Ando Money Review: A Bank that Fights Climate Change

Climate change is a serious issue. A quick peek at NASA’s website on climate change is scary. We’ve never had atmospheric carbon dioxide at the levels we see today. Never.

In fact, it’s never been above 300ish parts per million. We were last there in 1950.

The impact of rising average temperatures has far reaching effects and it’s almost certainly the result of human activity (95% certainty).

One banking services company is looking to make an impact through their lending. Ando is an online bank that aims to fight climate change as a core part of their business model. They will put your money into one of 30 initiatives, such as clean energy and sustainable transportation, that actively fight climate change.

This is on top of what really looks like a run-of-the-mill online bank with a few add-ons that can put a little extra cash in your pocket.

If you’re considering opening an account at Ando, our review will tell you everything you need to know.

Table of Contents
  1. Who is Ando Money?
  2. The Key Features Are Familiar
  3. What Makes Ando Different?
  4. 5% Grow Your Savings Offers
  5. $15 Referral Bonus
  6. Pros & Cons
  7. Conclusion

Who is Ando Money?

Ando is what’s known as a neobank, or a company that offers banking services that are provided by a FDIC-insured bank. In Ando’s case, they work with Community Federal Savings Bank (FDIC# 57129) based out of Woodhaven, NY.

When a bank takes your deposits, it makes money by loaning that money out to people who need it. Some of those people run businesses. Some are looking to buy a house or a car.

When they run businesses, they could be in the business of anything. Many local banks look to keep that money in local businesses.

Much like there’s been a big growth in socially responsible investing, Ando is a bank that looks to do socially responsible lending. All of their investments “actively reduce carbon emissions” while still offering competitive interest rates. They’re married all the benefits of modern bank accounts like instant transaction notifications and a fully featured app with environmentally conscious lending.

The Key Features Are Familiar

As a banking service, Ando has everything you’d expect from an online bank. There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance. They offer bill pay, checks, and use the MoneyPass ATM network (non-bank ATM fee is $2.95). They also let you get your direct deposit paychecks two days early. No overdraft fees.

The app can do everything you need from a banking app too, including instant transaction notifications which is useful for preventing fraud. It’s a Visa debit card so you have zero liability in the case of fraud.

If you want to speak with someone at Ando, call them at 1-844-960-3939 any day of the week from 9 AM to 9 PM EST.

It’s everything you’d expect from an online bank.

What Makes Ando Different?

From a mission perspective, Ando is one of the few banks that has made it clear they will only lend to businesses that fight climate change. Other similar banks may support climate change initiatives through donations or other efforts but Ando is the only one, as far as I know, that has integrated it into their business model.

They offer transparency into this process through their Ando Impact Center. It outlines where the money is going so you can follow it. Even their debit card uses 80% less plastic than a traditional debit card, replacing that plastic with a biodegradable alternative.

The socially responsible lending aspect is important but they also offer a higher interest rate much in the style of reward checking accounts. Reward checking accounts offer high interest rates on your deposits when you use their debit card a minimum number of times. They pay for this higher interest rate with the fees generated by your transactions.

Ando has a 5% Grow Your Savings offer, which we go into greater detail below, that mimics many of the requirements of reward checking accounts.

Learn more about Ando

5% Grow Your Savings Offers

While Ando’s mission of supporting environmental efforts is great, one financial benefit to you, as a banking user, is that you can get up to 5% APY on the first $5,000 in your savings account. This is an appealing offer but there are some significant requirements to get this offer.

First, the Grow Your Savings program is only active until 12/31/2021. It may be extended but there’s no guarantee.

Next, to enter the program, you need to invite (up to) five friends who become “active users.” You get 1% APY for each active user. An active user is someone who makes at least 5 debit card transactions and receive at least $100 in deposits within 60 days of opening their account.

Then, to qualify for the higher APY, you need to make at least 5 debit card transactions and receive $500 in qualifying deposits each month. A qualifying deposit is one from an employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer. A simple transfer from another account does not qualify.

$15 Referral Bonus

When you invite a friend to join Ando, you can get $15 for each person who meets certain conditions. Your friend get $15 too. The conditions for this are easy – the referred friend must open an account and receive a qualifying direct deposit of $100 or more and make 5 debit card transactions within 45 days of opening the account.

The other typical referral requirements apply such as they must not previously have had an account, they must use your referral link, and the deposit has to be from an employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer. Your are limited to $1,000 in referral bonuses per calendar year.

This is on top of the 5% Grow Your Savings program.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Get up to 5% APY on up to $5,000 (then 0.17% APY) when you invite 5 friends and also make 5 Ando Visa Debit Card transactions and receive $500 in qualifying direct deposits each month.
  • No monthly fees, no minimum balance fees
  • Get paychecks 2 days early when direct deposited
  • Fight climate change – Ando only offers loans that support green initiatives

Cons:

  • Higher APY requires you to invite friends (who join and meet certain conditions)
  • Referral and Grow Your Savings offer have high requirements to achieve
  • $2.95 non-bank ATM transaction fee (they use MoneyPass ATM network)

Conclusion

If climate change is an important issue for you, Ando is a great option. If it isn’t, Ando is still a good option if you think you can refer enough of your friends to join the bank and meet the referral requirements to get the higher APY.

If you get 5 people to join and meet the requirements, that’s $15 each for a total of $75. As far as referral programs go, it’s not remarkable.

By comparison, you get $50 per person (and they get $50) you refer to Sofi Money and all they have to do is fund the account with $500 or more. No spending requirements at all.

The “up to 5% APY” on your savings account when you meet the requirements is a little nicer but again, that’s a maximum of $250 per year. Again, not remarkable.

The financial benefits are a nice layer of icing on the cake but Ando is most appealing if fighting climate change through your banking is important.

Learn more about Ando

Ando

9

Overall

9.0/10

Strengths

  • Actively supports fighting climate change
  • Up to 5% APY on $5,000
  • No monthly fees, no minimum balance
  • Get paycheck 2 days early

Weaknesses

  • Higher APY requires active referrals
  • Grow Your Savings program scheduled end 12/31/21

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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