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App-based banking: Best online and app bank accounts

**There's now a wave of banking and savings apps which give you a helping hand with budgeting, saving and generally managing your cash in a way traditional banks don't.

Digital banking's on the up – almost 22 million people regularly used a banking app in 2017, according to trade body UK Finance, with 174 app logins every second. Here's what you need to know...

What is app-based banking?

App-based banking is basically what it says on the tin: a way to bank using an app. Unsurprisingly, most (if not all) of these companies are purely online or app-based.

That said, most have in-app customer support, with dedicated teams on hand to offer assistance if you've any questions or issues. Some even work in Facebook Messenger, so you can talk to someone about your banking in between chatting to friends.

All apps featured in this guide are free to download – though some have costs associated with running them, which we clearly explain in our best buys below.

If you're after the top bank accounts in terms of service, overdraft facilities, linked savings accounts or switching bonuses, see Best Bank Accounts.

Although these apps aren't solely meant for budgeting, a lot of the ones we feature in this guide can also help with keeping your finances in check.

Many give real-time notifications when you spend or save, something traditional banks don't do – so for example, if you bought something for £5 in Boots, you'd get an instant pop-up on your phone telling you what you've spent.

Another feature they have is to give you insights into your spending habits. This means you'll easily be able to see how much you spend in one particular shop each month (coffee addicts beware!), or more generally how much you spend on entertainment or travel.

This should make it easier to budget and keep track of your money, allowing you to cut the cloth where needed.

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NatWest wins 'Best Banking app' for second year in a row

The awards, which were presented last week and followed feedback from over 24,000 consumers and businesses, named NatWest the 'Best Banking App' for the second year running.

Les Matheson, CEO for Personal and Business Banking at NatWest said: "We are delighted to have been named the "Best Banking App" for another year. Over 5.6 million of our customers regularly use our mobile banking apps and more customers than ever use digital services as their main way to bank. Our customers expect their bank to be innovative, digital and responsive to their needs.

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