===Money makes the world go round===
A phrase that most people over the age of 18 will be familiar with, especially if they no longer live with Mum and Dad. Money is the one thing that truly stresses me out. Thinking about it for more than a few minutes tends to give me a total headache. Since I'm not one of those people to bury my head in the sand when it comes to finances, however, I regularly have to sit down and give myself a headache to make sure that my finances are still all sparkly and in order. I'm incredibly glad I came into my serious banking mind-set around about the same time that internet banking was really taking off. If I couldn't instantly access my up to date details, I think I'd have freaked out and driven myself into the ground long before now. Then came the next step in the evolution of banking: The Mobile Banking App. Most banks these days will have one, some better than others. The one I've had most experience with is the app from The Royal Bank of Scotland which came out a couple of years ago. Regardless of terrible interest rates etc, I've stuck with them for a long time due to the low overdraft charges. Now that they've changed their charges, I've switched banks so I've currently got two other banking apps to compare this app to!
===How to set it up===
As with most apps, this one is a doddle to download. You can get it either from the RBS website (www.rbs.co.uk) following the links for digital banking on your mobile. Alternatively, you can search in the Google Play store on your phone for RBS and it's the first one that comes up. Currently it has a rating on the Play Store of 3.7/5 which makes it fall into the "average" category based on user feedback. Once you've downloaded it, you simply need to log in. They will send a code to your phone (as your number should be linked to your internet banking) and you set up a numerical password.
After the initial log in, you don't need anything but your password. Tapping on the app will bring up a blue welcome screen with a box asking for your numerical password (or passcode as they are calling it). Simply type that in and hit one of the "log in" buttons (there's one on the welcome screen and one on the keypad that appears when you select the password box) and, assuming you've got it correct, it'll log you in. Easy as pie.
The only issue I have with the whole process is that the keypad that appears on this app is huge. This could greatly increase the chance of someone guessing your code if you flail your phone about as you log on in a public space. As you type the numbers in, it allows each number to stay on screen in the passcode box for about a second before it turns to a much more secure black dot. If I'm being honest, it could be slightly more secure for my liking.
===Accounting for your Accounts ===
The screen you are presented with is incredibly easy to understand. A thin blue bar along the top holds the RBS branding and three pictures that act as options. The first is the "Get Cash" button which looks like a little ATM machine. Next is the "Near Me" button which is a target symbol, followed by a small mobile phone which acts as the "Top-up" button. More on those later.
Under the top bar about half the screen is taken up with details of the account you are looking at. I currently have seven accounts with RBS between credit cards, current accounts and savings accounts. You will see a simple picture at the side to indicate what type of account you are looking at. Credit cards show a credit card, current accounts show a little stack of blue coins and savings accounts show a little pig which I assume is supposed to represent a piggy-bank but they may just be calling you a greedy pig. Who knows?
As well as the pictures it will also tell you in writing with a nice big blue title what you are looking at so "Credit Card", "Savings Account" and "Current Account" will appear next to the little picture. Under this will give you a bit more detail. In much smaller and less bold writing it will give you the account number and sort code of the account. If you're looking at a credit card, you'll see part of your credit card number, but not all of it, just in case someone manages to see the numbers over your shoulder. Yay for being secure! Under that it will also give you the name of the account. If you have internet banking, you can change the name of each account you hold to something that may help you manage your finances better such as "House Savings" or "Bill Account" or even "Frivolous Holiday Spending". Whatever you've named it on your internet banking will show here too. The only thing I don't really like is that it orders your accounts based on the type of account rather than the name of the account. The internet banking orders it based on name, so all of my accounts are numbered so they show in the order I prefer them in. Your own personal organisation goes to pot on the mobile app which is a shame. Credit Card Accounts show first, followed by Current Accounts and then Savings Accounts.
Beneath those details, the balance of the account becomes bold again, showing you exactly how much you have to play with. It's always blue even if you are in your overdraft, so look out for the minus sign next to it which will tell you you're into your overdraft. Even more handily, under the balance it will show you your available balance. If you have went into your overdraft it'll tell you exactly how much you have left to spend without you having to work the maths out. The available balance also sometimes shows less due to pending bills which might give you a heads up that something's about to come off. Handy!
The last thing showing in this section of the screen is a page number. I have seven accounts, so it shows 1 of 7 right through to 7 of 7. I don't find this bit handy at all but some people may.
===Moving between accounts===
RBS really have got user friendly down to an art with this app which I never realised until I had to start using other apps. Moving between accounts is as simple as flicking your finger across the screen. The account details section that you see is on a ticker, so swiping left and right will move the ticker to the next account in line and change everything accordingly. Other apps I have, you have to physically come out of the screen for one account, find the one you want, click on it to open it and so on. If you want a quick view of your accounts, this really is fantastically functional and intuitive. Compared to the Halifax, Santander and First Direct apps, this one is so smooth it makes me weep when I have to use the others. It's so simple to do; it really is perfect, especially next to the clunky apps from other banks.
===Can do, boys===
So, you've logged on and swiped your way to the account you want to play with...but what can you actually do once you've gotten there? That's what the bottom half of the screen deals with! Depending on the account you are looking at, there will be up to four bars or buttons stretching across the screen in the bottom half, each with its own option printed clearly on it:
This button pretty much does what it says on the tin. It opens up a new screen showing you a basic statement. The blue strip along the top changes to read "Statement" and along the top half inch of the screen you'll see the details of the account you are looking at which is basically a condensed version of the main account screen. The current balance will show on the right hand side of this section. Below this you'll see a scrollable list which goes back three months. If you want more than that, there's a little calendar up in the very top right hand corner that takes you to a search screen. Simply enter the dates you want and it'll pull them up for you.
Each transaction has a date next to it, the name that it relates to (so Sky, Virgin, Ciao, Allan etc) and then it will show you on the right hand side what happened. If money came out, it'll show a minus next to the number, if it was going into the account it'll just appear as normal. Each entry has a little blue plus sign on the left hand side which expands the transaction to give you slightly more detail such as account numbers or payment references and what type of payment it was (like a direct debit, standing order etc). The only thing I don't like about the statement function is that it doesn't show you what the balance was after each transaction as it does on internet banking. All you can see is that things went in and out. It's still handy but I'd be more inclined to look at my statements online if I wanted real detail.
---Transfer between accounts---
This button, again, does exactly what you'd think. If you want to switch money around between your RBS accounts then go to the account you want the money to come out of and push this button. A new screen will appear with a "From" section along the top containing the details of the account you selected. Underneath you'll see a scrollable list of the other RBS accounts you hold, each one a smaller version of the main account screen. Tap the account you want to transfer money to and you'll be taken to a new screen. At the top of the screen you'll see an "Amount" box with a pay button next to it. Below this taking up roughly half the screen each is a "from" section showing the account you're taking the money out of on top and a "To" section underneath showing the details of the account you're transferring to. There's even a little arrow cut into the account details to show what direction the money is moving to. Simply type the amount you want to transfer into the box and push the "pay" button. A little pop up will appear asking if you are sure you want to pay the amount. It'll tell you exactly how much you typed, so if you transfer £300.33 it'll say "are you sure you want to pay £300.33?". It has two large buttons, one a blue "Pay" button and one a grey "Cancel" button. Pushing pay completes the transaction and takes you to a confirmation screen. If you've transferred to anything but a credit card, the new balances will show instantly. Credit Cards take a day or three to update.
This option tends not to be available from a credit card account.
---Pay a person or bill---
Pay a person or bill works in the exact same way the transfer button works. Rather than giving you a list of your own accounts, it gives you a list of Payees that are set up on your account. Follow the exact same steps and it transfers the money straight away. This option is also not available from a credit card account
---Pay your contacts---
If you know someone uses the RBS app or has a valid visa card and you have their phone number you can send them a payment just with their contact number. Clicking this will bring up a list of people in your phone book and give you the option to send money to them. Personally I've never done this as it feels incredibly unsafe to me. People may not have updated their numbers with the relevant places or even with yourself. I'd much rather just ask someone for their bank details. As such I can't say how well this option works, but I don't really want to try it either. This option is not available from a credit card or savings account, so it'd be your current account taking the hit on this one.
===Back to the Buttons===
After all that functionality you may wonder exactly what else you really need to do from this app. Remember those buttons at the top of the screen? Hit the "Get Cash" button that looks like a little ATM (Bank machine if you're not Americanising it) and you'll be met with a whole new world of awesome. This button basically allows you to get money out from certain cash machines without your card. You can select an amount in multiples of £10 right up to £250 and push the "Get Cash Code" button. You'll be given a code to type in at the cash machine and it will take the money from the account that you had highlighted when you pushed the button. How amazing is that? Well... all depends really. If you are near a NatWest, RBS or Tesco cash machine then you're laughing. If not, then you won't be able to use the function. The code you get stays valid for three hours and after that if you haven't used it, it doesn't take the money out of your account. You also need to have at least £25 available to use before you'll be allowed to use this service, even if it's only a tenner you need to take out. This might be a very handy function if you forget to take your wallet with you when you leave for lunch. It might also be a bit of a security risk but only if someone steals your phone, gets passed the unlock screen (which you really should have) and guesses your pin. I don't think that wouldn't be very likely but then you never know with some people.
The "Near Me" button that looks like a little target may come in very handy. It'll load up a little map and direct you to your nearest cash machine. At least, your nearest RBS cash machine. This can be a total pain in the backside if you really just wanted any old cash machine. Google would probably be more helpful here. There are plenty of cash machines around where I currently am but not one of them is an RBS machine. If I used this app to find a machine, I'd end up travelling half way across the city to get one when there's one literally 2 minutes up the road. They don't even make it very clear that it's just RBS machines they are directing you to. I figured it out by looking at the map and noting there was nothing listed at the places I know there are machines. If you were in a city you're not familiar with, this could have caused some issues. My advice? Don't use this button.
===Being on Top===
This is another button that some may find more handy than others. If you still have a mobile that needs topping up with money (pay as you go) or even if you have kids that are on a pay as you go plan so as not to allow them to run up a massive bill, you can top the phone up from here just by having the phone number you want to top up. You'll be prompted a couple of times first to make sure the number is the right one, and then Walla, done. I'm on a contract and I don't have any brats running up massive phone bills so I never use this option myself.
===No Go Areas===
With all its awesomeness there are a few things you cannot do with the app that you can do online. At the top of the list of slightly frustrating things is that you cannot set up a new Payee or standing order via the app. If you have paid someone previously online their name will be on your list but if not you'll need to go online and add them which will involve the use of a little hand held device you get with online banking with RBS. It's a minor hassle though.
Next is the fact you can't change the names of the accounts on your app or organise them in an order that suits your needs as I touched on before.
You also cannot set up or close accounts from the app which may have come in handy when I get rid of my RBS accounts in the coming months. All of this, however, can be done online so it's not a huge issue.
Personally I love this app. I loved it prior to getting the three other apps I now have for various banks and I loved it even more since I got them. It's incredibly user friendly and intuitive, being smooth and easy to navigate and giving you as much information as would really be sensible from an "on the go" facility. It definitely kicks the backside off of the apps for Santander, Halifax and First Direct (HSBC). It's a firm five stars out of five from me.