- Tax-preparation company H&R Block is taking another swing at banking with its Thursday rollout of Spruce, a fintech platform developed in partnership with MetaBank.
- Spruce is aimed at low-to-moderate-income (LMI) customers, and its accounts have no monthly fees or sign-up fees, and no minimum balance requirements, the company said.
- Spruce marks H&R Block’s second foray into banking, after it surrendered its charter and sold H&R Block Bank to BofI Federal Bank — now Axos Financial — in 2015.
Spruce is a long time coming. H&R Block first heralded plans for “a mobile-centric banking alternative” at its investor day in December 2020. The company in March 2021 announced it wanted to launch digital checking and savings accounts for consumers and small businesses.
The new mobile banking platform offers paycheck access up to two days early, overdraft protection up to $20, cash-back rewards, the ability to set personalized saving goals, and credit score monitoring.
Spruce offers a spending account with a debit card, as well as a connected savings account, to anyone, whether or not they are clients of H&R Block’s tax-prep service.
Spruce users can access more than 55,000 ATMs nationwide without fees.
“Spruce is a financial technology platform that combines the best features of leading neo-banks with H&R Block’s trusted brand, our 66-year history, and the insights we’ve gained from helping millions of customers every year,” Jeff Jones, H&R Block's CEO, said in a press release Thursday.
“Creating and launching Spruce is a huge milestone for our company as we continue to execute on our transformation and growth strategy, Block Horizons 2025.”
Spruce is embroiled in a trademark infringement suit the firm filed against Block, the payments company formerly known as Square, according to The Wall Street Journal.
H&R Block first tested the waters of banking in 2006, with the launch of H&R Block Bank. The company sold the bank to BofI, now Axos Financial, in 2015, and partnered with Axos until 2020 to offer its Emerald Card.
H&R's Blocks banking deposits will be held by MetaBank, which also issues the Spruce debit card.