How to Get the Most out of Your Banking App

Quick Answer

Activating account alerts, using budgeting tools, setting automatic savings transfers and using the card lock feature are a few of several ways you can make the most of your banking app.

Woman using banking app on mobile phone at home

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With banking apps, you can check your account balance and deposit checks at any time using your device—but those basic tasks are just the tip of the iceberg. Some banking apps offer additional features, such as budgeting tools and account alerts, to help you better manage your money. Use these eight tips to get the most out of your bank's mobile app.

1. Activate Account Alerts

Bank account and debit card alerts notify you by email, text or push notification when certain financial events occur. This way, even if you don't log in to your bank account app daily, you'll always know what's happening with your money.

Below are examples of alert types you may be able to set up using your banking app:

  • Account balance alerts
  • Deposit and withdrawal alerts
  • Overdraft alerts
  • ATM withdrawal alerts
  • Transaction alerts
  • Transaction decline alerts

Customizing alerts can help you track spending, monitor your balance to avoid overdrafts and identify unauthorized transactions so you can report them immediately.

2. Use Budgeting Tools

Certain banking apps offer budgeting tools you can use to make a money plan and track spending throughout the month. If you're new to budgeting, this feature lives right in your banking app and might sync your transactions to the budget plan, which can make it more convenient and faster to set up than a budget in a spreadsheet or different app.

Bank of America and Regions Bank, for example, both have spending and budgeting tools where you can track spending by category, analyze spending habits and create a budget.

3. Set Up Automatic Savings Transfers

Banking apps often have a transfer tool that lets you move money from your checking to your savings account. Setting up automated savings transfers on a recurring schedule, such as weekly or monthly, is a way to build your savings balance without having to think about putting money aside each month.

Some financial institutions take this a step further by providing several types of automated savings triggers. For example, you could have the bank automatically round up your debit card purchases and save the difference.

Ally Bank even lets you divide savings into various buckets for different goals. For example, if you're saving for a vacation while saving for a house down payment, automating savings to separate buckets could be an easier way to visualize progress.

4. Dispute Account Transactions

If you notice fraud or unauthorized banking activity on your account, you may be able to dispute account transactions in your app. It's important to report fraud right away because the speed at which you report unauthorized purchases limits your liability. And disputing charges in your app could be a quick way to get fraud on your bank's radar to lessen your financial loss.

5. Utilize Debit Card Lock and Unlock

Many bank account apps have a feature within the app that lets you lock or unlock your debit card, limiting access to your funds. Say you forgot your debit card at a restaurant and called to confirm it's there. You could lock your card until you pick it up to ensure no one uses it, and then you can unlock the card when it's back safely in your wallet. Locking and unlocking your card can be more convenient than requesting a new card anytime you temporarily misplace it.

6. Send and Receive Peer-to-Peer Payments

Hundreds of banks let you send and request money directly in the banking app using Zelle. And if the person you're sending money to is enrolled in Zelle, cash could be available within minutes. That said, it's best only to use Zelle to send money to people you trust. The reason is that money sent through Zelle is often hard to recover, and fraudsters commonly use Zelle to request and steal cash for fake goods and other scams.

7. Monitor Your Credit Score

Some bank accounts offer credit score monitoring to keep tabs on where you stand. Once enrolled in the service, you can track your score in the banking app, allowing you to keep tabs on your balances and credit health all in one place. Depending on the bank, the score offered may be a FICO® Score or VantageScore®. And if the service doesn't come with a full credit report, you can get your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

8. Chat With Customer Service

Using the secure chatbox feature in a banking app could save you from having to make a phone call when you need one-on-one support. No one likes waiting on hold, and if you're in a place where you don't want to speak aloud with a bank representative, mobile chatting could be a faster and more private way to handle banking tasks.

The Bottom Line

Banking apps can help you do more than check your account balance and deposit checks. Using features like budgeting tools, debit card locking, automated savings and mobile customer service can help you manage cash, meet financial goals and keep your money safe.

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