Empower Review

Michael Dinich

In a Nutshell

Empower is a mobile banking app that empowers you to save money. Its app offers 3 superb features: Cash Advance, Interest Checking and Automatic Savings.

pros

  • All features on one user-friendly app
  • Get up to $250 Cash Advance*
  • Intelligent, Automatic Savings

cons

  • No lending products
  • Requires iOS 9.0+ or Android 5.1+

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Empower at a Glance

Fees: $8 per month

Personal loans available: No

Credit card available: No

SMS/Mail alerts: Yes

24-hour customer service: No

Money transfers: Yes

Check scanning: No

Average APY: 0.25%1 

Minimum for APY: None

Advantages Over Regular Bank 

Empower really is the opposite of a regular bank in every single way. While traditional banks revolve around brick-and-mortar branches and perhaps online banking, Empower lets you do everything from your phone, it’s a one-stop-app to manage all your finances.

Here are a few reasons to choose Empower over a regular bank:

  • Get up to $250 Cash Advance* with no interest, no late fees and no credit checks
  • Intelligent, Automatic Savings
  • No overdraft fees and no minimums
  • Lets you do everything from your phone
  • Easily connects to your other checking accounts
  • Takes around 90 seconds to register
  • Option to freeze and re-order your debit card in the app

Cutting-Edge Banking Services 

According to Empower, its mobile banking platform is designed to help you succeed in personal finance without even trying. We’re happy to report that Empower lives up to its mission statement, thanks to 3 simple features:

  • Cash Advance. Get up to $250* when you’re in a jam, delivered directly and quickly to your bank account. There’s no interest, no late fees and no credit checks.
  • Interest Checking. Like a regular checking account, but with industry leading interest of 0.25% APY1 compounded daily and FDIC insured for up to $250,000.1 Comes with a debit card, unlimited transfers, up to 3 monthly ATM fee reimbursements2 , and 24/7 notifications to track your spending.
  • Automatic Savings. Intelligent and simple Automated Savings account, FDIC insured for up to $250,0001 . Just tell Empower how much money you want to save each week, choose the checking account you want to transfer from, and Empower will do all the rest. Empower studies your income and expenses daily to help you set aside the right amount of money at the right time. Earn 0.25% APY1 on your AutoSave account with no minimums when you open an Empower Checking account.

Traditional Banking Services 

While Empower isn’t a traditional banking service, it does have some traditional banking features built into the High-Interest Checking account.

  • Unlimited transfers between your Checking and AutoSave accounts
  • Empower Debit card linked to your Checking account
  • 3 monthly ATM fee reimbursements2

Interest Rates and Fees 

Empower offers a solid 0.25% APY1 on their Checking account. You can also earn 0.25% APY1 on your AutoSave account with no minimums when you open an Empower Checking account. The APYs can change in response to Fed interest rate decisions, but it will always be much higher than a traditional checking account (which averages 0.04% APY).

As for fees, Empower doesn’t charge any overdraft fees, insufficient funds fees, or card replacement fees. It doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit or minimum balance and you can withdraw anytime. It does charge a foreign transaction fee, although even this is lower than its competitors—coming in at just 1%3 . Empower is free for the first 14 days. After 14 days, Empower charges $8 per month for continued access to its full suite of money management tools.

Customer Service 

Empower has a comprehensive support section on its website. There are 2 ways to contact Empower directly: in-app, under Help Center, or by email at help@empower.me.

Mobile Apps 

Empower doesn’t offer a mobile app as an afterthought like most banks—it is an app. The Empower mobile app is the only place to get access to all the features described in this review. Through a slick iOS/Android-compatible mobile app, you can:

  • Open and manage your checking and savings accounts
  • Access your money at any time
  • Make unlimited withdrawals
  • Turn on push notifications for instant alerts 

Security 

Given the bank-level security it has in place, it’s clear Empower takes your data privacy and security seriously. Security features include AES 256-bit encryption, touch ID, and multi-factor authentication.

Conclusion  

Mobile banking is where things are headed in the banking industry. Empower has done the public a service with a native mobile banking platform that helps users save and improve their financial literacy at the same time. The Empower mobile banking app is a great option for anyone looking for a complete personal finance solution from the convenience of their phone.

Empower Terms and Conditions:

* Eligibility requirements apply. Minimum direct deposits to an Empower Checking Account, among other conditions, are necessary to qualify for advances greater than $50. Free instant delivery is available for eligible Empower Checking Account customers.

¹ Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. 0.25% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) may change at any time. APY as of Nov 21, 2020. Empower charges an auto-recurring monthly subscription fee of $8 for access to the full suite of money management features offered on the platform after your first 14 days.

² Reimbursement for up to 3 ATM fees per month, with a maximum reimbursement of $10 per ATM withdrawal.

³ Empower does not charge foreign transaction fees for the use of the Empower Visa Debit Card outside of the US. However, Visa charges a foreign transaction fee of 1%. Empower does not reimburse this 1% transaction fee on foreign ATM transactions or on any other foreign transactions or purchases.

Michael has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, pay down debt and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, saving money, and all things geeky.

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