Whether they realize it or not, millions of Americans now utilize FinTech on a daily basis. This is mainly thanks to growing popularity of budgeting, investing, and savings apps available both online and for mobile devices. Still, while a few have cracked their way into the mainstream, others aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.
With that in mind here’s a look at seven finance applications you should be aware of:
Chances are you’ve heard of this one as it’s among the most popular personal finance apps available. There’s good reason for that as Mint is one of the best and simplest ways to create and stick to a budget. All you have to do is plug in your bank account information and the app will break your spending into categories, which you can set individual spending limits for.
For those with multiple bank accounts another great thing about Mint is being able to view all of your balances in one place. There’s no doubt that this app can do a lot but it’s far from alone in the space.
Formerly known as BillGuard, this app actually has both a free and a paid version. Like Mint and others, the free version allows you to monitor your accounts and analyze your spending. But what sets Prosper Daily apart is the fraud protection it offers for $9.99 a month (or $6.99 a month if you pay for a year upfront).
As you can imagine, if your identity is stolen, your bank balance could be the least of your problem. That’s why the app monitors your credit, watches for breach alerts, and comes with a $1 million identity theft insurance policy. They even claim that they’ll help you cancel your cards and replace your ID should you lose your wallet, making that $9.99 sound like quite a deal.
Setting aside money for savings is great but what if you could actually start investing it as well? While most people think you need to have a lot of extra cash in order to make that happen, Acorns makes it easy. The app funds your account using what they call “round-ups” which equates to the loose change you have from your transactions. For example, if you spent $7.47 on lunch, Acorns would grab that extra $.53 and wait until you have $5 saved up before purchasing a small stake in stocks and bonds for you.
What’s cool about Acorns is that you can customize it depending on your tolerance for risk. If you mostly just want to use it as a way to painlessly stash some cash, you can set it to the most conservative investment mix. However, if you have more to play with, you can get a bit riskier and hopefully bring in even more money. You can also cash out at any time, which is another plus.
Sometimes you can do everything right when it comes to reining in your spending, keeping a close eye on your balance, and setting aside savings. Still there may be times when you do need some extra money. That’s where Lenny comes in. Sure you could use any regular credit card but Lenny is specifically designed to teach people how to use credit responsibly and raise their credit scores in the process.
Once you’re approved for a line of credit through Lenny you can actually transfer the money you need to your bank account, helping you avoid overdraft fees. As a result this app has positioned itself as a positive alternative to payday loans and credit cards alike.
Speaking of credit cards they actually do hold some advantages if you use them correctly. Several cards offer rewards and cash back but all of them have different terms and bonuses that can make it difficult to know which is best. Birch aims to help you make the most of these rewards by analyzing your purchases and telling you which card would be the most beneficial for your purchases.
Unfortunately this isn’t a mobile app yet but the website is still worth checking out whether you’re looking for a new credit card or want to get the most out of the ones you currently have.
The online bank Ally has created what is easily the most clever (read: silly) app on the list but the idea behind it is a strong one. Splurge Alert utilizes your location and a list of your spending weaknesses to warn you when you’re in range of a tempting retailer, a subtle reminder for you to steer clear. Lacking self-control? You can also set up the app to alert your friends so they can pester you into running away. Splurge Alert is a “limited release” but you can find more info about it on Ally’s website.
Walmart’s Savings Catcher
Yes — even the retail behemoth Walmart is getting into the FinTech game with the introduction of Walmart Pay. That feature on the company’s app will allow you to pay with your phone by scanning a QR code at the register. While that won’t really help you save any money, the Savings Catcher — which is built into the same app — probably will.
When you scan or submit your digital receipt to the Catcher, Walmart will automatically search for lower advertised prices and give you the difference on a gift card if they find one. It’s definitely not your typical personal finance app but it deserves to be recognized regardless.
Today FinTech applications can do a number of things. From helping you to better monitor your bank balance to teaching you how budget and spend more wisely, the possibilities and benefits are nearly endless. As a result there’s plenty of reasons to give these seven apps (and the many others that pop up all the time) a try.