The future excites me for many reasons. At the top of that list is improved budget apps. I didn’t think it would take until 2020 to develop a smart budget app, but here we are.
Copilot is a promising new foray into the saturated market of budgeting apps. It may be the smartest budgeting app available on mobile.
According to the company, “Copilot uses machine learning to deliver powerful, hyper-personalized insights that help you effortlessly understand and manage how you spend, save, and invest your money.”
It’s no surprise that top tech review sites are calling Copilot a “mint killer.”
Note: I’m not an affiliate for the product, nor affiliated in any capacity. Just a person looking for the next great budgeting app.
I’ve spent a couple hours getting to know Copilot. My first impression of the budget app is that it feels very intuitive. It’s smooth, responsive and buttons seem to exist right where I would like them to be.
The dark mode was a nice surprise to see and the color schemes seem to glow against the black background and blue windows.
The use of emoji’s for categories seems fitting and the app is very easy to navigate.
User Reviews are a Good Sign
As of 4/6/2020, the Apple App Store is showing 277 ratings with an average rating of 4.8.
Connecting accounts is easy enough and having the ability to customize the color scheme, name, and even the last 4 digits of the card was a nice touch. When connecting to a recognized brand, the brand logo shows up on the card making it look close to the card in your wallet.
The 5 main menu screens replicate the iPhone in that you swipe side to side to navigate. I enjoy the dashboard residing in the middle as Transactions and Categories can be found on either side. No doubt the 3 screens you’ll frequent regularly.
Checking the version history in the Apple App Store, you can see a regular update frequency of several times per month. This is always a great sign of a living, breathing, ever-changing piece of software.
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Under the Hood
The intuitiveness of linking accounts is a nice touch for an otherwise boring activity. Seriously, when I think about linking all of my financial accounts to an app, I want to go take a nap.
The main function of Copilot is to accurately categorize your transactions and give you real-time budget information. When you make a transaction with a connected account, it will automatically be routed to a budget category.
That doesn’t sound like a new feature to budgeting apps, but what separates Copilot from the pack is the ability to select a transaction, Recategorize, Exclude or Delete it all together. You can then choose to cascade that choice across all transactions with that same name.
The more I play with Copilot, the more I discover. On the Dashboard, you’re able to review the day’s transactions. They’re presented as notifications and can be dismissed once reviews.
The dashboard functions really well as a brief look at all of the relevant information within the budget app.
Within the dashboard, you can see a nice budget trajectory, review transactions, glimpse at your budgets, view upcoming recurring transactions and check your monthly income.
Each icon opens additional views and links to it’s specific page.
The “Recurring” page allows you to identify a specific transaction as a recurring expense. This allows you to set a sort of “if-then” statement. Which further helps with automating your budget.
The “Accounts” page has a nice Assets/Debts line graph. You can also select to combine the two into a Net Worth line graph. While it doesn’t hold much of a candle to Personal Capital, it’s a nice touch and possibly a sign of features to come.
I’ve never actually been excited about push notifications, but the Copilot app got me close. There are notifications for:
Bank fee alert
Big expense alert
Credit utilization alert
Low balance alert
Recurring paid alert
At any time, you can choose to re-balance your budget. This is based on your current month spending and doesn’t affect your total budget amount.
Basically, if you under-spend in one category, and overspent in others, the re-balance feature will even that out.
This actually gets the end-user closer to an every dollar budget in which every dollar is accounted for. I’m a believer that everyone needs to have an every dollar style budget.
Historical Transaction Data
The moment I connected my bank account I had access to 6-months of my past transactions. This is great because part of setting your budget is a bar graph of how much you spent in that category in the last 6-months.
Knowing what your spending trends look like over time allows you to better plan for the future. You can see what months you’ve over or underspent and plan accordingly.
Having this ability got my wheels turning and got me tweaking the categories rather than having to wait for new transactions to populate over the coming weeks and months. Nice touch.
The Copilot pricing model is very basic. At the time of writing, there’s a 14-day free trial and a price of $2.99 per month.
The app-store says the following, “For a limited time, we’re offering Copilot for just $2.99 per month. That allows us to provide a personalized and secure experience and gives you full, unlimited access to the app– no hidden fees, gated features, or ads.”
Overall, the app is silky smooth and it seems to do the basics really well. Copilot shines where nearly every other personal finance app fails.
I’m really close to switching, but Kayla really loves Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar Budgeting App and the fact that it’s on desktop as well.
When you first log in, the tool tip overlay springs into action and begins providing useful instruction without getting in the way.
This is helpful to the newbie because I found that nearly everything you touch has a deeper function. Customization can be found nearly everywhere.
The developers at Copilot paired what seems to be a very intuitive program with a sexy interface. I have little doubt that Copilot will be a successful app and will help a lot of people get control over their finances. For that, I’m a big fan.
I don’t have many negatives to write about as it does a better job than any other budget app on the market.
Copilot is an app first and foremost. My wife and I both enjoy manually categorizing our budget and doing so from a desktop computer. Probably for the same reason people enjoy using Excel. When you find something that works, and that you have stuck with, it’s hard to change. As of now, Copilot does not have a desktop interface.
As of 1/16/2020, according to Tech Crunch, “Copilot has its limitations, mainly in that the team is just two people right now, so those holding out for desktop or Android support might have to wait a bit.”
I will need more time to get to know the accuracy by which it categorizes, but I have a feeling it’s better than anything else available today.
My Customer Support Experience
I had a small bit of confusion when looking at the category/budget section. One of the screens shows your budget for a specific category for the month, but it lists recent transactions below.
Some of my recent transactions were from 3-months ago. I had to look at the total budget to determine that these transactions were NOT being included in this month’s budget. Then why list them?
Update 4/6/2020: Andres contacted me and informed that the Category/Budget is now less confusing.
I contacted support by using the chat button in the top right. I was greeted within about 30 seconds by Andres (Founder), I was able to quickly provide a screenshot and discuss this with the employee.
It felt very casual and he agreed that could be confusing…
This was a nice touch and very much unexpected. I hope for Andre’s sake, that he gets a standalone support function as the user base begins to grow.
Knowing that my feedback was heard by Copilot’s primary stakeholder really was the icing on the cake.
Overall, the app is clean, crisp and much deeper than it seems at first glance. There’s a ton of functionality built into this app without clutter and bloat.
It’s designed with the user in mind, and it’s a solid entry into a market that’s grown stale and outdated. Copilot is very 2020.
I have a strong sense that the Copilot team is going to succeed and that they’re truly building an app for a community that desperately needs a replacement for Mint. I’ll jump on the “Mint killer” bandwagon.