Cushion helps consumers safeguard their money by automatically negotiating bank and credit card fees. We leverage artificial intelligence, advanced fee-detection technology, and bank-level encryption to put money back into their accounts—quickly, efficiently, and securely.
Paul Kesserwani was born in San Francisco, but as a first-generation Lebanese American, he spent the majority of his adolescent years in his parents’ home country of Lebanon. There, he felt used to dealing with instability, as his family battled the banks and government on a regular basis. So when he came back to the U.S. for college, he expected a more pro-consumer approach. He graduated in 2008 just as the housing market was collapsing, and it opened his eyes to the system’s harsh realities: that it’s not designed in favor of the consumer, and that someone would have to work proactively and tirelessly to avoid landing in a bad situation.
In the summer of 2016, Kesserwani, then back in the Bay Area and working in tech, was helping his parents dispute a costly balance transfer fee while they were in Beirut, Lebanon, with virtually no access to their bank. He simultaneously uncovered more than $400 in charges on his own account. After several stressful confrontations with his bank and credit card company, he realized there had to be a better, easier, more effective way.
He thought: Why do I have to waste so much time to get my own hard-earned money back? And what about the people who are too busy to call their banks, or unfamiliar with how the U.S. banking system works—will they ever see their money again? “Basically if you’re an average person, you’re left to fend for yourself in this complex, constantly changing landscape,” Kesserwani says.
After extensive research, he discovered that Americans spend approximately $200 billion annually on bank and credit card fees with no digital solution to combat them. So he created a solution: Cushion.
Founder & CEO
Paul is a technical founder who has spent the past twelve years working in high-impact operations, revenue, and product roles. Prior to founding Cushion, Paul’s work contributed to three consecutive exits, including Twitter’s IPO.
At Twitter, Paul founded the Revenue Operations team where he helped scale revenue in the U.S. and internationally before transitioning to the product team where he managed Twitter’s Advertising API. Paul has a Computer Engineer degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and absolutely loves working on products (and personal hacks) that help save time and/or money.
Ivan has spent more than two decades writing secure scalable code for companies ranging from early-stage startups to tech giants like IBM. It’s at one of those early-stage startups where he met Paul before the company was acquired by Twitter.
Prior to joining Cushion, Ivan spent three years at Bill.com. There, he helped scale their payment engine which currently processes over $50 billion worth of transactions each year. When he’s not writing code, you can find Ivan on the ski slopes or building an Ethereum farm in the garage with his kids.
What is Cushion?
Cushion is a financial technology (fintech) company based in San Francisco, California. Our mission is to help consumers protect their money, save more, and live financially healthier lives, and we’re backed by some of the best investors in the world—including Flourish Ventures, Vestigo Ventures, Afore Capital, and several others.
We are the leading experts at detecting fees, predicting when overdrafts may occur, and determining which fees are negotiable or not. Our sophisticated algorithm continuously scans customers’ accounts for fees, shares analytics and everything they need to know to act accordingly, as well as helps them avoid more fees in the future.
What is ⚛️Fee Genius?
⚛️Fee Genius is Cushion’s ultra-smart fee monitoring tool that scans customers’ accounts 24/7, alerts them about sneaky bank and credit card fees, predicts when they might overdraft, lets them know which fees are negotiable, which banks are cooperative (and which ones are not), and much more.
We also offer an optional 💭Fee Negotiation add-on, which enables Cushion to automatically negotiate fees on customers’ behalf when we determine that they have a high likelihood of getting a refund.
What types of fees does Cushion negotiate?
Cushion handles a wide variety of bank penalties on credit cards, checking accounts, and savings accounts, including overdraft fees, ATM fees, monthly service fees, credit card interest charges, late fees, wire transfer fees, foreign transaction fees, and many more. No fee is too big or too small.
Which financial institutions does Cushion support?
We support all 15,000 U.S. banks and credit unions.
How successful is the fee negotiation process?
We’ve refunded our customers more than $10 million in bank and credit card fees, with $3,400 being our largest refund to date. We do our best to get our customers refunds on each negotiation, however there are no guarantees that they will receive a refund from their bank. Results vary based on their account standing, relationship with the bank, recent refunds, as well as many other factors.
How does Cushion keep customers’ data safe?
Keeping customers’ data safe is our top priority. We operate with high-security standards to protect data, invest in security partnerships and in-house expertise, and never sell customers’ information.
We use bank-level security (256-bit SSL) to make sure sensitive personal and financial information is fully encrypted and securely stored. The most sensitive information (like bank usernames and passwords) never touch Cushion’s servers and is only handled by our security partners. The rest of our data is stored securely on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is trusted by Fortune 500 companies, banks, and some departments of the federal government.
How does Cushion’s negotiation and refund process work?
Customers just have to sign up and connect their bank and credit card accounts—Cushion will take care of the rest. Our advanced algorithms continuously scan their accounts and calculate the best time to negotiate a refund with their bank. First, we negotiate fees that they’ve already accrued, typically within the past 3–6 months. The system kicks off a negotiation for the set of fees with the highest likelihood of being refunded, then it monitors for new fees and chips away at them over time as well.
The negotiation process can take anywhere from 2–60 days, depending on the financial institution, but we keep customers updated along the way. Once we receive a response from the bank, we notify the customer via email and a web app notification whether they received a refund.
How much does Cushion cost?
⚛️Fee Genius costs $4.99 for a year of daily transaction scanning, bank and credit card fee detection, fee insights and analytics, and fee alerts.
💭Fee Negotiation, an optional add-on, comes with automated fee negotiation, which relies on ⚛️Fee Genius’ advanced algorithms to analyze a bunch of data points to kick off a negotiation. 💭Fee Negotiation comes with no upfront cost. However, if we successfully complete a negotiation, we take a 39% commission of the refunded fee amount.
With this model, we only win when the customer wins 💪