New Resource Bank vs. Aspiration

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Photo by Jay Mantri on Unsplash

 

If you’re looking for a socially responsible bank, New Resource Bank and Aspiration are two options that you can’t ignore.

Both are certified B Corporations with strong reputations for ethical banking. They provide their customers with transparent financial records and refrain from investments in environmentally-destructive industries such as fossil fuels. 

They’re both also popular among eco-conscious consumers. If you’re not sure which bank to go with, we’re here to help. In this guide below, we compare the pros and cons of New Resource Bank and Aspiration. 

New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank opened in 2006 in San Francisco to serve the needs of sustainable businesses and eco-friendly enterprises. They provided loans and financial advice to small renewable energy companies and organic farms that had been ignored by larger, traditional banks. 

In 2016, they expanded to Boulder, Colorado to help green entrepreneurs there. Then in March 2018, they completed a merger with Amalgamated Bank, becoming one of the largest socially responsible banks in the U.S.

New Resource Bank offers a variety of financial products and services from personal bank accounts to mortgage loans to commercial checking accounts. They also offer eco-friendly investments in a fossil-fuel-free portfolio.

Pros

Serves business and individual customers

New Resource Bank offers products and services that meet the needs of all customers. Nonprofits, labor unions, small business owners, private individuals, and even presidential campaigns have banked with New Resource Bank. 

Their commitment to establishing trust with their clients has earned them the respect of many experts in the financial sector. They are also well-known for protecting their customers’ money by following financial regulations

Wide involvement in social causes

New Resource Bank takes social responsibility very seriously. 

They partner with organizations working on LGBTQ+ rights, gun policy, immigrant rights, climate change, and reproductive rights to help communities make positive social advancements.  

They invest in companies that promote diversity and inclusivity and focus their banking services in underserved communities. 

Fossil-fuel free investment portfolio

New Resource Bank also manages a fossil-fuel-free investment portfolio that’s screened to make sure all of the firms meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. 

For ethical investors looking for sustainable investments, this is an option worth looking into. The portfolio includes environmentally responsible companies such as renewable energy firms, sustainable farms, and greenhouse gas mitigation firms. 

Cons

High fees

Although New Resource Bank engages in a lot of social equity initiatives, its financial products and services are a bit on the pricier side of things.

They charge high fees for transactions, particularly wire transfers. An outgoing wire transfer costs $33 while an incoming transfer comes to about $15 per transaction. 

Transactions and inquiries at non-Amalgamated Bank and Allpoint ATMs will cost you $2.50, and overdraft fees start at $34.

Low APY

You’re also unlikely to get a good APY on your savings deposits with New Resource Bank. 

An online savings account with them will only give you 0.40% APY for the first 6 months. After that, the APY rate is subject to change at their discretion. 

Their convenience savings is not much better. Although there’s no minimum balance required to earn interest, they only give 0.01% APY for $99 and below, and 0.05% for balances above $99. 99+ gets 0.05% 

When compared to other online savings accounts that offer APYs starting at 0.50%, New Resource Bank’s APY can be considered low.

No international wires on consumer accounts

New Resource Bank removed their international wiring services on November 13, 2020.

For customers who want to make international wires using their checking or savings accounts, this comes as bad news. Domestic wires can still be made but only at branches and via online banking.

Aspiration

Aspiration is an environmentally-friendly neobank that helps customers green the planet each time they purchase something. 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 the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. They publish their business records online for their customers and refrain from lending to harmful industries such as fossil fuels. 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.

Pros

High savings APY

Aspiration’s 1.00% savings APY is one of the highest in the banking sector. 

Available to customers enrolled in their Aspiration Plus program, the high APY is given to account balances that have up to $10,000 in any calendar month. Customers will also need to spend $1,000 or more per month using their Aspiration debit card to be eligible for this perk. 

Customers can buy carbon offsets easily

Customers who bank with Aspiration can set their accounts to automatically buy carbon offsets each time they shop. It’s a great add-on for eco-conscious consumers who want to shop ethically. 

Their Plant Your Change program rounds up each transaction that customers make to the nearest whole dollar and uses the spare change to plant trees. Aspiration’s goal is to plant 100 million new trees to remove millions of pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. 

In the same vein, their Planet Protection program helps customers drive their cars without hurting the planet. Every time a gallon of gas is purchased, Aspiration automatically buys carbon offsets on behalf of the customer to neutralize the climate impact. 

Supports sustainable businesses

In addition to automated carbon offsets, Aspiration also offers unique services that help customers support sustainable businesses.

Their mobile banking app has a built-in sustainability tracker that shows customers the environmental and social impact of the businesses they’ve shopped at. Whenever customers shop at one of Aspiration’s Conscience Coalition partners – sustainable businesses that have been verified to do good for the planet – they receive 10% cashback rewards.    

Aspiration also offers customers the opportunity to invest in profitable, sustainable businesses through their fossil-fuel-free Redwood mutual fund

Cons

No physical branches

Although Aspiration has a whole host of innovative financial products and services, they, unfortunately, do not have any physical branches.

Aspiration is online only and provides customer support through phone calls and requests submitted via their website. This might be a drawback for customers who want to speak to customer representatives face-to-face to resolve issues or discuss account details.  

Does not offer loans

Aspiration does not yet offer loans to personal banking or business customers. 

They only have $5,000 microloans that they give out via their Aspiration Opportunity Fund to struggling Americans who want to start small businesses. The microloans are delivered in partnership with Accion U.S. Network to help entrepreneurs receive the mentoring and financial support they need. 

No direct cash deposits

Customers cannot yet make direct cash deposits via ATMs into their Aspiration accounts. 

They have to deposit the cash first into an external account, and then transfer it to their Aspiration account. It’s a process that could be time-consuming for some customers. 

Which should you go with?

Both New Resource Bank and Aspiration are reputable ethical banks that care about the environment and the communities they serve. They invest in sustainable companies and donate generously to social causes.

Here’s how we decided which bank was the better of the two. 

Aspiration has lower fees

Of the two banks, Aspiration has lower fees and account deposit requirements than New Resource Bank. 

Customers need to only put down a $10 deposit to open a high-yield savings account with Aspiration, whereas with New Resource, they have to deposit at least $100. 

When it came to banking fees, Aspiration’s fees were just a fraction of New Resource’s. Aspiration’s outgoing domestic wiring fees cost $0.82 while New Resource charged $33. 

New Resource Bank is involved in more causes and businesses

New Resource Bank is much more vocal about social equity issues than Aspiration. 

They’ve donated money, initiated advocacy campaigns, and established programs to support a wide range of issues, ranging from gun control to immigrant rights. It’s in their DNA to fight for socially progressive causes.

Aspiration is also socially active, but mostly on environmental, health, and social equity issues outside the U.S. 

Aspiration offers better personal banking services

But when it comes to personal banking, Aspiration has more of an advantage. They offer a higher savings APY which goes up to 1.00%, while New Resource Bank can only provide an APY of 0.40%. This APY is unfortunately only valid for the first 6 months after a new account is opened.

Also, with Aspiration, customers can automatically offset their carbon emissions via the Plant Your Change and Planet Protection programs. They don’t have to go to a third-party or a nonprofit, they can just do it via the Aspiration mobile app. 

Our verdict: Aspiration

Aspiration may not be involved in as many social causes as New Resource Bank but their personal savings account offers more benefits and rates than New Resource. They make environmentally-friendly banking easy through their mobile app. And their high APY allows customers the opportunity to grow their wealth at a faster rate.

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

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