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Wealthfront Cash Account review: Earn with no account fees

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4.25

Wealthfront allows to earn a highly competitive interest rate on your cash by keeping your money in their hybrid Wealthfront Cash Account. Earn a 5.00% APY with no minimums (or max), zero account fees, unlimited transfers and up to $8M FDIC insurance through partner banks on an individual account. You can even pay bills, deposit checks, send checks and use payment apps.

And, if you decide it’s time to invest that money, then you can transfer funds nearly instantly to connected Wealthfront investment accounts.

The benefits of high-yield savings accounts are a popular topic here on Money Under 30, so it makes sense why a cash management account would be as well—especially given the number of useful features and competitive APY. To be able to properly access this hybrid account between checking and savings, we considered the interest rate but also looked at fees, deposit insurance, the relevant features, overall customer experience and comparison with alternatives.

What is a Wealthfront Cash Account?

You have the option to get a higher interest rate than brick-and-mortar banks offer by keeping your money in Wealthfront’s Cash Account. This is not a traditional checking, savings, or even high-yield savings account. Instead, it is a Cash Account held at a brokerage firm that uses partner banks.

Wealthfront, designed for young professionals and passive investors, is able to offer an attractive interest rate as a way to introduce new and existing customers further into their company’s ecosystem built on investing and robo-advisor services. Read our full Wealthfront Cash review for all the details.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • High APY — The 5.00% APY on Wealthfront’s Cash Account is higher than a number of more familiar high-yield savings accounts.
  • More FDIC insurance — Normally up to $250k per bank, get up to $8M FDIC insurance (16M for joint accounts) through partner banks.
  • No account fees — No overdraft fees, no transfer fees and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Easy direct deposit — If your direct deposits qualify, you may get access to them up to two days before you could in a normal bank account.
  • Can invest quickly — Linked with your Wealthfront investment account so you can transfer and invest quickly.

Cons

  • Online only — Wealthfront is an online-only service with no physical branches similar to Discover® Bank.
  • Fees for cash deposits — While you can make deposits at select retailers there’s a fee of up to $5.95 that applies.

How do you open a Wealthfront Cash Account?

Opening a Wealthfront Cash Account is an easy process.

Decide which variation you would like to open—Wealthfront Individual Cash Account, joint, or trust account—and select that account type by sharing who will own the account. Then use an external account to fund your Wealthfront Cash Account with a minimum of $1.

Features of Wealthfront Cash

The Wealthfront Cash Account is a hybrid account that mixes together useful features of both savings and checking accounts with an investing twist for individual accounts.

High 5.00% APY

The Wealthfront Cash Account currently pays 5.00% on your entire balance, no matter the amount. Interest accrues daily and is credited to your account monthly.

Wealthfront takes the money you deposit and sweeps it to one of many participating partner banks to hold your money and have it earn interest with the backing of FDIC insurance.

FDIC insurance

Your deposits are FDIC insured up to $8 million for a Wealthfront Individual Cash Account or $16 million for a joint account because Wealthfront uses multiple partner banks.

The cash is only FDIC insured while it is in a bank account at one of the partnered banks. When you initially deposit money into your Wealthfront Cash Account, it takes one to three business days to sweep the funds from Wealthfront to the partner bank.

No account fees

There is only a $1 initial opening deposit with no further deposit requirements. After that, with a Wealthfront Cash Account, there are no account fees. That means no fees for overdraft, no minimum balance to keep and no associated transfer fees.

Unlimited transfers

You can move money in and out of your Wealthfront Cash Account with free unlimited transfers. There are some limits on the amount of money that can be transferred, such as a $250k daily limit on transfers initiated with Wealthfront app or website.

Free same-day withdrawals

Initiate a transfer with your Wealthfront Cash Account to an eligible account by 9:00 pm ET and get your funds within the same business day. It usually can take only a few hours if you’re external account is one of the 400+ eligible. Institutions include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Wells Fargo and TD Bank.

Early direct deposit

Your paycheck may arrive by up to two days before your usual payday if you set direct deposit up to your Wealthfront Cash Account.

Deposit checks

You can deposit a check with Wealthfront Cash if you meet the following requirements: You’ve direct deposited at least $250 and you’ve held an average balance of at least $2,500 over the last 60 days in all your Wealthfront accounts. This can easily be done for most checks by taking photos and submitting them via the mobile app.

There are some exclusions, like cashier’s checks, money orders and checks from international banks not in USD.

Debit card

debit card from Wealthfront used on a background of a sushi dinner out

As we said, the Wealthfront Cash Account is a hybrid of savings/checking and you’ll be able to get a debit card as you would with a checking account. Use your Wealthfront debit card to take out cash at 19,000 fee-free ATMs or any other out-of-network ATM (for a small fee). Grow your cash with a competitive APY and spend it too (when needed) using your debit card.

Pay bills

You can pay bills with your Wealthfront Cash Account. Use your routing and account numbers to pay one-time or recurring payments. This can be used to pay monthly utilities, your Netflix subscription, credit cards and more just as you would a checking account.

You can also use your Wealthfront debit card or have Wealthfront send out a check on your behalf at no cost to you if you’ve met the same requirements as depositing a check ($2,500 across Wealthfront accounts last 60 days, direct deposit at least $250).

Send or receive money with payment apps

You can link your Wealthfront Cash Account or Wealthfront debit card to a number of popular payment apps, like Cash App, Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay. It works as a great option for paying a friend back for dinner and drinks out.

Security features

Wealthfront makes security on their accounts a top priority. There’s active fraud monitoring to keep an eye on fraudulent activity, app-specific passwords for linking, debit card lock and standard two-factor verification.

Quick transfer to Wealthfront investment accounts

You can use money in your Wealthfront Cash Account to invest in your linked Wealthfront taxable investment account within minutes. Simply log in on website or app and complete the process under Transfer Money. Speeding up this process helps you invest your money faster, allowing your money to spend more time invested in the market or make a timely investment without delay.

» Get started with a Wealthfront Cash Account

Fees with a Wealthfront Cash Account

There are no account fees for the Wealthfront Cash Account.

The connected debit card, however, has some fees that may apply:

  • Out-of-network ATM: $2.50 + ATM owner fee (varies)
  • Bank teller: $2.50 + teller fees (varies)
  • International transaction fee: 2.75%
  • Cash loads (at participating retailers): Up to $5.95

Wealthfront does not reimburse out-of-network ATM fees. You can avoid this fee by using your debit card to withdraw from their more than19,000 free ATMs at places like CVS, Target, and Walgreens instead. There’s also an $10 fee per outgoing wire transfers but no charge for incoming wire transfers.

Customer support

One of the drawbacks of having a cash management account is that you don’t typically get the same level of customer service as you would with Chase, Capital One and Discover. There’s a limited level of support that includes a phone line and email during regular business. If you’re a fan of live-chat support or an in-person meet that is not offered.

There is an extensive Help Center section that answers general questions and allows you to search for more specific frequently asked questions

My personal experience researching the Wealthfront Cash Account

Wealthfront’s Cash Account offering is pretty straightforward. They’re not looking to hide anything and disclose exactly how their product works upfront. The rate on this cash management account may change in line with various economic and financial considerations, like movement in the federal funds rate but that’s typical.

That said, this account does have a few helpful features, especially if you’re a W-2 employee. The ability to receive direct deposits up to two days early could help your cash flow situation. Sending a check and sending/receiving payments via linked payment apps is also a huge plus.

Ultimately, other than how the FDIC coverage works, I found that the cash account format is much like a savings account you could open at most online banking institutions.

Who should sign up for a Wealthfront Cash Account?

Those looking to invest at some point

If you’re looking for a place to park cash you do not want to invest right now but would like to at some point in the future, then the linking of Wealthfront from their cash management to investment account may be attractive. You’ll have even more to invest because your funds were earning a competitive interest rate during that time.

You don’t have to use your investing account to earn with Wealthfront Cash.

Those looking to earn at the level of an HYSA but also get checking features

Many people hold a popular high-yield savings account to earn a high rate and then also hold a checking account for the linking and features. This is a hybrid account that earns a competitive rate with no account fees and offers a number of checking features, including a debit card, direct deposit and access to ATMs. Big win.

Those looking for greater FDIC insurance

Wealthfront Cash is not a bank itself but uses multiple partner banks to provide FDIC insurance of up to $8M. That goes up to $16M for joint accounts. This means you can benefit from more than 250K FDIC insurance without the hassle of dealing with multiple banks yourself.

» Get started with a Wealthfront Cash Account

Who shouldn’t use a Wealthfront Cash Account?

Those who want in-person services

Like popular online banks, Wealthfront’s services are all digital. There are no physical branches and you won’t get an a physical checkbook. If you’re comfortable with sending and depositing checks through Wealthfront’s site and app without the pen and paper (as most are) then this may not be a hold-up.

Those who frequently make cash deposits

While Wealthfront Cash allows you to make cash deposits for a fee the process of heading to a partnering retailer and working with a cashier may be tiresome if you’re making frequent cash deposits. Look into another account if you’re looking to make cash deposits at an ATM.

Other cash and savings account alternatives

Wealthfront Cash has some competitors in the cash management space including Empower Personal Cash™ (formerly Personal Capital Cash) from one of the world’s largest retirement planning companies, Empower. Here are some other alternatives to Wealthfront Cash:

Wealthfront Cash vs Public High-Yield Cash Account

The Public High-Yield Cash Account is relatively new offering from the Public investing platform, offering a competitive 5.1% APY with up to 5M FDIC insurance.

All-in-one investing platform
Public

Public is a investing platform with mobile app that has a wide range of offerings and features beginners will appreciate.

With Public, you can invest in stocks, bonds, Treasuries, crypto, ETFs, music royalties and alternative assets—with access to a social feed—all in one place.

Offer: Get up to $10,000 cash when you transfer your account to Public.* Limited time offer expires 2/29/24.
Pros:
  • Commission-free trading on stocks and funds
  • Fractional shares with low minimums
  • High-Yield Cash Account that earns 5.1% APY
  • Resources for beginners and community
Cons:
  • Does not support all account types
  • No mutual funds
Open Account
*Terms and conditions apply.

Public is an investing web platform and mobile app where you can invest in stocks, ETFs, crypto, alternative assets and more with relative ease. There’s also a high-yield cash account that counts as a secondary brokerage account that can be used to store your funds and earn interest with zero fees. There’s no subscription required for this, no min. balance to keep (or max to cap earning), unlimited transfers and unlimited withdrawals. And, like Wealthfront Cash, it’s linked up to investing.

Public’s Cash Account provides combined coverage of up to $5M because Public partners with 20 banks. That’s 20x the $250,000 FDIC coverage of a savings account. It is lower than what Wealthfront Cash offers but most people won’t run into an issue with either limit.

» MORE: Learn more with our detailed Public review

Wealthfront Cash vs Betterment Cash Reserve

Betterment Logo

Betterment Cash Reserve is another high-yield cash account that’s a competitor to Wealthfront Cash. This comes from Betterment, another competitor that also offers a robo-advisor.

There are no monthly or maintenance costs. And, though a $10 minimum deposit is required initially, there’s no minimum balance required thereafter.

The rate’s competitive with Wealthfront Cash (4.75% APY as of February 3, 2024) but with Betterment Cash Reserve you’ll only get FDIC insurance up to $2 million ($4 million for joint accounts) through the associated program banks. That’s lower than the up to $8M ($16M for joint) that Wealthfront Cash offers.

Wealthfront Cash vs high-yield savings accounts

Despite the security features and insurance Wealthfront Cash provides, many may understandably be more comfortable with a current top high-yield savings account rather than a hybrid alternative.

Options include familiar names and high rates: CIT Bank Platinum Savings account (up to 5.05%), Capital One 360 Performance Savings Account (4.35% APY) and Discover® Online Savings Account (4.30% APY).

Summary

The Wealthfront Cash Account offers a competitive APY that is typically higher than a savings account offered by a traditional brick-and-mortar bank with no fees, unlimited transfers and a number of useful checking features. Overall it’s a solid hybrid alternative to a high-yield savings account that works best for those who plan to invest with Wealthfront.

» Get started with a Wealthfront Cash Account


FAQs about Wealthfront Cash

How does a Wealthfront Cash Account work?

Individual accounts with Wealthfront Cash combine useful checking and savings features in one account allowing you to deposit your paycheck, pay bills, use a debit card and earn a competitive rate of interest on your entire balance. A hybrid Wealthfront Cash Account can be opened easily in just a couple of minutes.

Is Wealthfront Cash safe?

Yes, Wealthfront Cash is reputable option that is safe to use. There’s a number of security features like active fraud monitoring and increased FDIC insurance of up to $8M for Wealthfront Individual Cash Accounts.

Is Wealthfront Cash a savings account?

No, Wealthfront Cash is not a savings account from a bank. The Wealthfront Cash Account partners with banks to offer a hybrid of checking and saving account features in the form of a cash management account. You can use Wealthfront Cash as an alternative to a checking account, as an alternative to a savings account or both.

Can you use Zelle with Wealthfront?

Wealthfront does not have Zelle support currently and there is no roadmap in the plans for future support per shared comments from Wealthfront on reddit. You are able to use Venmo instead of Zelle or link your Wealthfront Individual Cash Account to popular payment apps like Paypal, Apply Pay, Google Pay and Cash App.

Does Wealthfront Cash offer a sign-up bonus?

Yes, Wealthfront Cash may offer an intro cash bonus for new accounts that meet specific deposit qualifications. There’s also a Wealthfront Cash Account Referral Program that may include an APY boost if you invite a friend to open a new account.

See Wealthfront for all the details as bonuses are subject to availability and change.

What’s the difference between a Wealthfront Investing and Wealthfront Cash Account?

The Wealthfront Cash Account and Wealthfront’s investment offerings are very different. The Wealthfront Cash Account offers features similar to a savings account and allows you earn to earn a competitive interest rate on your stored funds. Investing with Wealthfront robo-advisor lets investors start passively investing with automated management on a customized portfolio and tax-loss harvesting.

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