Cleo Review [2024]: Personal Finance with a Side of Snark

SAVING & SPENDING - BUDGETING & EXPENSES
Imagine a money management app with a healthy dose of snark to help you keep track of your money. That’s what the Cleo app promises to do.
Updated Aug. 11, 2023
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Meet Cleo, a budgeting app that uses artificial intelligence to help you save money and keep track of your spending. The app may even give you a cash advance when you need some money.

But what makes Cleo stand out is the way it guides you through your budget. The app gives you sassy advice and recommendations about your spending, bills, and more.

Let’s look at how Cleo works, how it can help you with your finances, and how to sign up.

Quick Summary

Budget, save money, and build your credit all while getting a healthy dose of sass

  • Budgeting tips and recommendations can help you save money
  • Cleo Wallet lets you store cash with a simple chat message 
  • Cleo Credit Builder may help you improve your credit score
In this Cleo review

What is Cleo?

Cleo is a free financial assistant app that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to have conversations with you and help you with pressing questions about your money. Cleo is designed to help you track your spending, work on your budgeting goals, and improve your savings.

Barnaby Hussey-Yeo founded Cleo in 2016 in London, England, where its headquarters are located. Cleo also has a U.S. office in New York.

Cleo lets you manage your money in a lighthearted manner. After downloading the app and adding your bank account information, bills, and monthly income, the app will analyze your spending patterns and offer feedback in a quirky, funny way.


The chat and voice command functions enable you to ask Cleo questions such as:

  • Can I afford coffee?
  • Where can I cut back this month?
  • How much do I have in savings?

Cleo analyzes your financial data to provide answers. The Cleo app aims to take the guesswork out of deciding between saving money and splurging. The app lets you know exactly where you stand and if an impulse purchase you’re looking at may impact your financial plan down the road.

Cleo has 4.6 out of 5 stars on the App Store for iOS, with more than 71,000 ratings. It has 4.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play for Android, with more than 39,000 ratings. Cleo also has over 2,600 reviews on Trustpilot, giving it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

How does Cleo work?

Cleo aims to help you figure out how to manage your money better while keeping the whole experience light, fun, and exciting. You can chat with the AI chatbot as if it’s a friend on Facebook messenger, and it gives you easy tips and recommendations.

Cleo Cleo Plus Cleo Credit Builder
  • Set your budget goals
  • Track your spending
  • Save money with Cleo Wallet
  • Get roasted or hyped by an AI chatbot
  • Access the feature of the Cleo free version
  • Access cash advances up to $100
  • Earn cash on your eligible purchases
  • Get everything in Cleo and Cleo Plus
  • Receive guidance to improve your credit
  • Access a secured credit card
$0 $5.99 $14.99

Cleo features can either be free or paid, depending on the feature you want to use:

  • The free Cleo app: Offers budget setting, spending tracking, and savings options via Cleo Wallet, all while getting teased by an AI assistant.
  • The Cleo Plus and Cleo Credit Builder monthly subscriptions: Offer additional features on top of the free account, such as cash advances and cash earning opportunities.

Track your spending

One of the primary features of Cleo is its fun interactions with you as it tracks your spending. It, or she, as the Cleo website often refers to the app, has a roast mode, which comments on your spending habits and lets you know when you’re overspending, and not necessarily in a gentle way.


If you prefer your money tips a little milder, you can ask Cleo to hype you to encourage you to keep making progress. The app also looks for things you did right with your money to highlight them.


Cleo helps you understand where you stand with your finances. Ask Cleo a question about what you can afford, and you’ll get back real-time information about your bank account balance and any upcoming charges and bills.

Budgeting

The Cleo app enables you to create a budget by linking your bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, and other financial accounts in one place. It will download the last three months of your spending history when you first log in and categorize them. You can recategorize your transaction or tell the app to ignore certain purchases, such as reimbursable work expenses, if you don’t want them included in your total.

Set up your budget and tweak the categories to help you prepare for any planned spending. You can even set up a ‘budget battle’ against yourself to feel motivated to spend less than in previous weeks.


Cleo uses the financial services company Plaid to connect with your bank and download your transactions. Your banking details is available to Cleo in read-only mode using bank-level encryption, and the app cannot move money in or out of your bank account.

If your bank isn’t partnered with Plaid, you may not be able to use Cleo.

Savings and the Cleo Wallet

Cleo allows you to save money not only through budgeting but also by putting your cash in Cleo Wallet, a feature in the app that enables you to store your money.

To start saving with Cleo, you need to set up Cleo Wallet by:

  • Providing your address
  • Entering the last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Connecting your bank account to the wallet

Cleo Wallet can access your bank account and move money in and out of it, unlike Cleo tracking and budgeting features that use a read-only mode.


Cleo Wallet focuses on ease of use and helps you improve your savings balance by putting money aside manually or by turning on auto-save.

  • Manual savings: Simply tell Cleo through the chat to move an amount into your wallet, and the app will pull out money from your bank account to your Cleo Wallet.
  • Auto savings: Cleo will analyze your available funds and upcoming expenses and decide how to save money automatically by selecting an amount to move. It makes sure to avoid overdrafts, but you don’t get to choose how much it decides to save for you.

Note
Cleo Wallet is not a savings account and does not pay interest on your money the same way a standard savings account does.

It can take up to four working days to process deposits or withdrawals, so you have to plan if you need to access your saved funds. Cleo is not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), meaning that you may lose any money held in your Wallet if the company fails.

Cleo Plus

Cleo Plus is a subscription-based service that costs $5.99 a month. It provides various ways to earn daily cash by completing challenges, clicking on links to retailers that you frequently shop at, and shopping at sites that have partnered with Cleo to provide cashback options.

Keep in mind
Cleo says that you may earn up to 7% of your total purchase, but earnings are capped at $5.00 per transaction, so be aware of this limit if you choose to participate.

The premium subscription also allows subscribers to borrow up to $100 every month to help them avoid paying bank overdraft fees. You may initially qualify for $20 or $30 advances before unlocking higher amounts by repaying the borrowed money.


Cleo will not charge you interest or fees to borrow money, but it can take up to four days to receive the advance. If you choose the express transfer option, there is a fee of $4 each time you borrow money.

You can select your repayment day anywhere from three to 14 days from the advance date. If you try to borrow money too frequently, Cleo may enact a cool-off period before it lets you borrow again.

Cleo Credit Builder

Cleo Credit Builder is a subscription service that costs $14.99 a month and includes Cleo Plus. It’s an AI credit coach that offers tips and advice on improving your credit. You can also get a secured credit card1 that may help you establish your credit history.


This secured card uses a security deposit that you provide. This deposit becomes your credit limit, and you can use the card to make everyday purchases. Payments are reported to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, which may help you improve your credit report.

In addition to the credit-building tools, this service also gives you access to the salary advance and daily cash features of the Cleo Plus subscription.


App availability and support

Cleo is free to download from the App Store on iOS devices or Google Play on Android devices. The app used to be available in the United Kingdom, but it’s currently only available in the United States, where 99% of Cleo’s users are based.

If you need support, Cleo has a robust FAQ section that provides answers to many potential issues. Cleo also has a chat function in the app and on its website if your problem requires direct assistance. Note that it may take a few hours to receive a reply.

Who can benefit from Cleo?

Cleo free version Cleo Plus and Cleo Credit Builder subscriptions
  • Can be great if you want to budget while having fun and getting snarky comments about your spending habits
  • Has a manual savings feature that can help you save money and avoid impulse spending
  • Has an optional auto-saving feature that automates your savings, but remember that you don’t earn interest on these savings
  • Gives you access to everything the free service offers
  • Could help you get interest-free small cash advances instead of using payday loans or credit cards
  • May help you build your credit when you qualify and use the Cleo secured credit card
  • Can be a low-cost budgeting tool and credit-building option, but keep in mind that you may not qualify for the highest lending amount right away

How to get started with Cleo

1. To open a free Cleo account, begin with downloading the Cleo app for iOS or Android.


2. Create a Cleo account by entering your name, email, and date of birth.


3. Link your bank account to Cleo using Plaid to download your transactions over the last three months.


4. Set up your budget categories and assign your transactions.


5. If you want to use premium features like cash advances or daily cash, subscribe to Cleo Plus for $5.99 a month or Cleo Credit Builder for $14.99 a month.

Cleo FAQs

How does Cleo make money?

Cleo makes money from two channels:

  1. Its paid Cleo Plus and Credit Builder subscription services
  2. Raising funds from venture capitalists since it’s still a startup

Cleo states that it uses some of the money it makes to improve its artificial intelligence financial assistant.

Can I borrow money from Cleo?

You can borrow up to $100 from Cleo without interest or fees and receive your advance in four business days. If you opt for the express transfer feature to receive the money faster, you’ll be charged a $4 transaction fee. Cleo requires you to pay the money back in three to 14 business days after the transaction.

Does borrowing from Cleo affect my credit?

Cleo doesn’t do a credit check, and borrowing money from it shouldn’t affect your credit score when you pay the money back on time.

That said, your credit score can be negatively impacted if you don’t pay back the money owed by the due date. If you don’t pay Cleo back in 30 days past due, the company may report your missed payment to the three credit bureaus, as allowed by law.

Other budgeting apps to consider

Other apps can help you manage your money without getting roasted when personal finance with a side of sass isn’t your thing, or you simply feel that Cleo isn’t the right choice.

Rocket Money can help you save money on your monthly bills by canceling subscriptions you don’t use and negotiating better rates with vendors like Verizon, Comcast, Hulu, and Netflix. The app also offers budgeting and saving features and a credit score tracker with the premium version.

Read our Rocket Money review to find out how it can help you.

If you’re focusing more on saving money, the Oportun app can help you develop a daily savings habit based on your income, upcoming bills, and future expenses. For a monthly subscription of $5, Oportun will regularly analyze your income and spending and adapt the amount it moves to savings based on your habits.

Read our Oportun app review to learn more about its features.

Author Details

Kate Daugherty Kate Daugherty is a professional writer with a passion for providing others the head start they deserve on their financial journeys. Largely self-taught, Kate relied on books, blogs, and trial-and-error to learn how to budget and save for the future, all while working to pay back about $15,000 in student loans.