Are bills getting the better of you? Or are you just looking for a way to reduce your monthly spend? Then take a look at this Emma app review to see how this finance app could help you with budgeting.
10-second Emma app review
An app with some great features to help you budget and track your spending. However, it is slightly let down by some of the extra features that are there to make the company money, rather than help you. The pro version isn’t worth the fee.
Direct debits, standing orders, PayPal, credit cards and the list goes on. In ways, online banking has made our life easier, but it has also become far more complicated keeping an eye on all the transactions in and out of our accounts.
But with the advent of Open Banking, there have been several apps that released that allow you to combine all your accounts together and keep a better eye on your spending. One of these apps is the Emma finance app.
What is Emma?
Taken from their website:
She helps you avoid overdrafts, cancel wasteful subscriptions, track debt and save money. Emma uses state of the art technology to analyse your personal finances and give you the power to make smarter decisions with your money.
The app is owned by Emma Technologies Limited, a British company based in Lightwater. They were incorporated in 2017.
Like all personal finance apps, Emma will require a few details before you begin. You will need to give your mobile number so that the app can be linked to your phone. And, of course, you will need to link your bank account(s) so Emma is able to analyse your spending habits. You can also add compatible investment and savings accounts, so you are able to see the full picture of how you’re doing financially.
Is Emma free?
Well, there’s 3 words I’ve never typed before and never will again. The good news is, Emma will not cost you a penny… unless you want a little bit more.
Like almost any app out there, Emma hasn’t been created just to help you. Of course, they want to make money. Emma offers a paid version of their app which gives you extra features.
Exporting of Data
The Legendary Pro Icon (iOS-only)
A monthly subscription will cost you £4.99 per month. Opt for a bit longer and 6 months will cost £3.99 per month and a year subscription at £3.49 per month.
Any good reviewer would try this service out, but I’m obviously not a good reviewer. Looking at the options, there is nothing that stands out as being particularly useful. And when one of the features is an icon, it makes me think that they’re struggling to justify the benefits.
How does the Emma app make money?
Obviously, the subscription fee isn’t huge and I’m guessing not very popular. So how else does the app make money? Well, it links out to external sites which will earn Emma a referral fee if you take up a new service or buy a product.
What banks does the Emma app work with?
Emma works with plenty of financial institutions in the U.K. including;
- First Direct
- Starling Bank
- Bank of Scotland
- Virgin Money
- American Express
Is the Emma app safe?
Emma has bank-grade encryption, so your data is kept secure. The company is also FCA and ICO registered and Emma only has read-only access to your accounts. That means it’s unable to make any transfers or payments from your bank. Emma also doesn’t store any of your banking details, so if their servers were compromised, none of these details would be stolen.
So what are the real benefits to using the Emma app?
The standout feature for Emma is the fact it can track your spending and help you set budgets. You can either do this on a month by month basis or from payday to payday.
If you choose the latter, all you need to do is let Emma know when you are paid – unlike some other apps, it doesn’t just assume that you are paid at the end of the month. Through a series of quick questions you can let the app know how often your money comes in (either by month, week or day) and what happens if payday isn’t on a working day.
Then, you set yourself a budget to last you until your next payday. If you’re not sure of what kind of figures you should set yourself, Emma can look through your previous spending and let you know how much your usual expenditure is.
If it helps, you can break-up your overall budget into smaller parts. There are over 15 categories, including shopping, eating out, family groceries and transport. So if you think you’re spending a bit too much on enjoying yourself, you can check the app and see if you really should go out for that drink.
What did I spend?
This part of the app breaks down your total spend. Emma will let you know where when your money has gone. You can choose by retailer or by category. For example, choose the # button in the top right and select #food and Emma will let you know all the places where have spent money on food. Or choose Sainsbury’s and Emma will show you every time you have shopped there and how much you spent.
You can look at these details over a specific period ranging from one week to the beginning of time (well, as long as your banking app shows).
This is one of the handier parts of the app as it shows you all of your active and inactive subscriptions. This is particularly useful in finding out if you are paying for something that you no longer use or thought you cancelled. It also informs you when your subscription costs have increased or decreased from the previous month.
According to Emma, banks make £10bn per year in fees from us! Well, this useful tool will let you know how much you pay your bank. And this doesn’t just include the fee for running your account, but also how much you spend on your overdraft. This gives you a great indication as to whether you should look at switching and find an account with cheaper charges.
If you fancy a bit of a challenge, you can try to complete the quests set by Emma. This includes tasks such as inviting friends, setting budgets and uploading a photo. There are no rewards, except for a sense of satisfaction… if that’s your type of thing.
Cashback is probably one of the easiest ways to make a bit of extra money, yet any people still miss out. All you need to do is log in to your cashback account (or the Emma app in this case) and click on the link to the store you wish to make a purchase from. Then, a referral fee will be paid to the cashback site and then some of it passed back to you.
Emma has partnered with 20+ retailers to offer a range of cashback options, including:
- Dorothy Perkins
- Kwik Fit
Rates range from anything between 1-10%. There are also some product trials that you can sign up to that will pay a set amount of £3+.
It can takes up to 30 days for the cashback to reach your account and once you reach £5, you can withdraw your earnings to your PayPal account.
Although the cashback rates aren’t quite as good as some of the top sites such as TopCashback and Quidco, Emma does payout much quicker. So you have to weigh up whether you want more money, or want it quicker.
Another benefit to Emma is the ‘Save Money’ section. Here, you will find a long list of ways to help you cut your bills and save some money. You will find links to comparison sites that will find you better deals for broadband, energy, phone SIMS and much more. Emma will tell you some wild claims such as ‘you could save over £286’, but in truth, it has no idea. Of course, clicking through these links will earn Emma some money… but that’s not to say you won’t find a better deal.
The fact is, many of us have very little in the way of savings. Emma links out to various savings accounts (mainly stocks and shares ISAs), telling you how much you need to start investing with. I do like these types on investment, but there’s no breakdown of why you should or shouldn’t invest. I can’t see that this would encourage new investors.
You may or may not have heard of it before, but Pension Bee allows you to combine all your pensions into one, which may appeal to a lot of people – especially those that like to keep everything tidy. And Emma has joined with Pension Bee not only you can join all your pensions into one plan, you can also monitor it from your Emma app.
Pay off your debt
Here, you can search over 30 lenders and banks for a loan. Although it’s titled ‘Pay off your debt’, the loan can be used for all sorts of purposes. And personally, I’m not a fan of debt consolidation loans, although that’s a post for another day.
Get a credit card
Similar to the loan option, Emma will show you a list of cards, breaking down how long you will receive 0% on balance transfers and purchases for.
If you’re looking for a new bank account or want to get a new mortgage or insurance deal, you can do so through the Emma app. Again, this is just a brief breakdown of possible options for you.
The good bits to the app
There is an option for a daily balance if you wish. So every morning, Emma will let you know how much you have in your account. Personally, that’s not a great way for me to start my day…
Unlike some other finance apps, Emma excludes transfers between your own accounts when working out your budget (there is an option for you to manually do this if it misses a transaction). This can be very useful if you shuffle money around accounts to take advantage of various banking bonuses. Otherwise, it can look like you are spending £10,000’s every month.
At the end of the month, there is a handy little slide show that tells you how you’ve got on. It will tell you all sorts of details such as if you’ve overspent, how you’ve compared to the previous month and where you spend the most.
Emma gives you the opportunity to link to your cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin which is quite rare in personal finance apps. However, the number of people with cryptocurrency is quite small, so this is only a benefit to a few.
There is a referral scheme. For every friend you recommend, you’ll receive £15, which is very generous.
There are very few bad points for Emma.
I do have the daily notifications turned on but I find balance is always a day behind. Not generally a big issue, but it could be if you relied on it.
Most of the features that I listed above aren’t great. They just link to external comparison sites which you could easily find yourself. There is nothing in the way of guidance, so you have to figure most of it out for yourself.
And as I said above, I don’t think the paid subscription is worth the money, so this is something I would avoid.
My Emma app review conclusion
Strip away all the bits where Emma is trying to make money and this is actually a very good budgeting app. It’s easy to use and has plenty of features. The only thing that’s missing is an option to make savings from your current account like some of its rivals (although it does link directly to Chip). Apart from that, Emma is certainly worth checking out.
If my Emma app review has tempted you to try a finance app, why not take a look at my review of the best budgeting and personal finance apps.
How do I delete my Emma account?
If you decide to leave just:
Go to the More tab in your Emma App
Select the settings icon on the top right-hand side
Select Personal Details
Select Delete Account
After 30 days, your account will be deleted permanently.
How do I find my bank fees?
Go to the More tab
Select Bank Fees
*Please note that this post contains an affiliate link.