Saving is like eating your vegetables – you know how important it is, but probably don’t give it the attention it deserves. Maybe you make a contribution here and there, but more than likely infrequency and inconsistency has your savings goals in a rut.
Thankfully, technology has given us the ability to take personal responsibility out of the equation. Automatic savings apps are an easy, reliable and foolproof method to hack your way to saving more money.
To be a "best savings app", we had a few criteria we were looking for:
- Free or very low price
- Ease of use
- Ability to select goals
- Other perks or benefits
Read on to find out our picks for the most popular automatic savings apps of 2020. These apps are constantly changing, so let us know in the comments your thoughts.
Note: The savings offers that appear on this site are from companies from which The College Investor receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The College Investor does not include all savings companies or all savings offers available in the marketplace.
Chime is actually a bank/online app that has an automatic savings program as one of it's main perks.
The bank rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar, and sets the money into a savings account. They also add a 10% reward to the money you set aside - up to $500 per year. The savings account yields a paltry .01%, but the rewards and automation more than make up for it.
They also have a host of other features that make them worth checking out. Read our Chime review here.
Qapital is a hybrid automatic saving app that allows you to save based on goals. You can decide what triggers a deposit, and Qapital will do the work of getting that money into a savings account.
You can also save with group goals - get together with friends and family and set goals together.
For example, their most popular rule allows you to round-up every purchase. Basically, they look at your transactions and round-up, adding that change into your savings account.
You can also pair Qapital with IFTTT. You can combine savings with almost any other service available on the platform.
This app does charge a monthly fee, FDIC-Insured, and available for both iPhone and Android. Check out our full Qapital review here.
Digit is one of the first automatic savings apps that allowed consumers to save based on al algorithm.
This app recently started charging users to use their service, which has made it less than great, but it still serves a purpose if you plan to save enough with it. You need to save over $5,000 per year to make the fees worthwhile - which can be hard for many using the service.
Check out our Digit review here.
The app is not free, and they also have a text message based interface.
Acorns is a hybrid investing and savings app that rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. Unlike the other apps listed here, this app focuses on investing, not just saving.
It will ask you questions about your income, net worth and risk tolerance to determine what kind of investments to choose for you. For those interested in investing but afraid or unaware of how to start, Acorns is a good first step. Like other investment programs, Acorns charges a $1 monthly fee if your balance is less than $5,000 or a .25% annual fee if your balance is more than $5,000.
Check out our Acorns app review here.
5. Empower Finance
Empower Finance is a budgeting and account aggregation app that also has savings built in.
They just launched banking in September of 2018, and now not only can you connect your accounts and track your spending, but you can also save money on their platform.
What's great about Empower is that it's free (there is a paid version), and their rates are very competitive in their savings account.
Check out our full Empower Finance review here.
6. B of A Keep The Change
Bank of America was one of the first banks to offer automatic savings through its Keep the Change program. For those who already have a BOA account, this may be a seamless transition to automatic saving.
If you enroll your Bank of America debit card, BofA will automatically round up your purchases to the next dollar and transfer the difference to your BofA savings account.
Unlike other apps, you need to have your checking and savings account at Bank of America.
Newbies will have to open a checking account, savings account or debit card through Bank of America.
7. Tip Yourself
Tip Yourself is an app that allows you to transfer money from your checking account to your "tip jar". Think of it like the online version of a "swear jar".
Their app focuses on positivity - so while it's not as automated as other apps, it does motivate you to save. There are a lot of motivations and goals that could drive you to save, and Tip Yourself has many of them inside the app.
The great thing about this app is that it is free - so that's awesome.
EvoShare is slight different that the other apps on this list because it isn't just a automatic savings app, but it's really a cash back app that helps you save for your goals.
This app enables you to save for your retirement or reduce your student debt by simply doing your daily shopping. You can use a portion of what you spend at your favorite businesses to either be placed into an account, helping you save for your future without changing your spending habits.
The great thing is that it's free to use EvoShare. Read our full EvoShare review here.
CFP Ben Wacek of Wacek Financial Planning said that he understands the popularity of these apps, but doesn’t think they work for everyone.
“For those who are closely following a budget, these automatic savings apps can actually do more harm than good because it can throw their budget off and make it harder to track,” he said.
In other words, don’t automatically assume you’ll benefit from using one of these apps. They can be endlessly helpful – especially for young, tech-savvy people – but are generally aimed at those who want to casually manage their finances. If you’re a penny-pincher, a more hands-on approach is probably best for you.
But if you aren’t the type of person who wants to budget carefully, these apps can help. Let them do the heavy lifting for you, and start working smartly towards your goals.
Do you use automatic savings apps? Why or why not?