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Betterment Checking Account Review: Unlimited Free ATM Access

Our review of the Betterment Checking account looks at the associated fees and features, which include convenient ATM access and free cell phone insurance.
(4 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

Betterment is known as a robo-advisor, which provides automated investment advice. But the platform isn’t only beneficial when investing your money. 

Betterment also provides cash management.

If you’re looking to open a new checking account, the company offers an inexpensive way to manage your money. 

To be clear:

Betterment isn’t a bank.

So it doesn’t offer brick and mortar locations like a traditional bank. In spite of this difference, Betterment offers a checking account that gives many big banks a run for their money. 

What can you expect with a Betterment checking account?

Here’s a look at several account features to help you decide whether it’s the right fit for you.

Keep Your Cash With No Fees

If you’ve had a checking account—or any account—with other financial institutions, you know that banks like to charge their customers fees. 

This can include monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, ATM fees, and other costs. Although common, the more fees you pay, the less money in your account.

Betterment is different because it provides a low-cost way to manage your money. It’s a mobile checking account without physical locations, so there’s less overhead. And since there’s less overhead, the firm can pass savings to their customers. 

As a no-hassle checking account, you can manage your money with no monthly minimums, no overdraft fees, and no ATM fees.

The best part:

If you’re charged a fee by an ATM owner, Betterment will reimburse your money.

Get Started With as Little as $1

Another excellent feature is that you’re able to open an account with no minimum account balance. 

Depending on the bank, some checking accounts require a minimum deposit to open an account.

And when a checking account has a monthly maintenance fee, some banks will only waive this fee when customers maintain an ongoing minimum balance. 

This isn’t an issue with Betterment.

You can open an account with as little as $1, and you don’t have to maintain a certain balance to keep the account open.

Easily Send Cash to Friends and Family

Nowadays, most people don’t carry much cash.

This isn’t usually an issue, until they’re out with friends or family and forget their wallet. Or until they need to split the dinner bill with friends. 

One benefit of modern banking technology is the ability to send money electronically to another person. 

Betterment makes this easy, too. Once you’ve opened your account, you can link your debit card with various payment systems.

These include:

  • Zelle
  • Venmo
  • CashApp

From here, you can easily and quickly send or receive money from your peers.

Debit Card Designed for Travel

As a Betterment checking accountholder, you’ll also receive a Visa debit card. 

Use this card to withdraw cash from ATMs worldwide, or use it anywhere that accepts Visa. The Betterment Visa debit card is also useful when traveling abroad. 

Typically, when using a credit card or debit card in another country, you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee to convert a transaction from one currency to another. 

Some banks don’t impose this fee. This is common with many travel credit cards. 

The good news is that Betterment will reimburse foreign transaction fees you incur when using your debit card in another country.

When using your Visa debit card, be mindful of certain limits. Betterment has a $500 daily ATM limit and a $2,000 daily debit card transaction limit. 

No check-writing

It's important to note that the Betterment Checking account does not offer any paper checks.

Save More With “Two-Way Sweep”

Are you struggling to save money? If so, Betterment has a feature that takes the effort out of building your cash reserve.

You can also open a Cash Reserve account with Betterment—which can function like a savings account—and then take advantage of Two-Way Sweep. 

This is when Betterment monitors your checking account and spending pattern.

If it identifies extra funds, it will “sweep” or move these funds into your Cash Reserve account. And once funds are in this account, there’s the opportunity to earn interest. 

But don’t worry, you’re always free to cancel a sweep if you don’t want funds moved from your checking account.

Free Cell Phone Insurance

Another interesting perk of opening a Betterment checking account is that you’ll receive cell phone insurance. 

Cell phones can be costly to buy and expensive to fix. Some people purchase insurance as a protection. But, if you have a Betterment checking account, you can decline this coverage.

Betterment’s cell phone insurance is free and covers theft and damage.

There are limits, though.

It only provides coverage up to $600, and you’re only allowed two claims within a 12-month period. Keep in mind, too, there’s a $50 deductible per claim.

Other Features

Mobile deposit

A Betterment checking account is also perfect if you utilize mobile check deposit.

The ability to deposit your paycheck from a mobile device can eliminate trips to the bank. You don’t have to wait in long lines on payday. Simply snap a photo of your check from anywhere, anytime.

Currently, Betterment has a $1,000 daily limit for mobile check deposit. 

You can also use the firm’s mobile app 24/7 to monitor your balance and account activity. Unfortunately, a Betterment checking account does not offer online bill pay.

No joint checking

In addition, Betterment doesn’t currently offer joint checking accounts. So if you have a partner, you’ll need to have your own checking accounts.

The good news is that according to Betterment’s website, the company might offer joint checking in the future.

FDIC insured

Even though Betterment isn’t a bank, funds in your account are FDIC insured up to $250,000. So you don’t have to worry about losing your funds due to company failure or hackers. 

In fact, Betterment takes extra precautions to keep your account safe.

It has a two-step authentication system. Once you enter your login information, you’ll receive a security code via text. You must enter this code before accessing your account.

How Does Betterment Compare to Other Checking Accounts?

Checking account features vary from bank to bank. If you’re thinking about opening a new checking account, consider what you’re looking for in an account. 

Some people want to avoid banks that nickel and dime their customers. Others seek a more simplistic way to manage their funds. And yet others look for institutions with up-to-date technology. 

Betterment offers all of the above. It’s the right fit to avoid fees or account minimums. It’s also perfect if you’re comfortable managing your account electronically, rather than in-person.

But choosing a new checking account isn’t a decision to take lightly. For this reason, it’s wise to compare other accounts, too. This can help you find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Questions to consider when comparing checking accounts include:

  • What is the monthly maintenance fee?
  • What is the minimum deposit to open an account?
  • Does the bank have ATM locations near my home or work?
  • How user-friendly is the mobile app?
  • How much are typical bank fees?
  • Does the bank have physical locations, or is it an online-only bank?

Final Verdict

So, is a Betterment checking account the right solution for you?

If you’re looking for a mobile bank that doesn’t charge its customers fees or impose minimums, Betterment is worth consideration. 

You might also lean toward Betterment if you already use the platform for investing. Since you already have an existing relationship with the firm, it only makes sense to extend your relationship and open a checking account, too.

You can link your checking account with other Betterment accounts, such as an individual retirement account, a Cash Reserve account, or other investments.

It’s also a useful account if you frequently travel outside the country and don’t want to pay foreign transaction fees.

Unfortunately, a Betterment checking account does have a few drawbacks.  

Notably, Betterment isn’t the right fit if you need check-writing privileges. The company doesn’t currently issue checks, so you’ll use your Visa debit card for in-store purchases and online purchases.