10 things you probably didn’t realize you can do with your banking app

best mobile banking tips citi bank

If you’re not using your smartphone to do banking by now, you’re missing out. Banking apps can send you instant fraud alerts, remind you to pay a bill, help you save for a vacation, and even locate the nearest ATM. They can, quite literally, save you time and money.

Most banks have offered customers dedicated apps for years. Today, those apps have evolved into digital Swiss Army knives of personal finance. Not only can you check balances and make payments, you can use many of them to analyze your budget and help you make financial decisions. And banks continue to add new features appealing to everyone from college students to entrepreneurs to new parents.

So without further ado, here are 10 super convenient things you can do with most modern banking apps.

Deposit Checks

Is that trip to the ATM really necessary? Not if you’re just depositing a check. Almost all bank apps will let you endorse a check and then use your smartphone’s camera to deposit it remotely. There are some restrictions, however. For example, limits range from Chase, which only allows you to deposit a maximum of $2,000 a day, to Alliant Credit Union, which allows you to deposit up to $50,000 worth of checks per day.

Control Your Debit Card

Guilty of overdrawing you account using a debit card? You can prevent this–and the associated fees–by using a bank app to set spending limits and send automatic notifications about your balance. Ally Bank offers debit card control, for example, and the Chase app lets you refill its debit card from your phone.

Send Travel Notices

Jetsetters know that every time you head out of the country you should alert credit card companies so they don’t block purchases abroad. Bank of America lets you apprise them of upcoming travel in seconds. With others you can add trip notifications months in advance on your app rather than enduring the arduous interactive voice menus over the phone (not to mention the danger of blurting out your card number in a crowded airport lounge). You can simply pick the dates you’ll be away, where you’ll be going, and which cards you’re going to use (credit and ATM/debit card). In most cases, the app will also remind you of any foreign transaction fees (usually 3 percent).

best mobile banking tips citi bank

Pay Friends Back

There’s no need to go to an ATM to reimburse a friend, or for your friend to wait for their money. These days, most banking apps let you pay individuals directly, from one bank account to another. People don’t need to be customers of the same bank, but they do need to have access to the same third-party service. Many institutions, such as Citi and Chase, use Zelle. Recipients just have to sign up for it when they get their first payment.

Split the Check

One neat little trick available on a number of banking apps is direct access to Google Pay. Once you’ve done that, you can use Google Pay to split a dinner check, for example, with up to five people and get them all paid before you leave the restaurant. It’s quicker than Splitwise and more secure than Venmo.

Check Your Credit Score

The recent uptick in hack attacks and data breaches mean it’s probably a good idea to periodically check your financial health. Most banking apps — assuming you meet their minimum balance requirements — let you check your credit score for free from one of the three monitoring houses, such as TransUnion.

Report a Stolen or Lost Credit Card

Hopefully, it won’t happen to you very often (or ever), but if you do lose or have your cards stolen, the quickest, most pain-free way to close them is to do it via your banking app. If it is stolen, you can even order a new card. On the other hand, if you’re not sure whether you actually lost it or not, you can usually temporarily lock the card, and then unlock it when you discover, say, that it was underneath the sofa cushions the whole time. Finally, if you notice suspicious charges (or get a warning from your bank), you can dispute a transaction in seconds, rather going through the tortuous phone calls that are typically required.

best mobile banking tips citi bank

Get a Mortgage

No more endless days of copying documents and filling in notarized forms — nowadays you can use some banking apps to apply for (and receive) a mortgage in minutes. TD’s app attendant, TD for Me, for example, even uses your location to pinpoint properties. If you’re near one of them, you can get a pre-approved mortgage offer (which can help you in a bidding war) based on your credit score and assets. At U.S. Bank they wanted to make it as easy as ordering a pizza, so even if you don’t get instant approval, the app will inform you of the status of application at each stage.

Start a Business

Got that entrepreneurial itch to launch your own company? Several banks allow you to apply for a small-business loan on your smartphone. Traditionally, applying for such a loan takes at least two weeks, with multiple visits to the bank and a whole lot of exchanging documents. Doing the application in-app can save days of downtime. U.S. Bank, for example, claims a customer can can complete a loan application in six and a half minutes — and in some cases even get the funds deposited in their account within seconds.

Improve Your Financial Health

Budgeting is an important part of maintaining fiscal well being. Many of the bigger bank apps let you easily analyze and assess your spending and saving habits. Many only offer a spending summary, like Citi’s app, which will show you at a glance you’re spending more on, say, your cable and Hulu accounts than you are on dinners out. But other apps, such as TD’s, go further with graphs depicting daily spending habits, what’s typical for you, and what changes you can make to meet savings goals.

best mobile banking tips citi bank

Bonus Round

Your financial institution wants to be with you all the time, so many banks are are adding app features that seemingly have nothing to do with finance — like train schedules. With TD’s app, for example, you can get notifications and estimates of travel time, as well as alerts about delays on some public transit systems (depending on where you live). Why? Probably because of that old adage, “time is money.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Smart Home

The best smart thermostats let you stay cool without wasting money

The right thermostat can do more than just adjust the temperature of your home, it can also learn about you and help you save money. Check out our picks for the best smart thermostats on the market right now.

Galaxy Fold's screen problems have mostly been fixed, Samsung says

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is real, but for how long? Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.

Sandmarc crams cinematic video flare into a tiny iPhone anamorphic lens

Looking for some unique flare for your iPhone videos? The Sandmarc iPhone Anamorphic lens captures a wider aspect ratio, oval bokeh, and horizontal flare. The new iPhone lens, designed for video, uses a clip or case-style attachment.

Want a PC you can reach out and touch? These are the best touchscreen laptops

The best touchscreen laptops aren't locked to 2-in-1s and convertibles, but include clamshell designs too. We pick the best touchscreen clamshells you can find in 2018, ranging from Windows 10 PCs to Chromebooks.

The 2019 class of camera phones is great, and we tested them to find the best

It's the middle of the year, which means it's time for a mid-year camera shootout to find the best among our top phones of 2019. We pit six phones against each other, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, Pixel 3a, and Galaxy S10 Plus.

Ebook readers are more than just Kindles. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are the best ebook readers available.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Tesla Special Edition turns out to be a beautiful dream

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 may not be far away now, but there are still surprises in store. One that will not happen is a team-up with Tesla. A post on Weibo referenced what turns out to be an imaginative high-concept render by a YouTuber.

What is Apple CarPlay? Here's all you need to know about iOS in your dashboard

CarPlay is one of two major infotainment systems currently vying for your car's dash. Here's everything you need to know about the system, including its feature set and host of third-party apps.

Crowdsourced interactive mapping app Waze gives you the lowdown on traffic

Waze is a free, ad-supported interactive navigation app with benefits. It calculates routes using social media crowdsourcing to alert you to current traffic conditions. Wazers act as the road's eyes and ears to alert other travelers.

FedEx mistakenly rejects shipment of a Huawei phone to the U.S.

There has been confusion about what exactly the placement of Huawei on the U.S. Entity List means for private customers. Recently a tech writer who tried to ship a Huawei phone to the U.S. was surprised when the phone was returned to him.

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.
Movies & TV

Netflix hack day project adds phone vibrations to every on-screen explosion

One of the highlights of the most recent Netflix hack day is Project Rumble Pak, which adds vibrations to the streaming service's smartphone app. The project seeks to improve the viewing experience by synchronizing haptics to content.