Sometimes, when you’re out and about and the day’s been hectic, it’ll hit you that—oh no, you didn’t schedule that credit card or student loan payment like you intended. And it’s the fourth of the month which means your rent is officially four days late, and the grace period is only five days. In times of financial panic, the Pageonce mobile app (free) proves its worth. The free app, available for iPhone (the focus of this review), Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry, lets you see a snapshot of all your account balances and upcoming bills, with bill-payment functionality included, too. You can manage payments to credit card companies, utility providers, lenders, and even small proprietors, such as your landlord.
Don’t mistake Pageonce for a complete financial management tool, though. You won’t find in it budgeting tools or detailed information about your spending habits, something Editors’ Choice Mint.com (free, 5 stars) provides through a fully automated site and mobile app. If your goal is to get a handle on your money, I highly recommend dedicating yourself to Mint. Pageonce is more for checking in on your financial situation and making quick corrections when you need to pay your bills. It has one or two other miscellaneous features thrown in, such as the ability to see at a glance many of your travel reward program balances, but the core Pageonce experience on an iPhone is to answer the question, “Do I have enough money in the right places right now?”
It may be worth pointing out that Pageonce formerly locked some features behind a paid Gold membership, but the company has done away with this premium tier. All Pageonce’s features and functionality are now totally free.
You can set up a Pageonce account either right on your iPhone or from the full Pageonce.com website—and while we’re on that subject, I should note that in my review of Pageonce, I point out that the mobile apps meet a need more than the website does. For setting up your accounts, it helps to have a full screen, keyboard, mouse, and additional browser tabs at the ready. But in actually getting use out of Pageonce, I wholly prefer the mobile app over the site. I think the former meets a consumer need better than the latter. For what it’s worth, you can set up a Pageonce account right in the iPhone app if you prefer.
Inside the iPhone app, a plus sign at the upper right corner is your key to adding more accounts. Connect any kind of financial account—savings, checking, investment, retirement, loan—and the balance will be counted toward your Pageonce net worth (updated once daily, with a manual refresh option included). As mentioned, you can also connect to online accounts for bills, be they for insurance policies, Internet service, gas and electricity, or phone service. Whenever one of these bills or your credit card bill is near due, Pageonce will let you know via an alert, shown at the bottom of the screen.
The app’s main dashboard, or Overview page, shows totals for available cash, bills owed and minimum payment due, investment balances, credit card debt, offers (essentially, advertisements for financial services), and Credit Guard (an offer for a credit report and protection service). These six items appear as easy-to-access tiles on the main dashboard.
Other buttons at the top let you manage existing connected accounts, view reports, access your settings, and add new accounts.
The reporting section contains a few interesting bits of information, such as a “file cabinet” that houses previous bill statements, although in testing the app, only two of my connected accounts put any information here, even though I had at least two more accounts that generate a monthly statement.
Another sub-section to the Reports page shows “all your account transactions.” This area proves useful when you need to quickly check to see what changed recently in an account if the balance seems off from what you expected it to be. Also under the Reports page is payment history, although it doesn’t contain any information prior to the date you connected your financial accounts to Pageonce. And finally, there’s “Where your money’s going,” the place you can actually find real reports. Pie charts and tables detail your expenditures into five simple categories: bills and utilities; insurance; credit cards; loans; and other. In my testing, I found the report just didn’t accurately capture what I truly wanted to know about my spending habits, like if I spend much more than I realize eating out, and whether I might be able to cut back on that kind of unnecessary expense to fund something else I need or want. Mint not only has those features, but it does most of the work for me in terms of identifying different kinds of credit card charges.
The bill pay function is what makes Pageonce worthwhile for some people, namely, those who forget to pay their bills until the day before they’re due (or later).
You can pay a bill, right from within the app, but the very first time you do so, it isn’t exactly a one-two-three process (it does become more streamlined afterward, though). Let’s say you want to pay your upcoming credit card bill. First, you have to enter the full credit card account number, even if that card is already connected to Pageonce. Second, you have to enter the complete information, account and routing numbers, from the checking account you want to use to pay.
Also, it can take up to two business days for a payment to process. That’s typically of any online payment you initiate, however, so it’s the same results you’d see from making an online payment right from your service provider’s website.
One minor problem: In my account, I had one bill payment already scheduled (which I did outside Pageonce), but Pageonce had no knowledge of it, so had I not been careful, I might have tried to pay the same bill twice and double-taxed my own checking account. One thing I’ve always appreciated about making payments to one particular credit card company is that it pops up a warning if I try to schedule a payment within three days of an existing scheduled payment. You wouldn’t believe how often I try to pay my bills more than once.
Pageonce has good security measures in place to keep your financial information safe. You can’t transfer money using Pageonce, so no one else can move your money through this service either. All your account info is kept under lock and key. Similar to Mint.com, Pageonce doesn’t store any information on the phone itself, and uses bank-level encryption.
The app has a four-digit PIN, which you enter every time you exit the app or your phone goes on standby. Furthermore, Pageonce is VeriSign Secured (i.e., tested and approved by Norton) and TrustE approved.
Pageonce in a Pinch
The Pageonce iPhone app delivers on its promise to quickly show you your account balances as well as set up a bill to be paid on the fly when you forget to do it ahead of time. If you’re the kind of person always getting hit by late charges, give Pageonce a try. But if you’re looking for real guidance about how to manage your money and debts, put yourself in the hands of Editors’ Choice Mint.com.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc