Debt is a financial cancer and the truth is, many of us are carrying way too much of it. As of the second quarter of 2019, consumer debt totalled a record-setting $13.86 trillion. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Americans have been growing their debt in four key areas — home ($9.4 trillion), auto ($1.3 trillion, credit cards ($1.08 trillion), and student loans ($1.48 trillion).
Now, carrying some debt is often okay. That’s especially true if it increases your net worth or has future value (a mortgage or home equity loan, for example). The problem is many of us are carrying too much of the bad kind — credit cards, auto loans, or pretty much anything with high interest. Unfortunately, with an estimated 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, crawling out from underneath all that debt is not just difficult; it can feel downright impossible.
One solution that can help you better manage your debt is a repayment app. These apps are useful because they handle a lot of the annoying legwork that trips up many people before they even get going. All you need to do is enter your information and the apps will create a month-by-month repayment plan to follow. These apps also help motivate you by keeping track of your progress and displaying your expected debt-free date. Being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel is extremely motivating. If you’re carrying debt, you should be using a debt repayment app. To help make the decision a little easier, here are six of the best apps on the market.
6. Debt Free
Available On: iOS
Debt Free is an iPhone app that utilizes the Debt Snowball method. If you’re unfamiliar with this repayment technique, it essentially involves paying off debt in order from the smallest balance to largest. You focus on making aggressive payments on your smallest balance first while making minimum payments on the rest. Once that amount is paid off, you take the money you were putting toward the first debt and roll it into paying off your next-highest balance, creating a snowball effect. This is a popular debt repayment method and works especially well for people who thrive on short-term wins.
Alright, back to the app. Debt Free is easy to use and provides users with additional motivation by showing updates on your debt-free date each time you make a payment. It also includes an amortization table that allows you to view principal and interest on remaining balances. If you’d prefer not to use the snowball method, Debt Free will let you employ other strategies. You could start with your highest-interest debt, the one with the highest balance, or a custom strategy.
5. Debt Payoff Planner
Available On: iOS, Android
If you can look past the generic name, Debt Payoff Planner is a robust debt repayment tool with a price (free) that’s hard to beat. Debt Payoff Planner’s central feature is it allows you to choose from three different payoff strategies — Debt Snowball, Debt Avalanche, or a custom plan you create. You can test them and see how each will work for you.
At a glance, you’ll be able to see how much interest you’ll save with each technique, as well as how long it will take to pay off your debt. Much like Debt Free, Debt Payoff Planner has a payment tracker that shows how individual payments are impacting your overall goal. There’s also a comprehensive summary tool that shows your complete debt picture, which includes the following information.
- Total amount owed.
- Your total monthly payments.
- Debt-free date.
- Total number of payments you’ll make.
- Total amount of interest you’ll pay.
One thing to note about Debt Payoff Planner is that it doesn’t sync with your financial accounts. This means you’ll need to enter all of your debt information manually, which some users may find tedious. However, the upside to this is that the app is doesn’t require any login credentials, which means you can jump in right away without hassle.
4. Debt Tracker
Available On: Android
The Android-exclusive Debt Tracker app adds a useful wrinkle to the debt management toolkit. Much like Debt Payoff Planner, you’ll need to enter your information manually in order to track it. Debt Tracker will also keep tabs on any debts owed to you, making this a useful app for business owners. However, Debt Tracker’s true selling point is its security features. The app can only be accessed by entering a PIN, making it a great option for anyone concerned about privacy.
While Debt Tracker remains a useful app, it loses points for ditching its Pro version option. With Debt Tracker Pro, you could sync your debt with Dropbox in order to back it up to the cloud. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option. However, if you’re looking for something with a bit more security than the average debt tracking app, this one is worth a look. It’s free, after all.
Available On: iOS, Android
“Wait a minute,” you’re probably wondering. “Isn’t Mint just a budgeting app?” Yes, Mint is indeed a budgeting app — and one of the best on the market. However, its features are robust enough that it also doubles as a fantastic app for managing debt. “Goals” are Mint’s primary feature for tackling debt, as they allow you to gear your budget toward a specific objective. This goal can take the form of an end date for when you’d like to be debt-free or a monthly amount to save.
You can choose from a list of goals, including “Pay off loans” or “Pay off credit card debt.” You’ll also be asked to choose which account(s) you’d like to be linked to your goal. Once that’s taken care of, Mint will begin calculating how much you need to save each month to reach your goal, with progress tracking along the way. This way, you can use Mint’s budgeting features to align with your goal of eliminating debt, making the app an incredibly useful all-in-one personal finance tool.
Cost: $34.99 – $99.99/year
Available On: Windows, Mac
Quicken is one of the oldest budgeting products around. In fact, the first version was released in 1983 on DOS! (Anyone born after 1985 can Google that). Although long in the tooth, Quicken has done a good job staying fresh. It’s now arguably one of the most robust products of its kind. Quicken is best thought of as an all-encompassing budgeting tool, as you can use it to keep track of pretty much all aspects of your finances.
That being said, it can be used solely for debt tracking if you desire. It includes an array of features to help you stay on top of your debt. Quicken goes a step further than most debt repayment apps by linking with your accounts and allowing you to sync your bill payments so they show up in the app. If you’re concerned about security, you can forgo this functionality as well.
Unfortunately, all these features come at a price. Compared to its competitors, Quicken is quite expensive and is broken into four pricing tiers.
- Starter Plan – $34.99/year
- Deluxe Plan – $49.99/year
- Premier – $74.99/year
- Home & Business – $99.99/year (Windows only)
In addition to cost, Quicken also isn’t the most user-friendly budgeting tool. Compared to the other apps on this list, which are generally very straightforward, Quicken has a bit of a learning curve. This makes it a bit of a tough sell if you’re just looking for a tool to help pay down some debt. However, for the more financially-savvy consumer or small business owner, Quicken is one of the best apps of its kind. It can really help you take your money management to the next level — IF you’re willing to plunk down some dough.
Cost: Free or $12/year for Premium version
Available On: Browser-based service
Undebt.it is a free web-based service that’s one of the most well-rounded debt tracking tools out there. Similarly to other apps on this list, Undebt.it lets you tackle your debt in any way you see fit. You can choose from the Debt Avalanche, Debt Snowball, or a custom repayment method, with the ability to switch between plans at any time. You can even use a blended approach (Debt Avalanche + Debt Snowball) if that works for you. The nice thing is you can easily compare each method and adjust accordingly based on your personal financial goals.
Another key feature that sets Undebt.it apart is credit utilization. The app will show which debt is hurting your credit score the most, as well as what your average blended interest rate is. Undebt.it does not feature account sync, so you’ll need to enter the balances of your debts manually. There are very few issues with Undebt.it overall but one drawback is that its repayment schedule doesn’t accommodate bi-weekly payments very smoothly. Instead, it operates on a monthly repayment system only. This can be a bit of an annoyance if you have a car loan coming out of your account every two weeks. However, it’s a small gripe given how much value Undebt.it brings as a free service.
Undebt.it has a premium version as well. While you can get everything you need from the app without paying a dime, you should strongly consider opting for the paid edition. At just $12/year, Undebt.it+ Premium is quite affordable. It comes with some useful extra features such as custom debt repayment order, financial projections, and an ad-free experience.