This is my detailed review of Truebill based on my experience using their free and premium services. This review includes an overview of how successful Truebill was at negotiating my cable and internet bill.
In this review, you’ll learn:
- Seven things to know before signing up for TrueBill.
- How Truebill works.
- Every Truebill feature, both free and premium.
- How Truebill’s pricing works, and why it’s the source of a lot of confusion and complaints.
- Truebill’s best features.
- Truebill’s worst features.
- How Truebill compares to services like Trim.
Let’s dive right in.
There's a lot that Truebill offers, with the aim to help you save money and understand where your money is going. The app has a free and premium version. By itself, the free version has one of the most well-designed and useful budget trackers we've found. While Truebill has a lot of features that can help you save, its primary offering is a bill negation service. The service works, but it's important to understand that the minimum cost is 30% of the annual savings, billed upfront.
- Makes it easy to see all your recurring charges in one place.
- Has an easy-to-use budget tracker that can help you better understand (and control) your spending.
- Uses bank-level encryption to keep your private data safe.
- Some features require a premium subscription, which costs a minimum of $3 per month.
- Charges at least 30% of the annual savings it negotiates off your bill, which you have to pay up-front as a lump sum.
7 Things to Know Before Signing up for Truebill
- The free version’s tracking and budgeting features are among the best we’ve tested. It has minimal ads, and key information is presented upfront. Your transactions update once per day with the free version.
- There’s a seven-day free trial of the premium service.
- The pricing is complex and can be confusing. Truebill is a free app with premium addons. To access the premium services, you have to pay a monthly fee of between $3 and $12 per month (you choose how much to pay within this range). This fee unlocks features like their Cancellation Concierge (covered in detail below). In addition to that monthly fee, Truebill charges a 30% to 60% “success fee” for their bill negotiation services. As with the monthly fee, you get to choose how much you pay within that range.
- Truebill’s success fee is paid upfront. If Truebill saves you money from bill negotiation services or gets a credit on your bill, this fee is charged upfront. For example, if they are able to save you $20 a month off of your cable and internet, and you choose to pay Truebill the suggested success fee amount of 40%, you’ll pay $96 upfront (40% of the $240 annual savings).
- This success fee is the source of many complaints. Based on user reviews, people are often surprised to see a large transaction from Truebill for negotiating a bill or securing a credit for an outage.
- Go slow with TrueProtect. When you’re uploading or syncing a bill to be negotiated, you can elect to turn on TrueProtect. Turning on this feature means giving Truebill consent to negotiate at any time on your behalf and make the change without your approval. We recommend going slow at first by turning on this feature at one or two service providers.
- Truebill’s main competitor is Trim. A notable difference between the two similar services is their success fee is much less, at 15% of the total first year of savings.
Truebill Review: Its Features Explained
Truebill is a personal finance tool with many different offerings, some free and some paid.
To access its full suite of features, you’ll have to download the Truebill app, which is available for both iOS and Google Play. You can log in to Truebill via a desktop browser, which I found useful for syncing accounts, but most of the core offerings are only available in the app.
To get started, you’ll need to create your account and connect your bank accounts, credit card accounts and investment accounts.
A free Trubuell account gives you access to the following:
- Financial tracking. See your bank account balances, recent transactions, a breakdown of your monthly expenses, upcoming bills, subscriptions and more. The balances are updated once per day.
- Budgeting. Create and track up to two budgeting categories.
- Credit score. Get access to your credit score, sourced from Experian.
- Balance alerts. Get notified when your bank account balances hit a certain threshold.
When you upgrade to a premium account, the additional features include:
- Cancellation Concierge. A service that handles the cancelation of paid subscriptions and recurring bills.
- Credit score and credit report. Get access to both your credit score and credit report, refreshed every 30 days. Truebill also tracks and notifies you of recent activity on your report.
- Pay advance. Get up to a $120 advance on your next paycheck.
- Smart Savings. An FDIC-insured bank account that aims to help you save for financial goals automatically.
- Real-time sync. Accounts update in real-time, compared to just once per day with the free version.
- Shared accounts. Allows another person, such as a spouse, to access the account.
- Premium chat. Get instant support during business hours.
- Export data. This can be helpful in certain situations, such as when you’re running a side hustle or a small business without a separate checking account. In a case like this, your expenses may be tax-deductible, and being able to export the full list of those expenditures at the end of the year could save you time when preparing your taxes.
Let’s take a look at these services in more detail, breaking down the free vs. premium versions of the product.
Truebill’s Budget & Financial Tracking Review
What I find unique about Truebill, compared to many of its competitors, is that the app has a very useful budgeting feature. In my opinion, it’s actually one of the better budget trackers available.
What I like most about it is the simplicity.
On the home screen, you instantly see your spending and cash flow for the month (i.e., whether you’ve spent more than you brought in).
Under the “Spending” tab, you can see monthly reports showing where your money is being spent, as well as changes to your spending habits over time. In this tab, you’ll see all of your transactions and can search for specific ones made on your linked accounts.
Tracking your spending isn’t the same thing as budgeting, of course. But Truebill also offers a budgeting feature, which can be found on your dashboard at “Start Budget.”
Based on your linked accounts, Truebill will estimate your monthly income and expenses. (You can edit these amounts if the estimates are off.) You’ll designate both an “Available to Spend” amount and a “Spending Goals” amount, and you’ll categorize your expenses under the latter.
Using the dollar amount slider, you can choose how much you plan to spend in each category. Truebill will keep track of your spending in each category over the month.
Truebill does a nice job here of pulling in past transaction data to help you set a realistic budget.
What you’ll want to do, however, is click “view transaction” and make sure that Truebill is categorizing your past expenses correctly. In my case, they recommended setting a budget of $1,650 per month for dining and drinks, which is laughably high for my family.
Turns out they were categorizing health insurance under dining and drinks.
The free version allows you to create two separate budgets, while premium users can create unlimited budgets.
One of my favorite features in Truebill is the ability to designate non-typical purchases — a new washing machine, for example — as an “Outlier Purchase.” That way, it doesn’t factor into your regular monthly expenses and skew your overall budget.
A large expense like a washing machine might otherwise be mistakenly categorized as part of a quarterly budget category like “Shopping” or “Clothing” and throw off not only the current month’s budget but also your budget for the next few months.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the free budgeting features offered by Truebill. And if you haven’t found an app to track spending with, it’s worth signing up for Truebill for this feature alone.
Truebill Premium Review
Truebill has a freemium business model: their goal is to convert you from a free user to a paying customer.
When you upgrade to Truebill premium, you get to choose what you pay, with the cost ranging from $3 to $12 per month. This is what’s called a “Pay What You Want” pricing model. If you care to dive into the psychology behind this pricing strategy — as the for-profit business is often the one benefitting the most — this Harvard Business Review article has some interesting insights.
The features you get are the same regardless of how much you pay.
As we noted earlier in the article, the paid version of the service unlocks the following:
- Cancellation Concierge
- Credit score and credit report
- Data export
- Pay Advance
- Premium chat support
- Realtime sync
- Shared accounts
- Smart Savings
Chances are you might already be getting some of these premium services for free.
- Most banks allow you to access your credit score.
- You can get a free credit report every year from annualcreditreport.com.
- Credit card companies typically send you a year-end statement with your data organized.
- Most budgeting apps sync multiple times per day.
The real premium offerings — as well as the ways you stand to save money with the app — are Truebill’s bill negotiation, Cancellation Concierge, Smart Savings and Pay Advance features.
Let’s look at these more in-depth.
Truebill Bill Negotiation Review
One of the primary ways Truebill saves people money (and makes money for itself) is through bill negotiation. This feature is available to all users — both free and paid. We’ve classified it as a “premium” feature for the purpose of this review because it has associated fees, but you can still take advantage of it without upgrading your subscription.
Common bills Truebill negotiates include cable, internet, cell phone and home security.
Here’s how it works:
- Either connect your account or provide Truebill a PDF of the bill.
- They contact the service provider and negotiate on your behalf.
- If Truebill saves you money (such as by negotiating your rate down), they take between 30% and 60% of the annual savings as a single, upfront lump-sum charge to your credit or debit card. As we’ve noted elsewhere in this review, how much you pay within that range is up to you (the default suggestion is 40%).
To find out more about the bill negotiation service, I signed up for the premium version of the Truebill app to test it out.
In my case, Truebill was able to negotiate up to a $20 monthly discount on my Comcast cable bill. But in order to get that discount, I had to switch plans (and would have lost HBO).
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t aware of that other package. It may have been an unadvertised plan used for customer retention, or a legacy plan that’s just no longer promoted on the company’s website.
Here’s the email I received from Truebill:
Overall, I was impressed with the level of detail. This was far more than just a bot asking for a lower rate.
If I made the switch, and it saved me $20 per month, I would pay a percentage of the annual savings ($240) upfront.
So, if I choose to pay Truebill 30% of this savings (the minimum), my debit or credit card would be charged $72 (which is 30% of $240) for the negotiation.
Truebill can get you a credit on your internet or cable bill for any prolonged outages in your area. They charge a 30% to 60% success fee for this (as with the other services, you choose the specific amount).
Truebill’s free version allows you to see and monitor the different subscriptions you’re paying for. If you want to cancel, it provides instructions as to the most efficient way to do so.
But the premium version offers a service that will cancel some of these subscriptions for you. Note that not all subscriptions are compatible with this service.
There is no success fee charged if Truebill cancels a subscription on your behalf.
Truebill’s Pay Advance feature allows you to get up to $125 before your next payday. To be eligible, you need to link the bank account where your paycheck is directly deposited.
The money is then deposited to your debit card/checking account associated with that account. Once your paycheck hits, your advance is then withdrawn from that same account automatically.
As is the theme with Truebill, you can choose to tip them for using this service — but doing so is optional.
Smart Savings is an FDIC-insured bank account provided by Truebill.
The idea behind Smart Savings is to make it easier for you to save for small and short-term financial goals.
For example, if you have an upcoming vacation and you’re looking to save $100 per month for that purpose, you can use your Smart Savings account to automatically withdraw regular amounts from your checking account.
We’re big fans of having sub-savings accounts for short-term goals, where you’re setting aside money that is specifically earmarked. Most banks don’t have this feature, which makes Truebill that much more valuable.
Truebill vs. Trim
Both offer free budgeting tools and savings accounts, and both can cancel unwanted subscriptions for you.
The biggest difference between Trim and Truebill is in the pricing of their bill negotiation service.
Trim charges only 15% of the total first year of savings.
That means Trim is a much cheaper alternative if you have a lot of bills to negotiate down.
In a scenario where Truebill is able to save you $100 per month on your bills — or $1,200 of annual savings — you’d pay $480 in success fees based on the default fee setting of 40%. Alternatively, saving that same amount of money with Trim would cost you just $180.
Another useful feature that Trim offers is the ability to negotiate your credit card APRs — a potentially huge savings opportunity for someone with credit card debt.
What Services Does Truebill Work With?
As of this writing, Truebill can currently negotiate with dozens of companies. This list is current as of April, 2021. You can also see a list of the subscriptions Truebill can cancel here.
- ADT Security
- Atlantic Broadband
- AT&T UVERSE
- Boingo Wireless
- Boost Mobile
- Boston Globe
- Brinks Home Security
- Charter Spectrum
- Comcast (Xfinity)
- Cox Communications
- Cricket Wireless
- Dish Network
- Extra Space Storage
- Frontpoint Security
- Google Fiber
- Grande Communications
- New York Times
- Optimum Cable Vision
- Protect America
- Public Storage
- Sprint Wireless
- The New Yorker
- The Washington Post
- Time Warner Cable
- Verizon Fios
- Verizon Wireless
- Wall Street Journal
- WOW! Internet
- Xfinity Mobile
- Verizon Residential/FIOS
Truebill doesn’t charge to download and use the app, but it does charge a monthly fee for its premium services and takes a cut (at least 30% of the annual savings) of the amount it saves you when successfully negotiating better rates on your monthly bills.
Truebill’s access to your financial information is read-only. If a hacker were to access your Truebill account, they could see how much money you have (and where), but they couldn’t transfer it out of your linked accounts.
That said, Truebill uses bank-level security (256-bit encryption), which is the gold standard in the financial world. It accesses your financial accounts via a third-party provider called Plaid, which is widely used and trusted in the industry.
Note that Plaid does support two-factor authentication for some banks, but not all.
There is no fee to download the app and use it to track your spending or budget.
Truebill offers an optional premium subscription where you choose to pay between $3 and $12 per month (the features you get are the same no matter how much you pay).
If Truebill successfully negotiates a lower rate with one of the eligible providers (or gets you a credit for a service outage) you’ll pay at least 30% of the annual savings. This is in addition to the premium subscription fee.
Note that you have to pay the full success fee up-front when Truebill successfully negotiates on your behalf. That means if you score an annual savings of $120 ($12 per month), you’ll be charged a one-time fee of $48 (based on the default payment rate of 40%; you can choose to pay only 30% instead).
No. Truebill does not negotiate refunds from your financial institutions, although they do provide an in-app script and guidance to help you call and try to negotiate away those fees yourself.
Final Thoughts: Is Truebill Worth It?
Is Truebill worth it?
If you have yet to fall in love with a budgeting app, we recommend giving Truebill’s free budgeting app a test run. It’s one of the better options.
As for the premium services, the question you have to ask yourself is this: In the past year, have you gone through your unused subscriptions and called up various service providers to negotiate lower bills?
If the answer is “no,” you’ll likely benefit from using a service like Truebill.
Yes, you can do all these things for free. But if you’ve put off these tasks, a service like Truebill can knock them off your plate fairly effortlessly.