Charlie is a free text messaging-based financial assistant that can monitor your finances, answer questions about your money, and help you budget.
If traditional app-based budgeting tools haven't worked for your style, maybe a text message-based budgeting and spending system would be helpful for you.
You can use Charlie on Facebook Messenger only. Find out more in our Charlie review below.
- Free financial assistant that can monitor and answer questions about your finances
- Works via Facebook Messenger
- Provides budgeting assistance, spending alerts, and recommendations
What Is Charlie?
Charlie is a text-based financial assistant. The company behind Charlie is Charlie Finance Co. Ilian Georgiev is the CEO and cofounder.
Charlie was formed in 2016 and is based in San Francisco, California. Charlie Finance Co. received an undisclosed seed round in 2016 and a series A round of $9 million in 2018.
What Does Charlie Offer?
Charlie is text-based and doesn’t require downloading an app. You interact with Charlie through Facebook Messenger. Charlie’s main purpose is to help you save money. Charlie claims that it helps people save an extra $80 per week.
Budgeting is like dieting — both require an immediate, big change in your routine. That’s also why they generally fail. Changing routines is difficult.
While Charlie isn’t a full-blown budgeting app, it does include many budgeting aspects. It gets around the routine problem by simply sitting in the background monitoring your accounts. When Charlie spots a problem, it sends you a text message. Not intrusive and not a routine changer.
For example, it uses insights on your spending to alert you to potential issues. Spending too much shopping, you can get a notification.
“We take the data and figure out their income and where they’re spending money,” Georgiev said in an interview with badcredit.org. “We basically build a budget on the backend and look at when money is coming in and where it’s going.”
You might wonder how helpful a text-based financial assistant can really be. It sounds a little limiting with just text. Thanks to Facebook Messenger, Charlie has a few other features available to it that go beyond text.
After you initially access Charlie and it greets you, you’ll be asked to connect your bank account. You can connect credit card accounts, as well. If you’d like Charlie to have a more complete view of your finances, connect several of your accounts.
Charlie can monitor your accounts and assist you with questions on spending, balances, income, and configurations. After your accounts are connected, Charlie scans them to see where your money is going. If it finds a way to save you money, it will let you know. Charlie is able to display how much you’ve spent in different categories, such as food, bills, and entertainment.
Charlie provides more than text. When you open up Charlie on Facebook Messenger, click Dashboard in the menu at the bottom of the screen to see a graphic of your current month’s spending overlaid on last month’s spending. If you have multiple accounts connected to Charlie, it will display aggregate spending from all of your accounts.
You can ask Charlie all about your finances. Wondering how much to save so you’ll have $1,000 by Christmas? Charlie will break it down by week and add a weekly reminder. You can also set savings goals using the same functionality. Curious how much you’ve spent on Uber? Charlie can help with that as well plus set a monthly spending limit for Uber rides.
Charlie is also proactive. If your checking account is getting low and a bill is coming due, Charlie will let you know so you can avoid an overdraft. If Charlie is able to find a lower-cost service compared to the one you’re using, it will show you how to save, which might include using Charlie’s partner, Billshark.
Are There Any Fees?
No — Charlie is free.
How Do I Open an Account?
You can visit Charlie here and click the sign-up button. The link will bring you to Facebook Messenger, where you can begin using Charlie.
If you’d like to stop using Charlie at any time, just text “DELETE” to it. Charlie will erase your info and remove itself from your Facebook Messenger.
Is My Info Safe?
Charlie uses 256-bit SSL encryption — or so-called, bank-grade encryption. Your login information is not stored with Charlie and it will not sell your information.
Once you connect Charlie to your bank, it receives a passcode that allows it read-only access to your bank account.
Is It Worth It?
Yes — people that have used Charlie have great things to say about it. It's free, so that's nice.
The big drawbacks are how limited is it to just Facebook messenger. We no longer use Facebook, and most of our friends and family don't either. Hopefully they add in other ways to engage their platform.
Charlie also has a 4.8/5 rating on Trustpilot from 544 reviews. Unlike budgeting applications, which can be complex, Charlie is straightforward. Ask it a question about your finances and get an answer. Sometimes Charlie will even send you updates about your finances when you don’t ask it to, which can be helpful.
Charlie is also free and doesn’t require an app download, lowering any barriers to entry. Some people already use Messenger, which makes it that much easier to get started with Charlie.
Charlie Budgeting Review
- Pricing and Fees - 100
- Ease of Use - 50
- Customer Service - 60
- Services - 50
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 on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
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.