Banking Apps, Reviews

Mvelopes: The Digital Solution to Using the Envelope Budgeting System

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If you’ve done any reading about setting up a budget or keeping track of your expenses, you’ve probably heard about the cash envelope system for budgeting.

Using Cash Envelopes for Budgeting

The idea behind the cash envelope system is that you keep your cash in separate labeled envelopes for different spending categories in your budget, literally.

For example, you might have an envelope of cash dedicated to grocery spending, another for non-food household expenses (paper towels, toilet paper, stamps, etc.), and you may even decide to use cash for things like entertainment or dining out.

The cash envelope system was popularized by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, who advocates for the system as part of his budgeting strategy during his popular Financial Peace University course.

The cash envelope system can be a good way to help you control your spending if you choose to use your cash envelopes only and not carry any other forms of payment, like a debit card or credit card, in your wallet. Carrying cash only gives you a finite limit to how much you can spend. Even if you “cheat” by pulling money from other envelopes to cover overspending in one category, you will still be limited to only spending the amount of cash you are currently carrying.

That said, there are also some disadvantages to the traditional cash envelope system. For one, you will be carrying a lot of cash, which can be a safety concern. Plus, by carrying cash instead of having your money in a bank account, you will also be missing out on earning any potential interest on your money.

This is where Mvelopes comes into play.

What is Mvelopes?

mvelopesMvelopes is an app that provides a spinoff of the cash envelope budgeting system. Instead, you will set up your budget using the app and keep track of your spending using digital envelopes over paper ones. This eliminates the need to carry around paper envelopes stuffed full of cash, leaving you more vulnerable to theft or simply misplacing a few hundred dollars.

According to its website, Mvelopes helps users get out of debt faster, accumulate savings, and reach financial goals.

Some of the features that help users accomplish these goals include:

  • Compatibility with Windows and Mac
  • iPhone and Android App
  • The ability to connect with your bank and credit card accounts
  • 25 spending envelopes
  • Auto transaction gathering
  • Auto envelope spending plan view

How Does It Work?

Mvelopes claims that creating an online budget and tracking your spending is quick and easy with its online software, but from my experience, it can be time-consuming to get started from scratch with the system.

Once you create an account with Mvelopes, you have to let the software know what your financial goals are by choosing from a list that includes things like getting out of debt, saving more money, donating to charity, sticking to a budget, and more.

Once you’ve completed this step, you will go through a 4-step process to add your bank and credit card accounts, define your income, create a budget, and set up and add money to your spending envelopes.

After your envelopes are set up and funded, the program will track your expenses by category so you can see how much money you’ve spent in each area and how much you still have remaining.

What Does It Cost?

The basic version of Mvelopes is free, but it does have more limited features than the premium versions. For example, you can only connect your free account to 4 online bank accounts or credit cards. You also don’t have access to all the support features or 1-on-1 financial coaching with the free version of Mvelopes.

The next step up is Mvelopes Premier. When you upgrade to this version for $95 a year, you do have the ability to connect to an unlimited amount of bank accounts and credit cards. You can also set up an unlimited number of spending envelopes, although the 25 that come with the free version are usually more than adequate for most people’s budgets.

With Mvelopes Premier, you’ll also be able to access their “Integrated Debt Roll-Down” feature, which can be helpful if you paying off debt is your main goal. This feature allows you to put in your debt totals and view several different scenarios and pay off options which can then be added to your envelope budget.

The top tier is Money4Life Coaching. There was no price specified on the website, but it did say that “packages are customized for individual needs”. With this package you get all the features of Mvelopes Premier, plus additional support and 1-on-1 coaching for your financial needs.

How Does Mvelopes Stack Up?

Mvelopes is far from the only budgeting app out there that claims to help you with your budget and financial goals.

EveryDollarEveryDollar is another budgeting app that was created by Dave Ramsey. It also uses a similar system to cash envelopes. In addition, users can follow along with Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” plan and track their progress using his system. EveryDollar is one of the fastest ways to set up a budget according to users, but you can’t sync any of your financial accounts unless you upgrade to the paid version called EveryDollar Plus.

MintMint is one of the most popular budgeting apps. It’s 100% free to users and allows synchronization to bank accounts and credit cards with no charge. However, users have been experiencing some problems with Mint’s account syncing feature over the past year or so. And some of the “helpful hints” on Mint are actually ads that may trick users into clicking on them and getting “talked into” financial accounts and products they don’t really need.

Who Will Benefit Most from Mvelopes?

If you are currently using a cash envelope system, then you could benefit from switching to digital envelopes with the Mvelope app. It will allow you additional security by not having to carry around large amounts of cash in your wallet, while still being able to enjoy the categorization provided by using the envelope system in your budget.

Mvelope can be used on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, giving you the ability to view your budget at any time, which is helpful for those who are constantly on-the-go. The only other drawback is that if you still opt to use cash for some purchases, those expenses will have to be added manually to your budget in order to stay on-track with spending.

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Banking Apps

The Best and Worst Mobile Bank Apps of 2016: 100+ Banks & Credit Unions Ranked

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The Best and Worst Mobile Bank Apps of 2016

 

As big banks shed brick-and-mortar branches left and right, it’s never been more important for financial services to reach consumers where they are: their smartphones. In the past five years alone, adoption of mobile banking more than doubled, while the number of people banking on tablets increased more than eightfold, according to recent findings from Javelin.

That being said, mobile banking technology is still relatively new. And when it comes to creating a digital banking experience that is as simple as a quick trip to the local bank branch, some banks are certainly doing better than others.

In its third annual Mobile Banking App Study, MagnifyMoney compiled the ratings of iOS and Android banking apps from over 100 of the biggest banks and credit unions, including the 50 largest banks and 50 largest credit unions along with a selection of top online direct banks.

The data, collected from iTunes and Google Play the week of November 30, 2016, was used to create a composite 1 to 5 rating, factoring a weighted average of the ratings from both the iOS and Android platforms. We ranked each app based on its rating score. This year’s results include comparisons to our 2015 results to see which banks and credit union apps have most improved and deteriorated.

Summary of key findings:

  • Best Overall App: Eastman Credit Union with a score of 4.8, up from 4.7 in 2015.
  • Best App Among the 10 Largest Banks: Chase with a score of 4.5, up from 4.2 in 2015.
  • Worst App Among the 10 Largest Banks: BB&T with a score of 2.8, down from 3.8 in 2015.
  • Best App Among the 10 Largest Credit Unions: PenFed with a score of 4.3, down from 4.4 in 2015.
  • Worst App Among the 10 Largest Credit Unions: First Tech Federal Credit Union with a score of 1.9, down from 3.3 in 2015.
  • Best Online Direct Bank App: First Internet Bank with a score of 4.5, unchanged from 2015.
  • Worst Online Direct Bank App: EverBank, with a score of 2.7, down from 3.0 in 2015.
  • Overall Most Improved App: BECU, whose score rose 58% year over year, from 2.5 to 3.9.
  • Most Improved Traditional Bank: Citibank, with a 19% ratings increase year over year, from 3.2 to 3.8.
  • Overall Most Deteriorated App: VyStar Credit Union, whose score dropped 57%, from 4.7 to 2.0 year over year.

You can read more about the findings in the charts below:

10 Overall Best and Worst Bank Apps

(Across all banks and credit unions reviewed)

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10 Best and Worst Bank Apps

(Among the 10 largest banks and credit unions)

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Credit unions dominate the ratings for the third year running

Credit unions nearly swept the top 10 rankings for all apps this year, taking 9 of the top 10 spots. That’s an even better showing than last year, when credit unions nabbed 8 out of the top 10 spots. A 2% ratings improvement was just enough to give Eastman Credit Union the edge this year, securing the no. 1 spot for 2016. It’s a familiar position. Eastman was caught in a five-way tie for first place in 2015. The bank’s most recent update in September added Apple Watch compatibility to its list of features. This year, four banks tied for second place with a score of 4.7 — ESL Credit Union, Redstone Federal Credit Union, SEFCU, and Wright-Patt Credit Union.

Still, credit unions aren’t all bulletproof. Four out of the top 10 most deteriorated apps in 2016 were from credit unions. VyStar Credit Union was the least improved of all, stinging from a 57% ratings decline year over year, from 4.7 to 2.0.

Sample customer feedback from credit union iOS app reviews:

Eastman Credit Union: “Love the convenience of the app! Mobile check deposits are great and being able to check account balances & transfer money between them on the go is amazing.”

ESL Credit Union: “I check my account quickly with the fingerprint scanner. I love the ability to look at checks that have been written and current balances. The ability to mobile deposit [sic] checks is great for me because I never get to the bank to cash them.”

Redstone Credit Union: “It just keeps getting better and better! I have other bank apps and they don’t even come close to how good this app is!”

SEFCU: “Transferring funds, depositing checks, checking balances is straightforward and the app is sleek.”

Wright-Patt Credit Union: “The WPCU app has improved immensely since I first downloaded it.”

Big Banks Coast into 2016; Citibank is the Most Improved Big Bank for 2016

The average rating for all large banks remained unchanged year over year at 3.7. Android users, however, remain happier with their big bank apps than iOS users. Average Android ratings were 3.8 vs. 2.9 for iOS.

Citibank’s average rating improved by 19% in 2016, increasing from 3.2 to 3.8 year over year. The app’s most recent iOS update boasted improvements for brokerage account holders, offering up-to-date market data and allowing them to buy and sell stocks and mutual funds directly from the app.

Bells and whistles like these matter greatly, but overall app functionality and ease of use should come are crucial to banks’ ability to win over customers. “People want speed, ease and convenience so they can get in, get the task done and get on with their lives,” says Steve Shaw, director of digital bank marketing for financial services technology firm Fiserv.

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Samples of Citi user feedback from iOS users:

“They have really made a lot of awesome improvements.” — Dec. 8, 2016

“It has come up a long way. Each update better than the last. Because of this app I rarely have to physically go to the bank.” —Dec. 7, 2016

10 Most Improved Apps (among credit unions and banks)

  1. BECU: +58%
  2. America’s First Federal Credit Union: +27%
  3. Citibank: +19%
  4. PNC Bank: +17%
  5. Nationwide: +15%
  6. Capital One: +12%
  7. Fifth Third Bank: +10%
  8. Chase: +8%
  9. American Airlines Credit Union: +7%
  10. Delta Community Credit Union: +6%

Chase #1 Among Big Banks for 2nd Year Running

Chase made a strong showing again in 2016, performing best out of the top 10 largest banks for the second year running and marking an 8% ratings improvement. With an impressive 12% ratings improvement, Capital One effectively tied for first place along with Chase, boosting its rating from 4.0 to 4.5, but with a lower Android rating at 4.5 vs. 4.6 for Chase.

It was a good year to be an Android user and Chase bank customer. In 2016, Chase added long-awaited support for Android Pay and made improvements to fingerprint sign-on for Android users.

Sample Chase feedback from iOS app users:

“Love this app & the convenience of being able to quickly check my balance, pay my bill & find answers to the majority of my questions within seconds.” — Oct. 31, 2016

“The interface is well designed [sic], intuitive and responsive. I cannot think of a single issue.” — Nov. 21, 2016.

At the bottom of the big bank rankings were BB&T and HSBC. BB&T’s rating fell 25% year over year, from 3.8 to 2.8, while HSBC saw a 6% decline, from 3.7 to 3.5.

The Top 10 Largest Bank Apps Ranked by Ratings:

  1. Chase: 4.5
  2. Capital One: 4.5
  3. SunTrust: 4.1
  4. Wells Fargo: 4.0
  5. (tie) Bank of America: 3.9
  6. (tie) TD Bank: 3.9
  7. (tie) PNC: 3.9
  8. Citibank: 3.8
  9. HSBC: 3.5
  10. BB&T: 2.8

First Internet Bank Steals the Crown from BankMobile for Top Online Direct Bank

2016 marked something of a fall from grace for last year’s #1 direct online bank, BankMobile. A stinging 19% ratings decline sent the app tumbling from first place to no. 7 this year. That opened the path for First Internet Bank to nab the top spot, despite not seeing any significant ratings improvement year over year. Its average rating remained steady at 4.5.

First Internet Bank has been around since 1999, one of the early internet-only banks to hit the scene. Launched in early 2015, BankMobile is a division of Customers Bank in Pennsylvania, but available nationally and designed to be the first fully mobile native bank.

This year, First Internet Bank was among several regional banks and credit unions to add new “eye print” sign-in technology, in which users sign in by pointing their smartphone camera at their eye. The app then compares their eye to an existing image of their eye on file.

Shaw says customers should expect more high-tech advancements to their favorite bank apps in the near future. “Some banks are leveraging the photo capability of the phone to not only enable check deposits, but to enable people to capture photos of receipts for filing or to take a picture of their driver’s license so they can verify their ID while opening an account,” he says.

First Tech Federal Credit Union Earns Worst Overall App Ratings for 2016

The lowest rated app overall belongs to First Tech Federal Credit Union, with an overall rating of 1.9 marking a 42% decline year over year. The app performed equally poorly among both Apple and Android users. Some reviews of the bank’s app in the Apple store pointed to disgruntlement with an update that was released in the fall.

“This app used to be OK but with the new update it has become so very slow,” one user commented in October. Another user complained about losing Touch ID password access. To be fair, the bank released an update most recently on Dec. 13, which promised “General performance improvements” but there have been no reviews of the latest update yet.

Last year’s worst app, Umpqua Bank, saw some improvement in 2016 but still landed among the worst apps. After facing a 40% decline in ratings in 2015, the app managed a 3% ratings improvement in 2016, enough to move up four spots.

The 10 Worst Bank App Ratings Overall

  1. First Tech Federal Credit Union: 1.9
  2. VyStar Credit Union: 2.0
  3. InvestorsBank: 2.1
  4. Patelco Credit Union: 2.2
  5. Umpqua Bank 2.3
  6. Logix: 2.3
  7. Tinker Federal Credit Union: 2.6
  8. American Airlines Credit Union: 2.7
  9. First National Bank: 2.7
  10. EverBank: 2.7

*MagnifyMoney is an affiliate partner of Chase credit cards, and does receive advertising compensation from Chase. However, compensation from advertising partners did not impact the methodology or results of the mobile banking application survey.

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Banking Apps, Reviews

Level Money: Free, But Not Ideal for Variable Income

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Gone are the days of the pen and paper budgets that require manual updates and re-writing of your entire spending plan each time you make a new purchase. These days there are quite a few different options for budgeting software and apps available that can help you track your spending and update your budget as your needs change throughout the month. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to find one that fits all of your needs.

One popular budgeting app option is Level Money.

What is Level Money?

LevelMoneyLevel Money is a budgeting app that launched in 2013 in San Francisco, California. It was acquired by Capital One in 2015 and became part of Capital One’s Digital Innovation Team to reinforce Capital One’s commitment to digital banking technologies. According to Level Money’s website, the app has over 800,000 downloads to date. Level Money’s motto is “Spend smarter. Do more. Live better.” But how exactly does it work?

How Does Level Money Work?

The Level Money app allows you to easily connect your bank account(s) and any credit cards to the app. It currently works with over 18,000 financial institutions, so hopefully your bank account and credit cards will be available to connect to the app.

Next you enter your income, your monthly bills, and how much you want to save each month. Level Money crunches all those numbers for you and comes up with your “Spendable” cash each day.

Another part of the app, called “Insights”, allows you to keep track of your spending in certain categories, like dining out or transportation, so you can see how these expenses change over time. You can also see your bank balance history and some projections going forward based on your spending and income habits.

The third way to view your finances in Level Money is on the tab called “Plan”. This shows a pie chart and a summarized number for your income, bills, savings goal, and total “spendable” income left over.

Security Features Offered by Level Money

One of the biggest concerns many people have about using a budgeting app is security. The Level Money app does require you to enter your financial account information to use all of its services. According to its website, Level Money uses the same 128-bit Encryption as banks and other financial institutions.

Who Should Use Level Money?

Budgeting apps, like Level Money, are a great tool for those who like to check their finances on the go. Having access to your income numbers, bills, and spendable income at any time on your smartphone could be a good deterrent to overspending your budget. With just a few taps on your phone, you can see whether or not a purchase you are about to make is within your budget or not.

It has been reported that the app is not as user friendly for those with a variable income or expenses that only come up every few months. However, a new version of the app is supposed to help combat these issues by allowing you to select how often you pay your bills.

Another potential downside of the app is for those who use primarily cash for their purchases. The Level Money app doesn’t have a system in place to keep track of transactions made outside of your linked bank accounts and credit cards.

What Does Level Money Cost?

One of the best things about Level Money is that it’s free to use. The app also doesn’t rely on advertisements, which is a nice feature. Many budgeting apps that are free to use, like Mint.com, use advertisements to help pay for the app since users don’t have to pay to use the services.

Pros and Cons of Level Money

Pros

  • 100% free to use with no advertisements
  • Simple to set up and use
  • Links to multiple bank accounts and credit cards
  • Provides insight into how much money you have left to spend per day and per month

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide advice for how to use your money to improve your finances, other than encouraging you to meet the savings goal you set up within the app.
  • May not be the best fit for those with a variable income (such as freelancers).
  • No easy way to account for cash purchases, which can be a big downside for those who like to budget with cash.

How Does Level Money Stack Up?

As mentioned, Level Money is far from the only budgeting app available. Every Dollar and Mint.com also offer budgeting apps to help your personal finances.

Every Dollar

EveryDollarEvery Dollar is the budgeting app designed by Dave Ramsey’s team to help people with their zero sum budgeting strategy. It’s easy to set up and use, but in order to get a complete picture of your finances by linking your bank accounts and credit cards, you have to pay for the Every Dollar Plus version of the app for $99 a year. It also doesn’t have charts and graphs that many people find helpful in analyzing their spending.

Mint.com

MintMint.com is very similar to Level Money in that it’s 100% free to use, even if you link you bank accounts and credit cards. However, there are ads from financial institutions and products that may look like helpful advice. You need to be aware that these products and services may not be the right fit for you. Mint.com does profit from these advertisements and recommendations.

Should You Use Level Money?

Level Money is a good way to track your budget, expenses, and available cash on the go. It seems to be particularly handy for those who are always wondering how much they have available for spending on any given day of the month as the app provides that information with just a glance. Plus if you start using Level Money and decide it’s not for you, you can always cancel without losing any money as it’s 100% free to use the app.

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Banking Apps, Reviews, Strategies to Save

EveryDollar and EveryDollar Plus: a Budgeting App to Keep You On Track

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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With so many budgeting apps and options available on the market, it can be hard to decide which tool will work the best for your personal financial situation. One of the newest options that just came out last spring is EveryDollar.

EveryDollar is the budgeting app created by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. No matter if you agree with all of Mr. Ramsey’s financial advice or not, his “Total Money Makeover” program has helped scores of families get out of debt and gain control of their money.

“I’ve been using the EveryDollar budgeting app for about 6 months now and I initially found out about it by listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast,” said Allison Haffner, a money conscious millennial from Colby, Kansas. “If I hadn’t heard about it on his show, I probably wouldn’t have started using it.”

EveryDollar is a budgeting app that can be used on your computer or your smartphone. There are two versions of the program – one is free and the other is a paid option that offers more features for it’s users.

How it Works

EveryDollarThe first step to using EveryDollar is going to the EveryDollar website to create an account and set up your zero-based budget. This process should be quick and easy. The website claims that you can create a budget in ten minutes or less, and it’s probably true if you don’t have a complicated budget.

The EveryDollar website creates eight different spending categories that cover the basics of most peoples’ budgets, but you also have the option to create custom categories for your budget if needed.

In addition to creating spending categories, you can also create and set up “funds” which is their term for different savings accounts, like an emergency fund, a vehicle maintenance fund, and more.

After you’ve finished the initial set-up of your budget and financial goals on the website, you can easily maintain your budget by updating it with your day-to-day expenses and purchases with the app.

As you add your expenses to your budget in EveryDollar, it will help you ensure whether or not your spending is in line with your planned budget by showing you graphs of your spending. This is a good reminder for you to make adjustments to your spending as needed throughout the month.

Pros of EveryDollar

Track in real time: Because EveryDollar is a budgeting app that’s available on your iPhone, it’s easy to put in your spending in real time throughout the day. This gives you plenty of reminders to make sure you are staying on track with your goals.

Split transactions: Another feature that’s great is the ability to “split” transactions when you put them in with your iPhone. For instance, your next trip to the grocery store might include more than just food for your family. If this is the case, you can easily split up the transaction to reflect the money you spent on pet food or other items besides just groceries.

Utilize Dave Ramsey’s Method for current followers: EveryDollar also helps you set financial goals and follow Dave Ramsey’s famous “Baby Steps” with a special tool just for those seven steps of your financial journey.

Sync with your bank accounts: In addition to the basic version of EveryDollar, there is a premium version called EveryDollar Plus that can be connected with your bank account to pull in your transactions automatically. This process occurs overnight and then you’ll have to categorize your expenses with a drag and drop system. You can connect multiple bank accounts and major credit cards to your EveryDollar Plus account, which makes it easy to track all of your spending.

EveryDollar makes it easy to keep track of your budget and have confidence that the information is correct because it does sync across multiple devices. This is a great feature for married couples that will both be accessing their budget on different iPhones or computers.

Cons of EveryDollar

Only iOS enabled: Unfortunately, the EveryDollar budgeting app is only available for iPhone users in the AppStore. Although it is not available for Android users at this time, you can still use the program on your computer. But this option may require you to keep better track of your spending as you are out and about so you can input it into your budget later when you get home and have access to your computer.

Can only sync to bank accounts if you pay: another downside of EveryDollar’s free version is that it can’t be connected to your bank account to automatically pull in your transactions every night as they hit your account. If you don’t want to pay for EveryDollar Plus, you will have to input all of your expenses manually. Although if you’ve been using a handwritten budget or even a spreadsheet of your own making, you’ve likely been doing this anyway.

Takes awhile to adapt: Haffner said the biggest downside she experienced with the EveryDollar app was that it took a little getting used to before she could easily use it for all of her budgeting needs.

“It did take me a little while to learn how to use the app to track my spending. I kept using my old spreadsheet alongside the app for a while until I got the hang of it,” she said.

Misnamed transactions: Another thing to watch out for if you decide to try EveryDollar Plus is the translation of merchant names on your transactions. When the app pulls in the transactions from your bank account or credit card, it converts the merchant names from an abbreviated version to the longer version to make it easier for you to drag and drop your expenses into categories. However, the translations are sometimes incorrect.

EveryDollar Plus Costs

EveryDollar Plus is offered for free for 15 days so you can try it out and see if it will work for your financial needs. During this trial period you will have access to all of the premium features, the most popular of which seems to be the automation between the app and your bank account. After the trial period, the cost for the premium version of the app is $99 per year. However, even if you decide to stick with the free version, the EveryDollar budgeting app offers a lot of features and benefits.

How Does EveryDollar Stack Up?

As mentioned, there are lots of options for budgeting apps. In fact, we even put together a list of the 10 best budgeting apps available.

MintMint is one the most popular budgeting apps because it’s 100% free for users. It also offers free transaction syncing between your bank account the app to help you keep track of your expenses. This is a feature you’d have to pay for with EveryDollar Plus. But budgeting with EveryDollar is actually faster and more user-friendly than Mint. Some of the “helpful hints” on Mint are actually ads, and users have been reporting more problems with Mint’s account syncing feature over the past year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.44.03 AMAnother popular budgeting app is You Need a Budget, or YNAB. This app is actually quite different from Mint and EveryDollar because it focuses more on budgeting into the future instead of analyzing the past and present. The YNAB program is based on living off last month’s income, encouraging you not to spend the income you’ve earned until 30 days later once you’ve built up a savings buffer. YNAB is $50 per year and if you are a data lover, this may not be the best option for you, as it doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis and trend data for your spending.

Who Will Benefit Most

Overall, EveryDollar has a very user-friendly interface that should make it easy for budgeting beginners to get the hang of creating and sticking to their first zero based budget. It’s also a good option to consider if you are on-the-go and want to refer back to your budget before making a purchase that could make or break your category for the month.

EveryDollar is a budgeting app that will likely be very popular due to it’s association with popular personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey.

That said, it might be hard to convince people to switch to EveryDollar since there are other budgeting apps, like Mint, that allow users to connect their bank accounts and sync transactions for free.

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Banking Apps, Reviews

Spendbook: a Budgeting App for the Security Conscious

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Budgeting App

Ever felt like an analog kid in a digital world? Believe it or not, there are budgeting apps out there for people like you that may just be better than pen and paper. Spendbook is one of them.

What is Spendbook?

SpendbookSpendbook is a budgeting app on iOS that allows you to manually enter all of your income and expenses. Because all information is kept only within the app and only on with which phone you have downloaded the app, it carries none of the capability or perceived risk of integrating your financial accounts in real time like other budgeting apps.

How does Spendbook work?

Using Spendbook’s calendar, you can either log income and expenses as they happen, or you can enter them predictively, which essentially allows you to create a budget. With each logged event, you can add notes in case the wide array of predetermined categories isn’t specific enough for you. Its interface is repeatedly cited as making it one of the most user-friendly budgeting apps around.

Spendbook isn’t just practical, though. It’s also pretty. Users can upload pictures of their purchases to help them remember what exactly it was that they purchased. They can also view charts that show spending habits over a period of time in order to evaluate any behaviors that need to change.

What security features does Spendbook offer?

Because it doesn’t integrate outside financial accounts or allow you to access your data from more than one device, Spendbook is a bit safer than some of its counterparts. You will be prompted to log in every time you go to use the app. This log in process and the password to get into your iOS device are meant to keep the hackers out.

Who is Spendbook best for?

Spendbook displaySpendbook is best for people who use iOS devices and don’t want to give an app their banking information. If you have a habit of manually keeping track of your income and expenses, Spendbook is a great way to do it without wondering where that piece of paper you were scribbling numbers on went.

Because of its photo features, Spendbook may also be a good match for visual learners. On top of viewing a log of numbers, you’ll be able to go back and see all of those meals and drinks you dropped mad cash on when you’re struggling to pay a bill. They can serve as both a reminder and motivation to do better in coming months.

What does Spendbook cost?

Spendbook is $1.99. There are no monthly subscription fees, and you will see no ads. You pay the one-time flat rate on iTunes, and you’ll have access to it for the life of your phone.

Pros and Cons

While there are some definite pros for those who don’t trust third parties with their banking information, Spendbook’s set up also has some drawbacks. Consider both sides before downloading.

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to use.
  • Charts are available to track your spending habits.
  • Can budget for the future by entering expected income and expenses ahead of time.
  • No need to provide your banking information.
  • No ads.

Cons

  • Because you can’t link outside accounts, you also miss out on real time analysis. You will have to reconcile your Spendbook records against your checking account or credit card statement.
  • Security features could be stronger, but perceived risk is also much lower than other budgeting apps on the market.
  • Cannot link to other devices. Once you download, Spendbook is on that specific device and cannot be accessed elsewhere.
  • Only available on iOS.
  • Cost is $1.99.

How does Spendbook stack up against the competition?

Spendbook may be the prettiest app on the market, but it’s not the only one. Here are some other options:

Wally

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.51.21 AMLike the idea of Spendbook, but don’t have an iPhone? Wally is essentially the same thing, though not as user-friendly or pretty. Wally does allow you to upload pictures of your receipts, though, which is a feature Spendbook lacks. For the moment, Wally is absolutely free. No costs. No ads. No pressure to upgrade.

BUDGT

BUDGTBUDGT is very similar to Spendbook, as well. You manually enter expenses and can’t link external bank accounts, but you can log spending through the Apple Watch extension and export your data as a CSV file so you can access it in Excel. BUDGT is also only available on iOS and costs $1.99.

LevelMoney

LevelMoneyLevelMoney is another basic budgeting app that helps you keep your day-to-day spending on track. This one is free, and does allow you to link your bank accounts if you don’t want to mess with manual entry and the potential for human error.

Should you use Spendbook?

If you like the idea of manual entry over linking your bank account information and have an iPhone, Spendbook may just be the app for you. It’s a lot easier to keep track of than paper and pen, but doesn’t require you to share sensitive information. Plus, that photo gallery of your latest shopping spree may just motivate you to trim down the spending.

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Banking Apps, Strategies to Save

Review: Toshl Finance Budgeting App

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Toshl Finance Budgeting App

When you’re looking for a budgeting app, you’ll find no shortage of options on the market. Yet few mix pragmatic finances with pure fun as successfully as Toshl Finance. As you move through its interface, you’ll be greeted by the Toshl monsters, who will guide and cheer you on.

What is Toshl Finance?

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.46.42 AMToshl Finance is a budgeting app that is accessible both via a web-based app and on virtually any mobile device. Toshl’s goal is to make money fun, so they’ve set up a friendly user interface to help you evaluate past spending habits, get a snapshot of your current finances, build realistic budgets for the future, and even remind you when bills are due.

How does Toshl Finance work?

When you sign up for Toshl Finance, you’ll be asked to open up your wallet to record your cash reserve. After you have your current cash status uploaded, you’ll have the option of linking your financial accounts.

Using the information from your financial institution, Toshl Finance will give you easy-to-understand charts displaying your spending habits and your current money situation. Using this information, you’ll then be able to build a budget based on your actual, recorded spending habits rather than guesses and assumptions.

What security features does Toshl Finance offer?

Toshl is big on encryption. The web app comes with SSL encryption. All data stored in the database is encrypted, as is all data exchanged between your devices. Passwords are even stored using a one-way hashing algorithm, meaning that even tech support won’t be able to hack your secret code.

What does it cost?

For many, using Toshl is free. However, if you have three or more financial accounts you want to link to your profile, you will need to upgrade. Also, if you want to create more than two budgets, you’ll have to switch to Toshl Pro, too.

Pro comes in at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. Along with being able to link unlimited accounts and create unlimited budgets, you’ll also be able to upload pictures of your receipts with this membership level.

If you upgrade and hate it, you can cancel and get a refund within the first 30 days.

Who is Toshl best for?

If you’re looking for a budgeting app that isn’t boring, Toshl is your best bet. The user interface is engaging without sacrificing any functionality. In fact, the ability to both look back and towards the future of your finances is something that’s not found in all budgeting apps, making this a great option for nearly everyone.

Toshl Pro presents interesting possibilities for freelancers or those that want to keep their business and personal finance budgets separate. Because you can add unlimited accounts and create separate budgets, you can simultaneously view your current big picture financial situation while still allotting your dollars to definitively separate endeavors (i.e. rent and groceries versus business cards and automation services.) The added bonus of being able to upload receipts is also great for record keeping.

What are the pros and cons of using Toshl Finance?

There are some amazing pros and a few cons to contemplate before deciding if Toshl Finance is the budgeting app for you.

Pros

  • Allows you to analyze past spending behaviors while also enabling you to budget for the future.
  • Encourages saving.
  • Reminds you when bills are due.
  • Free option is available for those with two or less financial accounts.
  • No ads.
  • Fun and functional interface

Cons

  • Marginal fee for those with 3+ financial accounts or the need for 3+ budgets.
  • Functionality on mobile is good, but limited. You will need to use the web app at least some of the time.
  • Focused on investing? If so, there are better options on the market.

How does Toshl Finance stack up against the competition?

If you find yourself uncomfortable with any of those negatives about the app, then you may want to look at another budgeting app. Here are three alternatives that may better fit your goals:

Personal Capital

Personal Capital Personal Capital has a roughly similar business structure to Toshl. There are no ads; it makes money through subscription memberships. With Personal Capital, though, you can invest directly through the app. If you’re less concerned about basic budgeting and more concerned about managing your investments, this may be the way to go.

Mint.com

MintDislike the idea of paying a subscription fee? Mint.com is an absolutely free budgeting app, regardless of how many accounts you want to link. While there won’t be fun little monsters to greet you, there will be tons of user-friendly charts to help you evaluate past spending and budget for the future. Because they don’t charge a fee for use, you will be inundated with ads.

YNAB

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.44.03 AMIf you’re looking to completely revamp your financial situation, you may need more help than the Toshl monsters can provide. You Need a Budget (or YNAB) is more about helping you change your lifestyle than simply helping you track your cash. It’s intensive, and won’t have cute little monsters along the way. It also won’t be as big of a help when you’re looking back at your finances retroactively. What it will do is whip you into shape for a better tomorrow, forcing you to reevaluate the way you think about and spend your paycheck. Fees are higher than Toshl at $5/month or $50/year, but may be worth it if you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck even though you’re making a comfortable income.

Overall, we like Toshl. If you’re looking for a comprehensive app that brings some levity into a traditionally boring chore, you won’t find too many other options that are able to meet Toshl’s combination of spirit and practicality.

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Banking Apps, Reviews

Does Mint.com Fit All Your Budgeting App Needs?

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

All Your Budgeting App

There are so many online financial tools in 2016 that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. One of the most widely known tools is Mint.com. Started in 2006, Mint.com now has over 16 million users.

What is Mint.com?

MintMint.com is a website that provides you with an online software for 1) budgeting, 2) setting financial goals and 3) credit score reporting.

Budgeting: Through Mint.com’s budgeting software, you can connect their bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and other financial accounts, and Mint.com will track all transactions from the accounts (i.e. spending). Not only does Mint.com track spending and saving, but you can also see all transactions in charts and graphs, which makes visualizing budgets easier.

Goal Setting: You can set financial goals, and Mint.com will show the progress over time.

Credit Score Monitoring: Mint.com shows you your credit right on the dashboard of your account. While this is a credit score based off the Equifax credit-scoring model, it is still a credit score nonetheless and likely a close estimate to your FICO score.

How does Mint.com work?

After you signup for an account with Mint.com, you can connect your financial accounts very easily by entering in your financial account information (usernames and passwords). Your accounts will sync with Mint.com and your data will be updated automatically each time you log in to Mint.com. For these reasons, Mint.com is very user friendly and easy to use.

What security features does Mint.com offer?

To use Mint.com, you must provide their names and login information for all of the accounts that they will link to Mint.com. According to its website, Mint.com keeps login information “stored securely in a separate database using multi-layered hardware and software encryption to protect users” (read more about Mint.com’s security here).

Mint.com requires a two-step authentication before allowing you to access your account. This means that when you try to log in, they will first be asked to verify their identity through email or text messages.

Who is Mint.com best for?

Mint.com is best for you if you are just starting to budget, you want to have software do most of the work for you (versus paper budgets), and you want access to your information on mobile friendly devices.

Mint.com is great if you are a beginner who needs to get organized and if you are learning how to manage money and want to create a budget to track spending and meet financial goals. The web-design and features make Mint.com simple to use on any device, which means financial information is easily accessible on mobile devices.

What does Mint.com cost?

You can signup for Mint.com for free and continue to use Mint.com completely free of any charges.

Mint.com makes money not through users paying for the service, but through offering users financial products for which Mint.com gets a referral fee. So, you can use Mint.com completely free and clear, but you will find advertisements and offerings of financial products throughout the software. Be aware that products pushed to you on Mint are based on the fact the company gets a referral fee, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is the best fit for you.

What are the pros and cons of using Mint.com?

If you are deciding whether to use Mint.com, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros

  • Simple to use.
  • Goal-setting tools provided to help you meet your goals.
  • Provides a complete budgeting software system that links all accounts.
  • It’s completely free.
  • You have access to a free credit score.
  • You can visualize their saving and spending through graphs and charts.

Cons

  • Mint.com has a lot of advertisements and aims to get you to buy financial products, which may or may not be the best fit for you.
  • For advanced investors or budgeting experts, Mint.com may be too basic. There is no trading or actual investing through Mint.com.
  • Like any online tool, there is always a security risk of a hack and your data being compromised.

How does Mint Stack up Against the Competition?

Mint.com is not the only web-based program that offers budgeting. LevelMoney, EveryDollar, and Personal Capital are three alternatives to Mint.com.

LevelMoneyLevel Money is a simple program that makes budgeting very easy (by categorizing your spending as income, bills, save, and spendable). Level Money gives you a dollar amount that you can spend per day (this is helpful if you’re a big spender). Unlike Mint.com, which gives you a complete overview of your finances at any given time, Level Money aims to help you control your money and spend less. It’s like a moral compass for your money.

EveryDollarEveryDollar is a budgeting software system developed by Dave Ramsey’s team that allows users to track saving and spending under the zero sum budget strategy. Budgeting in EveryDollar is super fast and easy (even easier than Mint.com), but it costs. If you want the ability to link all your accounts to the app like you can with Mint, then you’ll need to pay $99 annually. There is less clicking and refreshing – everything you need to complete your budget is done on one page. However, EveryDollar doesn’t have the graphs and charts that Mint.com does with respect to reporting on your historical spending. For that reason, if you would like a more in depth tool, Mint.com may be better.

Personal CapitalPersonal Capital is similar to Mint.com with the additional feature of actual investing and no advertisements. You can actually invest your money with Personal Capital, unlike with Mint.com (read more about Personal Capital here). Otherwise, the features of Mint.com and Personal Capital are very similar – both use charts and graphs to show your financial snapshot and historical spending. One feature about Personal Capital that is nice is that it doesn’t have any advertisements because it makes money through people paying them for their services (i.e. investing with them). However, both services are free to use, so you can’t go wrong with either.

Should You Use Mint.com?

You should decide whether to use Mint.com by identifying whether it will help you.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide weather to use Mint.com.

  1. Are you just getting started budgeting?
  2. Do you need an online tool to help you track your saving and spending?
  3. Do you need encouragement and tracking software to achieve financial goals?
  4. Do you wish you had access to a free credit score?

If the answer is yes to these questions, then Mint.com may be a valuable tool for you to use. The bonus is that Mint.com is completely free and you can deactivate it at any time.

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Banking Apps, News

The 8 Best Mobile Banking Apps of 2016

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The 8 Best Mobile Banking Apps of 2016

These days there’s pretty much no real reason to head to your bank, unless you need something like a cashier’s check or to take money out. Checking your account balances, transferring money, making deposits — all of this stuff can be done via apps now.

In fact, a recent Pew study found that the number of consumers using mobile apps to deposit checks has grown over five times since 2011. (I’ll admit, I can’t remember the last time I actually visited my bank to deposit a check. My mobile banking app has been a lifesaver in this regard.)

So, does your banking app make the grade? Just because your bank offers one doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

What constitutes a “good” banking app?

Besides the obvious (that there is one and that it actually works), here are a couple of other things that you should look for in a “good” banking app:

  1. Ease of use: When it comes to banking apps, the fewer steps we have to take to do what we need to do, the better. We want simple user interfaces, and you can skip the bells and whistles — just help us easily find what we need to find so we can get in and out quickly, and we’ll be happy.
  2. Functionality: Apps that keep our most-used options within a couple of taps and that sync easily with our online and email accounts (for things like alerts and proof of deposits, for example), make us happy.
  3. High deposit limits: What good is a banking app that only allows you to deposit $1,000 or less per day? If you’re a small business owner trying to save some time by making quick and easy deposits on your mobile phone, the higher the limit, the better.

So, which apps are winning?

Mobile banking apps are working all the time to make upgrades to keep us happy, but sometimes those changes just aren’t coming quickly enough. Still, there are a few apps on the market today that are doing a great job at keeping customers happy. Here are the ones that scored high marks in the top four categories:

  1. Best large bank: Chase with a score of 4.2 out of 5
  2. Best credit union app: Eastman Credit Union, ESL Credit Union, SEFCU, VyStar and Redstone Federal, all tied at 4.7 out of 5
  3. Best regional bank app: East West Bank with a score of 4.3 out of 5
  4. Best online direct bank app: BankMobile with a score of 4.6 out of 5

Obviously a bad banking app isn’t a reason to leave your bank (assuming you like your bank for other reasons), but it is something to keep in mind should you be asked to complete a survey or give feedback.

For more information on banking apps (including a full list of the worst apps out there, as well), check out this story.

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Banking Apps

2015’s Best & Worst Mobile Banking Apps: 100+ Banks & Credit Unions Ranked

Advertiser Disclosure

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Overdraft_lg_mobile vs trad

Having a mobile banking app that works reliably is more important than ever as the number of consumers using mobile apps to deposit checks has grown over five times since 2011 according to a recent Pew study. Chase reported that last year more checks were deposited via phones and ATMs than in its branches, comprising 58% of deposits, including 45 million smartphone check deposits.

MagnifyMoney compiled the ratings of iOS and Android banking apps from over 100 of the biggest banks and credit unions, including the 50 largest banks and 50 largest credit unions along with a selection of top online direct banks.

The data, collected from iTunes and Google Play the week of November 30, was used to create a composite 1 to 5 rating factoring a weighted average of the ratings from both the iOS and Android platforms. This is the 2nd year MagnifyMoney has compiled the ratings, and this year’s results include comparisons to 2014 to see which banks and credit union apps have most improved and deteriorated.

The best and worst mobile banking apps include:

  • Best Large Bank App: Chase (4.2)
  • Best Credit Union App: Eastman Credit Union, ESL Credit Union, SEFCU, VyStar, Redstone Federal, (tie: 4.7)
  • Best Regional Bank App: East West Bank (4.4)
  • Best Online Direct Bank App: BankMobile (4.6)
  • Worst Large Bank App: Citibank (3.2)
  • Worst Credit Union App: American Airlines Federal Credit Union (2.5)
  • Worst App Overall: Umpqua Bank (2.2)
  • Most Improved App: Visions Federal Credit Union (4.3, +37% from 2014)
  • Most Deteriorated App: Umpqua Bank (2.2, -43% from 2014)

You can read more about the findings below these graphics…

10 Best and Worst across all banks and credit unions reviewed

MobileAppRatingsGraphic2015-SummaryAllSizes

Best and Worst among the 10 biggest banks and credit unions

MobileAppRatingsGraphic2015-LargestInstitutions

Credit unions top the ratings

8 of the 10 highest ranked apps were from credit unions. Five credit unions shared the very top average score of 4.7, including Eastman Credit Union, ESL, Redstone Credit Union, SEFCU, and VyStar Credit Union, a top ranking and rating they each shared in our 2014 study.

BankMobile and Simple were the only online direct banks in the top 10, while no traditional banks made the top 10 list.

Of the 10 highest ranked apps, 8 of them used an interface from an external app developer, Digital Insight. All 8 were credit unions who selected Digital Insight, and this is in contrast to internal development favored by larger banks and even some regional banks. The un-flashy Digital Insight interface (pictured below) was cited for simplicity and reliability by users.

DigitalInsightInterface

Customer feedback about top rated apps includes:

  • Eastman Credit Union: “Easy to use, quite effective, does everything you might need. The biometrics is a great addition.” – 11/29/15
  • ESL Credit Union: “Now that Touch ID support has been added, this app is perfect. Simple and easy to navigate, it does everything that I need without gimmicky stuff getting in the way.” – 12/1/15
  • SEFCU: “Does what it’s supposed to, simple interface.” – 11/27/15
  • Simple: “The app is excellent. A total banking solution within the app. You never need to login via a web browser to do something which is not possible within the app.” – 12/2/15

Bank apps have room for improvement

Across all institutions surveyed the average rating was 3.8 out of 5.0, with traditional banks averaging 3.7, online direct banks best at 3.9, and credit unions at 3.8.

But credit unions are not immune. 6 of the 10 worst rated apps were from credit unions, and all but one of those had a substantial decline in ratings during 2015.

Banks appear to be managing the middle, with few apps in the very top or very bottom of rankings.

Among online direct banks we surveyed, EverBank was the lowest rated, with an average 3.0 rating, down 5% from 2014.

Chase has the best app among big banks, while Citibank lags.

Among the 10 largest banks in the country, the average rating ranged from a high of 4.2 for Chase to a low of just 3.2 for Citibank. Chase improved its rating 9% from our 2014 study, unseating Capital One as the highest rated large bank app.

In the last year the Chase Mobile app has added Touch ID iOS login and pre-login for easy previews of balances without a full login for its 20 million plus mobile users

chaseapp

Citibank’s app was cited for inconsistent mobile check deposit functionality and a low limit for mobile deposits of just $1,000 per day, both issues consumers cited last year as well. In comparison online direct bank Ally’s mobile deposit limit is  $50,000 per day.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 3.20.44 PM

The average for all traditional banks surveyed was 3.7.

HSBC had the lowest rated iOS app among the 10 largest banks at 2.1, while PNC bank had the lowest rated Android app at 3.5.

Customer feedback about large bank apps includes:

Chase: “Easy to use, easier to understand, and has me contemplating changing all my banking to Chase. Shows my car loan and credit card activity all in one convenient app. Once I confirmed my app with my online profile I couldn’t believe the convenience. Well done Chase, well done.” – 10/11/15

Citibank: “Overall a good banking app, but the fact that you can’t access your statements is infuriating.” – 11/23/15

Wells Fargo: “I’ve been using this app for more than three years now with minimal problems. I deposit more than 15 checks per month using the app without any difficulty, occasionally some problems with handwritten illegible checks…Sure the UI is outdated, but I love how powerful Wells Fargo online banking is compared to PNC and all the dumbed-down, simplified and useless apps.” – 9/30/15

BankMobile leads online direct banks.

Among the online direct banks reviewed, BankMobile had the highest rating at 4.6, just ahead of Simple at 4.5, though with far fewer ratings in its pool at fewer than 200 versus 5,000+ for Simple.

For both apps, customer comments tended to be more about bank service and the lack of fees rather than the apps themselves. Launched in early 2015, BankMobile is a division of Customers Bank in Pennsylvania, but available nationally and designed to be the first fully mobile native bank. Simple is now a division of BBVA and its app rating of 4.5 is almost identical to last year’s.

EverBank had the lowest rating among online direct banks at 3.0. EverBank’s app received complaints for a lack of Touch ID, no external transfer functionality, and issues with operating system updates.

bankmobilescreen

Umpqua Bank takes the bottom.

The lowest rated app overall was from Umpqua Bank, with a 2.2 combined rating, down over 40% fro last year. Umpqua had challenges updating both its web and mobile banking systems earlier this year, including adding mobile deposit functionality and merging with Sterling Bank. More recently, users complain about an interface that doesn’t take advantage of more recent phones, and ongoing mobile deposit bugs.

umpquaapp

Customer feedback about the Umpqua app includes:

“As other reviewers have said the mobile deposit function will probably save you drive time but is by far the least useful mobile deposit feature I have used. The app decides when to take the picture and not the user.” – 12/2/15

“This app seems like someone’s first attempt to write an iOS app. The keyboard is the one from iOS 6. Nothing has been updated for the iPhone 5 let alone the iPhone 5s, 6, or 6s.” – 10/26/15
“App is extremely buggy and slow. Often freezes and does not seem to function with basic features like transfers or check depositing. Customer service in branch and over the phone has significantly degraded. I have had a much better experience with Chase. Sayonara Umpqua!” – 12/9/15

Android users are more satisfied

Across banks, credit unions, and online direct institutions, Android users were significantly more satisfied, with an average 3.9 rating versus 3.1 for iOS users. iOS users tend to have more complaints about apps not leveraging the latest hardware and operating system capabilities.

Visions, Wings Credit Union most improved

Visions Credit Union rolled out Touch ID support, person to person transfer, and a more modern interface to good reviews from its customers this year, increasing its rating 37% from 2014.

The Wings Credit Union app for the first time added mobile deposit, playing catch up with most large banks and credit unions, and increasing its average rating 21% from 2014.

Customer feedback about the Visions and Wings apps includes:

Vision: “The new Visions FCU app is easy to use and makes banking convenient. Love the card controls feature and Touch ID. Keep up the great work, Visions!” – 11/17/15

Wings: “This app makes my life so easy since I don’t live in a state with a branch. I love that I can keep my favorite FCU and have most all of the same functions as branch, just without the actual branch. Every time you make upgrades the app gets better and better. Thanks for making it easy for those of us who no longer live near a branch.” – 11/20/15

Troubled upgrades lead to deterioration

The two most deteriorated app ratings were for Umpqua Bank and American Airlines Credit Union.

Umpqua’s 43% decline stemmed from a buggy upgrade and simultaneous conversion of both its web and mobile banking interfaces.

American Airlines Credit Union’s app rating saw a 38% decline from last year, on the back of an update this summer that led to many complaints about reliability. An update this fall seems to have addressed some of the issues, but negative feedback continues.

Methodology

App ratings were recorded the week of November 30, 2015 in iTunes and the Google Play store and include ratings for all app versions. Overall ratings are a weighted average of iOS and Android ratings based on the number of reviews for each platform. Institutions with no mobile apps were excluded from ranking summaries.

The 50 largest banks are defined as those with the largest deposits per FDIC data June 2015 were examined, with those not offering consumer checking accounts excluded.

Among credit unions, the 50 largest by assets according Bauer Financial were examined. For online direct banks, 10 of the largest Online Direct Banks were chosen by number of app ratings.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Magnify_Money and on Facebook.

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Banking Apps

Charles Schwab Mobile App: Bank and Brokerage On the Go

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The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 3.35.54 PM

Charles Schwab’s mobile features allow you to travel with both your bank and brokerage wherever your go. Thanks to the bank’s app, you’re able to access services and information once limited to the morning paper and brick-and-mortar institutions, anytime, anywhere, from the palm of your hand.

Schwab Mobile Deposit

IMG_0846As a freelancer sporadically receiving checks throughout the month, I particularly appreciate Schwab’s 24/7 mobile check deposit service. Snapping a quick picture of my endorsed checks and seeing them shortly thereafter deposited into my account certainly beats booking it to the bank a few times a week. The convenience and speed of the Schwab mobile deposit feature makes the app a must-have on all my mobile devices.

The Charles Schwab Mobile app is compatible with iPhone (with iOS 4 and higher), iPad (2 and higher), the Kindle Fire and Android (OS version 2.1 and higher), and protected by all the same features as the Schwab.com online platform. The app further protects all personal and financial information by not storing passwords, check deposit records, or check images on any of your devices.

Schwab Mobile Deposit Limitations

While the mobile deposit service is a breeze once it’s up and running, it does require a bit more set up than a simple download. You’ll need the latest update of the Schwab mobile app, a compatible mobile device with a built in camera, and a Schwab brokerage or bank account in good standing.

Once you have the app downloaded and opened, you’ll have to apply for Schwab mobile deposit and wait up to three business days for your application to be processed and approved. During this time Schwab checks your account activity, credit report information, and any negative data like identity theft alerts to protect you from any possible fraud.

When making a mobile deposit, you select which of your Schwab bank accounts you’IMG_0847d like to receive the funds. However, you cannot divide an individual check among two or more accounts (though you can easily transfer the money later on, once the check has been processed into the receiving account).

All checks for Schwab mobile deposit must be issued by a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars, and made payable to the name of the account holder. Checks made payable to others, checks that are not dated or are post dated, and traveler’s checks are also ineligible.

Lastly, you will be limited in how much you can deposit using Schwab’s mobile deposit service each day. For example, my daily mobile deposit limit is $1,000. It doesn’t happen very often, but if I have more than $1,000 in checks to deposit, it can be a bit of an inconvenience to wait for the first deposits to process before moving forward.

Despite those limitations, however Schwab’s mobile app, and in particular, the mobile deposit service, is far more convenient than traditional brick-and-mortar banking.

Schwab Mobile Banking

In addition to making deposits, Schwab’s mobile app can be used to manage your Schwab bank accounts. You can easily view transaction histories, keep an eye on your balances, and even pay your bills on the go using Schwab bill pay.

If, for whatever reason, you find you’re unable to complete all of your necessary banking from the app itself, it also comes with a branch locator to help you identify the nearest Schwab branch location; and Schwab’s 24/7 U.S. based customer service is always just a phone call away.

Schwab Mobile Brokerage

IMG_0844Schwab mobile not only allows for on the go banking and deposits, it also provides resources for retirement planning and investing, whenever and wherever you need. You can easily link your Schwab checking and savings accounts to your Schwab brokerage account for instant transfers, even on the go.

Get all the latest market information- news, charts, stock analysis, etc- no sign in required. If you want to make a trade, simply log in to your account to view your holdings, check the status of your orders, and trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options. Once you’re logged in, you can easily view your transaction histories and keep tabs on all accounts.

With Schwab’s mobile brokerage services, the limitations on investing- time, place, information, etc- are no longer. Anyone with a smartphone and a desire to grow their savings can have all they need to succeed at their fingertips.

On Investing from Schwab 

In conjunction with its other mobile capabilities and services, Schwab has introduced an additional app for iPad called On Investing.

The On Investing app serves as a kind of interactive investing platform where you can connect with advisors, researchers, and other contributors to Schwab’s popular On Investing magazine, to get the latest insights, news, and top investment picks.

On Investing app users get access to the most up-to-date articles and multimedia from the experts, with the option to save relevant content on a customizable board (think Pinterest for investing), create notes and reminders, use investing checklists to navigate life events, and share any relevant content with friends and family.

With all that Schwab mobile has to offer, you may never need to visit a brick-and-mortar bank or brokerage again.

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