Money isn’t always easy to come by – and even when it is, you might want to safeguard it and earn more of it. Safeguarding your money can include controlling your spending, which can be a challenge without some sort of third-party assistance. Obtaining more money can be just as formidable a goal without some sort of guiding hand. On both fronts, fintech apps can help. Below is a list of the best fintech apps alongside an introduction to the fintech space.
What Is Fintech?
Fintech is a shorter name for the phrase “financial technology.” Despite this highly 2000s-sounding definition, the fintech industry has a century-long history.
Fintech can be traced back to 1918, when the U.S. Federal Reserve launched the Fedwire Funds Service. This service relied on Morse code sent through public telegraph circuits. It ensured a consistent value for the U.S. dollar across the country and enabled transfers of money across banks.
Fintech continued with the first credit card in the 1950s and the first ATM in the subsequent decade. Then, in 1971, NASDAQ was founded to create a global digital stock exchange and interbank network that enabled international payments.
Over two decades later, in 1995, Wells Fargo would launch the first-ever online checking account. A few years afterward, in 1998, PayPal came into existence and launched the modern wave of mobile payment apps. The arrival of bitcoin in 2008 ushered in the wave of decentralized cryptocurrencies that have disrupted traditional banking.
What Is a Fintech App?
Fintech apps encompass any platforms that relate to traditional financial services or their digital equivalents. It also includes any platforms that disrupt the traditional financial ecosystem and the algorithms underlying all money-based software. Under this definition, your traditional mobile banking app is as much a fintech app as is your cryptocurrency wallet.
Fintech App Categories
Fintech platforms can be loosely grouped into the below types of fintech apps. The word “loosely” is key here, as this list may not be exhaustive. You truly never know when a fintech startup might unexpectedly bring an idea to the table that merits its own new fintech category. After all, that’s exactly what happened in 2008 when bitcoin launched an entirely new type of currency. You’ll see that and other types of fintech reflected in the list below.
- Banking. The mobile app and online portal you use to access your traditional debit card statements and saving accounts are banking fintech apps.
- Budgeting. Any platform you use to create and stick to budgets is a budgeting fintech app.
- Buy now, pay later (BNPL). When you see the option to pay for an online purchase in several smaller installments, you’re encountering a BNPL fintech app.
- B2B services. These fintech apps make it easier for businesses to receive payment from their customers.
- Credit history. This fintech app category includes tools through which you can load your credit history and monitor your currency credit.
- Cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi). These fintech companies allow you to buy decentralized currencies using a connected payment method.
- Education. These fintech apps are less financial service providers than they are resources for learning about personal finance.
- Insurance. Any insurance provider that offers an online portal or mobile app counts as a fintech company.
- Investment. These apps let you easily invest in numerous types of assets without consulting with – or paying for – a traditional broker.
- Loans. These fintech platforms connect you with personal loans that you might otherwise need to seek from a credit card company or traditional bank.
- Neobanks. Any app that operates fully online without physical branches is a neobank, which is a prominent type of fintech app.
- Payment, transfers, and sending money. Both peer-to-peer payment apps and digital wallet apps for consumer purchases at businesses fall under this category.
- Tax. Any platform that facilitates the filing and payment of your taxes is a fintech app.
The 10 Best Fintech Apps Right Now
As you might guess from the breadth of fintech app types, there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of fintech apps out there. You might benefit from downloading one or two apps in each category, but you certainly don’t need all of them. To that end, below are 10 excellent fintech apps you can start with. You can always add more later.
PayPal is a tried-and-true payment app that lets you conduct transactions with businesses and individuals. You can use it to make purchases from businesses, send money to people, or receive money from people. That makes PayPal as useful for online checkout as for paying back your friend who puts down their credit card at a restaurant.
PayPal, though feature-heavy, often comes with fees that other payment platforms often lack. Additionally, not all businesses accept PayPal, and your friends might be more likely to use a different peer-to-peer payment app instead.
|Pay businesses for your purchases|
Easily send money to individuals
Easily receive money from individuals
|Fees are on the higher end|
Individuals may be easier to pay or receive money from on other platforms
With all your bank accounts, debit cards, and credit cards connected to Mint, all your transactions will be gathered in one place. This centralization can streamline your personal finance management. You can also use Mint to categorize your transactions and more easily analyze your spending. The platform can also notify you as certain bills approach their due dates and offer you financial advice.
Though comprehensive, Mint lacks multi-currency compatibility. There can also be some delay between when payments post on your bank and credit accounts and when they appear on Mint.
|Centralize all bank account, debit card, and credit card transactions|
Categorize all transactions and analyze spendingReceive financial advice and notifications as billing due dates approach
|No multi-currency compatibility|
May experience delays between payments posting on financial accounts and then on Mint
With the BNPL service AfterPay, you can split payments ranging from $35 to $1,000 into smaller amounts. You’ll then pay these amounts in four installments every two weeks. Getting approved for AfterPay is typically easy as well.
Your AfterPay plan will come with no interest fees and mostly not involve other fees. However, there is one potential fee with AfterPay. If your payment method can’t be processed, you’ll incur an $8 fee, though this penalty may be reversible. You could also view the rigid every-two-weeks repayment schedule as a disadvantage as compared to more flexible BNPL options.
|Payment plans for purchases ranging from $35 to $1,000No interest feesEasy application and approval||Potential fee if your payment method is declined|
No flexibility in your repayment schedule
With the Stripe fintech app, businesses of all sizes across the globe can receive payments and distribute payouts. Stripe also includes anti-fraud features alongside invoicing and funding tools. Businesses that use Stripe can also opt into virtual and physical cards for easier spending.
Stripe’s main drawback is that it’s not a great fit for in-person payments. It may also be unavailable in certain regions despite its promise of global payment facilitation.
|Global payment receipt and payout distributionInvoicing, funding, and anti-fraud toolsVirtual and physical cards||Not ideal for in-person payments|
Not available in all regions
5. Credit Karma
Credit Karma is a fintech app you can use to access your credit history and current score. The platform will explain why your score and reports appear as they do while offering you tips to improve. It’s also known to be highly user-friendly. Additionally, it offers fee-free checking services, which are among its newer features.
Notably, Credit Karma is always free, which is mostly, but not entirely, a good thing. Since it’s free, it will regularly show you financial product ads that may quickly prove annoying. Additionally, you can’t import transactions into the platform.
|Free access to credit history and scoreExplanation of history and score|
User-friendly experience with supplementary fee-free checking
|Free access means ads, which can be annoying|
No transaction importing
Coinbase allows you to set up an internet-connected digital wallet through which you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The platform offers leading digital currencies such as bitcoin and up-and-comers such as Solana. It’s also insured, meaning that in the event of a hack (which is a prominent concern in crypto communities), your assets remain safe. This protection is rare among crypto fintech apps.
Coinbase’s biggest drawback is that its fees are on the higher side among cryptocurrency exchange apps. Its user interface is simple overall, but navigating to your portfolio and understanding your assets’ price fluctuations can take some getting used to.
|Digital wallet included|
Wide variety of available cryptocurrencies
Assets insured if hacked
|Relatively high fees for a crypto exchange|
Some parts of navigation may take some getting used to
Lemonade uses artificial intelligence to help you craft an insurance plan ideal for your needs. You can use it to buy five types of insurance plans: renters, homeowners, car, life, and pet. It offers these insurance plans while retaining B Corporation status, meaning you can trust that it operates ethically. Its premium prices are known to be relatively low. The brand also says that it pays claims exceptionally quickly.
Although a clear disruptor in the insurance sector, Lemonade lacks ratings from leading financial agencies. This gap may concern shoppers who need endorsements from authorities to trust a company. Additionally, its plans aren’t available in every state.
|Five types of insurance plans available|
B Corporation status reflects consistent ethical behavior
Relatively low premiums and quick claim payments
|No ratings from leading financial agenciesSpotty state-by-state availability|
Robinhood is widely considered the top fintech app for wealth management. You can use it to invest in stocks, cryptocurrency trades, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for free. In fact, Robinhood is one of few investment apps that offers cryptocurrency trades. It also eliminates the account minimums common with similar apps.
Of course, Robinhood isn’t perfect. You can’t use it for retirement accounts, mutual funds, or bonds. It has also faced controversy over certain trade restrictions and been fined for deceiving customers.
|Free investments in stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency trades|
Among few investing fintech apps to offer crypto trades
No account minimums
|No retirement accounts, bonds, or mutual funds|
Controversial trade restrictions and fines for misleading its users
MoneyLion is unique among fintech apps in that it boasts certain qualities of neobanks, loan platforms, and investment apps. You can use its banking accounts to receive your paychecks up to two days early, and this feature is basically a loan. You can round up purchases to the nearest dollar and direct the difference toward an investment account. And every time you use your MoneyLion debit card daily, you’ll earn reward points.
MoneyLion’s biggest drawbacks pertain to its fully digital nature. Its lack of physical branches can make depositing or withdrawing money difficult. You also can’t use MoneyLion to make payments via check.
|Receive paychecks up to two days early|
Direct spare changes from purchases toward investments
Earn reward points with daily debit card use
|No physical bank branches, making cash withdrawal and deposits tougher|
Check payments not possible
With TurboTax, you might never need to hire an accountant again. This leading tax fintech app guarantees the accuracy of your tax returns and pays any penalties related to inaccuracies. It also offers numerous tax filing packages that vary based on your employment and land ownership status, making it a highly versatile tool. No matter which tier you use, you can easily import and export key data.
For all its industry-leading features, TurboTax is known to miss things for clients with more complicated tax situations. Its prices are also relatively high, and only its highest price tiers include access to professional assistance.
|Guaranteed accuracy of tax returns, with coverage of fees stemming from inaccuraciesSeveral types of tax filing packages|
Easy data importing and exporting
|May not be suitable for complex tax situations|
Relatively high prices, with low-price tiers lacking professional assistance
How Else to Bring Fintech into Your Life
Were you to download all the above fintech apps, you’d only be dipping your toes into the vast pool of fintech options. To dive further into things, you might want to consider some robo-advisor platforms. These investing fintech apps are designed for newcomers who need hands-on management and low-fee assets. Visit MoneyMash’s best robo-advisor list to find the right platform for your needs.