Review of the Qapital App
Fintech app Qapital aims to help you manage the process of saving, spending and investing your money. With customized investment portfolios and automatic savings rules, Qapital offers a large arsenal of tools designed to help you reach your short-term and long-term financial goals.
While Qapital offers lots of features, its many bells and whistles can get pretty complicated. Unfortunately, keeping track of all Qapital’s options, how to use them and figuring out where your money’s going doesn’t seem to simplify your financial life. To top it off, the app offers a rock bottom return on funds in its spending and savings accounts, plus unavoidable monthly fees.
What is Qapital?
Qapital is a cash management app featuring three core components: Saving, spending and investing. You link an external checking account to Qapital to fund all three components. This funding account must be with an authorized financial institution.
Qapital savings features
Qapital’s saving tool is called Qapital Goals. It aims to help you funnel money toward specific, customized savings objectives. You set up rules that automatically trigger deposits into your Qapital Goals savings account, so you’re socking away money without feeling any effort or sacrifice.
You can pick and choose which rules you’d like to automatically trigger savings:
- IFTTT (If This Then That) Rule: Save when you complete a specific action with another app, like reaching a Fitbit step or ordering an Uber.
- Apple Health Rule: Savings are triggered when you reach any of your targets in Apple Health for run/walk distance, steps, workouts and standing hours.
- 52-Week Rule: This rule implements the 52-week savings plan: Save $1 during Week One, $2 during Week Two and $3 during Week Three, adding a dollar each week until week 52. You can also start with $52 during week one and work backwards.
- Freelancer Rule: Save a set percentage each time you get paid through a direct deposit to your linked checking account.
- Spend Less Rule: Save the difference when you come in under budget — weekly or monthly — for a specific merchant.
- Guilty Pleasure Rule: Savings are triggered whenever you buy a purchase from a selected merchant.
- Round-Up Rule: Round up your purchases to a whole number of your choosing. When you make a purchase, it adds that number to your transaction and stashes the difference in savings.
- Payday Rule: Save a percentage of each deposit that is over a given amount.
- Set & Forget Rule: Save a fixed amount daily, weekly or monthly.
Your Qapital Goals account offers a bleak 0.1% APY, compounded monthly. All of the funds kept in Qapital Goals accounts are held in accounts with partner banks, where they are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. You can only move funds into and out of your Qapital Goals account manually from your linked checking account or your Qapital Spending account (more on that later).
Qapital allows you to set as many goals as you like. You name each goal, set a target amount and then apply one or more rules for the goal. Qapital lets you create joint goals with family members and friends, giving you the ability to track how much each person in the group is contributing toward the goal.
Qapital spending features
Like a regular checking account, the Qapital Spending account comes with a Visa debit card, issued by partner bank Lincoln Savings Bank. The account features:
- No monthly fees, overdraft fees or foreign transaction fees
- Unlimited transfers to and from Qapital Goals
- Direct deposits
- Automatic bill payment
- Weekly insights
- Checks: Simply write a check in the app, and a third-party service will mail it for you
The Qapital Spending account offers a dismal 0.1% APY, compounded monthly. Qapital also puts limits on your Qapital Visa debit card: Spending on card transactions, withdrawals and transfers is capped at $7,000 per day, and ATM withdrawals are capped at $510 a day. Like the savings in your Qapital Goals account, funds in your Qapital Spending account are held by partner banks, which provide FDIC insurance up to $250,000.
Extra features of Qapital Spending include Spending Sweet Spot and Payday Divvy. The former lets you know how much money is safe to spend on day-to-day expenses like coffee or the movies, taking into account your fixed expenses. The latter prompts you to preset the division of your paycheck between expenses, savings goals and daily spending.
Qapital investing features
Qapital Invest is a micro-investing platform. You need a Qapital Spending account to use Qapital Invest, and there is a $10 minimum opening balance requirement. Like the savings goals above, you may set up rules to trigger deposits into your Qapital Invest account. You can also manually transfer in funds from external funding account or your Qapital Spending Account.
When you open your Qapital Invest account, you answer a series of questions and the app recommends a portfolio based on your answers. The company says it has five portfolios options with different risk, reward and diversification characteristics. The portfolios are made up of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), are automatically rebalanced on a regular basis and dividends are reinvested in the portfolio.
Aside from its 30-day free trial, Qapital offers three tiers of membership that vary in price and features offered:
- Basic: $3 a month. Includes full access to Qapital’s Savings features, including unlimited personalized savings goals, and rules to trigger automatic savings.
- Complete: $6 a month. Same benefits of the Basic subscription, plus Qapital Spending and Qapital Invest.
- Master: $12 a month. Same benefits of the Basic and Complete subscriptions, plus access to Money Missions (more below) and priority access to new features.
Money missions leverages behavioral science to encourage its users to save more. It features a series of “missions,” ranging from having a worry-free night out to buying a gift, and gives you tips and tricks on how to save for that mission. Select a mission and the app will automatically remind you of that mission at regular intervals.
All tiers include an overdraft protection feature. The app features an automatic, fail-safe mechanism if a transfer were to leave your funding account with less than $100 in it. It’s worth noting, though, that the app’s website states that the overdraft protection “will not work 100% of the time due to the nature of ACH transfers,” and that Qapital is not responsible for any overdraft of NSF fees you end up getting charged with.
- Having one app for all your saving, spending and investing needs differentiates Qapital from some other cash management accounts featuring only spending and saving components. If you’d like to use one platform for all three financial objectives, Qapital may come in handy.
- The automatic savings rules is a creative concept that gamifies the savings process, and could be beneficial for people who struggle with the self-discipline required to save.
- Some users may be put off by the complicated process of shuffling your money from one account to another. To fund your Qapital Invest account, you need to move money from your external funding account, deposit it in your Qapital Spending account and only then can you put money to work in your Qapital Invest account. That could be one step too many for something as simple as investing $200 of your latest paycheck in an ETF.
- With multiple savings goals and numerous different rules applied to your goals, it may be challenging to stick to a savings plan that yields consistent results. For some users, Qapital’s savings process may be needlessly complex.
- The 0.1% APY for funds kept in Qapital is dismal compared with what you could be earning in cash management accounts found on our listing of the best. Plus, many offer much less complicated functionality.
Qapital vs. other cash management accounts
Qapital offers many of the same features as popular cash management accounts like Aspiration, Simple and Wealthfront. Cash management accounts are hybrid checking and savings accounts, and Qapital’s instant and free transfer of funds between its savings and spending accounts puts it firmly in the cash management camp.
However, Qapital’s 0.1% APYs pale in comparison to some competitors. For example, Simple offers up to 1.90% APY on funds in its Protected Goals account, while Aspiration offers up to 1.00% APY on funds in its Spend and Save account. Plus, you pay $3 a month for savings functionality and $6 per month to get spending features. That’s not a great deal, despite the including of the investing portfolios.
Speaking of investing, this feature does differentiate Qapital from many of its cash management competitors. But other competitors offer tools that are very similar to Qapital’s savings rules (albeit not as creative), like rounding up and saving the difference, and saving a percentage of direct deposit. When you take away its bells and whistles, which arguably provide little additional value, Qapital simply does not stack up to the more competitive cash management accounts in the space.
Is Qapital right for you?
In its attempt to streamline and simplify your finances by providing all the tools you need in one app, Qapital adds unnecessary complexity to saving, investing and spending your money. While the rules are certainly a differentiating factor that people who struggle with saving might find beneficial, the minimal interest earned on those savings plus the monthly fees make Qapital not a great deal. As for the investing component, it does seem like an afterthought, although it may provide a better return on your money than Qapital’s paltry 0.1% APYs.All rates are accurate as of 12/20/2019