PocketGuard Review: Is It the Right Budgeting App for You?

GOBankingRates Score

4.4
Quick Take: PocketGuard is a budgeting app available in the U.S. and Canada. It analyzes users' financial data by connecting accounts and provides a broad number of solutions that encourage better control of personal finances
  • Cost
    4.0
  • Tier Features
    4.0
  • Distinguishing Features
    4.9
  • Security
    4.7
  • App Store Ratings
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • 18,000+ supported institutions
  • Auto-syncs data
  • A freemium version is provided
  • Comprehensive lineup of spend management tools
  • Highly secure
  • Available on mobile and web

Cons

  • Limited customization without PocketGuard Plus
  • Other apps may be better suited to people with complex financial needs
  • Currently only supports U.S. and Canadian institutions

PocketGuard Overview

PocketGuard is a personal finance and wealth management platform available on the web, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. It determines a user’s discretionary income after bills and expenses are paid, savings goals are met and necessities are taken care of. PocketGuard lets users:

  • Take control of their spending
  • Link all of their accounts in one place
  • Track bills and find cheaper alternatives
  • Set financial goals and autosave
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The platform has been voted Best Money App for College Students 2022 and supports more than 18,000 financial institutions.

Key Features

Here’s a closer look at PocketGuard’s features and how they benefit users.

Cost

PocketGuard’s basic plan doesn’t cost anything. Its paid plan, PocketGuard Plus, is subscription-based with a pricing structure of $7.99 monthly, $79.99 annually or $99.99 for a lifetime membership.

Tier Features

PocketGuard has two tiers: basic and PocketGuard Plus. Under PocketGuard’s basic plan, users can:

  • Connect credit, savings and checking accounts
  • Categorize transactions
  • Customize and export transactions
  • Create spending pie charts to visualize monthly expenses
  • Add cash transactions manually

Once a user links their accounts, PocketGuard’s algorithm will identify recurring bills and income. Alternatively, users can choose to add transactions manually, but this process may be more time-consuming.

Those who pay for PocketGuard Plus have access to additional features, like:

  • The ability to sync all financial products and services — bank accounts, credit cards, loans, savings and investments — in one place
  • Net worth and income tracking
  • Automated budgets based on earnings and spending
  • Bills and subscription tracking
  • Savings goals
  • Category budgets
  • Access to tools that help save on bills
  • Automatically categorized transactions
  • Loan payments and credit card bill tracking
  • Bank fee alerts
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PocketGuard Plus also gives users unlimited savings goals and category budgets, which are capped on the basic tier. Extended transaction history is available and all of the data can be exported. Transactions can be categorized according to preference and personal plans can be set up to pay off debt.

Auto-repeat bills can be set up and multiple cash accounts can be opened for different users’ needs.

Distinguishing Features

In addition to linking all personal finances in one place, PocketGuard has a few distinct features that set it apart from other budgeting apps.

Feature Solution
In My Pocket Determines the amount of spendable income users should have
Hashtags Differentiates between transaction patterns
PocketGuard Goals Saving, investing, paying down loans and credit
Category Budgets Helps users cut back on spending in certain areas
Find Savings Better deals on bills and credit score improvement

The In My Pocket feature helps users eliminate overspending and impulse purchases. It also determines exactly how much discretionary income a user has. 

For Hashtags, transactions can also be coupled together. For example, “subscriptions” or “June Holiday 2022” could be used to separate between other categories for times of unorthodox spending patterns.

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PocketGuard’s Goals feature sets users up for success when it comes to saving, investing and paying down loans or credit. Once the goal you want to achieve is set up, PocketGuard will deduct the amount from In My Pocket to put towards your goal.

Category Budgets analyze a user’s data and can pinpoint where a user may need to cut back on spending. It lets them set the budget that they want to work towards to take better control of their activity, bringing them back to an appropriate level if spending becomes too excessive.

Find Savings points users toward better deals on recurring expenses such as utility bills. By getting the best price and paying on time, users can tackle debt faster and improve their overall credit score.

Security

PocketGuard regards security as its number one priority, using the same 256-bit SSL protocol incorporated by banks to protect user information. PocketGuard is given read-only mode, activated with the user’s permission, but it cannot access or alter anything involving personal account data. 

Touch ID and a four-digit PIN have also been integrated for enhanced security. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, the account information will remain safe. 

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App Store Ratings

PocketGuard has overwhelmingly positive reviews on the App Store, with more than 6,500 entries awarding it 4.5 stars. The app currently has a reasonably strong presence in Canada but has yet to break into the U.S. market in a meaningful way. 

The platform is not available to citizens of the European Union, the U.K. or Australia yet but may expand in the future. Nonetheless, with more than 18,000 global institutions integrated already, PocketGuard may become a more mainstream alternative to budgeting effectively in the future.

PocketGuard vs. Competitors

Given that PocketGuard is a budgeting app, its competitors all have similar financial tracking and savings offerings.

Feature Pocketguard mint you need a budget (ynab)
Free X X Trial Only
Financial Coaching X
Security 256-bit encryption 256-bit encryption Amazon Web Services
Free Credit Score X
Bank Syncing X X X

Some of PocketGuard’s top perks are its basic “freemium” model, bill negotiation and top security standards. It also exceeds expectations in terms of syncing accounts and the number of supported institutions it boasts. However, if an institution isn’t supported, a user will have to download and import account data from elsewhere, which can lead to annoyance.

One of PocketGuard’s main competitors, Mint, also lets users compile all of their financial accounts in one place and monitors spending habits, integrating goal-setting. Unlike PocketGuard, Mint gives users free access to their credit scores with no credit card required along with numerous services for loans and investing.

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Indirect Competitors

Aside from budgeting apps, PocketGuard also faces challenges from several financial apps. These are companies that provide not just budgeting solutions, but other benefits, too. One such app is Albert, which puts budgeting, saving, spending and investing all in one place

Much like Mint, Albert offers one-on-one advice with professionals to support users’ goals. It automates everything from investing to upfront dedicated payments and helps users manage their remaining budget more effectively. Additional features include but are not limited to:

  • Auto-invest
  • FDIC insurance
  • Early paychecks
  • Great cash back rates for customers that use their debit cards 
  • No account or maintenance fees

Final Take

PocketGuard is among the top apps consumers can use to budget more effectively, especially those who need to cut back on monthly expenses. The one-off payment option for PocketGuard Plus sets it apart from competitors that only offer a subscription model with a recurring charge.

Other budgeting or financial apps may be more suitable depending on individual needs and overall goals. Although the app has some unique capabilities, it’s participating in an extremely competitive market, which may fall short in comparison to some other options available. Suitability will depend on an individual’s overall needs. To unlock PocketGuard’s full potential, payment is required, whereas competitors are offering similar access to services free of charge.

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FAQ

  • How much does PocketGuard cost?
    • PocketGuard doesn’t cost anything for its basic package. However, PocketGuard Plus is a premium service that works using a subscription model or a one-time payment for access. Users can choose between one of the following payment options:
      • $7.99 per month
      • $79.99 per year
      • A one-time payment of $99.99 for lifetime access
  • Can I trust PocketGuard?
    • When accounts are linked to PocketGuard, the platform will be able to analyze transactions in what it describes as read-only mode. It has no authorization to access anything else and will not make any changes to accounts PocketGuard also uses the same protocols as any financial institution would make to encrypt and protect users’ data — known as the 256-bit SSL and Encryption standards. It also uses a combination of PIN codes and passwords to protect user information in the event a device is lost or stolen.
  • What is the purpose of PocketGuard?
    • PocketGuard is a personal finance management app. It helps users achieve their financial goals and budget appropriately, as well as manage bills and recurring income
  • Do you have to pay to use PocketGuard?
    • PocketGuard operates a basic "freemium" model but users can upgrade to the PocketGuard Plus plan to unlock exclusive features and customization. They can also get a free month of PocketGuard Plus by referring a friend to the desktop version or mobile app.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by PocketGuard. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by PocketGuard.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

David is a qualified financial advisor in the Republic of Ireland. He has a bachelor's degree in business and entrepreneurship, as well as over five years of investing experience.
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