We give you the low-down on some of the best apps out there designed to help you with your finances.
If you can’t imagine leaving the house without your phone, why not make the most of it and use it to help you sort your finances. Whether you’re looking for help keeping up with your spending, with saving or investing, the right app can make life a bit easier.
Monzo – for seeing where all your money goes
Monzo are a digital-only bank offering bank cards which are linked directly to their app.
You download the app onto your phone, join the waiting list and then they will send you a card. At the moment they mainly offer pre-paid cards, meaning you have to top it up yourself, but they are slowly rolling out their new current accounts. After that you’re ready to use it just like a normal debit card.
But here’s where it differs. Having a Monzo card makes it really easy to track your spending. Every time you make a purchase you receive a notification on your phone. This tells you exactly how much you spent and where.
The app also categorises all of your spending into categories like shopping, food, entertainment or travel. It can initially be a little scary seeing exactly where you’re spending your money, but it can really help with budgeting. You can see where you typically channel your spending, so if you need to cut back it’s easy to see where you could do this.
It lets you set spending targets each month and you’ll get a notification if you’re approaching your target.
You can use the card abroad with no extra fees and you’ll be charged the Mastercard exchange rate.
There’s quite a long waiting list to join before you’ll receive a card. (If you have a friend who already uses it they might have a ‘golden ticket’ which lets you skip the queue.)
They occasionally have outages which stops the pre-paid card from working, so make sure you have an alternative with you.
Chip – for saving without thinking
Chip links up with your current account (don’t worry it only has access to read it) to monitor your spending habits and automatically save for you.
Chip uses AI (artificial intelligence) to learn about your income, expenses & spending patterns. It can then predict how much money you can afford to save now, and in the future, without leaving you out of pocket. Based on this, Chip automatically transfers some money into your instant-access Chip savings account.
Chip monitors your spending daily, weekly and monthly spending habits and gets more intelligent the longer you use it. Because it monitors your habits, if you splurge one month, Chip won’t save anything. But on weeks where you spend less, Chip can save more. If you’re feeling ambitious about saving you can also manually make Chip put aside more money for you, or make deposits into your Chip account yourself.
The Chip account offers up to 5% interest which is higher than many high street banks.
You can withdraw your money at any time.
If you’re in or about to go into your overdraft it’s clever enough to know not to touch that money, unless you tell it to.
- You can only link one current account at a time to Chip.
- You actually start off earning 0% interest. You can boost the rate up to the 5% by inviting friends to sign up.
Squirrel – for when you need a helping hand getting to payday
Think of Squirrel like a grown up take on getting pocket money. If you often find yourself giving into temptation – a night out, a new outfit or gadget - and find yourself stretched at the end of the month, this app could help.
You get your employer to pay your salary into your Squirrel account. Squirrel then puts away money for your bills first. It will then pay the money out to your current account just before the bill is due.
Then, it will spread some money across your savings pots. You can set up different pots for different savings goals, making it much easier to reach those targets. So whatever you’re saving for - a rainy day, your wedding, flights to the Bahamas – you can easily track your progress.
The money that’s left gets transferred into your current account and is yours to spend.
- You can personalise your savings pots with names, pictures and progress trackers.
- Your money is held in an interest-free account, which means you won’t accrue any interest on your savings.
Price: £3.99 a month
Moneybox - for investing your pennies
Moneybox rounds up your spare change and then invests it in a number of companies for you.
You connect your current account to the app and then carry on spending like normal. When you make a purchase it will round up the spare change to the nearest pound. For example, if you spend £2.60 on a coffee, the round up would be 40p.
At the end of every week, the total of your round ups from that week are moved into an ISA. The idea is that you’ll be saving money as you spend, but by investing it, you can also make your money grow even further.
If you don’t want to round up your change you can still use the app to invest by using a weekly or one-off deposit instead.
You can select whether you want to be ‘cautious’, ‘balanced’ or ‘adventurous' with your investments.
You can invest in an ISA, a lifetime ISA or even a junior ISA.
It’s an easy introduction to investing.
- As with any type of investment, your money is at risk. You might lose money as well as make money.
Price: Free to download and then after your first three months they charge a £1 monthly subscription fee. They also take a yearly fee of 0.45% of the value of your investments.
Nutmeg – for keeping track of your investments on the go
Nutmeg is an online investment service that will help you set up your portfolio, without needing any prior knowledge of the stocks and shares market.
The set up process is pretty simple. Once you’ve made an account you select the type of investment product you want. Nutmeg then asks you a few questions to understand your financial position, your future goals and your attitude to risk.
Nutmeg has a number of products that you can choose to invest in. They offer ISAs and are one of the few companies offering the new lifetime ISA. You can also invest in a pension fund or you can create your own investment portfolio.
After that your part is basically done. Nutmeg take a fee, a percentage of how much you invest, and in exchange they manage your portfolio and continually monitor for changing risks. The app means that you can see your investments at any time.
Because Nutmeg is all online it offers lower fees than most wealth managers.
Their customer support team are always on hand to answer your questions.
You have to make a minimum investment of £500 and if you’re investing less than £5,000, you have to contribute a further £100 every month.
Again, investing your money is always risky.
Price: Nutmeg charge a fee of 0.25% - 0.75% of your investment. So if you invest £5,080 the fee works out at 73p per week. Nutmeg don't charge any fees for setting up or closing an account, or for paying into or withdrawing money from your portfolio.
ClearScore - for keeping your credit score and report close to hand
Okay, so we may be a little bit biased on this one. The ClearScore app lets you see your full Equifax score and report, for free whenever you like. You can sign up straight from the app, you just have to input some basic financial information, answer a few security questions and then your account will be set up. From the app you can see all the sections of your report: your account details, payment history, and search history. You can also access tailored Coaching programmes through the app. These use chat-bot technology to understand your financial situation in order to create a personalised To-do list to help you improve your credit score.
And don't worry, checking your score through ClearScore won't affect your credit score.