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Personal finance apps

With smart phones you can now manage your finances on the go –  but which bank provides the best app to help you keep on top of your money?

Online and mobile service is becoming increasingly important when choosing a bank account or credit card, so we take a look at a few of the banking apps you can download.

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What are banking apps?

Apps (short for software application) are tools, games or web portals you download that are designed to be easy to use on the small touch screens of mobile phones.

With a banking app on your phone, you can do a lot of the activities you would have previously had to visit a branch for or call up your bank to do (transfers, blocking cards, reviewing statements etc).

However, not all apps are created equal, and after our research found many (particularly young) people feel banks are not offering enough cutting edge tech, we reviewed a few of the apps available today.

Barclays app

barclys app

As the first UK bank to pioneer paying on plastic and introduce the first ATMs, Barclays Bank pride themselves on being technological leaders.

What you can do

  • Manage all your Barclays accounts: bank accounts, ISAs and credit cards
  • You can view your full statement history,  all past direct debits and payments
  • Transfer money to your own accounts and other people you have already made payments to, however you need to set up new payees with desktop online banking or at a branch
  • You can transfer money to a mobile number through Barcalays’ separate PingIt app)

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Take a look at Barclays current accounts

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Customer service

  • You have a cloud-storage service as part of the app/online banking so you can access you’ve uploaded documents
  • Can call/email out from the app to customer services, however there is only the one help number
  • Has a branch locator
  • The in-app advertisements for other Barclays products can be distracting

Using the app, security and installation

  • You can set a custom welcome message so you can be sure you’re logging into your app, there is a unique pin for app log in, it logs out when you close the app
  • Smooth and straightforward navigation
  • Every time the app updates itself you are given a quick walkthrough of new features

Best and worst features

Best: Very easy to see recent transactions

Worst: Slowness of the app not responding right away

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First Direct app

first direct app

The branch-less bank First Direct are noted for their award winning customer service over the phone and online.

What you can do

  • You can check the balance of all your First Direct accounts
  • Can see full statements going back several months
  • Transfer money between your own accounts and other people you have already made payments to
  • You can make payments to a mobile phone number, if they have the ‘mPay’ app installed
  • Can only set up payees through online banking on a desktop

Customer service features

  • The app has a HSBC branch locator (First Direct customers can use HSBC branches for some activities)
  • Lists all customer service numbers divided by enquiry type, you can dial out straight from the app
  • Useful and extensive FAQs

Using the app, security and installation

  • Easy to install – simply download from the app store, before you can use it, you need to activate the app with multiple passwords and codes
  • Use a unique password to login – you need four different passwords for using First Direct online banking across all platforms
  • The app does not automatically log you out when you exit it, it’s on a timeout counter – on the plus side, this can be handy if you want to quickly leave the app and use it again

Best and worst features

Best: The customer service contact information
Worst: Not being logged out could be a bit of security risk

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MBNA app

MBNA app

MBNA is one of the largest credit card providers in the UK and were voted to have the Best Mobile App in the 2015 uSwitch credit card awards.

What you can do

  • Your current card balance
  • You can only see your recent transactions (since last statement), unfortunately there is no way to select date ranges
  • You can make balance transfers and money transfers to your own accounts
  • You can add new payees for money and balance transfers

Customer service

  • You can call out and email to customer services without leaving the app
  • There is a “view your card pin” feature in case you forget it
  • The app includes an extensive FAQ section

Using the app, security and installation

  • Installation was easy – a quick search for MBNA on the app store and it installed very quickly
  • The login is the same as the online with username and standard password
  • The app logs you out as soon as you navigate away

Best and worst features

Best feature: You can check your pin feature which many other card providers don’t let you do online

Worst feature: The ‘home’ button rather than take you back to the main menu of the app, takes you to MBNA’s website homepage, so you have to login again to the app if you hit this button

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Lloyds app

lloyds app

At 250 years old, Lloyds are one of the UK’s oldest banks, but are up to speed with the 21st century with their online and mobile banking.

What you can do

  • There is a quick view of your balance and you can see your full statement history as well as checking past, present and future debits
  • You can pay another individual, credit card or bill, transfer money between accounts, you can add and remove new payees on the app
  • Supports payments to mobile numbers through Paym system, however as with other apps, the recipient also needs a mobile payment app installed

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Customer service

  • There is a branch locator including map to help you find your nearest branch
  • You can call or email out from the app
  • It has a useful ‘help’ section if you get stuck

Using the app, security and installation

  • Easy to install, download from Google Play or AppStore, you log in with your online banking details you are then called by Lloyds to activate the app.
  • There is an endless dropdown to enter your access details, which can be a bit difficult to use on smaller mobile screen
  • You are logged out automatically when you exit the app

Best and worst features

Best: It’s similar to the website, which makes it very easy to navigate if you already know what you’re doing.

Worst: There are a few features that are not fully adapted for smooth use on a mobile screen (ie the endless drop down menus)

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Nationwide app

nwide app

Building society Nationwide also scooped a heap of customer service awards, but is their app up to scratch?

What you can do

  • You can manage all your Nationwide accounts
  • There is a quick balance checker but you can also view your full statement history
  • You can transfer money to your own accounts and other people, you add in new payees on the app
  • Make payments to mobile phone numbers through Paym (if they also have the app installed)

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Customer service

  • The app does not include a nearby branch locator
  • You can call and email out from the app to customer services, however there is only the one help number so you have to go through options after you call.

Using the app, security and installation

  • It can be installed from Google play or the App Store and activated with a code from your online banking
  • Logs out automatically when you exit the app
  • Over time the app has become increasingly slow, so it would be nice if they improved the login speed

Best and worst features

Best: The ease of making payments

Worst: Slowness of the app

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Take a look at Nationwide credit cards

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Metro Bank app

metro ap

Metro Bank are a new bank, fast becoming a common sight on the streets of London, with plans to expand out to the rest of the country.

What you can do

  • Quickly check your balance, you can see future payments and direct debits, however you can only look at transactions of the past day
  • Manage multiple accounts
  • Transfer money – (desktop to set up payees/but you can delete payees), it doesn’t support transferring money to a mobile phone number

Switch to a better current account

With the switch guarantee scheme it has never been easier to move to a bank that works for you.

Switch current accounts

Customer service

  • You can both block and unblock card from within the app
  • You have to logout of the app in order to make calls and emails
  • Thorough and useful FAQ section in app

Security and installation

  • Easy to install, readily available to download from the AppStore and GooglePlay
  • Activation up is fairly complicated – you need three separate codes to activate and install the app, it is poorly explained which one to use
  • You are automatically logged out when you close the app

Best and worst features

Best thing: The ability to block and unblock cards

Worst thing: You can’t look back at full history

 

Read more…

Switch to a better current account

With the switch guarantee scheme it has never been easier to move to a bank that works for you.

Switch current accounts