The best money management apps are those that make it easy to see where your finances stand and help you reach your financial goals at little to no cost. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to a successful budget — for example, some prefer a bird’s-eye view, while others love tracking their funds on a granular level.
Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all budgeting app, the best budget app for your lifestyle will depend on your personal money goals. To help you narrow down your choices, here are some we thought were the best finance apps based on the criteria below.
6 best budget apps
We compared 13 money management apps to account for varying goals, like apps that help you save money or apps with a focus on investing. The final list of best budgeting tools below is based on its features, unique attributes, customer reviews and overall cost.
|Best Budget Apps|
|Acorns||$1 to $3 per month||Micro-investing|
|Goodbudget||$0 or $7 per month||Envelope budgeting|
|Personal Capital||Free||Data-driven budgeting|
|YNAB||$11.99 per month or $84 for one year||Zero-based budgeting|
- Best for: Micro-investing
- Cost: $1 per month for Basic (Acorns Invest); $2 per month for Plus (Acorns Invest and Acorns Later); and $3 per month for Premium (Acorns Invest, Acorns Later and Acorns Spend)
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: Acorns lets students grow their investment savings without requiring a high amount of capital upfront.
Acorns is a straightforward savings app that lets you save money by micro-investing. Through its basic subscription tier, Acorns Invest, each purchase on your credit or debit account can be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Once the spare change reaches a minimum of $5, it’s invested into your Acorns diversified portfolio. You can also choose to make recurring deposits into your investment savings accounts.
If you want to simultaneously save money for use now and for your retirement, an Acorns Plus subscription is an option. It provides a retirement account savings account, in addition to the basic Acorns Invest account, for an extra $1 per month. If you want your banking, savings and investments all working in tandem through Acorns, the money management app offers the Premium version for $3 per month, which includes the option of a checking account.
The money app offers beginner-level investors a way to grow their savings in an automated way without needing a high deposit upfront. It also makes investing simpler by automatically rebalancing portfolios during market changes, so you stay on target with investment goals. Although it doesn’t have income and expense tracking features, the ability to invest small increments of money at a relatively low cost put Acorns on the list of budgeting tools.
- Best for: Envelope budgeting
- Cost: Free for the basic version; Goodbudget Plus is $7 per month or $60 per year
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: Helps students actively practice budgeting for specific categories, like textbooks.
Goodbudget digitizes the traditional envelope budgeting method where you set spending categories and allocate a specific amount of your income toward each bucket. Categories include essentials, like rent or car payments, but also include other recreational spending areas, like dining out and shopping. Once you spend all of your budget in one category, you stop making those types of purchases. However, you can choose to reassign some of your cash from another category, if you need funds in the empty budget.
The easy-to-read layout of the Goodbudget app helps you quickly visualize how much of each budget you’ve used and when you’re getting close to your spending limit. The most helpful feature of Goodbudget is its ability to have multiple users contributing to the same household budget. This could come in handy for household members with intertwined finances, like couples or roommates, to stay aligned with their budgeting goals.
The biggest downside of this budget app is that your income and expense tracking for each category is done manually — this means you’ll have to stay committed to entering your available cash each budget cycle and individual spending transactions throughout the month. Still, if you’re already a dedicated budgeter, don’t need more than 20 digital envelopes and share your budget with only one additional person, Goodbudget’s free subscription can get the job done.
- Best for: Comprehensive budgeting
- Cost: Free
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: In-app money management education and tips that can help students grow their financial knowledge.
Mint by Intuit is an all-in-one budget app. It lets you sync all of your banking, retirement and investment accounts so you can track everything on one platform. In addition to automatically pulling your financial data so you can monitor your cash flow and savings, the Mint app also lets you set up and track individual budgets for different spending categories.
You may find Mint’s visuals user-friendly as they help you see where your money goes at a glance. You can also plan for savings in the app toward goals, like a rainy day fund or a future vacation. If you’re not pacing toward your goals or are close to going over-budget in a spending category, Mint can send you an alert.
Based on your financial information, the app provides money tips and in-app offers for financial products that it feels you might benefit from, though this could be a turn-off for those who don’t like getting in-app offers. However, with comprehensive features and a $0 cost, Mint could be considered one of the best budget app options available, especially for those who are new to budgeting.
- Best for: Data-driven budgeting
- Cost: Free
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: The Education Planner helps students and families build out various financial scenarios to help plan for education costs.
Experienced investors who want to monitor their investments and net worth, while also staying on top of general cash flow, may like the Personal Capital tracking dashboard. The app functions primarily as an investment tracker, which you can sync to your retirement and investment portfolios to track your money in real-time.
It also offers cash flow tools, like a budget tracker, that categorizes your transactions from linked accounts and lets you know when you’ve gone over your preset limit for each category. The budget app’s interface is highly data-driven, giving you in-depth graphs and analysis about your spending, retirement and investments.
Plus, it offers handy forecasting features, based on savings goals. For example, the Education Planner can tell how much one might need to save toward a child’s college costs based on when they plan to start school and other details. Knowing how much a college education might cost can alert students and their families to proactively obtain the funding needed to support a comfortable college experience, whether through increased savings, applying to grants and scholarships or seeking out student loans. And for those grads considering further schooling, it could also help you assess how you could save on that masters or professional degree. Although Personal Capital’s wealth management service is paid, the tracking dashboard app is free for all users.
- Best for: Bank-monitored budgeting
- Cost: Free
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: The Safe-to-Spend app feature takes the guesswork out of budgeting — all with a free checking account.
Budgeters can go all-in with their money management approach through the Simple ecosystem. The budgeting tool replaces your existing bank account, by setting you up with a new Simple bank account and Visa debit card. This debit card is linked to your Simple app where you can track your budget and daily expenses.
Simple’s “Safe-to-Spend” feature helps you see your realistic discretionary funds each month. The app takes your total bank account balance and subtracts recurring expenses and funds dedicated toward your savings goals. What’s leftover is your “Safe-to-Spend” amount, which lets you know how much is actually available for the fun things in life.
Simple is a free budgeting tool — there are no fees to use the app and hold a Simple bank account, but you will be charged for requests like a book of checks, for example.
- Best for: Zero-based budgeting
- Cost: $11.99 per month or $84 per year
- Best feature for college students or recent graduates: Users who can provide proof that they’re a student get free 12-month access to the platform via the YNAB College Program.
You Need a Budget, commonly called YNAB, is a zero-based budgeting app that asks you to assign every dollar in your account with a job. The idea behind this budgeting method is that you’re forced to be thoughtful about where you’re spending your money and are restricted to the dollars you have available today.
The app helps you track where you’re spending to avoid overspending, and you’re able to share your budget tracking with another person. The first 34 days are free for new users to try; after the trial period, it costs $11.99 per month or $84 annually. College students are encouraged to start budgeting early with YNAB and can receive 12 months of YNAB service for free. After that, students receive a 10% discount on their subscription for the following year.
YNAB offers a well-known money management approach that’s ideal for those who are actively working to pay down debt and stay in budget.
Final tips as you search for your best budget app
- Ask yourself what your main goal is for using the app.
- Determine how much you can afford for a budgeting tool.
- Make sure that the app supports your financial accounts.
- Take advantage of free trials to test which money management apps you like best. Don’t forget to cancel subscriptions before the trial period ends.
Elyssa Kirkham contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.34%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.97% – 8.54%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of December 1, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.