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The Best All-Around Online Banking App?

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When it comes to managing your money, it helps to have a complete banking experience that includes tools to help you manage your budget, as well as save and earn interest. If you’re looking for an app that can help you make the most of your money and work toward your financial goals, Empower could be a good choice.

This Empower review will help you decide if this is the right money management app for you.


Commissions & Fees – 9


Customer Service – 8


Ease of Use – 10


Locations – 7


Savings Options – 9


Rates – 8.5

8

Empower is an online banking service that provides checking as well as an array of budget tools and even access to human financial coaches.

Sign up with Empower today

What Is Empower?

Empower offers banking services through a mobile app. There are no physical branches, and it’s possible to manage your money entirely on the go. Empower will also reimburse up to three ATM fees per month, at a max of $10 per fee.** Additionally, the Visa debit card associated with Empower will enable you to make purchases and access your money, even though there aren’t any brick-and-mortar branches.

Besides providing banking services like checking and savings products, Empower offers an array of budget tools and even access to human, financial coaches. Accounts are FDIC insured through nbkc bank.

Empower Features

Type Bank
Accounts Savings, Checking, Money Market, CDs
Access Web Based, iPhone App, Android App, Blackberry App
Amount of Branches 0
ATM Reimbursement
Online Deposits
FDIC Insurance
Customer Service Through the app or website or by email

With Empower, you can access banking products and services, as well as additional tools designed to help you manage your money.

AutoSave

With AutoSave, you can set up a plan to help you save for your financial goals — automatically. Create a weekly savings target and Empower will analyze your income and figure out how much to take out and when to take it. Plus, AutoSave funds are FDIC insured through nbkc bank up to $250,000.

Budget Tracking

Customize your budget tracking by choosing your categories based on your lifestyle. You can see what’s going on in real-time and stay on top of your situation. This includes monthly reports that help you visualize what’s happening with your money.

Interest Checking

Empower includes a checking product that pays an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.25%* as of this writing. While the APY can change at any time, this is a nice touch, as many checking accounts at traditional banks pay a much lower APY (or none at all). Empower will also reimburse up to three ATM fees ($10 maximum per ATM withdrawal) per month.

Smart Recommendations

In addition to providing different banking products, Empower offers smart recommendations designed to help you save more and better manage your money. These tips are personalized and can help you figure out how to work toward your goals in a way that is best suited to your style and needs.

Human Coaches

Empower offers unlimited access to human coaches who can answer financial questions. One-on-one guidance can help you work through tricky issues related to your money, as well as help you understand how to make the most of your finances.

Cash Advance***

If you need a little bit of extra cash on short notice, you can get up to $150 for emergencies. This cash advance has no interest, no late fees, and no credit check. You pay it back when you receive your next paycheck. Just keep in mind that eligibility requirements apply.


Empower Banking App Fees

Empower is free for the first 30 days. After that, the cost is $6 per month. This gives you access to all the money management features, including the budgeting features and automated savings.

  • With Empower, there are no overdraft fees and no insufficient fund fees.
  • There aren’t any account minimums.
  • You also receive a competitive APY* regardless of your account balance. Some banks won’t pay a higher APY unless you meet minimum balance requirements.

How to Sign Up With Empower App

Getting the app is fairly straightforward. Go to the website and enter your mobile number. You’ll be sent an invitation, and you can download the Android or iOS app to your mobile device. Once you have the app, you can set up your account. It’s fairly straightforward. But as with any financial account, you must supply the following information:

  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate
  • U.S. mailing address

You also need to provide information for funding the account, usually a transfer from an external account.

Empower Mobile App

Empower Customer Service

In general, you can access customer service by submitting a request through the support section of the Empower website or by getting help through the app. You can also send an email.

There is one-on-one financial coaching available with Empower’s human coaches via SMS where they can help you with any question related to your finances. But in general, if you have questions about your account or how to do something technical, you go through the app or send an email.

As it comes to Security, Empower uses bank-level security features to protect your data, including 256-bit SSL end-to-end encryption.

Empower App Alternatives

There is no shortage of fintech apps designed to help you manage your money.

  • If you’re mostly interested in budget tracking, YNAB is one of the most popular alternatives. However, YNAB doesn’t allow you to manage your money, nor can you use Mint to open financial accounts that help you save and spend.
  • Apps like Personal Capital allow you to get a more holistic view of your money by putting all of your accounts in one place, including your investment accounts. Try Personal Capital for Free >
  • Some investment apps also provide banking products. For example, Betterment offers both savings and checking products , as well as the ability to set up automatic savings and monitor external accounts to see budgeting categories. It’s even possible to talk to financial planners with Betterment. However, speaking one on one with a planner through Betterment costs significantly more than Empower’s fee. If you’re hoping to integrate investing in your long-term financial planning, there are other options.

Who Is It For?

Empower is best for those interested in some basic banking products with a focus on getting their budget on track.

For those who are trying to figure out how to spend less and save more and to start bringing their financial situation in line with their values, Empower can be a cost-efficient way to get tailored help. Empower can help you:

  • Lower your expenses by tracking your spending and seeing where you can make cuts;
  • Put the extra money you save aside with the help of AutoSave; and
  • Get helpful advice through one-on-one financial coaching.

It’s an app aimed at helping people improve their habits with an integrated approach to meeting goals and developing better money management habits.

Empower Pros & Cons

Pros

No minimum balance

— You don’t need a minimum balance in order to reap the benefits of the Empower app.

Competitive APY

— You can earn interest on your AutoSave account if you open a checking account with Empower.

Human financial coaching

— If you have specific financial questions, you can speak with one of Empower’s coaches one on one.

Easy to use

— The app is streamlined and very easy to navigate.

Personalized recommendations and tips

— You can get tips on what will work for your financial budget and help you save toward your goals.

Cons

No physical branches

— If you like going into a brick-and-mortar store to do your banking, then Empower might not be a good fit.

Limited ATM reimbursement

— You can get reimbursed for only up to three fees ($10 maximum each) per month.

Fewer banking products than a traditional bank

— Because Empower works with a bank and is not a bank itself, it doesn’t offer all of the services that you might be used to.

Monthly fee

— $6 is charged each month after the first 30 days. You can get banking services and budgeting help elsewhere free, but if you need one-on-one help, this fee may be worth it.

Final Thoughts on Empower

At $6 per month, Empower is a solid value for those looking to get help working toward their saving goals. Empower can help you take charge of your financial situation by identifying where you can cut back on spending, as well as helping you automatically save more. Plus, with access to human, financial coaches, Empower is a solid value for the price.

Legal Disclosures:

*Banking services for new accounts provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. 0.25% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) may change at any time. APY as of Jul 09, 2020. Empower charges an auto-recurring subscription fee of $6 for access to the full suite of money management features offered on the platform after your first 30 days.

**Reimbursement for up to three ATM fees per month, with a maximum reimbursement of $10 per ATM withdrawal.

***Eligibility requirements apply.

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