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Best Budgeting App UK

Gone are the days when you had to rely on spreadsheets or pen and paper for budgeting. Thanks to new technology, numerous budgeting apps have emerged, enabling you to consolidate all your financial information in one convenient place, helping you stay on top of your finances. However, with a wide range of options available, it can be challenging to determine the best budgeting app for the UK market. That’s where our guide comes in handy, offering insights to help you make an informed decision on the best budgeting app UK.

At A Glance

Snoop

  • Free to use
  • Recommendations to save on spending

Moneyhub

  • Only 99p per month
  • Simple and intuitive app

Emma

  • Comprehensive budgeting tools
  • Fun and accessible app

Starling Bank

  • Fully licensed UK bank
  • Various budgeting tools included.

Revolut

  • Extensive budgeting features
  • Many other finance features including current account

Getting Into The Details

Snoop

Snoop is a dedicated budgeting app designed for your smartphone, leveraging open banking to seamlessly connect to all your accounts. It meticulously analyzes your spending patterns, providing valuable insights and suggesting methods to save money.

Key Features:

  • Free to use with no associated costs or subscriptions
  • Offers extensive budgeting and money management features
  • Focuses on optimizing savings across various expenses such as bills, subscriptions, and more

Costs:

Snoop is entirely free to use, with no subscriptions or fees. 

Moneyhub

This budgeting app offers a user-friendly interface and a robust technical backend, providing a seamless overview of your financial landscape.

Key Features:

  • Affordable subscription options
  • Guarantees data privacy by not selling to third parties
  • Comprehensive budget analysis tools

Costs:

  • Direct purchase: £0.99 per month or £9.99 per year
  • Apple App Store purchase: £1.49 per month or £14.99 per year

Emma

A newcomer to the budgeting scene, Emma entered the market in 2018, offering a more socially engaging and gamified approach to financial management, which might resonate well with younger users.

Key Features:

  • Free tier available, along with two paid tiers
  • Gamified and entertaining presentation style
  • Compatible with a wide range of financial institutions

Costs:

Emma provides a free version, while the paid tiers are priced at £4.99 and £9.99 per month, offering additional budgeting features.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank has risen as a prominent fintech challenger bank in recent years, boasting millions of customers with open current accounts. Alongside their banking services, they offer budgeting tools tailored for account holders.

Key Features:

  • UK current account with debit card
  • Categories, notifications, and other money management features
  • Budgeting limited to funds held with Starling Bank

Costs:

To access the budgeting tools, customers must have a Starling Bank current account, which is free of charge.

Revolut

Revolut have become one of the biggest fintech companies in the world by offering a variety of different financial products. At the core of their offer is their current account and debit card, which has various money management and budgeting tools on offer.

Key Features:

Current account and debit card

Pockets, vaults, analytics and other budgeting tools

Only Revolut account holders can use the budgeting tools

Costs:

Revolut has a free tier, then 3 paid tiers at £2.99, £6.99 and £12.99 per month.

What is a budgeting app?

Advancements in financial technology have empowered banks to offer a plethora of features aimed at assisting users in analyzing their spending habits. These functionalities include categorizing expenses, setting budgets, receiving spending alerts, and more. In the UK, the top budgeting applications typically fall into two categories:

Dedicated Budgeting Apps:

These applications are solely focused on budgeting and related services, such as suggesting methods to economize on bills and subscriptions. Leveraging open banking technology, they can integrate with various financial institutions, including banks, credit card providers, and investment accounts. By aggregating data from multiple sources, these apps provide users with a comprehensive overview of their financial transactions. It’s important to note that users don’t hold any funds directly within these apps.

Bank-Based Budgeting:

Modern app-based banks like Starling Bank and Monzo have incorporated budgeting functionalities similar to standalone budgeting apps into their banking products. This integration allows users to categorize transactions, create different compartments within their accounts, and manage budgets seamlessly.

The primary distinction between dedicated budgeting apps and bank-based budgeting apps lies in their scope of operation. With bank-based apps, users can only utilize budgeting tools for funds and transactions directly associated with the bank itself. In contrast, dedicated apps offer the flexibility to connect with multiple financial institutions, enabling users to manage their finances comprehensively across various accounts.

How do budgeting apps work?

Both dedicated and bank-focused budgeting apps analyze your transactions and activity, providing insights into your spending habits and enabling more effective management of your finances. Bank-focused apps already possess your transaction data, whereas dedicated apps utilize open banking to connect with the financial institutions you choose to analyze.

What Is Open Banking?

Initially proposed in 2015 and implemented in the UK in 2020, open banking represents a groundbreaking system granting consumers greater control over their financial data. The fundamental principle behind open banking is that an individual’s financial data belongs to them, and they should have the right to leverage it for their benefit. In practice, this means that financial institutions, including banks and credit card companies, are obliged to grant access to licensed financial technology companies upon a customer’s request.

All standalone budgeting apps, such as Emma and Snoop, rely on open banking to link to your accounts. Conversely, bank apps offering budgeting features, like Starling Bank and Revolut, do not utilize open banking since their budgeting tools are limited to the funds you’ve deposited with them.

How much do budgeting apps cost?

Among the dedicated budgeting apps, they typically offer either a subscription-based or a free model.

One of the free options is Snoop. However, it’s essential to recognize that these apps operate as businesses and require revenue streams. Consequently, Snoop generates income by leveraging and selling customer data to third-party companies. Of course, this data is anonymized to mitigate any risk of identification. However, if you prefer to avoid your data being utilized in this manner, opting for a subscription-based app might be preferable.

Among the subscription-based apps, Emma offers a free version alongside two tiers of monthly paid plans, priced at £4.99 and £9.99 respectively. Moneyhub, on the other hand, charges a flat fee of £0.99 per month for app usage.

Regarding bank-based budgeting apps, users are required to have a bank account with the respective institution to access their budgeting features. Additionally, some of these banks impose monthly charges for various tiers of accounts.

How to choose a budgeting app?

Two primary considerations when selecting a budgeting app are whether you prefer a standalone app or one integrated into a bank, and the associated costs.

Standalone budgeting apps offer a significant advantage: they allow you to connect multiple accounts from different providers. For instance, if you maintain a primary current account, a savings account with a different institution, and a credit card from yet another provider, you can link them all to your standalone budgeting app. This enables you to have a comprehensive overview of your finances in one convenient location.

On the other hand, budgeting functions within banking apps are limited to the funds and transactions held within that specific bank.

Regarding cost, standalone budgeting apps typically offer either free versions or subscription-based models with monthly fees.

Are budgeting apps safe?

Dedicated budgeting apps directly connect to your bank to access transaction data. However, they utilize the secure open banking system, ensuring high-level encryption without compromising your login details. These apps are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and do not hold your funds, mitigating any associated risks.

Banking-based apps, also regulated by the FCA, offer robust safeguards despite holding your money. Institutions like Starling Bank are fully licensed UK banks, ensuring protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Revolut, however, is still awaiting its banking license.

However, there is one thing to bear in mind, and that is whether your budgeting app will be around for the long haul. In the last few years, some budgeting apps, such as Money Dashboard and Yolt, have shut down, and others, such as Cleo, have left the market. This is largely because the market was very overcrowded, and now they have left, there are less competitors. However, it would have been a massive pain for users of these services to have to start over after having so much data within these apps, and having got used to using them. It makes sense to have a good look at the apps and choose one you think has got a sustainable business model.

Budgeting Apps Compared – At A Glance

App Type Cost
Starling Bank Current Account with Budgeting Need current account, free
Monzo Current Account with Budgeting Need current account, free & paid tiers
Moneyhub Budgeting App £0.99 per month
Emma Budgeting App Free, £4.99 or £9.99 per month
Revolut Current Account with Budgeting Need current account, free & paid tiers
Snoop Budgeting App Free

 

Best Budgeting app UK FAQ

Can you trust budgeting apps?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) strongly regulates the UK financial industry, requiring any app that utilizes open banking to obtain a license from the FCA. Hence, you can rest assured that any budgeting or banking app mentioned in this article adheres to rigorous regulatory standards and has robust safeguards in place.

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