Save Up for Big Purchases
Throwing down a card for something you think you need ASAP–like a new guest room mattress before the in-laws visit–can seem like a good idea…until the bill comes. When you’re itching to a spendy item, Accrue holds you accountable. Choose your splurge from one of its partner brands (Casper, Smile Direct Club, fine jewelry companies, and more) and make a savings plan. Get cash rewards (like $120 off a mattress) as you hit your goals.
Why it’s a winner: Accrue rewards you for being patient. “Linking the act of saving with its purpose–what you’re saving for–is a powerful motivator for those who struggle with debt,” says judge Kiersten Saunders. “I’m also impressed with Accrue’s wide roster of retail partners.”
Debit Card Rewards
American Express Rewards Checking
AmEx is known for its credit card perks, including cash back on essentials, like groceries, and hotel and travel points. This online checking account gives you similar rewards for a debit card. Plus, points get pooled with those from your credit card, and you can earn 0.5 percent interest on your balance. That’s better than what most national banks offer.
Why it’s a winner: You can grow your money and get better benefits while also streamlining yoru banking. “This is a no-brainer for existing AmEx customers,” says judge Grant Sabatier. “And it’s also attractive to new users looking for a higher-than-average return.”
Build “Set It and Forget It” Savings
Cost: $5 Per Month
You know those coin sorters that separate quarters, dimes, and pennies when you pour in a bag of change? Digit is like that for your paycheck. Every time money comes in, the app divides it into bills, savings, and investing account, and a spending account, keeping you from absentmindedly using cash you’ll need for, say, your student loan payment at the end of the month. And you can pay bills straight from your account.
Why it’s a winner: Once you set up your monthly payments and savings goals (anything from retirement to a new laptop). Digit does the math. Automating saving “let’s people who traditionally struggle with budgeting feel like they have everything under control, while still allowing them to freely use the spend category guilt-free,” says Judge Erin Skye Kelly
Access Traditional Banking if You’ve Been Shut Out
Cost: $5 Per Month
Immigrants and refugees deserve safe banking, regardless of their citizenship status, and Majority offers banking without requiring a Social Security Number. All you need is a government-issued ID (from any country) and proof of U.S. residence to set up an account virtually. The company provides financial advising in more than 10 languages. And along with a checking account and debit card, customers get no-fee money transfers and unlimited, discounted phone calls to more than 20 countries. “As an immigrant 20 years ago, I had trouble opening my first bank account. I remember how miserable I felt when the bank said they couldn’t help me. Good job, Majority,” says judge Tatiana Tsoir.
Why it’s a winner: By removing hurdles, Majority makes banking–and thus saving and the ability to build credit–accessible to a huge underserved population. “Majority fills a need that immigrants and refugees can immediately benefit from. I love this,” says Judge Marsha Barnes.
Share Expenses Simply
WellPaid saves you from hassling roommates, friends, or family to ship in for expenses. Link your bank accounts on the app, and when someone pays a bill, WellPaid triggers everyone else to send either a portion (a quarter of the electric bill, for example) or a fixed amount (like $40 for wif-Fi).
Why it’s a winner: WellPaid is great for roommates or partners who don’t want to mingle bank accounts, and for exes who share childcare expenses. “Sending money back and forth on Venmo becomes a clutter. Linking accounts without needing a joint account makes splitting simpler,” Tsoir says.
Real Simple Staffer Says: “I live with my boyfriend, and we’ve been playing a constant game of tag on Venmo. After we linked our accounts with WellPaid, life got a little easier. No more tracking receipts, pulling up bank statements, and doing the math. Now the only trouble is deciding who pays the extra penny on rent.”–Teddy Willson, assistant editor