Believe it or not, one of my favorite places to discover new personal finance tools recently has been Instagram. It seems that every couple of weeks or so I’ll come across an ad on the platform that lets me know about a new app, card, or other tools. In fact, that’s exactly how I came to learn about Fion — an account aggregator that strives to deliver “effortless personal finance.”
So what does Fion have to offer? Let’s take a look at what you should know about this handy tool.
What is Fion and How Does it Work?
Signing up for Fion
Opening a Fion account is a quick and simple process. All you’ll need to do is enter your email address, verify that email address (by typing in the one-time-use code that will be sent to you), and that’s it. Really, it couldn’t be easier and was kind of refreshing considering how much info some other tools require. I should also mention that Fion is completely free to use, so don’t worry about needing to provide any payment info.
Next, it’s time to add your various banking accounts to Fion. To do this, the tool uses the secure API Plaid, which provides “read-only” data. With Plaid, you’ll be able to select your institution, enter your login information, and safely connect your account to Fion. The only potential downside is that you can only add one account at a time (meaning you’ll need to go back to “Add account” each time). So, if you have lots to link, it could take a while.
Once you’ve linked your accounts, they’ll display under the appropriately-named Accounts tab — one of only two tabs found on Fion. What’s nice is that the app will arrange your accounts into various categories, including Cash, Credit, and Investment. Then, for each category, you can view an overall total. This is a great way to see how much money you have available compared to how much debt you’re currently holding. Meanwhile, it’s also nice to view your investment portfolio balance all in one place.
The other tab on Fion is Transactions. Here, you can view all of your purchases, transfers, and more across all of your linked accounts. You can also utilize filters to view transactions during a certain timeframe, sort by category, or select a specific account. Even better, there’s a search function to really help you locate a purchase. Lastly, by toggling on the Report button, you can view your spending data broken down by category and put into list form.
Lastly, at this time, it seems as though Fion is exclusive to the web as there is no mobile app to be found. However, you can access the site either on your desktop computer or mobile device. In fact, the mobile web version looks just as nice and is as easy to navigate as its desktop counterpart, making the lack of an actual app less of a sticking point.
My Experience with Fion
The first thing that stood out to me while exploring Fion is the design. Personally, I find the interface to be clean and quite beautiful. In particular, I love that each account bears the bank’s logo while emojis and icons accompany each transaction (based on category). Getting even more specific, the placement of these icons makes them almost appear 3D and adds a really nice touch to the user experience.
As much as I love the look of transactions within Fion, I do wish there were a bit more functionality. Namely, I think it’d be helpful if you could manually override the assigned category. To no fault of Fion’s, sometimes the merchant data used to dictate spending categories is just wrong, so it’d be great if you could adjust it when needed.
In any case, something else I noticed about the Transaction tab is how specific some of the tags get for certain transactions. For example, while there’s an icon and tag for Food & Drinks as well as Restaurants, subcategories such as “Fast Food” or even the types of cuisine, including Pizza, Mexican, Burritos, etc also exist. Again, the application of these tags isn’t 100% accurate every time, but it still marks a noble effort on Fion’s part. On the other hand, I think it would be better if you could select to view all Food & Drink transactions and then drill down to specifics. Instead, selecting Food & Drink will only show a few generic transactions and not those that have further subcategorizations.
Finally, one odd aspect of Fion that I discovered was when I went to check out Settings. Instead of finding different customization options like I was hoping for, I was greeted by a pop up reading, “If you’d like to permanently close your Fion account, type close in the input below.” Thinking I accidentally clicked the wrong button, I closed out of this message and tried again… only to get the same thing.
I’m guessing this is just a bug of some kind and I hope it’s resolved shortly — mainly because I’d like to see what types of Settings options Fion offers. On the brightside, if you do wish to close your account, this does make it easy to do so.
Final Thoughts on Fion
If I had just one word to use in order to describe Fion it would be “simple” — for better or worse. The sign-up process? Simple. Adding accounts? Simple again. Navigation (save the “Settings” glitch)? Also simple. Yet, that simplicity can only take you so far and Fion doesn’t have a lot to offer aside from the very basics.
To be clear, this isn’t exactly a bad thing as I can definitely see a market for those who want to view all of their financial account data in one place but don’t want to get bogged down in other features. There’s also something to be said for how Fion’s focus on only a few features allows them to excel in those areas. At the same time, there are a few options I’d like to see come to the platform, including the ability to edit transaction data when needed.
Ultimately, if you’re seeking an advanced budgeting tool, Fion probably isn’t for you. However, if all you need is a useful hub for viewing your balances, debts, and transactions in one place — then this *simple* tool is one I’d recommend.
Also published on Medium.