It’s difficult to remember how frustrating mobile banking was for users just five years ago. Some mobile banking apps would struggle to find the nearest ATM. Depositing checks by capturing an image was considered cutting edge. It was even quite possible your bank didn’t have a smartphone app.
Fast forward to today. Now, alerts from banking apps are a feature we take for granted. Most apps, if the bank offers a credit card account, will show you your current credit score. Some banks are even allowing you to make ATM withdrawals through the app, without a bank card.
The data in MagnifyMoney’s 2017 mobile banking ratings indicates that, as a class, banking apps have matured. Overall, apps haven’t appreciably improved, with users on the Apple App Store and Google Play rating banking apps an average of 3.7 stars (out of 5), as they did in 2016. But this year, none of the mobile banking apps can be considered especially awful anymore.
How we reviewed the apps
Summary of key findings:
- Best Overall App: Discover with a score of 4.8, up from 4.2 in 2016.
- Best Apps Among the 10 Largest Banks: Chase and Capital One both scored 4.6.
- Worst App Among the 10 Largest Banks: BB&T with a score of 3.0, improving from 2.8 in 2016.
- Best Apps Among the 10 Largest Credit Unions: SchoolsFirst, PenFed, Alliant, BECU and America First all scored 4.3, well above the average of 3.7 for all credit union apps.
- Worst App Among the 10 Largest Credit Unions: Star One with a score of 3.2, down from 3.3 in 2016.
- Best Online Direct Bank App: Discover Bank with a score of 4.8, up from 4.2 in 2016.
- Worst Online Direct Bank App: Ally Bank, with a score of 3.4, improving from 3.1 in 2016.
- Overall Most Improved App: First Tech Federal Credit Union, with a score increase of 122% year over year, from 1.9 to 4.2.
- Most Improved Traditional Bank: Umpqua Bank, with a 30% ratings increase year over year, from 2.3 to 2.9.
- Overall Most Deteriorated App: First Tennessee, whose score dropped 40%, from 3.5 to 2.1 year over year.
Overall Best and Worst Bank Apps
Discover tops them all
Discover has managed to keep the more than 1 million people who have used its mobile app relatively content. Part of its success may lie in serving more credit card-only users than mobile apps from other large banks, which tend to have customers primarily using mobile apps for more traditional checking and savings accounts. Nonetheless, its score of 4.8 is the highest of any institution in our rankings this year.
Sample Discover feedback from Android app users:
Excellent mobile app with TU FicoScore 8 to know your creditworthiness. Also, allow the manage of authorized user to freeze their credit cards awesome feature. The only secured credit card with rewards. Overall perfect, Thanks Discover. – December 3, 2017
Does pretty much everything you could ever need. Slick UI. Reliable. The only thing I’d change which is minor is being able to manage my bank and my card in the same tab. – November 18, 2017
Credit unions still among those highly rated, but traditional banks are catching up
Last year, credit unions monopolized the highest rated app list, when all but one name was a credit union. But this year, credit unions share the stage with two traditional banks and an online direct bank. Capital One and BBVA Compass were also ranked highly by app users this year, each garnering a 4.6 overall rating by mobile app users.
Sample Capital One feedback from iOS app users:
App is super simple and fast. Doesn’t crash. Quick two-factor security. All normal features promised and delivered like auto-pay, one click to see my credit score, simple rewards features, etc. – November 2017
Sample BBVA Compass feedback from Android app users:
Love this app. Makes it so easy to do banking without the hassle of going to the ?!!! I can do everything right from my phone. With the new updates it’s gotten even better!!! – November 7, 2017
10 Best and Worst Bank Apps
(Among the 10 largest banks and credit unions)
Bigger is getting better
Apart from laggard BB&T, the apps of the 10 largest banks were rated better than average by users, which is quite a feat when you consider that many of these apps, like Wells Fargo Mobile and Citi Mobile, not only offer savings, checking and credit card accounts, but also more complicated products like brokerage accounts and holistic personal finance management programs similar to websites like Mint.com.
Sample Chase feedback from iOS app users:
I use this app every day. It’s pretty simply laid out, intuitive. It combines my multiple personal accounts and business accounts in one app. – August 5, 2017
Online banking still a mixed bag
Among the 10 online direct apps we found more dispersion in app user satisfaction. While Discover tops the list with a weighted overall rating of 4.8, four of the banks had apps with a rating of less than 4. Still, nearly all the apps in this category saw a modest improvement in user satisfaction versus last year.
Credit unions hold steady
Credit union customers (shareholders, in Credit Union’s language) tend to be happier than those who use traditional banks, and that trend continues for mobile apps.
5 of the 10 largest credit unions have the same overall score of 4.3, which is unsurprising as the interface of many credit union apps are from the same software developer.
App ratings were recorded the week of Nov. 15, 2017 in the Google Play and Apple App Stores, and include ratings for all app versions. Overall ratings are a weighted average, rounded to the nearest tenth, of iOS and Android ratings based on the number of reviews for each platform. Institutions with no mobile apps were excluded from ranking summaries.
The 50 largest banks, defined as those with the largest deposits per FDIC data June 2017, were examined. Those not offering consumer checking accounts were excluded. The 50 largest credit unions by assets according to the CUNA in September 2017 were examined. For online direct banks, and 10 of the largest online direct banks were chosen by number of app ratings.