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PocketGuard Budgeting App review

PocketGuard Budgeting App review

Money.ca / Money.ca

Fact Checked: Amy Tokic

🗓️

Updated: January 25, 2024

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware this post may contain links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for products or services you sign up for through partner links.

4.4

Wise Reviews™

Ease of use - 4.5

Cost - 4

Features - 4.5

Customer service - 4

Safety - 5

PocketGuard is a personal finance app offering budgeting, expense tracking, bill management and savings tools.

What is PocketGuard?

PocketGuard is a user-friendly personal finance app. It’s designed to simplify budgeting, expense tracking, bill management and achieve savings goals. It integrates with bank and credit card accounts to offer a comprehensive view of finances. The app automatically categorizes transactions for insightful spending analysis and supports custom categories for detailed tracking. 

Its bill tracker alerts users to upcoming payments, preventing missed bills. PocketGuard also assists in debt management by creating customized payoff plans for loans and credit cards, indicating the time to debt freedom.

Additionally, it helps set and monitor savings goals by calculating monthly contributions needed to meet specific targets. Overall, PocketGuard streamlines money management, making it accessible and manageable for users.

How to use PocketGuard

Cost

PocketGuard has a free version with basic budgeting features. PocketGuard Plus is the premium version that includes unlimited budgets, bill negotiation services, priority customer support, and other benefits. However, the free features are extensive enough for basic budgeting and spending tracking.

PocketGuard Plus costs $13.49 per month ($161.88 per year) or $58.99 per year when billed annually. There is also a one-time $134.99 payment for a lifetime PocketGuard Plus subscription.

Categorize, schedule and track expenses

A key part of PocketGuard is the ability to categorize transactions. When you connect accounts, the app will automatically categorize your spending. Categories include food, shopping, transportation, bills and more. You can fully customize categories based on your specific budget. For example, you may break groceries into sub-categories like produce, meat and household items.

PocketGuard also makes managing bills easy. Enter the billing cycle, last payment date, and amount when adding a bill. PocketGuard will then remind you when the due date is approaching. This has the added benefit of protecting your credit score by preventing missed payments. The calendar view lets you see all upcoming bills and expenses at a glance. 

Finally, PocketGuard includes financial goal setting where throughout the month, you can check your spending vs budget in each category. PocketGuard’s budget tracker shows how much you have left to spend.

Link all accounts in one place

To fully utilize PocketGuard, you'll want to connect your financial accounts. The app syncs with over 30,000 banks and financial institutions in Canada and the US.

You can link checking, savings, and credit cards. PocketGuard uses bank-level security and encryption to keep your data safe. By aggregating all accounts in one place, you get a complete picture of your financial situation. You can easily track income, account balances, bills, interest charges and spending across every linked account.

Availability

PocketGuard is available as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. There is also a web dashboard that can be accessed from any browser. The app is only available in the USA, UK and Canada and connects to most major financial institutions. Customer support options include email and in-app chat.

Safety and security features

PocketGuard uses bank-level security to keep your data safe. The app uses 256-bit SSL encryption, which is the same level of security as most financial institutions and even the military. 

As is common practice, you sign in with your email address and password. Two-factor authentication is also available for additional account security. You can also enable biometrics like face or touch ID as another level to keep your data safe.

PocketGuard pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Debt payoff planner shows you a path to becoming debt free

  • Manages all bills and reminds you when payments are due

  • Generous free plan with a paid upgrade available

  • Automatically categorizes transactions

  • In-depth spending insights and reports

  • Syncs with most financial institutions

  • Ability to set multiple savings goals

Cons

Cons

  • The website can be a bit hard to navigate as some buttons on desktop don't work

  • Pricing isn't available until you create an account, and it seems to change often

  • Bill negotiation (explained below) is limited to paid memberships

  • Customer support can take longer to get back to you

Standout features

Debt Payoff Planner: PocketGuard creates a customized plan for becoming debt-free based on your accounts, interest rates and monthly payment amounts. The easy-to-understand plan shows you exactly when each debt will be paid off.

Savings Goals: Set multiple savings goals like an emergency fund, vacation, or new car. Enter the target amount and date, and PocketGuard shows how much you must contribute each month. It will even adjust your budget to help you reach the goal.

Bill Negotiation: PocketGuard Plus members get access to bill negotiation services. Real people will contact your service providers and negotiate lower rates on recurring bills like cable, internet, insurance and more.

In My Pocket: The "In My Pocket" tool calculates your monthly leftover money after bills and expenses. This lets you know how much is available for extra spending or saving.

What people are saying about PocketGuard

Mobile Reviews: The mobile app has a 4.7 rating on the App Store based on over 6,840 ratings. It scores 4.3 on Google Play with over 1,980 reviews.

Trust Pilot: Trust Pilot scores a 3.4 out of 5, with most people only complaining about forgetting to cancel the paid version after the free trial expires.

Reddit Reviews: Some users complain about sync reliability with their bank, such as Reddit user “countryguy460,” who had sync problems with Tangerine Bank in Canada.

How PocketGuard stacks up to competitors

PocketGuard vs. Mint

PocketGuard and Mint have a lot of overlap regarding tracking spending, creating budgets and managing bills. Mint has one advantage over PocketGuard; the ability to access free credit monitoring. 

Mint has similar pricing to PocketGuard. They both have a free version, with Mint premium costing $4.99 monthly. However, the free version of Mint is covered in ads, decreasing user experience. To avoid ads, Mint users must pay $0.99 monthly. 

Mint has shut down operations in Canada as of January 1, 2024. PocketGuard has created a Mint data transfer option to allow for a smooth transition for past Mint users to their platform. The transfer is completed in only a few simple steps.

PocketGuard pulls ahead in a few areas:

  • Automatic transaction categorization
  • Focus on achieving financial goals
  • More flexible budgeting options
  • Cleaner mobile app interface
  • Debt payoff features
  • Bill negotiation 

PocketGuard vs. YNAB

You Need a Budget (YNAB) and PocketGuard take different approaches to budgeting. YNAB requires manual transaction entry and scheduling, while PocketGuard offers more automation. 

YNAB doesn't offer a free version like PocketGuard. You’ll need to pay $14.99 monthly or $99 annually to use YNAB. However, college students receive a free YNAB year, whereas PocketGuard doesn't offer promotions.

PocketGuard advantages include:

  • Automatic bank connectivity and transaction imports
  • Automatic transaction categorization
  • Debt payoff planner
  • Bill negotiation

PocketGuard vs. Monarch Money

Monarch Money is another finance app focused on managing subscriptions and bills. It costs $14.99 per month or $99.99 for the year. While PocketGuard offers more well-rounded personal finance tools, Monarch Money has some unique features. 

Namely, Monarch Money offers investment tracking (net worth tracker). It also has strong bill management capabilities, especially for families sharing subscriptions. PocketGuard, on the other hand, has unique features such as MY POCKET and debt repayment tools.

PocketGuard advantages include:

  • Broader budgeting features beyond just bill tracking
  • Spending insights and reports
  • Automatic bank connectivity
  • Debt payoff planner
  • Savings goals

FAQs

  • Is PocketGuard safe to use?

    +

    Yes, PocketGuard utilizes bank-level security protocols to keep user data safe. Information is encrypted, and the app uses 256-bit SSL to transmit data. Users can enable two-factor authentication and biometrics for added security.

  • Is PocketGuard free?

    +

    Yes, PocketGuard has an extensive free plan that includes transaction categorization, spending insights, budgeting tools, and bill reminders. PocketGuard Plus unlocks additional features like bill negotiations for a paid subscription.

  • What is the best free budgeting app?

    +

    PocketGuard is one of the top free budgeting apps. It provides automatic transaction tracking, reporting, and budget management tools without requiring a paid subscription.

  • Can I use PocketGuard without linking accounts?

    +

    PocketGuard allows manual account creation, so you can use the budgeting features without connecting financial accounts. However, linking accounts provides deeper transaction tracking and cash flow analysis.

  • Who owns PocketGuard?

    +

    PocketGuard is owned by PocketGuard, Inc., an independent technology company based in San Francisco.

About our author

Lucas Elliott
Lucas Elliott, Freelance writer

Lucas, a Toronto native, holds an Honours BBA (Finance) degree obtained from Wilfrid Laurier University. His career has spanned venture capital and blockchain startups. Aside from writing at Moneywise, Lucas is a Hardbacon and Loans Canada contributor, and content specialist at Croton Content. Additionally, his passion for exploring the world has taken him to an impressive 28 countries across Europe, North America, Asia, and Central America.

Disclaimer

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