Money at 30: My Top 3 Finance Apps and Tools to Watch in 2023
Over the past few years, I’ve offered up my list of the top FinTech apps and tools. This originally started as a way to highlight a few of my favorite tools but eventually evolved to also highlight offerings from startups I just found fascinating. Well, as it turns out, my track record has been a bit hit-or-miss on that front. So, this time around, I thought I’d keep the tradition alive by sharing a few FinTech tools I think are worth paying attention to in 2023, while also giving a “where are they now?” update on my list from last year.
You know a credit card is interesting when I feel the need to apply for one myself just so that I can do a thorough review on it. That’s what happened with the Apple Card a few years ago (for completely different reasons, mind you) and that’s what happened in 2022 with Bilt. In particular, I was fascinated to see how the card enabled customers to pay rent and earn rewards with it while avoiding the fees that typically come with credit card payments on rental portals. It turns out that the answer is fairly easy — it makes it look like a checking account — but is clever nonetheless.
Luckily for me, though, Bilt only continued to do interesting things after I applied — and, for a change from what I’m used to with FinTechs, all of these updates were positive. First, they announced a travel portal where customers could redeem points for 1.25¢ each. After that, they unveiled their Rent Day promotion, which not only allows cardholders to earn double points on all non-rent purchases on the first of the month but also engages them with bonus point quiz opportunities, status match promotions, and more. Plus, they’ve now rolled out a tool that helps renters see how much a mortgage might cost them and allows them to cash in their Bilt rewards for an even better value of 1.5¢ each toward a down payment. Honestly, while there are a couple of aspects of the Bilt Mastercard I think could be better, I think they are doing some truly amazing and innovative things. In turn, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Personally, I started seeing the name “Karat” a lot a few months before the company opened to a wider swath of consumers. As it turns out, I managed to get approved for the charge card just a couple of weeks before the “invitation-only” scheme ended. Nevertheless, as a cardholder, I have been able to see Karat expand into other services, such as bookkeeping and tax prep that could be of use to the creators the company is focused on.
From the outside, Karat appears to be well-funded as they are now a mainstay at major influencer and creator events. As for the product itself, while I can’t speak to all of its services, my experience with using it as a business card has been good as I’ve been able to earn 3% back on key business categories, such as software, subscriptions, and electronics. Also, the blue metal card with the Money@30 logo on it is absolutely gorgeous. I swear that’s not why they made my list, but it didn’t hurt. Jokes aside, I’m very interested to see where Karat goes from here and whether they can really corner the creator finance market they’re aiming for.
I may be a sucker for a sleek, niche, neobank offering — which is why I’ve previously put some of these on my annual lists, only to see them shutter. But, at the risk of making the same mistake again, I’ll say that I see something special about Mana. Mainly, having access to their Discord server, I’ve personally witnessed what appears to be a blossoming community that’s supporting this project.
So what is Mana? It’s a banking app aimed at gamers. This emphasis is not only evident in its debit rewards categories or the fact that users can earn bonus points by linking and playing mobile games but also in its Pro account, which bundles in gift cards for the likes of XBOX and PlayStation gift cards, as well as VPN, Discord, and other subscriptions. Yet, even as a normie, I still found something enjoyable about Mana and am rooting for its success. Thus, while I’d hate to think I may now be jinxing it, I’m happy to put it on my list.
My 2022 Picks: Where Are They Now?
After being named to my list, PointCard Neon (their debit card) had a few solid months… followed by some slight and quiet declines in terms of offerings. Then, in the summer, PointCard announced that it was sunsetting the card. Furthermore, instead of moving forward with its planned Titan charge card, the company rebranded to Atlas. That product is still apparently set to launch “early 2023” according to its site, but their socials are still private and there have been no updates since the announcement. I’m thinking this one is basically dead, but we’ll see if the $499 annual fee Atlas card catches on. Personally, I don’t have high hopes.
PrizePool is a prize-linked banking account that features weekly drawings. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Yotta does something quite similar (although that app has since moved to a daily drawing system). That’s why I was so surprised to discover that the mechanics behind the two accounts were actually quite different — and that I actually preferred PrizePool overall. Since writing about them, there hasn’t been much development in either direction for PrizePool. Instead, the app keeps chugging along and I’m still a regular user. I’m going to count that as a win considering much of the rest of this list, but I still hope PrizePool is able to see a breakout this year.
Peak Money was an automated savings tool that I thought had some really cool features and a great interface. That’s why I was sad to receive an email one April morning informing me that the app was closing down. Apparently I just got to the platform late as their goodbye thanked users for the past four years. Whoops. In any case, looking back at screenshots of the app, I really wish it could have stuck around.
I’ll admit that a big reason why I thought Cred.ai was really going to hit in 2022 was because popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco had promoted it on his show and invested in the company. Yet, although the company is definitely still around, I haven’t seen any major updates from them and I’m pretty sure DeFranco has only mentioned them a couple of times since. Perhaps something big is brewing in the background but, for now, I’m still keeping my eye on Cred as I think the potential is definitely there.
Well, this one really felt like a checkmark in the “win” column for me. Mere weeks after I published my list, it was announced that Walmart’s FinTech arm would be acquiring One. Talk about making a splash, right? That major development definitely justified my “one to watch” assessment. Sadly, in Walmart’s hands, One has stripped the service of much of what made it unique. Although One is still alive and seemingly in a position to grow, I’ve unfortunately fallen out of love with the app overall.
For a number of reasons, 2022 wasn’t a great year for FinTech — even if it did outpace several other years before it. Given these conditions, I’m going to take it a bit easy on myself for my questionable prognostication (although I think one of my picks getting scooped up by freaking Walmart should win me something). As for 2023, I may be playing it a bit safer with my choices, but I do believe all three do deserve a spotlight. Where with this trio of startups find themselves in the next installment of this annual feature? We’ll have to wait until 2024 to know for sure.