Over the last few years an avalanche of shiny new banking apps have found their way into the App Store. Some of these apps are designed to help us save more money, to apply for a mortgage or even to help our children manage their pocket money. Customers seem to really like apps too, with 46 per cent now preferring to deal with their banks via apps. Financial firms are also pretty keen on apps, as they tend to be cheaper to build and operate than more traditional channels like branches or telephone banking.
This means that like it or not, apps are the future of banking. But with so many apps out there, which ones are worth a download? Here is our round-up of the best:
Best for current accounts
For many of us, a banking app is something we use to manage our current account. If you’re with a large high street bank, the apps offered by NatWest and Barclays are a cut above the rest. They offer advanced features like fingerprint and facial recognition and the ability to instantly freeze and unfreeze misplaced cards. They also offer nice flourishes like the ability to create a personal greeting.
Newer app-based banks like Monzo and Starling have also sprung-up, and now boast over four million customers between them. If you don’t need to pop into a branch, they both offer a sleek and sophisticated way to manage your money. Starling Bank was voted Best British Bank in 2019 and boosts no ATM fees and great exchange rates. Monzo has earned a legion of fans thanks to smart features like its salary sorter which helps to sort funds into savings, bills and spending.
If you’re finding it hard to open a current account, Monese offers a highly rated banking-app that is particularly useful if you’re new to the UK and don’t have any credit history or proof of address.
Best for mortgages
Atom Bank has received a lot of praise for digitising the mortgage journey. If you’re looking for an app-focused relationship with your mortgage provider, then Atom Bank’s recently updated app is worth a look, although you’ll need to apply for a mortgage via a broker.
Best saving tools
Chip is a smart app that helps to make saving a part of your daily routine. It’s developed an auto-saving feature which determines how much each of us can afford to save. Encouraging us to save when interest rates remain in rock-bottom territory is no easy task, but as we’ve become a nation of spenders, and not savers, apps like Chip that just get on with it are much needed.
Helping kids better manage their money
gohenry allows parents to load money onto a prepaid card for their children, either on a one-off basis, to reward them for a specific task, like making their bed, or as a way of giving them weekly pocket money. It’s designed to teach them good money habits like saving. Parents are able to monitor spending and control where the money is spent via an app.
Personal Finance apps
Money Dashboard and Yolt are both good personal finance management apps that link up your accounts, be it your current account and savings accounts, to give you a single view of your finances. Both have slick interfaces and an array of handy charts and features to help you better manage your money and plan for goals like buying a house or funding a summer holiday. The biggest challenge some customers face comes with syncing-up all their accounts with these apps, but once set-up, they tend to be pretty easy to manage.
Banks used to obsess about growing wallet share. They’d lure us in with a free current account, and hope to cross-sell us more profitable products like personal loans and mortgages. The rise of banking apps is helping to shatter this model. And while they won’t be for everybody, banking apps really have helped to disrupt the financial services industry. And overall, that’s no bad thing.
Michael Fotis is the Founder of Smart Money People, a consumer review website for financial products and services.