My age and predisposition land me squarely in the middle of the millennial generation. In other words: On paper, I’m not very old.
And yet, over the years, I’ve had at least a dozen checking and savings accounts to my name. I can’t name the exact number because I don’t know it. My financial life was — and, to some extent, still is — fragmented. I’ve opened new bank accounts due to cross-country moves, irresistible bank account promotions, juicy yields, and plain old customer dissatisfaction.
But I’ve yet to bank with a company like Qapital. Not because Qapital is one-of-a-kind, but because I’ve been slow to embrace the time- and money-saving potential of automated savings and investing apps.
If you’re in the same boat, Qapital could be the turnkey personal finance solution you’ve been seeking. It’s a subscription-based service housing three distinct accounts under the same roof:
- An easy-to-automate savings account
- A checking account with a Visa-branded debit card
- A passive investing platform that resembles a stripped-down robo-advisor
It also includes plenty of bells and whistles at no additional charge.
But Qapital isn’t for everyone, including savers looking to maximize yield. We cover some other drawbacks below, plus Qapital’s top selling points.
Plans and Features
Qapital offers three paid plans: Basic, Complete, and Master. The higher-priced plans include all the features available in the plans priced below them, plus additional perks that justify the higher cost. All plans come with a 30-day free trial, after which new members are automatically charged at the plan’s then-current monthly rate.
For $3 per month, Basic includes an FDIC-insured savings account (Qapital Goals) that yields 0.1%, compounded monthly and subject to change with prevailing rates. Qapital Goals has some useful value-added features:
- Unlimited Custom Savings Goals. Qapital lets you create as many customized Savings Goals as you’d like. Ideally, each Goal has a specific purpose, whether that’s a relatively small objective like a new work outfit or a longer-term goal like a down payment on a house. If you’ve merged finances with a partner or spouse (or even roommate) and want to jointly work toward shared goals, you can. Joint goals show up in every participants’ account, with the funds each has contributed separated from the sum.
- Unlimited Internal Transfers. Goals aren’t treated as separate accounts for regulatory purposes, so you can transfer funds between them as much as you’d like without running afoul of excess transaction restrictions.
- Automatic Saving Triggers. You can automate your Savings Goals by creating custom Rules to govern funds transfers. Rules can be simple (say, transferring $50 to a particular Goal every time you receive a direct deposit) or wacky (say, transferring $1 every time your favorite celebrity tweets, as per a real-life suggestion from Qapital).
- Transfer Failsafe. Qapital’s transfer failsafe feature may automatically stop inbound transfers that would drop the funding account’s balance under $100. It’s designed to prevent overdrafts (and associated fees) in your funding account, but it may impact your Qapital experience if you live paycheck to paycheck.
For $6 per month, Complete adds a checking account (the Qapital Spending Account) with a Visa debit card and a 0.1% yield, compounded monthly and subject to change with prevailing rates. The account’s features include:
- Payday Divvy. Whenever a deposit hits your account — whether it’s a payroll direct deposit or one-off transfer — Payday Divvy prompts you to divide the funds among your Savings Goals and big-ticket expenses, such as your housing and car payments. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks — or, if you’ve already automated your bills and savings transfers, that you’re not surprised by a low-balance warning before your next payday.
- Spending Sweet Spot. This feature displays your discretionary expenses at a glance, flagging potential overspending and pointing out realistic solutions. Spending Sweet Spot is not meant to stand in for a formal budget, but it’s detailed enough that it just might.
- Billpay by Check. Qapital has a hybrid bill pay feature that lets you write paper checks from your smartphone — great for payees who can’t take digital funds transfers. There’s no cost associated with this function.
Complete also boasts a low-cost passive investing scheme (the Qapital Invest Account) with the potential to grow users’ funds faster than a traditional savings account. Qapital’s investing features include:
- Setting Goals and Time Horizons. Before you fund your investing account, you’ll be asked to set investing goals and specify your general investing time horizon. The latter is standard practice for any managed account, but the former is a little different. In effect, Qapital empowers you to separate longer-term goals (like saving for your kid’s college tuition) from smaller, shorter-term ones (like funding your next vacation). While you should do this already, it’s much easier when you’ve got two different account types under the same roof.
- Risk Tolerance Assessment. This is another standard prefunding practice for managed investment accounts. Generally, younger investors have a higher tolerance for risk than investors closer to retirement, but your personality may override your demographics. For example, if you’re risk-averse, you may want to keep more of your money in fixed-income funds.
- Low-Cost, Diversified Funds. Based on your risk tolerance and goals, Qapital allocates your investable assets among five diversified, low-cost funds. Qapital is an adherent of modern portfolio theory, which aims to maximize expected return while minimizing risk. Active investors, be warned: Qapital’s investment options are uniformly passive, and there’s no opportunity to pick stocks or use advanced strategies (such as binary options) here.
For $12 per month, Master members get Qapital’s VIP treatment. This plan’s perks include:
- Money Missions. Subject yourself to safe, low-stakes behavioral science experiments by participating in Qapital’s Money Missions. Qapital claims these directives save money, if followed as intended. Some, like “make Sunday your meal prep day,” are also just good practice.
- Access to Exclusive Webinars. Qapital occasionally runs exclusive personal finance webinars for Master members. If you’re new to basic financial concepts, you’ll probably find this content worthwhile, but it’s unlikely to be earth-shattering for more experienced money managers.
- First Dibs on New Features. Master members are Qapital’s beta testing cohort. They get sneak peeks at all new Qapital features and a chance to provide honest feedback on the same. Qapital doesn’t say much about the frequency or nature of Master members’ testing responsibilities, though.
Here’s why you might want to sign up for Qapital:
- 30-Day Free Trial. All new Qapital plans come with a 30-day free trial, during which you’re free to take the service for a spin. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can cancel without penalty before the trial ends. Otherwise, your membership will automatically continue as a paid plan at the then-current tier rate.
- Automatic Saving and Triggers Make It Easier (and More Fun) to Save. Qapital’s automatic savings feature includes a bunch of “triggers” — some sensible, some off-the-wall — that increase the likelihood you’ll actually sock money away when you’re able to. It’s the most fun approach to saving I’ve seen in some time.
- Qapital Spending Account Features Simplify Cash Management. The Qapital Spending Account may just replace your traditional household budget (if you even bother to keep one). Payday Divvy gets big-ticket, non-negotiable expenses out of the way each month, paving the way for smarter discretionary spending and saving. Spending Sweet Spot delivers a clear, concise picture of your weekly spending, empowering you to make informed spending decisions.
- Joint Goals Are Ideal for Couples and Families. Qapital’s joint goals feature is great for couples, roommates, and larger families, provided all members have their own Qapital accounts. Qapital keeps each participant’s funds separate, minimizing confusion.
- You Can Pay Bills by Check. It’s not the most useful or widely used Qapital feature, but the pay-bills-by-check function is clutch for account holders obligated to pay bills by old-fashioned paper check. Many small-time landlords still prefer rent payments by check, for instance.
- Low Minimums. Qapital isn’t big on minimum deposits or balances. Qapital Invest requires just $10 to get started — perfect for first-time investors looking to get their feet wet in the market.
- Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing. Qapital Invest automatically rebalances account holders’ portfolios when their holdings get sufficiently out of line with their target allocations. While there’s no set rebalancing timeframe, it’s nice not to have to worry about it getting done.
Consider these drawbacks before opening a Qapital account:
- Membership Is Difficult to Cancel. Want to cancel your Qapital membership? Good luck. Deleting the app won’t do it. To discontinue a Basic membership, you need to cash out your Goals account and unlink your external funding account, preventing Qapital from collecting further dues. Canceling a Spending or Invest account is even more difficult. In the former case, you may need to contact Qapital’s support team directly to walk through the process. In the latter case, you definitely will. And in either, you may need to endure their attempts to win back your business. Qapital’s help portal has more information for those looking to cancel their accounts.
- Basic Plan Is Pricey For What You Get. Compared with some competing services, such as Acorns and Simple, Qapital’s Basic plan is pretty pricey. Complete is a better deal, though still slightly more expensive than comparable alternatives. If you’re price-sensitive and don’t think you’ll fully exploit Qapital’s savings triggers, think twice about signing up for a paid plan.
- Low Savings Yields. Qapital’s Goals account yields just 0.1%, far below the benchmark set by top online banks. If maximizing savings yield is important to you, you’re much better off opening a high-yield savings account at a reputable online bank and using its any budgeting features it offers.
- Qapital Invest Is Limited to ETFs Only. Qapital Invest is a great solution for hands-off investors, but it’s not very sophisticated. As an investor, you’re limited to five risk-appropriate portfolios consisting entirely of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). If you want the flexibility to pick your own stocks or invest in more obscure funds, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
- Master Plan’s Value Is Questionable. It’s not entirely clear why Qapital’s Master Plan is worth about twice as much as its Complete Plan. Master doesn’t offer any additional account types or capabilities, and its features’ cumulative value is highly subjective. Unless you’re aching to access exclusive webinars or be the first to try out new Qapital features if and when they debut, you probably won’t miss much by skipping the Master Plan.
Qapital won’t replace your free checking account or IRA. What it can do is consolidate and strengthen your personal finances, giving you the push you need to finally begin saving in earnest. It’s particularly useful for consumers who hate budgets and those who simply don’t have the time to manage data-dense spreadsheets on a monthly or weekly basis.
However, Qapital isn’t perfect. Its low savings yields and pricey Basic plan may put off some cost-sensitive prospects, and the investing options aren’t very sophisticated. For many savers and investors, these drawbacks won’t matter, but it’s nevertheless worth seeing what else is out there before opening a Qapital account.
Do you use Qapital for everyday money management? Or do you prefer another all-in-one personal finance app?