners are usually a list of the usual suspects. But this year, there was a new name: the Aspiration Summit Account was named “Best Checking Account in America” for 2015-16.

In one sense, this is not surprising. The Aspiration Summit Account offers an interest rate that is up to 100 times higher than that offered by any of the big bank checking accounts with no monthly service fee and free access to every ATM in the world.

But the question is: How did a checking account offered by a new financial firm like Aspiration muscle its way into the top of the field?

The answer starts with how the Big Banks do business.

The problem with “too big to fail” banks is that they oftentimes see individual customers as too small to matter.

Too many large financial companies consider their customers not from the standpoint of what they can do for them, but what they can get away with.

They get away with a lot. The average bank customer paying a monthly fee on their checking account will be charged $183 a year while making almost nothing in interest. And, on top of that, they will be charged $194 in out-of-network ATM fees.

But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be this way.

In 2014, banks charged Americans $34.1 billion in often outrageous fees. Yet, that same year U.S. banks made $152.7 billion in profit.

That means they could stop charging every one of these fees tomorrow and still be one of the most profitable industries in America.

So what do the big banks do with that $34.1 billion in fees? They take about $100 million of it and spend it on lobbying and campaign contributions to, among other things, try to stop efforts to rein in – you guessed it – shocking bank fees. See how this works?

There’s a better option. Aspiration was founded with a very different DNA and some basic questions: What if there was a financial firm with a conscience? That believed that profits are important, but people are too. That was built around its customers and responsive to them. That was founded with a mission of expanding economic opportunity for all – and not just the wealthiest few.

As The Huffington Post wrote this year, Aspiration is “channeling Elizabeth Warren to change the face of banking.”

How does the Aspiration Summit checking account work?

  1. Aspiration can offer a super high interest rate with no monthly service fees and no ATM fees because that’s what it chooses to prioritize. There is no Aspiration corporate jet. The executive lunchroom is the vending machine downstairs or Chipotle across the street.

  2. The only money Aspiration makes from the Summit Account are the “tips” customers get to choose to pay. And the great majority of customers choose to pay because they are happy with the job Aspiration is doing for them. Imagine actually wanting to pay your bank because you’re so happy with what they do and how they act!

  3. And instead of turning around and spending that money lobbying against customers’ interests, Aspiration donates a dime of every dollar it’s paid to microloans helping Americans lift themselves out of poverty.

alt

So, sick and tired of Big Banks that gouge their customers and dominate Washington? Don’t send them a message. Send them a “Dear John.”

Sign up for an Aspiration Summit Account through this link, and start the process of leaving Wall Street behind and getting the checking account Money magazine just named “the best in America” for 2015.

Andrei Cherny