Technology is not just for geeks. It's for anyone who wants to make life easier, that includes banking and managing money. Thanks to a raft of new banking and savings apps and services launching in recent months, there are plenty of ways to help make the most of your money.
People are becoming more aware of the need to budget and using certain websites and apps helps us to do so.
Current account customers are increasingly using their mobiles to do their banking, according to a report by the British Bankers' Association. It revealed the startling reliance we now have on technology to manage our money.
Since they emerged four years ago, banking apps allowing us to check our balance, make payments and perform a range of other functions on the go have been downloaded nearly 23 million times. Halifax says 65% of online banking is done on mobile phones and HSBC recorded that just 2% of payments and transfers are now done in branch.
While apps are now eclipsing internet banking for a growing number of customers, there's far more available than simply checking your balance and paying bills. It's possible to do all kinds of money management in the palm of your hand.
Here, we look at the newest on the block and the most innovative existing services.
CURRENT ACCOUNT SWITCHING
HALIFAX SNAP TO SWITCH SERVICE
The launch of the Current Account Switching Service (CASS) in September 2013 – which aims to make switching current accounts simple, reliable and hassle-free – has prompted many customers to ditch their bank and switch to one they think can do a better job.
Halifax has been top for switching in three out of four quarters to September 2014. In total, more than 250,000 customers switched to Halifax in the first 12 months of the CASS.
Current account customers looking to switch to banking with Halifax can now speed up the process with its brand new Snap to Switch service. During the of customers are completing their account switch using a mobile or tablet, and the launch of this tool will make the switching process simpler, more reliable and hassle-free."
Halifax is currently offering rewards to switchers, who can currently earn more than £150 in rewards in the first year, including £100 for those switching (via the CASS) and closing their old account held elsewhere, plus 12 monthly reward payments of £5 when customers pay in £750, pay out two direct debits and stay in credit each month. Of course, Halifax accounts aren't right for everyone, so check the terms and charges before switching.
RATE TRACKER SERVICE ON SAVINGSCHAMPION.CO.UK
Keeping up with savings rates has been the focus of a recent Financial Conduct Authority probe. It is concerned that banks and building societies are making it too difficult for savers to keep track of rate changes. It has made proposals to make the savings market clearer for consumers. But this will take some time to take effect – most changes are not expected until next year.
In the meantime, this free service from Savingschampion.co.uk can help make sure you're getting the best return on your cash savings. It simply requires you to select the savings account you hold from the drop-down list. It will inform you if you're getting a good deal or if you could do better by switching. You can then sign up to its alert service to inform you of any changes to your interest rate.
MARMALADE QUICKQUOTE Android and iOS (free)
Marmalade, the specialist insurer for young drivers, has launched QuickQuote, a free app that enables customers to find out the guide price of insurance for a car they see. The user simply scans a photo of the registration plate of the car they're interested in and the app works out the insurance costs, giving a guide price straightaway. If the customer likes the look of the costs, they're taken straight through to the website to get a full quote from Marmalade.
TRAVELEX MONEY Android and iOS (free)
A third of holidaymakers go over budget when travelling abroad, according to new research by Travelex. Some 38% of holidaymakers admitted to running out of currency while travelling and 39% have had to whip out a bank card to cover unexpected costs.
Budgeting could be made much easier using the Travelex Money App, which lets travellers see what other Brtish holidaymakers typically spend on trips to their planned destination so they can then budget accordingly.
You can even define your approach to spending – so, for example, if you like to indulge, you'll see the average spend for people who do the same.
Once travellers have settled on their budget, they can then order the money through the app and have it delivered to the location of their choice – whether that's their home or a Travelex store, including Heathrow and Manchester airports.
Sean Cornwell, chief digital officer at Travelex, said: "The Travelex Money App should help travellers identify how much they're likely to need before they go – meaning no more emergency cash withdrawals or whipping out the credit card to cover the final day."
KITTI - Android and iOS (free)
Groups of friends and family members often struggle when it comes to getting cash off everyone for a kitty. Santander's new app promises to make collecting money from friends, family and colleagues easier by allowing cash to be paid into a digital kitty and accessed via one shared prepaid card.
Even though it's from Santander, anyone can use it – it's not just for customers. You just need to be over 18 and own an Android or Apple smartphone and a debit card. One owner registers the ‘kitty', who is then sent a contactless prepaid MasterCard. That owner can invite members to join the kitty – a great way to organise a group trip or holiday, or just a meal out.
The owner and friends pay into KiTTi by entering their debit card details, which they need to do only once, through the app's secure payment process. A minimum of £10 can be deposited at a time but each payment incurs a 35p administration charge so it's more cost effective to pay fewer, larger sums to avoid paying the charge too often.
MONEY DASHBOARD - Android and iOS (free)
Most people have several current and savings accounts across many different institutions.
This app allows you to view the balances on all of your current, credit and savings account in one place and is compatible with all UK bank and credit card companies.
You will need to enter your bank login details once in order for the software to read your bank statements. The application is read- only, so no payments, withdrawals or transfers can ever be made from any of your accounts.
For peace of mind, it uses the same security practices as the world's leading banks.
DEBT MANAGER - iOS (79p)
The total amount of non-mortgage debt equated to nearly £9,000 per household last year, surpassing in cash terms its pre-financial crisis peak, according to a report by PwC. The average UK household will owe close to £10,000 in debts such as personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts by the end of 2016, it claimed.
This app by MH Riley Ltd helps you control how you pay off your debt. By entering the values of your debt and updating it as you pay off balances, you can watch as the debt reduces and as your interest charges reduce.
HL LIVE - Android and iOS (free)
Fund shop Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) is a hugely popular Isa and self-invested personal pension platform. It operates the HL Live smartphone app and the HL Live iPad app. Both allow investors to deal funds and shares live, with free access to prices, indices, news and research.
If more than one person in your household has money withHL– perhaps your partner, plus Isas for the kids – you can view your whole family's accounts via the app. For fun, there is a watchlist function that allows you to build a virtual portfolio of funds and shares you are interested in investing in. The app gives free live share prices, too. HL has recorded that trading via mobile is up 123%.
FIDELITY - iOS (free)
Armchair investors who like to monitor their pension and Isa savings can find everything they need on the Fidelity app. Even though it's from investment house Fidelity, it allows investors to monitor their portfolio whether it's a Fidelity Isa or one placed with another provider.
Available for iPads, the app allows you to set investment goals and monitor performance of Isas. It also shows you the annual cost of your chosen portfolio and produces the level of risk your existing portfolio represents.