Atmos Financial Review 2021 – High APY Account With Climate Initiatives
Atmos Financial is doing things differently. Not only are they offering a higher than average APY on savings accounts, but they also directly support green energy companies and projects. Atmos lends out your deposits to fund projects that address climate change, which is how you earn such a high APY. These can be serious perks, but Atmos lacks banking features some customers will miss.
At a Glance
What we like
- High yield savings account
- Cash back debit card
- No fees
- Funds clean energy initiatives
What Needs Work
- Limited products and features
- Recurring donations required for highest APY
- Limited information
- Savers who want a high yield account
- People concerned with climate change
Ease of use
Atmos Financial wants your savings balance to do more than simply sit in your account. They’re offering a higher than average APY, up to 5% back on purchases with your debit card, and climate change initiatives.
It’s unusual to find a bank with those features (especially a commitment to climate change), but Atmos Financial accounts are FDIC-insured and help you make a deeper commitment to green energy. Learn how Atmos Financial puts your money to work, what you can expect when you open an account with them, and who Atmos is best for.
Atmos Financial Review 2021: High APY Account With Climate Initiatives
What is Atmos Financial?
Atmos Financial was launched in January of 2021 by Ravi Mikkelsen and Pete Hellwig. It is not a bank, but Atmos is partnered with Evolve Bank & Trust (an FDIC-insured institution) to lend money to “climate-positive projects.”
Even though Atmos isn’t technically a bank, Atmos customers are given access to a high-interest rate bank account. Atmos then uses the funds held in these accounts to fund infrastructure projects that work to combat climate change.
Atmos says that they’re able to offer higher than average interest rates because they’re loaning money, which is paid back with interest. Their goal is to “create a new model for climate-focused banking.”
What does Atmos Financial offer?
Atmos Financial has a high-interest online savings account, called AtmosACTION, offering a savings rate of up to 0.51%— that’s more than 10x higher than the national average of only 0.04%. This checking account has no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements. They also have cashback checking that pays up to 5.00% cash back on hundreds of different sustainable brands and services.
More and more banks, especially online banks like Atmos, offer higher-than-average interest rates on checking accounts. Atmos Financial differentiates itself with a commitment to clean energy, which is actually how they pay out those high interest rates.
Atmos generates income from loaning its deposits to clean energy initiatives, and some of that money goes to customers in the form of earned interest. Atmos then makes money on the spread between the loan and the interest it pays to customers.
Atmos Financial features
High-interest rate savings account
The AtmosACTION account is FDIC-insured up to $250,000, and there are no monthly fees or minimum requirements. They actually don’t even charge miscellaneous fees for wire transfers or ACH deposits.
Atmos advertises an interest rate of up to 0.51%, but the rate you earn at depends on your account balance and whether or not you set up monthly recurring donations to at least one of their recommended non-profits.
Average account balance
Base savings rate
With recurring donations
$10,000.00 - $24,999.99
You can open up to six savings accounts, and they’ll all earn the interest of the total balance you hold through Atmos. So if you have 5 accounts with a total balance of over $25,000.00, even the accounts with low balances will earn 0.40% to 0.51%.
Atmos also shows you in their app and desktop site how much carbon your account balance (they loan 100% of your balance out to clean energy initiatives) is saving. For example, an account with a $13,000 balance is saving 15 ones of carbon per year, or the equivalent of 34,239 miles driven.
This account follows federal law that states you are only allowed up to 6 withdrawals a month, and they may also set daily or monthly transaction limits.
It’s worth noting that these rates are subject to change.
Cash back checking
The Atmos Financial checking account is a newer feature. It comes with unlimited fee-free ATM withdrawals at over 55,000 nationwide ATMs. There are also no fees or minimum balance requirements.
Your debit card pays up to 5% cash back when you use it at companies that support or promote sustainability, clean energy, eco-friendly goods, etc. This list includes companies like Imperfect Foods, Patagonia, Allbirds, Burt’s Bees, Klean Kanteen, and Ben & Jerry’s.
Because of their commitment to addressing the climate crisis, Atmos Financial states on their site the kind of company they will and won’t support.
Below are the kinds of projects they will support with AtmosACTION account balances:
- Renewable energy
- Regenerative agriculture
- Electric transportation
- Weather resilience
- Building electrification
- Energy efficiency overhauls
Here are the kinds of companies and projects Atmos will not loan money to:
- Fossil fuel extraction
- Clean energy projects that displace Black, Indigenous, or other frontline communities
- Fast fashion clothing
- Industrial agriculture
- Industrial livestock production
- Generic real estate
Put your money to work fighting climate change
Atmos Financial only funds green energy projects and rewards customers with cash back at purchases made at sustainable companies.Check out Atmos Financial
Atmos is new, and that’s clear in their small list of offerings, but we do have a little bit of an idea of what’s to come. They’ve said that on their list are climate-positive loan products. We don’t know anything else about what that’s going to look like, but at least you can tell where they’re headed.
Atmos Financial fees
Atmos does not charge minimum balance fees, monthly fees, service fees, or any other fees attached to their checking account. Below is their full fee schedule:
General banking services
Account opening fees
Minimum savings account balance
Monthly savings account fees
Domestic wires (incoming)
Domestic wires (outgoing)
Not yet available
International wires (incoming)
Not yet available
International wires (outgoing)
Not yet available
You’ll notice from that table that there are a few things you won’t get with an Atmos Financial account. No international wire transfers or outgoing domestic wires.
There’s also not a lot of information on their site about debit card fees. The card doesn’t have monthly fees, and they say they have fee-free ATM transactions at over 55,000 ATMs nationwide, but they don’t tell you how much they charge for out-of-network ATMs. It’s likely you’ll pay a couple of dollars, but I’d like if they were explicit about that.
Atmos Financial and liquidity
Knowing that Atmos lends deposits out to fund projects may have you concerned about liquidity. As in, what happens when I want to withdraw my money? Atmos says they offer complete liquidity with no lock-up periods.
The fact that Atmos loans out your deposits is totally normal. Banks use your money to make money, including loaning your deposits out to other borrowers. They charge those borrowers interest — can be companies or individual borrowers — and they make money on the interest paid back on those loans.
The difference between what they earn on the loans and the interest they pay customers is called the spread. That spread is how they generate income, and even a small percentage can yield a lot of income when you consider how much money is passing through your bank.
Banks are required by federal law to maintain a minimum reserve on hand at all times. This guarantees a certain amount of cash flow, allowing you to always have access to your funds.
How safe are my funds?
Atmos Financial accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. They also use enterprise-grade SSL security, and any data stored is encrypted.
Who is Atmos for?
What Atmos Financial is doing is different, so it’s not going to be for everyone. One thing most of us can get behind is high yield savings accounts, which Atmos has even for those with low account balances. Atmos accounts, even at the lowest interest rate, pay significantly higher than average.
Because there are limited account features — no checking writing capabilities and limited wire transfers, for example — Atmos is going to be better for people with a simplified financial life. Most of those looking for debit card perks and a solid savings account.
Atmos will also appeal to those who feel strongly about addressing climate change. Their commitment to not funding certain projects or companies and incentivizing donations to non-profits speaks to their mission.
Atmos Financial pros and cons
- High yield savings account: You can currently earn anywhere from 0.30% to 0.51%
- Cash back debit card: Earn up to 5% back when you use your card to make purchases from companies that align with Atmos’ mission.
- No fees: Most companies and banks hide fees in the small print, but Atmos is truly fee free.
- Funds clean energy initiatives: Climate change is a reality we need to address, and Atmos is backing their beliefs with how they lend money and fund projects.
- Limited products: There are limited wire transfers, no checking writing capabilities, etc.
- Recurring donations required for highest APY: You’ll need to set up recurring donations to earn the highest APY on your account.
- Limited information: Atmos Financial is legit, but their website lacks support and about articles that help customers really understand their products.
Atmos Financial Review: The final word
Atmos Financial is one of several fintech companies that are challenging the way big banks do business. They want to help customers do more with their money, as in using it to back their values. The added bonus is that you get a solid APY and cash back card. But with Atmos’ lack of features, this account isn’t going to be for everyone.
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About Millennial Money Man
Bobby Hoyt is a former band director who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in 18 months on his teaching salary and then left his job to run Millennial Money Man full-time. He helps other Millennials earn more through side hustles, save more through budgeting tools and apps, and pay off debt. He is a personal finance expert who has been seen on Forbes, Reuters, MarketWatch, CNBC, International Business Times, Business Insider, US News, Yahoo Finance, and many other personal finance and entrepreneurship media outlets.