The iPhone, incredible little device that it is, can help you manage almost any aspect of your life, including your money. Apps for personal finance generally put in front of you information that you might need quickly and while on the go, such as your bank account balance or a reminder that a bill is due imminently. The iPhone app Manilla (free)—its full name is “Bills & Accounts Manager -documents, travel, money & household organizer – Manilla” but for the purpose of this review, let’s just call it Manilla—is a central place for checking not just your checking balance, but also other accounts, subscriptions, and bills. It delivers on what it says it will do, but doesn’t offer anything unique, whereas other apps along the same lines, such as the Mint.com iPhone app, offer valuable advice on what to do with your money through budgeting features and suggestions for financial accounts with better interest rates.
Mint is our Editors’ Choice in this space because it gives you actionable tips on how to manage your money rather than just showing you how much you have. Manilla works fine as a way to check your balances or get reminders of upcoming bills, but it doesn’t offer anything unique that might make it a compelling app.
When you launch the Manilla app for the first time, you’ll have to create an account using your email address, and by entering your ZIP code, a red flag that the service is for people in the U.S. only.
The app requires that you enter two security challenge questions, and one of mine asked for the house number of my childhood address, but rejected it for being only two digits long, which did not inspire my confidence. I chose different security questions and moved on to finish setting up by connecting to some of my personal and financial accounts.
Also when you first set up, you can choose to unlock the app with either a four-digit PIN or an email address login and password combo.
Another slightly befuddling step was that Manilla asked me specifically to add my mobile provider as a service, which I don’t have because another family member manages that account, but didn’t provide a clear option to skip this step if I didn’t want to do it. Through trial-and-error, I bypassed the request by tapping “browse all accounts.”
Manilla in Action
One area where Manilla has a tighter focus than Mint is in the number and kinds of subscriptions you can put into your Manilla account. While Mint’s wheelhouse is money and utility bills, Manilla lets you connect to magazine subscriptions, your Netflix account, and even travel reward programs. Competitor Pageonce for iPhone likewise includes the ability to connect to travel accounts, although Manilla goes one step further by reminding you when travel points will expire.
Manilla does have a calendar view, which I preferred to its list view, for reminders. It told me my Jetblue points would expire in May, which is quite frankly something I didn’t know and am glad I do now. Other than that bit of information, Manilla didn’t deliver anything I couldn’t get elsewhere (and already do). It has a section called “Documents” that, in my weeks of testing, never turned up anything other than PDFs from Manilla further advertising its services.
Manilla’s iPhone app works as advertised, but replicates the core functionality of both Mint’s and Pageonce’s iPhone apps—and seeing as Mint adds so much more on top of that core functionality, it’s the personal finance mobile app we recommend.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc