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Reviews

This is the best budgeting app for over-spenders

CNBC Select reviews the PocketGuard budgeting app for helping you mange your money.

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It can be difficult to monitor multiple credit cards and bank accounts in order to keep track of your spending. The PocketGuard budgeting app offers simplified budgeting tools to help set daily spending limits, making it our pick for the best budgeting app for over-spenders.

CNBC Select compared over a dozen apps, and PocketGuard was notable for its handy budgeting features that help you set (and stick to) your goals. Users personalize their accounts by linking credit cards, checking/savings and retirement accounts. The app then estimates upcoming bills and regular income before calculating how much money you have left over to spend. Users get an adjusted daily limit that factors in goals like savings and debt payoff.

There's a free version and a paid subscription to choose from. Below, we review the PocketGuard budgeting app to give you all the details on its features, including the tools, perks, safety, pricing, availability and ratings, so you can decide if it is the right app for managing your money.

PocketGuard budgeting app review

PocketGuard

Information about PocketGuard has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by PocketGuard prior to publication.
  • Cost

    Free basic budgeting app; $34.99 per year to upgrade to the premium version, PocketGuard Plus

  • Standout features

    Taking into account your estimated income, upcoming expenses and savings goals, "In My Pocket" feature uses an algorithm to show how much you have available for everyday spending

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can modify

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Major bank-level encryption, PIN codes and biometrics like Touch ID and Face ID

Terms apply.

PocketGuard budgeting app tools

The PocketGuard budgeting app links all your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments. Users receive personalized reports on spending, including an overview and transaction-by-transaction data. The "In My Pocket" feature tells you how much spendable money you have left.

The app's automated savings feature lets users regularly transfer money from a linked bank account into a non-interest bearing account for whatever goals you determine. The autosave feature is only available for U.S. citizens (though the app connects to both U.S. and Canadian financial institutions).

Users can create spreadsheets of their spending history and even make graphs of spending trends when they export their transactions.

Perks

The app's bill tracking feature allows you to set up reminders and shows areas where you can negotiate better rates.

The website also offers an educational blog to help users learn about money management.

Premium users also have access to the "cancel your subscription" feature, which recommends subscriptions you should cancel to save money, along with directions on how to do so.

Safety

PocketGuard's security features include 256-bit SSL encryption (security used by major banks), PIN codes and utilization of Touch ID and Face ID.

Pricing

The app offers a free version, but users can upgrade to premium for $4.99 per month or $34.99 per year.

The app's automated savings feature (described above) is available for PocketGuard Plus users at no extra charge, but users of the free version of the app will be charged a $2 monthly maintenance fee.

Availability and ratings

The PocketGuard Budgeting App is available in the App Store (for iOS) and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple Watch. It is also available on Google Play (for Android).

Rating in App Store at time of writing: 4.7 out of 5 (nearly 6,000 ratings)

Rating on Google Play at time of writing: 4.3 out of 5 (nearly 1,500 ratings)

Bottom line

The PocketGuard app is ideal for over-spenders who want routine reminders of how much they can spend on a day-to-day basis.

It is the best choice for those who struggle to keep track of their spending and want to improve their saving skills. Its features allow you to get into the habit of keeping a close eye on your finances and spend more wisely.

But while PocketGuard is convenient, some reviews report it that may categorize transactions incorrectly from time to time. Users are advised to go over their transactions and make sure everything is right.

The cost for the premium version is not quite as high as the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app's $84-per-year fee. At $34.99 per year, PocketGuard Plus is worth it if you have more than two budgets to keep track of.

If you are looking for a free budgeting app, Mint is a great choice as it offers free credit monitoring as part of its money management tools.

Learn more: 5 tips on what to look for when choosing a budgeting app

Our methodology

To determine which budgeting apps offer the best user experience, CNBC Select analyzed over a dozen apps offered by the top companies in this market and looked at their pricing, features, user reviews and ratings.

We narrowed down our ranking by only considering apps that sync transactions from users' bank accounts, come with low (or no) cost to sign up, are easy to use and can be accessed on multiple devices so are accessible and compatible for most.

The five apps we selected for this ranking are either free, offer a free version or have a free trial for users to test out before signing up.

All of the apps in our round-up have a sizable number of user reviews and high ratings. Each app on this list has at least 1,000 reviews in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android), as well as a rating over 4 stars (out of 5) on both platforms.

Other factors we looked at included apps' security features, user customization and educational tools offered.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.