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The best mobile apps for boosting your personal finances

Keep track of your cash, make money, boost your credit rating and more with these handy smartphone apps and online services.

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Personal finance trackers

Smartphones make it easier than ever to keep track of your personal finances on the go.  

There are a wide array of free apps that automatically pull in information from your online banking accounts. 

We’ve tried out a range of apps, and we think the ones below are the most comprehensive (and user friendly): 

What is open banking and is it safe?

Open banking is financial technology that enables you to share information about your banking transactions with a third party. In order to share information, you have to give the third party your permission to receive your transaction data.

Boost your credit score 

A frequent frustration for many first-time home buyers is that they may have a limited credit history. This is a problem as banks and lenders will want to see if you’ve been able to keep up with credit repayments in the past, to determine if they should lend you money.

A common complaint from people who find it hard to prove to a lender that they’ll be able to make regular mortgage payments is that they have been paying rent regularly, many for a very long time. 

Thankfully, there are now a range of free services that allow you to record your rent payments on your credit report

Many of these are available to use for free (they make their money by selling you services on the side, like home insurance and mortgage broker services).

These include: 

If you want to improve your credit rating and build a strong credit history, these free services are a great free way to help you get on the housing ladder. 

Alternatively, if you’ve had financial problems in the past which have impacted on your ability to access credit, these services can be a key part of rebuilding your credit worthiness.  

Compare credit building credit cards. These cards are specifically tailored for those who have trouble getting access to credit because of their credit history.

More on why your credit rating matters and how to improve it.

Household finances

Speaking of renting, if you share accommodation with others, chances are you’ll be splitting the cost of the household bills between you.

While you can keep a spreadsheet to work out who paid for what and who owes whom, there’s a much simpler way to keep track of these costs.

There are a selection of highly-rated smartphone apps that do the number crunching for you, and make it easier for you to settle up at the end of the month. 

These include:

Of course, you can use these apps to keep track of all sorts of group costs, like holidays and dining out. But they’re a particularly handy tool to make sure everybody pays their fair share of the housing costs.   

Make saving money easier

Beware: It's worth noting that your money may not be protected in the same way that it would be if it were deposited into a high-street bank savings account. This is because many of these apps and the accounts that you set up with them do not receive FSCS protection.

As more and more of us opt to do our online banking on our smartphones, a slew of firms have been creating products designed to help us save money on the go.

These ‘auto-saving’ apps work in a couple of different ways, but their main purpose is to help us put away smaller amounts of money more often and in a way that doesn’t cause too much of a dent in our day-to-day spending.

Some apps calculate how much they think you can afford to save each week using artificial intelligence. They take into account your regular bills and other spending habits, and automatically transfer the money into a separate savings account. 

Some also offer the ability to move this money into an investment account as well.

Others are a little more straightforward and simply round up your spending to the nearest pound and place the change in a separate savings account.

Here are a selection of apps and what they have to offer: 

*Money deposited with either Moneybox or Tandem benefits from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme up to a value of £85,000. 

Each app works in a slightly different way, so be sure to check out each product and see which works best for you.

These ‘auto-saving’ apps don’t offer higher savings rates than regular cash savings accounts, but if you’re looking for a better way to put aside money regularly, they may be helpful.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is a government-run scheme that provides a ring fence for your deposits in the event that your bank goes bust. If your bank does run into financial difficulty, your deposits are protected up to the value of £85,000. 

Many of these digital savings apps operate using an ‘electronic money’ licence issued by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the banking watchdog. This means that the companies have to keep your money in a bank account separate from their own operating funds. 

It’s also worth noting that app-based banks Starling and Monzo also offer ‘round up’ functions, which automatically round up your spending to the nearest pound and squirrel the change into a dedicated ‘pot’.

Earn rewards - and even cash! 

From carrying out online surveys to snapping your receipts, there are a great number of things you can do on your smartphone to get your hands on vouchers, rewards, and even hard cash.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the best apps we’ve come across for helping you earn rewards in exchange for doing simple tasks.

Shoppix (For iOS & Android) Shoppix gives you points, or tokens, for taking pictures of your shopping receipts. You can then exchange these tokens for Amazon vouchers, iTunes vouchers, or cash paid into a PayPal account.

The app has been developed by Kantar Worldpanel, a global market research firm. By being able to take a look at your receipts, they can get a better idea of consumers’ shopping habits.

The app also offers you the chance to take surveys about the stores you’ve bought from in return for more tokens.

Do not expect to earn huge amounts overnight though, as you’ll need to collect 3,200 points to redeem £5 worth of vouchers or cash; 6,000 tokens for £10; or 11,500 for £20. The number of tokens you can get from each receipt will vary, but from users experiences it’s typically between 10-30 tokens.

Swagbucks (For iOS & Android)

There are hundreds of paid survey sites out there. Sadly some of them are less than legitimate. However, there are real marketing companies out there looking to get consumer insights on products and are willing to pay punters to fill out online surveys.

One such offering is American giant SwagBucks, which offers vouchers to a range of outlets to users who fill out surveys either via its smartphone app or on its website.   

There’s plenty to explore on the site, so take a look and see if you would be interested to take its surveys.

The app also offers you the chance to earn cashback when shopping at certain stores. In a similar way to Shoppix, each time you complete a task you’re awarded points, which you can cash in for rewards or cash.

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.