Can the Albert app help you reach your savings goals?

by Jill Jaracz
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Can the Albert app help you reach your savings goals?

Pros

  • Proves you can save money
  • Possible to save toward multiple goals
  • Albert Genius uses human connections

Cons

  • Smart Savings withdrawals can be anxiety-inducing
  • Takes a year to earn any savings bonus
  • Can’t access your money immediately

What is Albert & how does it work?

Albert is a financial app that helps you build wealth and have financial freedom. Albert’s main feature is a savings program built to show that you can save money, even if you think you can’t.

Albert’s savings program has two options. You can choose to save a set amount every week, or you can use its Smart Savings, which uses an algorithm to determine how much you can set aside at any time during the month.

After linking your accounts via encrypted connections, you set a goal for your savings — e.g. a rainy day fund, a vacation account, etc. — every week, or more often, depending on what the algorithm determines, Albert withdraws money from your checking account and puts it into your Albert account.

Albert also has a budgeting tool that lets you analyze your spending habits, see all of your accounts in one pace and know your net worth.

Learn what to do if your net worth drops.

Albert Genius is the premium area of the app. Its monthly fee is whatever you’re willing to pay, but the minimum charge is $4. Genius provides a fee-based bill reduction service and access to Albert’s investing platform, which allows you to build a stock portfolio with as little as $1. Don’t know what to invest in? Genius can create a portfolio for you. Albert Genius also gives advice through a human-based chat feature.

What’s good about Albert?

Proves you can save money
If you think you can’t save money, think again. With Smart Savings, I saved $253 in a little over a month. If I kept that up, I’d probably have a good $2,500 saved within a year, without even thinking about it.

Possible to save toward multiple goals
If you’re a Genius member, Albert lets you set up multiple savings buckets for different goals, and you can pause them at any time. So if your friend gets engaged and you need money for a destination wedding, you can hit pause on your house fund and start a new bucket for the wedding.

Albert Genius uses human connections
Albert’s financial advice comes from real humans, so whether you have a simple or complex question, they’re able to understand it and provide helpful advice.

What’s bad about Albert?

Smart Savings withdrawals can be anxiety-inducing
Albert says Smart Savings users can expect to save $25 to $100 per week. Genius users will have that money spread over multiple transactions; non-subscribers will have one savings transaction per week.

Albert started my account off with a bang. Within nine days, it had pulled $125 from my checking account. It started off small, with a couple of $6 withdrawals, but soon was taking out more than $50 at a time.

As a freelancer who has an irregular income, I like having a little cushion in my checking account for the lean times. All of the Albert transactions stressed me out because I could never be sure how much money would be in my checking account on any given week. I soon got anxious any time I got an Albert notification.

I did make adjustments to my Albert account settings, which toned down the frequency and withdrawal amounts, but it didn’t help to have a $60 Albert withdrawal at the end of the month, when I knew I had a large credit card bill due, and I didn’t know when I’d get my next paycheck.

Takes a year to earn any savings bonus
Accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but Albert isn’t a bank, so it doesn’t pay interest. However, it does give you a bonus if you keep your money in the app for a year. For every $100 in an account, non-subscribers get 25 cents and Genius users get $1. That’s not a lot, especially since you have to pay at least $48 in Genius fees to get the higher rate.

Can’t access your money immediately
If you need your money immediately, you’re out of luck. Albert withdrawals take one to two business days to hit your checking account. I made one withdrawal, and it did only take a day. If I had a true emergency, even that might be too long.

Is Albert worth it?

If money management and financial planning frighten you, and if you think saving money is not possible, Albert may be able to show you how to straighten up your financial life and build savings. Real human interaction through a non-threatening chat interface can build your financial literacy.

The downside is that to save real money, you have to give Albert access to your checking account and let it make withdrawals whenever its algorithm decides to do so. If you need to know where your money is at all times, Smart Savings can be stressful.

Even if you dictate the amount of money going to your Albert account, you’re not earning a bonus for at least a year, so it may be smarter to find an interest-bearing account at a bank and set up automatic withdrawals to build up your savings.

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Image: Nastia Kobzarenko