Do you do all your banking the old-fashioned way — at the bank? Sure, you can stand in line every time you need to deposit a check, but there’s an easier way. Why not use a banking app and carry your banking information on your device 24/7? We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, so check out our research on the best banking apps and all the best features for each one.
Quick Look: Best Banking Apps
- Best Overall: Bank of America
- Capital One
- Chase Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Ally Bank
Why Use a Banking App?
The thought of downloading one more app may sound daunting, but think of the advantages a banking app can offer — they’re great for tracking deposits, bill payments and checks. Here are some reasons they’re a great idea, just in case you’re on the fence.
Chances are, you’re already signed up for online banking — even if you don’t have a banking app yet. Using an app means you won’t have to go through the extra steps of logging into your computer and accessing your online banking account. You can simply tap the app, and if your login information is saved, you’ll be automatically logged in. If you need to transfer funds from one bank account to another, a banking app makes that transaction easy.
Using a bank app will save you time, especially with bill pay options at your fingertips. Imagine paying your home insurance bill in just a few seconds.
You won’t have to drop a check in the mail and mail it 5 to 7 days ahead of time. If your car payment is due on the 15th of the month, you can pay it on the 14th or 15th instantly and know that your payment won’t be late.
Banking institutions are federally insured, so all banking products, including banking apps, are as well. This means you shouldn’t have any worries about identity theft or other security issues. If a security breach occurs or your account is compromised, you’ll be reimbursed after notifying your bank, filling out forms and providing appropriate support documentation.
Watch out for fake mobile banking apps that mimic major apps. Here are a few ways to be sure you’re downloading the real thing:
- Use trusted sources like Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
- If you’re unsure or something doesn’t look right about the app’s site, call the customer service number and ask questions.
- Use two-factor authentication if it’s available and be sure to install strong virus protection to guard against malware.
Most banks don’t charge a fee for mobile apps, so if there’s no extra cost, why not give it a try? If you don’t like it, you can always remove the app from your smartphone or another mobile device.
More People Are Using Banking Apps
In general, most people conduct a good portion of their banking using a mobile device. The Federal Reserve Board indicated in a study that 82% of mobile bank users have installed a banking app on their phones for a variety of reasons:
- Bank started offering the service
- Comfortable with the security of mobile banking
- No bank or ATM near home or work
- Want to receive fraud alerts or check accounts for fraudulent transactions
How Banking Apps Work
It’s easy to download a mobile banking app. Simply go to the Google Play Store or visit your bank’s website and search for a link to download the app. Once downloaded, you can easily set up your username and password.
After it’s downloaded, you’ll be able to access your banking info by tapping the app icon and logging in. In most cases, you should be able to save your login information so you can log in with just one tap.
Once you’re logged in, you can select different functions from the menu such as “Check your Balance,” “Pay Someone,” “Pay a Bill,” “Download a Statement,” “Transfer Money” and much more.
Features of the Best Banking Apps
In addition to traditional features, many banks add on extras to stay competitive and keep your business.
Personal Financial Assistants
You’ll get a voice-activated virtual financial assistant through many banking apps which can offer support 24/7 and get your questions answered at any time. You can lock and unlock your debit card, send money to your friends, schedule bill payments, find past transactions and more through the personal financial assistant feature.
For example, let’s say you’re using Bank of America’s Erica. You can give voice commands, such as, “Erica, lock my debit card,” or “Erica, how much did I spend at Target on Friday?”
Many banks offer virtual check deposits, which saves you a trip to the bank. You simply take a photo of both sides of your check with your smartphone, upload it via your bank app and it’s deposited virtually.
Facial Recognition and Fingerprint ID
Some banks now offer facial recognition and fingerprint ID features, adding a higher layer of security for consumers. Looking into your phone’s camera is the only way you’ll gain access to your banking information. You can also use fingerprint ID by holding your finger onto a button on the app.
Our Top Picks
We’ve reviewed dozens of mobile banking apps and have analyzed user reviews, features and ratings and have chosen the best of the best.
Best Overall: Bank of America
In 2018, Bank of America’s mobile app was recognized by J.D. Power as an exceptional mobile app. Bank of America’s mobile app ranks high in customer satisfaction and passed an extensive evaluation of 250 mobile app practices, such as messaging and notifications, channel management, quality, user interface and digital processes.
Bank of America’s app is colorful and user-friendly. Once you download it, you’ll see easy-to-read headings such as Accounts, Deals, Alerts and Locations. Just a few clicks give you the information you need to accurately track your finances.
Erica, your own personal financial assistant, is an industry standard and offers the best personal financial assistance of any of the bank apps we’ve reviewed. Bank of America also allows you to pay using a digital wallet and use a fingerprint sign-in.
Chime is an online bank that offers checking accounts and savings plans and its mobile app garnered more than 15,000 5-star Apple Store reviews. Chime’s banking app features a lime-and-white-colored screen with easy-to-see icons for accounts you’re connected to as well as icons for recent transactions such as direct deposits and withdrawals.
You can get your paycheck 2 days early with direct deposit, there are no overdraft fees and you’ll also get real-time notifications for every banking transaction.
Capital One’s credit card and banking app is worth considering, as it was ranked #1 in Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power for 2017 and 2018. Once downloaded, Capital One’s mobile banking app features categories such as Banking, Find a Branch or ATM and Contact Us.
You’ll be able to pay people or receive money instantly through Zelle, a feature that connects you with family members, colleagues and friends. You simply click on “Pay or Transfer,” then select the payee from a list you’ve created within your banking app. Zelle will confirm when your recipient receives your money, or when you’ve received payment in your bank account.
Capital One’s banking app easily tracks your spending and you can earn cash back rewards with every purchase.
Chase’s mobile banking app appeared in 2010, so the company has had almost 10 years to fine-tune it.
Out of 1,472,959 reviews on the Google Play Store, the app’s average rating is 4.5 stars.
Chase’s app is easy to navigate and will sign you out if you’ve been inactive for more than a few minutes, which adds another layer of security to its features.
Other cool features involve one-touch sign-in, bill-pay with just a few taps and a feature called CreditWise, which allows you to monitor your credit score.
Wells Fargo’s mobile banking app was named a 2018 Mobile Banking Award winner by Javelin Strategy and Research, an independent financial research firm.
The study ranked apps based on money movement, ease of use, security empowerment, financial fitness, customer service and account opening. Wells Fargo’s app is easy to read because it features big, bold words at the top of your screen for each function.
When you click on a “Control Tower” button, you can view recurring payments and manage account access easily. You’ll also get bill pay technology as well as facial and voice recognition authentication.
PNC’s mobile banking app received a 4.8/5 Apple Store rating and has been named the best mobile banking app by several independent organizations.
PNC’s online Virtual Wallet is an online tool that gives you access to 3 accounts: Spend (checking), Reserve (short-term savings) and Growth (savings).
It’s an app within the app and even includes a bill pay calendar so you can easily plan and schedule bills you pay each month. You can split PNC credit card transactions with Zelle.
According to Consumer Affairs, Discover’s credit card app received top honors in a J.D. Power & Associates survey.
You can also check your credit score with Quick View and Freeze ItSM allows you to freeze your accounts if you misplace your card.
If you’re constantly busy (who isn’t?), you can do on-the-go bill payments with just one tap.
Ally Bank is the best online bank in America, according to a study by FindABetterBank.com.
Ally’s mobile app outperformed competitors and its customer service is outstanding, according to the study.
Ally Assist, Ally’s virtual assistant, can help you monitor spending patterns and save money.
Your banking is compatible with Apple and Android watches and it’s also easy to manage multiple accounts.
You Deserve the Best Mobile Banking App
You have different financial needs and lifestyles than your best friend or next-door neighbor, so you’ll need to pick the app that works best for you. If the idea of a virtual financial assistant sounds appealing, Bank of America or Ally may be good choices. Do you frequently make payments using Zelle? You’ll want to choose an app that uses it, such as Chase Bank.
Of course, using any app or online tool has its risks, so you need to make sure you use more than one layer of security in order to ensure the highest protection possible. Create a unique, hard-to-guess username and password and add security questions that only you’ll be able to answer.