Image Which bank has the best mobile app?
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

In a constantly evolving digital space, do banking apps measure up to our expectations? Which bank is currently providing the best mobile experience for its customers and which could do better?

When it comes to choosing a new bank, its fees and charges, its customer service and the size of its branch network used to be the main considerations.

Increasingly though, the quality of a bank's mobile app is what interests customers the most.   

This is because for many of us (and particularly for those of us on the go!) our first port of call when it comes to banking is now our smartphone.

At the very least, we’ve come to expect that banking apps should enable us to carry out basic tasks such as checking balances, making payments, transferring money between accounts, and managing direct debits. But over the past few years the things we expect to be able to do on our smartphones have increased. But not all banks are keeping up.

So which banks are meeting our expectations and which are falling short?

Revolut – the best

When it comes to banking apps Revolut leads the way. The fintech has pretty much revolutionised what’s possible to do with your money and all the other Irish banks’ mobile apps trail in its wake.

The best thing about Revolut is how easy it is to send money to other users. All it really takes is the touch of a button. There’s no searching for long Ibans or waiting a few days for money to reach your account.

Revolut offers biometric (face and fingerprint) login as well as the option to temporarily freeze your card in the app and unfreeze it. So if you think you’ve lost your card after a wild night out and start to panic, you can quickly put a temporary freeze on your account as opposed to cancelling all your cards. Should you happen to find your card the next day (or maybe the next hour!) you can just unfreeze it again and all will be good.

Revolut also allows you to disable online transactions if you want to (while still being able to make payments in stores with your physical card and to withdraw cash from ATMs). As most fraud is carried out online, this is another really handy security feature.

You can also disable the contactless feature temporarily and enable it again at the touch of a button in the app. So if you're off on holiday, or just a big night out, and would prefer the added security of chip and pin only in case you misplace your card, this is a really handy feature.  

You can also receive up-to-the-minute push notification and detailed analytics on your spending. The former is a great security feature also as if you lose your card or it’s fraudulently used online, you’ll know the second someone tries to use it to pay for something.

You can also block recurring payments easily at the touch of a button. Obviously you should always cancel any subscriptions officially as the supplier might just continue to try to bill you. However this is, yet again, another great security feature as if someone fraudulently keeps trying to take money from your account, you can just block them immediately and not even have to cancel your card.   

With Revolut you can also take a pic of a receipt with your phone, link it to your purchase and then save it in the app. So no more rummaging around looking for lost receipts in case you want to exchange something!

Revolut is due to start offering loans and credit cards before the end of the year and it’ll be possible to apply for these within the app as well.

Revolut also has a good rewards scheme which offers discounts and cashback on lots of top brands.

Revolut also has an ingenious money saving feature called Vaults. Every time you make a purchase with your card, Revolut will automatically round up your transaction to the nearest whole number and place the difference into your Vault. So every time you buy your morning coffee for €2.80, €0.20 will go straight into your Vault. Think of it as your online coin jar.   

A similar feature called Donations lets you round up your Revolut card payments and donate the spare change to a charity of your choice. 

Revolut also offers a great service to help with shopping online safely - disposable virtual cards.

At the click of a button you can create a brand new ‘virtual’ card within the Revolut app, which you can use for one-off purchases online. The card details then automatically expire and your virtual card is destroyed as soon as you’ve used it so even if the website you have shopped with turns out to be dodgy, at least the scammers won’t have access to any more of your money or be able to sell on your card details.

And to make things even handier, a new disposable card will automatically be generated for you as soon as your card has been used and destroyed. 

And don't worry about refunds - if you return something the money will automatically be credited onto your main physical card. 

If that’s not enough you can also buy and sell stocks and shares and cryptocurrency. 

The Revolut app is slick, quick, and well designed. The only small complaint, and it might seem petty, is that the app receives so many regular updates and changes with new features, that sometimes finding your way around the app can be a tiny bit cumbersome as there's so much you can do with it.   

Nevertheless, when it comes to mobile banking, it's pretty hard to beat Revolut. 

N26 - a close second 

N26 isn't quite as popular as Revolut in Ireland but it too has a slick and well designed app which has many of the same features as Revolut. However you can't access cryptocurrency or buy stocks and shares - for now at least.

You can also easily send and receive money to other users in seconds. But with 'only' around 200,000 customers in Ireland - compared to 1.7 million or so for Revolut - this feature isn't quite so handy.   

Its version of Revolut's Vaults - called Round-Ups - is only available with premium accounts. And only premium customers get an extra virtual card for online shopping (it's not disposable though). 

Online, contactless and ATM payments can all be easily turned on and off within the app and there is the freeze/unfreeze card feature. 

There's biometric login but somewhat annoyingly you have to re-log in with your actual pin every 30 days. 

As with Revolut, you can also receive up-to-the-minute push notification and detailed analytics on your spending.

N26 also has a rewards scheme for customers but the number of deals isn't quite as extensive compared to Revolut.

See here for a more in-depth comparison of N26 versus Revolut and all the great services they both offer.  

AIB – best of the 'big ones'

Out of the three remaining large retail banks i.e. AIB, BOI and PTSB, AIB is by far the best.

It’s still not a patch on Revolut or N26 but the number of online features has increased over time and the app is pretty slick, quick and user friendly. 

There’s biometric login, the freeze and unfreeze card feature, and it recently launched a new feature which allows you to pay someone who’s also an AIB customer just by using their phone number. So similar to Revolut and N26. But only for amounts up to €1,000 - mind you that should be more than enough for most people!

However, contactless or online payments can't be temporarily turned on or off within the app (as with Revolut and N26) nor does AIB offer customers any type of rewards scheme. 

Some transactions can only be done on internet banking (i.e. your desktop) with a card reader though. For example if you want to add a new payee, a new bill, or set up a new direct debit or standing order, you’ll need to do it on internet banking with your card reader. However once you've set up the new payee or direct debit you can then pay someone from within the app going forward and view or cancel the direct debit. 

International payments (which includes payments to Revolut or N26) can’t be made on the mobile app either - only through internet banking.      

AIB also has a handy ‘Quick Balance’ feature which allows you to view up to two account balances at the touch of a button without logging in.

PTSB - the worst

There aren’t many positive things to say about the PTSB mobile app unfortunately. It’s somewhat slow, not very slick looking and doesn’t even offer the most basic of features such as biometric login. The freeze/unfreeze card feature also isn’t available. And you can’t turn on or off any types of payments such as contactless or online payments.

There are no push notifications on your spending either. 

Needless to say you can’t buy any stocks or shares!  

You can apply or at least start to apply for things like loans and overdrafts and even a mortgage within the app but for the vast majority of people day-to-day functionality is more important rather than a feature which they might only carry out every few years at most.

An Post Money - the challenger 

An Post launched its current account back in 2017 and recently completely redesigned and updated its app, which now comes with some novel features.

For example, current account customers can easily save by setting money aside in up to 10 dedicated 'Jars'. You can set savings targets and deadlines and pay bills right out of a Jar. 

Customers can also avail of the Round Up function, which rounds up your debit card payments to the next whole number and puts the difference in a Jar. So, a payment of €1.90 puts €0.10 in your Jar. If you turn on Round Up multiplier, that amount is multiplied. So this is similar to Revolut's Vaults feature.

The account also lets you easily stay in control of your finances and avoid nasty surprises with helpful alerts for transactions like direct debits, credits to your account or failed payments. You just decide what alerts you want to receive and how you’d like to receive them – by email, text or online – and you'll be kept up-to-date.

Customers can also access An Post Money Mate. This is a current account aimed at kids between the ages of 7 and 15. With this feature, parents can set up an account for their child from their own app. With each account a child receives a Mastercard debit card allowing them to make contactless, chip & PIN or online payments - but fully overseen and controlled by their parent or guardian from their own account. This is similar to Revolut Junior. 

You can also freeze and unfreeze your card and there is biometric login. It’s not a bad app by any means and it’s great to see An Post step into the gap which Ulster Bank and KBC are leaving.

Bank of Ireland - could do better 

Bank of Ireland has been slow to innovate where technology is concerned. It was slow to launch Google Pay and Apple Pay while the quality of its mobile app and online banking services lag behind AIB's.

However it recently launched some handy new online banking features.

BOI customers can now freeze and unfreeze their card within the BOI app or online. You can now also view your PIN instantly (in case you forget it) and order a replacement card online without having to call the bank. And just like AIB and Revolut, BOI customers can easily send each other money just by using their phone contacts.

But there’s no biometric log-in, quick view feature, or ability to turn on and off any types of payments. For a bank of its size making over a billion in profit, it could do a bit better.

Comparison of mobile apps

Below we have compiled a table that compares the apps of Ireland’s three main retail banks, An Post, as well as the two digital-only banks.  

Feature 

AIB

An Post

BOI

N26

PTSB

Revolut

Face/fingerprint login

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Freeze/unfreeze

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

View card pin

Yes 

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Quick balance view 

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Send money to people just by using your phone contacts

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Push notifications on spending*

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Toggle on/off contactless

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Toggle on/off online transactions

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Toggle on/off ATM withdrawals

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Disposable virtual card

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Apple and Google Pay

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Access to cryptocurrency 

No

No

No

No

No

Yes 

Access to stocks and shares

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Spit bill feature 

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

In-app rewards

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

*refers to notifications about your spending as opposed to messages or advertising/communications

Not all banking apps are the same

Out of all of the products that we provide comparison services for here on bonkers.ie, customers seem to be the most reluctant to switch current accounts. And when we ask why the answer is nearly always the same; "sure all banks are the same".

However the above shows that this certainly isn't the case when it comes to mobile banking.

N26 and Revolut are where the real innovation in online banking is right now and both have well designed and slick mobile apps that are streets ahead of the competition.  

In the middle, AIB and An Post have upped their game and are trying to keep up. Meanwhile Bank of Ireland and PTSB are genuinely years behind the competition and don't even offer basic services like face or fingerprint log-in.  

Not just about tech   

Though the quality of a bank's mobile app is a high priority for most people, you should always consider the other things that are important when choosing the right current account for your needs.

For instance, you might want to familiarise yourself with different banks' policies on ATM withdrawal fees or whether they've a branch close by to you before making any decisions.

Check out this guide on what to consider before choosing a new current account provider where we go through all the important things to consider.