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M1 Spend Review – High Yield Checking + Investing

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

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

M1 Spend is a top notch cash account, included with the customizable M1 Finance investment platform. The M1 checking account seamlessly integrates with the company’s Investment and M1 Borrow offers. The M1 Finance fintech company was founded in 2015 by Brian Barnes and has built a devoted following and sound reputation. The M1 Finance Checking Account is available for free or with additional heft with the fee-based M1 Plus account.

M1 Finance Spend Account
  • Fees
  • Yield
  • Ease of Use
  • Debit Card


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

  • M1 Finance customers
  • Investors with high cash balance


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


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

*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.

M1 Spend Account Features

Features With M1 Plus With M1 Basic
FDIC Insured yes Yes
Minimum $0 $0
Interest Rate High yields* 0%
ATM fee rebates 4 per month 1 per month
Cash back debit card 1% 0%
Paper checks M1 will pay bills and send paper checks on your behalf. No
Foreign transaction fee All FTFs reimbursed 0.80% to 1.0%
Annual Fee $95/year – 3 months FREE with special promotion.
M1 Plus includes additional benefits.

M1 High Yield Interest Rate – 5.0% APY*

What is M1 Spend?

The M1 Finance high yield checking account has a lot going for it. It is insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per account, to keep your money safe. There are two different M1 Spend levels available: Basic or Plus. Both have their unique advantages, as listed in the chart above. And you might even consider it a savings account too, with the high yield cash option through M1 Finance Plus. Although, M1 is adding a high yield savings account that should be launching soon!

M1 High Yield Interest Rate – 5.0% APY*

*For M1 Plus customers

M1 Finance Spend – Basic is fee free. The interest-bearing checking account and cash back debit card do not offer interest on your cash or cash back on the debit card. 

While M1 Plus (with $95 annual fee waived for the first three months), offers enticing features like a 1% cash back debit card and high 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 for both Basic and Plus users.

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
  • M1 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.
  • Pay bills.
  • Direct deposit your paycheck – and access* the funds two days early.  

M1 Owners Rewards Card

The new M1 Finance Owners Rewards card enhances your investing. Users get a unique bevy of features with this new credit card. Rewards include huge cash back rewards for spending at any company where you own shares in a taxable account.

M1 Finance

M1 Plus users receive a fee-waiver, while basic users pay $95 per year. With all of the benefits, it makes sense to sign up for M1 Plus, if you like the credit card.

M1 Owners Rewards Card features:

  • Tiered rewards for purchases for qualifying brands you own in a taxable account.
  • Cash-back rewards tiers depend upon the company – 10%, 5% or 2.5%. To receive the cash back bonus, you need to own a share in the company delivering the cash back reward. 
  • Rewards are automatically reinvested in your preferred M1 account (excluding retirement, trust or custodial).

About M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a unique investment platform that offers free investing, banking, and borrowing. This online financial platform 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.
  • Cryptocurrency investing.
  • 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 crypto digital coins. 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 Finance

M1 Borrow is a line of credit for M1 Invest customers. Users with an account value of at least $2,000 (exceptions may occur) can borrow up to 40% of their account value. With M1 Borrow, M1 Basic customers and M1 Plus customers pay competitive rates for their margin loans. As you might expect, the rate for Plus customer is lower. 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. The M1 Plus account charges $125 annually (waived for the first 3 months), 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. Basic users get 1 free M1 debit card ATM withdrawal.
  • You have access to a lower interest rate when you borrow.
  • You get 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • You earn a high 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 high interest rate.
  • Borrowers who will profit from the low 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.

M1 High Yield Interest Rate – 5.0% APY*

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 offers over 30 types from retirement, to income, and even hedge fund portfolios.

M1 Finance

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.

Read: Is M1 Finance Safe?

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:

Read: Robo Advisors With High Yield Cash Accounts

M1 Spend – Pros and Cons


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

M1 Finance


  • No paper checks.
  • Average customer service.
  • No bank branches.
  • Best features available for M1 Plus users.


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. 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, crypto and ETF investments. The cash management accounts are similar. Read M1 Finance vs Robinhood for more information.

Does M1 Finance pay interest?

M1 Spend account holders earn high interest rates when they sign up for M1 Plus.

Is M1 Finance FDIC insured?

Yes. M1 Spend is not a bank and the M1 Spend Checking accounts are provided by Lincoln Savings Bank. Your M1 Finance account is covered by FDIC insurance through Lincoln Savings Bank up to $250,000. This insurance protects against bank default or bankruptcy.

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, investment management and borrowing.

For larger cash balances and an M1 Plus subscription, the M1 Spend account offers attractive returns. And, if you need to borrow, the low margin rates for M1 Borrow are enticing. Finally, for users who prefer banking on an app the customer ratings are relatively high. Although, if you want a high yield cash account without needing to pay for M1 Plus, you might look to Wealthfront Cash, Betterment Cash or a large financial firm like Schwab.

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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

* Obtaining stated APY (annual percentage yield) or opening an account does not require a minimum account balance. Stated APY is valid from date of account opening. Account fees may reduce earnings. Variable APY rate subject to paid M1 Plus subscription. Stated APY (annual percentage yield) for M1 Savings accounts is subject to change prior to product launch due to changing federal funds rate. 

Disclosure: I have an account with M1 Finance.

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Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS brings decades of finance and investing experience to Robo-advisor Pros. She is a former investment portfolio manager and taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Barbara Friedberg's published work includes Personal Finance; An Encyclopedia of Modern Money Management (Greenwood Press), Invest and Beat the Pros-Create and Manage a Successful Investment Portfolio and How to Get Rich; Without Winning the Lottery. Follow her on twitter