Saving money is easy in theory, but difficult in practice.
When you’re trying to decide between making sound financial decisions and instant gratification, all too often instant gratification wins out.
There’s an app for that, though. Many FinTech companies have started issuing their own debit cards, many of them with painless, automatic savings features which can help you reach your money goals without thinking about it.
And as we’ve said before, automation gives you financial superpowers.
Cash back credit cards and credit cards with points get all the attention, but debit cards are often a better choice for many people. This is especially true for people who want to avoid credit because they’re super-focused on financial goals like real estate or paying off all their debt.
So without further ado, here are five debit cards that automate savings, plus two debit cards that give cash back.
Chime Bank Account
Chime is a full-blown checking account which you can access via Chime’s app. You will be issued a debit card, allowing you to use your account just as you would with any other traditional bank.
Chime’s Automatic Savings feature allows you to round up every purchase you make with your debit card to the nearest dollar, automatically transferring the difference into your savings account. It’s savings you don’t have to think about, and can build up more quickly than you may expect.
This account comes with no monthly maintenance fee. But you also won’t be earning much in the way of interest. The savings account where your round up money will be stashed pays only 0.01% APR.
Simple Debit Card
Much like Chime, Simple is an online checking account linked to a debit card and app. Simple helps keep your spending and savings on track overall, but it also allows you to automate your savings. You’ll have the opportunity to do so when you set up your “Goals”, which could be anything from the money you’ll need for bills next month to the money you’ll need for that upcoming, white-sand-beach vacation. Because the savings can be automated, you won’t have to think twice about hitting those savings goals.
Simple also charges no monthly maintenance fees, but also only pays 0.01% APR. This is going to be a common theme with these accounts.
Acorns Debit Card
Acorns Spend is a debit card which pairs with Acorns’ other two products: Acorns Core and Acorns Later. Purchases from your Acorn Spend account will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the difference going directly to your Acorns Core account, which is a taxable investment account. You can set up regular automatic deposits into your tax-advantaged Acorns Later retirement account.
Acorns Spend, unlike the other accounts we have discussed thus far, does have a monthly fee of $3. It is a relatively new product, and at the moment you can only reserve a card in anticipation of when they accept the next wave of applicants.
Qapital is a full-service bank with an online account, debit card and app. You will be able to set up automatic transfers from your checking account. On top of this, Qapital tries to encourage you to save even more through prompts rooted in behavioral psychology.
The money you save will be put into a Qapital Goals account, which operates like a savings account. You will can also open a Qapital Invest account, which helps you save for long-term goals by investing in an ETF portfolio.
The Qapital card comes with no fees, though you do have to pay a membership fee of $3-$12/month depending on how many insights and reports you’d like on your financial habits.
Stash Debit Card
Stash is an app similar to Acorns, though you can identify the stock you’d like to invest in by specialized category. They, too, have opened a tax-advantaged retirement account to the public, and are on the verge of introducing a new debit card.
This debit card is said to have far fewer fees than major banks, which would make it equivalent with most of the other cards on our list. It will also make automatic transfers to saving or your investing accounts possible. There will also be a cashback component where if you shop at one of over 700 stores with Stash, you’ll get 10% of your purchase back in your investment account.
Hard pros and cons will have to wait until after the card launches, but it’s definitely one to keep your eye on.
Cash Back Rewards Debit Cards
Cashback rewards debit cards are an interesting idea. There aren’t many of them, but most of them don’t pay interest because they’re offering rewards. If you have a checking account you want to maintain a decent balance in because you want that financial cushion for your family, you’re likely going to want an account that pays interest. If you’re putting money into your college student’s account every month and they spend every last penny, it makes more sense to pursue an account that offers rewards.
Discover Cashback Debit
Discover Cashback Debit offers 1% cashback for all of your purchases up to $3,000. There are no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements. While most checking accounts offer you interest based on how much you keep in your account, Discover flips it and rewards you for the most that goes out.
If we can suspend belief for a minute and pretend that interest rates and cashback rewards are equal and interchangeable, the rates Discover is offering are competitive. While there is a slight mathematical difference, your use of this account should be decided on your fiscal philosophy: do you want to be rewarded for keeping more money in your account, or do you want to earn rewards based on money you’d ‘probably spend anyways?’
Axos Bank Cashback Checking
The same philosophical question should be asked as we look at Axos Bank’s Rewards Checking. This account also offers 1.00% cashback rewards, but these rewards are only offered on purchases that require a signature. You also have to maintain a $1,500 balance in order to earn the cashback.
This account has no monthly maintenance fees and offers the unique perk of refunding any fees you are charged for using an outside ATM.