M1 Spend Hero

M1 Checking Review: A High-APY & Cashback Checking Account

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M1 Checking
Pros
1.7% APY is Market-Leading
1% Cashback on Spending
Easy Integration with Other M1 Products
M1 Plus is Free for 1 Year
Cons
Must have M1 Plus for best rates
94

Did you know that the average APY for a savings account in the US is only 0.08%? What if we told you there’s an account that can give you 2.5% on your idle cash? Well, there is!

M1 Checking (previously called M1 Spend) is a high-yield cash account from M1 Finance – a free personal finance “super app” which allows you to invest, borrow, and save, all in one place. You can read more about M1 Finance here, or keep reading for our M1 Checking review.

What is M1 Checking?

M1 Checking is an FDIC-insured checking account and debit card that earns 2.5% APY and 1% cashback. The account is part of the M1 Finance platform, allowing you to integrate your investing, saving, borrowing, and spending all in one place.

M1 Checking is M1’s checking account, as you may have guessed from the name, but with some important caveats that differentiate it from your typical account. It is an FDIC-insured account and debit card, and you can direct deposit, pay bills, and spend money with your M1 Visa debit card. Just how you’d expect a checking account to operate.

With M1, your money is held with Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC. The account gives you insurance protection of up to $250,000. The account is assigned a routing number and an account number, and you’ll receive an M1 Visa Debit card for purchases or for withdrawing from an ATM.

It also offers a “premium” version called M1 Plus, which offers 2.5% APY and 1% cash back on qualifying purchases. We’ll go into more detail about the M1 Plus account below.

M1 Spend Hero

How Does M1 Checking Work?

M1 Checking is a checking account that lets you quickly move your money into investment portfolios without minimum account balance fees.  

Because of the integration with M1’s Invest and Borrow platforms, your money doesn’t have to sit idly as cash, earning almost nothing. You can quickly and instantly move your money into your investment portfolios, where you have complete control over choosing stocks, funds, and directing your investments. You can even use this money to back up a low-cost line of credit with M1 Borrow.

The account also has no minimum account balance fees, and M1 will cover one ATM transaction fee per month (or up to 4 with M1 Plus). There is no annual fee for M1 Checking and a $125 annual fee for M1 Plus. There are some fees for using a debit card abroad for free users, but for M1 Plus members, it’s all reimbursed.

M1’s competitive advantage lies in its ability to integrate this account with other components of its platform, providing you the tools to manage your money and grow your savings, all in one place.

M1 Checking & M1 Plus

As mentioned above, M1 Plus is available for a fee of $125 a year; however, it is free to new customers for the first year. An M1 Plus account gives you specific bonuses for all pillars of the M1 platform (Checking, Borrow, and Invest).

In terms of M1 Checking, there are some specific perks worth mentioning. First, M1 Plus gives you 1% cash back on qualifying debit purchases. This means any debit card purchase, excluding funds transfers (and other fine print).

M1 Plus also gives you 2.5% APY on the money in your checking account. This is significant and roughly 33x the national average for APY in a checking account. If you plan to store a considerable amount of money in your checking account or use your debit card somewhat frequently, the $125 fee will pay for itself.

But several other bonuses apply to other aspects of the M1 platform. For M1 Invest, you’ll have two trade windows (morning and afternoon) and the ability to set up “smart” transfers for managing your money through different accounts.

M1 Plus also gives you access to the lowest rate for M1 Borrow – only 2% (although certain conditions apply).

This is just to briefly touch on the bonuses offered by M1 Plus (more on this page). Overall, we think it’s a solid investment option if you’ll use M1 Finance often. If you plan to use your checking account regularly and utilize the investing features to manage your money, then it’s a no-brainer. You can even start with the base M1 Checking and upgrade when you see fit.

Is M1 Checking Worth It?

Yes. As a checking account alone, M1’s is a great option. But when combined with the M1 Finance platform, especially M1 Plus, it’s a service worth your time and attention. Once you incorporate the benefits of M1 Plus’ (2.5% APY and 1% cash back plus the other benefits), you’ll have an account that does much more than the typical checking account.

One downside of M1 Finance is that there is no physical branch to visit. Additionally, you need to be careful of ATM fees. Even with M1 Plus, you are only covered for 4 ATM reimbursements per month. Simply put, this isn’t many, and you’ll need to be careful how often you withdraw money.

Overall, if you want to spend, borrow, and invest all in one place, then we think M1 is a great choice. Seamlessly transitioning cash into an investment portfolio is a significant benefit, and you don’t have to have your cash sitting by, earning almost nothing. M1 Checking is a worthy addition to M1’s existing portfolio as a “finance super app,” but watch out for the abovementioned issues.

M1 Checking vs. Others

So, how does M1 compare to other high-yield cash accounts offered by other major online banks? We’ve put together this handy chart to help you decide! You’ll see what is provided by M1 Checking, and we think it stacks up quite well with other offerings. We’ve included info on the interest rate, fees, debit card, and amount insured in this review. Click each link to learn more about each service. 

Do note that the information in the chart is based on M1 Plus:

High-Yield Cash Accounts Comparison

M1 Spend (Plus)Personal CapitalWealthfrontBettermentWealthsimple
Interest Rate*2.5%2.02%2.55%2.0%variable
Fees$125/yearNoneNoneNone1.5%
Debit Card1% Cash BackNoNoComingNo
Insurance$250,000$1.5 million$1 million$1 million$500,000
Learn MoreLearn MoreLearn MoreLearn MoreLearn More
*Rates are variable and subject to change. Accurate as of July 28, 2022

Conclusion

Overall, we really like M1 Checking. Taken on its own, it’s a pretty basic checking account. However, it becomes much more when integrated with the M1 Finance platform. And with M1 Plus, you get all this and more, but you’ll have to decide whether it justifies the $125/year.

Thanks for checking out our comprehensive overview and M1 Checking review! You can find some FAQs below if you want to learn more.

FAQs

Is M1 Checking Free?

Yes, it is free to open an M1 Checking account. However, there are certain potential costs you should be aware of. First, to upgrade to an M1 Plus account, it is $125/year (but free for the first year).

Additionally, M1 Checking has 1 ATM reimbursement per month. After that, there are ATM fees. M1 Plus members get 4 ATM reimbursements per month.

How to Open an M1 Checking Account

Opening an M1 Checking account is easy. Just click here to get started. You will have to fill in your personal and banking info, and there is no minimum account balance to open an account.

How to Use M1 Checking

M1 Checking integrates into the M1 Finance platform, allowing easy integration with M1 Borrow and Invest, all through the app. After downloading the app, you will fully control your checking account and can manage, move, and withdraw/deposit funds. You can also use the desktop platform to access M1 Checking.

Once you open an account, you will be sent a debit card that you can use to make purchases. You will also receive an account and routing number for direct deposit or bill payment.

Is M1 Checking FDIC Insured?

Yes! M1 Checking is an FDIC-insured checking account. Your money will be held with Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC. You get insurance protection for up to $250,000.

What is M1 Checking’s Routing Number?

M1 Checking’s routing number is 073923033. You will also receive an account number for your individual account, which you can use for direct deposit and bill paying.

Is There a Minimum Balance Required?

No minimum balance is required for either Free or M1 Plus members.

What are M1 Checking’s International Fees?

If you’re an M1 Plus member, all international fees are reimbursed. If you’re a free member, fees range between 0.8% and 1.0%

M1 Spend

1.7 % 

Up to 10% Cash Back