Want to save but never have any spare cash? There’s an app for that! We’ve looked at five savings apps, which are designed to help you get into the savings habit. How do they work and what do you need to know before you use them?
Five savings apps
We’ve looked at five savings apps available in the UK. They work in a similar way – generally by looking at your online banking transactions and working out what you spend your money on and what you can afford to save.
SAVVY TIP: Open Banking (where you can share your banking data with other companies and manage a range of accounts via a single app or website – essentially, what the following apps do), came in on 13th January 2018. This means that, in the event of a hack, you should be protected if you opt into open banking via your bank and share data with an FCA regulated third party app or website.
Chip analyses your spending behaviour every few days and makes recommendations on how much it thinks you can afford to save. You then make the decision as to whether you want to go ahead with the saving they recommend. Chip is quite trendy and uses lots of emojis and videos to encourage you with your saving.
Available via the App Store and Google Play, you will need to give Chip access to your bank account transaction data, but as it’s in a ‘read-only’ format, it means it can’t access your payees, set up payments or make any changes to your account.
You don’t get any interest on your savings initially, but it’s boosted by 1% for every friend you invite to Chip. You get the extra interest once they start saving. There’s a maximum interest rate of 5% a year. Any interest is paid out every three months.
You can save up to £100 a day and can use Chip when you are in your overdraft.
SAVVY TIP: The savings account you open with Chip is offered by Prepaid Financial Services, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This account is an e-wallet, hosted by Prepaid Financial Services, which means that if Chip goes bust, you’ll be able to get your money back from them. However, E-wallets aren’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), as they are with a mainstream bank account.
App store rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Google Play rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars
Plum isn’t an app, but you use the service via Facebook Messenger. Plum works by analysing your transactions; your regular income, rent, bills and daily spend alongside your available balance, and uses an algorithm to calculate an affordable amount for you to save. It fetches your online banking transactions for up to the last 90 days and analyses them.
You sign up through Facebook, Facebook Messenger or via this link on their website. You will be asked to provide your full online banking log-in details. Facebook won’t receive any of this data and your login details aren’t stored by Plum (but passed directly to its data partner, Yodlee).
You can set goals, check your balance and change your savings ‘mood’, which means you can either slow down or ramp up the savings Plum’s algorithm suggests. Plum also uses emojis to give you a high five for saving, for example.
Plum is linked with peer-to-peer lender Ratesetter which offers users the chance to grow their money at a rate of around 3%. RateSetter are not covered by the FSCS.
SAVVY TIP: Peer-to-peer savings is where you lend money to people or businesses and in return, you’re paid interest. It can be risky and you could lose money. Find out more about peer-to-peer savings in my article Peer-to-peer savings explained; are peer-to-peer savings safe?
Plum savings accounts are held by MangoPay in a client money bank account held at Barclays. Based in Luxembourg, MangoPay is a company classified by the European Commission as an e-Money provider. This means they follow all the necessary regulatory guidelines to hold your money.
Plum are not covered by the FSCS, but they say if Plum or MangoPay shut down, your funds will be returned to you.
You can withdraw money from your Plum account by sending a Facebook message ‘withdraw’ and your savings will be returned to you within 24 hours.
Trust Pilot rating: 7.3 out of 10
Similar to Plum, Cleo isn’t an app but displays your bank balance and groups your spending via Facebook Messenger.
Cleo uses AI (artificial intelligence) to scan your transaction history, calculating and spotting spending trends and lets you keep track of budgets. Cleo also allows you to view your balance, check direct debits, latest transactions, and see your spending per category over the past week, month or previous month.
Cleo uses 256-bit encryption and they say their security practices are equal to those of your bank. Cleo is a read-only service so no-one can move money in or out of your account. Facebook cannot access your banking data. They are not covered by the FSCS, but pledge to cover you up to £50,000.
Trust Pilot rating: 9.4 out of 10
Squirrel is a Barclays-held account that you pay your income into. It releases cash back into your own current account as and when it is needed so you don’t spend it all at once.
Available via the App Store and Google Play, the app segments your money into your bills, rent or mortgage payments, savings and spending money.
The day before each bill is due, Squirrel pays enough to cover each one, back into your own bank account. It also allocates some of your wages to any savings goals you are working towards into a separate savings pot.
Any money left over is classed as spending money, which is paid into your bank account. You can get this paid every week, if it will help you to budget.
If you need more cash for unexpected expenses you can ask for more of your pay cheque to be transferred to your account early, but it will take a day to reach your account. Payments can be made the same day if you need the funds in an emergency.
SAVVY TIP: The downside is that you won’t benefit from any interest.
Squirrel is authorised and regulated by the FCA.
Cost: First three months free and then £3.99 per month after that. You can cancel with no notice at any time.
App store rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Google Play rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Trust Pilot rating: 9.6 out of 10
Folio is an app that allows you to manage how much you choose to save and how often by creating short-term savings goals such as saving for a holiday or a new pair of shoes.
Once you have created an account (they do not store or have access to your bank account information), you start your savings goal by selecting your target savings amount, end date and savings frequency (daily, weekly or monthly). Folio will then start to collect the money from your bank account in instalments and add it to your goal. Once you have reached your savings goal, Folio returns the total amount to your bank account, allowing you to buy whatever you’ve been saving for.
Available via the App Store and Google Play, Folio is also the first social savings platform for friends to save together towards a common goal and the first savings service to let you save as often as every day or week.
Savings are protected in a ring-fenced saving account at Barclays. This means your money is secure and available for immediate withdrawal.
They have partnered with GoCardless and MangoPay, both of which are regulated across the European Union. GoCardless is FCA-approved.
App store rating: not enough ratings
Google Play rating: 3.2 out of 5 stars
We’d like to hear your thoughts if you’ve had experience using any of these or other savings apps. Please leave comments below.
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