Manilla (free) is an online service that helps you manage recurring bills and monthly statements, as well as a few other things, in a central place. You set up an online account at Manilla.com , and similar to the personal finance application Mint.com, you then connect it to your various online accounts, such as bank accounts and credit cards, but also other kinds of accounts, from Netflix to magazine subscriptions to your phone service provider.
Unlike Mint, Manilla does not offer deep personal finance management tools along the lines of budgeting and watching individual transactions. Rather, it provides an overview of all your accounts and reminds you of upcoming bills or other deadlines (like when travel rewards points will expire). It collects monthly statements from all these service providers, which Mint doesn’t do, so you can access a long history of digital paperwork from one place.
A few features make Manilla a pretty helpful service for people who struggle to stay on top of their bills. For one, you can set up a mobile phone number so that you can receive text messages to remind you of upcoming due dates. You can also get alerts by email, and you can customize how many days in advance of a due bill you receive a reminder for both email and SMS.
Manilla also has an auto-login feature that lets you move from Manilla to the accounts it’s watching in one click. In other words, when you see in Manilla that a bill for your credit card is due soon, you can click once to be automatically logged into the credit card provider’s site (this feature requires a browser plug-in) so that you can schedule the payment right then and there—and quickly—while it’s fresh on your mind.
I also really love that Manilla tracks rewards programs, such as frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards. I am forever losing points that expire because I didn’t take action on the account. Manilla keeps an eye on these types of accounts too so that you can keep your points current.
Different But Competing Services
Manilla works fine as a way to check your balances or get reminders of upcoming bills, but it doesn’t offer anything unique or go the extra mile to make the service compelling in the light of a few competitors in the “household document management” space. Part of the problem is that Manilla straddles two worlds: household management and personal finance. In the first category, I’d point to Doxo as a service that goes a little farther in what it offers users, namely, the ability to upload additional documents to your account. You can, for example, scan the lease to your apartment or the deed to your car and upload it to Doxo, making it a more thorough digital filing cabinet. You can also connect Doxo to your email address, so that if you already have monthly statements flowing into your inbox, Doxo can grab them from there.
In the personal finance space, Mint has long been PCMag’s Editors’ Choice because it doesn’t just watch account balances, but also gives you rich tools for budgeting and actually managing your money down to the level of individual transactions.
Manilla offers a great solution to a pretty straightforward problem: centralizing your online accounts so that you can be reminded of upcoming bills and keep a history of statements. If that’s the problem you need to solve, Manilla does the trick. If you want to go paperless with all your family documents, however, you’ll want a more thorough digital filing cabinet. And if you want to dig deep into matters of personal finance, Mint is the way to go.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc