Financial anxiety is high around the globe, between hits from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation in 2022. It’s important to know where you stand with your money, regardless of whether you’ve been affected by any major shocks. After all, no one can accurately predict where they'll be in a month, six months, or a year.
You must keep a close eye on your income, expenses, budget, and investments. Your credit score is also an essential part of the equation, especially if you plan to take on debt. The best personal finance software helps you track your money to make better, more informed decisions about spending and credit. Many are free, and the rest are reasonably affordable. We tell you about the best ones here. Click through for an in-depth review of each, and see advice on how to choose the right personal finance software toward the end of this article.
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Best for Free, Automated Financial Tracking
Why We Picked It
Mint has been the gold standard for personal finance websites for years, thanks to its simplicity, usability, and smart financial tools. It lets you connect to all your online finance accounts, check your credit score, create budgets, and get a good estimate of your net worth, among many other financial management tasks. Furthermore, Mint is free, so you can try it without obligation.
Who It’s For
Mint is for everyone. Its ease of use, creative presentation of data and tools, and smart personal finance features help virtually everyone keep a close eye on their money. Mint lets you track and manage your income and spending, budgets, savings goals, and investments. It's both simple and comprehensive, so it appeals to both financial novices and seasoned money managers.
- Free, fast, and easy
- Good use of automation and AI
- Simple budgeting tools
- Helpful notifications
- Tracks credit score
- Terrific mobile apps
- Weak investment tracking
- Intrusive financial product ads
Best for Managing Investments
Why We Picked It
Quicken has been helping people track their income and expenses for decades. It’s evolved into the most feature-rich personal finance application available today. Quicken Deluxe for Windows is desktop software with an online companion app that shows you the financial information you need when you’re away from your computer. The software earns its annual subscription fee by supporting every element of personal finance: simple account management, budgeting, bills, and investing.
Who It’s For
Quicken Deluxe for Windows is best suited to personal finance power users who don’t mind setting up an application on their desktop and doing some of their work there. The software comes in four versions, so a beginner might like the Quicken Starter edition, while people who need more in areas like planning, investing, and small business money management could use one of the more advanced versions. Anyone who’s comfortable working in Windows should find it easy to use.
- Robust set of personal finance, planning, and investment tools
- New Dashboard displays data on one screen
- Connected companion website is excellent
- Flexible, in-depth transaction tracking
- Great support options
- Inconsistent user experience
- Electronic bill pay not available
- Can be intimidating for some
|Quicken||$46.79 Per Year||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Best for Free Credit Scores
Why We Picked It
Credit Karma not only keeps you up to date on your all-important credit score, but also informs you of potential credit breaches. It also has tools that help you find and secure the best credit card, loan, vehicle, and auto insurance deals. If you ever wondered why your credit score is what it is, or how to improve it, Credit Karma answers those questions too. It does all of this at no cost. Great mobile apps make the site’s information available on the go.
Who It’s For
Credit Karma is especially good for individuals who want to improve their credit scores because of its smart educational tools. Those who already have good scores can use it to stay alert to unexpected credit problems and to search for better financial products when it’s time.
- Daily scores from two credit bureaus
- Credit card snapshots
- Bill pay
- Drive feature may reduce auto insurance fees
- Great mobile app
- Ubiquitous financial product recommendations
- Doesn't connect to financial institutions
- Could use an organizational overhaul
Best for Finance-Related Educational Resources
Why We Picked It
NerdWallet arms consumers and small businesses with the tools, information, data, and insight they need to make financial decisions and improve their financial health. This content takes two primary forms: articles about personal finance, and offers for credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products. Like many of the best personal finance apps, NerdWallet lets you track your net worth and cash flow, as well as learning about your credit score.
Who It’s For
NerdWallet is a good choice for people who want free financial account management and credit score management without being constantly interrupted by ads for financial products like credit cards. The ads are there to support content creation and tools, but the site’s recent redesign has made them less intrusive and improved the user experience.
- Includes account management
- Explores credit score, net worth, cash flow
- Useful editorial content and calculators
- Financial product reviews and rankings
- Minimal advertising intrusion
- Minimal transaction management
- Few transaction categories
- Requires excessive scrolling at times
Best for Transaction Management
Why We Picked It
Simplifi by Quicken has only been around for a few years, but we’ve been impressed by how fast it has grown into an excellent personal finance website. A concise and helpful dashboard gives you a quick overview of your finances. Innovative views of your data (watchlists, spending plans, and reports) keep you in constant sync with your finances.
Who It’s For
Though it was developed by the makers of Quicken, Simplifi is not “Quicken-lite.” This app is designed for a younger demographic who wants to track their financial accounts, keep an eye on day-to-day spending, and work toward savings goals—without spending hours poring over charts, lists, and reports.
- Exceptional user experience with great dashboard
- Excellent transaction management
- Helpful Spending Plan and Watchlists
- Good reports
- Top-notch mobile apps
- Subscription fee
- Lacks credit score
- Lightweight bill tracking
- Features not particularly good for the self-employed
Best for Detailed Budgeting
Why We Picked it
YNAB stands alone when it comes to providing online tools for individuals serious about creating and adhering to a budget. Based on an effective budgeting philosophy, the site combines accounting management and a unique tracking system for budgets with voluminous educational resources.
Who It’s For
If you want a more innovative method of budgeting that helps you balance your monthly budget rather than just comparing budgeted amounts to actual income and spending, then YNAB is an excellent choice. In fact, it can be a good adjunct to Mint or Quicken Deluxe if you're serious about controlling your budget. It requires a financial commitment and the willingness to spend time understanding how it works, so casual budget watchers would likely not be interested.
- Built on an effective budgeting philosophy
- Flexibility improves chances of success
- Enhancements geared toward beginners
- Multiple bank connection options
- Voluminous tutorials and educational material
- Takes time and commitment to understand and use
- Relatively pricey
- Not as effective for 1099 workers as W-2
Best for Mobile Credit Management
Why We Picked It
Credit Sesame is another site that promotes smart credit management. Its free version helps you learn how you can bump up your credit score and it offers useful credit- and debt-tracking tools. You need a premium subscription, however, if you want a laser-focused view of your credit and additional services. A companion bank account, Sesame Cash, may help you get paid two days early, among its other financial features.
Who It’s For
The real differentiator for Credit Sesame is the companion Sesame Cash account. It may be a smart choice for people in underserved communities who have had bad experiences with traditional banks (or folks who want to be rewarded for using cash as a means to improve their credit scores). The site itself helps you report your rent-payment track record so it can be considered as a part of your credit score. Its free tools may be enough for anyone watching their credit use.
- Free subscription tier
- Includes debt tracking and analysis
- Great mobile apps
- Rent payment reporting offered
- Free version only pulls from one credit bureau
- Must subscribe to Premium to get tools like credit monitoring
- Lacks calculators, simulators, and other tools
- No assistance with retiring debt
Best for Adding Integrations
Why We Picked It
Moneydance is a desktop-based personal finance program that’s been around almost as long as Quicken has. It costs about the same as Quicken Deluxe, and it offers much of the same functionality, including income and expense management, online banking and bill pay, investment tracking, budgeting, and reports. It supports multiple international currencies and cryptocurrencies. What makes it different is add-ons: You can expand what Moneydance can do by adding extensions.
Who It’s For
Moneydance is great for people who will make use of its extensions(Opens in a new window). For example, one extension enables financial forecasting and another lets you import transactions from a PayPal Business account. Beyond extensions, Moneydance appeals to people who want to do online bill-pay through their personal finance app at no charge except for possible bank fees (depending on your financial institution). People who are looking for an alternative to Quicken would also like Moneydance. It's also great for people who use Windows, Mac, or Linux.
- Detailed, flexible dashboard
- Supports multiple currencies, including cryptocurrencies
- Capable transaction management
- Supports online bill pay
- Add-on extensions are available
- Good investment tracking and reports
- Dated user interface
- Operations could be more intuitive
- Simplistic mobile apps
- Doesn’t auto-assign spending categories
|Moneydance||Visit Site||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Best for Investment Tracking
Why We Picked It
Personal Capital has some personal finance features, but it mainly focuses on investments and retirement planning. The service offers numerous views of your holdings, gives sound personalized advice, and makes retirement estimations. It has some transaction management and cryptocurrency-tracking features, too. Personal Capital helps you see how what you do today affects your ability to retire when you want. It's free. Its user experience is outstanding. And it offers the option of adding investment and retirement planning if you pay for those features.
Who It’s For
Personal Capital is for people who want not only excellent investment-tracking and retirement-planning tools, but also feedback on their portfolios and plans based on the financial account information they provide. You can get a lot of this for free, but Personal Capital also has a fee-based advisory service for investors whose portfolios consist of at least $100,000 in holdings.
- Exceptional user experience
- Excellent investment data and feedback
- Personalized retirement planning
- Good customer support
- Limited transaction management and budgeting
- No credit health information
- Doesn't let you manually enter transactions
Best for Monitoring and Analyzing Credit
Why We Picked It
WalletHub has a singular focus, unlike other personal finance sites that offer a variety of tools and resources. It’s all about your credit score—what it is, how to analyze it, and ways to improve it. Because it emphasizes that one element of personal finance, individuals can pop in and quickly get the information they need without wading through menus and toolbars.
Who It’s For
Since WalletHub pays for its own operations by displaying ads for credit cards and loans, it’s a good site for credit shoppers who want help finding the best financial products for their own situations. Its numerous calculators also make it an appealing personal finance app to anyone looking for ways to shape their budgets, compare borrowing costs, and plan for the future.
- Monitors your credit report and score
- Good educational resource
- Useful financial tools
- Excellent mobile apps
- New WalletScore
- Doesn't connect to bank accounts for transactions
- No budgeting or goal-setting
- Sprawling interface
- Limited personal finance articles
How to Connect Your Bank Account to Personal Finance Software
All the personal finance apps and services we review have a variety of features and functions, but they share common characteristics. For example, most of them support online connections to your financial institutions. That is, you can download cleared transactions and other account data from your bank accounts, credit card accounts, brokerages, and other financial institutions, and see all of the data neatly displayed in the applications' registers.
To connect, you typically enter your login credentials for those financial sites, though you usually have to provide additional security information—which is, of course, a good thing.
Is Personal Finance Software Safe to Use?
The personal finance apps we reviewed are all safe to use. The ones that connect to your financial accounts, like Mint, use encryption and other safety measures on their side to keep your login information protected. However, you must also do your part to make the experience safe.
Three key things you can do are:
Use a unique username and password for not only your financial logins but also for the personal finance app. A password manager is the tool you'll want to use here.
Enable multi-factor authentication wherever it's supported—again, meaning both for logging into the personal finance app and for any connected bank accounts.
Keep all your personal details, such as your date and city of birth, private because they can be used as authenticators to access financial data and accounts.
It's never a bad idea to brush up on best practices for preventing identity theft online to protect yourself further.
What Can You Do With Transaction Data in Personal Finance Software?
After importing a batch of transactions from credit card and bank accounts into a personal finance app, most people spend some time cleaning up the data. Transactions need to be correctly categorized as income (salary, freelance payment, and interest, for example) and expenses (food, mortgage, utilities, and so on). Most apps guess the categories, but you can always change them, and you can split transactions among different categories.
If you're conscientious about categorizing your income and spending, you'll get charts and reports that accurately summarize where your money comes from and where it goes. This information can also be helpful when tax preparation time rolls around and when you run reports.
Depending on the service, you might be able to add tags to transactions, too. That way, you can search for transactions that are related in ways other than category assignments. For example, you might set up a tag called tax-deductible, which gives you an easy way to pull up all your tax-deductible expenses at the end of the year.
Some personal finance apps let you add notes and attach files. If you bought something with cash, though, your bank won't have a record of it. In those circumstances, you can manually create a transaction. The best personal finance app for this kind of transaction management is Quicken Deluxe.
Another reason it's helpful to see a list of all transactions across all your accounts in a personal finance app is that if there's spending you didn't authorize, you can see it as soon as you log in. The sooner you catch an unauthorized transaction, the quicker you can alert your bank and cut off access to the account.
Getting an Overview of Your Financial Picture With Personal Finance Software
Every personal finance service we review has a dashboard you see when logging in. Sometimes the dashboard is the only screen you need to see because it displays the most pertinent information about your financial situation, such as your account balances and pending bills.
Charts and graphs on the dashboard tell you, for example, what your income is versus your spending, and how you're doing with your budget. You may be able to set financial goals and gauge your progress at meeting them, as well as see live updates on your investment portfolio if markets are open.
Basically, this overview shows you snippets and highlights of the data analysis these services do behind the scenes, with options to dive deeper. Click a checking account balance in Mint, for example, and you'll go to the transaction list for that account. Click your credit score in Credit Karma to learn what contributes to it and how it's recently changed. In short, the dashboard of your personal finance app gives you a quick look at your money situation and is a springboard to a deeper financial study.
Learning How to Budget With Personal Finance Software
Being conscientious about your finances includes minimizing your expenses so that they are lower than your income. That’s the philosophy that the developers behind Personal Capital have: Spend less than you earn every month. Having a realistic, detailed budget helps. Budgeting tools in personal finance apps range from very simple (Personal Capital) to exceedingly complex (YNAB, which stands for You Need a Budget).
The mechanics of creating a workable budget are much easier than the process of specifying your limits. It’s often guesswork until you’ve had a budget for several months and start to see how your money comes and goes. For that reason, Quicken Deluxe and some other personal finance apps let you use past income and expenses as models. That way you can answer the question, "How much do I usually spend each month?" by relying on past data.
Mint treats each category as a budget. You select one, choose a frequency (for example, every month), and enter an amount. For example, how much do you want to spend every month on your car? What about groceries? The site shows you how well you're adhering to each budget by displaying a series of colored horizontal bars that show where your spending is currently, compared with your budgeted amount. Green means you're doing OK, and red means you've gone over your self-imposed limit. You can tweak each budget as you learn more about your spending habits by clicking up and down arrows.
Quicken Deluxe considers a budget to be a comprehensive table that contains all categories. The software also lets you view your budgets by a variety of time periods (monthly, annually, and so on). It also provides tools to help automate your data entry.
Setting Financial Goals With Personal Finance Software
Setting goals, such as establishing an emergency fund, isn't rocket science. With a personal finance app, you specify the amount you're trying to save and the target date for achieving it, and the application tells you how much you have to save every month to meet your goals. Some sites do more. NerdWallet, for example, lets you link your goals to the appropriate spending account, so your progress is automatically tracked.
Big-Picture Planning With Personal Finance Software
Most personal finance websites do not focus on the theory and implementation of retirement planning, much less lifetime financial planning. Quicken Deluxe, though, includes additional tools to help you pay off your debts faster, plan for taxes, and establish a comprehensive lifetime financial plan. Personal Capital has free planning tools on its website, but it also has a team of financial professionals that provide advanced planning services for a fee.
Does Personal Finance Software Help You Pay Bills?
Of the applications we review, only one offers online bill-paying tools included for free: Moneydance. You can set up a connection to the bank where you have a checking account and use the bank’s bill-pay tools (if they’re supported) through the service (bank fees may apply). Quicken offers bill pay, but it charges a monthly fee for it if you’re using the Deluxe version.
Other applications let you at least record bills and bill payments, though you have to pay them elsewhere. But at least you can figure the amount you pay in bills into your personal finance picture. Mint and Quicken Deluxe are especially good at this. You can set up automatic connections to online billers (Xcel Energy or Verizon, for example) or enter offline bills from suppliers who don’t bill you electronically, such as a dog walker or babysitter. The site alerts you when they're due to be paid and lets you record payments manually.
Can Personal Finance Software Boost Your Credit Score?
An excellent credit score is gold. Beyond helping you get approved for a credit card, mortgage, car loan, and so on, it helps minimize the interest rate you pay. It's important to know not only what your credit score is at any given time, but also how it gets calculated and what you can do to improve it.
Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, NerdWallet, and WalletHub, all free websites, meet these critical needs. Credit Karma is especially comprehensive and efficient in this regard. It regularly pulls your score daily from two of the three major bureaus, and gives you access to your credit reports. It also explains how different factors contribute to your credit score and what you can do to try and boost it.
One of the ways you can improve your credit score is to use financial products—credit cards, mortgages—that have attractive interest rates and other benefits, making it easier for you to pay off debt as quickly as possible. Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, NerdWallet, and WalletHub help pay for the services they provide by displaying occasional ads for products that might appeal to you based on your credit profile. You can also browse marketplaces for additional candidates. Mint uses a similar business model so the site can remain free.
Of course, frequently canceling credit cards and acquiring new, different ones affects your credit score. Still, it's good to learn about these suggested products so that when the time comes, you'll know the best options.
Can Personal Finance Software Show an Accurate Picture of Your Net Worth?
You may only want to use a personal finance service for day-to-day income- and expense management, budgeting, and goal-setting. That said, Mint and Quicken Deluxe let you track your assets, including homes, vehicles, and investment holdings, which contribute to your net worth. If you keep your financial data and assets updated and connect the app to all your financial accounts (including accounts in debt), you get a running tally that reflects your total net worth.
You don't have to connect to all your accounts, however. If there's an account you don't want to be reflected in your app, just leave it out.
Managing Money on the Go With Personal Finance Software
You probably don't need advanced money-management tools when you're away from your desktop or laptop. But when you're out spending money, you do need to know how much you have available.
All the personal finance services reviewed here are available as mobile apps. Most offer somewhat reduced functionality, but you can at least check your account balances, view transactions, add transactions, and see graphs related to your spending and cash flow. You may also be able to get your credit score and check the status of pending bills.
Is Personal Finance Software Easy to Use?
All the services reviewed here are easy to use. They’re geared toward consumers who want to understand how much money they have, how much they’ve spent, how much they've earned, and what they have to do to ensure that their income remains greater than their expenses. Personal finance apps try to minimize the time required to learn all of those things. Some are more successful than others.
Simplifi by Quicken offers the best, freshest, most understandable user experience, incorporating state-of-the-art interfaces with can't-miss navigation tools. NerdWallet blends editorial content with a credit score, plus limited income- and expense-tracking tools.
Moneydance and CountAbout (which didn't score high enough to make this list) are certainly easy enough to use, but they have dated user interfaces. Quicken Deluxe has been around for so long and offers so much that its user experience is a little uneven. Its blend of old and new content can be a little jarring when compared with a solution built from the ground up to live online. YNAB takes some study to understand and use it effectively, though it’s friendlier to new users than it used to be.
So none of these applications has a tough learning curve. If you’ve ever used desktop software or websites that employ standard navigation conventions like toolbars, drop-down menus, and interactive hyperlinks, you shouldn’t have any trouble mastering them quickly.
What's the Best Personal Finance Software?
Which personal finance app is "the best?" It depends on what you need at the moment.
If you don't want to pay anything for a personal finance app and you want overviews of nearly everything related to your finance, Mint is best. If you want a total picture of your money and financial health, plus some tools for managing investments, Quicken Deluxe is best. If you want to understand and improve your credit score, you’ll probably want to use Credit Karma and NerdWallet. If you need to focus on budgeting your money down to the penny, YNAB is best.
But there’s no reason you can’t use more than one personal finance app at a time. You might use Mint for tracking income and expenses, plus WalletHub for keeping an eye on your credit report, for example.
Each of these personal finance solutions offers something the others don't. That said, their skill at delivering the tools consumers need, and the cost at which they offer them, varies. Mint has won our Editors' Choice award for free personal finance services for several years, and it does so again. Quicken Deluxe, on the other hand, is our Editors' Choice pick for paid personal finance services. We'd send people first to Mint if they're considering online personal finance, because of its usability, thorough tool selection, and useful feedback. And, of course, it's free. Free is good in these days of economic uncertainty.