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Written by Cari Scribner on November 18, 2021
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M1 Spend Review 2022: Best Debit/Checking Account?

M1 Finance is an online brokerage platform offering commission-free trades on stock/ETFs as well as a variety of other features. The minimum investment is just $100 and there are no commissions or portfolio management fees.

The platform gives you the ability to create your own customized portfolio or select from one of the more than 30 pre-built portfolios. You can build portfolios containing low-cost ETFs or individual stocks, or both. It also allows fractional share investing in which you buy a portion of a whole stock. This is a feature that is not offered by many online investing apps.

They also have M1 Spend, a checking account within the app. Here's our review of M1 Spend!

  • Cash Back
  • APY/Interest
  • Annual Fee
  • User Friendly
  • ATM Fee Reimbursement
  • Integration
4.3

Summary

M1 Spend is a checking account and debit card offering from the brokerage platform known as M1 Finance. M1 Spend is meant to be used alongside M1 Borrow and M1 Invest. However, you can still use this as a standalone project if you wish.

If you have the M1 Spend Plus membership, which is $125 per year, you get a few additional features. First of all, 1% cash back on all spending. Second of all, you earn 1% APY on your balance in your checking account. They also reimburse international fees.

You can get an M1 Spend account for free without paying the annual fee, but this basic account has 0% APY and 0% cash back.

Pros

  • Links with your M1 investing account to seamlessly funnel available cash into your portfolio
  • Good APY if you have the M1 Spend Plus account
  • Interest earned could offset annual fee for M1 Spend Plus
  • 100% free option available

Cons

  • M1 Spend Plus account costs $125 annually, which could eat into your interest earnings
  • If you don't invest with M1 Finance, you can't use all the integrations

What Is M1 Spend?

M1 Spend is a checking account within the app. In order to open an M1 Spend account, you must have an M1 Finance investing account first.

M1 Spend is FDIC-insured and works like any checking account offered by major consumer banks. It comes with a Visa debit card.

It also gives you a continuous connection to your investment accounts, letting you easily transfer money from the checking account into your investment portfolio. This is one of the biggest advantages of M1 Spend.

When you enable direct deposit, you can also receive your paycheck two days early.

The M1 Spend Plus account carries a 1% APY, which is far greater than the national average APY for a checking account.

However, you need to pay an annual fee of $125 for the M1 Spend Plus account. If you stick to a basic account, you won’t pay any fees, but you also will not earn interest. The plus account also gives you 1% back on qualifying purchases.

Here are the perks of M1 Spend Plus Account:

  • 1% APY checking account that will earn you 25 times the national APR for a bank checking account.
  • Earn 1% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases. Historically, cash back on purchases was only done when using credit cards.
  • 2% loans through M1 Borrow. You will get a 1.5% reduction on the base rate of M1 Borrow, its flexible, already-low-cost portfolio line of credit.
  • An afternoon trade window that lets you get more control over how you invest: Invest in the morning or the afternoon, or both when you have more than $25,000 in your investment portfolio.
  • Smart transfers give you even more automation and keep your money moving in the right direction to reach your financial goals, pre-set so you don’t even have to think about it.
  • 4 ATM fee reimbursements per month.

About M1 Finance

M1 Finance helps you with the construction and maintenance of your custom investment portfolio. After you create your portfolio, M1 utilizes its proprietary system to automate all of your trading activity from dividend reinvestment to rebalancing.

M1 Finance Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step. This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.

GET THE GUIDE

Auto-invest is the most frequently used option by M1 users. With auto-invest on, any time your cash balance meets or exceeds $25, M1 will automatically invest into your portfolio. To select this option within the app, turn auto-invest on and set your minimum cash balance to $0.

M1’s target customers have longer-term goals for their investments. They can be saving up for their child’s education, for a down payment on a home, or even to build up a solid emergency fund. They may have had experience with using other traditional online brokerages to invest in stocks and ETFs.

M1 was made for these potential investors as a lower-cost alternative due to its free offerings. They also allow investors to have a large amount of control over the contents of their portfolios. This is a key difference between M1 and many other competing apps. Often, investors must give up much of the control in exchange for portfolio management services. M1 successfully treads the fine line between automation and customization.

Conclusion

M1 Spend is a good choice for investors who already use M1 Finance and want to manage their bank and investment accounts in one place.

However, if you do not pay the annual fee of $125, the checking account really has nothing to offer. Your best bet is to pay the membership fee in order to earn the 1% interest and 1% cash back.

M1 Spend Review
Article written by Cari Scribner

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