What is Emma?
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.
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
- Set up your payday - set up a payday to track your spending from paycheck to paycheck. Emma allows you to flexibly 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
- Savings goals - an Emma Pro feature that enables you to track your savings progress and compare it against your savings goals
- Earn interest on your savings - Earn up to 2.43% AER on your savings by opening an easy access account within Emma. Money held in the easy access account is FSCS protected.
- Invite a friend - invite a friend to Emma Pro and receive up to £30 for each friend that joins
- Smart rules - an Emma Pro 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.
- 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)
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 Revolut, Starling Bank 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 2.43% interest on your money. You can also choose to open an investment account within the Emma app and invest with as little as £1.
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.
|Emma Basic||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|
|Make payments within the app|
|Bank transfers & pay bills|
|Accurate Net worth|
|Rename and split transactions|
|Transaction date change|
|Connect Business accounts|
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 a 0.45% Foreign Exchange fee on buy and sell orders.
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 3.9 out of 5.0 stars from over 100 reviews. 66% 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 iTunes from over 12,000 reviews and a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars from over 5,000 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 Money Dashboard
Money Dashboard was founded in 2010 and in 2020, it launched Money Dashboard Neon, a brand new 'mobile-first' app. Interestingly, Money Dashboard Neon offers advanced features such as custom categories and split transactions for free, something that Emma charges a fee for. Money Dashboard Neon also benefits from a simplified menu and uncomplicated design.
For more information on Money Dashboard read our independent 'Money Dashboard 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
Emma offers a quick set-up process, smooth user experience and an impressive set of features. While I'm not a huge fan of the design theme, it is not enough to put me off, especially when you consider what you get for a free app. It is a powerful tool that has helped me to understand my finances and make immediate savings. Personally, I don't feel that the paid version of Emma offers enough for me to part with my hard-earned cash, especially as Money Dashboard offers many of the advanced features for free.