I don’t know who does PR for Robinhood, but they are good. I don’t ever recall this many media articles in a single day for a checking account. Techcrunch, Barron’s, Business Insider, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNBC, Marketwatch… All coming the day after they deactivated some user accounts without notice and
Robinhood announced a new
- 3% APY, subject to change at any time.
- No minimum balance, no monthly fee, no overdrafts allowed.
- ATM/Debit card with free access at 75,000+ ATMs (Allpoint and MoneyPass ATM networks). Only 4,000 of those ATMs accept deposits, and you are limited to depositing up to $1,000 per day and $5,000 per month.
- “Pay bills, send and receive checks, transfer money, and set up direct deposit–all from the Robinhood app.”
- “This process will not affect your credit score.” (I assume this means no credit check.)
- No physical checkbooks. You request a check via app and they will send a physical check via USPS First Class mail the next business day. Limited to $2,500 per day and $10,000 total per month.
- Mobile check deposit (take pictures on your smartphone) is limited to $2,500 per day and $10,000 total per month.
What does SIPC insurance mean? As with any other US brokerage account, Robinhood has SIPC insurance. This covers up to $500,000 by the SIPC in cash and securities, of which $250,000 can be in cash. SIPC does not cover changes in value to securities. However, you may be surprised to know that per the
- Money market mutual funds.
- Treasury bills and Treasury bonds.
- Certificates of deposit.
Is your money earning 3% APY at Robinhood cash? securities? Robinhood is being rather vague about this. They say “we only use the safest assets, such as US treasuries”. Well, short-term US Treasuries are securities and they don’t even earn 3%. They call it a “cash management account”, but many cash management accounts have an FDIC-insured sweep (i.e. Fidelity CMA). Are they keeping it as pure “cash” and just crediting you money somehow? Are they just creating another money market mutual fund? Money market mutual funds are securities, and tightly regulated ones, especially after 2008 when the
In my opinion, if this is just a hyped-up money market mutual fund, the worst case scenario is that start-up Robinhood runs out of venture capital giving away free trades and crazy interest and both the brokerage fails and the money market fund has issues. While the SIPC sorts everything out, you might have to wait a bit to access your money. However, you will probably get most of your cash back eventually (up to the limits). You might lose a little bit of principal though. The Reserve fund mentioned above gave back 99 cents on the dollar, but it took over a year (!) for all the money to be distributed. No interest was paid during that lost time. Then there is the hassle from losing potentially your primary checking account and all the bill payments, direct deposits, etc.
In contrast, I feel that the FDIC has a more streamlined process to handle bank failures. Several banks fail every year. As long as you are within the limits, you’ll get every last penny back. Nearly all of the time, another bank will take over the deposits immediately and your transactions will keep posting as usual.
I see a lot of internet comments that are either “OMG I’m moving all my money here!” or “OMG you’d be stupid to keep any money here!”. I’m in the middle. I am
In any case, I don’t plan to move all of my money or my daily transactions over there. I just don’t trust them enough as a young start-up with barebones customer service that discourages phone calls. With all of the various deposit and withdrawal limits, I would definitely consider maintaining a full-service checking account somewhere else.
If you like how Robinhood checking sounds but don’t have a brokerage account yet, you should get your
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