Many savings account interest rates are expected to go up over the next few weeks, following the most recent Federal Reserve rate increase. The Fed has been raising rates throughout 2022 in response to record-high inflation, which is making essentials, from the food you buy to the home you live in, a little more expensive.
Online banks offer a compelling case right now: savings account interest rates as high as 2.5% — and others well above. If you’re worried about inflation devaluing your savings, it might be time to make the switch from your traditional brick-and-mortar bank.
Although earning 2% to 3% on your savings won’t offset the toll of inflation, it can help grow your savings faster than traditional savings accounts, which sit closer to 0.01%. With lower operating costs and overhead, online banks — digital-only banks — can offer customers lower fees and higher-than-average savings yields. And, many of these banks offer innovative features like early access to your paycheck.
If you can’t remember the last time you stepped foot in your bank, it could be financially advantageous to switch to an online bank with no fees and better interest rates. But before taking the plunge, consider these 5 questions first.
1. Are you switching to a real bank?
While many neobanks offer savings and checking accounts, debit cards and other standard banking features, they’re not always nationally chartered banks — with the exception of Varo — with all of the proper licensing. Instead, they’re “financial technology companies” that offer a more limited array of bank-like services.
This is a potential red flag since neobanks aren’t regulated in the same way as licensed banks. For consumers, it’s especially important to find out if there’s an actual bank or banking partner backing the neobank. At a minimum, you want to make sure that it provides FDIC insurance, which means that the federal government will insure your individual account up to $250,000 in the event the neobank folds. You can usually find the “We are not a bank” disclosure, along with any of the neobank’s legal bank partners on the “About us” pages.
2. What will you do if there’s a digital hiccup?
Chime made headlines recently over its relatively high rate of customer complaints. Researchers found that Chime experienced outages in the past that allegedly left customers financially stranded, according to a ProPublica report in July. It also received 920 complaints filed at the Consumer Protection Bureau since April 2020, all related to “closed accounts.” At the time, Chime had about 12 million customers.
No matter where we park our cash, we must prepare for things to go wrong. This makes it all the more important that your financial institution has round-the-clock customer service support and, ideally, workarounds to help you access your cash when you need it. You may find a neobank that’s partnered with a specific ATM network. But in general, neobanks aren’t always as equipped as traditional banks to address these issues. If my bank’s app is down, for example, and I need to transfer money, I can always visit any ATM or send a check.
Creating your own backup plan, such as storing emergency cash in an alternate bank account in case of any unexpected disruptions, may be helpful.
“If switching to a non-brick-and-mortar makes you anxious, then only move some of your money if you want to check it out,” says Erin Lowry, author of The Broke Millennial.
3. How will you reach customer support if there’s an issue?
While neobanks don’t have branches, they may have customer support powered by real people. This is an important feature and one worth prioritizing in your search for a well-suited neobank. In the event of a technical issue or outage, you want to know you can get help sooner than later. Before signing up, take the customer service for a test drive, to ensure help with a live person is easy to access, says Lowry.
4. Does the online bank offer all the financial services you need?
Does a neobank offer loans, credit cards, investment accounts and other services? It’s important to think about your long-term financial goals and how this digital-only financial account may — or may not — support you along your journey.
A more established bank with a robust digital arm may serve you better over the long term, especially if it has a more comprehensive lineup of products and services like mortgages and retirement accounts.
5. Do you have to choose between a traditional bank and an online bank?
I’m particularly happy with my bank’s digital experience, which for years has allowed me to deposit checks through the mobile app and send money seamlessly and safely to others. These are features that my bank was among the first to offer, beginning nearly 10 years ago, so it’s had time to work out some bugs and wonky user experience issues.
And while I know many may not have visited a bank branch since the pre-pandemic days, my bank’s local presence is comforting to me. I walked in to get a certified check for buying a car back in the day. And I felt better about depositing a large check in person last year, after we sold our apartment.
If you’re torn between a bank you love and interest rates you wish you had, it’s not an either-or decision. You can keep your primary bank account the same and divert your savings to go to a high-yield digital bank account. This way you still have access to your main bank’s convenient features, while maintaining a separate savings account that’s earning you more money.
I don’t see any clear and present danger to opening an account with a neobank — so long as your money is insured by the FDIC and you’re aware of its limitations. If it offers live customer support, even better. But having a backup bank with an ATM and a local branch, one where you keep your rainy-day savings, might not be a bad way to further ensure liquidity and access to cash in case of any tech disruptions.
The reality is that many of us, if we’re not already, will become polybankers. We’ll have accounts spread across various financial institutions because the likelihood that one bank (or neobank) will optimally solve all our banking needs is unlikely.
My mortgage is with a different bank where I found the best interest rate. I also have multiple credit cards across various issuers. So just like with retirement, it often pays to go with a diversified approach to banking for the best returns.
We’d expected the Cyber Monday deal to have gone by now, but it’s still going strong today. It isn’t clear how long it’ll be available for, though, so if you need a dash cam that just does the basics and shoots good-quality 1080p video, we’d suggest picking it up sooner rather than later.
In our review of Garmin’s tiny dash cam, which is about the size of a key fob, we praised its “focus on simplicity”, along with its “high-quality HD footage and useful set of voice control commands”.
Today’s best dash cam deal
While the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 lacks premium features like 4K video recording or a rear screen, we think it nails the basics and offers great value, particularly in this post-Cyber Monday deal.
Because it’s tiny and weighs only 35g, it can hide away discreetly behind your rear-view mirror, which makes it particularly suitable for small cars. In our tests, we were also impressed with the quality of its 1080p video and 140-degree field of view, plus the handy voice controls.
And while the Dash Cam Mini 2 does also lack GPS, we found the Garmin Drive app – which is an important part of the dash cam experience – to be very polished and user-friendly. We had no issues with connecting it to the dash cam, which is where some models can slip up, and it’s free for iOS and Android phones.
Looking for a more traditional camera to help shoot photos and video outside your car? Check out our broader round-up of the best Cyber Monday camera deals that are still going.
More dash cam deals
No matter where you live, you’ll find all the lowest prices for dash cams from around the web right here, with offers available in your region.
Mark is the Cameras Editor at TechRadar. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he’s contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph’s Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London’s Square Mile.
Apple has announced the winners of the App Store Awards 2022, with BeReal – the new social platform that has you snapping and sharing a pair of photos (one from your phone’s front and one from the back camera) each day, took the App of the Year award this year.
The App Store Awards (opens in new tab) is a yearly event where Apple recognizes developers and the apps they’ve created that have made the biggest impact on its users and the company. Whether that’s in social media, games or sport, they take advantage of the hardware and software that Apple’s recently brought out.
There were a bunch of games that were highlighted this year, such as Wilde Flowers (opens in new tab) and Inua (opens in new tab) winning the Apple Arcade game of the year and Cultural Impact award respectively, while GoodNotes 5 (opens in new tab), developed Time Base Technology Limited, took the iPad App of the Year award.
It’s interesting to spot that there’s 16 winners here, rather than 15 of the previous years – that’s because there’s a new ‘China Game of the Year’ added to the roster, which only shows the breadth of how one country is making an impact on the App Store.
With this in mind, TechRadar reached out to the developers of Wylde Flowers, Gentler Streak and Inua about plans for their apps in the near future, after winning these awards from Apple.
Apple’s App Store shows no sign of slowing down
Available on Apple Arcade (opens in new tab), Wylde Flowers is a game reminiscent of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, where you control the protagonist – Tara, building and running a farm during the day while also moonlighting as a witch during the night.
Developed by Studio Drydock, the developers told us that they were proud to receive the Apple Arcade game of the year, but that there’s also an upcoming update called ‘Endless Seasons and Romance’ – due for a December release – which will feature different weather effects and new content that players will be able to enjoy.
We asked the team if they would also include the ability to finally customize Tara, and while they said that they were aware of this request from many players, it wasn’t something that they were considering for the time being.
Inua (opens in new tab) is a time-traveling adventure game that makes for an immersive time on iPhone and iPad, and while developers Arte Experience told us that a version of the game appearing on Apple TV would make for a good next step when we suggested it, they didn’t confirm whether this is expansion would be in the game’s future.
Alongside this, Gentler Streak (opens in new tab) achieves the unique task of encouraging you to work out in a calm and concise way, with useful information inside a well-designed app. The team also confirmed that Live Activities – a feature from iOS 16.1 that allows widgets to show live updates on the Lock Screen – is coming to a future update of the app, alongside adding photos to workouts and more complications to the watchOS app.
Overall, it’s encouraging to see so many varied apps earning awards this year, although it would be nice to see another award that highlights accessibility; either as a separate award or included as a mention as part of other awards.
Regardless, with rumors of an Apple VR headset allegedly debuting in 2023, we could see a completely different App Store Awards next year. It’s a good time to be an Apple user, with the innovation that these independent developers are still bringing to the table, almost 15 years since the App Store debuted, alongside the iPhone 3G, back in 2008.
Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he’s written a book, ‘The Making of Tomb Raider’, alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that’s about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.
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Leading through turbulent times has become far too familiar for leaders; PwC’s new report found 90% of executives are concerned about macroeconomic conditions, including the Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle, higher cost of capital, and wages not keeping up with inflation. However, 82% remain confident about their ability to execute on digital transformation initiatives and 77% are confident they can achieve near-term growth goals.
Inflation is a looming threat, but large budget cuts can formulate the exact precarious situation companies hope to avoid. Rather than acting swiftly, the survey found executives are focused on planning for the potential timing and severity of a recession.
Executives are thinking about how to cut costs without reducing headcount, such as using automation and managed services for efficiency. CIOs still plan to invest in digital transformation.
Implementing strategies for recession-proofing
Along with inflation fears, executives are worried about wage growth not keeping up with rising costs, and plan to reduce the number of full-time employees as a result. In fact, 81% of CHROs plan to implement at least one tactic to reduce their workforce, such as layoffs, voluntary retirement or not replacing people who leave on hiring freezes.
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The state of hybrid work remains a topic among executives. Two-thirds are concerned with a slower-than-expected returns to work. Many seek to implement on-site training, coaching and mentoring opportunities to attract employees. Executives are challenged to rethink the role of the office by creating a culture that fosters in-office participation.
While fears of a recession loom, not all hope is lost. Leaders are focused on growth and looking to enter a possible recession healthy and exit healthier. While conscious of their cost structure, it’s part of a bigger conversation about how they will transform their businesses for the future, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to current economic conditions. How well and how quickly they are able to execute will determine the outcome.
Effective strategic planning, investment in growth and continuous flexibility will see companies through growing concerns.
PwC’s report surveyed more than 650 business executives, including 91 CFOs and 94 CHROs.