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The Best Budgeting Apps In The UK 2021

Need help with monitoring your bank accounts? Or just need help saving a little extra each month? Then take a look at this comparison of the best budgeting apps and personal finance to UK customers.

best budgeting apps

UK budgeting apps reviewed in this post

  • Emma
  • Money Dashboard
  • Yolt
  • GoSavex
  • Snoop
  • Oval Money
  • Cleo
  • Tandem
  • Plum
  • Chip
  • Moneybox

The last few years have seen an explosion in the Fintech market. Thanks to the introduction of open banking, more and more companies are introducing their own personal finance apps.

And although the basis of these apps are generally the same, in an attempt to compete with each other, they all offer different perks.

But how do you know which is the best app for you? Which features will you use and which are a waste of time?

Why bother?

The simple answer is, these apps help to make our life easier. If you have multiple bank and credit accounts, you can monitor them all in one place. Not only does this give you a tighter grip on your finances, it also helps reduce the chances of fraud. Many of these apps can tell you when transfers have been made, or they can be set to give you a daily update each morning.

Many finance apps can also help you to set a monthly budget, which can be very useful if you’re inclined to overspend before you reach the next payday. And not only that, you could also get help with putting money aside, whether for a small treat or a big, luxury purchase.

Are these apps safe?

The vast majority of finance apps use bank-grade security, so the same as you would expect from your main current account provider. They also only use read-only access, which means you can’t make any transactions from the apps. That means that if a hacker should ever get access to your finance app, there isn’t too much damage that can be done.

Personal finance, budgeting or savings app?

I have broken down the comparison of these apps into three main categories – budgeting, personal finance and both.

Budgeting apps are there to help you monitor your finances and see how much is coming in and going out of your accounts.

Savings apps assist you with saving and possibly making money. They take money from your current account and help you build a savings pot.

Personal finance apps attempt to do both of the above functions.

If you want a more in-depth review, just click on the app title.

Budgeting apps

Emma

Emma app review

The Emma app links to your current accounts, savings and investments and keeps track of money coming in and going out. You can breakdown into categories where your money is being spent or which merchants you use the most.

Emma learns when you have money coming in, so it is able to set you a budget each month. Emma also lists all your subscriptions, which is very handy in finding if you’re paying for services 5 years after you last used them.

There is also an option to move to a paid version of Emma which offers some (rather underwhelming) extras. Emma also offers ‘rewards’. These generally involve you signing up for a trial or purchasing something and receiving money back. No reward should ever involve me spending money.


Money Dashboard

money dashboard budgeting app

Money Dashboard works in a similar way to Emma. Link your current and savings accounts to find out how much you are up or down overall. There is an active budget tracker that breaks down how much you have spent that month and in what categories. You can then compare this to the previous month’s spend.

You can also set yourself a budget for every month. For example, if you don’t want to spend more than £400 on ‘fun’, create your budget, and Money Dashboard will let you know your progress. You can also see how your budget compares to previous months.


Yolt

yolt budgeting app


Yolt is one of the big players when it comes to budgeting apps. It’s owned by ING Bank which has over 38 million customers, so it has plenty of backing.

Yolt is probably the most customisable of the budgeting apps. But, because of this, you need to put more effort in to realise all of its benefits.

Two things that let this app down

1.     Unlike all the other apps here, you can actually make payments from your bank using the Yolt app. That may seem like a benefit to you, but that makes me a little nervous.

2.    They are keen for you to find better deals for other services (such as insurance). That’s not about you finding a better deal, but them making a referral commission.

If you have a bit of time on your hands and need complete control of your finances, this is certainly one to try.



Gosavex

gosavex budgeting app

The newest app to the market and is probably the most comprehensive budgeting tool there is. The issue is though, to make the most of it, you will need to log in through a computer. But if you love spreadsheets and really want to drill-down deep into your finances, then this is the app for you.

There is an option that allows you to lend or borrow money from friends. However, I’m not completely comfortable with the idea, so would give that a miss.


Snoop

snoop personal finance

Snoop is a little different from the above apps. Instead of showing you graphs and figures, you’ll be shown ‘Snoops’. These are easy to understand summaries about your finances, which give you tips about how to save money.

There’s nothing groundbreaking, but Snoop is a simple way of keeping an eye on your money.


Best budgeting app

This is a close one, but Money Dashboard closely wins the best budgeting app. It’s comprehensive and it doesn’t take long to customise it to your needs.



Personal finance apps


Oval Money

Oval personal finance app

Oval Money is another way of tracking your accounts. But this app goes one step further than just managing and monitoring your money. You can allow Oval to analyse your accounts and allow it to calculate how much you can afford to save. Then, every few days, small amounts of money is taken from your current account.

You can also set-up your own saving rules too. For example, every time you spend money on clothes, Oval will take the equivalent 10% of that money from your current account. A spend and save if you will.

You can also link Oval to your health app, so it can save money every time you walk a certain number of steps.

Oval Money also offers you the chance to invest if you fancy trying to make a bit extra too. However, their funds do charge 1%, which is more than many equivalent funds.

If you decide to try Oval Money, use the code PCVMV8U when you join and we both receive £5!

Cleo

money into the cleo wallet

Cleo allows you to set your own budget over any period you choose and also gives you a breakdown of your income and expenditure each month. The app also has a number of ways you can save money too. Cleo can work out how much you can afford to save each work. Or, you can use ‘rounds up’. Every time you make a purchase, Cleo can round up the amount you spend to the nearest £ and send it to your Cleo wallet.

Cleo’s app works in a very similar fashion to Facebook Messenger. That means you often have to type messages to get updates. For example, type balance and Cleo will show you how much you have in your bank account. This may sound simple, but if you don’t use the app regularly, you’ll probably end up forgetting the commands you need to type.

It’s also important to note that you won’t receive any interest from any money in your Cleo wallet. That is unless you sign-up to Cleo +. This monthly subscription service will also pay you cashback when you shop in certain stores.

If you decide to join, use my link below, we will both earn £5.


Tandem

tandem personal finance app

Tandem is useful at letting you know how much money you have available to spend throughout the month. It calculates how much your expected bills will be and subtracts it from your income.

Not only that, Tandem has several ways to save too. You can allow the app to calculate how much you can afford to save, set up weekly deposits, or turn on roundups. Alternatively, you can just make one-off payments when you want. Any money you have in your Tandem account earns a rather unexciting 0.5%. However, you can place your money in fixed-term savings account for better returns.




Best personal finance app

Oval Money takes the award here. There are more ways to save money and the budgeting side is more comprehensive compared to the others. It’s just a shame that they don’t pay any interest.

Savings apps

Plum

plum savings app

Plum links to your current account and can give you daily notifications of how much money is in there. That’s as far as it goes when it comes to budgeting. However, this is great for letting you know if somebody has unexpectedly dipped into your bank.

The real benefit to Plum though, is it analyses your current account and works out how much you can afford to save. Plum transfers small amounts from your current account every few days to an account held by Plum. Then you have a choice. Keep it there until you have something you want to spend on or invest it. Investments come with greater risks than normal savings accounts and potentially, greater rewards.

Investing will cost you £1 per month. On top of this, you will need to pay the fund’s fees and fees to Plum’s technology partner. That means you should be able to find better value if you go straight to the fund provider.

Plum doesn’t come without issues though. There seems to be plenty of people who struggle with connections to their bank. Sometimes they go down for a few hours up to several weeks. Withdrawing money can take longer than I would like sometimes too.



Chip

Chip, much like Plum, analyses how much you can afford to save and takes it from your account in small amounts. However, this app pays you a straight 1% interest for anything you have in your account. This is far simpler for people who don’t want to go down the investing root. It also allows you to set goals, which is useful if you want to start setting yourself targets.

Chip has a much more stable bank connection compared to Plum. However, the gifs they send can be irritating and the 1% interest rate is still a little miserable, even in today’s market.

Please note that a fee has now been introduced. After you have made £100 in autosaves, you will be charged £1.50 every 28 days that you use the AI feature.

If you decide to join, use the code RJWEGT for a £5 bonus.


Moneybox

moneybox savings app

Moneybox has the fewest features of all the budgeting and personal finance apps in this review. Instead, it focuses heavily on encouraging you to invest. Like Cleo, Moneybox uses round ups, but you can also use weekly deposits or an extra amount on payday.

Any money you save goes directly into a savings account. And there are plenty on offer. You can choose between a General Investment Account, a Lifetime ISA, Stocks and Shares ISA or a fixed term savings account. It’s important to note that you will need to pay a fee of £1 per month. However, interest rates and fees for the various accounts seem competitive.

Moneybox seems aimed towards those of us who are looking for longer-term savings.

The best savings app

Narrowly, I will have to choose Plum. From my first day of using it, I have never had any problems and it’s great for short-term savings. My original choice was Chip, but the introduction of a fee moved it down the list.

I hope my review of the best budgeting and personal finance apps has been useful to you. I’m always on the look-out for new apps, so please let me know below if there some others you think I should take a look at.

Please note that links to Cleo, Oval Money and Plum are affiliated. That means that I may receive a small referral fee if you join.

FAQs

Do budgeting apps really work?

Yes, they do. However, you need to put in effort too and keep an eye on the data given to you. They give you a great breakdown on where your money is spent.

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Andries

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Great review, very helpful. Many thanks

Leopold Rogers

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

I can certainly vouch for Cleo, they have been very useful in my budgeting and where most of my expenditure is going towards. Just to add to this, my friends recommended a website which will later become an app called Referral Codes and they have been pretty useful for budgeting since I save a lot of money on referral schemes.

Money Saver Pete

Thursday 16th of January 2020

Thanks Leopold. I will take a look at the site.

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