How Copilot Works

With increasingly-fragmented financial lives, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of it all. Copilot quickly assembles a complete picture of your finances and then helps you manage to a monthly budget.


While the app doesn't boast many truly-unique budgeting features, its in-app navigation is what sets it apart. Rather than a navigation bar that sits at the bottom of the screen, Copilot's tabs are swipe-able, making it easy to see budget performance, balances and upcoming bills all within seconds. Despite its expensive $9/month price tag, I've been surprised to find those dollars well-spent, given the level of control I've gained over my expenses.


ACCOUNT SETUP

When first registering for the app, you'll have a chance to link bank, card, investment and other financial accounts by entering the same username and password credentials you use to log into those accounts. To link and manage your external accounts post-setup, simply swipe to the "Accounts" tab.

Though Copilot advertises the ability to link non-traditional financial accounts - such as Venmo and co-branded credit cards like the Apple Card - I found the process to be confusing and ineffective. For Venmo, the app attempted to guide me through a process whereby e-mail receipts from Venmo activity are relayed to the app. For the Apple Card, rather than dynamically pulling in new account activity, the app requested that I export a list of transactions from past statements.


BUDGET SETUP

While managing your budget in the Copilot app is effortless, I found its initial setup to be annoyingly long, requiring granular budget details over six-plus screens that can't be bypassed. Once your budgets are established, they live on the "Categories" tab, plus snapshots of your month-to-date progress on the "Dashboard" tab.


In the "Recurring" tab, Copilot will create an inventory of bills and subscriptions it auto-detects from your transaction history and displays them in chronological order. Recurring expenses that haven't yet been incurred in the month will still be accounted for in their respective budget on the "Categories" tab in the form of a blank bar.


In the "Categories" tab, you're able to create budgets for both recurring and non-recurring (general spending) expenses. What's nice about Copilot's budget configuration is that you can group similar budgets together and track their expenses at a macro level. I find this feature to be useful for grouping expenses that pertain to the same aspects of my monthly spend:

  1. Every month: Rent, utility bills and insurance

  2. Run my life: Groceries, gas, pets, personal care

  3. Fun: Restaurants, entertainment, recreational activities

  4. Other: Subscriptions, travel, large auto expenses


TRACKING EXPENSES

Once you've linked an account, your activity will be automatically pulled into the app and auto-tagged by Copilot. As new transactions come in, you'll have a chance to review them on the "Dashboard" tab - and can see all of them on the "Transactions" tab. The abnormally small size of content inside Copilot's app actually seems to make it easier to find specific transactions and quickly interpret spending.


Unlike other budgeting apps that require constant upkeep to get transaction categories correct, I find Copilot to be particularly at getting the initial category tag correct, as well as automatically weeding out the noise of transfers between accounts. Like most apps, you have the ability to set tagging rules by merchant or transaction names. Additionally, you're empowered to apply edits of your own, such as hiding certain transactions from your budget, splitting a single transaction into multiple categories or adding custom notes to a transaction.



NOTE: This post was based on Version 1.37.3 of the Copilot iOS mobile app