It promises to organize your credit cards, loan application dates, rewards programs and even credit scores. But is it necessary and is it worth the monthly subscription fee? This week, we take a look at Card Nanny, explore its benefits and weigh those against any pitfalls.
Card Nanny promises an easy to use software, with an interface that instinctively knows what you need next and a simple to use interface and design. The goal, like every other financial software or app, is to ensure the program has all of the necessary information. That’s the problem most of us experience. We don’t always build that complete foundation so that any of our financial software tools can really help us as we go about the business of helping ourselves. Is Card Nanny enough to change that?
It does have features that we’ve not seen in other financial programs. For instance, if you apply for that new Discover credit card, only to receive a notification that further review is required before the card company makes its decision, you plug the initial application date into the program and it will remind you to follow up, say, in a week if you need to. To add a new credit application, you simply provide the software a nickname for the application itself, the date you applied and any notes that should accompany the transaction, such as, “further review, should know within seven days”. You can follow up on it much easier and there are no limitations on how many you can keep track of.
Card Nanny can also keep track of inquiries you authorize on your credit report. There was a time when our credit scores were first, relatively out of the consumer’s line of fire – and we were quite happy with that. For most consumers, it was all about making on time payments. Pay on time, enjoy great credit. Miss a payment or default on your loan, and your credit scores suffer tremendously. Turns out, applying for credit cards or any other type of loan is known as a “soft pull” and it can affect your credit scores, at least temporarily. You can keep track of those, too. When a business conducts a check on your credit, regardless of the reason, its name is added to the credit inquiries section of your credit report. You can keep a running tally on those Card Nanny.
Here’s the problem we’re having with this review – first, we’re not entirely sure why anyone would want to keep track of soft credit pulls. Granted, it will potentially affect your scores for a very brief time – a few months, usually. Further, we’re also unsure of why there is a need to keep track of all of your credit applications. If you’re allowing creditors to pull your report to the extent that you can’t keep up with them, a financial software program that focuses on organization isn’t at all what you need. A debt counselor is more likely going to better serve your needs. Also, from our perspective, it doesn’t make sense that a software program would be able to aggregate information from the credit bureaus that would allow itself to auto-populate and even if it did, that alone is worrisome.
Receipts and Warranties
Moving along, though, there is also a feature that allows you to keep track of your receipts as well as the various warranties you collect over the years – cars, washing machines, computers, MP3 players – all of it. Even the program explains,
Without those critical pieces of paper and proof of purchase, you could be hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars if it fails and needs repaired or replaced.
Often, a company wants the originals.
The Receipt and Warranty Management application makes sense. It explains how important it is to keep receipts and warranties “somewhere safe”. Card Nanny allows users unlimited cloud storage for those willing to scan those receipts and warranties. The problem is that for some, a copy won’t be enough to guarantee refunds or repairs.
There’s also a way to keep track of your current purchase and cash advance APRs, as well as your annual fee associated with each of your credit cards. There’s also an entry for maintaining a record of any foreign transaction fees in one central location. The only problem is these numbers change often and if there’s a way for the program to calculate those interest rate changes with the program, we didn’t see it
The program touts a solid way for consumers to budget in a more efficient manner. And it’s going to cost those consumers $5.95 a month to do so.
Membership Fee and Value
With the monthly membership, users have unlimited entries for:
- Income and expense entries
- Receipts and warranties
- Customized categories
- Customized goals
- To Do list
- Credit card tracking
- Credit card application tracking
- Warranties tracking
- Expenses tracking
- Authorized user tracking
- Rewards tracking
- Credit score tracking (the program promises to “track” changes in your credit scores)
- Customer support
The question is – Is Card Nanny worth the time and expense? In our opinion, no.
As amazing as technology is, there still exists a very real place for those tried and true methods that folks used successfully before we were able to track every detail of our lives via an Excel spreadsheet or new software app. Even after we were afforded these convenient manners of tracking our expenses via monthly subscriptions, Excel served as a powerful way to meet those needs.
Some Things are Just Timeless
My granny and grandpa owned a small trailer park their entire lives. Every New Year’s Day, Granny cracked the spine on a brand new, legal sized green ledger book. She carefully, in blue ink, wrote out all of her renters, their phone numbers and how much it cost them to rent a piece of their land. Every month, when each of those renters came in to pay their rent, usually in cash, she would notate it in her green ledger book and blue ink and would then write out a small receipt with a piece of carbon paper behind it so that she also had a record of that receipt. She then make an entry on another page of that ledger book that she’d received that much money, that day, and in cash. Every Friday, she went to the bank and deposited, verbatim, exactly what she took in that week.
There was always a small stack of opened envelopes in the back of the book, held there by a fat rubber band, that held all of her own monthly bills – her electricity bill, including the street lights she provided in her trailer park, along with the water bill, any bank notes and the one credit card bill she’d had probably as long as she and Grandpa had been married. Every month, she wrote out four or five checks to each of those creditors. All the while, every single expense was tracked, in a very careful handwriting, in blue ink. It worked beautifully. Every year, she’d start the process over again – without fail and never with black or red ink. Blue ink. Every time.
Is that the way it should be done in this new day of technology? Only if you want to. But there’s something to be said about simplicity – especially when it comes to our money management. For those who say the old method of ink and paper is too careless and throw the “what if’s” out there, consider this: even if those worse case scenarios played out (a house on fire, for instance), don’t you think that information is already being maintained in some cloud by your credit card company, bank and other lender?
At a minimum, if you do opt for money management via your computer, paying $6 bucks a month seems unnecessary, especially considering the time it’s going to cost you to get it set up and then maintain it every month.