There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is only going to become more intertwined with daily life.
I mean, 37% of organizations have already implemented a form of AI in their business. By 2021, it’s estimated that 80% of new technology will have AI foundations.
Financial services are no exception to this trend. In fact, AI is making itself quite apparent in both existing and rising FinTech platforms, services, and apps.
One particularly interesting app that has caught my attention is Cleo, the intelligent assistant that helps manage your finances right from your smartphone.
If you want to learn how this AI-powered chatbot can help you manage your finances, set budget goals, and improve your finances, be sure to read out Cleo review until the end.
Looking for other ways to grow your wealth? Checkout:
- Acorns – Start investing automatically and earn cash back with the Acorns app!
- Fundrise – Earn passive income through real estate investing with Fundrise!
Cleo App Review
Description: Cleo is an AI-powered budgeting app that helps you track your spending, save automatically, and even earn cash-back rewards.
Operating System: Android, iOS
Application Category: Budgeting Apps
Author: Tom Blake
Ease Of Use
What Is Cleo?
Cleo is a London-based FinTech startup that was founded in 2016. The Cleo app, sometimes called Meet Cleo, is available on both the Android and IOS app store.
Currently, Cleo has more than 3.1 million users, and this app is pretty much the fastest growing app the FinTech world has ever seen.
Cleo has been incredibly popular for younger crowds/millennials, and this is by design. The Cleo app has a sleek interface, does all the work for the user, and mixes in witty bits of sarcasm to make managing your finances feel more engaging or humorous.
That’s all fun in games, of course. But, how does Cleo work and what does the app actually do?
How Does Cleo Work?
Users have to connect their banking details to Cleo to allow the AI-powered chatbot to analyze spending patterns and actually get to work.
You can use the platform through the mobile app version or Facebook Messenger.
Most major banks are supported, and setup only takes 2-3 minutes. If your bank isn’t supported, you can request support with setup as well.
You can connect multiple accounts to the app, and actually using certain features is easy. For example, typing or saying ‘budget’ will prompt the app to start working with you to create a budget.
Cleo operates on a freemium model like many other finance based apps.
However, users still get some nifty features with the free version of Cleo, which makes it easy to test out the platform before trying out Cleo Plus (more on why this feature later on).
Here are some of the main Cleo features to know about.
1. Track Your Spending
The most basic feature Cleo offers is the ability to track your spending. Once you connect your bank account to the app, you’ll be able to view your balance, spending categories, and get an easy overview of your bank account.
This isn’t much different than most banking apps or apps like Mint. However, you can also ask the Cleo app several questions, such as:
- How much do I spend on a certain category? (Such as food, rent, etc.)
- What’s my largest expense?
- How much have I spent on alcohol this month?
- Show upcoming bills.
- How am I doing on my budget?
You get the idea. The Cleo makes it pretty simple to get a general sense of how you’re doing for the month in terms of spending.
2. Easily Create Budgets
Cleo is more of a financial assistant and less of a pure budgeting app. However, the app still makes it very easy to set budgets for different spending categories and to track your budget throughout the month.
Users can set their own budgets on Cleo or rely on AI-powered recommendations to set spending limits. This feature is great for anyone who struggles with budgeting or wants a bit of a helping hand to make sure their spending isn’t off the rails.
Cleo monitors your purchases and alerts you if you are approaching a budget limit. As shown above, you can also ask Cleo if spending on a certain category, like dinner or drinks, is a good financial decision or not.
Additionally, you can set budgets for different time periods, which is useful if you want to monitor your spending during a vacation or a weekend retreat somewhere.
3. Save Money Automatically
Since Cleo tracks your spending and budgets, the free version of the app can actually tell if there’s room for you to easily save money.
If you’re having a frugal week or two of spending, Cleo might prompt you to move a portion of your money into whatever savings account you have linked to the app.
Now, whatever savings account you choose to link is up to you, not Cleo. This means that if you have a lackluster savings account, moving money there might not be a great idea versus investing the money or finding a better high-interest savings account.
4. The Cleo Game
If you like trivia apps that pay you cash, you’re going to like Cleo’s new feature, the Cleo Game!
The game works by having Cleo ask you questions every week about your finances. Cleo mostly asks questions about your spending habits for the previous week.
You can play the game every Saturday, and Cleo notifies you when you’re eligible to play the game.
The game’s main purpose is to help you familiarize yourself with your spending habits.
But, if you get answers right, you also enter a draw to win cash prizes.
Every week, Cleo gives a certain amount of money to a certain number of players, so you might earn $10 to $20 or more if you get lucky.
This isn’t a massive Cleo feature, but it’s another way Cleo mixes in fun to personal financial management.
5. Cleo Credit Builder Card
Another new Cleo feature is its credit builder card, a secured credit card that helps people improve their credit scores.
The main features of the Cleo Credit Builder card include:
- No minimum deposit requirement
- No fees
- No hard credit checks
You have to put cash into your security deposit to unlock a higher credit limit, but this is how secured credit cards work. But in exchange, you can start to improve your credit score!
Requirements for Cleo’s Credit Builder card include:
- Being 18 or older
- Have a SSN
- Get contacted by Cleo via the app and email to try out the card (it’s still in testing)
If you want a more comprehensive Cleo Credit Builder card review, I recommend watching this video from IRV Official:
Honestly, a secured credit card can be a useful tool to improve your credit score if you’re struggling, so it’s nice to see that Cleo is continuing to add these sorts of services.
Cleo Plus – What Is Cleo Plus & How Much Does It Cost?
The free version of Cleo is great for anyone who struggles with basic budgeting or specific spending categories. However, the premium version of Cleo, known as Cleo Plus, offers additional features that the app is best known for.
But first…let’s talk pricing.
Cleo Plus costs $5.99 per month, or about $72 per year, so keep this in mind when considering if the following features are worth it.
1. Cleo Cover
Cleo Cover, or Cleo Salary Advance, is an overdraft service that is only available for Plus members. Basically, this feature lets you borrow up to $100 from Cleo for overdrafts. Cleo doesn’t charge interest on this loan, and users have between 3 and 28 days to pay back the money.
Cleo states that this won’t impact your credit score. Once you pay off your loan, you are free to request another one immediately.
2. Cleo Daily Cash
Daily Cash works by giving you instant cash back on your spending. Users choose ‘Money Makers’ based on the stores they shop at most, and earn cash back whenever they spend money at their Money Makers.
Users can only choose up to 5 Money Makers at any point, and cash back is deposited into your Cleo Wallet.
With the Bigger Buys feature, users also earn up to 7% cash back for shopping directly through sponsored links on the Daily Cash page. Again, pretty much Drop.
Finally, users also earn cash back by completing Cleo Rewards.
Basically, Cleo bribes users to use more of the app. If you talk to the app for a week/month straight or complete simple tasks like setting your first budget, you’ll earn small rewards in the $0.10 to $0.25 range or so.
Again, this money is deposited in your Cleo Wallet, and you can request a transaction to your linked bank account. Withdrawals take 4 business days in the U.S. and 2 business days in the U.K.
Since you can double-dip on cash back rewards with a variety of other apps or a cash back credit card, this is certainly my favorite aspect of Cleo Plus. However, other cash back apps like Drop are free, so keep that in mind.
3. Earn Interest On Savings
Cleo Plus now offers U.S. users the chance to earn 1.5% interest for upgrading their Cleo Wallet to a savings account.
Cleo partners with SynapseFI to provide this service, and there are 3 steps to upgrading your wallet:
- Submit basic details, like date of birth, address.
- Submit your SSN and a form of government ID to verify your identity.
- Accept T&Cs.
Cleo Plus users can also opt in for Round Ups, which work the same way as other apps like Acorns.
Basically, whenever you spend, Cleo can round up spare change and automatically move it into your savings. Not my cup of tea, but some people may enjoy this additional way to save money.
Is Cleo Plus Worth It?
Currently, I don’t believe Cleo Plus is worth the money for every user.
- Overdraft Protection – Most banks already offer this for free.
- Cash Back & Big Buys – Again, apps like Drop, Dosh, Pei, and cash back credit cards already nail this.
- Savings Account Interest – You can also park your money in a high-interest savings account or use a platform like Unifymoney to handle all of your finances.
Now, Cleo does have 2 additional projects in the work, including a educational credit score platform that is designed to help boost credit plus an investment platform of some sort:
If I had to wager, I’d bet that Cleo is going to copy the Acorns style of investing spare change since they already copied the round up feature, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Cleo Crusher – What Is Cleo Crusher & How Much Does It Cost?
Cleo Plus isn’t the only subscription you can pay for with the Cleo app.
According to Cleo, with Cleo Crusher, you unlock three other features, credit score, Daily Cash, and a mother loan for $9.99 per month.
I’m honestly a little confused since your Cleo Plus subscription includes Daily Cash and the ability to check your credit score, so unless these are moving to Cleo Crusher, I don’t know what the huge difference is.
In any case, the main feature you get with Cleo Crusher is the “Motherloan,” a $500 loan at 23.99% APR that you repay in monthly installments over six months.
This feature isn’t available in every state, and you need $400 or more in credit card balance to be invited to use this feature.
You can read more about the Motherloan on Cleo’s FAQ page if you want to learn more.
Ultimately, this isn’t a massive loan, and $9.99 per month is expensive, but again, it’s nice Cleo is adding features to help people who are in a bind.
Pro Tip: Checkout the Tally app if you want help paying off your debt faster and to save money in the process!
Frequently Asked Questions
It wouldn’t be a worthwhile Cleo review if I didn’t tackle some of the most commonly asked questions about this financial assistant.
1. Is Cleo Safe?
Like pretty much any major FinTech product, Cleo uses bank-level encryption and doesn’t save your personal information.
Cleo also can’t make changes to your account when viewing your banking information, and accounts are backed by a $250K guarantee. Confusingly, their support page states it’s more of a £85,000 pledge, so I have no idea what’s actually covered here.
2. How Does Cleo Make Money?
Cleo states they don’t sell user data and make their money from Cleo Plus. I’m sure they also get a kickback from their cash back platform, which makes sense.
So, in short, Cleo makes money by charging subscriptions for Cleo Plus.
3. Can Facebook See Your Cleo Data?
Facebook Messenger is used to chat with Cleo if you don’t want to always use the app. However, no information is shared with Facebook or stored on their servers according to Cleo.
Other Cleo Reviews From Users
Cleo currently has a 4 and 4.6 star review average on the Google Play store and IOS store respectively, and the app certainly generates a lot of great press and feedback.
From the other Cleo reviews I’ve read, it seems like people love free Cleo and absolutely hate Cleo Plus.
This sort of makes sense.
As a concept, Cleo is great for helping beginners understand a broad picture of their financial well-being and where they spend most of their money. I think this is extremely valuable, especially if you lack basic financial literacy.
However, it seems like most people who sign up for Cleo Plus are doing so for the Salary Advance feature. And, based on what I’m reading, the process of securing a $100 loan is not as simple as advertised:
Again, the bottom line here is that Cleo Plus is not worth the money.
This app is awesome for gaining a better understanding of your finances. However, the premium features are usually offered by most banks or various cash back platforms.
Cleo Pros & Cons
If you’re still wondering if Cleo is the right personal finance app for you or not, consider this list of pros and cons.
- Robust free version that helps you budget, automatically save and track your spending
- The platform continues to add new features
- You can earn cash back rewards and enjoy salary advances with Cleo Plus
- Cleo does an excellent job at bringing some humor and life to personal finance
- You can earn interest on your savings
- $5.99 per month for Cleo Plus is expensive when you consider many reward apps are free
- You only get up to $100 for a salary advance
- Cleo Crusher plan is somewhat confusing
Who Should Use Cleo?
If you need a helping hand getting your spending and budgeting back on track, the Cleo app is for you.
I think Cleo’s mission to get people more in-touch with their spending habits by using AI and humor is awesome.
Personally, I don’t think paying $5.99 per month for Cleo Plus is worth it unless you know you’re going to use the salary advance feature and earn a lot of cash back with Daily Cash.
But, you can always give Cleo a try for free and decide to upgrade if you want to unlock every feature.
Other Apps Like Cleo
I think it is important to try a variety of budgeting strategies to find what works best for you.
Personally, I track everything in an Excel spreadsheet. Previously, I used Mint, but I prefer to get really granular with my money and track everything myself.
However, there are plenty of other options out there, free or paid, that cater to different budgeting styles. Some popular options include:
- Peak Money – A great budgeting app for visual people. Read my Peak Money review to learn more.
- Mint – One of the more popular free budgeting apps around.
- Plum – A main competitor of Cleo, but with investing and a different fee structure.
You can also use apps like Acorns to start automatically investing and to earn cash back in a similar system to Cleo’s Daily Cash.
There really isn’t a cookie-cutter solution for managing your finances.
Ultimately, it is our personal responsibility to learn financial literacy. If anything, these apps are just tools that help make the job easier, not a crutch to rely upon.
I still love what Cleo is doing, and I think the concept of AI or FinTech in general is awesome.
If you have zero idea what is going on with your money, try the free version of Cleo to gain a better understanding of your financial health.
Extra Reading – Bumped App Review – Earn Free Stock For Shopping!
I hope my Cleo budgeting app review helps you decide if this humorous little AI chatbot is worth using or not.
I love that Cleo continues to add new features, and I think the future is very promising for this app.
Whether or not you upgrade to Cleo Plus or Cleo Crusher is up to you. If you do, I hope the extra features help you earn some cash-back rewards and stay more on top of your finances!
Thanks so much for reading, I’ll catch you guys in the next one!
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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