PocketGuard Review [2024]: Debt Payoff and Budgeting App

PocketGuard has a free plan, but it has limited functionality. That’s why we recommend the paid version.
Updated May 22, 2024
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We like PocketGuard for its balance of simple and advanced budgeting features. You can easily connect bank accounts to track your spending and income and then use the app to create a detailed debt payoff plan.

However, we don’t like how limited the free version of PocketGuard is. The paid version gives you access to the full functionality of the app for $12.99 a month or $74.99 a year. Keep in mind that there are likely cheaper options available if you only want a simple expense tracker without the advanced featured PocketGuard offers.

Let’s explore our PocketGuard review to see if it’s the right budgeting app for you.

In this PocketGuard review

Key takeaways

  • We recommend PocketGuard Plus for people who want a budgeting app with both basic and advanced features. It can track your expenses and leverage your financial data to create streamlined debt payoff plans.
  • PocketGuard Plus costs $12.99 per month. If you choose an annual plan, it’s $74.99 per year, which comes out to $6.25 per month.
  • The free version of PocketGuard has greatly limited functionality. If you want a free budgeting app, consider the free version of Rocket Money instead.
  • If you don’t mind paying for a budgeting app but want a more affordable option, check out Simplifi. What it lacks in advanced features it makes up for in cost, as it only charges $2.99 per month, billed annually.

PocketGuard: Is it worth it?

  • Has a free version and a free 7-day trial for PocketGuard Plus
  • Available on a desktop web browser, as well as iOS and Android devices
  • Offers detailed debt payoff features
  • Free version has limited functionality
  • Paid version costs $12.99/mo or $74.99/yr

Our verdict

We recommend the premium version of PocketGuard as it provides access to advanced budgeting tools like debt payoff plans and bill negotiation. While the subscription fee of PocketGuard Plus is higher than some other budgeting tools in the market, its advanced features help it stand out. On the other hand, the free version of PocketGuard has severely limited functionality and doesn’t offer much value.

What is PocketGuard?

PocketGuard is a budgeting app and financial technology company based in California. Founded in 2015, it has helped people lower over $40 million in bills, save over $900 million toward goals, and pay off over $90 million in debts.

The PocketGuard mobile app has a 3.7 out of 5 rating on Google Play and a 4.6 out of 5 rating on the App Store.

PocketGuard overview

  • Basic: Free
  • PocketGuard Plus: $12.99/mo or $74.99/yr ($6.25/mo)
Free features
  • Budgets (up to two)
  • Bank connections (up to two)
  • Add bills and transactions
  • Add income
  • Use preset categories
  • Budget insights
  • Cash account
Premium features
  • Unlimited category budgets
  • Unlimited savings goals
  • Unlimited bank connections
  • Custom categories
  • Debt payoff plans
  • Export transaction data
  • Import transaction history
  • Extended transaction history
  • Change the date of external transactions
  • Split transactions into different categories
  • Attach receipts
  • Multiple cash accounts
  • Duplicate cash transactions
  • Cash transfers
  • Auto-repeat bills and income
Platform availability
  • Web browser
  • iOS devices (App Store)
  • Android devices (Google Play)

Note that PocketGuard might offer targeted deals for its app that don’t show up on its main pricing page. For example, we signed up for a free account and then found much better deals on the subscription page in our dashboard.

Overall, the monthly and annual deals were much cheaper than the main pricing page. Also, there was an option to pay a one-time fee of $79.99 and have PocketGuard forever with no subscription.

How does PocketGuard work?

1. Budgeting

PocketGuard's overall theme is to help people reduce spending and save money. Its features can seem a bit complicated at first glance if you’re new to budgeting apps, but they’re fairly simple to understand given some time.

Here are PocketGuard’s primary budgeting features.

  • Connect bank accounts: You start by connecting your bank accounts so the PocketGuard software can analyze and track your transactions.This helps you get a picture of your total income and expenses.
  • Set a debt payoff plan: If your main goal is to pay off your debt, you can use this feature to start a debt avalanche or debt snowball payoff plan.
  • Savings goals: If your main goal is to reach savings goals, you can use this feature to set specific and realistic goals.

Since your bank accounts are linked to PocketGuard, you can track your spending and income at any given time. This allows you to know exactly how much you’re spending on different things, which can open up opportunities to cut out unnecessary expenses.

2. Spending insights

The Insights tab gives you quick access to your spending during different periods. For example, you can see how much you spent in a specific month on all your accounts or specific accounts that you select. You can see your purchases in a list, as well as an easy-to-view pie chart.

This feature is great for figuring out where you’re spending money. Over time, you might be able to cut down on unnecessary spending, such as eating out a lot or buying too much coffee.

Keep in mind that the free version of PocketGuard only allows you to connect up to two accounts.

3. Budget categorization

Budget categorization is a feature that lets you separate your purchases into different categories for increased customization and organization.

PocketGuard has common categories, including shopping, travel, and groceries. You can also create your own categories based on your needs.

4. Bill payment tracker

If you connect bank accounts to the PocketGuard app, it works on detecting your bills and helps you track them. It also reminds you when they’re due or overdue. This could be a useful feature for those who don’t mind a gentle reminder to make bill payments.

5. Debt payoff plan

The PocketGuard budgeting app has a debt payoff plan feature that can quickly take your existing debt from connected accounts and formulate a plan to pay it off.

Here’s how the process works.

  1. Select the account(s) with debt that you want to pay off.
  2. Choose your debt payoff budget, or how much you want to put toward your debt each month.
  3. Decide whether you want to start this month or next month.
  4. Choose between a debt avalanche method by paying off debt with the highest interest first or debt snowball method by paying off debt with the lowest balance first.
  5. Start your debt payoff plan.

We like how this feature easily incorporates your connected debt accounts and then gives you detailed solutions on how to pay them off. Keep in mind that you’ll have to provide certain information for credit card debt, including the minimum payment and APR.

6. Savings goals

PocketGuard lets you set up savings goals in two ways.

  1. Auto Tracking: You link a bank account to your goal so you can track your savings based on your account balance.
  2. Manual Tracking: You manually assign transactions to your goal and track your savings based on the sum of the assigned transactions.

With the goals feature, you choose the target amount, due date, and monthly contribution. PocketGuard will monitor your progress and notify you of contributions and whether your goal is off track, completed, or failed.

7. Fraud detection

PocketGuard provides suspicious activity monitoring that could help detect fraudulent transactions.

PocketGuard checks the activity on your connected bank accounts against its database to see if anything appears suspicious or inconsistent. If PocketGuard detects any suspicious activity, you’ll be notified by email and an in-app notification.

You don’t have to manually start the fraud detection tool or process; it starts automatically if you connect your bank accounts. Note that this tool isn’t a replacement for contacting your bank or other financial institution if you think your account has fraudulent activity.

8. PocketGuard Plus

PocketGuard Plus is the premium subscription plan for PocketGuard, priced at $12.99 per month or $74.99 per year.

If you want a budgeting app with plenty of features, we recommend PocketGuard Plus over the free Basic version.

The free version isn’t the best budgeting app because it lacks many features, including unlimited bank connections and budgets. You can only connect two bank accounts and set up two budgets, which probably won’t be enough to cover anything more than the simplest budgeting plan.

Who is PocketGuard best for?

We recommend the Plus subscription of PocketGuard for people who want to learn how to manage money by paying off debt and reaching savings goals. We don’t recommend the free version since it has limited functionality.

PocketGuard makes sense as an everyday expense tracker, but we think that it’s a bit pricey if that’s all you want in a budgeting app. We think PocketGuard brings more value with some of its advanced features, including its debt payoff plan tool.

Debt can feel overwhelming, which is why the debt payoff plan feature is so great. It takes all the information you give it about your debt and income and then gives you clear details about how you can pay off your debt using well-known strategies (debt avalanche or debt snowball).

Once your plan is in place, you simply follow it until your debt is paid off. At that point, you can move on to achieving your savings goals, which PocketGuard can also help with.

How to get started with PocketGuard

Here’s how to get started with PocketGuard in a few minutes or less.

  1. Visit PocketGuard and select the Sign up option.

  1. Enter the email address and password you want to use. Alternatively, you can continue with a Google or Apple account.

  1. Enter your phone number for verification purposes. Note that we were able to use a Google Voice number when we signed up, which was surprising because those types of numbers are often blocked.

Keep in mind that these are the steps to sign up for a free PocketGuard account, so you don’t have to add any payment information. If you want to sign up for a PocketGuard Plus membership, you have to add a payment method.

Available payment options include a credit or debit card, Cash App Pay, Google Pay, Link, or a U.S. bank account.

Alternatives to PocketGuard

If PocketGuard doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, consider Rocket Money or Simplifi.

Rocket Money has unique features you won’t find on most budgeting apps, including bill negotiation and subscription cancellation assistance. If these are some of your top budgeting worries, consider Rocket Money.

Simplifi is an affordable budgeting app that helps you track your spending and savings goals. At only $2 per month, it’s much cheaper than PocketGuard if you want a simple expense tracker and savings assistant.

PocketGuard Rocket Money Simplifi
Main features
  • Budgeting
  • Debt payoff plan
  • Cash accounts
  • Budgeting
  • Bill negotiation
  • Subscription management and cancellation assist
  • Budgeting
  • Real-time alerts
  • Customizable transactions
  • Basic: Free
  • PocketGuard Plus: $12.99/mo or $74.99/yr ($6.25/mo)
  • Basic: Free
  • Premium: $4 to $12/mo (some options billed annually)
  • $2.99/mo (billed annually)
Platform availability
  • Web browser
  • iOS devices
  • Android devices
  • Web browser
  • iOS devices
  • Android devices
  • Web browser
  • iOS devices
  • Android devices
Best for Debt payoff and savings goals Subscription and bill management Affordable budgeting
Visit PocketGuard Read our review
Visit Rocket Money
Read our review
Visit Simplifi

PocketGuard FAQ

Is PocketGuard no longer free?

You can still use PocketGuard for free with its Basic plan. This gives you access to up to two bank connections and two budgets. For unlimited bank connections, unlimited budgets, and more features, you can upgrade to PocketGuard Plus for $12.99 per month or $74.99 per year ($6.25 per month).

Can I trust PocketGuard?

PocketGuard uses the same 256-bit SSL and encryption standards as major financial institutions. If you connect a bank account to PocketGuard, you’re allowing the app to view your activity, which isn’t the same as granting access to change anything in your account. PocketGuard also employs a PIN code and password combination to provide multiple layers of protection.

Is PocketGuard better than Mint?

Mint shut down in March 2024, making PocketGuard the better (and available) budgeting app option. With PocketGuard, you can continue tracking your expenses and create savings goals to help keep your spending in check. PocketGuard has a free version, but we don’t think it’s worth it. PocketGuard Plus costs $12.99 per month or $74.99 per year.

PocketGuard review: bottom line

We recommend PocketGuard if you want an app that combines advanced budgeting features with everyday expense tracking.

PocketGuard isn’t the cheapest budgeting app around, but it’s also not a simple expense tracker. With features like its debt payoff plan tool and savings goals, you can quickly start working toward paying off debt and building your savings.

If you’re still comparing different apps, check out our list of the best budgeting apps.

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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