Betterment Checking Review: No ATM or Foreign Transaction Fees

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In this Betterment Checking account review, I’ll cover the account’s best features, what it’s missing, and help you decide if it’s the right account for your needs.

If you know and love Betterment for its low-cost robo-advisor service, you might be interested to know that Betterment offers a high-yield savings account and a new no-cost checking account, too.

While the Betterment Cash Reserve is a high-yield savings account perfect for growing your money, the Betterment Checking account is a free solution for your everyday spending. In this review, we’ll dive into the Checking account to find out if it’s right for you.

Fee-Free Checking — With Betterment Checking, you’ll never have to worry about fees again. You’ll get fee-free checking, including no ATM or foreign transaction fees, plus there is no minimum balance requirement. Get started here.

Betterment Checking at a GlanceBetterment is an investment platform that helps you automate the investing process and save significant amounts of money in fees. In this Betterment review, we'll explain what it is, explore how Betterment works, and help you decide whether it is a good fit for your retirement investing plans.

  • No fees — including no ATM or foreign transaction fees
  • No minimum balance
  • FDIC-insured up to $250,000
  • Tap-enabled debit card
  • Convenient mobile app

Betterment Checking: Pros and Cons

Betterment Checking: Best FeaturesBetterment Checking: Drawbacks
No monthly feesNo interest
Reimbursed ATM feesNo physical locations
Reimbursed 1% foreign transaction feeJoint accounts not available
FDIC-insured up to $250,000Overdraft not available
No minimum balance Can only have one Betterment Checking account
Tap-enabled debit cardCannot deposit cash or checks at ATM
Convenient mobile appNot compatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay

What Is Betterment?

Launched in 2010, Betterment LLC is an SEC-registered investment advisor best known for its robo-advisor services.

To be clear, Betterment is not a bank. In fact, none of its affiliates are banks, either. Betterment Financial LLC offers the Betterment Checking account in partnership with nbkc bank. Through this partnership, Betterment clients get a convenient, fee-free checking account with the security of FDIC insurance up to $250,000.

Betterment Checking Highlights

No Fees

The most attractive feature of Betterment Checking is that it doesn’t carry any fees. With no minimum balance required and no monthly fees or withdrawal fees, you can use the account as much as you like. Overdraft isn’t available, so that eliminates another fee.

Here’s where it gets really good: Betterment reimburses all ATM fees. That’s anywhere in the world, folks. The one caveat is that the ATM has to accept Visa, but that’s nearly all of them. And unlike with some banks, there’s no monthly cap on reimbursement.

Betterment also waives the 1% Visa foreign transaction fee with no cap. This is a great benefit for travelers or people who make frequent purchases in foreign currencies.

Peace of Mind With FDIC Insurance

Betterment Checking accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000, meaning account holders can rest easy knowing their money is safe. This is made possible through a partnership with nbkc bank.

Tap-Enabled Contactless Debit Card

While some free checking accounts are only available online, Betterment Checking includes a sleek Visa debit card with contactless tap technology. Conduct point-of-sale transactions or withdraw cash from any ATM, anytime.

Convenient Mobile App

Managing your Betterment Checking account is easy with the peppy mobile app. You can lock your card or change your PIN right from your phone — no phone call required.

Convenient Fee-Free Checking – Enjoy no fees and free ATM access anywhere in the world with Betterment Checking. Plus, you’ll have access to a tap-enabled contactless debit card and their convenient mobile app! Get started here.

How to Use a Betterment Checking Account

  • Deposit Your Paycheck — The Betterment Checking account can serve as a hub for your money. When you deposit your paycheck, you can conduct all your automated and ad-hoc transactions from your account.
  • Bills — Full disclosure: I personally prefer to pay my bills and make my everyday purchases with a credit card. That’s because I’m obsessed with credit card rewards. But if you’re less comfortable with credit cards, Betterment Checking is great for paying bills online. Better yet, automate your bills so they come out of your account every month. That way, you save yourself time and ensure you’re never late on a payment.
  • Day-to-Day Purchases — Betterment Checking comes with a Visa debit card you can use anywhere Visa is accepted, giving you purchasing power all over the world.
  • Withdraw Cash from an ATM — The coolest thing about Betterment Checking is that it reimburses all ATM fees. This sets it apart from other online banks that might reimburse ATM fees only up to a monthly cap. If you need access to cash, this is a huge benefit for you. Travelers will love this feature, since ATM withdrawals in foreign countries can be quite expensive.
  • Debit Purchases When Traveling — Because Betterment Checking also waives the 1% foreign transaction fee that Visa charges, you can use your Visa debit card freely when abroad without worrying about racking up fees.
  • Transfer to Other Accounts — You can transfer funds between your Betterment Checking account and another linked checking account. You can also use it to fund your Betterment Cash Reserve Account or your investment accounts.

Where the Betterment Checking Account Falls Short

No Overdraft

Betterment boasts that it doesn’t charge an overdraft fee, but that’s because overdraft isn’t an option. So, if that’s a feature you need in a checking account, this one isn’t for you.

I recommend designing a budget so you have a plan for covering expenses. A solid emergency fund will cover unexpected costs so you don’t need to rely on overdraft. Since overdraft usually carries a fee and high interest rates, it’s a better plan in the long run anyway.

No Interest

Unlike some of the best checking accounts, Betterment Checking doesn’t pay interest. Money you deposit won’t earn a cent and will never grow.

Is that a reason to skip Betterment Checking? I don’t think so. Checking accounts aren’t for growing your money — they’re for spending it. Yes, interest is a nice bonus, but you shouldn’t park large sums in your checking account. Instead, it should be for the funds you’ve budgeted for day-to-day expenses.

When you need your money to work for you, you should look to high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, and the stock market.

No Brick-and-Mortar Branches

Betterment Checking is a self-serve account. That means you get access to a convenient mobile app and Visa debit card you can use anywhere in the world that accepts Visa. It also means that there are no physical branches and you can’t access face-to-face service. If that’s a problem for you, Betterment Checking isn’t a good fit.

No Joint Accounts

Altought they are working on adding this feature, at this time, Betterment Checking doesn’t offer joint accounts. Individuals also can’t open more than one checking account. Realistically, this means some people won’t be able to use Betterment as their primary “bank.”

No ATM Deposits

Betterment Checking does not currently support ATM cash or check deposits. Checks aren’t a big deal because you can deposit them by submitting a photo through the mobile app. That’s way more convenient, anyway.

That said, the lack of support for cash deposits is a problem for a checking account that boasts convenient access to cash through free ATM withdrawals. Someone who works with cash (for example, anyone who earns cash tips) won’t have a convenient channel to deposit earnings. Sure, you can deposit your cash in another account and then transfer the funds in, but that’s an extra step that takes extra time to process.

Not Compatible With Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay

Some people are ditching plastic altogether and linking their credit cards and bank accounts to Apple, Samsung, or Google Pay and using their phone to pay on the go. This isn’t an option yet for Betterment Checking accounts.

How to Open a Betterment Checking Account

You can easily open a Betterment Checking account online. The whole process is super simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. Open a new Betterement Checking account here.

If you’re already a Betterment customer, it’s even faster. Just sign into your account to get started. When it comes to finding your account, you can link an existing bank account or you can set up your paycheck for direct deposit.

Is Betterment Checking Account Right for You?

Right now, Betterment Checking’s limitations mean it’s unlikely to meet enough of your needs to become your primary bank account. However, that could change in the future as Betterment works to expand its service. It is a new product, after all.

That doesn’t mean Betterment Checking isn’t worthy of consideration, especially if you already have a Betterment investment or Cash Reserve account. Unlimited reimbursed ATM and foreign transaction fees make this a standout choice for world travelers, as well as anyone who needs frequent access to cash.

Travel with Ease –  Never worry again about foreign transaction fees or ATM fees when you travel. Open a Betterment Checking Account for free access to your money wherever you are in the world! Learn more here.

Betterment Checking Review Pin - picture of young brunette with cash in one hand and passport in the other looking inquisitive

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