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How To Choose the Best Mobile Banking App

Written by Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who has been a finance freelance writer
for five years. He has covered personal finance, investing, banking, credit cards, business
financing, and other topics.
Marc’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, USA Today, Investor Place, and other
publications. He graduated from Fordham University with a finance degree and resides in
Scarsdale, New York.
When he’s not writing, Marc enjoys spending time with the family and watching movies with
them (mostly from the 1930s and 40s). Marc is an avid runner who aims to run over 100
marathons in his lifetime.

Updated February 14, 2024​

8 min. read​

Money gives us choices and minimizes financial stress. When people make and save more money, they can afford an extra vacation, pay debt quicker, and grow their portfolios faster. Given money’s importance in the world, it’s no wonder many people take it seriously.

However, many people don’t know how to optimize their money management. Making money is one thing, but keeping more of the dollars you earn sets you up for quicker financial success. Many consumers aren’t aware of online apps that can help with their money. The best mobile banking app provides you with resources to manage and grow your money. These apps also let you borrow money at attractive rates.

Mobile banking apps are revolutionizing banking, but some are better than others. We will share some tips to use when browsing banking apps on your mobile device to discover the best fit for your financial needs and goals.

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What Is a Banking App?

Mobile banking apps put your bank account at your fingertips. You can view account balances, make transactions, pay bills, and check your history. It’s not hard to find an online banking app that offers these standard features. Many financial institutions like Bank of America and Wells Fargo offer banking services through their mobile apps. Banks and credit unions offer a digital experience too, but mobile banking apps without physical branches usually provide better benefits. These fintech companies tend to go the extra mile and provide several features to strengthen your finances, access loans, and build your credit score.

How Does a Banking App Work?

Banking apps get listed in app stores, which users can browse through like a search engine. After downloading an app, the user can create an account or sign in with the mobile bank to access its features. Most downloads occur in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, but you can also find banking apps in other app stores.

Should You Use a Banking App?

Money is a vital resource. Monitoring your funds through a banking app can keep you in line with your budget. In addition, some banking apps let you invest funds into stocks. You can conduct these transactions anywhere in the world.

You may also need to make an emergency transfer or borrow funds. The best mobile banking apps will let you borrow some money without any questions asked and at 0% APR. This advantage makes consumers less reliant on payday loans and other predatory financial products that offer quick cash with notoriously high interest rates. Some consumers need these funds for groceries, home appliances, and other costs. Mobile banks make it affordable to get the money you need. Banking apps can strengthen your financial outlook while making critical data easier to access. So, it makes sense for most people to use a banking app.

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Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Mobile Banking App

Consumers can select from numerous mobile banking apps. Some of these apps deliver significant features to consumers, while others stopped innovating years ago. We will share some things to consider before selecting an app for your finances.

Fees and ATM Network

Fees such as ATM transactions, overdrafts, and monthly fees can get frustrating for consumers. Consider which fees will impact you the most, and find mobile banking apps with low or no fees for those areas. Frequent ATM users should check an app’s ATM network and if they have nearby locations. ATM networks reduce or eliminate ATM fees, helping you save money from each transaction. Some mobile banking apps offer fee-free ATM transactions across 10,000s of Allpoint ATMs.

Account Minimums

Mobile banking apps often establish minimum deposit and balance requirements. Unfortunately, some of these minimums are higher than people would prefer or can afford. They may also charge fees if your account falls below the minimum balance requirement. Shortlist the mobile banking apps that provide minimums below what you can afford. Some banks have no minimum requirements, making it easier to open a checking account or savings account.

Products and Features

The products and features can make or break the mobile banking experience. Some mobile banking apps provide the minimum. They let users check funds, review transaction history, and transfer money. This mundane approach to banking limits a customer’s capabilities. Luckily, some mobile banking apps go above and beyond for their clients with superb features. These banks incorporate tools and resources that align with your goals. You may find mobile banking products and features around the following objectives:

  • Increase your credit score — get better loan terms and higher amounts when you raise your score
  • Portfolio growth — stocks, crypto, CDs, and more
  • Access to low or 0% APR loans — these funds help people pay utility bills and other emergency expenses without having to use a payday loan
  • Budgeting — automatic savings can leave more money in your account
  • Buy now, pay later loans to make purchases more manageable — a helpful feature for everyday expenses for people on a tight budget

The app’s description will highlight top products and features. You can also visit their websites for more details on products and features.

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Customer Service

It’s natural for customers to come across issues and ask the mobile bank for assistance. Depending on the nature of the issue, you may need a quick fix and a reliable professional who can walk you through the process. Since most of these banks don’t have a physical location, you’ll have to rely on a virtual representative. Look for mobile banks that provide reliable customer service and have good reviews from customers who had a great experience with a representative. Before doing your banking with a company, you should see how customer service communicates with customers. Some banks use email, live chat, or another alternative.

A phone number or live chat feature is critical. These communication methods provide real-time customer support. Some consumers have urgent questions that need an answer right now instead of within 24 hours. If you prefer hopping on the phone with a representative, you should narrow your search to banks that offer that solution.

Mobile banks will boast about their customer satisfaction, but social media and online reviews from members provide the true story. If a mobile banking app has many 1-star reviews complaining about customer service, you should consider an alternative.

Digital Banking Experience

You don’t want to feel lost in a mobile banking app. Mobile apps should provide smooth interfaces that let you quickly find relevant information. Most mobile banking apps will include screenshots on their app store pages so prospective customers know what to expect. Some banking apps also post video tutorials and provide product demos to familiarize you with their interfaces. A few fintech companies even provide free demos to show how their apps will look on your smartphone. You can play around with imaginary money, transfer between accounts, invest in assets, and access additional features during the demo.

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A mobile banking app should have safety features to protect you from hackers. Security protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), keep your funds safe, but selecting an FDIC-insured bank is the safest way to go. Insured banking apps provide you with up to $250,000 if the bank fails. Every dollar above $250,000 is uninsured, but this truth applies to any bank. You can spread your money across multiple accounts to insure more of it. FDIC insurance should be a required parameter for your online banking experience. If a bank does not have this insurance policy, steer clear of it.

Features to Look For in a Banking App

What features make a great banking app? We’ve listed several features to look for when reviewing banking apps to ensure you find the app that best suits your needs.

Easy-to-Use/User Friendly

Can you quickly access critical details, or is it difficult to find your balance? The app should be easy for a new user to learn. A simple dashboard with great features is a good sign.

Financial Fitness and Budget Tracker

Keeping track of your finances helps you retire sooner. You’ll save money and invest more into your portfolio. You can track everything in a spreadsheet, but it’s not easy to monitor everything on your own. The best banking apps include financial fitness and budget trackers. These features let you grow your finances instead of only showing account balances. Unfortunately, the latter has become a bare minimum expectation rather than a cool feature. Look for banks that do more for their customers.

Mobile Check Deposits

You can deposit a check without driving to a local branch. This will save you a lot of time if you receive several checks, and you’ll save on gas, too. While physical banks can offer this feature, virtual banks must let you deposit checks online since they don’t have a physical presence. Mobile check deposits are the only way to deposit paychecks into mobile bank apps that don’t have local branches. Make sure you can make a direct deposit through the app.

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High-Yield Bank Accounts

If you use a traditional bank, you probably don’t think too much about the interest rate on your savings account. You know it’s low and probably won’t do much for your finances. Online banks are a different breed since they have fewer overhead expenses. These banks have no commercial mortgage payments for physical branches and have smaller staffs. These savings allow virtual banks to offer more incentives to their customers, such as respectable savings rates.

Some online banks offer interest rates as high as 5% for people who stash funds in their checking and savings accounts. The higher rate is a risk-free return if the bank is FDIC-insured, a combination you can find with many online banking solutions.

A high-yield bank account has many benefits. You can have your emergency funds grow faster and use the interest to cover some expenses. If you allocate 20% of your paychecks to taxes, you can put them in a separate bank account and earn more interest with these accounts. You might as well have that money work hard for you in a risk-free way before handing it to the government.

Credit Builder Loans

Credit builder loans provide some funds and an easy path to on-time payments. These loan payments will build up your payment history and increase your credit score. A higher credit score unlocks benefits such as lower interest rates, approved loans, and higher loan amounts. However, people with bad credit or those who don’t have a credit history face an uphill battle. Credit builder loans can get you on the right track and establish credit for credit invisibles. Some credit builder loan borrowers can build their scores by dozens of points within a few months.

Instant Rewards and Cashback

Does your mobile banking app reward you for purchases? They definitely should, as more banks are stepping up their game in this area. It’s getting easier to find online banks with points and cashback for every qualifying purchase, even with debit cards. Your mobile bank should reward you for choosing them over competitors. Rewards programs help them stand out and give customers a reason to stick around.

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Auto Investing Accounts

Not everyone wants to do stock research, look at price fluctuations, and buy at strategic times. Some investors want to contribute funds to their mutual funds each month without looking at their portfolios. This simple approach allows investors to focus on earning more money and spending time with the people who matter to them the most. Look for a mobile bank with auto-investing accounts that turn this goal into a reality. These accounts let you make weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly investments in your portfolio without having to log in. Since investments happen automatically, your portfolio’s growth doesn’t rely on you remembering to make deposits.

Cash Advances

Emergency expenses come up and rarely announce themselves in advance. You’ll need funds to make important payments even if your bank account falls short. However, many cash advances carry excessive interest rates that can make them more trouble than they are worth. The best mobile banking apps offer cash advances at low or 0% APR, with some banks letting you borrow up to $1,000 this way. Banks without this feature do a disservice to anyone in urgent need of funds without enough time to wait for the next paycheck.

How to Get Started with a Mobile Banking App

The best mobile banking app helps users control their finances and improve their outlook. Many banking apps are available in the iOS App Store and Google Play. As you look at more banking apps, you will get a better understanding of what you want and don’t want in an app.

Each financial app has various benefits, but here are some key ones to look for in the best mobile banking apps:

  • Cash advances at 0% APR, which lets you receive your deposits up to two days early
  • Credit Builder loans to improve or restore your credit
  • Integration with Zelle® to easily send and receive money from friends, family, and colleagues
  • Auto investments to grow your portfolio without having to check your portfolio
  • A single dashboard that makes it easy to manage your accounts and transfer funds between them
  • Customized portfolios based on risk tolerance and asset themes
  • Rewards programs such as cashback for qualifying purchases on a debit card
  • Help with opening a credit card
  • The ability to add multiple checking and savings accounts.
  • High savings rates for your checking account
  • Buy now, pay later services that make it easier to finance everyday
  • Zero minimums or hidden fees
  • High ratings in the App Store of your choice

The right mobile banking app can take your financial health to the next level. Many fintech companies offer a suite of products and features that serve as all-in-one stops for their users. You can visit the App Store or Google Play to find different choices and compare their features to discover the right mobile banking app for you.

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Try the Current Mobile App

If you are looking for a mobile money management app with tons of features, consider using the Current mobile app. This app offers you a convenient and secure way to access your accounts from your smartphone at any time. The app also provides budgeting and financial tools that can help users track their spending, save money, and build or improve their credit score with the Current Build Card. Additionally, if you open an account with Current, you will have access to savings pods that could earn you up to a 4.00% bonus on your savings. Visit Current’s website to learn more about this mobile app or to open an account with them.

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