Money at 30: My Personal Finance Tool Turkeys of the Year
Every year for Thanksgiving, the Disney fan site I write for, LaughingPlace.com, compiles a list of our top Disney “Turkeys.” This fun list finds us highlighting efforts by the company that were perhaps misguided or just didn’t work out as they might have hoped. Of course, having reviewed plenty of personal finance apps, tools, and accounts over the years, I’ve certainly come across some duds and disappointments in this realm as well.
With that, while I should probably be giving thanks for my many money blessings, I thought it’d be more enjoyable to recount some of this year’s biggest personal finance “turkeys”:
Aspiration cuts its benefits
When the year began, my Aspiration account had just grown even more attractive. The socially concious banking solution had recently increased its savings APY from 1% to 2% while also rolling out cash back on debit card purchases — and this on top of their existing “use any ATM in the world for free” perk. Sadly, these benefits eroded as the year went on.
First, Aspiration quietly reduced the amount of cash back purchases earned. Then, using the Federal Reserve’s quarter-point rate cut as an excuse, they added new requirements for claiming the 2% APY. Instead of needing to deposit at least $1 a month to unlock the interest, now customers need to deposit at least $1,000. Funny enough, after the next quarter-point cut, they went ahead and lowered the APY to 1% while still retaining the new rules. At least the ATM reimbursement remained — although even those gained a new limit of 10.
Personally, there’s part of me that feels bad for continuing to harp on Aspiration as they do seem to have a commendable mission. On the other hand, good intentions can only take you so far. Thus, I feel no remorse about moving my money elsewhere.
Uber Visa’s big (bad) changes
For two years, I’ve been singing the praises of the Uber Visa card. Not only did I apply for the card on the very first day it was available but I’ve also referenced it dozens of times across several articles and referred friends to it often. It was even awarded a special place in my pocket, claiming the only credit card slot in my phone case. That’s why it’s not an overstatement to say I was crushed when Barclays announced some major changes to the card just last month.
Looking over those changes for the first time, it took me a while to fully realize just how much the appeal had been decimated. After all, lowering the cash back percentage on dining from 4% to 3% wasn’t so bad and I could live with the removal of the 2% on online purchases category but there was one big thing I was missing: the card would now only earn Uber Cash. As someone who doesn’t Uber all that often, that was all but a dealbreaker.
Ever since the Uber Visa card was announced, I had a sneaking suspicion something like this would happen. But, after the first year and then year two passed, I assumed my fears were unfounded. Alas it seems the time has finally come, making quite the fool out of me — not cool.
Robinhood revamps Cash Management (and it still hasn’t launched)
Finally, late last year, Robinhood announced a too-good-to-be-true Cash Management account boasting a 3% APY. Well, long story short, it was too good to be true as it was pulled just a day or two after the co-CEO talked it up on CNBC. Robinhood then remained quiet about its Cash Management plans until just a couple of weeks ago — and the new offering isn’t nearly as special as the initial version.
To be fair, the APY Robinhood is offering (currently expected to be 1.8%) really isn’t bad… it’s just not the 3% that was promised. Also of note: the thing still hasn’t rolled out! Honestly it seems as though the company only announced the reanimated account to steal headlines away from the string of brokerages dropping their trade fees. So while these Cash Management accounts might be great someday, for now, they’ve definitely earned their spot on this list.
So now the big question: what do you think of my list? Am I being unfair to Aspiration, Barclays, and Robinhood or am I spot on? And what did I miss? Be sure to let me know in the comments or tweet me @moneyat30 — and be sure to have a Happy Thanksgiving!