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Since 2014, MagnifyMoney has rated the apps of the largest American banks and credit unions. Years later, banking apps are as ubiquitous as smartphones themselves. According to one 2018 survey, smartphone users only check the weather and social media more than their banking apps. And it’s not limited to users checking their balances: Two-thirds of all banking customers using a mobile banking app made at least one mobile payment last year, according to a Federal Reserve survey.
So when consumers’ money is on the line, which banking apps do they rate the highest?
- Overall, apps have significantly improved. Smartphone users on the Apple App Store and Google Play rate banking apps an average of 3.9 stars (out of 5.0), up from the average of 3.7 stars in MagnifyMoney’s 2017 ratings.
- Best Overall App: For the second consecutive year, Discover had a score of 4.8.
- Best App Among the 10 Largest Banks: BB&T, which had a combined MagnifyMoney rating of 3.0 last year, now has a rating of 4.8.
- Worst App Among the 10 Largest Banks: SunTrust earned a 4.2 score this year. Although it’s above average overall, it’s a low score among the top 10 largest banks.
- Best App Among the Largest Credit Unions: Eastman Credit Union topped the rankings with a score of 4.8, well above the average of 3.9 for all credit union apps reviewed.
- Worst App Among the Largest Credit Unions: Golden 1 Credit Union, although its rating of 3.3 remained unchanged from 2017, dropped to the bottom of the rankings this year.
- Best Online Direct Bank App: Discover scored 4.8, which is unchanged from 2017.
- Worst Online Direct Bank App: TIAA Bank, formerly EverBank, with a score of 2.3, had the lowest overall rating among all institutions.
- Most Improved Traditional Bank: BB&T rose from 3.0 to 4.8, an improvement of 56% year over year.
- Most Improved Credit Union: Suncoast Credit Union’s rating of 4.5 was a 26% increase over last year’s score of 3.5.
- Most Improved Online Direct Bank: Ally Bank saw a 17% increase from 2017, rising from 3.4 to 3.9. The bank also made MagnifyMoney’s list for the top online savings accounts.
- Overall Most Improved App: BB&T leaped from 3.0 to 4.8.
- Overall Most Deteriorated App: TIAA Bank dropped 12%, from 2.6 to 2.3 year over year.
- Most improved category: As a group, traditional banks saw the largest improvement (8% on average), and only two institutions received a rating below 4.5.
Overall best and worst banking apps
Discover is the No. 1 app on MagnifyMoney’s rankings
Discover held its place at the top of the rankings for the second consecutive year. Users of this app not only have access to the customary features that bank app users have come to count on but also several unexpected features.
Within seconds, Discover customers can:
- Freeze their account
- Report a card lost or stolen
- Live chat with a Discover representative
- See a snapshot of their account without logging in to the app
IPad users also have access to Discover’s Spend Analyzer, a tool that sorts purchases into categories for easy tracking and analyzing, perhaps one of the reasons why this app ranked slightly higher with iOS users — 4.8 versus 4.6 with Android users.
To learn more about Discover Bank, read MagnifyMoney’s comprehensive review of its banking products.
How the largest banks rank
Big banks are prioritizing the mobile experience
The ratings of all the big banks improved, a sign that mobile apps are no longer a back-burner item for large banks. That seemed to be the case in previous years.
In 2017, the lowest rating among the top 10 largest banks was 3.0. This year, the lowest is 4.2 — a significant improvement. Furthermore, over half of the top 10 largest banks had scores that improved more than 10% year over year. BB&T, the most improved bank overall, increased 56%.
Traditional banks as a whole saw the most improvement when compared to credit unions and online direct banks — 8% on average, versus 5% and -1% respectively.
10 most improved and deteriorated apps
How credit unions rank
Credit unions are no longer king of banking apps
Interestingly, bank apps now have as good of a user experience as credit unions. Previously, our findings have shown that the user experience of credit union apps was better than those of banks (in general, consumers like credit unions more than banks).
Perhaps this is indicative of banks finally not taking customers (as much) for granted and recognizing the need to stay competitive with their user experience. However, that doesn’t mean credit unions aren’t able to offer convenient banking options.
How online direct banks rank
Online banks may soon have catching up to do
While there was some improvement in the ratings of the largest online direct banks, many of the top 12 ranked either saw minimal changes or a decrease in ranking. And the category as a whole remained flat year over year, whereas both traditional banks and credit unions saw an improvement in their overall ratings.
If rankings continue to move in the current direction — online banks remaining steady and credit unions and traditional banks improving — online institutions may need to focus on bringing new and innovative features to their user experience. Fair to say, however, that online banks continue to offer some of the top savings accounts and other banking options.
App ratings from Google Play (Android platform) and the App Store (Apple iOS platform) were recorded in October 2018, and the overall MagnifyMoney score combines the user ratings of each. Overall ratings are a weighted average 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 June 2018 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data, were examined. Those without meaningful consumer checking product offerings were excluded. The 50 largest credit unions by assets, according to the Credit Union National Association in September 2018, were examined. A separate category ranks the 12 largest online direct banks, as defined by the number of app ratings.