Most banks aren’t designed to help you manage your funds efficiently. In fact, many bank accounts have multiple fees that can eat away at your savings.
The reality is that managing your money effectively and avoiding unnecessary costs can help you reach your financial goals faster. If you want a banking experience with fewer fees, Spruce is a good option.
In this Spruce Money review, we look at how this no-fee banking platform can help you improve your financial situation.
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What is Spruce Money?
Spruce is a mobile banking platform from the tax accounting giant H&R Block. When working with Spruce, the banking services are made available through Pathward, which is an FDIC-insured bank.
The platform’s goal is to make it easy for people to be good with money. With ample features designed to make money management easier, Spruce could be a good fit for many users.
Specifically, Spruce Money is an ideal choice for someone getting serious about their financial situation. Using the platform, you’ll have access to tools that streamline the process of good money decisions.
How Does the Spruce Mobile App Work?
The Spruce mobile banking app is available for iOS and Android users. In addition to the mobile money management app, you can manage your accounts from a desktop.
If you want to work with Spruce, you can set up your account through the app or their website. Be prepared to provide your email, legal name, and phone number. You’ll also need to create a password.
With no minimum balance requirements, you don’t need a funding account to get started. However, if you are switching banks, keep your account information handy.
Once your account is set up, you can use the mobile app or website to manage your money efficiently.
Customer feedback about the app is mixed. The Spruce app earned 3 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store and 3.1 out of five stars in the Apple App Store.
How Much Does Spruce Banking Cost?
When evaluating your banking options, paying attention to the fees is critical. The good news is that Spruce is light on fees.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:
- No monthly fee
- No sign-up fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- No minimum balance fee
- Paper checks cost $15 for a pack of 25
- Out-of-network ATM transactions cost $3
- Over-the-counter withdrawals are $4.95
As you can see, you won’t find too many fees. Although there are some fees, Spruce is upfront about them.
While the limited number of fees makes Spruce attractive, it’s the features that help the banking app stand out. Here is a closer look at what the platform offers.
The spending account is the core of your Spruce Money experience. Essentially, it acts like a checking account. You can receive your paycheck and spend money from this account via cash, checks, or a debit card.
As of this writing, Spruce is adding a bonus into the mix. You can earn a $50 bonus when you open a Spruce account and receive $200 in qualifying direct deposits within 45 days of opening.
You’ll need to open an account by June 30th, 2023, to access this deal.
Automatic Cash Back
Cash back rewards let you stretch your dollars further. Spruce Rewards makes it easy to tap into cash back.
When you use your Spruce debit card, you can earn cash back from thousands of participating retailers. As you shop, the rewards will land in your Extra Savings account.
Most people have financial goals. Whether you want to fund a car purchase or your next vacation, you can set up dedicated savings goals with Spruce.
To set up your goal, you’ll choose a total amount, an initial deposit, and an auto-transfer amount. You’ll also select a photo that represents your goal. The right picture could inspire you to stay on track.
Without a savings goal, it’s easier to spend money on unnecessary purchases. With a goal in mind, you might decide to funnel extra funds toward that goal.
Read our guide on ways to save money each month if you need to free up resources to reach your goal.
Fee-Free In-Network ATMs
If you need to withdraw cash, Spruce gives you access to thousands of in-network ATMs. When you choose an in-network option, ATM withdrawals are free of charge.
Access to a large network of fee-free ATMs lets you get cash whenever you need it. However, if you make a withdrawal from an out-of-network ATM, then Spruce charges a $3 fee.
Ability to Access Your Paycheck Early
Early access to your paycheck can give you a jump start on your financial goals. With Spruce, you might be able to receive your paycheck up to two days early.
To tap into this option, you’ll need to enroll in direct deposit from your employer. If you receive ACH transfers of $200 every 35 days, you’ll continue to receive early access to your funds.
The same principle holds true for your tax refunds. If you get your federal tax refund deposited into your account, Spruce may give you access to those funds up to five business days early.
Depending on your situation, this could be a game-changer.
Credit Score Updates
Spruce partners with Experian to give you free access to your FICO credit score. Within the Spruce platform, you can see where your credit score stands.
Each month, you can view an update on how your credit actions impacted your score.
Within the app, you’ll see a breakdown of factors impacting your credit score, including:
- Payment history
- Amount owed
- Credit history
- New credit
- Credit mix
As you manage your finances, Spruce makes it easy to check in on where you stand. This is a valuable resource if you are trying to build your credit score.
It’s easy to overdraft your account. If you make a mistake, most banks penalize you with an overdraft fee. The average overdraft fee is around $30, according to the FDIC.
With Spruce, you can access courtesy coverage of up to $20. If you overdraft your account by up to $20 with a card purchase, the platform won’t charge a fee. Instead, Spruce will cover the charge, and you’ll have 30 days to repay it.
In order to get courtesy coverage, you’ll need to have a qualifying direct deposit of at least $200 in 35 days. You can enroll in courtesy coverage through the app settings if you meet that requirement.
Setting a savings goal is just the first step. After you create a goal, you’ll start making progress with regular savings. Spruce makes it easy to track your goals.
When you look at your money goals, you can see a chart that outlines how long it will take to reach them. If you adjust your contributions, you can determine how that will impact your timeline.
Is Spruce Safe?
Spruce isn’t an online bank, but it offers bank-level security. Pathward, an FDIC-insured financial institution, provides the platform’s banking services.
With that, your funds are safe. Even if the bank closes, your funds are insured for up to $250,000.
Beyond FDIC insurance, Spruce keeps your money safe through multi-factor authentication options, fraud monitoring, and transaction notifications. You can also lock your debit card at any time.
Additionally, the debit card includes Mastercard’s Zero Liability policy. This means you aren’t responsible for unauthorized transactions.
How to Contact Customer Support
Spruce has customer support available 24/7. If you need help, you can reach out through a chat feature in the app.
If you prefer to make a phone call, you can call 855-977-7823.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Spruce?
Every financial product has advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what to consider when it comes to Spruce.
- Automatic cash back
- Simple to set savings goals
- No monthly maintenance fees
- Early payday feature
- Easy-to-use platform
- No physical branches
- No interest-bearing account options
- Cash back is not available at all stores
Overall, this free banking app is worth trying if you want access to no-fee banking.
Alternatives to Spruce Money
Spruce Money isn’t the only option for banking without fees. There are other apps that offer a fee-free experience. Here’s a preview.
|Bank||Monthly Fees||Minimum Deposit||ATMs||Sign Up|
|CIT Bank||$0||$100||Refunds $30/mo in fees|
These are the top platforms like Spruce Money.
CIT Bank offers an online banking experience with both checking and savings accounts. Unlike Spruce, you’ll need to make a minimum deposit of $100 to open an account, but there is no monthly fee.
A big draw to CIT Bank is its interest-bearing accounts. For example, the Platinum Savings account offers an APY of 4.85 percent for account holders with a balance of at least $5,000. This relatively high APY can help you reach your savings goals faster.
Even the eChecking account is interest-bearing, with a 0.10 percent APY on balances under $25,000. However, you won’t find automatic cash back or credit monitoring solutions.
Read our CIT Bank review to find out more.
Current is another banking platform designed for streamlined money management. You won’t incur any monthly fees, overdraft fees, or minimum balance requirements.
With Current, you can get early access to your paycheck and the option to set savings goals with Savings Pods. As you save money, Current offers an APY of 4.00 percent if you maintain a qualifying direct deposit of $200.
If you don’t meet the direct deposit requirements, you’ll earn 0.25 percent APY on your savings.
Spruce Money Review
Ease of Use
Products & Services
Spruce Money Review
Spruce Money is an internet-only bank that offers lots of features with no fees. If you don’t need a physical branch, the app is a helpful way to avoid fees and manage your banking needs.
✔️ No monthly fees
✔️ Ability to earn cash back
✔️ Easy-to-use platform
✔️ Goal-saving tracking
✔️ Courtesy coverage to protect against overdraft fees
❌ No physical branches
❌ No interest-earning account options
❌ Not all stores participate in cash back
Is Spruce Money Worth it?
Spruce is a worthwhile option for anyone looking to manage their funds efficiently. A combination of minimal banking fees, automated cash back, and saving goal features make the app attractive.
Of course, Spruce isn’t the right fit for everyone. If you prefer in-person banking, Spruce won’t meet your needs. Additionally, anyone looking for a no-fee banking experience that supports a high-yield savings account won’t find an option through the platform.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for free banking services and are willing to manage your funds online, Spruce offers an affordable experience packed with useful features.
What’s most important to you when choosing a bank?
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make savvy financial decisions. She’s covered money management, insurance, budgeting, mortgages and more. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. When she's not writing, she's outside exploring the coast. You can connect with her on her blog Adventurous Adulting.