Qapital Review: My Experience Using Qapital
Ready to finally start saving? Qapital can help. They’ll help you save for all your goals, no matter how small. Read our full review.
If you’ve been having difficulty saving money, you’re not alone. But there are many different apps available today that will help you overcome that obstacle.
Maybe the most interesting is Qapital. It enables you to save money – in small increments – using almost a dozen different methods. You can choose the ones that work best for you, and use as many or as few as you like. The best part about it is that you’ll be saving money through your regular activities, and will hardly notice it’s happening.
Launched in 2013, and operating out of New York City, Qapital is an app that helps you get better control over your spending, as well as to save and invest for the future. It works as a banking app, with the goal of making banking fun.
It’s an outstanding app if you’ve previously had difficulty saving money because it enables you to automate the process. It works as a micro-savings app by allowing you to save money in small increments through purchases and other financial and personal activities. But in the process, it also establishes savings goals and helps you create a budget to help you reach those goals.
The company reports users can save an average of between $1,500 per year and $5,000 per year, depending on the plan level selected. Qapital has a Better Business Bureau rating of “A-“ (on a scale of A+ to F), and has been BBB accredited since February 2018.
It also has a rating of 4.8 stars out of five, based on more than 56,000 ratings on The App Store, as well as 4.6 stars out of five based on more than 16,000 reviews on Google Play.
How Qapital works
You start by downloading the app on your mobile device, from either Google Play or The App Store. You’ll then connect the app to your bank account and debit card. As you spend money and perform other activities, the app allocates small amounts to savings.
Goals and Spending accounts
For savings purposes, you’ll have two types of accounts, Goals and Spending accounts. All savings held in a Spending account are held in an FDIC insured account with a partner bank. Goals accounts are held in an ETF portfolio based on your own risk tolerance. You’ll have unlimited transfers to and from your Goals account, and your Spending account can be set up with direct deposit.
The Qapital Spending account is interest-bearing, earning a rate of 0.1%, compounded monthly.
To save money, you’ll need to set goals. For example, you can choose to allocate $2,000 to go to an IRA, $1,000 to go to an emergency fund, or $1,500 to go to a vacation fund. Those goals will be funded by a series of purchase transactions and other activities you’re highly likely to engage in.
Qapital enables you to save money in four ways, referred to as “Rules”:
The roundup rule
Similar to Acorns, they use a roundup method, call the Roundup Rule. Each time you make a purchase the charge will be rounded up to the nearest $2.
For example, if you make a charge for $.85, $1.15 will go into savings. If you make a charge for $10.25, $1.75 will go into savings. You can also change the roundup frequency to a different amount, ranging from $1 to $5.
Apart from saving money directly through purchase activity, they also enable you to save money by participating in certain activities. And since those are normal activities, you’ll have many more opportunities to allocate funds toward savings goals than simply through purchase activity.
This starts with If This, Then That (IFTTT) channels. Each serves as a trigger to transfer funds to your Qapital account, based on an action or activity you perform. In this way, Qapital goes beyond the basic roundup method and allows you to enhance your savings through activities other than purchases.
For example, IFTTT channels connect with social media platforms, like Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Spotify. When you perform certain activities on those platforms, such as liking a video on YouTube, the Qapital app will transfer a small amount of money into your Qapital savings account.
If you happen to earn money for freelance work, which an increasing number of Millennials do these days, Qapital has a way to turn that into a savings transfer as well. The Freelancer feature transfers a small amount of money into savings each time you get paid. However, the money saved is earmarked for paying taxes on the money earned. Since freelancers typically don’t have automatic withholding for taxes, this can be one of the most valuable tools offered by the app.
For Apple devices only, Qapital also integrates with Apple Health. Each time you hit a fitness goal, the app will allocate additional money toward a savings goal.
Direct contributions to savings
The Set & Forget Rule enables you to transfer money towards specific goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis – you decide the frequency.
Then there’s the 52 Week Rule. You can use it to gradually increase the amount of money you transfer toward goals. For example, you can save $1 the first week, then $2 the second week, and increase it by one dollar for each week, up to 52 weeks.
That will average out to be $26 per week or $1,300 per year. It’s an excellent way to gradually supercharge your savings efforts.
Available on the premium versions of Qapital, this feature allows you to allocate a certain amount of your paycheck. The allocation can be used either save for a specific expense, or toward a goal that you have set.
Qapital spending and budgeting tools
Your Qapital account also provides a Visa debit card through its partner bank, Lincoln Savings Bank. The Visa card can be integrated into your Qapital Spending Digital Wallet, allowing you to make secure payments directly from your mobile device.
A seriously interesting savings feature is Guilty Pleasure. Let’s say you’re trying not to buy something; if your desire overtakes your self-discipline, the app will automatically move a certain amount of money into a savings goal. That might make you feel a little less guilty about your guilty pleasure!
Spending Sweet Spot
Spending Sweet Spot is a feature that enables you to create a budget for weekly expenses. But it goes beyond simple budgeting, and also provides insights into your spending habits.
This will help you to modify your budget and your spending patterns, in a way that will be more conducive to achieving your savings goals.
Spend Less is another feature provided by Qapital that helps you to save money. If you spend less than the budgeted amount for a particular expense, you can allocate the difference to savings.
For example, if your budget allocates $50 per week toward restaurant meals, and you only spend $40, $10 will go into savings. It’s a nice feature that creates an incentive to come in under budget on a regular basis.
Qapital added investing to its product mix late in 2018, calling it Qapital Invest. It’s tied to Qapital Goals, but recommended for longer-term goals, like retirement.
The portfolio recommendation will be based on the time horizon of the goal. For example, if you’re saving money for the down payment on a house purchase, the portfolio will be more conservative. If you’re young and saving for retirement, it will be more aggressive.
Once again, the funds held in your Goals are held in an ETF portfolio, with a diversified mix of stocks and bonds. This gives you an opportunity to add long-term growth to your goal-based savings. You’ll need a minimum of $10 to open a Qapital Invest Goals account.
If you have multiple Goals, and you probably will, each will have its own investment account.
Qapital offers five different portfolio options, ranging between conservative and aggressive. The portfolio will be invested in a mix of 12 different asset classes, including the following:
- Large cap stocks
- International stocks
- Investment grade bonds
Each asset class will be held in a low-cost exchange traded fund (ETF).
Because you accumulate money in your Goals accounts gradually, your portfolio will automatically be invested based on dollar-cost averaging.
Qapital Dollar features and benefits
Deposits and withdrawals
Automatic deposits are made into Goals accounts in batches up to four times per week. They typically take one or two business days to settle.
A deposit into a Goal account requires four business days to settle before you can transfer it back to a funding account. Withdrawals from either a Goals or Spending account back to a funding account can also take between one or two business days to settle.
The Money Missions feature offers challenges to help you think more deeply about your spending patterns. It will provide insights into how you use your money so you can make better spending decisions in the future. It’s available only on the Qapital Master plan.
This is a weak spot with this app. They have a comprehensive Help Center that will answer most of your questions. However, there is no phone support. The company can be contacted by email only or messaged directly in-app.
Qapital plans fees and pricing
Whichever plan you sign up for, Qapital gives you 30 days to see if the app is right for you. After 30 days, you’ll be billed on a monthly basis, based on the plan you’ve chosen. The monthly subscription fee will be charged to your external funding account.
Qapital offers three different plans, each with its own features and pricing:
All three plans offer the following features:
- Create unlimited, personalized savings goals
- Make fun rules to trigger automatic saving
- Transfer money between goals easily
- FDIC insured account balances up to $250,000
The Complete and Master plans have the following features:
- Swipe and save with a Visa debit card
- Pay yourself first with Payday Divvy
- Track cash weekly with Spending Sweet Spot
- Qapital Invest
The Master plan also offers the following features:
- Money Missions
- Access to exclusive webinars
- Get a first look at new features
How to sign up for Qapital
You can sign up for Qapital at Google Play for Android devices 4.4 and up. If you have an iOS device (10.0 or later), you can sign up on The App Store.
Identity verification is done through IDology. However, if IDology is unable to verify your identity, you will be asked to provide a copy of your photo ID and a billing statement.
To register your account, an email will be sent to the email you put on file with Qapital.
You’ll start out by opening a Qapital Spending account, which will then allow you to open a Qapital Invest Goal account. That will require a minimum of $10, and five to seven business days for the funds to be transferred and invested.
You’ll need to link your Qapital account to your checking account. Savings accounts aren’t permitted, because of the federal limitations on the number of transactions into an out of those accounts.
If account bank account verification is required, Qapital will make two penny deposits to your bank account, followed by a withdrawal removing those deposits. You’ll be asked to verify the amounts in the app to complete linking your bank account.
Pros & cons
- No money needed to start — But you will need a minimum of $10 to take advantage of Qapital Invest.
- Turns non-savers into savers — If you’ve been having difficulty getting into the savings game, Qapital can help you get there, using several different strategies.
- Makes saving money painless with several savings strategies — Since you’ll be saving very small amounts of money multiple times over the course of a month, you’ll hardly notice it’s happening.
- Comes with a Visa debit card — Access your funds for spending activity.
- Helps freelancers budget for taxes — The app enables you to allocate a percentage of freelance income to cover estimated tax payments to the IRS.
- Low fees for large investment account balances — This will be an advantage over robo-advisors for investment management of large balance accounts.
- No phone support — Customer service is limited to the Help Center and email or in-app contact. There is no phone support.
- High fees for small investment account balances — This will be a disadvantage compared with robo-advisors for investment management of small account balances.
Who is Qapital best for?
Those who have failed at saving in the past
Unquestionably, Qapital is an app specifically designed for anyone who has been unable to save money in the past. They offer close to a dozen different strategies to save money, from saving spare change out of purchase activity, to making direct deposits, to making small deposits based on specific personal activity, including social media participation.
The app even makes saving money fun. Trust me, when I say fun!
They do this by tying savings to specific goals, like saving for the down payment on a new car or for an upcoming vacation. Once you have a savings goal in mind, reaching it becomes less of an effort, and more of a quest.
In addition to turning non-savers into savers, another group that stands to benefit from Qapital are freelancers. This is a growing group, particularly among Millennials.
For some, it’s a way to earn extra income on the side, but for others, it’s become a primary occupation. Qapital allows you to allocate a percentage of your freelance income to estimated tax payments. That will avoid an expensive surprise when you file your tax return, not to mention cut down on taxes and penalties for underpayment.
Who is Qapital not for?
Qapital will be less valuable for anyone who has already become a committed saver. And it won’t necessarily work out as a cost-effective investment platform for smaller investors.
For example, the Complete plan has a monthly fee of $6, which is $72 per year. If you have $1,000 in your Qapital Invest account, that will be equivalent to a 7.2% annual management fee.
That’s well above the 0.25% annual fee charged by Betterment and Wealthfront, two of the leading robo-advisors.
Qapital makes saving fun. It’s more than a simple spare change investing app and more than a robo-advisor, making its monthly fee well worth it for those who just can’t get themselves to start saving.