M1 Spend Review | High Yield Checking + Investing

If you’re looking for a robust investment platform that comes with a spending account, you’ll want to consider M1 Finance with the M1 Spend option. This fintech company was founded 5 years ago and has built an increasingly steady reputation for itself, which makes it a great choice when thinking about where to house your money. The cash account is available for free or with additional heft with the fee-based M1 Plus account.

M1 Finance Spend Account

  • Fees

    (4)

  • Yield

    (5)

  • Ease of Use

    (5)

  • Debit Card

    (5)

4.8

Summary

High yield checking account with debit card integrated with the M1 Finance platform. Best for:

  • M1 Finance customers
  • Investors with high cash balance

Pros

  • Free checking account
  • High interest rate-with M1 Plus
  • ATM fee reimbursement

Cons

  • Paper checks only for M1 Plus users
  • M1 Plus required for highest yields and 4 free ATM withdrawals a month

*This article contains affiliate links to help pay for this website. That said, our reviews are held to the highest standards of honesty.

M1 Spend Account Features

FeaturesWith M1 PlusWith M1 Basic
FDIC InsuredyesYes
Minimum$0$0
Interest Rate1% per year0%
ATM fee rebates4 per month1 per month
Cash back debit card1%0%
Paper checksM1 will pay bills and send paper checks on your behalf.No
Foreign transaction feeAll FTFs reimbursedUnsettled: 1% Settled: 0.80%
Annual Fee$125/year for M1 Spend First year free with special promotion.$0

What is M1 Spend?

The M1 Finance checking account has a lot going for it. It is insured by the FDIC to keep your money stays safe. There are two different account types available at M1 Spend: Basic or Plus. Both have their unique advantages, as listed in the chart above. And you might even consider it an M1 Finance savings account too, with the high yield cash option through M1 Finance Plus.

M1 Finance – Basic is fee free. But you give up an interest-bearing checking account and cash back debit card. 

While M1 Plus (with $125 annual fee waived for the first year), offers enticing features like a 1% cash back debit card and 1% interest paid on your cash balance. Four fee-free monthly ATM withdrawals per month is also a benefit.

The digital banking system seamlessly integrates with the M1 Invest features.

Consider your own needs when deciding between M1 Plus – Spend account and the M1 Basic – Spend account.

M1 Finance Spend features include:

  • Free digital checking
  • Debit card
  • Low or no international ATM debit card fees
  • Smart transfers-Spend overbalance enables you to set a dollar figure and then any amount over automatically transfers into your investment account.
  • Smart transfers-Cash overbalance automatically transfers money into the account when the balance falls below your pre-set limit.
  • Pay bills.
  • Direct deposit your paycheck – and access the funds two days early.  

About M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a unique investment platform that offers free investing, banking, and borrowing. M1 Finance combines self-directed stock and ETF investing with the opportunity to choose professionally created premade investment portfolios.

Top features:

  • Commission-free investing in 6,000 exchange traded funds and stocks.
  • More than 30 pre-made investment portfolios spanning retirement, income, socially responsible, and hedge fund choices.
  • Free portfolio rebalancing – to keep your investments in line with your desired asset allocation.
  • M1 Spend – checking account.
  • M1 Borrow – low interest rate portfolio line of credit.

The platform allows you to invest in anything from ETFs to individual stocks or someone else’s portfolio collection. Essentially, the goal of M1 Finance’s trading platform is to enable you to create a pie of investments from over thousands of different options.

M1 Finance calls its asset mix or allocation a pie!

The company also offers portfolio rebalancing, like a robo-advisor. When you add or remove money from your M1 Invest account, the platform automatically adds or subtracts the money in a way that returns the asset allocation to your pre-determined percentages. You can also initiate rebalancing with the push of a button.

M1 Borrow is a line of credit for M1 Invest customers. Users with an account value of $5,000 or more can borrow up to 35% of their account value. With M1 Borrow, M1 Basic customers pay 2% interest for the loan. The rate is slashed to 1% for M1 Plus customers. The line of credit is appropriate for midsized purchases like braces, laptops, cars, or additional stock purchases, like a margin account. Pay the loan back on your own terms.

What are the Benefits of an M1 Plus Account?

Depending on your needs, you might benefit from an M1 Plus account. While this account has a $125 annual fee (waived for the first year), and the M1 Basic account is free, the Plus account gives you more options – for investing and banking.

  • ATM fees are covered, up to 4x a month.
  • You have access to a lower interest rate of 1% when you borrow.
  • You get 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • You earn a 1% APY yield on all cash.
  • Investors also get a second trading window with M1 Plus, instead of the standard single morning time when all orders are placed.

All the benefits combined add up for the M1 Plus user.

Who should choose an M1 Plus account?

  • Investors who want to trade during the afternoon as well as in the morning.
  • Users with more cash in the cash account, to benefit from the 1% interest rate.
  • Borrowers who will profit from the low 1% M1 borrow interest rate.
  • International travelers seeking a fee-free ATM card.
  • Those seeking a 1% cash back debit card.
  • Users who expect to withdraw cash up to 4 times per month.

Who is Eligible to Bank with M1 Finance?

US citizens and Permanent Residents with a Green card are eligible. Users must be 18 years old or older and have a current US address and phone number. After submitting the application, your account should be approved within one day. In some circumstances, you may be asked to upload additional information.

How do I Open an M1 Account?

Opening an account is easy. You can either create one from the web browser or download the app. Simply click the “Open an Account” button and start the process.

Once the account is open, you’ll want to start setting up your investment portfolio. At M1 Finance you create an investment portfolio by putting together slices of pie. You’ll have access to thousands of slices of ETFs, individual stocks, and pre-made pies. The company caters to new and experienced investors with a minimum investment amount of just $100.

For those seeking pre-made portfolios, M1 Finance offers over 30 types from retirement, to income, and even hedge fund portfolios.

Open an M1 Spend Account

Back to the M1 Spend set up. Click on Spend in the app or on the website. Next you are prompted to create the spend account, step-by-step.

Once the account is open, you’ll be prompted to link it with a bank account and transfer money in.

Ways to Deposit Money into M1 Spend

The easiest way to deposit money into M1 Spend is through a linked bank account. The transfer tab on the menu bar enables fund transfers between your Investment account, Spend account, and your bank. One external bank funds both Investment and Spend accounts.

You can set up Recurring Transfers to automatically transfer money into the account. This is a smart strategy to automatically implement a saving habit.

Then by integrating Smart Transfer to move cash from your Spend to Investment account, you can experience the benefits of wealth creation through regular investing.

Other ways to deposit money into M1 Finance include rolling over traditional brokerage and retirement accounts. As the image above shows, it’s as easy as clicking the “Account Transfer” arrow and uploading a statement from the original account. The transfer team manages the entire process.

Wire transfers are not available with M1 Spend.

Is M1 Spend Insured?

Yes, as is customary with most financial institutions, M1 Finance accounts are insured by the Securities Insurance Protection Corporation or SIPC up to $500,000. This includes up to $250,000 cash. Apex, the M1 Finance clearing firm also has additional insurance.

This insurance protects against company failure, not against the normal losses that occur periodically, when investing in the financial markets.

M1 Spend, M1 Invest Basic, and M1 Plus accounts are also insured with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC up to $250,000 with additional insurance through Lincoln Savings Bank.

M1 Spend Competitors

In a trend to add more features to robo-advisory platforms and fintech apps, there are many competitors to the M1 Spend account.

Robo-advisors and fintech apps with cash accounts include:

M1 Spend – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Seamless transfers between investment and M1 Spend checking account.
  • With M1 Plus-high interest rates paid on cash balance.
  • 1% cash back debit card is rare, and not found with many competitors.
  • Fee-free bill pay.
  • Early access to direct deposit paycheck.
  • For borrowers, the M1 Borrow 1% interest rate is tough to beat.

Cons

  • No paper checks.
  • Average customer service.
  • No bank branches.

Stop here

Is M1 finance trustworthy?

Yes, M1 Finance is trustworthy. The company is governed by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations (SEC) and is generally well regarded. More support comes from the investors who have shown their confidence by investing approximately $153 million in the firm. The M1 mission is to help you build wealth and reach your investment goals.

Is M1 better than Robinhood?

M1 Finance is best suited for buy and hold investors, while Robinhood might appeal to investors seeking more frequent trading, along with access to options and cryptocurrency. M1 Finance offers pre-made investment portfolios, stock, and ETF investments. The cash management accounts are similar, although M1 Plus customers receive higher interest payments than Robinhood users. Read M1 Finance vs Robinhood for more information.

M1 Spend Review Wrap up

For investors seeking a single app for investing in stocks, funds, premade investment portfolios, banking and lending, M1 Spend is a good option. Few of us use paper checks today, but if you need them, you’ll need another account. We’re impressed with the features at M1 and believe it is a good choice for beginner to advanced buy-and-hold investors, who also want a cash management account.

For larger cash balances and an M1 Plus subscription, the M1 Spend account 1% interest rate is tough to beat. And, if you need to borrow, the low 2% rates for M1 Borrow are enticing. Finally, for users who prefer banking on an app the customer ratings are relatively high. The iOS M1 mobile app holds a 4.6 out of 5.0 rating and 4.4 on the Android devices.

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*Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t believe is valuable.

I have an account with M1 Finance.

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