Best Mobile Banking Apps

Learn all about the best mobile banking apps.

Updated: April 9, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

 

We are in the digital age and it's now possible to open a bank account and manage your finances all from a smartphone app.  

The rise in online banking is also partly because of an increase in bank branch closures and in 2019, 9% of Brits had a digital-only bank account. However, in 2023, that percentage had increased to 24%

In this article, I'll explain how digital-only banking apps work, what features they include, how they differ from traditional banks and we'll show you our list of the best mobile banking apps on the market.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. Starling Bank★★★★★Click Here
2. Monzo★★★★★Click Here
3. Revolut★★★★★Click Here
4. Chase★★★★★Click Here
5. Monese★★★★Click Here
6. Kroo Bank★★★★Click Here
7. Atom Bank★★★★Click Here

What Is a mobile banking app?

A mobile banking app is a feature that allows you to access and manage your bank account easily from your mobile phone.

Apps are usually free and can be used on any smart device for most of your online banking needs 24/7. You can check your balance, transfer money, set up direct debits, and track your spending insights, for example.

Mobile banking apps are popular with app-only banks, but high-street banks also offer online banking and banking apps. You can download a banking app from your device's smartphone for free.

If you're looking for an app-only bank, we've some recommendations for the best mobile banking apps in the current market.

Digital-only banks, which have no physical branches, are rising in popularity due to their accessibility and the ease of opening a bank account with one. Digital-only banks also fall under the name of app-only banks, sometimes called challenger banks.

Online-only banking apps: pros and cons

Switching to app-only bank comes with ups and downs. This section explores the pros and cons of using mobile banking apps from digital-only banks.

Pros

✔️ Convenience: with online banking, you don't have to wait for an opening time to access your bank, you do all bank account management 24/7 from a mobile banking app

✔️ Time-saving: transactions on a mobile banking app are typically processed faster than traditional banking methods

✔️ Track expenses: you can see all your transactions as they happen and most banking apps will share your spending insights to help you control your money. Expense tracking is a great feature that most digital-only banks offer.

✔️ Budgeting features: most digital-only banking apps have budgeting features to help you stick with your monthly limit and not overspend

✔️ Separate savings accounts: you can often open savings accounts with an online bank. Some even let you open multiple so you can keep your money separate.

✔️ Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protected: Most digital banks are FSCS-protected like traditional banks, protecting up to £85,000 of your money kept with one company.

✔️ Earn interest on account balances: when you open an app-based bank account, sometimes you can earn interest on your balance and interest on money in your savings account

✔️ Debit card: you'll usually get a debit card, but you may have to pay a delivery fee for it

✔️ Travel benefits: many app-only banks are ideal for people who travel a lot as they offer fee-free spending abroad

Cons

❌️ Absence of own ATMs: most app-only banks don't have their own ATMs, so you could be charged a fee when you withdraw cash from your current account.

❌️ No branches: there are no branches you can visit, however, a 24/7 support team or a virtual banking assistant is usually available if you ever need assistance with digital banking

❌️ You need a smartphone: digital banking requires a smartphone, so you'll need to own and use a smartphone to use a banking app

❌️ Limited credit options: with most digital-only banking, there are usually no credit options like overdrafts or loans

❌️ Deposit cash and cheques: as there are no branches, you may need to visit a Post Office to deposit cash and you may not be able to deposit cheques

Best digital-only mobile banking apps

All the banks from our list offer bank accounts with no monthly fees.

However, some do give you the option to upgrade to a paid-for plan. All of these mobile apps are available on iOS and Android systems.

1. Starling Bank: free bank account you can open on your phone

There are multiple types of accounts available with Starling Bank including personal, business, and joint accounts. You can also earn interest on your current account balance, and there are no cash withdrawal fees, including cash withdrawals made outside of the UK.

Various money management features are available, such as real-time banking notifications and spending insights, so that you can track and budget your spending.

If you're looking for a bank that will help you save, Starling has a feature called Saving Spaces that you can put your money into. You can also create a ring-fenced Space to help pay bills; you'll get a reminder the day before your bills are due, and Starling will transfer the necessary money between your accounts.

Additionally, you can use the round-up feature to round up your purchases to the nearest £1.  The money you save with rounding up purchases you can store in Spaces to help achieve your savings goals.

You can connect your Starling Bank accounts to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay, and Fitbit Pay. You must visit a Post Office branch to deposit cash into your account. Starling Bank is FSCS-protected, so up to £85,000 is protected if it were to go bust.

Starling Bank has overdraft and loan options, but eligibility, interest rates, and credit limits will depend on your financial situation and credit history. Also, there are spending restrictions for problem spending such as gambling.

2. Monzo: start saving with pots and spending insights

With Monzo, you can create an account, spend, save and manage your money all in one place for free.

You can apply for a full UK current account in 15 minutes and you'll also have access to savings accounts and ISAs.

You can organise your money into Pots and track your spending habits with Trends. You can set budgets and receive live notifications of any payments you've made from your current account.

If you're trying to control your spending and improve your habits, you can set up warnings to tell you if you're spending too fast. If savings is your goal, you can earn up to 4.60% interest on your savings with a 12-month Fixed Pot with a £500 minimum deposit to open (you'll need Monzo Plus/Premium for this account though).

You can use your Monzo debit card anywhere that accepts MasterCard. There are no fees for using your card abroad, and you'll know Mastercard's exchange rate as you make transactions, so there will be no surprising fees or charges.

There is a fee to add cash to your account, and if you want to put a check into your Monzo account, you have to post it to Monzo. You can subscribe to Monzo Premium accounts for £15 per month, and you'll get a white metal card plus phone and travel insurance included along with a range of other benefits.

3. Revolut: easy currency exchange

If you travel a lot or make many purchases outside of the UK, a Revolut account lets you easily exchange currency using real-time exchange rates.

If you're grabbing lunch with a friend or splitting an Uber abroad, Revolut also has a ‘split-the-bill' feature that allows you to split bills easily with anyone in 150+ countries. With Revolut, you can also access airport lounge passes for less.

You can earn up to 4.75% interest annually (if you choose a paid-for account), and when you use your Revolut debit card, you can earn exclusive rewards, cashback and discounts.

Once your account is open, you don't need to wait for your debit card to be delivered to start spending instead you can connect your account with Google or Apple Pay. You have to pay for a debit card, and you can't pay cash or cheques into your account; you only transfer money to and from other accounts.

You can choose to use disposable virtual cards if you'd like; it makes for safer purchases online, as they’re deleted once the transaction is complete.

There is a wide range of plans you can choose from, from Standard up to Ultra, each with additional features to improve money management. Standard is the free plan that works like a traditional bank account but with saving money abroad and built-in budgeting features.

4. Chase: 1% cashback on everyday spending

If you want to make the most out of a current account, Chase Bank offers 1% cashback on your everyday debit card spending for your first 12 months (for new customers only, up to a maximum of £15 per month).

You can open multiple accounts to help you budget, save money, and manage them all from the same mobile app.

You can also activate small change round-ups to the nearest £1 to help raise your savings. To push your savings even further, you can open an easy-access savings account to earn 4.1% AER (4.02% gross, variable interest, paid monthly) on your savings, and no minimum deposit is needed.

You can oversee your spending habits with insights and restrict cash withdrawals online spending or block transaction types such as gambling. If you lose your card, you can freeze and unfreeze your debit card using the app. Your debit card will be numberless for added security; you can access card and account details from the app.

As well as current and savings accounts, Chase Bank offers other finance modes such as credit cards and personal loans.

5. Monese: multi-currency accounts

With Monese, you can open a Simple, Classic or Premium bank account. The Simple account has no monthly fee. You can get GBP, EUR, and Ron accounts in minutes and you don't need proof of address.

You can set weekly and monthly budgets and have up to 10 savings pots to help you make the most of your money.

You can round up your chance to enhance your savings even further. On the mobile app, you can track your spending and receive instant spending notifications.

You can deposit cash into your account via a Post Office branch or a PayPoint Location. If you want to work on your credit rating, you can apply for Monese's credit builder credit card. You can also link your Avios and PayPal account to your Monese bank account.

To add money to your Monese account, you can request money from friends and contacts, instant top-up using a debit card, and instant payment transfer from a linked UK bank.

Monese has a multilingual support team to help you whenever you need assistance. You can lock your card using the app if lost or stolen.

6. Kroo Bank: earn 4.35% AER on your current account balance

You can earn 4.35% interest on your current account balance with the Kroo Banking app.

It also has in-app budgeting and spending control features and you can sign up to instant payment notifications and categorise your spending. You can also use the app to split a bill with your friends.

There are no account or overseas transaction fees, so you can use your card abroad without worrying about the fees building. You may incur fees if you withdraw over £200 monthly via an ATM. You may be invited to get an overdraft if you display good card management.

Kroo Bank promotes ethical banking by teaming up with the charity One Tree Planted to plant two trees for every new customer it gains.

You can't deposit cash or checks into this banking app. You can only transfer money from other banks.

7. Atom Bank: savings accounts, mortgages, and business loans

Atom Bank is one of the UK's biggest challenger banks and it provides many of the same services as a traditional high-street bank. Atom Bank does provide current accounts, however, it specialise in savings accounts, mortgages, and business loans.

There is a wide-range of savings accounts available with Atom Bank. You can choose a fixed-rate savings account from one to five years to accrue interest on your savings.

Atom Bank has a unique registration process instead of submitting a photo ID. You register a biometric reference to your face and voice. This biometric information is stored as a series of numbers, and the algorithm reads the sequence each time a user logs in. The app can only be accessed if there is a sufficient match. 

How to choose the best banking app

There are lots of banking apps to choose from and here we've come up with a list of features to look out for:

  • Types of transactions: if you're looking for a digital-only bank account that does pretty much the same thing as an account from a high street bank, ensure the account can make basic transfers, direct debits, standing orders, and international payments.
  • User-friendly: you'll want a banking app that is easy to use, so look for a bank that prides itself on user accessibility. A user-friendly interface is a must for banking apps to be successful.
  • Support team: with no branches you'll want a digital bank with a reliable support team, that you can contact 24/7
  • Fees: keep an eye out for fees, some of these banks have cash withdrawal fees and foreign transaction fees

How do mobile banking apps work?

Most digital-only banks require you to download an app before applying for a bank account.

Once you have the app, and the account, you can do most of the things you can do with a traditional bank. These include the following:

  • Check account balances: you can check your account balance whenever you want.
  • Access online virtual banking assistant: if you need support, there is usually a team to help
  • Transfer money from your account: you can instantly transfer money to other bank accounts
  • Manage your bank accounts: if you have multiple accounts with one online bank, like a current account and a savings account, you can manage all of them in one place
  • Set up and manage direct debits: you can set up and manage direct debits from a mobile app
  • Track your spending: you can see what money goes in and out of your bank account and some apps provide spending insights to help you budget and improve spending habits

Downloading banking apps

You'll find bank apps by searching in your smartphone's App Store. It's always good to check on the bank's website if your smartphone device is compatible. Although most, if not all, banking apps are available for iOS and Android devices.

All mobile banking apps are free to download and use. Once you've downloaded the app, you must sign up for your bank account. You'll need documentation to verify your identity when signing up for a new bank account.

What you need to open an online bank account

When opening any bank account, there are certain documents that you need. To save you time, we've made a short list of the documents you need to open an account on a bank app.

You'll need the following information:

  • Proof of identity: you’ll need a passport or a driving licence. You can use a full driving licence or a provisional one.
  • Proof of address: you can use records dated within the last three months, such as utility bills, credit union statements, and Universal Credit statements.
  • Credit history: if you're taking out a line of credit with online banks, there may be a credit score requirement and credit check on your credit report.

One of the great features of digital-only banking apps is that you simply take a picture or scan your documents to verify your identity. Some apps may require a live portrait photo or video to match you with your photo I.D.

Typically, the overall process takes up to 15 minutes, and you'll find out if you're accepted usually on the same day. In some cases, you may not need to show your proof of address or your credit history.

Increase your online banking security

Banking apps are typically safe and secure. But if you're worried about someone stealing the information from your smartphone, there are additional security methods you can take to ensure further security of your bank accounts.

Increase security on your smartphone with the following tips:

  • Two-step verification: you can set up a two-step verification on your smartphone and payment apps. You can unlock your phone with a personalised PIN and biometric verification. Biometric verification requires a face scan or thumbprint to unlock the device. You can add these measures to most mobile apps, too, as well as your smartphone.
  • Vary passwords: sometimes, online data leaks can happen. The best way to avoid this is to vary your passwords. Using the same passwords repeatedly can put your data in harm's way. Ensure your passwords are varied to prevent them from being guessed.
  • Don't share pins or passwords: keep your pins and passwords to yourself. Make a note of your passwords somewhere no one else can access.
  • Smartphone insurance: you may want to insure your phone, either with a standalone insurance policy or through your home insurance
  • Delete banking emails and texts: avoid keeping emails or texts in your inbox containing private and essential information

Final thoughts

App-only banks are convenient for pretty much everyone, especially those who want to be able to control their money from their smartphone, no matter where they are in the world.

Our list of the best mobile banking apps is a good place to start, and the best one for you will depend on what you're looking for, be it a current account paying interest or an account with free cash withdrawals.

You can do most things from online bank apps; you can manage your money, work on your budgeting skills, and even contact a support team whenever you need but there are limitations too, such as paying for a card to be delivered and not being able to deposit cheques in some cases.

Related Guides:

Best Mobile Banking App: FAQs

What is the best digital-only mobile banking app?

Do high street banks have a mobile banking app?

What are the disadvantages of digital-only banking apps?

What are the benefits of digital-only banking apps?

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