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I started using credit cards several years ago, but I didn’t get the most out of them at first. I knew enough about responsible spending, but rewards systems were foreign to me.
Picking out cards with great perks wasn’t something I knew how to do. But thanks to some research, I fully enjoy the reward points I earn. Are you in the same boat as I was? Then this post is for you.
Using credit cards and getting the most out of their perks can be easy. You just need to get set up with the right tools. One popular credit card tool is Birch Finance.
This website and app help you find credit cards with rewards, and the recommendations are tailored to you. Read my Birch Finance review below to learn everything you need to know.
The History Of Birch Finance
Birch Finance is a Florida-based company founded in 2015 by Alexander Cohen and Alex Whiteside. The duo has extensive experience studying and working in the fields of finance and software engineering.
Cohen wanted to provide a service that helped people understand credit card reward program. Birch Finance – originally known as Swipe – is based on this idea.
Over the course of a few years, Birch quickly gained popularity and press coverage. The company has been featured in popular outlets like TechCrunch and Business Insider. Birch Finance has reportedly received over $1 million in funding as of 2018, and the platform is consistently highly-rated in the personal finance world.
You can use Birch Finance no matter what your experience with credit cards is. Birch helps beginners and avid credit card users alike.
The company website says “Birch is democratizing credit card rewards by helping consumers maximize rewards with every purchase.” The tool also tracks your spending, gives you insight, and much more.
Birch Finance App Pros And Cons
Naturally, there’s still a lot more you need to know about Birch Finance. Before I dive into the details, I’d like to share a quick pros and cons list. There are plenty of official reviews, news reports, and user feedback. I’ve condensed what I found to make things easier for our readers.
- Birch Finance is free to join and free to use.
- Setting up your account is a pretty simple process.
- Birch allows you to focus on the specific types of rewards you want – cash back, gift cards, hotels, and more.
- You’ll receive recommendations based on your spending habits.
- Birch explains points programs using cash numbers, so it’s easy to understand.
- The app features a simple graphic bar to show you what your spending is like.
- Birch protects users with a variety of security features.
- The app has a free calendar feature that tracks payment due dates.
- The app is integrated with over 9,000 banks and 175 credit cards.
- The calendar feature also tells you when you’re eligible to use your rewards.
- Birch has a 4.5-star rating from 225 users in the App Store.
- Users frequently report that Birch has great customer support.
- A few user reviews mentioned difficulty linking their credit/bank accounts, though these problems were reportedly resolved.
- The Birch app isn’t available for Android users yet – the website states this is coming soon.
- Birch doesn’t focus on helping users manage their credit card debt or pay it off.
- Birch users can only view three credit card recommendations at a time.
- Birch isn’t ideal for people who need to repair their credit.
To put it simply, Birch Finance is great if you’re a responsible spender. Spending wisely is the key to earning rewards, and Birch makes it easy to maximize your rewards. If you have a lot of credit card debt, this app isn’t suited for you. But don’t write it off completely – it’ll be a great tool once your credit is in better shape.
How Does The Birch Finance App Work?
Birch has several different features for users to enjoy. Below I’ll list the major features that the app is known for. You can read about each one to see how it may benefit you.
Credit Card Analyzation
The app analyzes every transaction you make with your linked credit and bank accounts. The analyzation shows you which card was ideal for each transaction and which card you used for each transaction. This lets you know how many points you missed or earned depending on the card you used.
For example, Credit Card A earns 3% cash back at restaurants. You used Credit Card B, which only earns 1% cash back at restaurants. The Birch app shows you how much you missed out on with Card A and displays what you earned with Card B. With this information, you can change your spending habits to earn more points.
Additionally, Birch translates reward points to an actual cash value. So the app shows you Card A would have earned you $1.10 cash back on your $37 restaurant bill. You earned $0.37 with Card B instead. As you can see, this makes your potential rewards very clear.
The info above is displayed using a very simple red and blue bar. You’ll see this bar next to each transaction. The bar can be all red, all blue, or a mixture of both. Red is used to show your missed rewards. Blue is used to show the rewards you’ve earned.
Under each bar, you’ll see text that says “You earned $X.XX out of $X.XX”. There are also two columns labeled Card Used and Your Best Card. So for the scenario above, the text would say “You earned $0.37 out of $1.10”. The Card Used column would display Card B and Your Best Card column would display Card A.
Total Missed Rewards Display
The Birch app has a section titled Missed Rewards. In this section, you see a total sum versus individual transactions. The display uses the colored bars I described above, and it also gives you a letter grade.
The letter grade is called an earn score. So in this section, you’d see “$X.XX missed so far this month” with a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F next to it. The red and blue bar is displayed beneath this info.
You’ll also see your spending and missed rewards divided into categories. Some of the categories Birch displays include flights, shopping, and dining. You’ll see the total missed rewards for each category, and you can click each one to see detailed info.
Credit Card Recommendations
Birch uses a special algorithm to display three credit card recommendations. The recommendations are based on your spending patterns. For each card, Birch lists your potential annual reward earnings if you choose to use the card as your primary card. Again, this is displayed using a cash value.
You’ll also see some basic information about each card recommendation – annual fees, interest rates, signup bonuses, and so on. This makes it as easy as possible to compare each card. Birch displays approvals odds for cards, too. Overall, the recommendations are personal and honest with no frills or confusing terminology.
The spending tracker is a great tool for managing your finances. When you link your accounts, your spending data is imported. You can view your spending habits over the past month, quarter, and year.
The exact total you spent each day of the month is listed. This helps you see where your money goes, where you can reduce spending, and so on.
The calendar app is a useful feature that helps you keep your finances organized. It displays when you’re eligible to receive rewards. It also lets you know when certain bills are due. This isn’t exactly a main feature, but I think it’s a perk that’s worth mentioning.
How To Sign Up And Get Started
Earlier I mentioned that signing up with Birch is pretty easy. Here’s what you need to do to get started. I used the website, and the process took about 10 minutes total.
- Visit the Birch Finance website to sign up online or to download the app.
- Provide some basic info to get started. If you sign up through the website, you’ll provide your first name, e-mail address, and a password.
- Select the banks or credit card companies you use. You can choose from a list of popular ones or use the search feature.
- Link your accounts to Birch. You do this by logging into your bank and credit accounts. You don’t have to provide your credit card numbers.
- Verify the information listed to make sure it’s accurate. You’ll see your cards listed on the app or website.
- Set up your profile and account preferences. This is where you’ll pick which rewards you want to focus on – cash back, frequent flyer points, and so on.
Once you’ve done this, Birch starts giving you the info you need. You’ll discover reward purchases you may have previously missed. You’ll also see how you can start maximizing rewards, and recommendations for credit cards will be displayed.
The website is very user-friendly, so you should be able to get started with ease. I haven’t downloaded the app, but many reviews say it’s equally simple to use. If you have any problems, visit the Getting Started section of their FAQ.
Is The Birch Finance App Secure?
Like many people, I’m cautious about sharing my credit card and bank info. I was happy to see that Birch Finance is thorough with their safety and security features. You can read full details about their security, and this list covers the major points:
- Data you send and receive through Birch is protected by TLS encryption.
- Birch uses a series of security tests to ensure your data is both legitimate and safe.
- If any security problems are detected, Birch ends any active sessions and will re-authenticate your account with you.
- Birch data is secured using Amazon Web Services (AWS), a very reputable cloud security system.
- Birch uses Plaid to connect your bank account info and retrieve your account data. Plaid is used by Acorns, Stripe, Venmo, and other major financial names.
Simply put, Birch Finance offers a very secure website and app. The tools and encryption methods they use are well-known and proven effective. You can feel confident that your credit card data and other info is safe with Birch.
Is The Birch App Really Free To Use?
Birch Finance services are 100% free for all users. You’ll never pay a dime to use the app or website. They earn money in the same way companies like Credit Karma and Mint do Birch makes their revenue through referrals.
If you sign up for one of the credit cards they recommend, the financial institution pays Birch. This keeps the service free with no strings attached.
More Credit Card Rewards And Financial Tools
Birch Finance is definitely a unique credit tool, but it’s not the only great resource out there. We offer our readers as much help as we can in this area. I’ve picked some of my favorite credit card related posts for you to check out. From money management to getting cash back, we’ve got you covered.
- How to Use Free Credit Monitoring to Boost Your Credit Score
- Debitize Review: Pay Off Your Credit Cards Automatically & Still Receive Rewards
- Credit Sesame Review: Scam Or Legit For Free Credit Card Scores?
- Drop App Review: Link Credit/Debit Cards & Earn Cash Back
- 15 Hidden Credit Card Benefits You May Not Know About
- 15 Ways To Quickly Pay Off Credit Card Debt
It’s easy to see why credit cards get a negative reputation. But with so many free tools like Birch Finance, you can rake in great rewards by spending responsibly. My recommendations above are just a peek into the benefits of credit cards. Explore the Frugal For Less Credit Card Archives to discover more.