The Samsung Money card is Samsung’s answer to the Apple Card – but this time, as a debit card that helps you track your spending and manage your account straight from your phone.
If you own a Galaxy phone, you’re probably already familiar with Samsung Pay. The app works like a digital wallet, allowing you to load credit and debit cards into your phone so you can pay at checkout without inserting a physical card into a terminal.
Now comes Samsung Money by SoFi, an actual debit card combined with a cash management account, designed to live in the Samsung Pay app.
In a way, it’s Samsung’s response to the Apple Card, which debuted in 2019. Both are financial products created for users of the Galaxy and the iPhone, respectively. Both offer reward points for purchases.
But the Apple Card is a credit card. Samsung Money takes a different route, attempting to mesh your debit card spending with banking functions, right there on your phone screen.
“The real reason people are going to use this is it’s also just really intuitive and easy,” says Chris Harris, head of marketing for Ondot Systems, a company that provides banks and credit unions with a digital card services platform.
If you’re an owner of a Galaxy phone, and interested in a more seamless banking management experience, getting cash back on debit purchases, or earning higher interest on your money, the Samsung Money card may be for you.
See related: What you need to know about the Venmo card
Guide to the Samsung Money card
What is the Samsung Money card?
Samsung Money exists digitally in your Samsung Pay app, but it’s also an actual card that arrives in the mail. Like the Apple Card, the physical card doesn’t display the card number, expiration date or CVC security code; those can be found under a tab on the Samsung Pay app.
The card is a Mastercard, issued by The Bancorp Bank and managed by SoFi, a San Francisco-based finance company. You can put money into the account by transferring funds from an existing bank account or via direct deposit. But the money doesn’t stay at SoFi.
Instead, it’s parceled out to up to six banks (which Samsung has yet to identify by name). Since each bank deposit is covered by $250,000 in FDIC insurance, theoretically your money could be FDIC-insured up to $1.5 million.
One potentially attractive feature – if you keep at least $500 in your account, your money earns a 0.2% annual percentage yield return. This is high for a checking account, though online savings accounts offered interest rates as high as 0.90% APY in September.
The rate offered by Samsung Money is “not anything where you are going to get rich,” Harris said. “It’s kind of a combination of a checking and savings account in that regard.”
Other carrots the Samsung folks are offering Money users:
- No account fees, no overdraft fees and no convenience fees (though there are fees for foreign transactions and cash withdrawals in a foreign currency). “Most banks make millions a year on overdraft fees only,” says Xavier Epps, a financial advisor in Alexandria, Va. “By using this card, you are ensuring that you won’t use more money than is available on your card.”
- No fees for using an Allpoint network ATM. And in the experience of one Samsung Money card user, they’re not hard to find. “Allpoint seems always to be a step away,” says Darshan Somashekar, founder of an online gaming site.
- The ability to pay bills, check your balance, send wire transfers, withdraw cash and send money to friends all within the app. Plus, it integrates with PayPal and Venmo (though not money management apps like Mint).
- Rewards points, which can be redeemed for cash back if you like, just for using your debit card. “This is an opportunity to earn every time you spend,” Epps said. “Which can in turn save you money.”
- Users can flag suspicious activity, pause or restart spending, freeze or unfreeze their card and change their PIN all electronically in the app, without having to walk into a bank or make a phone call.
Samsung Money vs. Samsung Pay
Samsung Money is a debit card and a cash management account. Samsung Pay is the digital wallet where you electronically store the virtual version of your Samsung Money card, as well as those of debit cards and credit cards from other banks.
Any task you want to accomplish with Samsung Money, from paying for your groceries at checkout to paying a utility bill, will all be done within the Samsung Pay app.
How to apply for the Samsung Money card
You can apply for the card directly from your Samsung Pay app. To qualify, you must be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a physical address in the United States. Samsung says the entire process, from application to approval, can take a minute or less.
Once approved, the card will show up immediately in your Samsung Pay app. To fund it the first time, you can transfer up to $500 from another debit card. After that, though, you will need to connect your bank to the app or have a paycheck electronically deposited into the account. At this time, there is no way to deposit cash into the account.
Once the physical card arrives, you tap it against the back of the phone to activate it.
Who should get the Samsung Money card?
The card would be a good option for Samsung phone owners who either want access to the latest banking technologies, aren’t satisfied with their current digital banking experience or lack access to affordable, traditional banks.First of all, Samsung has made it easy for users to get. “You only have to provide a minimum of information to open this account,” Harris said. “You don’t have to go into a branch, photocopy your ID, you know, the whole nine yards that you have to do to open a banking account.”
It may be especially attractive to the 16% of the U.S. population described as “underbanked,” Harris said. Underbanked consumers are those who may not have easy access to affordable banking and finance services and tend to rely on cash, money orders, check cashing services and payday loans to manage their finances.
“For the underbanked, this is potentially a quick and easy way to get access to a bank account and make payments to other people,” says Harris.
But even for those who do have and regularly use a traditional bank account, Samsung Money has its perks. “You can get your card quickly,” he said. “You can use it right away. You can manage your card right on the phone. You can see all your purchases. You can change your PIN. All the stuff that you would want to do by going into a branch or calling someone on the phone, you have right there on your phone.”
How the Samsung Money rewards program works
The good news about the rewards program is that it exists. Points-for-purchase is a trend that has waxed and waned for debit cards but may currently be on the rise.
The not-so-good news is the rewards you earn are slim. Each point is worth $0.005. The points are also not per dollar spent, but per transaction. The points, however are tiered and move up quickly.
The first 29 transactions each month are worth one point each. Transactions 30 to 300 are worth two points each. If you make more than 300 transactions in a month, you’ll earn three points per transaction.
But check out the fine print: You start out at the bottom tier on the first of every month, and have to earn your way back up. Plus, your points expire at the end of a year. At 1,000 points, or $5, Samsung will start allowing you to deposit cash back into your account.
See related: Best rewards credit cards
Tips for maximizing the Samsung Money card
If you’ve decided the Samsung Money card is the right choice for you, here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of it:
- Only use in-network ATMs, because if you go out of network, you will get charged fees the card does not reimburse.
- Take advantage of cash management tools like pausing or restart spending and checking your balance or reviewing your spending, all from your phone screen, to more effectively manage your finances. “This card is great for those establishing or reestablishing good money habits,” Epps said.
- Remember that the more you use your card each month, the more rewards you potentially earn per purchase.
The Samsung Money card can be a good addition to your wallet if you own a Samsung phone and if you are looking for increased ease of banking, a more seamless integration of your debit card with your card spending information or the ability to earn rewards points with a debit card.
However, if you are already happy with your debit card and your electronic banking experience, Samsung Money may be an unnecessary extra step, particularly if it involves continually transferring money from your existing bank account to your Samsung Money card to make it usable. In that case, even if you do own a Samsung phone, you may want to just add your existing debit card to your Samsung Pay wallet and not bother with another account.