Best banks and credit unions for mobile banking
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Banks and credit unions nationwide are feeling pressured to woo customers through a growing channel: mobile banking.
Mobile banking is becoming a more popular route for customers to check their balances and manage their finances. In 2021, 67 percent of U.S. retail bank customers used their banks’ mobile apps, according to J.D. Power’s U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study — a 7 percentage-point increase from the previous year. An easy-to-use app may become one more reason to stay put with a bank or credit union.
The most impressive mobile banking apps will save you time on basic tasks, like depositing checks and transferring money between accounts. The best banks to work with also help you take more control of your money habits through less common features in their apps, like an early payday or alerts when there’s a risk of an overdraft.
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Best Mobile Banking Apps for 2023
- Chase Bank: Best for automated savings features
- Bank of America: Best for virtual assistance
- USAA: Best for automated savings and automated assistant
- Alliant Credit Union: Best for visual information
- Huntington Bank: Best for predictive money tools
- Capital One Bank: Best for account alerts
- Chime: Best for early payday and automated savings
- Varo: Best for early payday and competitive savings yield
Chase Bank: Best mobile banking app for automated savings features
The big bank offers a well-reviewed mobile app and continues to pepper it with all kinds of tools for users to safeguard and budget their money.
Like many apps, the Chase mobile app lets users check their account balances and deposit checks using a smartphone camera.
You can also take advantage of some edgier features on the Chase app. One stand-out feature of the Chase app is Autosave, which makes automatic transfers from your checking to savings account. For instance, you can tell the app to move $100 into your savings every time your checking account gets a deposit that is more than $1,000. Chase will also waive the monthly savings account fee for customers who set up automatic transfers of at least $25 to savings.
The bank app displays spending and saving information on a non-ledger interface. With the budget feature, the app automatically tracks individual debit and credit card transactions. It will calculate how much money you can potentially save according to your monthly budget, along with suggestions on when to cut off spending daily to maximize these savings.
The app also lets you add external accounts.
Read Bankrate’s review of Chase Bank.
Standout features: Automated savings features and budget tracking.
Bank of America: Best mobile banking app for virtual assistance
Like Chase, Bank of America offers a mobile app that stands out from peers, including a unique feature for finding information.
In 2018, Bank of America made an industry splash by rolling out Erica, a virtual assistant, in its app. Erica can answer financial questions like “What is my routing number?” or “What ways can I earn more money this year?” The assistant can find specific transactions and caution you when your account is at risk of an overdraft. Erica even answers coronavirus-related queries.
The mobile app gives customers the ability to save time when they visit a branch. On the app, you can schedule an appointment with a bank specialist, for example.
Customers can enroll their Bank of America debit card in its “keep the change” program. The program rounds up debit card purchases and automatically deposits the extra change into a savings account, which can be tracked from the mobile app.
The app also lets customers perform more routine functions such as paying back friends, depositing checks, getting alerts and more.
Read Bankrate’s review of Bank of America.
Standout features: Virtual assistant.
USAA: Best mobile banking app for automated savings and automated assistant
The San Antonio, Texas-based institution that serves military members and their families has long been regarded as a digital banking leader and for good reason: USAA, which pioneered mobile deposit capture technology , continues to roll out features that help those on the go.
A standout feature on the USAA app is its automated assistant. Members can ask USAA’s assistant questions by typing in their queries or asking them out loud just as they might with Siri.
Members can also use USAA’s technology to kick-start a savings habit. When enrolled in its text savings tool, USAA moves small amounts of money (from $1 to $9) from your checking into your savings account every few days. Members can also automatically have a portion of their deposits and tax refund transferred to a savings account, as well as get a score on their financial health.
If you want to give feedback to inform product development, join its pilot program. The institution makes improvements based on member polls and feedback.
With the app, you will have access to transaction staples, too, such as sending money to friends and paying bills.
Read Bankrate’s review of USAA.
Standout features: Automated savings and automated assistant.
Alliant Credit Union: Best mobile banking app for visual information
The Chicago credit union has scored the No. 1 spot four years in a row for Bankrate’s ranking of credit unions. Among the reasons it stands out? Its highly rated mobile app.
Though Alliant’s mobile app isn’t the most cutting edge, it offers the banking essentials (like viewing your transaction history and mobile check deposit). It also provides a sleek visual breakdown of your spending for each connected account, and users can set up one-time or recurring payments ahead of time. Customers with travel plans can notify the credit union through the app of the destination and dates of the trip to ensure transactions go through. The app also allows users to request a replacement of their payment card if it’s gone missing.
Alliant is primarily a digital-only credit union, and it’s easy to become a member. Supporting the credit union’s partner charity, Foster Care to Success, will qualify you for membership.
Standout features: Visuals of your spending.
Huntington Bank: Best mobile banking app for predictive money tools
The regional bank’s mobile banking app has many features to make banking more convenient. Mobile deposit capture? Check. The ability to see your balance with a single tap? Check. ATM finder? Check.
Additionally, the bank offers extra features for financial protection. Through Huntington Heads Up, account holders receive notifications should a merchant charge the same bill twice, when they’re in danger of overdrawing an account and when a charge for a subscription hits.
The Huntington mobile app comes with several budgeting tools. Among them is a calendar that shows upcoming transactions based on income and payment patterns, up to three months ahead of time. Another budgeting tool is Spend Setter, a tool that allows customers to set monthly budgets and then sends alerts when they’re close to exceeding or have exceeded the spending budget.
The regional bank topped J.D. Power’s 2021 ranking of U.S. regional banking mobile apps for overall customer satisfaction.
Read Bankrate’s review of Huntington Bank.
Standout features: Predictive money and budgeting tools.
Capital One Bank: Best mobile banking app for account alerts
Capital One’s mobile banking app offers an all-in-one service where users can view bank account balances, account statements, credit cards and upcoming bills.
Like several other banking apps, Capital One comes with a virtual assistant, which is named Eno. Eno can answer questions about your accounts, send notifications about account activity and even send notifications to a smart watch. Eno also helps keep your money protected, by sending alerts when there’s an unusually large purchase charged to your account or if something is charged twice.
Real-time transaction notifications are another way the Capital One app helps customers stay on top of their spending.
The app comes with standard mobile banking features, too, including mobile check deposit and the peer-to-peer payment service Zelle.
Read Bankrate’s review of Capital One Bank.
Standout features: Account activity alerts and virtual assistant.
Chime: Best mobile banking app for early payday and automated savings
The financial technology company, which offers checking and savings accounts, has been growing rapidly. Launched in 2014, Chime was the most downloaded digital banking app, according to a 2021 study by digital research company Apptopia.
Though Chime comes with many digital banking features, it’s not a bank. The startup partners with other banks to hold deposits. The app lets users deposit checks, find ATMs and take care of other ordinary banking tasks.
Known as a challenger bank, Chime says its mission is “to make financial peace of mind a reality for everyone.” To that end, the Chime app offers several tools aimed at improving financial health, including one that automatically moves spare change into a savings account for customers and another that shifts 10 percent of a paycheck into savings.
Chime comes with several account alert options, including a daily balance and instant transaction alert. Users can connect an external bank account to the app, too.
With direct deposit, Chime customers can access their paychecks up to two days early. Chime also allows account holders to overdraw an account without incurring a fee, up to $200 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals.
Standout features: Early payday and automated savings.
Varo: Best mobile banking app for early payday and competitive savings yield
Varo, which offers checking and savings, made fintech history in 2020 by becoming a bank.
With the disruptor’s mobile banking app, customers can: get a cash advance of up to $100, link external bank accounts and get paid a couple days early Varo also has an automatic savings tool that transfers a part of your direct deposits into a savings account. Plus, it offers a competitive yield on savings.
Standout features: Early payday and competitive savings yield.
Other apps to consider
A growing list of financial institutions offer much more than a ledger of your spending and savings through their apps — it’s not just limited to the companies mentioned. Some other financial institutions with well-rated mobile apps include U.S. Bank, Ally Bank, Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Citibank.
If you’re in the market for a new bank account paired with a great app, check out mobile-first options such as N26, Current and Dave Banking.
Recommended financial apps
A number of digital-only accounts to have launched in recent years. While not traditional bank accounts, these accounts pair with highly regarded mobile apps.
Some of our favorites are:
- Wealthfront: The robo-adviser offers a cash management account that pairs with a highly regarded mobile app. In the app, you can open an account, link other financial accounts to get advice, move money and more.
- Aspiration: The fintech company offers a cash management account that works with a mobile app that not only lets you pay back a friend or bill, but it also shows how where you spend money affects the environment.
- Venmo: The popular service that lets you pay your friends back also offers a debit card that works with the app.
Other factors (and banking apps) to consider
Remember, even the best apps encounter glitches, and you may occasionally run into snags, regardless of the developer.
Before committing to a new bank, look beyond its mobile app and research whatever other factors matter most to you. For example, look for fees it charges and what perks it pays. Bankrate’s guide to the best checking accounts is a good place to start comparing options.
For those that are happy with their current bank but still want to take advantage of more intuitive banking apps, consider linking your current bank account to a money saving app or even a different bank’s mobile app.