Last Updated May 13, 2011 3:47 PM EDT
Many major banks, including Bank of America, Citibank, ING, Wells Fargo and Chase, have free mobile apps that allow customers to check bank balances, make payments and find their bank's nearest ATM on-the-go. In fact 75% of the country's major banks are offering mobile apps, according to a report by Corporate Insight.
But no matter where we bank - a large financial institution or a credit union - there are some useful and convenient mobile banking applications we can all take advantage of.
Here's a round-up of six that boast convenience and ease:
Pageonce Money & Bills: You can organize and track all your financial accounts and bills with this free app available on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and Android devices. You can also control where your money goes and receive real-time alerts and reminders about your accounts. Pageonce just raised $15 million in series B funding and was a 2011 Webby mobile app honoree in the "productivity" category.
Mobile AllPoint: When you can't locate one of your bank's free ATMs close by, this free app can help you locate a surcharge-free ATM in your neighborhood using GPS or your address. Allpoint is America's biggest surcharge-free ATM network, with over 43,000 ATMs. The app is available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones.
FaceCash: Founded by Aaron Greenspan, the Harvard grad who claimed former classmate and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole his idea for Facebook, this app lets you pay for purchases with your phone. After you download the app, you need to plug in some personal information -- including your bank account details, Social Security number and driver's license number. A photo ID is also required when you set up the account. From there you can start buying stuff wherever FaceCash is accepted. Right now the app is only accepted at less than 20 retailers in the Palo Alto, Calif., area -- but it is reportedly being tested at Subway sandwich chains. It's available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones.
Square: Whether you're a small business owner or an avid yard sale holder, you will dig this mobile banking app, which lets you accept credit card payments right from your phone. The merchant's per-swipe fee to Square is 2.75%. How it works: Users download the app, receive a free Square credit card reader in the mail, and can begin accepting credit card payments from anywhere, anytime. It's available for iPhone and Android phones.
GoPayment: A direct competitor to Square, this payment app developed by Intuit also lets users accept charges via their smartphones with the help of a credit card reader. When you swipe a credit card, it typically costs 2.7% of the transaction -- a fraction less than what Square charges. The app is available for free for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones.
Starbucks Card Mobile: This one may not be so good for your own spending habits, but: Starbucks fans no longer need to pull out their wallets to get their caffeine fix. Download the app and register a Starbucks gift card on your iPhone. The app displays a bar code that you can present at the register at any company-operated Starbucks store, as well as all Target Starbucks stores.
Farnoosh is a personal finance journalist, commentator and the author of Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv, and on Twitter.
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