For over a decade, Forrester has conducted an annual review of banks’ mobile apps. My colleague Gina Bhawalkar and I recently published our most recent research, in which we evaluated and scored the mobile banking experiences on more than a dozen banking brands’ apps across the US and Canada. In the US, we looked at customer-facing smartphone apps from the five largest incumbent banks — Bank of America, Chase, Citi, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo — along with two direct banks, Ally and USAA, plus two neobank brands: Chime and Varo Money.

If you’re an awesome Forrester client (or even a not-awesome one), you should read the full report. Here’s a quick, nonexhaustive rundown of what we learned:

  • USAA comes out on top overall. USAA leads in mobile banking experiences overall, earning high marks for a wide range of useful features and solid (though far from perfect) user experience (UX) design. USAA’s app succeeds where many others fall short: As just one example, USAA enables users to set up a personalized budget by category, and the app will help them easily keep track with clear green and red indicators when a customer is over- or underspending.
  • Bank of America has a strong lead among traditional bank brands. Bank of America earns the second-highest overall score in our US reviews. The bank’s in-app virtual agent, Erica, remains the linchpin of its mobile experience: Erica acts as a search mechanism, a proactive guide for the customer, and a curator of personalized insights about the customer’s spending and financial life.
  • Ally, Chime, and Varo offer especially strong mobile banking UX. Digital and mobile-only banks tend to lead when it comes to UX design: Ally offers excellent search and navigation, plus strong content. Chime and Varo Money — two neo, or challenger, bank brands — both offer presentation and design choices that help mobile banking customers complete their tasks quickly and conveniently.
  • US banks tend to be consistently weak in a few areas. We identified a number of common gaps, including nonexistent search, limited money management tools, a dearth of financial well-being capabilities, insufficient help, poor self-service, and a lack of clear security and privacy content.
  • Alerts play a crucial role, but most banks’ experiences fall short. Alerts and notifications are among the strongest drivers of engagement in banking. Unfortunately, while every bank we reviewed offers some alerts, most put far too much of the cognitive load on the customer. A customer should be able to conveniently enroll in, manage, receive, and act on a notification, but no bank we reviewed offers strong alerts experiences across all four of these areas.

Again, I invite you to read the full research report here.