Current is a mobile app that offers fee-free banking, 4% APY on savings, transparent teen banking and a host of other features.
Founded in 2015 as a teen debit card and mobile app, the New York-based company has since expanded to serve adults and racked up 4 million users. It offers its banking services through FDIC-insured Choice Financial Group.
CEO Stuart Sopp, who worked in the finance industry for 15 years before founding Current, has said the company is oriented around access to liquidity, especially for people living paycheck to paycheck. To that end, Current seeks to separate itself from traditional banks by offering a high APY on savings, quicker access to funds, and automated micro-savings.
Current Banking App’s 9 Best Features
For this review, we ranked Current’s features based on their value and uniqueness among online banking platforms.
#1. Savings Pods That Pay 4% APY
Current offers 4% APY on up to $6,000 in savings spread across three “savings pods,” making it a viable option for buffering against inflation or savings toward short-term financial goals, such as an emergency fund or a vacation.
Savings pods aren’t savings accounts, and the APY generated by them isn’t interest. Instead, this APY is offered through a feature called Current Interest, and it’s important to know that Current can change the rate at any time.
To qualify for this feature, you have to receive a direct deposit of $200 or more from your employer or a payroll provider at least every 35 days. If you don’t, your savings pods will pay a 0.25% APY instead.
In either case, Current pays daily against the annual yield. While the APY only applies to $2,000 in each savings pod, you can put more than $2,000 into them.
#2. Automated Micro-Savings (Roundups)
Current’s round-ups feature allows you to automatically set aside the difference between an expense and the next dollar into savings. This feature is especially handy if you have trouble saving money on your own.
Enabling round-ups is easy: just pick a savings pod and tap the toggle switch to turn it on.
These funds are much more accessible to you than they would be with services that offer similar features. As examples, Acorns puts your automated savings into ETFs, while Qoins directs it toward paying off debt.
Current’s round-ups don’t work if your account is negative or if you make your purchase with the Overdrive feature, which allows you to overdraft with your debit card up to $200.
#3. Teen Banking Built Into the Platform
Current’s free teen bank account offers teens some financial independence and an opportunity to learn about money management while allowing you to oversee them.
With a teen account, your teen gets a prepaid Visa debit card. They can designate money on the debit card for spending, saving or charity, view their balances, use Current’s automatic savings feature, and set up recurring transfers to savings. They can use tens of thousands of ATMs nationwide for free and pre-authorized holds from gas stations will be automatically removed when they purchase gas.
You can transfer money to your teen’s account, monitor their spending, set spending limits, block retailers, set chores and automatically transfer money to their account as allowance or when they complete their chores.
Both you and your child, who must be at least 13, need to have Current accounts for teen banking to work. You’ll link your accounts via a QR code on your device.
#4. Gas Station Hold Removals
Current instantly removes the pre-authorized holds gas stations put on your card when you fuel up your vehicle. That can be a lifesaver if you’re low on cash, as these holds can run $50 or more, sometimes even climbing past $100.
In fact, Mastercard and Visa, the biggest payment processors, recently raised the limit gas stations can set holds at from $125 to $175.
It’s not just that pre-authorized holds can be a hassle when you make the purchase, either; they can hang around for as long as three days. That can be catastrophic when your balance is close to zero. It can cause the transaction to be declined or lead to an overdraft, and if you overdraft your account, that can come with its own set of fees.
Fortunately, Current eliminates the risk by preventing gas station pre-authorization holds from hitting your account in the first place.
#5. Early Access to Direct Deposits
Current lets you get your direct deposit two days earlier than with traditional banks, which can make all the difference if you’re struggling to pay your bills.
For example, you might have an electric bill due a couple of days before you get paid but you need more money to pay it and make it to your next payday. Early access to your paycheck can help keep you from having to pay the bill late, or worse yet, put it on a credit card.
When you’re on the margin, even a little debt can be a heavy burden and it can quickly get out of control. Any time you don’t have to rely on your credit card to get by is a win.
#6. Fee-Free Overdrafts
While other banking services charge you for overdrafting your account, Current’s Overdrive feature gives you space to overdraft without worrying about fees or penalties. If you qualify, you can go up to $200 in the negative when using your debit card, though you won’t start with that limit.
Nearly half of the people living paycheck to paycheck have overdrafted in the past year, not just once but almost 10 times on average, according to the 2021 FinHealth Spend Report. If that includes you, this feature can be a tremendous help. Traditional banks can charge as much as $35 for overdrafting, sometimes repeatedly, so you’re potentially losing out on hundreds of dollars per year in addition to having to pay back the negative balance. That can sometimes cause a downward spiral as banking fees continue to rack up while you struggle to pay them.
To qualify for Current’s Overdrive feature, you must receive a direct deposit of at least $500 monthly. It’s an opt-in program, so it doesn’t start automatically when you’re eligible. You need to activate it in the app. Your overdraw limit is set by Current and can change at any time.
Overdrive only applies to debit card purchases and excludes ATM transactions, Current Pay transfers and peer-to-peer transactions through PayPal, Venmo and the like.
#7. Best In Class Mobile App
Current offers an easy-to-use app that gives you all the information you need at a glance and neatly divides its features into five areas — Home, Money, Crypto, Points, and You. That’s dramatically different from most traditional banks, which seem satisfied with jamming their often-clunky websites into their mobile apps.
In contrast, Current built its technology to support its products, which it intended for use on mobile devices from the start.
On the home screen, you can see your spending and savings pod balances, your most recent transaction and insights into your spending. Tapping the spending icon will pull up your account information and transaction history.
You’ll spend most of your time in the Money area. It’s where you set up direct deposits, add and move money, make your mobile check deposits, connect bills to your account, deal with cash and use Current Pay. It’s also where you transfer money to your teen’s account if you’re using the teen banking features.
You’ll use the Points area to initiate your intent to redeem offers and to turn your points into cash. The Crypto area is for trading cryptocurrency, which you can do without incurring trading fees. The You area is for your personal information.
That’s it! While most banks would have you using a menu bar and dropdowns to get where you need to go in their apps, Current offers a tidy platform that makes it easy to find and use its features.
#8. Spending Insights Dashboard
Current provides a dashboard for you to track your spending overall and by category, making it much easier to follow a budget and reduce expenses.
Overspending when living paycheck to paycheck can be catastrophic and lead to reliance on credit cards or other debts to make it through the pay period. Keeping a close eye on your spending can help prevent that. Not only does Current provide budgeting tools, it also lets you see at a glance how much money you’ve spent on different categories, such as fast food or utility bills.
If you’re having trouble spending within your means, this feature can be empowering. If you see that some of your discretionary expenses, like that fast food category, are taking up too much of your spending, you can quickly take action to reduce them. That helps you to control your expenses and could make space for you to use your money in more constructive ways, such as putting it in a savings pod to build an emergency fund.
#9. Super-Simple Crypto Platform
Current makes buying and selling cryptocurrencies extremely easy.
Current partners with Zero Hash to deliver its trading platform, enabling you to buy and sell more than two dozen cryptocurrencies without paying trading fees. Plus, you get instant access to your money when you sell.
All you have to do to buy is fund your spending account, tap “buy” in the crypto area of the app, select the coin you want and tell Current how much of it you want to purchase. To sell, you follow a similar process.
Through its integration with Zero Hash, Current can provide a crypto-trading infrastructure that many of the top fintech platforms use while complying with regulatory requirements. Depending on your state’s laws, you may not have access to all or any of the cryptocurrencies. For example, you can’t buy and sell crypto in Hawaii.
Crypto trading is not available on teen accounts.
Here are some of the other features Current offers.
- Ability to make cash deposits: Current allows you to make cash deposits, unlike many online-only banking services. You can do so at more than 60,000 locations, including most Walgreens, gas stations and CVS pharmacies, for a $3.50 fee per deposit.
- Fee-free ATM network: With Current, you can use an Allpoint ATM in the U.S. to withdraw money for free. That’s a network of more than 40,000 ATMs, which you can find using the ATM locator map in the Current app.
- Mobile check deposits: You can make mobile check deposits with Current as long as you have your phone’s camera and a check. Send Current a photo of the check through the app and your money will be deposited into your account immediately.
- Current Pay: Current Pay is Current’s free peer-to-peer transfer feature. With it, you can send money to other Current users or request that they send you funds, with a maximum transaction limit of $2,500. You can look users up by their name or Current Tag, which is what Current calls nicknames. If you’re with the other user, you can scan a QR code with your phone.
- Security: Current takes several steps to protect your money In addition to partnering with FDIC-insured Choice Financial Group for its banking services. Its debit cards have an EMV chip to prevent skimming and you can pause transactions if your card is lost or stolen. Current also encrypts your data in transit and at rest, and enables fingerprint and face ID lock on both Android and iOS.
Current Bank Downsides
While Current certainly has its positives, it’s not without its downsides. Its peer-to-peer transaction tools are limited, there’s no investing platform, and it offers a cryptocurrency platform that invites risk many people may not be able to afford. Plus, its cash-back program leaves a lot to be desired.
#1. No Zelle integration
Zelle is integrated into the mobile apps of over 1,700 financial institutions, and facilitates transfers between customers of different banks. Current doesn’t integrate with Zelle, which makes peer-to-peer cash transfers much more difficult then when using a traditional bank.
#2. Only Provides Cash-Back at Participating Merchants
You can’t get cash-back at every store when you use a Current debit card. The merchant has to participate in the program. While there are more than 14,000 participants, such as Forever 21 and Burger King, it would’ve been preferable for the cash-back perk to be attached to the card, not the vendor.
#3. Cash-Back Is Accrued as Points, Not Cash
You get points instead of cash when using your Current debit card at a participating merchant, which makes your rewards vulnerable to changes in policy. As examples, Current could change the points-to-cash exchange rate or the types of transactions that earn points. It could even do away with the program altogether. Cash-back programs should lead to cash-back rewards.
#4. Cash-Back Isn’t Passive
In order to get cash-back rewards, you have to activate each offer in the points map within the Current app first. Once you’ve activated the offer, Current sets a timer for you to redeem it. If you don’t make the purchase before the timer runs out, you’ll have to activate the offer again. In contrast, the best cash-back programs are passive and pay a set percentage of every dollar you spend.
#5. No Investing Platform
Given that it offers a cryptocurrency trading platform, it’s an odd choice for Current not to offer an investing platform. Doing so would provide you with a safer, more traditional way to build wealth over the long term using tried-and-true strategies, such as buying index funds or income investing.
#6. Makes it Easy to Buy Risky Cryptocurrencies
It’s undeniable that the cryptocurrency market is volatile, so it’s hard to see the wisdom in investing in it when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Despite that, Current invites its users to trade crypto through its partnership with Zero Hash in most states and makes it easy to do so.
Current Banking App FAQs
Current’s new user promotions change on a regular basis. See the most up-to-date list of offers and requirements on our Current banking promo page.
Current isn’t a bank. It provides banking services through its FDIC-insured partner bank, Choice Financial Group. That means even though Current isn’t a bank, your money will be protected up to $250,000.
Current doesn’t charge you to open or maintain an account, nor does it require a minimum balance. That’s an important distinction between it and many traditional banks.
Current makes money by charging for certain types of transactions. It charges $2.50 for the use of an ATM outside of the Allpoint network, $3.50 for cash deposits, 3% of the transaction amount per transaction for international purchases, $3 plus the international transaction fee for international cash withdrawals, $5 for replacing your card and $20 for express mail.
Yes. Current partners with Choice Financial Group, an FDIC-insured bank, to provide banking services. Your deposits will be insured up to $250,000.
Current Review: Summary & Final Verdict
With a high APY, automated savings tool and an excellent teen banking platform, Current has a lot to offer. Many of its features are designed to help prevent you from accruing debt and build toward things like an emergency fund or the ability to take time off from work. It can give you quicker access to your money, protect you from overdrafting with features like gas hold removal and provides money management tools to help you reduce expenses.
It’s worth checking out if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, want a vehicle for high-APY savings or have teens you’d like to teach about managing their money.