Since the explosion of the iPhone, macOS users aren’t as rare as in the past. While exact numbers vary, a few years back, Apple revealed that there were 100+ million active macOS fans using various versions of the operating system (and that’s in addition to the billion or so iPhone users).
So, it’s nice when there’s dedicated software built for the ecosystem from the ground up. In terms of personal finance, Quicken has always been the software of choice for Mac users. But recently, Banktivity has emerged as a solid alternative for those looking to budget and plan their finances.
Additionally, it’s affordable! Banktivity has a 30-day free trial and plans starting from around $50 a year. So, what is Banktivity? And why do you opt for it instead of a cloud-based alternative? Discover what you need to know in this comprehensive Banktivity review.
What Is Banktivity?
Banktivity is a personal finance software tool built specifically for macOS and iOS (sorry, Windows users!). The idea is you can use it to take control of your finances, whether that’s paying off student loans, purchasing a home, or creating a rainy-day fund.
The comprehensive suite provides personal finance software and educational resources and insights to help you plan and visualize your future.
The biggest question you’ll probably have about it is not how to use it, as it’s very user-friendly. But why? With cloud-based alternatives like Hurdlr and Mint out there, why would you ever want to limit yourself to just your Mac?
And to be honest, there isn’t a great answer to this, especially since one of the perks of a paid Banktivity subscription is that it syncs your data between iOS and macOS (aka in the cloud) for you. Instead, this really comes to your preference for a user experience.
And it is nice having a dedicated option built around macOS that’s secure and feature-rich. So, if you’re looking for a new personal finance tool and you’re a Mac lover, it’s well worth giving the free trial a shot. You’ll automatically be downgraded to their basic free plan should you decide not to continue.
Finally, Banktivity claims they save their users over $500 and 40 hours spent crunching the numbers, which pays for the $50 premium plan.
How To Use Banktivity
For millennials and Gen Z, there’s some decidedly retro about the Banktivity desktop experiences. You literally have to download the app onto your computer before you can do anything.
For those of us used to Personal Capital, this will feel a little clunky, but perhaps not having your finances contained with a Chrome window may put your mind at ease that Google won’t have access to every single aspect of your life.
As with other personal finance apps, you will need to sync your accounts which you do via API (the same as other apps). What’s cool about it though is that you can work offline by having a desktop app and more robust features set around budgeting, investing, and other financial goals that you find elsewhere.
At the same time, the iOS version of the app will feel familiar enough to anybody who has used Truebill or other mobile apps. It is important to note that the iOS version isn’t quite as feature-rich as it is more of a companion app to the fully powered desktop version. You’d really use it to keep an eye on your finances while you on-the-go and do more dedicated management and planning on your Mac later.
It is to miss that there is actually a free version of Banktivity. This basic level of the software includes some budgeting tools and a few other features. But that’s really just to entice you to invest in the premium version.
The Basic Plan includes everything you need to get started. Yet, if you are going to spend on a premium personal finance tool, then you might as well upgrade to silver, so you have access to investment, retirement and other features.
One thing we like is that you can switch between plans at any time (and hopefully, you’ll be upgrading thanks to Banktivity improving your finances). But what we don’t like, and this is a flaw that it shares with Quicken, is there is no monthly pricing.
You have to go for an annual plan. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, considering a month-long free trial is a pretty long time for you to see if an app is worth it for you or not. However, with that said, today’s personal finance tools are all about flexibility, and that’s a pretty big loss for Quicken and Banktivity and a win for Truebill.
Comprehensive features are what set Banktivity and Quicken apart from some of the free alternatives you find online.
Banktivity’s plans include a wide and growing array of features, including:
1. Calendar View
Similar to other personal finance tools, you view your scheduled transactions and bills in one handy location.
2. Mojave Dark Mode
You might be thinking, “Why aren’t you talking about budgeting?” That’s because you expect Banktivity to be a solid budgeting tool for the price. But the reason you might pay for it is nifty features like Dark Mode for Mojave users and later. If you like managing your finances at night (and who doesn’t?) or in a suave dark mode, then this is it.
3. Finance Tagging
If you’ve used free tools like Mint, you may be frustrated with limited tagging functionality. Banktivity has robust tagging support so you can mark spending and earnings across categories.
4. Quick Reports
Having all that data is great. It’s excellent to track trends and really get into the nitty-gritty. But sometimes, you just want a clear picture of your financial health and Banktivity makes that as easy as 1-2-3.
Plan for your future, pay off a debt or set aside a vacation fund. Goal setting big and small is a breeze, including setting your retirement ambitions. Since you automatically sync your investment and other accounts, you’ll always know how well you’re progressing on your journey.
Should You Use Banktivity?
Getting serious about your personal finance is our mission here. Whether you opt for Mint, Personal Capital, True Bill, or any alternative, they are vital for helping you get a better sense of where you stand financially.
There’s a lot to like about Banktivity, but we’re not so sure it really blows us away. You can get most of these same features for free with other options out there. In fact, some like Acorns help you not just track spending but also invest too.
The bottom line is it comes down to your user-experience preferences. If you want something desktop-based and Mac-specific, then this is an excellent option. But if that all seems pretty mediocre to you, pocket the money yourself and invest it instead.
Is Banktivity Worth It?
We’d hazard a guess that if you can afford a Mac, you can afford Banktivity. But does that mean it’s actually worth it? As an alternative to Quicken, then yes. Although Quicken technically now has a cheaper $40 yearly plan that edges out Banktivity by $10.
$50-70 a year really isn’t much when you put into perspective how much it can help you save and plan. And there is one last hidden cost of free platforms like Mint. While you don’t have to pay to use it, Mint is selling your user data and will assault you with credit cards and other offers—the same debt traps it claims to free users from.
So, bear in mind that you are paying a cost somewhere whether you pay for a monthly or yearly subscription or using a free option.
- macOS focused
- Robust features
- Tons of data and visualization tools
- Highly secure
- Offline mode
- No Windows or cloud version
- They only offer annual plans.
- Isn’t really necessary with so many decent free options out there
Banktivity vs. Quicken.
Quicken has been the macOS personal finance software of choice for almost forty years. With that much time, it has become extremely streamlined and user-friendly.
But as far as bang for your buck goes, we think Banktivity gives you overall more robust features at lower price points.
Both have free trials/free versions, and it’s not a major price difference, so check them out and see which you prefer.
Banktivity Review: The Verdict
Banktivity is a useful personal finance tool perfect for all the Apple lovers out there. But if you don’t have a Mac or prefer a cloud-based option, stick with something free like Mint instead or a bundled option into your investment tool of choice.