The 5 Best Banking Apps of 2020
Manage all of your finances right from your phone
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What's most important to you when picking a mobile banking app? You may want top security so that you can rest assured that your accounts will not be compromised while you're using the app. And basic features like depositing checks with the click of a button and viewing your balances in real-time are always great. But what seems to matter most is ease of using the app and top-rated customer service.
The mobile banking apps listed here are free to download on both Apple and Android devices, though of course your cellphone carrier's messaging, and data usage fees do apply.
How We Picked the Best Banking Apps
We scoured the internet for customer reviews, both positive and negative, and carefully considered ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We only featured top-notch financial institutions that are FDIC insured and have a reputation for quality banking and customer service. For applicable institutions, we also relied on the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Survey for more abundant data to help inform our analysis.
The following apps are all excellent, so they aren’t ranked, but listed in alphabetical order instead.
The 5 Best Banking Apps of 2020
By existing online-only, Ally Bank can offer higher rates and lower fees than other traditional financial institutions. You'll have access to over 43,000 ATMs in the U.S. that you can use for free as well. Ally is currently one of the top-rated banks offering interest checking accounts, which is not a common product. It also provides a high-yield savings account with a competitive APY that stacks up well against all banks.
What we like: You can perform all of the basic tasks you've come to expect from a banking app, like bill pay, finding an ATM, mobile check deposits, reviewing your transaction history, and opening the app with your fingerprint rather than a password. The format of the app itself is fresh and easy to use, and you can link additional Ally accounts like a CD or IRA for a more straightforward review. As a bonus perk, you can read up on stock market news directly from the app. Also, Ally uses Zelle, which allows you to transfer money within your Ally accounts or between your Ally and non-Ally accounts.
What we don't like: Android users give the app a lower score in the Google Play Store (4.3) than iPhone users do in the App Store (4.8). While it's not a con of the app per se, there's no way to deposit cash into your Ally account, despite robust ATM access.
A large national bank with over 16,000 ATMs across the country, Bank of America is a trusted name in finance. Its financial services are basic, and you're not going to get any crazy high rates on your savings accounts. But, it offers great technology and savings tools to its customers.
What we like: If Bank of America notices a suspicious transaction, it will send you a notification right away so that you can verify or decline it. You will then have up to 60 days to do so. You can easily link your Merrill Lynch brokerage account to the mobile app and even view that info directly from the accounts tab. In the AmeriDeals section, you'll find local cash-back opportunities, which can be a fun way to earn rewards while en route, such as during your morning or evening commute.
What we don't like: While the functionality is all there, the appearance of the app is nothing to write home about. Make sure to mind your balance, too, as you need to maintain a monthly account minimum if you want to avoid the monthly maintenance fee of $14, and you can be hit with a $35 overdraft fee up to four times a day if you're not careful.
If Capital One is in your wallet, then you have access to a slightly quirky, but highly rated, banking app. It’s rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from customers in both the Apple and Google App Stores and is full of hidden treasures and high functionality. Capital One as a bank consistently ranks high in customer satisfaction and offers a high-yield savings account with a very competitive APY.
What we like: If you have other Capital One accounts, like loans or credit cards, you can view and manage them all in the app. You can use your accrued reward points to pay yourself back with a statement credit and if you temporarily can't find your credit card, you can lock access directly from the app. You can undo the move if you end up finding it, which saves you the hassle of canceling your card only to have it show up a few days later.
What we don't like: With so many features, sometimes it can feel like information overload if all you want to do is check your balance.
You may not have heard of Huntington Bank, but it is the only banking app to receive full marks in the 2019 J.D. Power survey for all of the categories: overall satisfaction, ease of navigation, appearance, availability of key information, range of services, and clarity of information. The bank is based in the Midwest and consistently delivers high customer service.
What we like: In addition to standard features, you can set up push notifications that inform you when transactions have occurred in your account. You also don't need to log in to see your account balance. And if you accidentally overdraft money from your account, the 24-Hour Grace feature gives you 24 hours to deposit money before facing the fee.
What we don't like: There isn't much not to love about the app itself. However, customers in some regions might have trouble finding ATM access—Huntington only has branches and ATMs in eight Midwestern states.
Another large financial institution with a vast network of ATMs and locations is Wells Fargo. It offers low fees on checking accounts that are easily waived if you have a $1,500 minimum daily balance, direct deposits of $500 or more per month, make 10 or more debit card transactions per month, have a linked Wells Fargo Campus Card, or are between 17 and 24 years old. Wells Fargo also has over 13,000 ATMs and 7,600 branches across the country, making it easy to access your money.
What we like: Paying your bills is easy through the app and you can set up Touch ID or Face ID to access it without your username or password. For the technophobes who would rather go old school (or just don't want to be bothered to open the actual app), you can use text banking commands. For example, type in BAL to get your account balance, ACT to see recent account activity, and DUE to look at your credit card account information.
What we don't like: Wells Fargo has pretty low rates on savings accounts. Even though its app is top of the line, you may want to look elsewhere for your savings needs.
What Is a Banking App?
A banking app is a mobile app where you can access the details of your bank account and complete transactions directly from your phone, tablet, or mobile device. Based on the bank you’re accessing, you’ll be able to complete a variety of actions via your banking app.
Most banking apps allow you to view your current balance and transaction history, deposit checks up to a certain dollar value, initiate transfers to other bank accounts, schedule payments or pay your bills, send person-to-person payments, and locate ATMs that are free for you to use.
How Does a Banking App Work?
Generally, you’ll have to download your banking app via an app store such as Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.
After you’ve downloaded and opened the app you’ll be asked to log in to your account using the same login information you use to access your bank account online from a web browser. Once you’re logged in, the experience will be different based on the banking app you’re accessing, but generally, you’ll be allowed to select the task you want to perform, such as viewing your balance, looking at your transaction history, or making a mobile deposit.
The banking app is designed to work in a similar way to any transaction you’d complete at the bank that doesn’t involve cash. The hope is that you’ll be able to access your account and get your financial needs serviced easier and more quickly than you would if you had to go into a bank to complete the task. You cannot open an account from most banking apps, however.
How Much Do Banking Apps Cost?
Banking apps are free to download and use, but the costs for managing the app might be passed on to you by the bank.
It’s not common to be charged for mobile app access, but if you are, then it will likely be a fine-print item in your bank account documentation. Most banks will just factor in the cost of the app to their overall operating costs so you’ll never really know what you’re paying for it.
What Features Should I Look For in a Banking App?
The features you need in a banking app will depend on why you’re using the bank account to begin with.
Most individuals will need some basic features, which should all be pretty standard in most big bank mobile apps today. These features include the ability to view your balance, see at least 90 days of transaction history, pay bills online, make person-to-person payments, schedule payments, arrange one-time transfers to other accounts at your bank as well as third-party banks, deposit checks, and contact customer support.
If the banking app doesn’t have at least these features then it might not be a very robust offering.
Are Apps Safe for Banking?
Generally, yes, most banking apps are extremely safe to use. The banks have to have a good deal of security regardless of what features their mobile app offers. If you’re already accessing your bank information online via a web browser, then you’ll be accessing the same databases and information through a mobile app. Plus, if anything goes wrong your money is protected at all reputable banks up to $250,000 by the FDIC.