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Banking

Review of Clarity Money

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Clarity Money aims to bring transparency and simplicity to your money management habits. The app and its few features are relatively simple, which can be a plus for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles of other apps.

It includes standard budgeting tools, including a spending breakdown by month or by merchant. It has the added perk of identifying recurring subscriptions, so you can more easily spot areas where you can cut costs. Plus, Clarity itself doesn’t cost a cent to open or maintain.

Clarity Money isn’t quite a one-stop shop for finance management, though. A Clarity account merely allows you to view all of your financial accounts, rather than consolidating checking, savings and investment accounts in one place — and if that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t find it here.

Nevertheless, Clarity is a great tool for decluttering and demystifying your finances. Learn more about its easy-to-use features below.

How does Clarity Money work?

To get started, you must link at least one account from a supported institution, such including Chase Bank, Wells Fargo or USAA — in fact, over 9,000 institutions are available to link to your Clarity Money account. Plus, there’s no limit to the number of external accounts you can link to the app.

As a Goldman Sachs Bank USA brand, Clarity Money also offers the ability to open a Marcus Online Savings Account — which consistently offers one of the best online savings account rates in the industry.

Once you’ve linked at least one account, Clarity will display the available balances and transactions associated with those accounts. This includes savings and checking accounts, credit cards, investments and loans. That way, you have a more holistic view of your finances all in one place.

The app tracks your spending and displays it in a few different ways. Each transaction can be categorized under a label like bills, entertainment or travel, which you can edit at any time to best fit your preferences. Then, you can see which categories you might be spending more or less in.

You can also sort your spending by merchant and by timeframe. For example, you can see how much you spent on Lyft within the past year. You can also sort to see a more complete history of your spending month over month. This view includes both line and pie charts (shown above) that compare your income to your spending, providing more insight and visibility to your spending habits.

Additionally, Clarity highlights any recurring expenses, such as monthly bills and subscription services that you’ve signed up for. Clarity lists them, and can even help you cancel many recurring memberships or accounts right from the app itself. Even if that option isn’t available for a certain expense, the feature still allows you to more easily keep an eye on recurring expenses and cancel any useless or outdated ones manually.

To help you stay on top of your finances, rather than just giving you just a passive overview, the app enables a handful of useful notifications. For example, it can send reminders whenever a credit card payment is due if you link a credit card to your account. It can also notify you if you’re spending more (or less) than normal or are on track with your monthly budget. You can also set up notifications for paycheck deposits and low balances.

Clarity Money fees and fine print

Clarity Money is free to use, without any monthly or usage fees. The Marcus Online Savings account also has no fees. There is no minimum deposit required to open either account.

Note that the app itself is solely for organizing and tracking your budgets. It’s neither a checking nor a savings account, so it does not include a debit card or earn interest on any balance. Only the separate Marcus Online Savings Account earns interest at 1.70% APY.

High-yield Online Savings Account from Goldman Sachs Bank USA

High-yield Online Savings Account from Goldman Sachs Bank USA

APY

1.70%

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

Opening a Clarity Money account

You can open an account either online or through the app, which you can download from the App Store or Google Play. You’ll need to provide an email address to open an account. Once your account is created, you’ll need to link at least one supported external account to gain access to the app’s features.

Additionally, you can open a Marcus Online Savings Account directly within the Clarity Money app via the Marcus Savings tab. To open an Online Savings Account, you must link an eligible checking or savings account and verify your email address.

Who is Clarity Money best for?

This app is best for folks looking for a truly simple approach to getting a grip on their finances. The app allows you to organize and track your finances in one place, leaving room for personalization based on your organizational preferences. Additionally, the app’s simplicity can be good for those who can get distracted or overwhelmed by other features, like a new debit card or complex earnings systems.

That said, this app won’t be good for people who want to consolidate all of their financial dealings in one place. Clarity Money isn’t a checking, savings and investment account all in one — it simply displays all of your existing accounts in one place. Still, if you have all of your accounts in separate places but just need an easier interface to get a better look at them all, this app may be worth considering.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Banking

Credit Karma Savings Account Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Credit Karma is the latest fintech company to jump on the mobile banking bandwagon. The company is offering a free high-yield savings account, which is somewhat of a departure from the product it’s most famous for: providing consumers with access to free credit checks.

Credit Karma Savings offers a generous 1.80%  APY, and the company says it will leverage technology to keep its rates competitive. Credit Karma is partnering with a network of banks to hold your deposits and gain Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance.

What is Credit Karma Savings?

Credit Karma Savings is a high-yield savings account that is accessible through the company’s app. Credit Karma claims it will take consumers just “four clicks” to get started.

Once signed up, deposits will collect an APY of 1.80%. That’s 22 times more than the current national average of 0.09% for savings accounts. Credit Karma says it will leverage technology to keep that rate moving competitively, so that consumers won’t have to monitor rates themselves to ensure they’re getting the most for their money.

There are no fees or minimums required to open a Credit Karma Savings account, and deposits up to $5 million are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). To achieve this, Credit Karma partnered with MVB Bank to provide banking services, and it will be utilizing a network of over 800 banks to hold deposits.

However, it’s important to note that the amount that is actually insured is dependent on whether you already have a balance in a partner bank and how much that balance is: “Actual insured amounts may be lower or adversely affected based on any balances you hold at a network bank,” Credit Karma said.

Credit Karma Savings vs. other cash management accounts

Credit Karma joins the ranks of other fintech companies that have recently launched high-yield savings accounts or cash management accounts for consumers, all boasting no fees and no minimum balance requirements. Here’s how Credit Karma Savings stacks up against companies with similar products.

Bank APYNumber of partner / network banks Amount FDIC insured

Credit Karma Savings

1.80%1 partner bank with network of 800+ banks$5 million

SoFi Money

1.60%7 program banks$1.5 million

Betterment Everyday Cash Reserve

1.83%11 program banks$1 million

Wealthfront Cash Account

1.78%9 program banks$1 million

Savings accounts with higher interest rates than Credit Karma Savings

Credit Karma Savings’ 1.80%  APY is certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially when looking at other fintech companies that offer similar high-yield accounts for stashing your cash. But other savings accounts—particularly those at online banks—boast even higher rates. Vio Bank, for example, currently has an online high-yield savings account with an impressive APY of 1.95% , while HSBC Direct Savings touts a 2.00% APY.

The bottom line on Credit Karma Savings

Credit Karma Savings offers a number of attractive incentives, like a competitive APY, no fees and a high maximum amount of $5 million that’s eligible for FDIC insurance. If you already have a Credit Karma account, the convenience and ease of being able to open a Credit Karma Savings account isn’t a bad perk, either. If your main goal is to rack up as much interest as possible on your savings, though, a number of online banks offer higher-yielding savings accounts.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Review of Mvelopes Budgeting App

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

The Mvelopes app helps you make a budget and stick to it. The app mimics the envelope budgeting system — where you place actual cash in physical envelopes — on your mobile device. Placing cash in paper envelopes every month is a budget strategy that’s been around for a long time, and Mvelopes virtualizes this tried-and-true method. If you like the idea of budgeting via envelopes but find it a hassle to use actual physical envelopes and cold, hard cash, Mvelopes may be a budgeting solution for you.

What is the Mvelopes app?

With Mvelopes, you trade the physical cash and paper envelopes of the envelope budgeting system for a website and a mobile app. You synch up bank accounts with Mvelopes, which lets you create virtual envelopes and then assign different amounts to place in each envelope. Mvelopes offers a 30-day free trial, after which you’ll need to decide how many features you’d like to pay for.

Mvelopes has three levels of service: Basic for $6 a month, Plus for $19 a month, and Complete for $59 a month. Choosing to pay annually gives you a discount equal to two months of fees. At the Complete level, Mvelopes gives you a 60-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked.

Features of Mvelopes

The Mvelopes Basic account offers the following features:

  • Digital envelope budgeting
  • Automatic importing/syncing of transactions
  • Monitoring of account balances
  • Interactive reporting
  • Live chat support
  • Weekly webinar

After you open your Mvelopes account, you’ll see a dashboard with six broad budget categories (bills, everyday, giving, goals, periodic, system), each populated with budgeting envelopes. You can add or remove envelopes from these budget categories at any time.

Under each category, Mvelopes provides envelopes for items like auto maintenance, home maintenance, gifts, auto insurance, electricity, phone and so on. You’re free to change these envelopes at any time to match up with your own personal budget categories.

Add financial account to sync transactions

After opening your account, you’ll be asked to sync one or more financial accounts to Mvelopes, like a checking or savings account, or a credit card account. Mvelopes will automatically import your transactions from each account. Imported transactions are automatically assigned to your Mvelopes inbox. From there, you are responsible for categorizing your deposits and purchases into the correct envelope.

The Mvelopes dashboard and reporting features allow you to see at a glance all of the information regarding your funding and spending transactions, along with your budgets and the amounts remaining in each envelope.

Interactive reporting

You can generate three types of interactive reports that help you understand your spending and plan your budget: envelope reports, account reports or spending plan reports. Within these broad categories, you can track envelope transactions and balances, create summary reports and show details of accounts and envelopes.

Live chat support & weekly webinars

Live chat is available at all tier levels Monday to Friday from 9 AM MST to 7 PM MST, but not on Saturday or Sunday.
Mvelopes likes to stress the educational component of its services, and in addition to extensive educational information you can find online, Mvelopes hosts weekly webinars on various financial topics.

Mvelopes Plus features

At the Plus level, you get the features above plus:

  • Quarterly checkup from an Mvelopes Personal Finance Trainer
  • Debt reduction tools
  • Access to educational resources
  • 1-on-1 assistance with setting up your account
  • Priority support

The big advantage of the Plus tier is a quarterly check-in with a personal finance trainer, who helps guides you and provide feedback on your budgeting process. In addition, Mvelopes will custom-design a rapid debt reduction plan that is personally tailored to your financial needs. You can discuss your progress on this plan every three months with your personal finance trainer session.

Mvelopes also offers an interactive learning center to help Plus-tier customers understand the keys to financial success across a broad range of topics.

The Plus tier also entitles you to one-on-one startup support to help you establish your account and set up your envelope budgeting program. It also gives you priority when it comes to support issues.

Mvelopes Complete features

Complete is Mvelopes’ top tier of service, giving customers the following additional benefits:

  • Monthly sessions with a personal finance trainer
  • A customized Mvelopes budget plan
  • Financial education guided by a trainer
  • Accountability and motivation tools

Top-tier Mvelopes clients get monthly access to a personal finance trainer to help keep them motivated and on track toward their budgeting goals. Working in conjunction with their trainer, Complete-tier customers create a customized financial plan tailored to their personal situation.

In addition to the Plus-tier educational resources, Complete-tier customers can learn additional financial planning techniques and strategies, including financial goal tracking, via trainer-guided education.

Advantages of Mvelopes

  • Automatically imports all of your financial transactions
  • Multiple levels of service to meet varying customer needs
  • 60-day money-back guarantee at Complete, its top-tier level
  • Options for unlimited envelopes and personal financial coaching

Downsides of Mvelopes

  • Not completely automated: You still have to categorize your imported transactions
  • Interface is not entirely intuitive or easy-to-use
  • After the 30-day introductory trial, there is no free option available
  • No 24/7 live chat

Mvelopes vs. other budget apps

Mvelopes is uniquely focused on making the envelope-budgeting system easy to use in an online or mobile format. If you’re already familiar with this type of budgeting, the app may be a perfect fit for you. However, there are other options worth examining.

Mvelopes vs. Goodbudget

Goodbudget is one of the few competitor apps to Mvelopes that focuses on the same envelope budgeting system. The apps are very similar, with the main difference in their interfaces and pricing.

Unlike Mvelopes, Goodbudget offers a free option. However, users are only allowed to link a single account. Goodbudget’s paid account costs $6 per month — the same cost as Mvelopes’ Basic account — and offers broadly similar functionality at that level. However, Mvelopes’ premium service tiers give you quarterly or monthly access (for higher fees) to personal financial specialists, something Goodbudget doesn’t offer at any price level.

Mvelopes vs. EveryDollar

EveryDollar is a budgeting app without the envelopes. As the name implies, EveryDollar allows you to track every dollar that comes into or goes out of your linked financial accounts. Like Mvelopes, you’ll start by setting up your budget categories, such as groceries, restaurants, clothing and health care, and assigning your transactions to each segment. Although the categories are not specifically called “envelopes,” they serve the same purpose as with Mvelopes.

EveryDollar has a free version and a paid version that costs $129.99 per year. The free version includes a personal budget planner and an expense tracker. Access to service and savings experts, such as insurance, real estate and tax professionals, comes with the paid version.

Is Mvelopes right for you?

If you’re already familiar with the envelope system of budgeting, Mvelopes might be your go-to budgeting app. However, even at the Basic level, you’ll be paying $6 per month just to digitize your envelopes. Meanwhile, the top tier costs a very steep $59 per month to add monthly financial coaching. The Mvelopes requires you to regularly allocate your funds to individual envelopes, which could be helpful for some users, but cumbersome for others. Whether you stick with Mvelopes depends on your comfort with frequently interacting with your envelopes.

Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.