Qapital Review: It’s No Longer Free, So Is It Still Worth It?Saving Money
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- Qapital's most basic function is to automate your savings by rounding up your purchases made in a linked account to the nearest dollar.
- Qapital goes beyond basic roundups by allowing you to set specific savings rules that will help you reach your goals faster. For example, you can set a "Guilty Pleasure" rule telling Qapital to automatically transfer a predefined amount into your savings every time you, say, indulge in take-out Chinese food.
- Recently, Qapital has add new features including an investing function, a debit card, and a budgeting tool. We describe all of these in our review below.
Which would be easier to save: $800 per year or $2.19 per day? That’s a trick question. Both get you to the same place come December. However, spreading your savings out tends to be easier. This is the premise behind an app called Qapital.
By taking a dime here and a quarter there, Qapital has found a way to help people save more each and every month. Often, Qapital does this without its users even realizing it. By allowing you to automatically set aside money on your own terms — in the least painful way possible — Qapital has made saving easy and accessible for anyone, no matter their financial situation.
So what exactly does Qapital do? And how is it so different from many of the financial tools we already have at our fingertips? In this Qapital review, let’s talk a bit about this fun (and free) app. We’ll see whether it can help you reach your money goals.
What Is Qapital?
Launched in 2012, Qapital is an app for iOs and Android devices. It’s designed to integrate with users’ bank accounts to help them painlessly save money each and every day, in small amounts that aren’t even noticeable to most.
By spreading savings out over a longer period of time — and automating the process — users can not only set and meet their goals, but do so without even realizing they are.
In the last year, Qapital has seriously expanded the features offered to users. The app is more than just a savings automator now. It also offers a range of personalized products, features, and resources designed to help you improve your overall financial situation.
Additionally, the app now offers a Visa® debit card you can link to your existing checking account. This allows you to divert funds into your Qapital savings account even easier than before.
How It Works
Let’s say you bought yourself a $4.13 latte this morning on the way to work, before grabbing a $1.50 paper for the train. At lunch you grabbed a $6.71 deli sub. And after work, you stopped to fill up your car for $33.20.
Before Qapital, this would have simply been a day when you spent $45.54. However, after linking Qapital to your existing bank account, this could instead be a day when you put $2.46 into savings without even realizing it.
Repeated daily for a year — whether by buying groceries, paying a bill, or enjoying a movie with your spouse — this would equate to nearly $900 in savings! All without lifting a finger or initiating a single transfer.
How does it work?
Qapital operates on a “round up” basis. First, you link your bank account (likely, an existing checking account that you use for daily spending). Then Qapital will take your purchases and round them up according to your predetermined rules.
For many, this looks like the example above. Your $4.13 latte becomes a $5 purchase (with 87 cents going into savings), the $1.50 paper becomes $2 (diverting 50 cents), and so forth.
This pocket change isn’t likely to be enough that you’ll even realize it’s gone. After all, how many of us would ever feel the difference between a $6.71 sandwich and a $7 one?
Even still, those pennies and nickels and dimes add up over time. This can grow a substantial nest egg that you might not have otherwise saved. And Qapital will manage it all for you.
Here’s a look at a few of the features that make Qapital worth a serious look.
- Automated Saving: Qapital makes it easy to automatically save according to your preferences, every time you make a purchase. No need for manual transfers or painful portions of your paycheck.
- Qapital Invest: Now you can invest your savings through Qapital Invest, taking advantage of pre-built portfolios that match your plans (according to target date and risk tolerance). Plus, they come with no management fees (ever!).
- Qapital Visa® Debit Card: Link your Qapital Visa® to almost any bank account in the U.S. to make spending and saving even easier than ever.
- Spending Sweet Spot: This weekly budget tracker helps you balance your bigger future plans with today’s spending… and even a little fun money.
- Payday Divvy: Automatically set aside money for the “musts” (rent, utilities, etc.) every time you’re paid so you can easily determine what you have to play with each month.
- Joint Saving: “Team up with friends and family to reach your Goals even quicker.”
- Money Missions: Available to Master-level users. Money Missions are a fun way to boost your savings and trim expenses with challenge-based money moves.
With Qapital, you’re in charge of how — and how much — you automatically save each time you spend. This is done by setting some “rules” for how the app will run.
Here are a few rules to choose from:
- The Round-up Rule: Automatically rounds up your purchases to the next dollar. For example, a $2.31 purchase becomes $3 and puts $0.69 in your savings.
- The $2-$5 Round-up Rule: Automatically rounds up your purchases to the next dollar of your choice ($2-$5), boosting your savings even further. With the $2 rule, that same $2.31 purchase then becomes a $4 charge, putting $1.69 in savings. But it still probably isn’t enough that you’ll even feel the pinch.
- The Spend Less Rule: Do you always run up a hefty electric bill or overspend at the grocery store? Reward yourself for doing better with the Spend Less Rule. If you spend less than your average (or a set dollar amount) on a particular charge, Qapital will put the difference into savings for you.
- The Guilty Pleasure Rule: There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, as long as it doesn’t hurt your savings goals. With the Guilty Pleasure Rule, you can tell Qapital to also transfer a specific dollar amount into savings each time you hit happy hour or buy a pair of shoes.
- Reward Goals: We all have goals, whether it’s sleeping more, working out more, or knocking out certain tasks. Reward yourself (and your savings account) every time you meet one of these goals with a Qapital rule! First, you can link other apps to Qapital (such as Apple Health). This triggers the app to transfer funds into savings when you hit a steps target on your fitness tracker, visit the gym, or any number of other personal goals.
- The 52 Week Rule: Save every week — bumping the amount saved by a dollar more each week — and you’ll wind up with $1,378 by the end of the year! So in week one you’ll save $1, in week two you’ll save $2, and so on.
- Freelance: If you’re a freelancer, you know how hard it can be to save for quarterly taxes. With Qapital, you’ll set aside a specific percentage each time you’re paid over a certain amount, taking the pinch out of tax time.
- Payday: Save a percentage of your income each time you get a paycheck. It’s up to you what your pay threshold will be and what percentage to set aside.
- Set and Forget: Of course, you can always just set up a good ol’ fashioned auto-transfer, too. Choose specific days each week or month. Qapital will automatically move funds into your savings account.
Qapital makes it easy to not only set your goals, but also save toward them in the most automated, hands-off way possible.
So what are you saving toward? Is it an exciting trip somewhere? A big purchase or event that you need to fund, such as a wedding?
Maybe you want to simply pay off your debt and wipe the slate clean. Or perhaps, it’s something entirely different. Whatever your goals, Qapital can help you not only define them, but also meet them.
When setting up the app, Qapital will as you to create your goal or goals. Choose between prompts such as Do Something, Go Somewhere, Get Something, Pay Off Debts, Just Start Saving, and Something Else. You can also add to these goals at any time down the line.
The app will also ask you to name your goal and identify how much you need to save in order to reach it. You can also change your cover photo to further identify the goal and motivate you along the way.
Then, you’ll pick the rule that you want to use when working toward that goal. The Round Up Rule is the default, but you can choose between any of the rules mentioned above. You’ll then need to link your bank account (if you haven’t done so), and you’re ready to start saving!
Maybe you’ve met your savings goal and are ready to use the cash. Or perhaps you simply need a buffer for some unexpected expenses. Accessing your Qapital savings is easy and free.
Through the app, you’re able to quickly withdraw any portion of your savings directly back into your linked checking account with just a few clicks. However, keep in mind that transfers can take a few days to process and for the funds to be available. Any delay in posting will depend on your individual banking institution.
Investing With Qapital
It’s obvious that Qapital is a great tool to use if you’re looking to automate your savings process and better reach your goals. But what if you want to do more with that money?
Investing tools are available to the top two tiers of Qapital users (those with Complete or Master monthly plans). By unlocking Qapital Invest, you’ll have the option to invest your hard-earned savings and grow them for your long-term goals… like retirement.
Users will set Invest Goals based on the target amount they want to save and their time horizon, or when they plan to use that money.
There are five portfolios to choose from, comprised of 12 different asset classes. The one that suits you best will be determined by these future plans mentioned, as well as your individual risk tolerance. To assess your tolerance, Qapital will need to ask you just a handful of questions.
Qapital will then recommend a portfolio that’s most suited for your plans, allowing you to grow your money in the most effective way possible while also being “ready” when you need it most. (Many of you may recognize this strategy, since it sounds very similar to target date retirement funds.)
From there, you’ll just need to establish saving rules for your investment account and watch your portfolio grow.
How Much Does Qapital Cost?
There are three monthly levels to choose from, depending on the features you want most from Qapital and how you intend to save. These range in price from $3 a month all the way up to $12.
|Unlimited Personalized Savings Goals||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Transfer Funds Between Goals||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Design Automatic Savings Rules||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|FDIC-Insured Up to $250,000||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Qapital VISA® Debit Card||No||Yes||Yes|
|Pay Yourself First with Payday Divvy||No||Yes||Yes|
|Track Cash Flow with Spending Sweet Spot||No||Yes||Yes|
|Personalized Investment Portfolio Options||No||Yes||Yes|
|Money Missions Challenges||No||No||Yes|
According to Qapital, the savings seen by each membership level varies significantly. If you were to also enjoy these “average” savings, it would be well-worth the additional cost to opt for the Masters level.
Even still, the average Basic member still saves $1,500 annually just by using the app, after a mere $36 in fees over the year. That’s still not a bad return!
Qapital does offer a free trial for users who want to test the waters prior to committing. As of this writing, the trial was a full 30 days, and new users are welcome to cancel anytime.
After the 30 days trial has passed, users are billed the monthly fee for the membership level they chose at sign-up.
To sign up and start enjoying your free month, you don’t need to provide Qapital with a credit card number or anything. Just download the app, choose your membership level, and start setting goals.
Qapital takes steps to ensure that your personal and financial information is kept safe every step of the way.
Any communication between you and the app is protected by the highest SSL and TSL standards. Important information — such as your Social Security number and banking credentials — is never stored on their servers, and everything else is encrypted before transmission from the app.
Qapital uses a service called Plaid in order to link its app with your bank account of choice. You’ll be asked to create a PIN, which you’ll use each time you open the app, and you also have the option to add TouchID.
Lastly, Qapital will never share or sell your information to third parties.
There are plenty of reasons why Qapital might be the right app to help you kickstart your savings and quickly reach your goals. Of course, it’s not perfect for everyone.
This wouldn’t be an honest review if we didn’t cover a few of the things that might irk you about saving with Qapital. Here are a few that bugged us the most.
- No interest earned on savings. While savings account rates aren’t anything to write home about, you can earn a decent amount (around 2.00% APY, at the time of this writing) with the right online bank. With Qapital, however, your savings won’t be earning anything extra. Of course, you can use Qapital as a way to automatically save, then transfer that money into the high-yield savings account of your choosing. While this is an added step, it’s the only way that your funds will see a return outside of investing them in a well-performing portfolio.
- Qapital is mobile app only – there’s no web platform. These days, people do everything on their smartphones and tablets. That’s good news for Qapital. The company doesn’t offer a web platform, so logging in from your mobile device is your only account management option.
- There’s no way to reach customer service by phone. Qapital is a stellar mobile-only platform. While this can be a great thing, it’s also a downside if you ever want to reach a human to ask a question. Qapital doesn’t offer a direct customer service option, so if you need help, email is your only choice.
- The process can be a bit slow. Some users have complained that it can take as many as 10 days for Qapital to begin rounding up their purchases and saving money for them. Additionally, it can take a few days when transferring funds back and forth between your Qapital account and your checking account. While this isn’t likely to be a deal-breaker, there were enough grumblings about it online that it felt important to mention.
Now on to the good stuff — if you haven’t already been convinced by the information above, of course.
It’s easy and painless to start and doesn’t require much money.
Starting and funding a brand-new savings account can be daunting. And preparing to tackle a big financial goal — such as saving for a wedding, buying a new car, or paying off your debt — can seem almost impossible when you don’t have much wiggle room.
However, by choosing an app such as Qapital you can automate the process in a way that’s both manageable and stress-free. Odds are that you don’t even feel the pinch of the savings being set aside for you. Plus you don’t have to worry about doing any of the work manually.
The app works with almost any bank in the U.S.
Connecting Qapital to your checking account is hassle-free for most users. The linking process is done safely through a fintech processor (Plaid), and Qapital is able to link up to almost any bank in the United States.
There are endless IFTTT options.
No matter what your daily habits might be, you can turn them into savings with “If This, Then That (IFTTT)” rules. Want to send a quarter to savings every time you pin something new on Pinterest or publish a new tweet? You can do that. Want to send yourself a dollar each time you hit the gym? There’s an option for that, too.
Alternatives to Qapital
If you’re not sure whether Qapital is the right savings automation app for you, there are some great alternatives on the market that you can choose from. Today, let’s compare Qapital against three of them: Acorns, Chime, and Digit.
If you love the idea of an app automatically rounding up your purchases in order to grow your savings in a hands-off way, you’ll probably love Acorns. This platform works similarly to Qapital, in that it will bump your charges up to the next dollar, putting the difference in a designated savings account.
The difference? While Qapital is mostly for meeting savings goals, Acorns is focused on investing those squirreled-away funds.
Designed to learn your spending habits over time, Digit is another great app that will save automatically on your behalf. Rather than rounding up each individual purchase, Digit watches your spending habits to see what you can afford to save. The service calculates different savings amounts throughout the month based on when and how you spend your money.
Qapital vs. Digit vs. Acorns
|Savings Earn Interest|
|Specific Scheduled Savings|
|Set Multiple Goals|
As with any big journey, your road to savings begins with a single step. Whether you’re looking to pay off a mountain of debt, save for a big purchase (such as a home or car), or just want to tuck away enough for a safety net, the key is in saving as much as you can, when you can.
By automating your savings, you can take much of the stress and hassle out of the process. And by spreading your savings into small, hardly noticeable contributions, you’ll also take out much of the pinch. This is where Qapital really shines.
By utilizing the app’s easy round-up feature or IFTTT rules, you can take a “set it and forget it” approach to savings. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice little balance built up… and you didn’t have to initiate a single transfer.
If you want to learn more about Qapital, or try out a free 30-day trial of the app, you can visit the website here.
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Stephanie Colestock is a personal finance expert and writer who enjoys teaching people how to be financially independent and confident about their money choices, regardless of obstacles in their path (such as the crippling student loan debt she once held). Stephanie graduated from Baylor University, and is currently working toward her CFP certification. Her work can be seen on sites such as Forbes, Dough Roller, and Johnny Jet, among many others.