In an increasingly digital world, mobile banking is among the cool new tools that can enhance your quality of life. It can make managing your money on the go simple and convenient.
The range of mobile banking features you have access to can, however, depend on where you choose to bank. Some of the most common features of mobile banking include the ability to view transactions, transfer funds, and review statements, all in the palm of your hand.
Understanding how those features work matters if you’re new to mobile banking or you’re on the hunt for a new bank account with mobile access. Read on to learn:
• What is mobile banking?
• How does mobile banking work?
• What are some of the top features of mobile banking?
• What are the pros and cons of mobile banking?
What Is Mobile Banking?
Mobile banking refers to a range of banking products and services that are offered through a mobile device. To access mobile banking, you’ll generally need two things:
• A compatible and connected mobile device, such as a cell phone or tablet
• A mobile banking app
Mobile banking is different from online banking, in terms of how you access it. To use mobile banking, you need to log in to your bank’s mobile app. Online banking, on the other hand, is accessed through a laptop or desktop computer.
How Does Mobile Banking Work?
Mobile banking works by allowing banking customers to access their accounts from a compatible mobile device. Instead of logging on to your bank’s website from a laptop or desktop, visiting a branch, or calling your bank’s phone banking number, you can manage your accounts right from your mobile phone or tablet.
A mobile banking app is an app that’s designed to be used specifically for banking services. Numerous traditional and niche banks have introduced mobile banking apps to complement their online and in-person banking services. You can also find mobile banking apps offered through fintech companies, neobanks, and other institutions.
Generally speaking, these apps allow you to log in with a unique user ID and password. From there, you can perform different money management tasks, based on the mobile banking features the app offers.
But is mobile banking safe? Generally, the answer is yes, as banks take various measures to encrypt and protect mobile banking app user information.
12 Features of Mobile Banking
What are the features of mobile banking? The answer depends largely on where you decide to bank, as each bank can determine what features to include in its mobile app. That being said, there are some mobile banking app features that are typically common from bank to bank. Here are a dozen features to consider.
1. Account Details
The first thing you’ll see when you log in to a mobile banking app is an overview of your accounts. Specifically, you should be able to review the following at a glance:
• Available account balances
• Current account balances
• Name of each account
• Identifying details, such as the last four digits of the account number
If you want to see how much you have in checking, for instance, you can quickly log in to your mobile banking app to view your balance.
You may also be able to see other account details, including full account numbers and your bank’s routing number. That information can come in handy if you want to set up direct deposit or schedule an ACH transfer or payment online.
2. Transaction History
One of the most helpful mobile banking features is the ability to view your transaction history. Some of the things you might be able to do with your app include:
• Reviewing posted and pending debits
• Reviewing posted and pending credits
• Cleared checks
• Filtering transactions by date, amount, or transaction type
Seeing transaction history can be helpful when making a budget; it can help you know exactly where your money is going. You can also review your transaction history to look for anything suspicious. This could include such things as purchases you don’t remember making or micro deposits that could indicate someone is trying to link your account to an external account without your consent.
3. Bill Pay
Mobile banking app features can also include bill pay services. But what is bill pay? In short, it’s a feature that allows you to schedule one-time or recurring bill payments through your banking app. You can add info on those who typically bill you, select a payment account, enter the payment amount, and schedule the date the bill should be paid all from your mobile device.
That can save you time, since you can schedule bills to be paid automatically. It can also save you money if you’re not having to buy postage to mail in check payments. One more bonus: You’re avoiding late payment fees since bills are paid on time.
4. Mobile Check Deposit
Mobile check deposit can be a highly convenient mobile banking feature for people who regularly receive checks. Instead of taking your check to a branch to deposit it, you can snap a pic of it with your mobile device and deposit it from wherever you are.
That’s one of the main benefits of mobile deposit if you use an online bank or neobank that doesn’t have physical branches or offer ATM access. If someone gives you a check, you don’t have to worry about depositing it at a brick-and-mortar financial institution and then initiating a bank transfer from one bank to another. Instead, you can deposit the check in minutes from your phone.
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5. Person to Person Payments
Mobile banking features increasingly include the option to send person to person payments to friends and family. You can log in, navigate to the payments section of your mobile banking app and schedule a payment to someone using their email address or phone number.
Depending on where you bank, those payments might be completed in real time, meaning the money transfers from your account to theirs in minutes. That’s much easier and more convenient than withdrawing cash or writing a check and you can avoid the fees that other payment apps like Venmo or Paypal might charge.
Recommended: Pros and Cons of Online Banking
6. Cardless Withdrawal
A cardless withdrawal allows you to get cash at an ATM without needing your debit card. Instead, you can withdraw money using a secure code that’s sent to your mobile device either via text or in your mobile banking app messaging feature. That’s a nice feature to have if your debit card is lost or stolen and you need to make a withdrawal.
7. Card Management
Credit cards often offer a card lock feature that allows you to freeze your card temporarily if it’s lost or stolen. The same feature is increasingly being offered with mobile banking. If you misplace your card, you can log in to the app, select the card, and freeze it with the tap of a button. You can unfreeze your card the same way if you find it. If you don’t, you can leave it locked until you’re able to contact customer service to report the loss.
8. Account Alerts
Setting up account alerts and notifications can be a great way to stay on top of your money and potentially head off fraud. Some of the alerts you might be able to set up with your mobile banking app include:
• New credit and debit transaction alerts
• Alerts notifying you of changes to your account information, such as your address or contact email
• Failed login attempts
• Updates to your user ID or password
• Low account balances
You may be able to set up individual alerts for each account that you have or blanket alerts that cover all of your accounts. And you might be able to choose from email alerts, text alerts, or both, depending on your bank.
9. Statements and Documents
Opting in to electronic statements can help you avoid wasting paper. You might also avoid a fee if your bank charges you to get statements in the mail. In addition to viewing your statements through your mobile device, you might also be able to review other documents as well such as tax forms if you’re earning interest with a savings account. Or you could check investment account statements if you have a brokerage account at your bank as well.
10. New Account Opening
Need to open a new bank account? You might be able to skip the branch and set up a new checking, savings, money market, or CD account through your mobile banking app. You can save some time if you’re a customer and are already logged in, since the bank will have the relevant information needed to open the account. And you can easily arrange to transfer money from one of your existing accounts to the new account to cover your initial deposit.
11. Secure Messaging
Mobile banking apps can also include a message center where you can send and receive messages with your bank securely. If you’ve set up account alerts or notifications, for example, you can review those notifications through the message center as they come in. Your bank may also use the message center to send other secure notifications regarding your accounts.
12. Money Management Services
Your mobile app could save you time if you’re able to complete certain banking services from your device without having to visit or call a branch. For example, some of the things you might be able to do include:
• Ordering checks
• Putting a stop payment on a check you’ve written
• Linking external accounts
• Schedule bank to bank transfers
• Managing overdraft protection
• Reviewing fee schedules for your accounts
• Ordering foreign currency
• Requesting copies of checks
• Finding bank locations near you
• Connecting with customer support
These features might be listed under a section called “Service Center” or “Services” in your mobile banking app. While you may not need most of them on a regular basis, being able to access them at your fingertips is a nice incentive to use mobile banking.
Banking With SoFi
Weighing the pros and cons of online banking and mobile banking can give you perspective on what’s good (or bad) about either one. If you’re specifically interested in being able to bank on the go, then finding an account that offers a robust mobile banking app is a must.
When you open a new bank account with SoFi, you can get checking and savings in one convenient place. You can easily manage your accounts online or through the SoFi mobile app. When you open accounts with direct deposit, you’ll also earn a competitive APY and pay no fees, which can help you money grow faster. Plus, qualifying accounts can get paid up to two days early.
What are the benefits of mobile banking?
One of the main benefits of mobile banking is convenience. You don’t need to go to a branch or log in to your laptop to manage your money. Instead, you can transfer funds between accounts, view balances, pay bills, and send money to friends and family from your mobile device.
Are there any disadvantages of mobile banking?
The main disadvantage of mobile banking is that you can’t deposit cash through an app. If you need to deposit cash, you’ll need to take it to a bank branch or ATM to do so. Otherwise, there are very few drawbacks to mobile banking apps.
What is the purpose of mobile banking?
The purpose of mobile banking is to allow you to manage your bank accounts from anywhere as long as you have a compatible device and an internet connection. Mobile banking can save you time since you don’t have to go to a bank branch to complete basic transactions with your accounts.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.50% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.50% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.50% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 8/9/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..