It’s very easy to use your smartphone to spend money, from tap-and-go payments using your digital wallet to in-app purchases. But the gadget in your pocket can also be a force for financial good.
There are many powerful money-making apps that can help you plan and save, many of which are free. Here the Sun Money team shares some of their favorites …
BEST FOR: Uncomplicated savings and long-term goals
TESTED BY: Lucy Alderson, senior consumer reporter
Lucy said: “Like Chip, Plum calculates how much you can afford to save.
Then automatically move this money from your bank account to a separate savings pot each week. I previously set up direct debits to do it on payday.
But sometimes I wouldn’t save enough or run short, which means I have to tap into my savings.
I liked the idea that Plum fixes the perfect amount for you. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to save some extra money in the most painless way possible.
It is exciting to see my vase grow. It also prompted me to think about saving extra for retirement as well.
This is so important as it is easy to overlook long-term savings plans when you are planning a vacation next month.
The money you save is protected by the FSCS, like Chip. Pay 1.01% AER interest, but it’s important to note that you may get more elsewhere.
I think I will continue to use Plum well beyond my summer vacation.
BEST FOR: Find hidden savings
TESTED BY: Lynsey Barber, Assistant Chief Consumer
Lynsey said, “Snoop’s robot helps you plan better and pinpoints where you might be able to save money.
You link it to your bank account and credit cards. I found it really easy to set up.
A small red flag appears if you are spending too much and a green flag if you are able to save.
He told me I could save on my cell phone bills because I’ve been with my provider for more than two years.
Unfortunately, I already had a discounted deal, but I believe others could easily save a lot of money by using it.
I love how it automatically tells you how to save. I’m lazy and probably wouldn’t check half of the things he does regularly as I should.
I’ve set up a drinks alert on nights starting from £ 30 to make sure I’m not overspending. When he popped up at the pub he made me feel guilty for spending more.
Even though I missed one last beer, I know it’s good it made me think about how much I was spending.
The free version limits expense, savings and refund notices.
The premium version costs £ 3.99 – I don’t think you need it.
BEST FOR: Establish a budget and keep track of it
TESTED BY: Chloe Stratton, editorial assistant
Chloe said: The Emma budget app prevented me from running out of cash last month. I noticed that my mobile bills and Spotify subscription were supposed to go out the same day, so I cut back on my expenses and didn’t run short.
I really enjoyed seeing all my cards and accounts in one place and found it really useful for checking my finances.
When I’ve used other banking apps to manage my expenses before, I’ve “cheated” them using a card that doesn’t track my purchases.
With Emma there is nowhere to hide as she breaks down your shopping into 16 categories including transportation, dining out, vacations and personal care.
At first I found that some of my invoices and purchases were in the wrong category, but that was easy enough to fix.
The accurate bar chart showing my income versus my expenses helps me quickly verify that I am living within my means. I also like the way it offers cashback and discounts for different stores within the app.
But I’ll definitely stick with the free version rather than paying £ 10 a month for extra features that would instantly blow my budget.
BEST FOR: Save money automatically
TESTED BY: Tara Evans, editor of Sun Money
Tara said: “The chip helps me save without realizing it.
It connects to your bank account and uses smart technology to calculate how much you can afford to save, according to its algorithm.
Every few days he takes the money from your bank account and puts it into a savings account on the app.
For the past year, I’ve used it to save for Christmas and the holidays.
I hold mine in Chip’s 90-day notice to earn up to 1.55% interest-free fee.
Its easy access pays 1.05%. The current best easy-to-access account is 1.56 percent from the Virgin Money checking account.
Your savings (up to £ 85,000) are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so they’re safe in the event of a failure of the app or bank where they are stored.
On average, Chip users saved £ 3,000 in 2021.
Please note that it can take up to five business days to withdraw cash.
I find this to be a good deterrent and it helps me to keep saving.
BEST FOR: Long-term planning and pocket money
TESTED BY: Olivia Marshall, consumer journalist
Olivia said, “I’m saving up for my wedding next September, so I couldn’t wait to try HyperJar.
It is quite different from other apps as you save to achieve your goals by moving money to a prepaid card.
It can be digital or you can order a physical one if you prefer. Then you assign money to different “jars” that you can label according to your goals, for example: “wedding” or “holiday fund”.
You earn interest at an annual rate of 4.8 percent and it’s easy enough to transfer it back to your checking account if needed.
Sometimes you can get a rate hike of up to 10% if you save on jars designated for particular stores, like the holiday company Tui, almost like a gift card.
But it’s harder to move your money back if you change your mind or find that the intended purchases are cheaper elsewhere.
Unlike gift cards, money assigned to a shop doesn’t have an expiration date, and you wouldn’t lose it if the shop goes bankrupt.
The money you load onto the card is handled by a regulated “electronic money” provider held at the Bank of England.
Hyperjar is popular with parents because you can make a jar for your children’s pocket money and give them their own card.
You can track their expenses and help them learn about money.