Cleo is a financial assistant that offers two main services: the first is a text based/natural language interaction with your money and accounts. This can be text based budgeting, spending tracking, recommendations, and more.
Second, Cleo offers a paid service that offers overdraft protection and spending rewards.
Depending on your money habits and needs, these can be compelling offers. Find out more in our Cleo review below.
- Text-based budgeting and query app for your finances
- Accessed through Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or text
- Free and Paid services levels
Meet Cleo Details
Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Text
Overdraft Protection, Rewards
What Is Cleo?
Cleo is an AI-driven app. The company behind Cleo is Cleo AI Ltd. Cleo was founded in 2016 by Barnaby Hussey-Yeo and is based in London.
Cleo AI has raised $13.6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Cleo raised $2.6 million in an initial seed round led by LocalGlobe. That was followed by a $10 million series A round led by investor Balderton Capital. They’ve since added VC firms such as Index Ventures, Octopus Investments, and Y Combinator.
Cleo initially focused on EU users then later expanded to the U.S. This required some changes in the terminology used by the app.
“We serve 20-30 year olds [sic], and 60 percent of them have overdrafts and they use credit cards. There’s nothing out there that helps them make better decisions in the long term, nothing that guides them through this sort of stuff,” Hussey-Yeo told the Center for Data Innovation in an interview.
In a comment to Forbes, Hussey-Yeo further clarified Cleo’s mission: “Traditional financial products, such as overdraft fees or credit cards, don’t work for millennials. This generation expects intuitive and supportive technology that speaks its language without complexity or condescension.”
What Do They Offer?
Cleo offers two products. One is free and lets users type in natural language text to get information about their finances. There is also a fee-based subscription service that provides overdraft protection and spending rewards.
Cleo can be accessed through Facebook Messenger, iOS, and Android. The Cleo app has a 4.6/5 rating on the Apple App Store out of 6,200 ratings. Cleo has nearly two million users worldwide.
Cleo’s Free Service
The free service lets you query financial transactions by typing commands and questions to Cleo through the Cleo app. Some commands and questions include:
- Am I overpaying for energy?
- What’s my average food spend?
- How long until payday?
- What is my salary?
- What’s my biggest expense?
- What’s my budget?
- How much have I spent on Ubers this month?
- Show me graphs!
- Show my upcoming bills.
Cleo Plus is $5.99/month and includes Cleo Cover, which is an overdraft service. If you qualify, Cleo will let you borrow up to $100 for overdrafts. This no-interest loan has to be paid back between 3 and 28 days. Once the loan has been paid back, another can be requested.
Also included in Cleo Plus is Daily Cash. Daily Cash is a set of discounted products and services suggested by Cleo. Some Daily Cash announcements provide cash-back. Also, there are various challenges, such as talking to Cleo every day for a month. Challenges pay out small amounts (i.e., $0.25 and $0.10).
Are There Any Fees?
If you only want to query your financial transactions, there’s no fee.
If you want to use Cleo Plus, there is a $5.99/month fee.
How Do I Open an Account?
You can sign up at https://www.meetcleo.com.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes — Cleo uses bank-grade encryption. The app connects to your bank using Plaid. Plaid is a trusted source and used by popular financial companies such as Venmo, Betterment, Coinbase, American Express, Acorns, and Fannie Mae.
After signing up, you’ll link your bank account to Cleo. Cleo will analyze your transactions. Don’t worry, Cleo has read-only access. It can not move money around or make any changes to your accounts.
Cleo has also set up an insurance policy to further protect its customers. In an interview with badcredit.org, Cleo’s Content and Communications Manager El Winter said, “We also have a $250,000 insurance policy so in the event that there are any security slip-ups, you are completely insured.”
While Cleo runs through Facebook Messenger, Facebook does not have access to your banking information.
In the event that your Facebook account is hacked, Cleo suggests deleting all of your Cleo app messages. This deletes any mention of balances, budgets, and income. Additionally, change your Facebook and Cleo passwords. By changing your Cleo password, you prevent any unauthorized access to your Cleo dashboard.
Is It Worth It?
The free version of Cleo may seem like a no-brainer. Of course, as with any service, you are giving up some of your information. That is the trade-off we all face when using most free services. Cleo does say it takes steps to protect your data.
As for Cleo Plus at $5.99/month, most banks offer overdraft protection for free. Cleo Plus does have a rewards program. But at $5.99/month, does it beat the rewards program offered by your credit card company, which doesn’t cost anything? And if you want the cash advance/overdraft feature, there are other products that offer this.
For those reasons, Cleo Plus may have a tough time justifying its value.
- Pricing - 80
- Ease of Use - 60
- Customer Service - 60
- Services - 80
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.