Empower App Review: How This App Can Help Save You Money

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Quick Take: Empower is a financial app that provides cash advances between $25 and $250 to qualified members with no interest charges and no late fees. It offers budgeting features, allowing you to track your expenses to take better control of your finances. It also helps with saving money, since you can set up AutoSave and automatically direct extra funds into a savings account once your bills are paid. Users can also sign up to receive an Empower debit card, which offers up to 10% cashback at select retailers and fee-free withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs across the country
  • Cost
    4.6
  • Features
    4.9
  • Account Syncing
    5.0
  • Customer Service
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • AutoSave feature tracks your spending and sets up transfers to savings when you have money available.
  • Never miss a bill payment with real-time alerts.
  • Budgeting is easier with monthly spending limits for overall expenses or in specific categories.
  • No interest or late fees on cash advances.
  • Funds are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.
  • Easy to connect your financial accounts to the app.

Cons

  • Must have a bank account at a U.S. financial institution to use the app.
  • Must be 18 or older.
  • Must have a U.S. mobile phone that can receive texts.
  • Two forms of ID required.
  • $8 monthly fee after the first 2 weeks.
  • No desktop-based application available or one in the works.

Empower Overview

Empower is a financial services company that developed an app to help people learn how to budget better, access affordable credit and earn rewards — all without a credit check. The Empower app is available for Android in the Google Play store and for iPhone through the Apple App Store. You’ll need a mobile phone with SMS capabilities to use the app.

Empower also offers users a debit card that allows you to earn rewards. The Empower app connects with your current U.S. bank. When you use your debit card for paycheck deposits, you may receive your pay up to two days faster.

Empower Thrive, a feature that is coming soon according to the website Empower.me, offers a $200 line of credit, which can grow to $1,000 when you make your payments on time. There is 0% APR if you pay your balance in full by your next paycheck — otherwise, you’ll be subject to a 35.99% APR.

Key Features

Let’s explore some of the key features that set the Empower app apart from other financial services and see how this card may help you budget better, increase your savings and possibly even build your credit.

Cost

The cost to use the Empower app is $8. This compares favorably to a checking account with a big bank like Chase, which charges $12 a month for its Total Checking account, its most basic account. Plus, with Empower, you will never experience overdraft fees and you can apply for a cash advance of $25 to $250 with no interest charges and no late fees. If you need the cash immediately onto your Empower debit card, you’ll pay a $12 fee. Otherwise, it’s free to deposit funds into a linked checking account. There is also a 1% international transaction fee if you use your Empower debit card outside the U.S.

Empower also costs less than the popular You Need A Budget app, which charges $14.99 per month or $98.00 per year.

However, it’s important to point out that there are free budgeting apps, like Mint, available and also many free checking accounts available both online and through brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions. That’s why Empower got a 4.6 rating for its cost.

Features

Empower has a host of benefits and features that can help individuals who are trying to become more financially savvy. First and foremost is the Empower Debit card, which offers up to 10% cashback on purchases from select merchants.

Another favorite feature is the interest-free cash advance. Reviewers on the Google Play store give the cash advance feature high marks, noting that the app provides “fast easy access and quick funding.”

If you’re looking to use Empower primarily as a budgeting app, it excels in helping you track your spending and saving money. The AutoSave feature monitors your daily spending and income and automatically makes deposits into your linked savings account when extra funds are available. The app will make up to four transfers per week, Monday through Thursday, when the money is available to help you achieve your pre-established savings goals.

Finally, the app lets you establish spending limits in a variety of categories, as well as overall weekly or monthly limits, to help you stay on budget.

Account Syncing

It’s easy to sync the Empower app with as many banks, financial institutions or credit cards as you’d like. You can choose from a list of well-known financial institutions, or search for any that are not listed. You can even connect to lenders, investment accounts including 401ks, cryptocurrency exchanges, credit cards and more. Empower has more than 10,000 financial institutions you can connect to. It can take up to three days for linked accounts to be added, but once you are up and running, your account data remains up to date.

You can connect Empower to other financial accounts using your Empower account and routing numbers or by using Plaid — if supported by your financial institution. If you connect via Plaid, you’ll just need your phone number and passcode.

Customer Service

Out of 5 stars, Empower garnered a 4.7 star rating with 37.4K reviews on the Google Play store. It earned an average of 4.8 stars with 45.7K reviews in the Apple App Store.

The company does offer customer service via phone from Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. But today’s financial customers expect 24/7 phone service, which people can get from most major credit cards.

Additionally, Empower Finance has 31 complaints with the Better Business Bureau and received a D rating. Of those complaints, 24 people had a problem with the service, while 6 reported issues with billing. These factors — balanced with largely positive online reviews — lead to its overall rating of 4.5 for customer service.

How Empower Stands Out

Empower stands out as an easy-to-use app for budgeting and saving. Most of all, reviewers like how quick and easy it is to request and receive a cash advance directly onto their Empower debit card in minutes for a small fee. The payback date is automatically set to your next pay date, making it easy to stay on track.

Empower’s 10% cashback debit card is also a huge benefit for people who do not have established credit to carry high-value, top-tier rewards credit cards, but still want to earn money on their purchases.

Comparable Options

The Empower app can fulfill the roles of a few different kinds of apps, including saving and budgeting apps. Let’s compare Empower to two of the most popular financial apps — Mint and Acorns.

Empower vs. Mint

Mint is a free budgeting and financial aggregator app that enables you to track your spending, pay bills and create a monthly budget. Mint can also help you negotiate recurring bills, such as cable and internet, to help you save money. The app also tracks your credit score and can help you detect fraud with alerts.

Like Empower, Mint finds opportunities to help you reach your savings goals, but it does not automatically save money for you. Mint also doesn’t have a debit card or cash advance feature, but if you’re looking for a robust app to help you track your spending, and don’t want to pay a monthly fee, it’s worth considering.

Empower vs. Acorns

Acorns is an investment app with a low monthly fee of just $3 for a personal account or $5 for a family account. Acorns rounds up purchases made with debit cards on linked accounts or on your Acorns debit card. You can earn even more when you shop with brands, like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Chewy and many other national brands. Acorns then invests these funds for you.

An Acorns account comes with a debit card that makes it easy to access funds in your Acorns checking account. The app integrates checking, investment and retirement accounts all in one.

Like Empower, Acorns may help you get paid via direct deposit up to two days earlier than usual. Empower does not offer a mobile check deposit feature, which Acorns does. So if you frequently get paid via check, that’s something to consider. As with Empower, Acorns is FDIC-insured up to $250,000 through Lincoln Savings Bank.

The Acorns debit card offers access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs through the AllPoint Network.

How To Apply

Empower is a robust financial app with many desirable capabilities. If you feel this may be the best way to manage your money, you can open your account by downloading the app through the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. You’ll need to provide your phone number and show two forms of identification. You’ll also need at least one U.S. bank account to link to Empower.

Who Empower Is Best For

Empower is best for anyone looking for a budgeting app and occasionally needs a cash advance until next paycheck to help their dollars stretch a little further. It is a great solution for people looking to build their credit and learn how to manage money.

Final Take

Empower is a unique concept in the world of financial apps and can help people manage their money while growing their savings.

FAQ

  • Is the Empower app legitimate?
    • Based on stellar ratings on the Apple App Store and Google Play store, the Empower app is legitimate. Funds are held by NBKC bank, which is an FDIC-insured financial institution.
  • What is the Empower app used for?
    • The Empower app helps you budget your money, establish automatic savings and even take out cash advances with no interest charges or late fees. It is a financial aggregator, budgeting app and enables you to easily save money in any linked bank account automatically.
  • Why is Empower taking money out of my account?
    • Empower could be deducting funds from your account for a number of reasons. The app withdraws a monthly fee of $8 for using the service. If you borrowed money using the cash advance feature, Empower will deduct the amount owed on your next payday.
  • How do you get money from Empower?
    • You can get money from Empower by applying for a cash advance of $25 to $250. The funds will be available immediately on your Empower debit card for a $12 fee or deposited into your bank account within a few days. You can also earn cashback rewards when you use your Empower debit card with merchant partners.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Empower. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Empower.

Information is accurate as of June 27, 2022.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.

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