Advertiser Disclosure
Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card and banking offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies and banks from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. does not include all banks, credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, Chase, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.

10 Best Budgeting Apps for College Students for 2024

Managing your budget as a college student is tough. You may be dealing with money on your own for the first time. Plus, you’re trying to balance all the expenses of attending school: paying for textbooks, supplies, meal plans, and transportation — potentially with a limited cash flow.

But learning the art of stretching a dollar is well worth it. Budgeting can help you reduce student loan debt. And the earlier you habitually save, invest, and pay your bills on time, the better you set yourself up for the future. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to use a pencil and ledger like I did in my college days. Today, there are plenty of budgeting apps for college students to help you make a budget.

Top 10 Budgeting Apps for College Students

There are a ton of budgeting apps out there. Our article covers only the top apps most useful for college students.

1. Cleo

  • 🥇 Best Overall
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Cleo the best overall budgeting apps for college students

Most budgeting apps try to make budgeting as painless as possible. Cleo takes it a step further and makes budgeting fun. 

It does this by using hefty doses of irreverent humor and lots of style geared toward the young. This is not your mom or dad’s budgeting app. 

Plus, Cleo doesn’t merely give you a list of numbers and leaves you to figure things out independently. It delivers financial advice in simple, easy-to-digest spending updates, hypes, and roasts. These words of encouragement or caution help first-time budgeters stay motivated and on track. 

Additional Features:

  • Set monthly budget targets based on your spending
  • Automatically save with roundups and other savings hacks like a swear jar, which triggers roasts when you spend over your budget goals
  • Build credit with a secured credit card, the Cleo Credit Builder Visa card 
  • Get the basic plan for free
  • Upgrade to the Cleo Builder level for $9.99 per month — a 33% discount for students — and get the secured card, cash advances up to $250, and credit score coaching

Keep Reading:

Start Budgeting

2. Opportun (Formerly Digit)

  • 🥈 Best for Automatic Savings
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.1 out of 5

Opportun, formerly Digit, packs many great savings features into its app, making it a great app for mindless saving to reach your financial goals.

Opportun will automatically transfer ‘free’ money from your linked checking account to your savings or investing account. It will never withdraw funds that will put you at risk of overdrafts, but can silently and automatically help you reach your financial goals while you focus on school. 

Use Opportun to:

  • Passively meet savings goals with automatic micro-savings that are regularly deducted from your linked checking account
  • Get personal loans with affordable APRs for those emergencies you can’t get around
  • Invest in one of Opportun’s three preset portfolios, saving for short or long-term goals, including retirement
  • Get your first credit card with up to a $1,000 credit limit

Opportun is reasonably priced at $5 per month, with a free 30-day trial to see if it’s right for you.

Keep Reading: Opportun (formerly Digit) Review

Start Budgeting

3. Goodbudget

  • 🥉 Best for Learning How to Budget
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Goodbudget is essentially the digital version of the envelope method for budgeting. That’s where you label envelopes with different spending categories, such as “groceries” or “entertainment. You then fill them with a set amount of cash to spend on each. 

Once an envelope is empty, that’s it; there will be no more spending in that category until your next paycheck, and there will be no dipping into other categories. For example, you can’t spend your grocery money to buy movie tickets. 

Instead of real envelopes, Goodbudget uses digital ones. Otherwise, it works exactly the same as the physical envelope method.

Additional Features:

  • Unlike most budgeting apps, it doesn’t link to your bank accounts; you have to manually input income and expenses, which is good for the security conscious or those who want the freedom to occasionally spend outside their budget
  • Sync and share budgets with household members
  • Opportunities for saving for larger goals by creating an envelope for each goal
  • Consistently pay your debt down or off with a debt payoff envelope
  • Get 20 envelopes for free
  • Get unlimited envelopes for $8 per month or $70 per year

Start Budgeting

4. Dollarbird

  • ⭐️ Best for Long-Term Budget Forecasting
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Dollarbird operates a little differently from other budgeting apps. Rather than automatically tracking your income and expenses, it requires you to manually input them into a calendar. The idea is to help you evaluate your spending daily, weekly, or monthly with the automatic calculations Dollarbird does in real-time.

By giving you a way to keep track of upcoming expenses far into the future, you’ll always know what’s safe to spend. 

This system works well if you aren’t getting biweekly paychecks to replenish your bank account. The calendar view makes it easier to see what’s needed to make your grants and student loans last through the whole semester.

The app costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 for the year, but you get 20 calendars and can sync with up to three family members, which can help you get budgeting tips from your family back home in real-time.

Additional Features:

  • No bank account links — all data is manually entered
  • Sort expenses into auto-created categories or manually create your own budget categories 
  • Predict future balances by tapping on future dates for any month of the year

Start Budgeting

5. PocketGuard

  • ⭐️ Best for Controlling Spending
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 3.8 out of 5

PocketGuard is geared toward overspenders. Even if that’s not you, you’ve probably felt the need to tighten your budget as a college student with limited income. 

PocketGuard connects to your checking, savings, and credit card accounts. It uses an algorithm to calculate how much money you actually have available to spend after accounting for your income and expenses. That ensures you always have enough set aside to cover your bills.

Additional Features:

  • Bill payment tracker watches all your bills and subscriptions, sending alerts before the due date and automatically negotiates regular bills 
  • Budgeting sends alerts when you’ve spent 50% or 75% of your budget to prevent overspending
  • Fraud detection alerts you of any suspicious activity to prevent financial loss or damage to your credit scores
  • Spending insights provide an overall picture of your spending so you can see where you should cut back
  • Debt payoff plan helps you create a plan that pays off your debt with the least amount of interest paid
  • Savings goals help you determine how feasible your goals are and what you must do to reach them

Most of the features above are free with the exception of the debt payoff plan, or if you want unlimited budgets or savings goals, then the app has a fee per plan that varies based on your choices.

Start Budgeting

6. Qapital

  • ⭐️ Best for Building Savings
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Like all of the apps on this list, Qapital helps you make a budget and track your spending. The app stands out in its ability to help you build savings. That’s a tough thing to do when you’re living on a tight budget.  

Qapital offers 15 ways to save, including standard monthly or every payday goals. You could even set aside money every time you do a task or spend a certain amount of money – the choice is yours. 

It offers three reasonably priced subscription plans:

  • Basic. For $3 per month, Basic lets you set unlimited savings goals, create customized rules to trigger automatic savings, and easily transfer money between goals. You also get an FDIC-insured account to hold your savings.
  • Complete. For $6 per month, Complete adds the ability to automatically pay yourself first and sort your paycheck into budget categories with Paycheck Divvy. It also gives you a Visa debit card, investment capability, and the ability to track weekly cash spending with Spending Sweet Spot. 
  • Premier. For $9 per month, Premier adds gamified money management through Money Missions, access to exclusive webinars, and the opportunity to get the first look at new content. 

Additional Features:

  • Use your savings to grow a goal-based ETF investment portfolio
  • Instantly split your paycheck between your set goals, changing them at any time
  • Use Debt Wrangler to see the big picture of what you owe and how to best handle it, including student loans

Keep Reading: Qapital Review

Start Budgeting

7. Wally

  • ⭐️ Best for Managing Your Budget Abroad
  • Apple Store Rating: 3.8 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 2.1 out of 5

Wally gives you a visual overview of your spending with a graphic pie chart. This makes it easy to keep tabs on your budget at a glance — an ideal capability for visual learners.

Wally stands out as a useful tool for college students with its built-in support for virtually all foreign currencies. Plus, Wally syncs with over 15,000 banks in 70 countries. 

So if you’re studying abroad for a semester — or even pursuing a degree from a foreign university — you can continue to manage your budget, track, foreign transactions, and convert your money into the correct currency.

Additional Features:

  • Switch between a visual overview or calendar view of your budget
  • Sync with your bank accounts to get insights into your cash flow and spending habits
  • Get context on your finances, spending, goals, and even investing questions from the AI assistant
  • Get the basic version for free
  • Upgrade to the Gold version for $8.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or a one-time fee of $99.99 for lifetime access

Start Budgeting

8. Splitwise

  • ⭐️ Best for Students with Roommates
  • Apple Store Rating: 3.6 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 2.8 out of 5

If you share living expenses with roommates, Splitwise lets you track shared expenses to ensure everyone pays their fair share. 

The group feature allows everyone to organize their joint expenses and keeps tabs on who owes what. You can also record payments to see when your roommates have paid their share. 

Additional Features:

  • Organize expenses into budget categories
  • Make payments through PayPal or Venmo
  • Get the basic version for free
  • Upgrade to Pro for $3 per month and add receipt scanning, unlimited expenses, expense search, charts and graphs, and currency conversion

Start Budgeting

9. Empower (formerly Personal Capital)

  • ⭐️ Best for Tracking Net Worth
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.2 out of 5

If you’re looking for the best budgeting apps for college students that focus on saving and investments, consider Empower, formerly Personal Capital. The free dashboard helps you see your full financial picture and track your net worth, whether you have $100 saved, or already have a head start on your retirement.

With Empower, you can track all your financial accounts in one place and find simple ways to improve your financial future before you get your diploma.

Additional Features:

  • Get answers to your financial questions to create a personalized strategy and make an actionable plan
  • Have access to professionally managed accounts, if applicable
  • Get access to a high-yield savings account paying 4.7% APY
  • Budget your expenses to see if you’re on track to reach your goals

Keep Reading: Empower (formerly Personal Capital) Review

Start Budgeting

10. Albert

  • ⭐️ Best for a One-Stop Financial Stop
  • Apple Store Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Google Play Store Rating: 4.1 out of 5

The Albert app promises to do everything a college student could need to manage his/her finances. Like many of the best budgeting apps for college students on my list, you can link all your financial accounts to Albert to see where you stand. This allows you to see your account balances and net worth.

If you want expert advice, access to $250 cash advances with no credit check, or to see where you could cut back and save money, you’ll need to sign up for a Genius subscription, which costs $14.99 a month.

Additional Features:

  • Invest with as little as $1 if you have a Genius subscription
  • Get alerts for suspicious activity
  • See your spending trends
  • Track recent bills and expenses
  • See your savings and investing history 

Keep Reading: Albert App Review

Start Budgeting

How to Stick to Your Budget in College

Sticking to a budget in college can feel harder than scoring a 4.0 GPA. But with the best budgeting apps for college students and the following tips, it’s possible.

Here’s how:

  • Choose your food spending wisely – College meal plans aren’t always the answer. Determine where you can save the most money on food, whether cooking for yourself, using a meal plan, or sharing expenses and responsibilities with roommates.
  • Look for student discounts – College students have access to many discounts. Any time you make a purchase, inquire about a student discount and have your ID ready.
  • Track your spending – The best budgeting apps for college students won’t help if you don’t track your spending. Whether it’s automated or you need a pen and paper, track every penny you spend to stick to a budget.
  • Use coupons – Don’t be afraid to look for coupons or promo codes when shopping online. There are always ways to save money.
  • Find ways to make money – You don’t need a part-time job to make money; there are many side hustles to consider, like pet sitting, babysitting, web design, or even taking online surveys to help you make money.


We use several key metrics to evaluate budgeting apps and choose the best for our readers. Each relates in some way to the apps’ overall savings capability, usefulness, and relevance to college students.


Budgeting apps should help you save and manage your money, not cost you money. Moreover, you probably don’t have much cash to spend while you’re enrolled in school, which is why it’s so important to learn how to budget in the first place. 

Unfortunately, very few budgeting apps are free. But we try to stick with the lowest cost apps balanced against the most useful features. Any pricier apps on our list are rich in features.

Ease of Use

Granted, not every college student is in their late teens or early 20s. But most are members of Generation Z, which means they grew up knowing how to navigate a smartphone app.

What today’s students may be less familiar with is how to make and manage a budget. Thus, the best budgeting apps for college students are intuitive and beginner-friendly. 

Financial Education

The best budgeting apps for college students do more than track spending. They also help teach financial literacy to those new to managing their own money. This helps instill the necessary skills to build lifelong money management habits like saving, investing, and reducing or avoiding debt. 

Thus, most of the apps on our list include features that give personalized insights or advice, provide teaching tools, or include a library of financial resources and information.  


More comprehensive and useful apps rank better in our methodology, especially as we compare them against the cost of the app. 

In other words, a good budgeting app for college students should be as all-inclusive as possible. It shouldn’t ask you to cobble together several apps — and pay several subscription fees — to manage your budgeting, saving, and investing.

Wherever apps are more limited in scope, they must shine on doing one or two things well, and it must be a particularly relevant feature to college students.


If you still have questions about budgeting apps for college students, we have answers.

How Do Budgeting Apps for College Students Work?

Depending on which account types your app can track, you might securely link your bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, or loan accounts with the app. After the app connects to your accounts, it automatically tracks your spending. Some apps also track your income and expenses (bills). 

Why Should I Use a Budgeting App In College?

Budgeting apps help you do what any good budget does: manage your money. They help you avoid financial pitfalls like overspending or taking on too much debt. They help you plan for the future, especially if you have specific savings goals like a vacation or new car.

Is Mint a Good Budgeting App for a College Student?

Mint used to make our list of the best budgeting apps for college students because it was a one-stop shop for all things personal finance, and it was FREE. However, Mint is closing as of January 1, 2024, and will no longer be available. Fortunately, many of the apps on our list are good replacements.

How Much Money Should a College Student Have in Their Bank Account?

Ideally, a college student would have three to six months of expenses in a bank account. This allows you to handle any emergencies should your income source stop temporarily. Since college is expensive and many college students don’t have the time to work, this can be a tough goal, but it’s something to consider to avoid financial distress adding to your school stress. 

Are Budgeting Apps for College Students Secure?

Most budgeting apps for college students connect to your bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts. Some even let you directly manage your money through the app. So it’s natural to ask if budgeting apps are secure. 

Fortunately, they are designed to protect your financial information using the same types of data security as major banks.

These Measures Include:

  • Storing your login information in separate databases protected with multilayered hardware and software encryption
  • Encrypting any data transmitted through the app
  • Requiring you to use multi-factor authentication, PIN codes, Touch ID, or Face ID to access your accounts  

How to Choose the Best Budgeting Apps for College Students

Choosing the best budgeting apps for college students depends on your unique comfort level, preferences, learning style, and tastes.

For example, if you prefer a hand-off approach or an app that will figure out all the numbers for you, opt for an app that automatically budgets. But if you want more control, go for an app that requires manual tracking. 

If you’re a more visual person, choose an app with lots of bright graphics like pie or bar charts rather than lists of accounts and numbers. 

And, if you want to do more with your budgeting app than just budget, look for an app that lets you set aside micro-savings or invest.

Ultimately, your choice of budgeting app comes down to personal preference. Your best budgeting app may be the one that resonates most with your sense of personal style or branding — in other words, the one that feels most like you.

Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.