If I had it my way, I’d throw out my wallet and do everything digitally. My phone has gradually replaced or enhanced how I pay for things – I must use apps for at least half my high street shopping.
I’ve more than 100 apps on my phone that relate somehow to money. From Uber for cheaper taxi rides to Amex to manage my credit card, they either help me save, make or manage my money.
Obviously I can’t possibly use all of them, and I don’t. Some have been downloaded and forgotten about, others only relevant if I happen to eat at a certain restaurant.
But there are a handful in regular use. These are the ones where I’d miss out if I didn’t have the app. I’ve not included any here which come with a membership fee, or anything where you’re better off using your computer. I’d recommend you all add of these (or equivalent) to your phone or tablet.
Listen to me and my guest Jordon Cox talk about the apps we use and the ones we don’t on this episode of the Cash Chats podcast
Starling, along with Monzo, is one of the leading digital-only banks that can only be opened and accessed via an app on your phone.
The reason I’ve got it, and the reason it’s my top choice here, is that Starling is the best card for fee-free spending and cash withdrawals overseas. Even if you’re not planning on going away soon, get the app now and open an account so you’re all set for your next holiday.
I don’t use it as my main current account, though it has loads of great features to help with budgeting and tracking your spending so it’s worth considering using it on that basis too.
Yolt is an account aggregating app. This means you can see all your different current accounts and credit card accounts in one place. I largely use it for monitoring balances and transactions. It’s really useful to give a total balance too, so you can factor in any credit card payments due.
Connecting to most banks is very easy if you already have your bank’s app installed. You just select your bank, which in turn opens up your banking app for you to confirm access. You’ll need to give permission again every 90 days in most cases, but it doesn’t take long. In some cases (Amex and TSB for example) you’ll need to log-in, but that’s easy too.
Now I’ve got to confess that though this is in my top apps I’ve let my use slide as I keep forgetting to reverify my identity. But I’ve done it now (it was really easy) and it’s great to once more have access to all 14 of my current accounts in one place again.
Another app-only bit of financial technology. Curve is a digital wallet like the Apple Wallet or Google Wallet you’ll have on your phone, allowing you to add multiple debit and credit cards and choose which one you use. The difference here is you also get a physical MasterCard.
I mainly use this to switch between one of my personal accounts and my business bank account, reducing the number of cards In need to carry with me.
I HATE how many loyalty card I seem to have in my wallet, which is why Stocard is another of my top finds.
I’ve got my Clubcard, Nectar, Boots, Sparks and Superdrug cards (and many more) stored so I can quickly scan and earn points, every time I shop, not just when I remember to pack the card.
You just use your phone camera to take a photo of the card and it’s stored ready for use. If you also log into your loyalty card accounts you can see how many points you’ve earned.
This app gives me 2-4-1 cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday. To get it you need to buy an eligible insurance policy from Compare the Market – but there’s also a trick which means you get it for just £1.
This will last for 12 months – a massive money saver if you like going to the movies. You’ll also get access to Meerkat Meals, offering 2-4-1 at various restaurants.
This app works just like the website, allowing you to compare prices of food and drink at different supermarkets and see the average selling price.
But as an app it’s particularly good for checking if a special offer really is a special offer when you’re actually in the supermarket. I’ve used it in airport duty-free too, to check I can’t get it cheaper back home.
I actually even use the app instead of the desktop version at home as it’s the only format which will show you a graph of the price history – a great way to find out if it’s a product that’s always on offer or if you’re picking up a bargain.
My mobile deal is with Three, so hence why it’s in the list – but you absolutely should be downloading and using the app for whoever your pay for your minutes, texts and data. The big reason – it’ll show you just how much data you are actually using every month. This is key for two reasons.
First, it means you can keep an eye and make sure you don’t go over your allowance, which can be costly. Second, and even better, is it’ll show that you most likely only use a fraction of your allowance and you can use than information to get a much cheaper deal when your contract is up.
Another must use when I’m out shopping, especially in the sales, is Idealo.
It’s a price comparison app, and it helps you see if what you’re looking at really is a bargain price, and if it’s on sale elsewhere for less. I also use PriceSpy.
Ok, I don’t use this one as much as the others, but it’s an essential app I use every time I leave the country.
Unless you’re lucky enough to go on holiday somewhere which has an easy exchange rate, working out how much you’re spending can be a bit of a headache.
So I’ll always tap my spend into XE and get a quick conversion back to pounds. It won’t be exact, but it gives me a good sense of whether I’m spending too much, or if something is a good price to pay.