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Whether you’re a seasoned saver or just starting out, the best money-saving apps can help you build up your bank account. Each app offers its own set of tools and strategies to help you save. All you’ll need is a checking account and a smartphone. In addition to their practical benefits, these apps are designed to inspire you to get into the habit of saving, but without overthinking it.
You’ll need to share your bank data with a money-saving app (unless the app is provided directly by your bank), so it’s important to review the terms and conditions.
Oportun is an automated savings app that analyzes what goes in and out of your checking account. It then moves funds periodically from checking to savings in amounts its algorithms believe are safe to save.
Oportun is a good option for those who identify as spenders, not savers, and who like outsourcing decisions.
After a free 30-day trial, Oportun charges subscribers $5 a month. For that fee, you’ll get its auto-savings feature as well as the ability to use the app to pay down credit card debt and establish savings goals.
If Oportun determines that you can’t spare any money, it won’t withdraw anything until you’re in a safer position to save. If you attempt a transaction that would otherwise overdraw your account, Oportun usually will simply decline the transaction without charging a fee.
Your money is held at a partner bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), so you’re protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank, for each account ownership category.
Prior to March 2023, the app’s name was Digit. It was acquired by fintech company Oportun in 2021.
- Best for: Outsourcing savings decisions
- Cost: Free for 30 days, then $5 per month
Qapital also aims to help you save small amounts of money effortlessly, but with a twist: It lets users set up so-called savings rules. For instance, you could set up a guilty pleasure rule so the app stashes money into your savings every time you buy takeout. Like some investment apps, Qapital can also round up your change on purchases and apply that money to your savings. If you use a debit card to buy a $4.50 latte, for example, the app withdraws 50 cents from your checking and moves it to your savings. You can also set a rule to make the roundups larger.
The app is often applauded for its visual goals-based approach. You can attach photos to your goals so that the portal serves as a digital vision board for your money.
To use the app, you have a number of options: You can link an existing checking account or sign up for a Qapital Spending account, which comes with a debit card. You can also open a Qapital Goals savings account as well as a Qapital Invest account. What products you get depends on the plan you pay for.
- Best for: Those who are motivated to save by visualizing their goals
- Cost: The basic plan starts at $3 per month with additional tiered plans. You can get a 30-day free trial.
3. Truist Long Game
Truist Long Game tries to redirect some of the cash to savings that people would’ve spent on things like lottery tickets. An eligible Truist account and online banking profile are required to participate. Users can set up financial goals and be rewarded for money-saving progress. They can also answer trivia to earn coins, which can be used to play games, and any cash winnings go toward savings goals.
The Long Game app was acquired in 2022 by Truist Financial Corp., which stated it planned to use the app to help customers build long-term financial wellness.
- Best for: A game-like experience
- Cost: Free
The digital-only brand Chime has won over millions of customers since launching in 2014. It offers bank accounts that include several auto-savings features.
If you send your direct deposit to your Chime account, you can also establish a rule for Chime to move a percentage of your paycheck into your savings. A round-up option is also available to boost savings. The Chime savings account earns an annual percentage yield (APY) that’s well above the national average.
Like other challenger banks, Chime doesn’t hold your bank deposits since it’s not technically a bank. Customer funds are held by FDIC-insured partner banks The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank.
The Chime app comes highly rated on Google Play and the App Store. In addition to setting up automated savings rules, it allows you to receive daily account balance notifications.
- Best for: Those who want their bank app to save their spare change
- Cost: Free
Current is a fintech company that offers a variety of financial health tools through a mobile banking app. Customers can set up savings goals called “pods” to automatically sweep money aside for your chosen goals, like a rainy day fund or a vacation. You can also move money directly into your savings pods.
Money deposited into savings pods earns a highly competitive rate on balances of up to $2,000 per pod. Banking services are provided by FDIC-insured bank Choice Financial Group.
Users can also use the app to buy and sell cryptocurrency without trading fees.
- Best for: Young adults seeking a banking alternative
- Cost: Free basic checking account
If you already have some emergency savings and want to take on some risk, you might decide to invest. Acorns is one of the more popular apps that puts your spare change into an investment account.
Once you link a debit or credit card to the fintech app, Acorns will round up your purchases to the next dollar and invest that spare change into a diversified investment portfolio based on your goals. You can also set up a recurring transfer into Acorns.
Acorns also offers a retirement investment account and an FDIC-insured checking account.
- Best for: Novice investors
- Cost: Starts at $3 per month
Mint organizes and monitors your accounts, all in one place. You can connect all of your different bank and credit card accounts, in addition to any loans and investments you may have.
With Mint’s program, you can see a complete financial portrait, giving you the bigger picture of your finances so you know how best to manage them. You can also set up special notifications so you never miss a bill and regularly monitor any subscriptions you may have. You can even receive a notification if any of your regular subscriptions increase in cost.
With the ability to create custom budgets, you can track and improve overall spending and debt. It’s also free, because it makes its money from partners instead.
- Best for: Financial newcomers
- Cost: Free
8. You Need a Budget
You Need a Budget (YNAB) allows you to set up a budget and track your expenses. The way it works is you assign the money currently in your bank account to different categories of your budget. Setting your savings targets in this way helps you stick to your spending plans. Every dollar in your account is accounted for and assigned a job.
Through the app, you’re only able to assign categories to dollars that are already in your bank account. On your next payday, you’ll be able to dole out jobs to the new dollars.
The app gives you the option to link external accounts, credit cards and loans so it can automatically tie them into your budget. Those who don’t wish to link outside accounts can enter balance information manually.
YNAB claims that those who begin using it save an average of $600 in the first two months and over $6,000 in the first year.
- Best for: Those who prefer a hands-on budgeting approach
- Cost: Free for 34 days, then $14.99 paid monthly or $99 paid annually
Are money saving apps safe?
Fintech companies take multiple security measures to protect your data. The safety of an app will vary by company, so review the terms and conditions to see if you’re comfortable with the ways in which the company is handling your financial data.
Why you should use a money saving app
If you tend to spend before you save, these apps can help you adjust your behavior patterns. They’re also a great option if you’re just starting to build your savings. Rather than requesting a big lump sum like some traditional savings accounts do, these apps regularly move small amounts of money into your savings so the task requires less effort.
Once you’ve built up some savings, you might want to consider moving your money into a high-yield savings account. Yields can vary significantly from bank to bank, so it pays to shop around. You’ll often find better rates at online banks than at brick-and-mortar ones. If you don’t need to access your savings for a certain amount of time, you can also consider parking your money in a certificate of deposit.