The best mobile banking app offers the latest technology to help do a range of banking tasks without visiting a branch or logging onto a computer. For our best list, we analyzed over 130 banks and focused on low-fee institutions with top-rated mobile apps, wide accessibility and stellar in-app features.
What’s changed in 2021? We added a list of the best mobile banking apps available today. All of our recommendations offer unique mobile app features that help you budget, save and track your money. We replaced Simple with Alliant Credit Union because it’s shutting down this year.
We added OnJuno to our list because it comes with 5% cash back on five brands of your choice. We added Lili to our list because it helps freelancers set aside money for taxes. We added Varo Bank to our list because it comes with early paydays and has automatic savings features.
Chime keeps you informed with real-time transaction alerts and daily balance updates through its mobile app. You can connect your debit card to Apple Pay or Google Pay. Plus, you get access to standard features like remote check deposits, money transfers and more.
Low fees. Chime doesn’t have most of the annoying fees charged by other banks, such as minimum balance, monthly maintenance and foreign transaction fees.
Automatic savings tools. Chime automatically rounds up debit card purchases to the nearest whole dollar and sweeps the spare change into savings. Plus, you can opt in and have Chime transfer 10% of every paycheck to savings.
Two accounts in one. When you sign up for Chime, you get a checking and savings account to help you manage your money all in one place.
No 24/7 support. Chime’s mobile app is available 24/7, but customer service isn’t available at all times.
No overdraft protection. If you make a purchase that would bring your account balance below $0, Chime automatically declines it.
No joint accounts. You can’t open a joint account with your family member or significant other.
Required checking account. You’re only eligible for the savings account once you open a Chime Spend account.
OnJuno earns up to 2.15% APY on your account balance and 5% cash back on five merchants of your choice, helping you grow your savings at record speed.
Metal plan free with direct deposit. OnJuno has a free tier and a paid tier, but you get the paid tier for free when you set up direct deposits.
24/7 customer support. Contact customer service at any time by live chat, phone or email.
Banking with a purpose. OnJuno aims to reduce wealth inequality by donating 2.15% of its profits to charities in India.
APY and cashback limits. Basic members earn 2.15% interest on up to $5,000 and 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases. Metal members earn 2.15% interest on up to $30,000 and 5% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases.
No joint accounts. OnJuno is looking to allow joint accounts in the future, but for now, it doesn’t.
Lili helps freelancers set aside money for taxes and emergencies, as well as track and categorize business expenses, making tax time a breeze. It also receives direct deposits up to two days early.
No hidden fees. The standard Lili account has no opening deposit requirements or fees for monthly maintenance, overdrafts, inactivity, card replacements, stopped payments and more. But there is a Pro tier that costs $4.99 per month and includes several perks such as cashback rewards and unlimited invoicing.
Tax and emergency buckets. Use the Lili app to set aside a portion of each paycheck for quarterly estimated payments and emergencies.
Supports cash deposits. Unlike most digital banks, Lili accepts cash deposits at any Green Dot location nationwide.
Limited customer support. Customers report having trouble getting ahold of Lili during regular business hours, saying they’re impossible to get ahold of by phone.
No joint accounts. You can’t open this account with a business partner or with your EIN.
Low transfer limit. You can only transfer up to $1,000 a day to a linked account, which is lower than other banks’ limits.
Discover has a top-rated mobile app that allows customers to mobile deposit checks, view and redeem rewards, locate an ATM and manage your debit card. If you have a Discover credit card or loan, you can also manage those in the mobile app.
No fees. With Discover, you won’t pay anything for monthly maintenance, incoming wire transfers, debit card replacements, insufficient funds, and checks.
Ally Bank has a sleek mobile app that lets you remote deposit checks, transfer money, pay bills, find nearby ATMs and set debit card preferences. The app requires fingerprint or face authentication for extra security. Plus, those who use Ally Invest can manage their investments and their bank accounts all in one place.
No fees or minimum balance requirements. Ally doesn’t charge monthly fees and you can open an account with as little as $0.
Large ATM network. Withdraw cash for free at over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide. Plus, Ally reimburses up to $10 in non-network ATM fees a month.
Financial education and security. Ally offers free security software to its customers and has a comprehensive learning center to help you develop responsible money habits.
Difficult deposits and withdrawals. Ally doesn’t have any physical branches, so it’s difficult to deposit cash and savings accounts don’t come with an ATM card.
Limited product selection. Ally offers checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets and CDs, but you’ll typically only find one account option in each category.
With the Capital One mobile app, you can pay bills, monitor your credit, send and receive money through Zelle, remote deposit checks and get real-time notifications about your spending. Capital One also offers sophisticated savings tools that allow you to set, manage and track savings goals directly in the mobile app.
Alliant Credit Union only has two branch locations in Chicago, which means it’s primarily mobile-facing. The credit union has a range of checking and savings accounts with no hidden fees and a comprehensive mobile app designed to help you do all your banking on the go.
No hidden fees. Alliant doesn’t charge any monthly fees and it also reimburses you for up to $20 in non-network ATM fees a month.
Competitive APYs. Alliant’s checking and savings accounts earn competitive interest rates that consistently rank among the best in the industry.
Easy membership requirements. If you fall outside of its regular field of membership, you can still join when you make a $5 donation to its partner charity, Foster Care to Success.
Few account options. You can choose from seven different checking, savings and CD accounts, but you won’t find any business products.
Minimum balance requirements. You’ll need at least $1,000 to open a CD and you may need to maintain a $100 balance to earn interest on your checking account.
With PNC’s virtual wallet, you can track your expenses, manage budgeting categories, see upcoming due dates for bills and more. You can also use the app to make cardless payments and ATM withdrawals with your PNC debit card.
ATM reimbursements. Several of PNC’s checking accounts come with ATM refunds when you withdraw cash at non-network ATMs.
Sign-up bonuses. PNC offers sign-up bonuses pretty regularly for its Virtual Wallet accounts, giving you a jump start on your savings.
Low opening deposits. Most of its standard checking and savings accounts can be opened with as little as $0.
APYs aren’t the highest. Most of PNC’s interest rates are lower than the competition. Plus, some rates aren’t advertised online. Instead, you have to call customer service to find out what you’re eligible for.
Monthly fees. All of PNC’s checking accounts have monthly fees. But you can waive them when you meet a minimum direct deposit requirement or maintain a certain balance in your account.
All accounts aren’t available nationwide. PNC has a broad selection of accounts but not all are available nationwide. When you go to its website, you’ll need to type in your zip code to see which ones are offered in your area.
Open a Varo Bank account and get access to paychecks and government benefits up to two days earlier than you would with a traditional bank. Plus, enjoy cash advances, automatic savings tools and daily customer service.
No hidden fees. Varo Bank has a $0 opening deposit and doesn’t charge any fees for overdrafts, monthly maintenance, foreign transactions or card replacements.
Accepts cash deposits. Unlike most online banks, Varo accepts cash deposits from over 90,000 Green Dot locations nationwide.
Automatic savings. Sweep spare change into savings when you use your debit card or have part of your paycheck set aside when you get paid.
APY tiers. Varo Bank earns a base APY of 0.81%. To get the advertised 2.8% APY, you have to make at least five debit card purchases a month, receive at least $1,000 in monthly direct deposits and keep your account balance below $10,000.
Checking account required. Varo’s savings account is only available to customers with an existing Varo checking account.
What is mobile banking?
Mobile banking is a system that lets the customer of a financial institution process transactions through an app on your smartphone or tablet. This is not to be confused with contactless payments, which use Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to allow you to use your phone to pay for things by tapping it near another device.
Mobile banking apps and features
Most major banks have a mobile app that allows their customers to access their accounts on the go. Here’s what the Big Four have to offer:
Set up account alerts to notify you if your balance dips too low
Find nearby Citibank branches and ATMs
Check your balance and search up to your last 150 transactions
Buy and sell ETFs, equities and mutual funds with your iPhone or Apple Watch
What are the advantages of mobile banking?
Save on time. Instead of going to a bank and waiting in line to talk to someone, you can check account balances, schedule and receive payments, transfer money and organize your accounts from anywhere.
Convenient for managing funds on-the-go. Do your banking at a time and place that suits you without having to worry about business hours.
Stay on top of your finances while traveling. Banking apps allow you to pay your bills, send and request money, and get help from anywhere in the world with Wi-Fi, regardless of whether or not there’s a branch nearby.
Security measures are built into the app. Generally, good mobile banking apps have a security guarantee or send you a SMS verification code you need to input to authorize a payment for added security. Some apps even have GPS capabilities to help figure out if someone other than you has your credit card.
Before you start mobile banking, here’s what you should look out for.
Security. You can also take the extra step to keep your account safe with authentication by having a user ID, password and PIN. Some banks let you log in with your fingerprint or face to keep you safe, but you need to have a phone that supports the technology.
Insured Most banks are insured by the FDIC, which means your deposit of up to $250,000 is backed by the US government. Not all mobile banks have this same protection. You can use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to learn if your bank is FDIC insured.
Access to customer service. Banks have a lot of customers, so they need to able to produce a mobile banking infrastructure to handle large volumes of transactions at a time. Services should be available 24/7 and all systems should be working within the app.
Lack of rewards and perks. Mobile banks aren’t always able to offer the financial rewards, such as signup bonuses, that are common at many big banks.
Not a traditional bank. Some banking apps work alongside your pre-existing accounts to gather all your spending data in one place, offer you insights into the way you spend your money and suggest ways to improve your finances.
May not be available. Some smaller banks don’t have mobile apps available. If you prefer to handle most of your finances from your phone, check to make sure an app is available before signing up for an account with a new bank.
Although there’s still a chance of having your security breached with mobile banking, it’s less likely to happen than it would with online banking. This is because you have a higher chance of downloading malicious software or navigating to a fake bank’s website when you use your web browser. The mobile app adds a layer of security to your banking experience and reduces your likelihood of falling for a phishing attack.
How to keep your information secure
Mobile phone apps can only do so much on their own to keep you secure, such as logging you out after a certain amount of inactivity or making you provide a password or SMS codes. Banking on a public Wi-Fi connection or leaving your phone unlocked when you’re logged in to a banking app leaves your account at risk. Even if you aren’t logged in, taking screenshots of your balance or keeping your passwords in a note app can let your information leak — to stay safe, keep your phone locked when it’s not in your hand.
App-based banking encompasses a lot of different financial products, including:
Digital banks. Banks that harness the power of technology rather than relying on human interaction and physical branches are known as digital banks.
Traditional bank apps. App-based banking doesn’t only apply to neobanks, it’s also becoming increasingly possible to bank on your smartphone with traditional banks such as Chase and Bank of America, both of whom have highly-rated mobile apps where you can control your money.
Apps that help you save. One of the most common reasons for people heading away from traditional banks and towards app-based banking is how easy app-based banking makes it for people to save money. This includes everything from budgeting apps like Cleo to cashback apps like Ibotta.
Prepaid card apps. Companies like NetSpend let you control a prepaid debit card from an app so you can track your transactions and see exactly how much money you have left.
Investment apps. Apps like Robinhood and Acorns let you invest in stocks from your phone so that you have more control over your finances.
Mobile banking is used in many parts of the world and can be a great tool if used properly and securely. You can check your account details from anywhere and get notifications when there’s suspicious activity on your account, helping you get more control of your finances. Before you commit to a new bank account, make sure to compare to get the best APY and features for your needs.
Frequently asked questions
Please contact your bank directly via telephone or by going to a branch.
Yes it is, although you will need to confirm this with your bank. In some cases, certain app features may not be available.
Mobile apps are available from the iTunes app store or Google Play. Some mobile banks apps aren’t available through phones that operate on the Windows or Blackberry system, so it’s best to check with your bank.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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