Fee-free ATM withdrawals are one of the biggest perks of the Schwab debit card, especially for frequent travelers. But before you sign up for a checking account, it’s worth knowing what to expect from the Charles Schwab mobile app.
As a digital nomad, I’ve used Schwab as my bank since 2018.
Since time is money, I’ll cut to the chase: Schwab’s mobile app is user-friendly, but its setup is better suited for trading than managing a checking or savings account.
Nevertheless, the hundreds of dollars Schwab has saved me on ATM fees is enough for me to overlook this downside.
Before we dive into the ins and outs of the Charles Schwab app, know that I’m not affiliated with Schwab in any way. So, you’re receiving my uninfluenced opinion in this Schwab mobile app review.
Wait…Isn’t Schwab a Brokerage Company?
Related reading: 21 Pros & Cons of the Charles Schwab Debit Card
Yes, it is. But although Schwab is known for offering investment services, managing over $7 trillion in customer money, it provides a lesser-known banking service.
You have the following two banking options with Schwab:
- Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
- Schwab Bank Investor Savings Account
Since this post is about the Schwab mobile app, I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of these choices. But if you’re curious to learn about the pros and cons of having a Schwab checking account, head over to my guide on the Charles Schwab debit card.
8 Must-Knows About the Charles Schwab Mobile App
Whether you’re on the fence about choosing Schwab for your banking or you’ve downloaded the Schwab app and don’t know what to make of it, you’re in good hands. The tips below will give you a foundation for how Schwab’s mobile app works.
1. It’s Set Up Like a Brokerage Account
If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this: Schwab designed its app for traders, not for everyday banking.
So, when you log into the Schwab mobile app, a roller coaster-like graph will greet you. The peaks and valleys of the line represent your deposits and withdrawals.
Furthermore, your checking account will have either a positive number in green with a percentage of how much your checking account balance has increased or a negative number in red with a percentage of how much it’s decreased.
Even after 4+ years of banking with Schwab, seeing a red number beside my checking account is still jarring.
2. You’ll Have Access to All of Your Accounts
Having a checking and/or savings account with Schwab automatically requires you to have a brokerage account. You don’t need to fund it; Schwab doesn’t penalize its customers with a $0 brokerage balance.
But if you already do your investing with Schwab, having access to both your brokerage account and checking/savings account from the mobile app is useful.
When you log into the Schwab app, Schwab shows the balances of each account you have with them. You’ll need to click on the corresponding account to make a transaction.
3. Bank Transfers Take Forever
I almost always initiate bank transfers through the Charles Schwab mobile app. While they’re easy to set up, and you can save a receiver’s data for recurring payments, the transfers take several business days to process whether you’re sending money abroad or domestically.
To be fair, this isn’t an app issue. You’ll encounter the same situation when paying bills or initiating other money transfers via logging into your Schwab account from a desktop.
But, like most banks, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you need to plan ahead for money to arrive or leave your checking account.
It’s easy to make a calculation error, spending money you don’t technically have in your Schwab account, causing the mobile version of a bounced check.
4. Rebates Arrive at the End of the Month
If you haven’t heard about Schwab’s rebate policy, check out my guide on Schwab’s debit card for travel. The quick version is that Schwab partners with 1+ million ATMs globally.
You’ll need to pay the ATM fee upfront, which they automatically take from your checking account.
But then, on the last business day of each month, you’ll receive a lump sum from Schwab in your checking account of all the ATM fees you’ve paid, provided you used an eligible machine (which is most of them).
It’s a super neat perk. And it’s why I consider Schwab the best debit card provider for Americans who travel often.
5. User-Friendly Design
Despite the Charles Schwab mobile app having a wonky setup for checking and savings account users, the design itself is intuitive.
If you’ve used an app or two in your life, it won’t take you long to figure out how to navigate to the area where you can see your transaction history, available balance, and posted transactions.
By clicking the “More” icon at the bottom right side of the app, you’ll also find an area to make transfers, pay bills, and deposit checks.
Yet again, my only complaint with the Schwab app is that despite it being user-friendly, it has many irrelevant sections for checking and savings account users.
For example, above “Transfers & Payments” and “Deposit” options, you’ll also find stock-related choices like “Watchlist,” “Thematic Stock Lists,” and “Stock Slices.”
I’d love to see Schwab adapt their mobile app so it’s less cluttered for banking. But given that checking and savings accounts make up a small portion of Schwab’s clientele, I don’t foresee this happening anytime soon.
6. Free Transfers Between Accounts
According to Schwab’s rules, anyone wanting to open a checking or savings account must first open a brokerage account. They’re clearly doing self-promotion here, but it doesn’t hurt you as a user—Schwab doesn’t charge fees for customers with a $0 balance in their brokerage account.
And that’s something I’m thankful for, given that I’ve had a $0 brokerage account balance for over four years.
But if you decide to join the 58% of Americans that own stocks, you can use the Schwab mobile app to make free transfers between your checking or savings and brokerage account.
Similarly, you can make fee-free transfers online between your Schwab savings and checking accounts.
7. Easy Mobile Check Deposits
Schwab offers a hassle-free way to make check deposits via its app. To make a Schwab mobile deposit, follow these steps:
- Click on “More” (an icon with three dots at the bottom of the app).
- Select “Schwab Bank Account.”
- Double-check that the “Deposit to” is the correct account.
- Enter the check amount.
- Take a photo of the front and back of your (signed) check.
- Click “Review.”
Schwab will immediately send you a confirmation number once you submit your check online.
I’ve had scenarios where the money I deposit is available the next business day. But it’s best to assume that it’ll take several business days. Furthermore, Schwab may only make a portion of a large check available to you at first as part of its fraud protection.
Note that Schwab doesn’t allow money order or traveler’s check deposits.
8. High-Quality Security
Cybercrimes keep the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) busy, and Schwab is doing its part to mitigate the potential for its customers to fall victim to online identity theft.
It does this by offering 2-step and biometric authentications on the Schwab mobile app.
These features may feel like annoyances in the moment, but they’re immensely helpful for reducing the chances of someone accessing your bank account information.
You can visit this page for other tips on how to keep your online Schwab bank account safe.
Ready to Download the Schwab Mobile App?
I’d love to see Schwab update its app to weed out unnecessary brokerage options for its banking customers. But I’m willing to turn a blind eye, given the benefits Schwab’s debit card offers me as a traveler.
If you’re ready to download the Charles Schwab mobile app, you can do so at the following links:
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She's an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she's befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on solo female travel and wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister.