Cleo Budgeting App Review

Meet Cleo app, an AI assistant developed to help people financially. Their slogan, “helping you live beyond the next paycheck,” perfectly describes their mission in the finance industry. The people-oriented platform provides personalized, insightful, and trustworthy services, including financial products and advice. For instance, they offer a cash advance feature with or without good credit and teach clients how to save, budget, and build credit.

The company is big on diversity and caters to millions of people from different backgrounds and needs. This is a money app that’s available for iOS and Android users, and it takes only two minutes to sign up and start enjoying its benefits. Our Cleo app review provides a comprehensive analysis of its functions, subscriptions, and effectiveness in managing your funds.

What is Cleo

Cleo App Logo

Cleo is a budgeting app established in January 2016 by Barnaby Hussey-Yeo, a data scientist who was terrible at finances. It started as a fun way for friends to budget but soon became a tool for managing your finances. The startup secured a $2.8m seed round in July 2017, and by March 2018, they expanded their operations from London to the United States. Six months later, they went live with $10m Series A funding and crossed one million users in February 2019.

The second round of funding ($44m) was secured in December 2020, and the Credit Builder Card was launched in May 2021. In the Series C funding round led by Sofina in June 2022, the company got $80m. In March 2023, its AI integrated with ChatGPT, and Haggle It (a negotiating tool) was launched three months later. Cleo AI Ltd. runs the app and now has over five million users in the U.S.

How does Cleo Work?

This AI-driven app provides different operations depending on the service you seek. But first, you must download the app from the Google or Apple app store. Cleo is free to download. Next, you sign up for Cleo plans. One of the services they offer is Cleo cash advances for gig workers. This gives you access to cash in an emergency. You can get up to $250 without interest, paperwork, or credit checks within minutes. You will pay a monthly Cleo Plus subscription of $5.99, and no late fees are charged. Even better, you decide when to repay the loan.

The finance app can help with financial guidance. You can chat with the AI assistant for financial tips and access the saving and budgeting tools. Or you can ask it to roast or hype you when you need self-control or motivation — it’s a management app with a sense of humor! More importantly, Cleo uses your financial data to help you understand and manage your money by controlling your spending habits or increasing your savings.

Services and Core Features of Cleo

In addition to being a cash advance app, it helps with budgeting, saving, and credit building.

Budget planner

cleo app budget planner image


Its AI budget planner can access all your accounts and create a budget that works for you. Cleo allows tracking your spending so you can see where your money is going and adjust accordingly if necessary. With the monthly bill tracker and payment reminders, you will never miss deadlines. Likewise, it monitors your account balances closely and alerts you when it’s low to avoid overdraft fees.


cleo app saving image

Cleo features four savings tools: Autosave, Set and Forget, Round Up, or Swear Jar. Autosave allows you to put money aside for rainy days via automatic weekly or daily cash deductions of pre-set amounts. You can also ‘Set and Forget’ specific savings goals by creating a custom target amount and date. The Round Up feature involves Cleo automatically approximating your spending and depositing the difference in your Cleo wallet. The Swear Jar option adds to your Cleo savings anytime you shop at your chosen store. Cleo will analyze your income, expenses, and other factors to ascertain how much money you can afford to put away.

Credit Builder Card

Subscribers can use Cleo Builder, a secured credit card, to improve their credit with 0% interest. With this card, you can set up direct deposits from your bank account to Cleo (at least $1) to get your paycheck two days earlier or get a $500 cash or salary advance ($270 without direct deposits). Cleo will give you this card without credit checks, and you can add it to your Apple Wallet or use it directly (where Visa is accepted) to pay recurring bills. Cleo reports your payment records to all three credit bureaus. Your credit score will see an improvement with consistent, timely payments.

Cleo Pricing and Subscription Models

Every registered user can access the Personal Finance Management Services, the free version of Cleo. This service grants them access to their spending history analytics, budget management, savings, and wallet services. There are two premium plans: Cleo Plus and Cleo Builder. Users must subscribe to either to enjoy advanced features. Cleo Plus costs $5.99 monthly and offers additional features to free Cleo. With this plan, you can earn cash back (for select stores), 100 cash advances, and overdraft protection.

On the other hand, Cleo Builder is priced at $14.99 per month with access to Cleo Plus services, Credit Builder Card, credit score viewing, and VIP customer support. Note that cash advances are disbursed within four business days. To fast-track the process to 24 hours, you will pay an express fee of $3.99 to $9.99. Overall, the paid plans offer premium features with accurate insights for finance planning and management, while the free plan is more suited for basic use. That is if you’re new and don’t want to commit to the app yet. Note that the AI app doesn’t provide a trial period.

Cleo also requires users to connect a payment method (bank account or credit/debit card) to pay their monthly subscription fees. If it detects insufficient funds, your account will not be charged. However, you should pay Cleo back on time or risk the termination of your subscription. It is worth noting that Cleo reserves the right to collect all unpaid fees. Anyone who doesn’t wish to renew their subscription can cancel, and their access will be terminated at the end of the last subscription period. If you cancel within the grace period, the subscription fee will be refunded to your payment method within four business days. For Credit Builder, the grace period is automatically voided once you generate a card.

Pros and Cons of Cleo

Cleo connects with a large audience today because it offers many perks traditional banks or finance tools don’t. Some major advantages and minuses are described below.


  • Cleo users can chat with the AI assistant to ask for financial advice, help move money, understand their spending analysis, or how well they are doing with budgeting or savings
  • The Cleo app offers smooth use thanks to its interactive interface and appealing aesthetics
  • Users benefit from multiple features at these fair prices, including access to cash advances and credit building
  • You can use the app without worrying about late payment fees or interest on cash advances.


  • Cleo doesn't offer interest in savings, so growing your funds is solely your effort
  • While the Cleo app works well for saving, we would’ve loved it if it had a micro-investment feature
  • Cleo may be unsuitable for long-term money management, especially if you have huge assets.

For Which Needs Cleo Fits the Best?

Cleo is an app that is great for people without experience in finance management. If you belong in this category, you can seek loans, save, budget, and build credit on the app. Everyone signs up for various reasons, but the app does all the aforementioned excellently. Even better is how interactive and engaging it is.

After the app connects to your bank, it offers a deep understanding of your finances. For instance, you could ask Cleo if you can afford to purchase a particular item, and it gives you a detailed response to why you can and cannot, backed up with numerical and pictorial data. This makes Cleo stand out from others.

Registering for a Cleo account is your best bet if you need to save small amounts of cash that won’t constitute a burden. Instead of an aggressive approach, Cleo connects to your bank and analyzes your spending history three months back. It then presents a safe amount to save monthly. Essentially, it works best if you seek an informed and effective way to manage your finances.

What are Apps Like Cleo?

While its services are unique, some alternatives are worthy of consideration. Acorn is one of them. It can’t help you budget, but you can save or invest with it. Similar to Cleo, it rounds up your spending and transfers the difference into your savings. You can also make direct deposits into your savings. Your funds will be invested in a diversified investment portfolio. Acorn offers three monthly subscription tiers at $3, $5, and $9.

The You Need a Budget app is solely a platform allowing users to save and plan budgets for future purchases or debt settlement. It’s a paid service ($14.99/month), too, but it’s totally worth it because you can share your subscription with six family and friends.

Personal Capital can help you budget, although they are best for investing. You can create an investment account and set targets. You will also have access to Brokerage and Premier IRA. It’s an efficient wealth management tool for those with huge funds. In addition to the budget planner, they also offer a retirement planner and net worth calculator.

Final Verdict

If you’re a freelancer or student new to financial management and ready to take control, you will benefit the most from this app. It is designed to enlighten you on your monetary status or habits. You enjoy features like cash advances and cash saving or budgeting. Summarily, Cleo makes it easy to achieve your fiscal goals. At $5.99 monthly, it’s also very affordable, although the Credit Builder plan is slightly higher at $14.99. However, it’s gratifying as you benefit from credit score tracking and building, amongst other things.

Note that Cleo isn’t an investment app. Supporting small investments would have made it the all-powerful money management app, but who knows what they have in store for us in the future? Nevertheless, some worthy substitutes exist, such as Acorn, Personal Capital, and You Need a Budget. With this Cleo review, you can make an informed choice if it is the right finance tool for you.