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Best microsavings and automatic saving apps

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Updated: November 29, 2023

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“Great oaks from little acorns grow.” That proverb is the name source for one of the best money-saving apps. Saving small amounts of money daily via money-saving apps is part of a personal wealth-building strategy.

New microsavings accounts and startups are popping up all over the place. Their goal is to make saving money accessible and easy for everyone. You don't have to make a lot of money or have a ton of discipline, you only need to start by saving a small amount of money on a consistent basis. These tools aim to streamline that process so you never have to think about it.

Keep reading to discover some of the best apps for automatic savings.

What are money saving apps?

Money-saving apps allow you to grow your nest egg slowly by putting small amounts of money aside as you conduct your regular financial transactions. Prior generations had piggy banks for loose change. And money-saving apps are a similar concept but with a modern twist. Fewer people now pay for items in cash, but automatic savings apps collect spare change from online purchases and help customers put it to good use.

Everyone has their own financial goals. Whether it's saving for a house, a child's college education or a big vacation, there are money savings apps designed to help you meet those goals. So look for an app with features attuned to your needs.

How do microsaving apps work?

Microsavings accounts cater to very small deposits that are transferred from your bank into a separate savings account that has little-to-no balance minimums. You simply save a few dollars every week and watch as your balance grows steadily over time.

With a microsavings account, your biggest asset is time. The sooner you start saving, the longer amount of time you have to reach a specific financial goal, which puts less stress on your bank account in the short-term.

What to look for in an automatic savings app

Various automatic savings apps give you different features to move cash from one account to another without intervention. Just set it and forget it. But not all apps are created equal.

Some of the most important features to look at when picking an automatic savings app:

  • Pricing and fees: Some savings apps are free. Others charge a monthly fee or fees for having less than a stated minimum balance. It's best to avoid fees wherever possible.
  • Saving schedule: Some savings apps offer little more than the recurring transfers you can already do with most bank accounts. Others analyze your income or use AI to move money into your savings.
  • Investment options: If the app includes investing, where does the money go? Is it automated, managed by a pro or something you have to deal with yourself? The best option here varies based on your preferences.
  • Interest rates: If your cash sits in savings, it should earn interest. Compare your rate to the average interest rates around the U.S. and high-yield savings banks to find out if you're getting a good deal.
  • Access to funds: Can you get your money back in a day or two with an electronic transfer, or do you have to jump through hoops to cash out? Some apps give you different methods and timeframes to withdraw.

The best money-saving apps

Here's a breakdown of the best microsavings apps currently available in online banking, and how they stack up against each other. We've thoroughly reviewed and tested each service listed below.

Best for overall microsavings and investing: Acorns

Acorns is one of the biggest and best-known automatic savings apps. It allows you to use recurring transfers, round-ups from purchases, and other methods to fund a managed investment account. In addition to automated investing, Acorns offers retirement accounts and a bank account.

They offer a Smart Deposit feature which allows you to automatically set aside a portion of your paycheck into your checking, investing and retirement accounts. It's probably one of the best ways to invest without even needing to think about it.

When you make a purchase with a linked debit or credit card Acorns rounds up that purchase to the nearest dollar amount. The difference is placed into a robo-advisor investment account. Your funds are invested based on things like your goals and income level. Choose from a variety of portfolios that are designed for your specific investment risk level.

Acorns offers two payment tiers:

Personal: For $3 a month you get an all-in-one investment, retirement and savings account. You get a metal debit card and access to more than 55,000 ATMs across the nation and around the world. And you can earn up to 10% on bonus investments.

Family: The $5-per-month plan adds investment accounts for children. And you can set up automatic recurring investments. Also receive exclusive bonus investments and family financial advice.

The biggest downside is the cost. The basic account costs $3 but can cost up to $5 depending on the features you want. This doesn't sound like a lot, but $3 per month on a small portfolio is a large percentage. Acorns makes it easy to start small, but you don't get much momentum with fees on low balances.

Best for automatically saving money: Oportun

Oportun is an AI and machine-learning driven automated savings app that picks how much and when to save for you. Just connect your main checking account, and Oportun will figure out the rest. Based on your payday and bill schedule, Oportun will automatically pick an amount to move to your Oportun savings with a no-overdraft guarantee.

Oportun helps you reach your money goals faster while feeling “at peace along the way.” Set up your account to reach specific, long-term goals, such as buying a home or paying for a child's education. Goals are unique. So set them for any objective you have in mind. On average, each Oportun customer sets three goals.

The app analyzes your monthly bills vs. your monthly paychecks and prioritizes necessary payments. It also offers overdraft prevention by automatically transferring money from savings if your account falls below a certain amount. And Oportun rewards customers with a 0.10% savings bonus every three months.

The simple, daily investments offered by Oportun are based on customer risk level just like using a robo-advisor. The risk levels include: conservative, moderate or aggressive. Oportun matches customers with a diversified exchange-traded fund (ETF) portfolio.

Oportun helps customers save for retirement automatically via an IRA. Oportun costs just $5 per month.

Best for building credit and cash advances: Chime

Chime® makes mobile banking easy. Track your spending and savings, pay bills, transfer money, and deposit and send checks. Grow savings automatically when you make payments with a Chime Visa® Credit Card. These transactions are rounded up and the difference transferred to a savings account.

Just note that Chime® isn't a bank but a financial technology (fintech) company. Banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank. And FDIC insurance protects your money. According to its website, Chime® was designed for “everyday Americans who aren't being served well by traditional banks.”

Chime® offers an early paycheck direct deposit option. This means you receive your paycheck up to two days early. Plus, you can use its Chime SpotMe® feature to borrow up to $200 to hold you over until your next paycheck.

Chime® is also useful for those just starting to build credit history. Its Credit Builder secured Visa credit card increases account holder credit scores by an average of 30 points. And it requires no credit check to apply, no minimum security deposit and no annual fees or interest.

You don't pay monthly fees or overdraft fees either, and there's no minimum balance requirement.

Best for saving and earning cashback: Empower

Empower lets you manage all of your finances on one app. It is another fintech company. Its banking services are provided by nbkc bank, member FDIC. Empower excels in helping customers create healthy budgets. And this makes it a good choice for those who need help making budgets.

Empower's AutoSave feature helps savers set up a weekly target. The app determines the amount it can take out each week based on an analysis of the individual's income.

You can choose between a black or peach-colored Visa debit card and earn up to 10% cashback on purchases. Other features include:

◦ Free unlimited use of more 37,000 ATMs

◦ Paycheck deposit up to two days early

◦ Cash advance of up to $250, repaid through the next paycheck deposit

After a free 14-day trial period, Empower costs $8 per month. This fee provides full access to its many money management tools.

Honorable mention: Qapital

Qapital helps users set goals through different approaches. You can choose between a “set it and forget it” recurring deposit for automatic savings or use a payday option. The latter sets aside a certain percentage of each paycheck. The 52-week deposit program allows customers to put a certain dollar amount every week into savings, whether that's $1 or $100. There's also a round-up option to save change when using your debit card.

Novice investors can benefit from Qapital's prebuilt portfolios. Whether you are a conservative, balanced or aggressive investor, there's an appropriate mix of fixed income and equities.

Qapital bundles its products into subscription tiers. The basic plan costs $3 per month. The complete plan costs $6 per month. And the master plan costs $12 monthly. The latter allows users to share their account with a partner.

But unlike other money saving apps, Qapital does not provide free ATM access in any large numbers. It will not charge customers for using an ATM, but the owner of the ATM may do so.

Money-saving app considerations

When it comes to money-saving apps, the best app depends on your needs and level of financial experience. As you learn more about personal finance, you may find the beginner app you originally chose is no longer suitable.

Get started by knowing what you need and what your goals are — such as building an emergency fund, establishing credit or saving toward a specific goal. Choose an app that has strengths in those areas. The educational component is crucial in many of these apps. And if you are a beginner investor, look for guidance provided in a way that complements your learning style.

The bottom line: Don't overlook your savings and investments

One of the biggest financial regrets of people across most age groups is not saving and investing more earlier on. If you struggle with saving and investing, these services can take care of the hard part for you and make it all automatic. While that help isn't free, it can be worthwhile for many people.

Empower Disclosure - *Empower is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provide by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.

¹ Eligibility requirements apply.

² Early access to paycheck deposit funds depends on the timing of the employer's submission of deposits. Empower generally posts such deposits on the day they are received which may be up to 2 days earlier than the employer's scheduled payment date. Cashback deals on Empower Card purchases, including categories, merchants, and percentages, will vary and must be selected in the app. Cashback will be applied automatically when the final transaction posts, which may be up to a week after the qualifying purchase.

Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

1Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account.

^Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the round up from your Chime Checking Account to your savings account.

Chime SpotMe® Disclosure
 - Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See terms and conditions.

About our author

Jane Meggitt
Jane Meggitt, Freelance Contributor

Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, Zack’s, Financial Advisor, nj.com, the Houston Chronicle, and The Nest. She is a graduate of New York University.

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