It’s 2020: Time to try digital banking.

By Kate Rockwood
August 06, 2020

Online banks may have once felt suspect, but now they’re sometimes the best way to find higher interest rates, bank on the go, and otherwise make accessing your money more convenient—and a new set of banking apps and services are making digital banking even easier. (Best of all, trying a banking app or service or opening an account at an online bank doesn’t mean you have to ditch your brick-and-mortar bank all together.)

The rise in both popularity and options means that choosing a banking app or service is tougher now than ever. While most apps pride themselves on being incredibly user-friendly, some offer even more features to make moving, using, and saving money simple.

As part of the Real Simple Smart Money Awards, we’re highlighting the best banking apps and digital services of 2020. Whether you’re trying to visualize your savings or find a higher interest rate for your emergency fund, one of these digital banking services has you covered. Read on for the best banking apps and services of 2020, or click here to see the other 2020 Real Simple Smart Money Award winners.

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1 SoFi’s Money Vaults

Best for: streamlining multiple savings accounts

What it is: With these customizable subaccounts, you can save for various goals—rainy-day funds, a kitchen renovation, you name it—and watch all your balances grow on the same dashboard. There are no fees or minimum balance requirements.

Why we love it: Separating money into buckets may encourage you to save more, studies show. “Different accounts help you be intentional about how money is spent,” says judge Ande Frazier.

Best banking apps - empower

2 Empower

Best for: people with fluctuating incomes who want to save

What it is: Once a week, if Empower detects excess cash in your checking account, its AutoSave feature sets it aside as savings. It also offers a no-interest $150 advance if you’re short on money.

Why we love it: When your paycheck isn’t the same every month, it’s nice to have a tool that can analyze patterns and help you stash away dough whenever you can. No balance minimums, no overdraft fees, and unlimited withdrawals are nice, too.

Best banking apps - Level

3 Level

Best for: a big interest payoff

What it is: This no-frills digital bank (there’s not a single branch anywhere), which launched in February, offers generous interest rates for deposit accounts.

Why we love it: At press time, the interest rate was 12 times the national average for interest-bearing checking accounts, meaning a $5,000 balance at Level would earn $25 in a year, compared with about two bucks at other banks. You can earn by spending, too—Level gives 1 percent cash back on qualified purchases.