It isn’t often you find a finance app with many beautiful pixels. I am happy to report, BillGuard, the current top finance app in the App Store, is beautiful both in function and design. It is most certainly not iOS 7 flat, but maybe that is why I think it looks amazing.
A clean and simple interface leads the charge, pun intended, for users to easily manage their credit/debit cards and bank accounts. If you are a financial hound about keeping up with each individual transaction, BillGuard provides an intuitive way to help you watch all of your personal expenses. It’s the real deal.
To get things started, BillGuard requires the user to create a login and password. I am not a very big fan of required accounts. However, it may be the only way for BillGuard to be certified bank-level secure and backed by McAfee, VeriSign, and TrustE. Adding to the security, the app is passcode protected and does not allow the transfer of funds.
Next, add your bank account, debit/credit card or PayPal account. BillGuard supports more than 5,000 variations including the biggest pundits: CHASE; Bank of America; Citibank; Wells Fargo; HSBC; Capital One; BB&T; SunTrust; American Express; and, Discover. For the sake of the review, I connected my PayPal account.
Once a card is active, the card home screen shows a summary at the top of the screen with a current balance and total spent. “Below,” four categories guide usage. Priority, shows the expenses that are not recognized by BillGuard as known or reliable merchants. For example, I had a charge from the local ice cream shop that was flagged for my attention. “Recent,” displays all recent transactions. “Reoccurring,” identifies the same charge, from the same vendor, on a regular basis. Examples of this may include automatic recognition of draft payments like rent or a mortgage. “All,” lists every transaction on the card, regardless of status.
Inside either of the four categories, transactions are listed with the vendor name, cost, and date. Swiping to the right, “clears” the charge and marks it green, indicating you have acknowledged this charge. Swiping left brings up a help screen, allowing BillGuard to help recognize the charge, report the charge to your financial institution, or remind you later to look into the transaction.
The individual charges are also categorized by type, such as groceries, gifts, entertainment, dining, etc. This is one of the only wishes I have for future updates: allow category tracking and reporting within the app. Although the transactions are categorized, there is no way to see how much money I spent on food over a given period of time. Providing reporting within the app would make this a complete blow to all other financial apps.
Special features include the apps ability to learn from previous transactions. As I visit the hometown ice cream parlor more in the future, BillGuard will no longer consider it a grey charge. In fact, when a grey charge is placed, the app sends a push notification, immediately announcing the potential trouble. Crowdsourced data also helps identify potentially risky businesses, providing a quick way to rate companies.
The crowdsourced information is found on the individual merchant transaction screen. The charged information is listed, including the location of the company and any other relevant data pertaining specifically to the user’s charge.
Finally, a Passbook card can be made of your credit cards. This will provide quick access to user date in an integrated fashion with your digital wallet.
Conclusion [rating: 4.5/5]
As the guy who constantly logs into my credit card website to double check and track spending habits, BillGuard is seemingly invaluable. Considering the app is free, it is a must-have for the conscientious spendthrift. Currently, track two cards for free, and upgrading before August 31, 2013 with an IAP, allows the user to track up to 10 cards for a one time $9.99 fee. After the dead date, tracking 10 cards will cost you a whopping $45.
As BillGuard cleverly terms their service a “Smart Inbox” for your money, I completely agree. I see myself double checking expenses through this app in the future. Requiring the user to address every purchase helps identify fraudulent charges and evens makes you think twice about how much ice cream really gets charged each month. If only there was a category tracking option.
Do yourself a favor and pick up BillGuard in the App Store. I highly recommend it.
- Individually track each transaction
- File a fraudulent charge complain in-app
- Track multiple cards at once
- Bank-level encryption
- Compatible with 5,000+ companies
- Looks stellar
- Cannot view a categorized spending report
- Extremely expensive after August 31, 2013