Choosing a debit card can be challenging. There are dozens of new checking accounts popping up every month, all offering new features or perks designed to attract new accounts.
Both Extra Mastercard and Aspiration enjoy popularity among Americans conscious about their spending. The latter because they are conscious of the environment and their impact on it, and the latter are concerned about boosting their credit without a credit check. But both cards provide significant value not normally found outside of a credit card – but which is right for you?
Before you get your next debit or credit card, check out this helpful guide that breaks down both cards, their strengths, weaknesses, and the finer points that can help you make an informed decision.
How Popular are Debit Cards?
According to research from the Federal Reserve, 97% of U.S. consumers had a payment card of some variety. Of that proportion with a payment card, 85% had a debit card. Additionally, 68% of consumers used a debit card each month, compared to 74% using cash, and 63% using credit cards.
The same study found that debit cards still make up a significant proportion of how payments are made. Here is how consumers split their spending between payment types:
So despite the allure of credit cards, there appears to remain a strong demand for debit cards amongst the American public. According to Statista, more than 270 million Mastercard debit cards are currently in circulation in the U.S. alone. Even more mind-boggling, there are roughly 2.5 billion (yes, billion) Visa debit cards worldwide.
Extra Mastercard or Aspiration Card: Which Is Right for You?
Before you decide on your next debit card, check out how both accounts break down:
How to Get the Debit Card
Here is all the information you’ll need to apply for both debit cards:
What Information Do You Need to Open an Extra Mastercard Account?
- Email address
- Phone number
- SSN (for verification purposes)
- External bank account information (account number and routing number)
What Information Do You Need to Open an Aspiration Spend & Save or Plus Account?
- Email address
- Phone number
- SSN (for identification/verification purposes)
- External bank account information for funding account (account number and routing number)
Does the Card Build Credit?
Aspiration’s debit card does not build credit (although the Aspiration Zero Mastercard does). The Extra Mastercard, on the other hand, is a debit card that builds credit – without a credit check.
The Extra credit builder process works by signing up and linking your bank account to Extra. Extra requires your bank to be Plaid compatible – but this won’t be an issue for most. Plaid connects with over 10,000 banks, making Extra near-universal for those with a U.S. deposit account.
One connected, Extra will calculate your “spending power” based on your transaction history and bank account balance. This spending power is your daily spend limit with the Extra Mastercard. Extra automatically repays itself daily, so your spending power replenishes every 24 hours.
Every month, Extra reports your spending to the three major credit bureaus. This process helps you build credit. Your credit utilization will be reported as 0%, and your payment history will be perfect, thanks to Extra’s automatic repayment system.
Aspiration Plus is the premium tier of Aspiration and provides far more than just cash back rewards:
- Up to 5.00% APY on Aspiration savings accounts
- One out-of-network ATM reimbursement monthly
- Carbon offsets for all your gas purchases with Planet Protection
The carbon offset feature with Aspiration Plus is unique. The company automatically offsets the carbon dioxide from gas purchased with the eligible card through carbon offset programs – including the planting of trees.
Aspiration Plus costs $7.99 per month or $95.88 per year ($71.88 if paid upfront). If you opt for the free Aspiration account, you’ll earn up to 5% back on Conscience Coalition purchases but do not earn any interest on deposits.
The debit card is ideal for anyone newer to credit that doesn’t want the negative impact of a hard credit inquiry but still wants to earn rewards and boost their score for as little as $7 per month.
That $7 monthly charge is payable as an $84 yearly lump sum. Alternatively, members can opt for the Extra Rewards plan, which provides access to rewards points on eligible purchases. Extra Rewards costs $12 per month or $108 when billed annually.
Is there a free option?
Yes. Aspiration’s basic account (including the debit card) is available for as low as $0. Aspiration commits to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that it will only charge you what it costs them to provide the extra service, with Plus being this additional cost.
There is no free version of the Extra Mastercard. That said, Extra operates as much more than a basic checking or debit account, so this is understandable.
Does the Account Earn Interest?
As noted above, Aspiration Plus offers up to 5% APY on savings accounts. This 5% APY applies only after cardholders use their Aspiration debit card to make at least $1,000 in purchases per month.
Basic Aspiration members can also earn interest on their savings. Spending $1,000 on purchases with the Aspiration debit Mastercard entitles the basic member to #% APY on Aspiration savings, for no monthly service fee.
Because Extra only links to your external bank account, it does not earn any interest on deposited funds.
The Aspiration Debit Card lets users do their part in conservation while earning impressive cash back on eligible purchases simultaneously. Rewards with the Aspiration Card differ from Extra in that they place a premium on “conscious brands.”
Aspiration partners with the Conscience Coalition to help cardmembers earn rewards on brands actively helping the environment. Eligible companies (that Aspiration says are “doing the right thing” include names such as Warby Parker, TOMS, Blue Apron, and more.
Keep in mind that earning the highest tier rewards with Aspiration requires an active Aspiration Plus membership.
Extra Mastercard members can earn rewards provided they opt for the $12/month Extra Rewards + Credit Building plan. With the Extra Rewards program, cardmembers earn Extra reward points on every purchase, with points redeemable in the Extra Rewards portal. The rewards portal provides the typical array of redemption options you’d normally find with a reward program, including merchandise and gift cards.
Here is a quick recap of all the features of both cards:
Every purchase builds your credit. At the end of every month, purchases made with the Extra Debit Card are tallied up and reported to credit bureaus
Connects with your bank account
Earn up to 1% in points for everyday purchases like rideshares, coffees, and your phone bills
Plans start at $7/month (based on an annual subscription)