Our 15 Favorite Apps This Year And Their Most Surprising Features

Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

Whether you think technology is the devil or that social media is melting our brains, there is a good thing to come out of increased phone usage – helpful apps that make our lives a bit easier. Especially financially.

With money coming out of my accounts to pay for car repairs and health bills, it was not the best year but at least I’m still fairly solid in my financial health. By using specific apps regularly, I was able to weather the storm(s) and so I put together a list of our favorite money apps so far this year that might help you out too.

Some you’d probably already heard of, so we’ll pinpoint other useful but surprising features you may not have known about.

1. Start Investing with Just $5 – Even in Video Games & Corporate Cannabis

Monthly Cost
$1
for basic accounts
Management Fees
0.25%
for accounts over $5,000
Minimum Deposit
$5
Pros
  • Low $5 account minimum
  • More flexibility than a traditional robo-advisor
  • Fractional investing lets you buy into expensive stocks
  • Ability to choose and pick what you want to invest in
Cons
  • The fees can add up, especially for small accounts

 

What it’s known for: Stash is a micro-investment app that only takes $5 to start.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Game on. The gaming industry could be worth as much as $230 billion in the next 5 years.* Now that’s some major loot. Also, corporate cannabis. 

And you can use Stash to invest in the video game and/or legal cannabis industry for as little as $5. 

They curate from over 150 investments which include stocks and Exchange Traded Funds and you’ll get to choose an investment blend that meets your goals and interests.

Bonus: We’ll even give you $5 to get started.

2. Earning $ Back on Purchases – Even on Food Delivery & Entertainment

Cost
Free
Cashout Minimum
$5
Welcome Bonus
$10
Pros
  • Coupons and cash back at over 2,500 stores online and in-store
  • No points, just earn cash
  • Unlimited referral bonuses
  • Over 21 years in business and more than 10 million members
Cons
  • Payment is sent every 3 months
  • Cashout minimum must be $5 or more otherwise it gets rolled into next payment date

 

What it’s known for: Cash back apps like Rakuten (previously called Ebates) have been around for awhile (20 years!) and it’s one of the first apps we open when purchasing items online to get money back. They also have an amazing referral program where you can earn $25 for each eligible friend. New members get a $10 bonus too.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: First, Rakuten isn’t just restricted to online stores. You can get % cash back in physical stores too like Macy’s, Sephora, Big Lots, Gap, Puma and more.

Their newest collaboration is our favorite though. They’ve partnered up with DoorDash and GrubHub, the on-demand food delivery apps, so users can get cash back on every single food order.

You can also get cash back on popular entertainment sites like Ticketmaster, Stubhub, Fandango, and SeatGeek for all your concerts, movies, and sporting events!

3. Skip the Bank Fees – And Get Paid Up to 2 Days Earlier

Cost
Free
Founded
2013
Minimum Deposit
$0
Pros
  • No overdraft fees and no foreign transaction fees
  • 38,000+ fee-free ATMs
  • Earlier payday – up to 2 days early through direct deposit
  • A Chime Visa® Debit Card with instant transaction notifications
  • Automatic savings tools
Cons
  • Low-interest rate for savings at .01%

 

What it’s known for: The mobile banking app, Chime, saves you from hidden fees. There are no overdraft fees, no minimum balance, no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, no transfer fees, and no fees to sign up! There are also 38,000+ fee-free ATMs to use too.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: When your direct deposit is set up with Chime, you can get paid up to 2 days earlier! This is because Chime processes your employer’s deposit immediately instead of holding onto funds. Early payday? Yes, please.

4. Invest Every Day with Just Loose Change

Monthly Cost
$1 – $3
various accounts
Founded
2012
Minimum Investment
$5
Pros
  • Automatically invests spare change
  • Free management for college students
  • Cool in-app tools and learning resources
  • Cash back on select purchases
Cons
  • Not as many customization options as competitors
  • Fees eat into small account balances

 

What it’s known for: Acorns is a popular choice amongst millennials and anyone new to investing since they make it so easy to get started. Plus you don’t have to be rich.

For every purchase you normally make in your everyday life, Acorns automatically rounds it up to the nearest dollar and then saves & invests the difference (spare change) into your Acorns account.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Acorns Found Money program. They’ve partnered with over 200 companies, like Apple, Amazon, Groupon, Nike, and more so that whenever you make a purchase with your linked card, you’ll automatically get cash back!

4. Maximizing Credit & Debit Card Rewards – Don’t Miss the Bonus Points

Alice Ly / The Smart Wallet

What it’s known for: Drop is the free app that gives you gift cards on stuff you already buy from your favorite stores and brands. Your purchases from Amazon, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Chipotle? You’ll get points for that. Points translate to gift cards so the more you collect from their brand list, the more you can redeem.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: While you’ll always earn points on your 5 Power Offers (the 5 brands you picked during set up), don’t miss out on limited time offers that often have high point values (some up to a $50 value!).

Also, when you use a Power Offer 5 times, you’ll unlock Supercharge, which is a game of snake where you swipe to earn free bonus points!

5. You Can Save on Groceries AND on Travel

Cost
Free
Cashout Minimum
$20
Welcome Bonus
Up to $20
Pros
  • Cash back at over 500,000 locations (in-store and online)
  • Lots of bonus opportunities
  • Easy to upload receipts for cash back
  • Can be used with other cash back apps
  • Payout options include PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards
Cons
  • Must add offers in-app before uploading a receipt

 

What it’s known for: Ibotta is well-loved for saving everyone money on their groceries. On average, users can save up to $240 a year.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Since it’s launch in 2011, Ibotta has branched out to include many other categories, not just groceries.

Now you can get cash back on almost everything, including travel. Get up to 6% cash back via the Ibotta app to Booking.com, Expedia, Hertz.com, Hotwire and more!

6. Automatic Savings = Paying Down Credit Card Debt

Monthly Cost
Free 30 Days
then $5/month
Founded
2013
Minimum Investment
$5

Pros
  • Analyzes and auto-saves small amounts that you can afford
  • Good for those that have trouble saving
  • 1% savings bonus every 3 months
  • Ability to create savings goals to be excited about
Cons
  • No interest accrued except for the 1% savings bonus

 

What it’s known for: The automatic savings app, Digit, smartly squirrels away small but safe amounts for you once you’ve connected a checking account. It’s the perfect set-it-and-forget-it app where it’ll watch your savings back.

People also unexpectedly find enough money saved for travel or other expenses when they check their accounts after some time!

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Their new feature, Digit Pay, can now use the savings it’s saved for you to automatically pay down your credit card debt and balances. Just create a “credit card debt” goal in the app and it’ll get to work saving what you can afford to pay the debt off.

7. Play Quick Mobile Games and Start an Emergency Fund

Monthly Cost
Free
Founded
2015
Minimum Deposit
$5

Pros
  • Turns saving into fun games
  • Good for those that have trouble saving
  • Potential $1M cash prize weekly
  • No fees and FDIC-insured up to $250K
  • Ability to earn cryptocurrency
Cons
  • Low 0.1% interest rate

 

What it’s known for: Long Game Savings makes saving an easy habit when you play quick games like Spin-to-Win, Flip Cards, Slot Machines and more.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: You could be saving a lot of money just by playing these mini-games and even winning some cash!

Just set up auto-save (even as little as $5/ week) to start your emergency fund. More savings = more games = more chances win cash. There’s even a separate $1M cash prize each week!

8. School Competitors in Solitaire and Ca$h In 

Cost
Free
and optional cash tournaments
Founded
2014
Headquarters
Lafayette, CA

Pros
  • Quick games against real people
  • Matches you fairly with other players with the same skill level
  • Lots of free and cash tournaments to join
  • Variety of prizes for everyone
Cons
  • Playing for free takes a long time to earn real prizes
  • Cash tournaments not available for every state

 

What it’s known for: Solitaire Cube is like regular Solitaire but on speed, and you get to play with real people from around the world instead of solo. They’re fun 5-minute games that stimulate the brain and keep it active!

There are fun tournaments that you can play for free for real prizes or you can play in cash tournaments to win even more cash.

Cash tournaments are not available for residents in AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, IL, IN, LA, MD, ME, MT, SC, SD, and TN)

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: If you play in the cash tournaments (don’t worry they match you with similar-skilled players) then you’ll also earn Ticketz which you can use to redeem for real prizes like TVs, tech, cars, and more! We chatted with Amanda, a mom who won big on Solitaire Cube in an interview here.

9. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report AND Improve Your Credit Scores Instantly

Cost
Free
Optional $5 upgrade
Launched
2018
Headquarters
Dublin, IE

Pros
  • New feature one of the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Adds positive payment history from utility/telecom bills to your credit file
  • Instantly boosts your credit score for free
  • The process doesn’t hurt your credit at all
Cons
  • Results can vary for different people

 

What it’s known for: Experian, as a whole, is known for being one of the three major credit bureaus that rule over your credit reports. They collect information from people and businesses worldwide to assess their credit risk.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Their latest feature, Experian Boost™ can help instantly improve your credit scores for free.

Experian does this by adding your positive payment history from utility and telecom bills to your Experian credit file. This is huge, because previously, your gas, water, electricity, TV, internet, and phone bills that you already pay for didn’t affect your credit. Now it does and to your benefit of potentially increasing your credit scores!

Compared to expensive and drawn out credit repair services, this new alternative is the fastest and no-cost way to instantly improve your credit scores.

*Results may vary, see website for details.

10. This Bill Negotiator Can Keep Track of Internet Outages Too

Cost
Free
Optional Premium Plan
Launched
2015
Headquarters
San Francisco, CA

Pros
  • Pulls your historical spending and organizes it
  • Good for people who don’t know how to budget
  • Helps negotiate down monthly service bills
  • Monitors cable/internet outages and helps refund you
Cons
  • Successful negotiations cost 40% of the annual savings

 

What it’s known for: Truebill easily helps you budget, even if you don’t know how to. Their simple to follow budgeting pulls your historical spending, organizes it, and allows you to clearly see your spending so you can set a target budget with context. (Aka you can see where you’re wasting money on).

They can also negotiate down your monthly service bills for you so you don’t have to spend time on the phone with your reps. On average they save their customers 20% on their existing telecom bills!

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Truebill also monitors cable and internet outages too. If you’re ever in frustrating situations where your internet is down for a while, they’ll keep track and get you money back!

11. Save Your Emails to Get Money Back – Even on Late Shipments

Cost
Free
Launched
2014
Headquarters
Brooklyn, NY

Pros
  • Analyzes your email receipts to check for price drop refund opportunities
  • Set it up once and it’ll track
  • All savings are 100% yours to keep
  • Monitors late shipments to get you compensated
Cons
  • Some people may not like granting access to read their email receipts

 

What it’s known for: Paribus by CapitalOne gets you money back on select online purchases even after you’ve bought them. You just need to keep all your email receipts (easy).

Once they’ve found a receipt that has at least a $3 price drop, they’ll alert you then contact the retailer on your behalf to get the money or tell you how to get the refund back.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: If your guaranteed shipment is late from Amazon Prime or Walmart, they’ll help you get compensated! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season when gifts in hand are important.

Your savings mileage will vary but Paribus is 100% free to use and all the savings are yours to keep. Your pair of shoes dropped $7? You get $7 back.

12. Get Cash Back From Any Market – Even Your Neighborhood Joint

Cost
Free
Cashout Minimum
$3
(3,000 points)
Welcome Bonus
$2
(2,000 points)
Pros
  • Scans any grocery store receipt (includes warehouse & convenience stores)
  • Earn points for free gift cards to Amazon, Visa, and more
  • No need to scan barcodes, add offers, or clip coupons
  • Unlimited referral bonuses
  • No minimum spend to earn points
Cons
  • Limit of 14 receipt scans per week
  • Receipts expire 2 weeks after the purchase date

 

What it’s known for: Fetch Rewards is a cash back app where you can scan ANY grocery receipt to get rewards.

Go on your normal grocery shopping trips. Scan your receipt after. Get points towards gift cards.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Don’t miss out on scanning receipts from neighborhood corner shops, wholesale clubs, drugstores, convenience stores, and even liquor stores.

As long as your receipt has any of the thousands of participating products, you’ll earn points to redeem for gift cards. Sometimes, you’ll even get bonuses just for uploading a receipt!

Grab a 2,000 points bonus ($2!) when you enter this referral code: REWARD before you scan your first receipt.

13. Cash Out on The Everyday Things You Do Online – Even Videos

Cost
Free
Cashout Minimum
$3
Welcome Bonus
$5
Pros
  • Ability to earn points to redeem for money based on normal everyday activity
  • Payment methods include PayPal cash or gift cards
  • Easy to fit into your daily life
  • Trying Swagbucks Deals offer major bonus points
Cons
  • Some methods can take longer to earn SB points

 

What it’s known for: Swagbucks is a popular free rewards program for the everyday things you do online.

Earn points to redeem into cash or gift cards by:

  • Watching entertaining videos
  • Shopping at your favorite retailers
  • Participating in surveys
  • Playing fun trivia games

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: Use their search engine as your default method to earn SB points. Instead of using Google or Bing, switch it over to Swagbucks, and you’ll earn points whenever you make search queries! It’s run by Yahoo, so don’t worry about it being “inferior.” Your searches rack up, so this is one of the best “I don’t have to think about it” methods on this platform.

14. Get Cash Back for All the Uber and Lyft Rides You’re Already Taking

Cost
Free
Cashout Minimum
None
Welcome Bonus
$5 Off First 3 Rides
Pros
  • Earn cash back on your Uber or Lyft rides when you connect the accounts via Freebird
  • Earn extra points when you request a ride from a bar or restaurant to encourage safe rides after drinking
  • Cash out whenever you want (no minimum)
  • Specific locations give bonus points
Cons
  • Need to open Freebird app first to request an Uber/Lyft ride (extra step)

 

What it’s known for: Freebird lets your request your next Uber or Lyft to the bar, restaurant, movies, shopping, airport, (basically anywhere!) to get cash back and points for your ride.

Just connect your rideshare accounts into Freebird and the next time you need a ride, open Freebird first to start getting cash back.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: While Freebird lets you earn points on everywhere you need to go, there are specific locations that give bonus cash back. Keep an eye in the app to earn even more.

Also, to encourage getting you home safely after drinking, they give extra points for those that hail a ride from a restaurant or bar at night.

BONUS: For our readers only, use promo code SMARTWALLET to get $5 off the first 3 rides ($15 value!)

15. Don’t Want Strangers in Your Home? Host Experiences Instead

Cost
Free to List
Service Fees
20%
Welcome Bonus
$5 Off First 3 Rides
Pros
  • Flexible side gig to earn extra money
  • Guests are vetted on the Airbnb platform
  • Hosts can host both their Home and an Experience to earn extra income
  • Great for meeting new people while sharing something you love to do
Cons
  • The fee for Experience hosting is 20%

 

What it’s known for: AirBnB is the vacation home/rental platform for both travelers and homeowners. I use it often for my trips because staying in a local home is much more affordable than a hotel.

Homeowners and renters can rent out extra space in their home to make money as well.

Other surprising features we’re missing out on: If you’re wary of strangers in your home, or you just don’t have the extra space, you can still make money doing what you enjoy by becoming an Experience Host.

Experiences are activities created and led by locals who are passionate about their hobbies, skills, or expertise! Know all the best spots in the city to take unique pictures? Have a large kitchen to host a small cooking class to make unique dishes? It’s like starting your own mini-business where you can host on your own time and sharing what you love with others.

*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.

*Fluent is a paid Affiliate/ partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

Some of the sponsored links that appear on this page are from companies that offer investment advisory services. They compensate us; for details on our compensation arrangements, please click here.

Top Ranked Apps