In this independent review, we look at how to set up an account with Money Dashboard, the features it offers, the banks that it supports and how safe it is.
Setting up a Money Dashboard account
I've both used and reviewed a number of personal finance apps in the past and so the process of downloading an app, setting up an account and linking the various bank accounts is usually fairly straightforward. However, with Money Dashboard I found the signup process via the app a little clunky and was even a little unsure whether my Starling bank account was supported at first. I decided instead to register via the desktop version which is simple and straightforward and a welcome additional feature in comparison to its rivals.
When you set up an account with Money Dashboard you are required to enter an email address and provide a secure password. Next, you need to provide your date of birth and postcode.
You are then presented with a page that confirms how Money Dashboard will use your personal data in which you need to accept in order to sign up. Next, you will need to select your bank from the list and complete the process of linking the account to Money Dashboard.
Depending on who you bank with, the signup process will be slightly different. I connected two accounts, a Lloyds account and a Starling Bank account. The Lloyds account required me to log in online in order to grant access, while Starling Bank required me to scan a QR code. Both accounts were linked up in under 5 minutes. Once you have linked your accounts, Money Dashboard will begin importing your details and you will be walked through the 5 step setup process. As you move onto each step, the system will display a brief tutorial ensuring that you understand what do and where to go next.
Step 4 of the setup process was by far the most labour intensive as it requires you to check your transactions and 'tag' any transactions that are untagged. Tagging a transaction ensures that it is placed in a category so that you can track your spending and budget effectively. Money Dashboard offers three layers of categorisation which ensures that you can view your spending in different ways. For example, a payment tagged as 'Broadband' is visible in three tagged categories. It is visible in 'Bills', 'Phone or Internet' and also 'Broadband'. This means that you can track the actual cost of your broadband, the total cost of Phone and Broadband together and also the total cost of all of your bills. This can take some time to get used to and I explain further down how it led me to count some of my transactions twice, known as 'double counting' in accounting terms.
It took me just over an hour to tag the 86 untagged transactions and I found myself having to correct some of the tags that had been automatically applied. Churchill provides my home insurance and yet Money Dashboard had tagged it as car insurance. It is not a major criticism but is a frustration and left me wondering whether there were other transactions that had been tagged incorrectly.
Budgeting with Money Dashboard
Step 5 of the setup process with Money Dashboard is budgeting. When you make a start you are given some guidance, but the process isn't as simple as some of the other budgeting apps that I have used such as Emma. If you click on the 'Unbudgeted spend' tab, you will be presented with a list of all your spending, listed by category and clicking on the 'Add budget' button adds this category to your monthly budgets. You are then free to edit the budget name, the budget amount and exactly which tags make up that budget. Be careful when doing this, as you can easily double count transactions. For example, my cash withdrawals were showing up in both enjoyment (as it is a default tag within that category) and also in one I had set up myself and labelled as cash spending.
Within the budgets tab you have the option to select the 'Start of next budget', this enables you to choose how the system tracks your spending. You can choose monthly, weekly and 4 weekly and once selected, you choose the date you wish to track. Most people are likely to either track the calendar month or by the day that they get paid, however the addition of weekly tracking is a useful feature and one that is missing from the likes of Emma and Yolt.
Money Dashboard - Stand out features
Money Dashboard has a tab titled 'Planner' which enables you to see your predicted balances at any given time. What I love about this tool is that you can use it to test a number of scenarios in order to see how particular outcomes may affect your cash flow. For example, if you were about to have a baby, you could add the cost of nappies and baby formula in order to see how it would affect your future finances. A parent that is nearing the end of maternity/paternity leave, could add in the cost of childcare and also the additional income they may earn in order to see the bigger picture. I was able to test it knowing that I will soon have to pay for school dinners and so with the planner tool, I am able to see the impact that this will have.
It stands to reason that the feature that gave Money Dashboard its name is one of its stand out features. The dashboard itself is best viewed on a desktop where users can see everything in one place. The default dashboard allows you to see your accounts down the left-hand side with the main part of the screen being devoted to transactions, budgets, top merchants, spend by category and the handy planner tool, that lets you see what is due to come out at a glance. Each tool, known as a 'widget' can be edited as you wish and so you can quickly build a dashboard that best suits your needs.
'Member shares' are Money Dashboard's way of spreading the word. Joining 'Member Shares' gives you the right to a payout without having to invest any money. Money Dashboard explains that 'A member share gives you the right to a payout, if and when Money Dashboard is bought or lists on the Stock (subject to Terms and Conditions) Over the next few years they aim to issue 10 million-member shares in order to give their community a meaningful stake in their business. By getting your friends and family to sign up (using your unique code) you will earn Member Shares, as will they. It is an interesting concept and something a little different to other loyalty schemes that invariably offer £5 or £10 rewards.
How much does Money Dashboard cost?
Money Dashboard is free to download and use. It makes money by offering products and services that it may receive a fee for if you take out the product based on its suggestion.
Money Dashboard also makes money by anonymously selling your spending data to third parties. It says, 'Money Dashboard also provides insight and market research services to help companies better understand trends in consumer behaviour. We identify shifts in consumer preferences using anonymised spending information from groups of Money Dashboard users.'
Money Dashboard Pros and Cons
What I like about Money Dashboard is that it splits out positive and negative balances very clearly on the main dashboard, unlike other apps such as Yolt which just display an overall balance. If you were to have a large amount of debt, seeing a constant negative net position would likely be de-motivating and so Money Dashboard does a good job of splitting the balances so that you can see the overall picture. Money Dashboard was voted Best Personal Finance App at the 2020 British Bank Awards.
Where Money Dashboard falls behind its app-only rivals such as Emma is in supporting investment accounts. Emma, for example, supports a growing number of investment platforms and robo-advisors such as Nutmeg and Wealthsimple. Linking investment accounts to a personal finance app allows users to see their overall wealth and can enable them to easily identify areas that they need to focus on. Pleasingly, Money Dashboard has confirmed that support for a number of investment accounts is currently in development.
Which banks are supported by Money Dashboard?
Prior to the 14th March 2020, Money Dashboard had used third-party provider Yodlee to gather the financial data required to make the app work, but the introduction of Open Banking, a more secure method of sharing data, has meant that many of the original 70 banks are not currently supported. It should be noted that this deadline has been looming for quite some time and many money management apps have reported that providers have been slow to communicate and update their systems to allow users to connect via open banking
That said, most of the major UK banks are now supported on Money Dashboard via open banking (a total of 23 currently) and new providers are being added each week. These include Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, Nationwide, Natwest, RBS, Starling and Monzo. To see the full list of supported banks, click here.
Is Money Dashboard safe?
Money Dashboard is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) a read-only application, which means it is not permitted to make any transactions on your behalf and cannot be used for withdrawals, payments or to transfer any funds. It uses the same security practices as many of the leading banks and uses a secure access environment that uses an extended validation security certificate with 256-bit encryption, and also services that are ISO 27001 accredited.
Money Dashboard uses open banking in order to access your financial details, a government-backed initiative that puts you in control of your financial data. By using open banking, you have ultimate control of who sees your data and for how long.
Money Dashboard offers an extra layer of detail and additional functionality when comparing it to Emma and Yolt. Money Dashboard's 'planner' feature is a big step up as it enables users to stress test certain scenarios. Another big plus for Money Dashboard is the ability to access the information on a desktop, perhaps this is more down to my own personal penchant for numbers but there is no getting away from the fact that users get more flexibility and control as a result.
Emma currently holds the advantage when it comes to ease of use and also the number of investment accounts that it supports, but with Money Dashboard currently developing links with the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown, Moneyfarm and Nutmeg, it won't be long before Money Dashboard catches up.
Who is Money Dashboard good for?
Money Dashboard is good for those that are keen to see the bigger picture and who are willing to take the time to make the tweaks in order to make it work for them. Those looking for something that is quick and easy to set up and that provides a basic overview of their finances may be best looking at the likes of Emma.
Money Dashboard reviews
Money Dashboard has attracted around 1,900 reviews on Google Play and is rated 3.4 out of 5.0. It also has over 100 reviews on Trustpilot and is rated 3.1 out of 5.0. We have summarised the reviews below and compared them to reviews received by Emma and Yolt.
|Trustpilot (Average)||Google Play (Average)||Apple (Average)|
|Money Dashboard||3.1 out of 5.0||3.4 out of 5.0||3.6 out of 5.0|
|Emma||4.4 out of 5.0||4.7 out of 5.0||4.7 out of 5.0|
|Yolt||4.2 out of 5.0||3.3 out of 5.0||4.5 out of 5.0|
Money Dashboard markets itself as 'The UK's best personal finance app' and yet for me, the desktop feature is one that sets it apart from its 'app only' competitors. As a self-confessed number nerd, I am excited by the plethora of widgets and customisable features that enable users to personalise their experience. However, complex features and the 'need to tweak' is something that will likely put many users off and so ultimately it comes down to personal preference.
Check out our article 'The best budgeting apps in the UK - how to budget without trying' for a summary of the UK's best budgeting apps.
Looking for a financial adviser near you?
Do you need financial advice? An independent financial adviser can show you how to make the most of your money.
Simply find your nearest qualified and regulated adviser using the UK’s largest adviser search.