Emma App Review — Quality Over Quantity Of Features?

Emma is a money management app which allows you to track your spending, bills, and upcoming expense dates in an intuitive way. Capitalizing on the new wave of FinTech apps, it’s relatively new, having only been launched as recently as 2018. 

Saving and budgeting has never been the easiest and most interesting thing to do, especially for millennials who have much more interesting ways to spend their time. However, the Emma app aims to change that, making the experience intuitive, engaging, and beneficial. All this while packaged in an endearing and very colourful user interface.

When it comes to money management apps, a lot of them tend to go too far in one direction, whether it’s shoving offers and coupons in your face, or providing barebones spending summaries. In my opinion, Emma has the balance right by providing a wide variety of features while offering a good balance of paid vs free benefits.

While there are quite a few good aspects to the app, there are definitely some weaknesses which we will go through in this Emma app review.

Emma App Review — What I Thought

My setup of the Emma app was quick and easy. It connected to my banking app without any issues whatsoever, and it was up and running within minutes. This was probably my smoothest setup of a FinTech app so far, and I found the features of biometric security (industry standard) to be very effective. It’s easy to link all your accounts into one place with Emma and see a full, real-time view of your finances and how they are changing over time.

I was very impressed with the interface and the informative presentation of the app, which is the most impressive out of the range of money management apps available I’ve tried. Offering charts of your savings, bills and investments within time periods is a great feature that a lot more should include since it gives you a real perspective on how much you are spending, and your progress on saving goals.

Pros

Cons

  • Best money management interface out there
  • Smooth user experience
  • Daily balance reports
  • Payday to payday budgeting
  • Great tools to analyse your spending
  • Excellent referral rewards
  • No savings or investments tools
  • Some features are gimmicky
  • Emma Pro poor value for money

What features does Emma offer?

Emma offers a wide range of really great features, but unfortunately misses out on some fairly crucial ones. The features it does offer however, are pretty well-done and one in particular is done better than most other apps of its kind in my opinion.

The best thing Emma offers is the ability to not only break your expenses and budgets down into easily identifiable categories, but the app allows you to set your pay dates and work your budget around those dates. Oddly, most other apps assume everyone gets paid at the end of the month and orders your budgeting this way, but Emma works differently and works around your payday. It even asks what to do if your payday lands on a non-working day.

I found this incredibly useful and while I usually keep on top of my own budget by myself, I found the Emma app to be intuitive and accurately categorize expense types without having to make many corrections. You can use this to easily compare how your food budget is doing, or whether you spent more on transport this month than last month at a glance. You can even choose by retailer, and I found this especially useful.

Cashback and bill switching offers

There is a fairly generous cashback system available in the Emma Plus subscription tier that provides up to 10% cashback on certain retailers. Selecting them will provide a link, and if you shop through that link, you will earn cash back on all your purchases. It’s definitely worth checking out the list of retailers as it updates constantly. I was pleasantly surprised to see ASOS and Apple on this list, as you can make quite a few savings using these offers for purchases you were already going to make. There are also numerous voucher offers available as well as your standard bill-saving offers as comes with most apps like this.

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Emma Quests

I found quests to be a very unique and quirky feature I haven’t seen before in an app like this. Basically, if you like gamifying objectives, you can complete a tiered set of challenges which can be anything from setting a savings goal to inviting friends. Unfortunately, there are no rewards, but it’s a cute little gimmick which helps you engage with the app and explains some of the basic uses for it. I would have liked to see this expanded and have more saving-oriented goals to encourage people to continue to hit goals, though maybe this will be a feature they might add in the future.

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What’s missing?

While I enjoyed a lot of the features Emma offers, there were some clearly missing that I would like to see in a finance app. None of these were even available in the subscription tiers that I will talk about later, which I found surprising as this is the approach most apps of this kind take.

The first feature most obviously missing is the ability to automate saving in some way, or even have a focus on saving within the app. While you can track a savings account growth and make goals, there isn’t really a dedicated feature to increase your savings or automatically transfer them. While this is by no means a standard, it would definitely add value to the subscription tiers if nothing else.

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There is also no investing service anywhere to be found. Again, like the savings feature, you can track an investment account’s growth if you link it, but there is no investment option available within the app, or any kind of service offered with the subscription tiers. The reason I find this and the previous missing features disappointing, is because these apps are usually an introductory tool for people realizing they are overspending and leading them to save and invest. Emma does an absolutely fantastic job of recognizing your spending habits but doesn’t offer much beneficial value past that.

Is it safe?

As with most FinTech apps these days, Emma has a suite of security and regulatory features which guarantee user safety. They aren’t going to run away with your money anytime soon since they only have read-only access to your accounts. This prevents them from having any capability to deposit or withdraw funds and the app only allows you to transfer between your accounts that are linked.

The app is Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) registered. The FCA ensures Emma complies with financial regulation with keeping your money and banking details safe, while the ICO governs the protection of user data. On top of all this, the app uses bank-grade encryption, to make it especially hard for people to steal your data even if they tried. Since no money is stored in the app, you are not at risk of losing access to any money.

Emma subscription tiers

There are only three subscription tiers available for the Emma app, and strangely these are priced yearly rather than monthly. Each comes with a 7-day free trial.

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Emma Free

This is the basic free version of Emma, and has some great basic features such as:

  • Tracking bills and payments accurately
  • Providing detailed breakdowns of expenses by retailer
  • Combining all your accounts into one place
  • Tracking your budget from payday to payday

Emma Plus

Costing £41.99 per year with a 7-day free trial, this tier offers a few noteworthy advantages over the free version:

  • Cashback offers
  • Fraud detection
  • Bill reminders
  • Priority support lines

Emma Pro

This is the most expensive version of Emma at £83.99 per year with a 7-day free trial. Honestly, this tier contains very few worthwhile benefits:

  • Customizable categories
  • Accurate net worth projection
  • Ability to rename transactions
  • Savings goals

Is it worth it?

While the Emma Plus upgrade provides a few very valuable features like fraud detection and cashback offers, the Emma Pro version really doesn’t offer anything I would consider too valuable. The ability to rename your transactions and have a net worth projection is fairly underwhelming compared to the previous benefits offered. I would definitely consider upgrading to Emma Plus, but I wouldn’t bother with Pro until they add some more features.

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Generous referral rewards

The app seems really dedicated to grow as it offers by far the best rewards I’ve seen for referring new users to an app. You can earn £15 per person you refer if they end up staying with the app and getting a Pro subscription for the qualifying period (T&Cs apply). This is far beyond the £5-£10 usually offered and as far as I can tell there’s no limit to the number of referrals you can claim.

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Conclusion

Honestly, I really like the Emma app because it knocks it out of the park with its bill tracking and expense categorization. It’s the best money management app I’ve used in that regard. It’s a shame there are no dedicated savings or investment features though, and the subscription tiers are fairly underwhelming. There is honestly nothing in the Emma Pro tier to justify it being twice as expensive as Emma Plus, and all the important stuff like fraud detection, cashback and bill reminders are in that tier.

I would highly recommend Emma for getting a good idea about your bills and expenses and using what I would consider the best analysis app out there which can sync accounts and help you budget with your payday. The quest feature is a gimmick, and I wouldn’t consider the Pro tier worth using, but you can still find a lot of value within the Emma app.

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