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An Introduction to Mobile Banking on an iPhone or iPad

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Jason R. Rich takes a look at the types of apps that anyone can use to handle a wide range of mobile banking tasks, including managing bank and credit card accounts.
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For people constantly on the go, getting to a bank in order make deposits, withdraw or transfer money, or check account balances is often a hassle, as is monitoring credit card usage, paying bills, and writing checks. Thanks to a variety of different but related iPhone and iPad apps, it’s become very easy to securely handle a wide range of mobile banking tasks from anywhere a cellular 3G/4G/LTE or Wi-Fi Internet connection is available.

What’s important to understand, however, is that there are different types of mobile banking-related apps, and having to use two or even three separate apps to handle all of your needs is not uncommon.

Based on where you do your banking, what tasks you want to accomplish, which financial institutions have issued you your credit cards, and how you have your money invested, the following is information about six types of mobile banking apps you should consider using. All are available, typically for free, from the App Store.

Proprietary Bank Apps

Virtually every major bank and credit union, from Bank of America to Wells Fargo, now offers its own proprietary app that allows you to manage your checking and/or savings accounts with that bank, as well as any debit or credit cards issued by that financial institution.

Within the past year or so, what these bank-specific apps are capable of has expanded rather dramatically, as have the measures used to keep all of your mobile banking transactions secure. Some of the popular tasks you’ll be able to handle directly from your Internet-enabled smartphone or tablet using one of these bank-specific apps include:

  • Check your account balances and recent activity. These apps can typically access real-time account information, allowing you to monitor account activity as it happens, so you can see pending charges or deposits, for example.
  • Transfer funds. When you have linked accounts with the same bank, you can transfer funds between your checking and savings accounts, for example, with a few taps on your mobile device’s screen.
  • Pay bills online. This feature works best for paying recurring monthly bills, such as your phone, utility, mortgage/rent, and/or car payment bills. Once you set up each payee once, that information gets stored within the app. Then, when a bill becomes due, you simply need to enter the amount to pay. Your bank will automatically remove the funds from your account and pay your bill, without you having to manually write a check or mail in your payment. This is typically a free service offered by your bank that can be handled directly from a mobile device.
  • Make mobile deposits. This is perhaps the most convenient feature offered. Using the rear-facing camera that’s built into your mobile device as a scanner, you can photograph checks that you wish to deposit, and then make the deposit directly from your iPhone or iPad, without having to visit an ATM or bank branch. Keep in mind, some banks put restrictions on this feature, such as a maximum daily deposit amount. If you use this feature, be sure to keep the paper-based check you deposit for at least 14 days after making the mobile deposit.
  • Make Contact with Your Bank - Using the Location Services (GPS) capabilities built into your mobile device, these apps can determine where you are, and then help you find the closest branch or ATM to your current location. If you’re using an iPhone, you can also initiate a call to the bank’s customer service department.
  • Manage Bank-Specific Credit Card Accounts - If the bank where you have your checking or savings account has also issued you a credit card (as opposed to a debit card that’s linked to your account), the credit card can also typically be managed from the bank’s proprietary app. In some cases, however, a separate app from the financial institution is needed.

To determine if your specific bank offers a proprietary app, visit the App Store, and within the Search field, enter the name of your bank. When using the app, it’s okay to have your mobile device store your account username, but be sure to keep your account-related password a secret, and do not store it elsewhere within your mobile device, unless you’re using a secure password database app, such as Dashlane Password Manager or eWallet.

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