Based in New York City (and formed in Sweden), Qapital is trying to use mobile technology to make saving money effortless by depositing small amounts of purchases and daily activities toward savings. The idea behind the concept is that people often struggle to save because their daily habits whittle away the money they would other save. Qapital aims to strike just the right balance with its goal-focused approach that lets you “save for the things you want, just by doing the things you do.”
Even though Qapital is relatively new to the personal finance app marketplace, it’s quickly become a popular and low-effort way to save money. So, I thought I’d give the app a try to see if it really can make saving money simple. Here’s what you can expect from this clever microsavings app.
What is Qapital?
Qapital is a free mobile banking application that helps customers save money by setting goals and applying rules to automate savings. When the rules are triggered, the app will automatically send money from your checking account to your Qapital savings account.
Who is Qapital for?
There are several other banking apps that offer similar services, but Qapital’s unique, rules-based, gamified approach to saving money introduces a level of excitement that other competitors in this space can’t quite match. Qapital’s free service and ease of use make the app a good fit for anyone who:
- Is at least 18 years old
- Has a checking account
- Maintains an account balance of more than $100 at all times
- Has a strong desire to set money aside
- Is interested in a customizable, but low-maintenance way to manage savings
- Likes free money just for opening an account
How does Qapital Work?
Qapital’s app basically functions like an extension of your bank account, but with a fun twist. The app allows you to select a goal for how much money you want to save. Then you can setup rules that will initiate transfers from your connected bank account into your Qapital account. You can create rules that are based on certain spending habits, daily activities, or thousands of other possibilities.
Your savings are deposited into an FDIC-insured account at Wells Fargo. Although your savings triggers might occur constantly, Qapital only initiates transfers from your linked checking account to your Qapital account up to four times per week. Fortunately, your Qapital account balance is continuously updated in the app so you’ll know how much you’ve saved even if the funds haven’t been deposited yet.
You can withdraw funds straight from the app or transfer money from your Qapital account to the linked bank account. Withdrawals usually take two business days.
Qapital also provides a free version of overdraft protection which pauses any transfers that will cause your checking account balance to drop below $100. The transfer will be placed on hold until the balance in your linked checking account is sufficient to cover the transfer and still leave at least $100 in your account. This feature can help you avoid incurring overdraft charges on your linked checking account, but it may also interfere with the savings you would otherwise generate through the app.
Is Qapital Really Free?
Yes, the app is completely free! There are no setup fees, monthly or annual fees, and no minimum balance requirements.
How Does Qapital Make Money?
Since the Qapital app is free, some people wonder if there are any hidden costs.
There are no fees for using Qapital. Qapital makes money the way traditional banks do – by accruing interest on the savings in your account. Keep in mind, however, that your account won’t earn interest like a traditional savings account.
Although Qapital itself isn’t a bank, the funds in your Qapital Account are held at Wells Fargo and are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.
Qapital also generates revenue through its Qapital Visa Card program, which allows Qapital to collect a small percentage of the interchange fees that Visa charges vendors each time a Qapital Visa Card is swiped.
Getting Started with Qapital
To open a Qapital account, you must be at least 18 years old. You will also need a checking account from a US-based bank or credit union. Funding sources must have both a routing and account number, which means you can’t use credit cards or prepaid cards to fund your account. You also can’t use a savings account because Qapital makes at least 8 transactions per month which exceeds limits for most savings accounts.
Opening a Qapital account is a simple three-step process:
- Download the app to your smartphone.
- Create a profile and link your checking account.
- Create a goal and pick which rules you want to apply.
Start by setting a goal. You can choose one of Qapital’s pre-selected options, or you can create a goal of your own. You can even choose a corresponding picture to serve as a reminder of the goal you are saving up for.
Next, set a dollar amount you need to achieve your goal.
The final step – and this part might be the most fun – is to decide which rule or rules you want to trigger automatic transfers to your Qapital account.
As you can see, I decided to start small by setting a $10 goal for my next burrito (with extra guacamole)! I also received my $5 sign-up bonus when I linked my checking account and transferred a couple bucks into my Qapital account. Super easy!
Rules and Goals
There is virtually no limit to the customized rules you can create with the Qapital app. That type of freedom and creativity definitely makes the money saving process far more interactive, entertaining and enjoyable than simply setting aside cash every time you get your paycheck.
Here are the rules you can use to help you meet your savings goals:
Save money by rounding up your everyday purchases to the nearest $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5 and sending the extra money straight to your Qapital account. This is the most popular savings rule among Qapital users. According to Qapital, the average user saves $44 per month by following this rule.
Set a limit for how much you can spend at a particular place each month. If you spend less than your target budget amount, Qapital will send the remaining balance to your account.
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. For me, it’s burritos. Let’s say I set this rule because I’ve been overindulging in burritos from my favorite burrito spot. Each time I give in to temptation, Qapital will automatically transfer a fixed amount to my Qapital account each time.
Set and Forget
This rule allows you to transfer a fixed dollar amount toward your goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.
Apple Health Rules
Set customizable fitness targets and reward yourself each time you achieve your fitness goal. For example, save $5 every time you reach your 10,000-step goal. (This option is not available on the Android app).
Automatically transfer a set percentage of your income to cover taxes, every time you get paid for a freelance job.
52 Week Challenge
Start small and work your way up by saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, and so on for 52 weeks. Or start big and work backwards ($52 for the first week, $51 for the second week, etc.). At the end of the year you’ll have an extra $1,378 saved up!
IFTTT (aka Whatever You Can Think Of)
FTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” With IFTTT, you can turn practically any activity into a savings trigger. Social media usage, weather conditions, the score from last night’s game – you can create a rule out of just about anything you can think of.
As you can see, you can choose rules for a variety of reasons. You can create rules to reward yourself, to break bad habits, or just for the sake of being creative. Once you’ve set up your rules, you can sit back and let Qapital do the rest of the work.
Qapital is designed specifically for your mobile device. You cannot access the app using a desktop web browser.
Free to use
No minimum deposit or account balance
Unique, simple, and fun way to save
Low-effort way to save money
No interest on savings
Mobile access only
No phone customer service
Qapital definitely checks the box when it comes to fun ways to save money. The app makes it easier and more fun for people to build up their savings without having to go out of their way to create a budget or change their lifestyle.
On top of that, the app costs nothing to use.
Qapital’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t let you earn money from interest. You’ll have to look elsewhere – maybe Acorns or Stash – if you are looking to reinvest your savings.
Of course, most most savings accounts today are paying minimal interest so you aren’t missing out on much by giving Qapital a try. In any event, we wouldn’t recommend using Qapital for longer-term savings goals.