Mobile app technology has made life much easier for financial consumers, and these ten mobile money apps are living proof that good things really do come in small packages - and offer big benefits.
When it comes to analyzing bank accounts and spending patterns, Digit is the real deal. "The app's software looks at your daily checking account balance, learns your spending habits and automatically moves small funds to your Digit account to increase savings," says Chad Parks, chief executive officer at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings. "The amounts vary depending on your checking balance and spending habits for that day/week/month. I notice they tend to pull smaller amounts between $5 and $10."
"This app can basically act as your bank," says Parks. "Simple offers two savings features - 'Goals' and 'Safe-to-Spend.' Goals allow you to save for anything from your upcoming trip to Maui to your student loan payment, by auto-transferring money each day to the Goals section of the app. Your money is still in your checking account -- Simple does not make you open a traditional savings account -- but when you look at your account, you just see a Safe-to-Spend balance, which excludes the funds in your 'Goals' pocket."
This is another new app that provides a fun way to save money. "Instead of paying you interest, you can earn coins when you add money to your Long Game savings account and use those coins to enter drawings and play games," says Ben Luthi, a personal finance expert at Student Loan Hero. "You earn either more coins or cash prizes, which get added to your savings."
You can't call a mobile app that processed $20 billion in financial transactions in 2016 "under-rated," but Venmo somehow doesn't get the publicity that PayPal gets. That should be changing, and fast. "I use this more than any other finance app," says Luthi. "It's not only perfect for sending and receiving money with friends, but I also use it to move money between my own bank accounts because their delivery time is faster than if I were to use a normal ACH transfer with my bank."
Qapital is an innovative app that uses a system of rules and goals to make saving money easier, says Susan Shain, a personal financial expert at Student Loan hero. "You could, for example, set up a 'guilty pleasure' rule that automatically contributes $5 toward your retirement goal every time you succumb to Starbucks," she says.
"I love this app," says Kevin Ha, a personal finance blogger at Financial Panther. "It's a bill pay app that is not very well known. I basically attach all my bills that I can pay online, and the app keeps track of them in one place. Then I can pay each bill through the app. Now, I stay on top of my bills, and I never miss a payment. And it's free."
This is a "must have" for people who like to invest in individual stocks, Ha says. "I usually stick to investing my savings into my 401(k) and Roth IRA, but every now and then I like to invest in tech stocks, and this is the best and free way to do so," he says.
This free app works for iPhone and Android and is totally free. It's also something of a Swiss Army Knife, mobile app-wise. "You can hook up your bank account or card to your account to fund your account or transfer your balance in the app back to the bank," says John Bruno, senior account executive at Sutherland Gold Group in San Francisco. Bruno says Circle differs from other mobile payment apps.
"For instance, unlike apps like Venmo, your U.S. dollars are FDIC-insured up to $250,000," he says. "Circle is private - there is no social feed for your friends to track who you are paying. Plus, you can use it internationally - Circle supports multiple currencies including dollars, pound sterling and the euro, which makes it easy to send and receive money to friends and family around the world."
This five-star-rated Apple Store app is highly useful for sole proprietors and other small business owners, says Aaron Lesher, head of customer success at Washington, D.C-based Hurdlr. "Anyone that has a 'side gig,' whether it's driving for Uber, selling T-shirts online or running their own consulting biz can use the app to automatically track their business profit, expenses, and taxes right from their smartphone," Lesher says. "We have tens of thousands of users that use the app daily."
Greenlight offers the world's first smart debit card for kids that enables parents to pick the exact stores (e.g. Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, etc.) where their children can spend money. "Parents can instantly send money to their kids anytime, anywhere. Real-time smartphone notifications tell parents where and when their child spends," the company says. "Parents can also automate allowances, instantly turn their child's Greenlight Card on or off, and have change automatically returned to them."