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NEA Smart Money account review

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This free cash management account includes investment options, but it’s only for educators.

The National Education Association (NEA) offers a new Smart Money account that combines aspects of banking and investing. The account also earns a decent 0.21% APY, but only educators qualify and you can’t deposit checks.

$0 per month

Fee

0.21%

APY

Details

APY0.21%
Fee$0 per month
ATMsFree access to 55,000 in-network ATMs
Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50
New account fee$0
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Review by


Michael Benninger is a staff banking writer at Finder. He is a former credit analyst and longtime freelancer whose articles have been published by Intuit, Business Insider and the Los Angeles Times. Michael is passionate about all facets of personal finance and has written hundreds of articles about money management during the past decade.

Expert review

The NEA Smart Money account is best for educators who are more interested in investing than saving. You won’t have to worry about a monthly maintenance fee, and you’ll earn 0.21% APY. But although this is a good rate, you could earn more with a high-yield savings account, like SmartyPig Savings, which earns up to 0.7% APY.

Plus, only active or retired members can join the NEA Union and be eligible to open this account. If you’re after a cash management account with a higher rate, look at SoFi Money, which earns up to 0.25% APY, ATM reimbursements and cashback offers.

How do I open an NEA Smart Money account?

Opening a Smart Money account takes about five minutes, and you must have an active NEA Member Benefits account before applying.

  1. Go to the provider’s site and follow the steps to apply.
  2. From the Provider site, log in to your NEA Member Benefits account.
  3. Select the Open an Account button.
  4. Create an account on the NEA Smart Money website.
  5. Link an existing bank account or set up direct deposit to fund your Smart Money account.
  6. Download the NEA Smart Money app.
  7. Wait seven to 10 days until your debit card arrives.

Eligibility

To open an NEA Smart Money account, you must meet the following eligibility criteria.

  • At least 18 years of age
  • US citizen or legal alien with a valid US tax ID number
  • Resident of the US, Washington, DC or Puerto Rico
  • Active or retired educator
  • NEA Union member

Required information

You must also provide the following information when opening an NEA Smart Money account.

  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number
  • Government-issued ID
  • Verifiable US street address

What are the benefits of NEA’s Smart Money account?

With an NEA Smart Money account, you can pay bills and manage your savings and investment funds from the same interface. It also has these attractive features.

  • Few fees. There are no monthly fees, over-limit fees or fees for depositing or withdrawing funds from your investment accounts.
  • Earns interest. You’ll accrue a respectable 0.21% APY with this account.
  • Option to invest. You can keep your money in the FDIC-insured account or invest it in the short-duration or long-duration brokerage accounts.

Which brokerage account options do I have with NEA Smart Money?

NEA Smart Money accounts contain three subaccounts to choose from.
  • Federally Insured Account. This account is for everyday expenses.
  • Short Duration Account. This account is for short-term six- to 12-month investments.
  • Long Duration Account. This account is for funds you can invest for at least one year.

You can deposit any amount into any of these accounts at any time without paying a fee. You can also withdraw funds from these accounts whenever you’d like without facing any penalties. However, it can take two to four days for funds transferred out of your investment accounts to settle in your federally insured account.

What should I look out for?

Before opening an NEA Smart Money account, keep these drawbacks in mind.

  • Exclusively for educators. Only active and retired educators can join the NEA Union and be eligible to open a Smart Money account.
  • You could lose money. As with all investments, you could lose money depending on market conditions.
  • No checkwriting privileges or deposits. The NEA Smart Money app doesn’t support mobile check deposits, and you can’t deposit paper checks via ATMs or mail them to the NEA. If writing or depositing checks is important to you, you’ll need to use an external bank to transfer funds.

Is NEA Smart Money safe?

Yes. Uninvested funds kept in your account are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000, but invested funds could lose their value at any time. This account also provides fraud prevention tools to verify and protect your identity, and it uses advanced encryption protocols to safeguard the information you send to Investor Cash Management (ICM).

NEA Smart Money‘s ATM network and fees

NEA Smart Money accounts come with a debit card you can use for free at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs across the US and around the world. If you use an out-of-network ATM, you’ll pay a $2.50 fee plus whatever the owner of the ATM charges. If you use a non-Allpoint ATM outside of the US, the fee is $3.50.

Compare NEA Smart Money with other cash management accounts

Use this table to compare other cash management accounts by fee, minimum deposit and ATMs.

Name Product APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 1.00%
$10
55,000 free in-network ATMs
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and a $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first 60 days.
SoFi Money
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
SoFi Money
0.25%
$0
$0
SoFi Money® is a cash management account that charges no account fees to save, spend, and earn cash back rewards when you spend on brands you love.
Robinhood Cash Management
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Robinhood Cash Management
0.30%
$0
15,000 international ATMs for free + 75,000 ATMs in the US
$0
This brokerage account feature offers interest and no monthly fees but Robinhood support is only available by email.
Betterment Checking
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Betterment Checking
N/A
$10
No access to ATMs
The Betterment Checking account has no fees or minimums and unlimited ATM reimbursements.
Morgan Stanley CashPlus
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Morgan Stanley CashPlus
N/A
more than 2 million ATMs worldwide
Morgan Stanley’s CashPlus accounts offer several benefits for the investment firm’s existing clients.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How do I deposit or withdraw my money?

There are relatively few ways to deposit and withdraw funds from your NEA Smart Money account.

Funding

  • Direct deposit. Deposit your paycheck directly into your Smart Money account.
  • Automated clearing house (ACH) transfers. Deposit funds using a bank-to-bank transfer.
  • Incoming wire transfers. This account supports deposits via domestic and international wire transfers.

Withdrawals

  • ATM. Withdraw cash for free at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs around the world.
  • ACH transfers. Transfer funds from your Smart Money account to external banks.
  • Outgoing wire transfers. Send money to other individuals via outgoing wire transfers.

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