The Best Budgeting Apps in the UK for 2020

Mobile phone displaying a pound symbol

It can be difficult to track your expenses, manage your money, and make your wages last until your next payday. Thankfully, there are many budgeting apps available to help you manage your money, start saving, and hit your financial goals. Let’s dig in and look at some of the apps available, with our guide to the best budgeting apps.


Many budgeting apps work by connecting to your existing bank accounts, credit cards, and savings accounts through Open Banking to give you an overview of your spending across all of your accounts.

What is Open Banking?Previously, if an app or third party needed access to your bank information, you would need to provide it with your online banking details. As you can imagine, this put many people at risk of fraud and it also didn’t give people much confidence or trust in using a third-party app to help them budget. With Open Banking, when you need to connect your bank to an app, you log in directly with your bank, and it then provides the app you wish to use with read-only access to your account. Essentially, it plonks your bank, and the security that comes with it, in the middle of you and the app you want to use.

The good thing about budgeting apps is that rather than having to check each of your individual banking apps to check your balance or see how much money you have left across all of your accounts, you can simply open your budget app and get a quick snapshot of how much money you have left and how this breaks down into weekly or daily budgets.

Some apps go a bit further by giving you guidance on what action to take to ensure your money lasts until your next payday, or help you put money to one side to save or repay some old debts.


Best budgeting app - Free

There is a wide selection of free budgeting apps available that can be downloaded to your mobile phone or used from your computer. The App Store and Google Play store provides the vast majority of these apps where you can also view the latest updates and customer reviews.

Curve

What is Curve? Securely add all your debit and credit cards to your Curve Card app and use any of your bank accounts with just one Curve Mastercard.
The best part Use just the one Curve card to spend with all of your debit and credit cards.
The worst part No ability to set a budget limit.
Cost Curve Blue - Free.
Curve Black - £9.99 / month.
Curve Metal - £14.99 / month.
Available for iPhone, Android.

Curve sits somewhere between being a bank and being a budget app because it does a little bit of both.

With Curve, you use just the one Curve debit card to spend in-store and online with all of your accounts. The Curve app shows you how much you have been spending with each of your accounts with its inbuilt budgeting tools, and breaks this down further by showing how much you have been spending on certain things, such as on groceries or at restaurants.

Sign up to curve with promotional code SEL10 and get £10 free. Apply now

One great feature of Curve is that you can re-charge a transaction to one of your other accounts up to 14 days later for free, within the Curve app, if you accidentally pay for something with the wrong bank account or credit card. Curve will take care of refunding the amount to your card and recharging it to the account you select.

Here is how Curve works:

Piggy bank with cash and coins
  1. Download the Curve app
  2. Create your account
  3. Your free Curve MasterCard will be sent to you
  4. Add all of your debit and credit cards to the Curve app
  5. Head out of the house with just the one Curve card
  6. Use the Curve app to quickly select or change the account you wish to pay with as you go about your day

Curve can also help you avoid credit card fees - The Curve Card works like a debit card so if you have a big purchase and you want to charge it to your credit card, you can use your Curve card to complete the transaction as a debit card payment, avoiding any credit card fees charged by the merchant.

Curve Logo

Read more about Curve & how to get £10 free.

More info

Chip

What is Chip? Chip is a mobile app that connects to your existing bank account. It monitors your spending and automatically moves small, affordable amounts of money into your Chip account every few days to help you reach a financial goal, such as a big purchase or a rainy day fund.
The best part Chip automatically stashes away money for you every few days based on your budget and what you can realistically afford, without feeling the pinch.
The worst part You don't earn interest on the money that Chip puts to one side for you.
Cost Free
Available for iPhone, Android.

Chip is a mobile app powered by artificial intelligence. The Chip app connects to your existing bank account and monitors your spending behaviour. Every four days, it automatically transfers a varied small amount of money into your Chip account.

Piggy bank and mobile phone

The good thing about Chip is that it helps you build up a sum of money without you really noticing. Rather than putting a big chunk of your wages to one side at the start of the month, Chip moves over small amounts of money on a more regular basis.

The artificial intelligence behind the Chip app knows how much money you can afford based on your spending behaviour, so one day it may transfer £2 and on another it might jump up to £5. It is also clever enough to know when you can’t afford to spare any extra money and skip the transfer.

There are no fees or costs to be a Chip customer and you can withdraw money from your Chip account back into your bank account as often as you like for free.

To help you reach your financial goals, you can set multiple targets and have Chip split your money between them. For example, 25% of your Chip transfers could go towards a Holiday goal and 75% go towards a First Home goal

In addition, you can also make manual transfers into your Chip account to top up the amount of money you have stashed away.

Chip App Logo

Read more about Chip & how to get £10 free.

Coming Soon

Emma

What is Emma? Emma is a money management and budgeting tool that helps you avoid overdrafts, cancel subscriptions, track debt and save money.
The best part Constantly analyses all of your bank accounts and provides suggestions to help you reduce wasteful spending and avoid debt.
The worst part It is not the best app design and not all banks are currently supported.
Cost Free - £4.99 / month.
Available for iPhone, Android.

Emma is a budgeting app that connects with your existing online banking to sync all of your account balances and transaction history and provides you with an overview of your spending behaviour across all of your bank accounts and credit cards.

With the Emma budget app, you set an overall budget for the month and for certain categories, such as transport or groceries. Emma automatically assigns each transaction a category, so you can monitor how much you are spending and how much you have left for the rest of the month.

Emma uses open banking to connect to your bank accounts, and it is a read-only app so it can’t make any transactions or changes to your bank account, it can only read your transaction history.

Yolt

What is Yolt? View your UK bank accounts and credit cards together, understand your spending, see upcoming debits, create easy budgets, and monitor your bills and subscriptions.
The best part Link all of your bank accounts and credit cards together in one app, set budgets, and monitor your bills.
The worst part You can’t set a payday if you don’t get paid each month.
Cost Free.
Available for iPhone, Android.

Yolt works similarly to Emma in that it links to all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and savings accounts, using open banking, to provide you with an overview of your spending behaviour.

With Yolt you can set up a monthly budget and budgets for each category. Yolt categorises all of your transactions to help you see where you are spending your money.

Yolt lets you know how much money you have left until your next payday and breaks this down into a weekly or daily budget so you can make your money last until you get paid.

Read more about Yolt (Coming soon)

Money Dashboard

What is Money Dashboard? Money Dashboard takes the hard work out of organising your personal finances. It helps you discover where your money goes, set a budget, start saving, and plan for the future.
The best part Users can see predicted income, expenditure and balances and see how certain scenarios could affect their finances.
The worst part The app is not as easy to set up as some of its rivals. Customers looking to budget on the go may find Money Dashboard too in-depth.
Cost Free.
Available for iPhone, Android, Desktop.

Money Dashboard was voted Best Personal Finance App in 2017 and 2018, and unlike some of its rivals, it also has a desktop version of its app, which some people may find more user-friendly.

Using open banking, Money Dashboard connects to all of your bank accounts, credit cards, and savings account to give you an overview of your spending. Users can set a personal budget for the month and for each category, such as bills.

Mobile phone with coins

Money Dashboard automatically categorises your transactions so you can see where your money is going. For example, if you spend £50 on groceries at Tesco, Money Dashboard will categorise this as ‘Groceries’ and it will deduct the amount of this transaction from your grocery budget for the month.

A great feature of Money Dashboard is its budget planner. Users can look ahead and view their predicted income, expenditure and balances based on their previous spending behaviour, upcoming bills, and next payday. Users can use this tool to test a scenario and see how it may affect their finances. For example, perhaps this month you need to pay for a holiday. You can add this amount into the Money Dashboard planner to see how it will impact your budget.

Read more about Money Dashboard (Coming soon)


Best budgeting app - Paid for

The free budgeting apps provide some great features. However, if you are happy to pay a monthly fee, then you can access some premium budgeting apps, that offer a few additional features.

Moneyhub

What is Moneyhub? Moneyhub will help bring your money to life and see all of your finances in one place wherever you are.
The best part In-app guidance prompts help you stay on track with your budget, which update and change depending on your spending behaviour and the number of days left until payday.
The worst part Doesn’t offer much more over its free competitors to warrant its monthly fee.
Cost £0.99 / month.
Available for iPhone, Android, Desktop.

Moneyhub is a subscription-based budgeting app. For £0.99 a month users get access to a range of budgeting tools to help get to grips with their finances.

A stack of coins and cash

Users connect each of their bank accounts, credit cards, and savings accounts to the Moneyhub app using open banking. Much like other budgeting apps, Moneyhub enables users to set a monthly personal budget and budgets for each category. Moneyhub then categories all of your transactions so you can see how much you have left until payday, how much you have left to spend on transport, or how much you have left to spend on groceries.

A good feature of Moneyhub is its Insights screen. This displays a simple meter, showing how much money you have left until payday and how this compares to the previous month.

Moneyhub provides all the features of some free apps, including the useful budget planner similar to the one featured with Money Dashboard. However, users of Moneyhub get a few extra features for the £0.99 a month fee, such as

  • Budget Guidance - The Moneyhub app will give you guidance on how to stay on track with your budget.
  • Moneyhub advisors - Users can share their financial information with an approved financial advisor to receive additional advice.

For £0.99 a month, Moneyhub doesn’t offer a great deal more than some of its free competitors. The monthly fee would be worth it for budget planner feature if this wasn’t available for free with Money Dashboard.

Squirrel

What is Squirrel? Squirrel is an app-based account that splits your salary up into your bills, goals, and a weekly allowance to spend on whatever you like.
The best part Squirrel sets aside your money and pays it into your current account as and when you need it. For example, it can release your electricity bill money into your current account the day before the direct debit is due, or it can split your monthly salary into weekly payments, and release a set amount into your current account every Monday to stop you from overspending.
The worst part It holds your money in a separate bank account and releases funds periodically. Some people may not trust this method.
Cost £9.99 / month.
Available for iPhone, Android.

Squirrel is a slightly different budgeting app because it does all the work for you. Rather than the app than telling you how much you have left to spend each week/month and then trusting you to do the right thing and follow its advice, Squirrel won’t even let you touch the money until you’re supposed to.

Squirrel users set up the app by providing information such as

  • Your monthly income
  • Your expenses and payment due dates
  • Savings goals

Squirrel then releases funds into your main current account on set dates. For example, it puts £50 for your electricity bill into your account the day before the direct debit is due to come out of your bank.

Users can also use Squirrel to pay them an allowance each week. Instead of having access to your full salary, Squirrel will set aside the money for all of your expenses, and then pay you the remaining balance into your current account in weekly instalments so you can’t overspend.

You can ask Squirrel to exclude a set amount of money from being paid to you, so you end the month with money left over.


Banks with budgeting apps

The apps we have looked into so far are all stand-alone budgeting apps and aren’t banks. However, there are many banks out there that provide budgeting tools as part of their online or mobile banking.

Banks with budgeting apps include:

Revolut logo

Revolut

Revolut is one of the most popular prepaid debit cards in the world. You can set a monthly budget and receive notifications about your spending and budgets.

More info
Monese logo

Monese

With a Monese bank account, you have access to in-app budgeting tools, simplified bank transfers, and instant notifications whenever you use your Monese card.

More info

thinkmoney logo

thinkmoney

A thinkmoney current account budgets for your bills and expenses to prevent you from overspending, leaving the rest of your money free for you to spend.

More info
Starling Bank logo

Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award winning digital bank which summarises your spending behaviour and gives you the ability to create budgets to help you manage your money.

More info

The products reviewed in this article represent only a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra always recommends that you carry out your own research and seek legal advice if necessary before making any decisions.

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