Usual motivations for saving money are an upcoming vacation, a new gadget, or the [insert item here] that you just added to cart.
Qapital, a personal finance app, aims to add gamification to that list.
By allowing you to set goals to save towards, team up with others who share similar goals, and yes, join actual challenges called Money Missions, Qapital offers a lot of new ways to get your finances in order.
If this sounds interesting, then read on — this article will tell you all you need to know about Qapital, the app that’s trying to put the fun in your funds.
What Is Qapital?
Qapital describes itself as “the only mobile banking app that lets you save smartly, spend happily, and invest comfortably.”
When it was initially released in Sweden in 2013, the app started as a personal budgeting tool, similar to Mint and YNAB
But by the time it launched in the United States in 2014, Qapital had redesigned and refocused itself as an automatic savings app.
There is no desktop version.
Aside from having a smartphone, you also need a US-based checking account with an authorized financial institution — not a prepaid card, credit card, or Paypal account. This is the bank account Qapital will use to deposit your savings.
And although free to download with a 30-day trial period, Qapital has started charging for their services.
They offer three tiered packages — Basic for $3 a month, Complete for $6 a month, and Master for $12 a month.
How Qapital Works
Qapital is a micro-savings app that automatically deposits small amounts of money into your savings as you spend.
This is done according to the “goals” and “rules” you set up when you create your account.
Goals are the things you are saving for, such as a trip to Portugal or starting a new business.
Rules, on the other hand, are the triggers that tell Qapital to transfer a certain amount of money to your savings.
Qapital suggests a few preset rules:
- The Round-up Rule: A rule that essentially rounds up your designated transactions and deposits the difference into your savings.
For instance, if your morning cup of coffee is $3.50, the purchase will go through as $4 and the difference of $0.50 will be sent to your savings.
- The Spend Less Rule: This challenges you to go below your usual amount on regular expenses, such as groceries or Friday night drinks.
Say you mark your usual bill at $100 for groceries.
Every time you go below that, the difference will go to your savings.
- The Set and Forget Rule: This simply allows the app to save a certain amount every week or month.
For example, you can create a rule to set aside $15 every Wednesday or $50 every 15th — by automating the amount saved, odds are you won’t even miss it.
Any number of custom rules can be created, with the corresponding savings sent to any one of the goals.
Users can, for instance, send all their Set and Forget savings to a summer trip, or use their Round-up money for a new pair of shoes.
There’s also the option to create Joint Goals, where any group of people can save for a goal together.
While all members of the Joint Goal can view each other’s progress, the amount can only be withdrawn by the individual who created the goal.
All goal savings are kept in a Qapital Goals account, which is held in one of Qapital’s partner banks and FDIC-insured for up to $250,000.
All these goals and rules function thanks to Qapital’s ingenious use of the IFTTT (If This Then That) web service.
IFTTT pairs apps and devices together so they can seamlessly perform more robust functions that they couldn’t do on their own.
Whether it’s every time a user reaches their Fitbit goals, posts a Facebook update, or even every time Donald Trump tweets — these can all be added as rules to trigger savings.
Qapital’s Plans and Features
Ever since Qapital began offering paid plans, its features have become much more comprehensive.
Basic plans primarily allow users to save by creating an unlimited number of personalized savings goals and fun rules, and easily transferring money between those goals.
Complete plans provide these savings, plus two more main features that allow for smarter spending and larger investments.
The smarter spending feature gives users a Payday Divvy option to instantly allocate any salary deposit toward different expenses, a Spending Sweet Spot option to create a personal budget to suit their saving needs, and a Qapital VISA debit card to better track spending.
The Qapital VISA debit card links to a Qapital Spending account, which is a checking account held with one of Qapital’s partner banks.
This account has no setup or overdraft fees.
Users are allowed an unlimited number of immediate transfers to and from their Qapital Goals account and can easily set up direct deposit to their own funding account (the account used to set up a Qapital account).
Qapital Invest enables users to further put their savings in long-term goals and a diversified stock portfolio, based on their individual timeline, goal amount, and risk tolerance.
Master plans provide all of the above with the additional abilities to access exclusive webinars, take a first look at new features, and join the app’s exclusive Money Missions.
Created in collaboration with Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist and professor at Duke University, Money Missions are fun challenges that help give insight into your spending habits.
Qapital’s first Money Missions are “Make Sunday your meal-prep day,” in an effort to cook and eat more consciously, and “Cancel a subscription and put the money toward a Goal,” which prompts users to audit their current subscriptions, keeping those that make them happy and unsubscribing from the ones they can live without.
Using Qapital to Save Money
The amount saved by those using Qapital is impressive — the company claims that users of their basic plan save an average of $1,500 per year, users of their complete plan save about $4,300 per year, and users of their master plan save $5,000 per user.
So even if Qapital does charge a monthly fee for its service, these savings are more than enough to make up for the cost (thousands more, in fact).
In addition, Qapital allows you to link to as many additional bank-issued credit cards as you want (which can then be linked to specific rules), set up automated transfers, and not face transfer or withdrawal fees.
But transfers do take 1-2 business days to clear into your Goals account, and four business days before you can transfer savings into your funding account.
Furthermore, it can take a while for new rules to start, as the app needs to ensure that all involved parties — banks, credit cards, and other apps — are looped into the system.
Aside from obvious savings, however, Qapital is fun.
It allows you to set your own goals, offers an assortment of interesting and pain-free ways to save, and automatically tucks away small amounts here and there until you reach your goals.
You simply set your goals and your rules, then go about your day as your savings add up.
Savings With a Qapital S
It usually takes a bit of convincing to sign up for a paid app.
But Qapital, with it’s refreshing ways to save and relatively minimal fees, makes the expense worth it.
The app taps into account your existing lifestyle and spending habits, and makes super small adjustments that can add up to larger savings.
In the end, Qapital not only turns saving into a daily habit, but an enjoyable and rewarding pursuit, as well.