First Trade Union Bank vs. Aspiration

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First Trade Union Bank and Aspiration Bank are two of America’s leading online banks. Known for their community-oriented culture and innovative personal banking products, the two banks enjoy strong support from a wide base of customers. 

If you’re looking for advice on which bank to go with, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this handy guide below that looks at the pros and cons of First Trade Union Bank and Aspiration Bank. 

Read on to find out more. 

First Trade Union Bank

First Trade Union Bank was founded in 1987 and has since served as the community bank of choice for many consumers, business owners, not-for-profit organizations, and union organizations and their members. 

In 2014, they changed their name to Radius Bank as part of a major repositioning strategy to offer a wider variety of online products and services. Radius has received several accolades from industry experts for their innovative banking services, including the Best Online Bank of 2020 Award from Bankrate.

Here’s a look at what makes Radius Bank a leading contender among online banks.

Pros

No monthly maintenance fee

First Trade Union Bank does not charge any monthly maintenance fees for their high-yield savings and personal checking accounts, which means that customers won’t have to worry about seeing their savings deposits decrease every month.

For business customers, the $10 a month maintenance fee is waived if you have a minimum balance of $5,000 in your tailored checking account each month. 

Marketplace services to help manage money and life 

First Trade Union Bank offers a range of innovative fintech services to help customers manage and grow their money. Through their Marketplace, customers can find additional services from partnering companies such as Goalkeeper, Billshark, and Credible. 

Goalkeeper, for example, helps you set financial goals and track your saving and spending so you always know where you are on your money-saving journey. Billshark is a bill-negotiating service that can help you negotiate lower monthly utility bills while Credible provides you with access to prequalified rates for personal loans and student loans. 

Get paid up to 2 days early

Customers also have the option to get paid up to 2 days early with First Trade Union Bank. 

Through their early direct deposit program, customers can receive their salaries as soon as their employer submits their payroll documents to the Federal Reserve, which can be as early as Wednesday on pay week. 

The availability of this program does, of course, depend on the support and funding of the customer’s employer. 

Cons

High minimum opening deposit

Although First Trade Union does not collect monthly maintenance fees, opening a high-yield savings account with them requires you to deposit a minimum of $100.

It’s an amount that’s higher than what most other online banks require. Most other online banks request deposits of $5 to $25 for savings accounts. Some don’t even need you to put in a deposit to open a savings account. 

Savings interest not highest among online banks

In addition to the rather high deposit for opening a savings account, the APY offered is not as good as what other online banks give.

You can only get up to 0.25% APY on balances of $25,000 and up. For balances between $2,500 and $24,999.999, you receive 0.15% on interest. It’s considerably lower than what other online banks offer – their high-yield savings account APYs start at 0.50% and can go up to 1.00%.  

No physical branches

Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into one of First Trade Union Bank’s branches to make a deposit or cash a check like you would with other banks. First Trade Union does not have any brick and mortar branches as it’s an online-only bank.

Everything money-related has to be done via their website or mobile app. They do have a cashless branch and a financial center in Boston that you can visit to speak to customer representatives. 

Aspiration 

Aspiration is a sustainable neobank that has been helping customers bank ethically since 2013. Their mission is to bring the best financial solutions to everyone, not just the wealthy few. 

They are a certified B Corporation bank that’s committed to public transparency and accountability. As part of its pledge to “do good”, Aspiration holds itself legally accountable to the highest standards of social and environmental purpose. They were awarded the B Corporation Best for the World Honor in 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

In June 2019, Aspiration reached a respectable 1.5 million customers.

Here are the reasons that make Aspiration popular with customers. 

Pros 

Only $10 minimum balance to open an account

To open a high-yield savings account, you only need to put in a minimum deposit of $10.

The low deposit fee is part of Aspiration’s commitment to only charge fees at fair rates. They go even further by letting customers pay however much they want for monthly account maintenance fees, based on what customers think is fair for the service that they’re receiving. 

It can even be as low as $0 per month.

High-interest rates at 1.00% APY

Aspiration’s high-yield savings account offers up to 1.00% APY; one of the highest in America. 

To be eligible for this interest rate, customers must be enrolled in Aspiration Plus, have a balance up that’s not over $10,000.00 in any calendar month, and spend $1,000 or more monthly with their Aspiration debit card. 

Sustainability 

True to its B Corporation roots, Aspiration integrates sustainability principles into each of its products and services. They do not invest any money in fossil fuels, weapons manufacturing, private prisons, or any industry that harms human and animal lives. 

Instead, they have programs that allow customers to automatically offset their carbon emissions with each transaction they make. Aspiration’s Plant Your Change program helps customers plant trees by rounding up each of their transactions to the nearest dollar and using the spare change for planting. 

Cons

No loans

One of the downsides to banking with Aspiration is that they do not offer any personal or business loans to customers.

They only have microloans that they give out via their Aspiration Opportunity Fund to struggling Americans who want to start small businesses. The microloans are $5,000 in value and are delivered together with mentoring programs and business support. 

No business accounts

Aspiration does not yet have business accounts for commercial lending and saving. 

That means that if you’re looking to open an interest-bearing account for your business, Aspiration won’t be able to meet your needs, unfortunately.  

In-person banking unavailable

Like most online-only banks, Aspiration does not have physical branches that you can visit.

They do, however, have helpful customer representatives that will help you with any query or problem you have. Their customer service can be reached via phone seven days a week or through a request submission that can be made on their website. 

Which should you go with? 

Aspiration and First Trade Union are two of the best options out there for personal banking. Both are FDIC insured for deposits up to $250,000 so rest assured that your money is safe. Their apps and websites are easy to use and accessible 24/7.

We compared the two banks and this is what we found.

Aspiration is easier to set up

When we looked at the account registration process, we found that high-yield savings account with Aspiration was easier to set up than First Trade Union’s.

You need to deposit just $10 into an Aspiration savings account to get started – a tiny fraction of First Trade Union’s minimum $100 deposit requirement. Aspiration also offers a much higher APY, going as high as 1.00%, while First Trade Union caps their savings interest rates at 0.25%.

Both banks don’t charge monthly maintenance fees, which is great because you don’t want to be losing money on your savings each month. But if you’re looking to make some transactions, Aspiration has cheaper wiring and transaction fees than First Trade Union.  

First Trade Union offers business accounts

Granted, First Trade Union offers business accounts and loans that Aspiration currently doesn’t.  

Their tailored checking account provides 0.10% APY on balances of $5,000 and up as well as 1.00% cashback on debit card purchases. They also have lending options for commercial real estate, small businesses, and equipment purchases. 

Aspiration investing heavily in sustainability

But when it comes to sustainability, Aspiration is the winner hands-down. As a certified B Corporation, Aspiration commits to the ethical management of all their customers’ money.

Aspiration publishes transparent reports of their business practices, refrains from lending to fossil fuel companies, and gives back a portion of their earnings to struggling families. They also help customers fight climate change by providing options for them to buy carbon offsets automatically. 

First Trade Union unfortunately does not yet commit to any of these principles.    

Our verdict: Aspiration

Between the two banks, Aspiration has a higher savings interest rate, better accessibility, and a stronger commitment to sustainable practices. They’re a bank that puts customers ahead of profits, which is rare in an industry that believes that “greed is good”.  

Try Aspiration today and make your money work for you and the planet. 

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