February 5, 2023

best budgeting apps

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We're all guilty of overspending at times, but we don't have to be! Gone are the days of having to set up a separate savings account. These are the best budgeting apps in the UK for those looking to get their finances back on track and plan.

Whether you're just starting or need some help getting organised, these will suit your needs perfectly. It's never too late to start saving money with these great apps!

There is no need to overspend again now you can access this technology for free, so read on to benefit from finding out which budget apps could help you save money.

What are Budgeting Apps?

A budgeting app is software that helps people track their expenses and stick to a budget. It's an excellent tool for those looking to keep their personal capital in check.

There are many different types of budgeting apps, but most of them work by allowing users to connect to their existing bank accounts through a secure 256-bit read-only access, known as open banking. Budgeting apps then offer advice on how much you can afford to save. Some budgeting apps will also give you an overview of your spending habits and set savings goals.

Budgeting apps are the 21st century's answer to money management.

There are several different budgeting apps available. This guide will cover what we believe is the best free budgeting app and an overview of the 10 best budgeting apps on offer.

10 Best Budgeting Apps in the UK

Now you know why a budgeting app may benefit you and your money, let's go through the top contenders so you can decide for yourself which is the best personal finance app for you:

1. Chip - Best Free Budgeting app?

what is chip app

4.5 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Free Budgeting app: Although Chip has a paid plan (for those looking to invest), the free version offers what most would need to kick start their savings goals.
  • Connect Easily to your existing bank account                                  Chip says it saves the money you won't miss by monitoring your spending and frequently putting money away.

  • FSCS protected up to £85,000 on any money saved through Chip.
  • Set Savings Goals
    Set your savings goals and let Chip do the rest.
  • 0.61% Interest rate When you opt for their interest account provided by Allica bank
  • Rounds up Spare Change
  • Uses artificial intelligence to tell you how much you can afford to save
  • Option to invest with Chip X plan. (capital at risk).

Chip app is one of the best budgeting apps in the UK. It connects to your current bank account and monitors your spending habits. It sends a varying amount of funds into your chip each day. It is smart enough to know if you cannot afford to invest more money and evade money transfers. 

There are no costs to become a Chip customer, and you can withdraw free money to your account whenever you like. If you want to achieve your financial goals, you could also plan several goals and have Chip split your money between them. 25% of your transferring Chips will go towards a Holiday goal and 75% towards a First Home goal.

Cost: Free for Chip or £3 every 28 days for Chip X

Want to know more? Check out Chip App Review or watch the 60-second video below.

2. Plum: All of Your Accounts in one Place

plum money saving app

4.7 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Free budgeting apps: Plum basic is the free version, but four different plans are available if you are looking to supercharge your savings. They offer a free trial on their paid-for plans so you can see if it's right for you.
  • All your bank accounts and credit card accounts in one place: Plum supports most major banks and credit cards and allows you to add multiple financial accounts so you can see a total overview of all of your spending.
  • Easy to use dashboard: The dashboard is easy to use. You can see the merchants you have spent with and spending by category. 
  • Makes Saving fun: You can easily take part in the 1p savings challenge and other savings challenges with the built-in features within the app.
  • Rounds up Spare Change
  • Interest rate: 0.25% - 0.40% AER, depending on if you opt for the free version or paid plans.

Plum is one of the most popular budgeting apps in the UK, with over 1 million users and great functionality even on the free version. What makes Plum special is its rich money management functionality.

With its handy budgeting features, you can track spending and upcoming bills. Plum will even guide you if it thinks you are overpaying on some of your subscriptions!

Like Chip, it also has investment management services (capital at risk) where you have the option to invest your spare change.

Related Article: Plum vs Chip

Cost: Plum basic (free budgeting app) Plum Plus £1, Plum Pro £2.99, Plum Ultra £4.99.

Want to know more? Check out Plum App Review or watch the 1 minute video below: 

3. Money Hub - Free for 180 Days 

money hub

4.3 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • 180-day free trial: The most generous free trial for the budgeting apps on offer.
  • Understand where your money goes: Money Hub will show you some of your spending habits and where your money is going.
  • Ability to set spending goals.
  • View transactions from all of your accounts: You can connect credit cards and most major banks to Money Hub. All your accounts are in one place. 
  • Regulated by the FCA.
  • Perfect if your goal is to monitor your money management and not save money in the app.

Moneyhub is a personal finance app that helps you see where your money goes and make smarter decisions about spending it. Whilst you don't get the added interest accounts and autosaving features that Plum and Chip give you it is still a great option if your goal is to get an overall picture of your finances. 

It automatically categorises all your transactions, so you can quickly see how much you spend on groceries vs eating out or what percentage of your income goes to rent each month. And with Spending Goals, you can set goals for yourself and track progress towards them - freeing up cash for the things that matter.

With Money Hub, there's no more guessing about where your money is going - you can add all of your accounts, such as pensions, investments, mortgages and, of course, your current account. 

Cost: Money hub is free to download and use for 180 days. Then it is a small charge of £1.49 a month or £14.99 for the year. Making it one of the cheapest budgeting apps.

Related article: Best Money Saving Apps

4. Starling Bank: Bank & Budgeting App (Best for Round up Purchases)

starling bank

4.9 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Voted Britains Best Bank: Starling is a award winning bank but doubles up as a excellent budgeting tool so no need to have multiple apps with Starling.

  • No monthly fees: No charges all budgeting features are free!
  • FSCS protected up to £85,000 on any money saved through Starling. 
  • Set Savings Goals in separate spaces: With Starling you can set separate savings goals and have it stored in a separate place to your main account. 
  • Rounds up Spare Change: The best round up spare change app. With Starling you can speed up your spare change by x10.  
  • Apply on your phone in minutes.
  • Joint Accounts also available: Want to budget as a couple? Starling also offer joint accounts.

Whilst most budgeting apps are just apps, Starling is an entire bank. Rather than getting a budgeting app to keep your personal finances in check, a bank that does it all might be the better option.

starling joint account

Starling Bank was the UK's first mobile-only bank. They offer a free current account with no monthly fees and round up your purchases by up to 10 times to automatically save more.

You can also set saving goals within the app and get notified when you spend. It's easy to use, secure, and best of all - it's free! It also doubles up as a travel card giving you commission free spending when abroad.

You will also get payment reminders for any upcoming payments. It's more than a bank that will help you budget and support you in your total money management.

Want more information? See Starling Bank Review or Best Online Banks

5. Money Dashboard

money dashboard

4.1 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Easy to use dashboard.The dashboard is easy to use. You can see the merchants you have spent with and spending by category.  
  • Free Budgeting app: Money dashboard is free to use for budgeting. If you use the investing features (capital at risk) management charges are extra. 
  • Connect Credit cards and Current Accounts. Good support for multiple bank accounts and credit cards so you can see your complete balance.
  • Awarded Best Personal Finance App 2021, 2020, 2018, 2017 by British Bank Awards 
  • Categorise your spending.

Do you want to know how much money you have? Then Money dashboard could help you.

Money Dashboard is a free app that helps you manage your finances. It shows all of your bank accounts in one place, so it's easy to see where your money is going and what bills need to be paid. You can also track spending across categories, compare with previous months and create budgets for what you spend most on.

Is Money Dashboard Safe to use?

Money dashboard has been operating for more than ten years. It uses bank-level encryption and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - registration number 800652.

6. Monzo: Best for a Savings pot

Monzo Bills and pots

4.9 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Award winning Bank: Monzo is another online bank option that offers banking and budgeting all in one. 
  • Free Budgeting app: There are no monthly fees for Monzo Basic but you do have the option to upgrade your Monzo account to get more budgeting access. 
  • Set aside Bill payments in pots: Monzo has a cool feature allowing you at the start of the month to put direct debit bills aside and pay the bills from the separate pots meaning you never spend Money meant for bills.
  • Round up spare change
  • Categorise your spending.

Monzo is another excellent digital bank that allows you to set up separate savings pots, categorise your spending and round up your everyday purchases. It's great for keeping money aside for bills, too, as you can separate the money for your accounts into a separate savings pot.

Want more information see Monzo Vs Starling

7. Emma

Emma budget app

4.7 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Track Budgets and Expenses within the App
  • Manage all of your bank accounts in one place. 
  • Get Weekly Spending Reports
  • Earn Cashback at select brands
  • Categorise your spending.

Emma checks your savings and credit account statements too. It categorises your spending to ensure you will quickly see where your money goes each month.

A premium account, Emma Pro, has additional features such as individualised categories and extra cashback. Emma Pro costs £59.99 a year, while the first seven days are free.

Emma is easy to create and easy to use but a bit gamified, and the push to subscribe to Emma Pro can be irritating. The service is accessible and recommended both for beginners and managing subscriptions. It also rewards spending at certain stores such as Body Shop, B&Q Gousto, Boots, etc.

Is Emma Safe to use?

Emma looks pretty confident about their safety and security and notes they are ICO registered. This is a UK independent authority whose aim is to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

They also say they have bank-level security. Emma is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 to provide payment services.

Emma uses 256-bit TLS encryption 100% of the time.

8. Moneybox

money box best budgeting app

4.8 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Open Stocks and Shares ISA. (capital at risk)
  • Focused on long term goals as opposed to everyday spending.
  • A great app for big goals such as saving for a house. 
  • Extensive educational resources: if you want to learn more about pension saving the app has useful calculators and articles.

Moneybox has the only few features of all budgeting and finance apps in this article but it is useful and probably the best budgeting app for long term goals.

It focuses significantly on assisting you in your investments. All that I spend is directly in a saving account. You can select between general investments accounts, the lifetime ISA, stock-and-share ISA and the fixed-rate savings accounts. It is important to note that you have to pay a monthly service charge of £1. However, interest rates and fees for all accounts appear competitive. Moneybox seems aimed at consumers looking for long-term saving options.

For full details see Money Box Review

9. Monese

Monese bank without proof of address

4.8 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Mobile Money account 
  • Open an account in minutes without credit checks or address.
  • Great if you want a app that budgets or has multi-currency. 
  • Spending categories
  • Set budgeting goals. 

A Monese Bank account allows access to on-the-go budgeting tools and bank services. It will enable easy-to-remember cash transfers and immediate notifications from any bank.

Want more information? See Monese Review.

10. Revolut


4.9 App Store rating*

*correct as of March 2022

Main Benefits:

  • Mobile Money account 
  • Get budget notifications: never overspend with built in budgeting notifications
  • Create Savings Vaults to reach your financial goals
  • Spending categories
  • Save money on exchange rates: Revolut allows your to exchange in to 30+ currencies. 

Related Article: Revolut vs Monzo

Revolut offers personal finance apps for managing money and making your daily expenditures easy. Revolut gives you the flexibility to limit the amounts you spend and give you recommendations on how you spend them.

It sends you notifications to ensure you keep track of your spending and it can warn you if you have reached your budget. The app offers weekly insights to help you understand how much you spend each day.

What is the Best Budgeting App in the UK?

This does depend on your individual needs, however out of the apps reviewed in this article, here are our favourite picks:

  • Chip: Great interface, and its assistant makes budgeting easy and fun. Because the assistant is quite fun, it takes the boring out of personal finance! Great for automatic saving.
  • Plum: Great if budgeting makes you want to fall to sleep! Plum is a incredibly fun budgeting app and genuially makes budgeting fun! With its Savings challenges and notifications it definitely keeps your spending on track.
  • Starling Bank: If you just want a bank account where you can easily see where you spend your money and round up your transactions whilst you are at it, then Starling Bank is fantastic. Voted Best British Bank for three years in a row, there is no wonder. Great for a Budgeting Bank Account.
  • Money hub: If you want to see things like your net worth, then Money hub is excellent. It has comprehensive support to add multiple accounts. Great for the overall finance picture.

What is a Budget?

A budget is a monthly financial plan based on your income/ expenses over a longer period. A financial plan that ensures you never run low on your next payday. If done right, you could have enough money to invest in long term loan and retirement investments. A budget is key to build your financial future.

There are many different kinds of budgeting apps and email services around these days, but we've found that you don't need to pay for some of the online ones if you use these great tools. Whether you're new to money management or want a friendly reminder, the below selections will help you get on track!

what is a budget showing piggy bank image

Why Should I Use a Budgeting App?

The real advantage of such app-based apps for saving or managing money is simplicity and ease of use.

And most of them are free (like Cleo and Yolt), so there's nothing to lose. It takes only a few minutes a month to make a plan that will benefit you in the long term and save you from overspending.

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 personal finance apps. These apps use available banking technology, which connects to your bank account on a read-only basis meaning your money is safe still within your existing bank

Do I Need a Budgeting App?

Not necessarily. You may not need additional budgeting apps if you have accounts with bank providers like Starling, Monzo or Monese. That's because bank accounts like the ones mentioned above have built-in budgeting features that allow you to budget within the need for additional apps.

It's still reading about the budgeting apps below as some of them will also link up to your credit cards, meaning you see a total picture of your debt and available balance. If you have multiple bank accounts, this could be incredibly useful.

Best Budgeting Apps: Final Words

The best budgeting apps in the UK offer a wide range of features, from rounding up your spare change to investing. If you want to take charge of your money, some of the apps listed in this article could help you with your finances.

The app that suits you will depend on what you need it for and how often you plan to use it. To find out more about which is right for you, check our guide below!

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Best Budgeting Apps UK FAQ

What is the Best Free App for Budgeting?

In terms of functionality and value for money Chip app comes out on top. Not only does it have one of the best interest rates it helps you save money without thinking.

Does the Mint Budget App Work In the UK?

You can’t get Mint budgeting app in the UK yet. If and when it becomes available, it’s well worth a look, as it’s free and super useful to be able to see everything on one app without having to log into various sites. If you want something similar to Mint in that you can see your network Moneyhub is worth checking out. 

What Is The Easiest Budget App?

According to app store reviews, Plum is the highest-rated and of the budgeting apps in the volume of reviews and score (4.8 stars). Users have commented how easy and fun it is to save money. Plum offers a lot more than basic budgeting apps.

Why Do Budgets Fail?

Budgets fail because we run out of willpower to resist the temptation of buying something.
We get tempted by everything from our favourite online store’s promotion to tempting fruit papaya and then another. The more we have access to shopping deals or friends who like nagging us for clothes, the greater the chance that we will hit our limit and go over budget with no way of stopping it. That doesn’t have to happen if you try some budgeting apps or chatbots today!
We live in an age-old ‘nudge’ society where nudging has become normality whereby companies employ people solely to develop tactics to nag their customers into impulse purchasing, which are quite often in opposition to their goals.

I Decided Not TO Have A Budgeting App. What Budgeting Tips Can You Give me?

There are a few things to consider when budgeting without an app. One is that you’ll need to be more diligent in tracking your expenses manually. A second is that you’ll need to find a system that works for you and stick to it. This article on budgeting tips can give you more information.

What is the Best Budget app UK?

Plum is the best budget app in the UK. It has over a million users and a 4.8 App Store rating.
Plum’s easy-to-use interface makes it perfect for anyone who wants to get their finances under control. You can connect your bank account, credit cards, and investment accounts to get a holistic view of your financial situation. Plus, Plum gives you personalised spending recommendations and helps you stay on top of your budget with daily updates.

What is the Most user-friendly Budget App?

When testing these budgeting apps we found Chip and Plum to be the most user-friendly apps. Both have personalisation features and are both really easy to connect to your bank accounts. Plum has a slight edge if you want to connect more than one bank account but Chip has the better interest rates through its partner banks. 

About the author 

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for financial freedom. She is the founder of MeMoreMoney, and a featured Personal Finance expert in GO Banking Rates and Yahoo! Finance. Mary loves to make money simple and understandable for everyone. Her goal is to help people make simple changes so that they have more money to live the way they want.

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