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 for 2021. 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.
Plus, their savings account currently pays 0.50% APY!
They also have a host of other features that make them worth checking out. Read our Chime 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 in a diversified portfolio. Unlike the other apps listed here, this app focuses on investing, not just saving.
When you sign up, 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, $3, or $5 monthly fee to use their service.
Check out our Acorns app review here.
4. 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.
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.
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.
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?
Zina is a writer, speaker, and coach that focuses on student loan debt and young adult money issues. You can learn more about Zina at Debt Free After Three.