M1 Spend Guide – Everything You Need to Know About the M1 Checking Account

Bob HaegeleBy: Bob Haegele

August 22, 2021August 22, 2021

M1 Finance is a multifaceted platform helping ordinary Americans to organize the bulk of their finances all in one place. In our M1 Finance review, we briefly touched upon how you can use a high-yield savings account to support your investments.


Knowing how to save is almost as important as knowing what to invest in. In fact, one in four Americans has no retirement savings at all.


When you create an account with M1 Investing, you also have the option of opening up a checking account. Used correctly, it can be the lifeblood of creating a regular investing habit.


So, what do you need to know about M1 Finance’s checking account?

What is M1 Spend?

Alongside its investing platform, M1 Finance offers a checking account. Even though M1 Investing is not a bank. It still has a lot going for it. It also has full FDIC coverage of up to $250,000, so your money is protected in the event M1 becomes insolvent.


You have two banking options available: M1 Spend Basic and M1 Spend Plus. Both have different options, but only M1 Plus offers a high-yield savings account.

So, what’s the difference between the two?


  • M1 Spend Basic – Fee-free, but you receive no cashback debit card and you will not accumulate any interest.

  • M1 Spend Plus - $125 per year, with the first year free. Provides a 1% cashback debit card and you receive 1% on your cash balance. You also get four ATM withdrawals per month completely free.

While the interest yield is rather insignificant, you are unlikely to find anything better with a traditional bank as interest rates are at historical lows. The cashback debit card is a nice balance, particularly if you are a regular online shopper.

M1 Finance Spend Features

Although we wouldn’t recommend making M1 Spend your primary bank account, it is a great backup account to support your usual bank account. Its major features include:


  • Free digital checking
  • Free debit card
  • Low ATM withdrawal fees
  • Smart transfers to automatically transfer funds to your M1 Investing account
  • Pay your bills through M1
  • Supports direct deposit paycheck (access two days early)

Who Can Open an M1 Spend Account?

Anyone who is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or green card holder is eligible to open a checking account. All you need is a U.S. address and a phone number.


In most cases, the application period is far more convenient than with a traditional bank. Occasionally, you may be required to upload some additional documentation, but this is far from the norm.

How to Open Your M1 Checking Account

M1 Finance has made the account opening process as streamlined as possible to support its users. You have the option to either create an account from your web browser or by downloading the app. Just click “Open an Account” to initiate the process.


The simple on-screen instructions allow you to open an account in a matter of minutes. Processing times are much faster than with conventional banks.


After opening your account, you are free to take advantage of all its features. Furthermore, you can use it to invest in M1 Finance pies to help secure your financial future.


Take note, you will need to link it to an existing bank account to make your first deposit. Remember, M1 is an online-only platform, so it has no physical branches.


Both the bank account and the M1 pies platform work in harmony. It’s a startlingly simple way of getting your money onto the platform to make that next winning investment.

How to Deposit Your Money on M1 Spend

By far, the easiest way to deposit money into M1 Spend is to use a linked bank account. Just click on the transfer tab to start sending money to your account. You can use an external bank account to fund your M1 Spend and M1 investment portfolio.


Many investors choose to set up a recurring transfer every month to ensure that they continue to grow their portfolios. The integration of the Smart Transfer feature empowers you to put your investing on autopilot.


Alternatively, you can use traditional brokerage or retirement accounts to bring some of your funds on board. Just click the “Account Transfer” button and upload a statement from whichever account you intend to use to transfer the money.


One big downside of M1 Finance is there is currently no option for wire transfers, which is a huge disappointment.

The Bottom Line

M1 Spend is a viable checking account with competitive rates. Since it’s so closely entwined with the M1 Investing portfolio, this is an ideal addition to your portfolio. On its own, it doesn’t have the same flexibility and uses as a traditional bank account, but as a secondary bank account, it’s one of the best options on the market.


If you want to create an account with M1 Finance and invest for free with one of the most innovative robo-advisors around, follow this link.

Bob Haegele

About the Author:

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer, entrepreneur, and dog walker. He's a money management expert and investing connoisseur. Bob has been writing about personal finance for three years and now manages several personal finance sites, including The Frugal Fellow and Modest Money. You can also find him contributing to popular websites such as GOBankingRates, Bankrate, and Insurance.com. You can see more of his work on Muck Rack and Contently, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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