Saving large chunks of cash every month is often difficult or impossible for many. But microsaving apps, which dump the spare change from your purchases into a dedicated account, can make saving totally painless (or even forgettable).
Microsaving apps come in many shapes and sizes. Some have built-in budgeting features, while others help you pay down your debt. But at the most basic level, they move your spare change into a savings account or long-term investment portfolio (with stocks and bonds that generate money over time). We’ll going to cover five different microsaving solutions, from the most basic options, to robust solutions with fancy finance-managing features.
Update, 5/2/22: We’ve updated this article to verify that content is up to date. We also added Ally Bank to our recommendations and removed Simple, as it’s no longer available.
Every microsaving app focuses on a unique set of features and philosophies. So, before you sign up for anything, it’s good to take a moment and consider your needs. If this is your first time doing any financial planning, for instance, then it may be best to stick with a straightforward microsaving solution that does all the work for you. But if you’re already keen on managing your money, then an all-in-one solution with budgeting features may be the best option for you.
Here are a few things to consider before looking at any microsaving apps:
- Ease of Use: Some microsaving services, like Acorns or Bank of America’s Keep the Change, can accumulate money without intruding on your everyday life. But other options with budgeting or debt-paying features, such as QAPITAL and Qoins, need a bit of extra attention and programming.
- Budgeting or Bill-Paying Features: Again, apps like QAPITAL and Qoins have some budgeting and debt-paying features baked-in. They’re like hubs for your finances and they help you build a savings account. If you need to rein in your money, then these apps may be a solid option for you.
- Banking Features: Some services, like Ally Bank or BofA’s Keep the Change, revolve around a dedicated checking account, savings account, and debit card. Such options are worth considering if you want to keep your money all in one place, or you’d like to move finances away from your current bank (or if you already have a Bank of America account, of course).
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s get on with the show. Here are five of our favorite microsaving solutions.
Acorns is by far the most straightforward microsaving solution available today. The app automatically invests your spare change into a pre-made stock portfolio, and that’s about all there is to it. It’s an easy and painless road to saving and investing your money.
Along with its basic microsaving features, Acorns allows you to manually drop cash into your portfolio or set up recurring monthly investments. You can also observe how your money grows from the Acorns Performance graph, and you can adjust your portfolio between conservative (low risk, low gain) and aggressive (high risk, high potential gain) investment options.
You can also set up a Roth IRA through Acorns, though of course, I only suggest doing so if you plan on keeping the money there until retirement. Pulling out your Roth IRA earnings early will result in a 10% penalty and an increase in your taxes.
Acorns starts at $1 a month for accounts with less than $5,000. Once you’ve invested $5,000 in the app, Acorns starts charging a 0.25% annual fee on your assets. The service also offers $2 and $3 monthly options for retirement portfolios or the Acorns Spend debit card. You can pull your money out of Acorns at any time.
QAPITAL is a finance app that builds a budget tailored to your income. It automatically sorts your purchases into different budgeting categories, like gas or groceries, and gives you the opportunity to start saving for the future. It also has some automatic bill-paying features, and of course, an automatic roundups feature. You can even set saving “rules” to QAPTIAL (save $100 each payday), or pair your QAPITAL app with IFTTT to extra juicy microsaving action (save $1 for every Seinfeld episode you watch, for instance).
Notably, QAPITAL offers unique features to help couples share money and balance their budget. If you and your partner want to save money and budget toward large purchases (such as a home renovation or new furniture), QAPITAL will help you do just that.
QAPITAL offers a 30-day free trial and has three service tiers. The basic tier ($3 a month) has the rudimentary budgeting and microsaving features, while the Complete ($6 a month) and Master ($12 a month) offer some deep investing features and access to an FDIC-insured QAPITAL Visa debit card.
Trying to pay down your debt? The Qoins microsaving app may be able to help. Instead of pushing your money into a savings account or portfolio, Qoins uses your spare change to automatically pay off lenders. It’s a solid option for anyone who wants to pay off their debt faster or give a slight bump to their credit score.
Just to clarify, a month’s worth of spare change probably won’t meet your minimum debt payments. A regular spender might rack up $50 to $100 or spare change a month, while couples may end up with $100 to $200 in spare change each month. Unless you’re an exceptionally big spender, you should think of Qoins as a supplement to your debt regular payments—something to help you pay things off a little faster than usual.
Qoins doesn’t have a subscription fee. Instead, the service charges a $2 convenience fee every time it pays money to your lenders.
Ally was the first online bank, and unsurprisingly, it offers a bevy of saving, budgeting, and investing features. These features hide behind an Ally Bank account and debit card, but it’s worth signing up if you want an all-in-one money-saving solution.
Notably, Ally uses a system of “Buckets” to help you save and organize money. You can manage up to 10 Buckets at a time—maybe you want to save a certain amount toward your car or home, for instance. Money can enter these Buckets automatically or manually, and of course, there’s a “spare change” microsavings option to help you save money without any pain.
Ally also offers investment features, which you can manage yourself or leave to the bank. There are portfolios for every type of investor (eco-friendly, tax-optimized, low-risk, etc), and both stocks and ETFs are commission-free.
You can join Ally Bank without paying any maintenance fees, and the bank doesn’t enforce any minimums for your account.
If you already have a Bank of America account, then Keep the Change may be the best microsaving system for you. It takes the spare change from your purchases and funnels them into your Bank of America savings account.
Just keep in mind that BofA Keep the Change cannot connect to external bank accounts. Unlike every other microsaving option on this list, Keep the Change can only round up purchases from Bank of America debit and credit cards.