Zogo pays virtual currency (redeemable for gift cards) to users for completing lesson modules about basic personal finance topics like budgeting, saving, home ownership and insurance.
This Zogo review focuses on how the app works and explains how much you can realistically expect to earn by taking part in the lessons.
Additionally, we’ll touch on a few practical and ethical concerns that are worth considering before you decide to sign up.
Zogo App Basics
Zogo is designed to be an educational platform that teaches people about personal finance in a simple and engaging way. The company says it is dedicated to improving the financial future for people of all ages, but many of the blog articles and case studies it cites specifically call out the need to reach Gen Z through an app format, and the gamified user interface suggests the app is primarily aimed at this demographic.
Zogo indicates in one of its early lesson modules that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and that only one in six high school students completes a personal finance course. Assuming those facts are accurate, Zogo’s stated mission to help people take control of their financial destiny is a worthwhile endeavor. However, as we’ll touch on later, there are some potential problems with the company’s approach.
How Zogo Works
Zogo offers lessons in nine skill areas, with each area containing between one and 12 subsections. Each subsection offers numerous modules, for a total of over 700.
A module takes between one and four minutes to complete, which involves reading the content and answering a handful of related questions.
The modules build upon each other, and users must complete them in order within each subsection. Finish an entire subsection and you’ll earn a badge.
To incentivize people to continue through the modules, the app is gamified so that users earn in-app currency — called Pineapples — as they progress. This currency can eventually be cashed in for gift cards.
Answer questions correctly and you (usually) earn XP and Pineapples. Once you answer the questions and earn your reward, you can go back and review the content again, but you won’t earn any additional Pineapples the second time through.
Note: XP earned by completing lessons and correctly answering questions helps unlock new account levels. However, unlocking a new level doesn’t offer any tangible benefits.
Zogo works much like the popular language app Duolingo: you begin each session with five hearts. For every incorrect answer, you lose a heart. When you run out of hearts, you can’t complete lessons (or earn Pineapples) until they regenerate — which takes four hours. If you’d rather not wait, you can cash in 500 Pineapples (worth about 50 cents) to buy more.
The screenshots below show the striking similarity between Zogo (left) and Duolingo (right):
What You Learn Completing Modules
Each of Zogo’s skill areas is related to financial wellness, although some more loosely than others.
While testing the app, I completed a number of modules across various topics. I tried modules related to government programs as well as poker-related modules that were specifically (and strangely, in my opinion) targeted at women. I sampled a number of lessons on saving, investing, debt, taxes, fraud, job interviews, education, health insurance, housing, car loans, information security, shopping smartly and entrepreneurship.
Some lessons — such as saving and shopping — were extremely basic and seemed perfect for an elementary school student.
I did also learn about programs for low-income Americans that I wasn’t previously aware of, and gained a better understanding of how to play Texas Hold’em — though I’m still not sure exactly how this relates to personal finance.
All subjects were easy to follow, seemed to align with conventional wisdom on the various topics, and offered a glitch-free experience.
List of Skills
The list below contains the top-level skills that were available when I tested the app. However, Zogo adds content monthly, so what you have access to may be slightly different.
Within each of these topics is a number of subsections, which each contain their own modules. For example, the “Government and Taxes” section has subsections titled “Do Your Taxes” and “Utilize Government Assistance.”
- Education and Careers
- Government and Taxes
- Housing and Transportation
- Information Security
- Investing and Retirement
- Risk and Insurance
- Savings and Spending
You do not have to take lessons in any specific order, and you can work on multiple topics at the same time.
In addition to financial literacy content, Zogo offers a toolkit that includes a few basic calculators along with special offers from Zogo’s partners.
The calculators help simplify the math behind determining the impact of loans, investments, and how to budget income.
The current options include:
- Car loan calculator: Add your loan amount, interest rate and loan term to the app to see what the total cost of any given loan will be.
- Investing calculator: Enter your initial investment amount, monthly contribution, number of years, and expected annual rate of return and Zogo will provide an investment value that you can expect at the end of the period.
- Budget calculator: Assuming you want to break down your monthly after-tax income according to the popular 50/30/20 budget (50% for necessities, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and debt), the budget calculator splits the dollar amount for each of the three categories to help you create a budget.
- Make a request: Zogo users can submit requests for additional tools they think would be useful additions to the app.
Zogo has a small number of offers that it makes available to users. If users accept and complete the offer (which typically includes spending money with a partnering organization), Zogo “pays” them a predetermined number of Pineapples.
However, it’s important to recognize that this aspect of the app is essentially a rewards portal: Zogo is earning money by referring users to these products and services, then sharing a portion of those earnings in the form of Pineapples.
Our Earnings & Zogo’s Overall Earning Potential
I earned 6,374 Pineapples in 63 minutes, which equates to $6.07 per hour.
When I began using Zogo, I was earning between 79 and 88 Pineapples per question. Over time, the number of Pineapples per question dropped dramatically, to the point that I was only earning 18 to 21 pineapples per correct answer at the end of my testing period.
So, while my overall earning rate was a solid $6.07 per hour, I was earning roughly 25% of that after a few hours of use.
In other words, users will earn less money per module the longer they use the app.
Here’s a breakdown of my testing period:
|Average time per module:||2 minutes 15 seconds|
|Total time spent:||63 min|
|Earnings per question:||0-88 Pineapples|
|Badge bonus:||250 Pineapples|
|Total Pineapples earned (including bonuses):||6,374|
|Earnings per hour:||$6.07|
Zogo does offer a few additional ways to earn Pineapples. These include:
- Community Challenge: Earn 5,000 Pineapples per week by sharing Zogo with an online or in-person community. Submit a short form and either send a link to your post that describes your love for the app or provide a picture of in-person community use. Once Zogo reviews and approves your submission, you’ll get your deposit.
- TikTok Challenge: Upload a Zogo-related TikTok video, follow and tag Zogo, and complete and submit a short form to get an additional 5,000 Pineapples. You can earn this bonus once per week.
- TikTok Poker Challenge: Complete at least five poker modules, upload a TikTok video explaining how the game has helped you build confidence, tag Zogo, include some specific poker-related text that Zogo provides, and complete a short form to earn 5,000 Pineapples. Again, this bonus can be earned weekly.
- Referral Program: Get 1,000 Pineapples for each person you refer by sharing your personal referral link. Your referral must complete three modules before you’re paid the bonus.
Note that you do not earn money for streaks! Every day in a row that you complete a module successfully, you earn one “streak point.” Miss a day and you start back at zero. But you don’t actually earn anything for extending a streak; Zogo added this feature as a gamification tactic in an effort to encourage users to keep coming back for more.
Before you can request a gift card, the app will prompt you to upload a photo of your government-issued ID. Once you do so — and once Zogo verifies your identity (it only took me about one minute) — you can continue the cash-out process.
I chose to redeem 5,000 Pineapples for a $5 Amazon gift card. I easily followed the on-screen prompts and had my redemption code in about two minutes.
After realizing that I had Pineapples left over, I headed back to the marketplace to see if there was anything else I could buy. In doing so, I noticed that to earn another gift card I would need to save up 10,000 pineapples.
That’s because the redemption threshold increases with each gift card you redeem. While the initial cash-out is 5,000 Pineapples ($5), you can only redeem at that level once. After that, you need to earn 10,000, then 15,000 and so on.
I chose to split my remaining Pineapples between the two available charities (The Trevor Project and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund).
See also: Learn about more ways to get free gift cards.
Zogo presents itself as an authority on financial literacy with a self-proclaimed mandate to teach the masses how to be financially prudent. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the company was transparent about how it defines those terms, nor about the financial philosophy that underpins its lessons or the research used in the construction of its curriculum.
While the modules I completed during my testing period aligned with generally accepted personal finance principles, I can’t say that holds true for all modules, nor can I say that the platform is free from bias. The bottom line is that users have no insight into who decides what is taught on the platform.
There Is the Potential for Conflicts of Interest
The policy also indicates that any information collected about you can be passed along to Zogo’s partners. Here are a few examples of questions I was asked that, depending on my response, may be of interest to one of Zogo’s partners:
In fact, from your very first module, Zogo collects data that can be monetized through its partners. For example, one of the first questions you’re asked is whether or not you’re in the market for an auto loan, a mortgage or life insurance.
Should an app that is aimed at teaching basic financial literacy also be trying to match users with products and services that it will profit from the user utilizing?
This is especially concerning given the lack of transparency (as I noted in the previous section) about how the app’s curriculum is constructed.
Let’s take the “Risk and Insurance” section, for example. What are Zogo’s views on life insurance, including when it should be purchased, the type that should be purchased, and how much should be purchased?
Without access to the full curriculum, we’re unable to evaluate whether the platform’s recommendations align with personal finance best practices.
But there is certainly the potential for app users to be primed to believe they should purchase life insurance. If Zogo were to then promote one or more life insurance offers within the app — or send the user’s data to a life insurance provider — without fully disclosing that there is a sponsorship arrangement in place, that would be patently unethical.
Why Does Zogo Teach People About Poker?
Including poker as one of nine financial skills is a terrible decision for an app aimed at teaching basic financial literacy.
According to an Automatic Poker profitability analysis of over 600 players who played at least 10,000 hands, only 30% were net positive after the rake, with only 18% earning a solid profit.
Taking part in an activity with a 70% likelihood of losing money is not a solid plan to increase your financial footing.
Zogo’s poker lessons are geared specifically to women. Zogo indicates that fewer than 10% of poker players are female and, because women are not always given a seat at the table, suggests that they need to learn to take one.
Zogo indicates that, by learning poker, women can also “[…] learn not only the mechanics of the game, but also valuable financial skills such as strategic thinking, budgeting, and risk management.”
While it may be true that poker offers the ability to learn some of these skills, Zogo’s insinuation that women need more help in these areas than men is both offensive and a bit intriguing.
Why would Zogo focus this one section of the app only on women?
Perhaps the decision has something to do with Zogo’s partnership with Poker Power, a company that offers poker lessons to women.
Unconvinced? As shown in the screenshot below, the app’s first lesson about poker is actually called “Poker Power.”
Zogo Review FAQs
No. While the design and user interface of Zogo is virtually identical to that of Duolingo, the two apps are not related in any way.
But what, exactly, do these partners get and give?
Zogo’s 200+ partners (e.g., banks, credit unions and educational institutions across all 50 states) can customize Zogo’s app, add their brand to every page, and offer the app as a tool to their organization’s community. Additionally, partner-specific incentives can be added to the app that are specific to their user base. All, presumably, for a fee.
Zogo also markets a number of “Special Offers” from partnering organizations. It is not clear whether these organizations pay Zogo a flat fee or a commission for referrals for each sale that is made. Zogo does pass a portion of their earnings on to users as there is a Pineapple reward for each offer users participate in.
Zogo allows users to trade Pineapples in for gift cards or donate them to charity. You can’t Redeem Pineapples for cash. If you’d prefer cash to gift cards, check out this list of apps that pay via PayPal.
Zogo Review: Final Verdict
Zogo has a well-designed app that functions as expected. Users can learn about a variety of topics to increase their understanding of financial practices and positively impact their personal situation. The pay — which ranges from about $1.50 to $6.00 per hour and can be increased through a variety of challenges — is an added bonus.
However, Zogo collects and shares users’ data with partners so those partners can market their services outside of the app. Additionally, Zogo allows in-app offers and appears willing to create content that specifically supports its partner interests (potentially over the financial interests of its users).
Consequently, those who utilize the app should think critically about the content they read, any related offers that might be available, and consider whether there is any bias at play before putting recommendations into action.