If you're looking for a slick personal finance app that's focused squarely on budgeting, tracking and goal setting then Copilot is for you. Or if you mainly budget on your iPad or iPhone but have been looking for a synchronized Mac app, Copilot is the best looking and most well integrated budgeting tool for macOS and iOS out there.
Copilot is one of the best personal finance apps we’ve used on a Mac and in this review, we take a closer look at the pros and cons of this impressive budgeting app.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Mint on a Mac which has been discontinued, then Copilot is up there with one of the best budgeting tools out there for Macs.
Copilot (not to be confused with Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot) has been around since 2019 and until recently, used to be only available on iOS but now has a Mac desktop app that’s rapidly gaining in popularity.
Copliot was founded by a former Google employee Andres Ugarte and is easily the best looking budgeting app we’ve seen on a Mac and as we found, it’s not just a pretty face.
The first thing that immediately strikes you about Copilot is that it’s a very good looking app.
Copilot looks great on macOS whether its for tracking spending, budgets, investments and net worth – all the basics you want in a budgeting app without all the unnecessary bloat of products like Quicken.
Since its designed exclusively for the Apple ecosystem, it can also be used in macOS Dark Mode.
The first thing to do when you start Copilot is to sync your bank accounts with it.
Depending on how many accounts you’re syncing, the amount of data imported can be overwhelming at first but don’t panic as Copilot does a remarkably intelligent job of sifting through it all.
Copilot uses Plaid to sync your bank accounts with it which in our opinion, is the most reliable way to sync accounts with any personal finance software.
Although most major financial institutions are supported by Copilot, not all are. In particular, linking of credit cards such as the Apple Card has to be done manually.
Apple Card support is also dependent on Apple cooperating with Copilot so this might not happen anytime soon.
Once synced, Copilot will immediately make budget estimates based on your financial data but you’ll find yourself having to manually correct a lot of this.
If you’re a Venmo user, this is a particular issue with Venmo refunds as Copilot obviously has no way of estimating any refunds you might be due to receive from friends, family or colleagues as it depends on how you’ve split it.
You therefore may have to manually assign some transactions to the right categories.
You can however setup rules for Venmo charges and Copilot will then estimate more accurately what you’re owed for future transactions.
Venmo integration is something that Copilot has really tried to integrate though and definitely sets it apart from other budgeting apps.
The investment tracking in Copilot is also updated in real time so you can follow minute-by-minute changes to your investments.
You can also benchmark investments against popular indexes like the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF to better visualize how they are performing.
Copilot also supports tracking your crypto investments and can retrieve staking and exchange pool data from the Coinbase and Binance exchanges amongst others.
Spending & Budgeting
Maintaining control of your spending is key to any decent budgeting software and Copilot does this very well indeed.
Copilot gives you useful daily snapshots to give you an instant overview of how your spending was on any particular day.
There are also bill reminders for upcoming payments and a well organized spending by category summary.
If you fall within your budget, you can also set Copilot to carry-over your budget into the following months too.
The “Upcoming” feature is a really useful way to see which expenses are coming out of your account soon, especially subscriptions that you may have either forgot about or have forgotten to cancel.
One really cool feature in Copilot is its ability to automatically suggest a way to balance budgets.
The “Rebalance Budgets” tool will examine your spending and then suggest alternative ways of allocating your spending while staying within the same budgets.
While this sometimes misses the mark in real life because of unexpected and spontaneous spending, its a really nice feature that helps you rethink how to adjust your spending.
You can of course also manually adjust budgets for certain categories so if you spot that you’re spending way too much on Ubers, you can lower the budget (and then hopefully try to stick to it).
You can also choose to receive notifications when money has been spent although this is more useful on the mobile app than on your Mac desktop.
One of the things we liked the most in Copilot is the way it can automatically categorize data.
This includes things like subscriptions and recurring charges so that you identify subscriptions and monthly charges that you may not need or use anymore.
Recurring transactions are intelligently tracked and understood by Copilot saving you a lot of time manually reconciling them.
One neat touch is the way Copilot categorizes Amazon purchases.
Whereas many budgeting apps would categorize these generically under “shopping”, you can actually link Copilot to your Amazon account and lists your purchases by name and category.
This can be glitchy at times and may require manual correction of transactions but it gives you a surprisingly clear overview of how much you’re actually spending on Amazon alone.
Another smart aspect to Copilot bank syncing is that it immediately understands which entries are internal transfers between accounts (marked with a “T”) so that it keeps everything perfectly balanced and understood at a glance.
In general Copilot’s ability to understand and categorize transactions is uncannily accurate and partly down to the apps use of Copilot Intelligence AI which makes it remarkably smart compared to many personal finance tools.
You can customize a lot of how Copilot displays category data too including category names, colors and even emojis.
If you can’t find a specific transaction in a category, the search tool in Copilot for Mac is smart and very quick to find them either by company name or amount.
Although you can bulk change categories, review status and transaction type, there is however no way to bulk rename or auto rename or tag transactions in Copilot which we’d like to see in future versions.
Importing Mint Data
If you’re one of the many Mac users looking for an alternative to Mint, then Copilot is working on a data import tool that will allow Mint users ti import their data into it.
You can join the wait-list to be informed when its ready.
How Secure Is Copliot?
Copilot publishes an extensive policy on its Privacy and Security measures and its clear they take this issue seriously, as they should.
No personal finance app is immune from hacking but as with most of them, no one can actually touch your money (including Copilot staff) if they manage to hack Copilot as it only uses Plaid for read-only access to your accounts.
In terms of security, Copilot’s policy is quite clear on this:
We employ a number of security measures to help keep your data safe, including 256-bit encryption to protect it at rest and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect it in transit. In other words, your data is encrypted while it is being stored and while interacting with our servers. And we do not see or store your bank login credentials because we partner with trusted data aggregators, like Plaid and Finicity, to connect to your financial institutions. Copilot works with third party vendors who adhere to industry security standards. You can read more about Plaid and Finicity’s security policies on their websites.
Copilot’s direct OAuth integrations for Capital One and Coinbase meet the same data security requirements. OAuth allows us to connect directly with your bank rather than importing your account and transaction data via an aggregator. We do not see or store your OAuth login credentials either.
In terms of privacy, Copilot assures that it does not sell your data to third parties:
What you do in Copilot, stays in Copilot
Our only focus is on building tools that help you improve your finances. We respect your privacy, so we give you transparency and control over your data and keep it private. We don’t like it when we start seeing online ads for things we recently bought, so we do not sell your personal data to third parties so that they can advertise products to you.
The impression we got from Copilot is that it’s quite transparent on this issue. The business model uses the subscription fee to develop the product rather then sell data to third parties in order to raise revenue.