Emma app Review – Is it the best budgeting app?

8 min Read Published: 08 Jan 2024

What is Emma?emma review

Emma is a money management app that uses open banking to combine information from all of your bank accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and investments. Emma was launched in 2018 by co-founders Edoardo Moreni and Antonio Marino and in June 2018 it raised around £500,000 in the first round of funding. The co-founders came up with the initial concept while studying at Manchester University together, striking up a close friendship thanks in part to being the only two Italians on the course.

They moved to Berlin following their studies to start work on 'Kiria' a predecessor to 'Emma', but it struggled to make an impact and was hit with issues surrounding German banking law. With the laws relaxing in England, they ditched 'Kiria' and moved to England to develop what we know now as Emma (the name is made up from the co-founders' initials).

On the 11th June 2019 Emma became the first UK-based money management app to launch in the US and Canada.

1 minute summary - Emma budgeting app review

  • Emma allows you to connect your bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts to analyse your spending in one place
  • Its free account allows users to connect two accounts. Those wishing to connect more than two accounts would need to upgrade to a monthly subscription plan.
  • Emma offers 4 plans. Emma Free, Emma Plus (£4.99), Emma Pro (£9.99) and Emma Ultimate (14.99).
  • Those looking for a cheaper alternative to Emma may want to take a look at Snoop*. It offers similar budgeting features to Emma including a free plan while its subscription plan is just £4.99. You can read more in our independent Snoop review.

Emma app key features

  • Connect all of your accounts – connect your bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts to analyse your spending in one place (the number of connections varies depending on your subscription plan)
  • Set up your payday – set up a payday to track your spending from paycheck to paycheck, Emma allows you to set your payday date or alternatively, you can manage your money by calendar month
  • Set total monthly budget – Emma suggests a total budget based on your monthly spending and then notifies you if you are above or below your budget
  • Track subscriptions – Emma collates all of your regular payments which allows you to identify if you have any duplicate or wasteful subscriptions
  • Categorise transactions – organise your spending into Emma's handy default categories
  • Spending analytics – get a detailed breakdown of your spending
  • Save on your bills – Emma suggests where you can save money on your bills such as insurance, credit cards and broadband
  • Scramble mode – show your friends how Emma works without sharing your personal account information
  • Bank fees – Emma highlights any fees you have paid out to each of your banks over time
  • In-app support – get support for any problems with the chat feature
  • FCA regulation – Emma is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • Cashback – earn rewards and cashback at certain retailers with Emma Plus/Pro/Ultimate
  • Savings goals – an Emma Pro or Ultimate feature that enables you to track your savings progress and compare it against your savings goals
  • Earn interest on your savings – Earn up to 4.34% AER on your savings by opening an Easy Access Pot within the app (money held in the Easy Access account is FSCS protected)
  • Invite a friend – invite a friend to Emma Pro or Ultimate and receive up to £15 for each friend that joins
  • Smart rules – an Emma Pro or Ultimate feature for linking your offline accounts with regular transactions
  • Invest from £1 – Emma has introduced the ability to invest from the app with as little as £1. It is currently free to open an investment account for all Emma customers but users will be subject to additional fees to invest
  • Connect Business accounts – available for Emma Ultimate customers only
  • Spaces – Create separate budgets within spaces and share them with other Emma users (Emma Ultimate customers only)
  • Rent reporting – Subscription plan holders can benefit from rent reporting to credit reference agencies to help improve their credit score

How does the Emma budgeting app work?

Emma describes itself as a ‘financial super app' designed to help you ‘track, invest, send and save money'. By syncing all of your current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and investments you can get real-time information on all of your accounts as well as easy access to historical data.

Setting up the app is fairly straightforward, you search for your bank/credit card/investment provider within the app and link them up, logging on as you normally would, by providing the relevant security details. If you are not used to signing in online, you may find it frustrating as you'll need access to all of your bank/credit card/investment online login and security details to sync up the app.

Emma supports most major banks within the app including American Express, Barclays, First Direct, Lloyds, Nationwide, NatWest and TSB. It also supports app-only banks such as Starling Bank*Revolut and Monzo. If you want to connect your investment accounts to Emma you can do so under the Accounts tab within the Emma app. You can connect various investment and crypto accounts including Nutmeg, PensionBee and Binance. For a complete list of the banks and investment accounts supported by Emma click here.

You can also now choose to save and invest within the Emma app. Emma has recently launched an Easy Access Pot that allows you to earn up to 4.34% interest on your money and your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can also choose to open an investment account within the Emma app and invest with as little as £1. More information on Emma Invest can be found here.

Emma app subscription plans

The Emma budgeting app is free to download and use but there is the option to upgrade to Emma Plus, Emma Pro or Emma Ultimate for an annual subscription fee. There is a 7-day free trial with the Emma subscription accounts. In the below comparison table, we compare the Emma accounts and features but more information on the features each account offers can be found in the Emma app. It is also worth double-checking the price of the subscription plans in the Emma app as it often runs discounts, for example, Emma currently has 30% off its subscription plans.

Emma Free Emma Plus Emma Pro Emma Ultimate 
Cost Free £4.99 per month (7 days free) £9.99 per month (7 days free) £14.99 (7 days free)
Combine all of your accounts Connect 2 accounts Connect 4 accounts Unlimited accounts Unlimited accounts
Payday tracking tick tick tick tick
Monthly budgets tick tick tick tick
Subscription tracker tick tick tick tick
Make payments within the app tick tick tick tick
Cashback cross tick tick tick
Turbo updates cross tick tick tick
Priority support cross tick tick tick
Rent reporting cross Experian Experian, Equifax, Transunion Experian, Equifax, Transunion
Bill reminders cross tick tick tick
Fraud detection cross tick tick tick
Bank transfers cross tick tick tick
True Balance cross tick tick tick
Merchant budgets cross tick tick tick
Savings goals cross cross tick tick
Split transactions cross cross tick tick
Custom categories cross cross tick tick
Data exportation cross cross tick tick
Accurate Net worth cross cross tick tick
Rename and split transactions cross cross tick tick
Offline accounts cross cross tick tick
Rolling budgets cross cross tick tick
Smart rules  cross cross tick tick
Transaction date change & advanced transaction editing cross cross tick tick
On demand updates  cross cross tick tick
Spaces  cross cross cross tick
Connect Business accounts  cross cross cross tick

How much does the Emma app cost?

It is free to download the Emma app and you can get access to a host of budgeting features for free but if you want to benefit from additional budgeting and savings features you will need to sign up for an Emma app subscription. There are three subscription plans with Emma costing £4.99, £9.99 or £14.99 a month.

If you choose to invest with Emma there are no fees to sign up but you will have to pay Foreign Exchange fees on buy and sell orders. More information on the Emma Invest fees can be found below.

Emma Invest

It is possible to open an investment account within the Emma app. Each Emma app user can open an investment account with Emma for free, even those who are on the free Emma plan. With Emma Invest you can buy and sell over 1,000 US stocks and favourite stocks that you wish to track. Remember with investing, however, that your capital is at risk and you may therefore get back less than you put in. If you are new to investing you may wish to read our ‘Beginner's guide to investing‘ before you get started.

How much does it cost to invest with Emma?

The below table shows the fees and charges applicable to an Emma Invest account.

Trades   Free
 Share dealing account fee Free
 FX rate  Spot rate + FX fee (as per below table)
 Transfer in fee £0
 Transfer out fee £0

 

Foreign Exchange (FX) fees per Emma subscription plan

Emma Free 0.99%
Emma Plus  0.45%
Emma Pro  0.20%
Emma Ultimate  0.12%

Is the Emma budgeting app safe to use?

Emma has bank-grade encryption so you should feel assured that your data is kept securely. It is FCA and ICO registered and the app has read-only access, meaning no one can touch the money. Emma also points out that they have people in their team that have built security systems for companies such as Google, so it seems they have taken security very seriously. Emma also doesn't store any banking credentials. This means that your account cannot be breached at any point in time, even if its servers get compromised. Emma uses open banking which was introduced in 2018 and allows users to connect to banking apps like Emma without sharing their personal account details.

Emma app Security

  • Bank-grade encryption
  • FCA registered
  • ICO registered
  • Read-only access
  • Data is not shared with 3rd parties

Emma app customer reviews

Emma is rated as ‘Great' on Trustpilot with a rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars from over 170 reviews. 69% of customers rate it as ‘Excellent' citing it has helped to improve their personal finance knowledge and regain control of their finances. 16% have rated it as ‘bad' citing problems with bank account connection and some users think that Emma Pro is quite expensive for the additional features.

Emma also has a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on the Apple app store from over 14,000 reviews and a rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars from over 5,500 reviews on Google Play.

Alternatives to the Emma app

There are a variety of budgeting apps on the market and we compare Emma to some of the other budgeting apps available below. For more information on the different types of budgeting apps, read our article ‘The best budgeting apps in the UK‘.

Emma vs Moneyhub

Moneyhub is another budgeting app like Emma and allows you to set budgets and savings goals and track your spending within the app. Moneyhub has a subscription fee of £1.49 a month or £14.99 a year but there is a 6-month free trial where you can see if you like the app before committing to the subscription fee. Moneyhub also has the ability to manage your budget via its desktop app for users that prefer to manage their finances on a desktop or laptop instead of via an app.

For more information on Moneyhub and how it works, read our Moneyhub review.

Emma vs Snoop

Snoop* is a similar app to Emma and has two plans to choose from; its free account and its Snoop Plus account which costs £4.99 a month. Snoop allows you to connect all of your bank accounts to track your spending in one place and regularly checks your bills to ensure you're not overpaying. Like Emma, Snoop allows you to set budgets to ensure you're not overspending and also notifies you of any unwanted subscriptions.

However, in order to benefit from some additional features such as payday tracking, net worth and unlimited customer categories and spending alerts you will need to upgrade to Snoop Plus. For more information on Snoop and how it works, read our Snoop review.

Emma app pros and cons

Emma app Pros

  • Easy sign-up process
  • Easy to navigate
  • Comprehensive analysis and budgeting
  • Highlights wasteful subscriptions
  • Daily balances

Emma app Cons

  • No savings category
  • Some features are accessible via the subscription plans only
  • Rewards/cashback paid via PayPal rather than directly into your account
  • Child-like feel to the overall theme
  • Not all banks are supported

Summary

Emma offers a quick set-up process, smooth user experience and an impressive set of features although a number of features have become limited over time with a subscription plan now needing to be purchased to get the most out of Emma. While I'm not a huge fan of the design theme Emma is a powerful tool that has helped me to understand my finances and make immediate savings. It is worth taking a look at some of the other budgeting apps on offer, including Moneyhub and Snoop*, and our article, ‘Best budgeting apps in the UK‘ provides a good round up of the key features of each app.

 

 

 

 

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