Mastercard is moving into the personal finance budgeting space with the launch of a Web-based tool that enables cardholders to categorise and monitor debit card spending. American Express meanwhile has launched a free online account aggregation and money management service.
Using MasterCard Money Manager, cardholders can review signature and PIN-based MasterCard transactions by merchant category, and create customised categories, making it possible to identify spending patterns and compare actual spend to an allocated budget.
MasterCard says the system simplifies record keeping and eliminates the data entry that most budgeting programs require. Users can track household spending on multiple cards daily, monthly or over time and have the ability to sort transactions by date, merchant category, merchant location, card number and name.
Security Service Federal Credit Union (Security Service FCU) is the first financial institution to offer MasterCard Money Manager to its debit customers.
American Express has taken the idea a step further with the launch of - coincidentally - Money Manager, an online personal finance service that pools cardholder finances across multiple institutions into a secure location on AmericanExpress.com.
Charge Cardmembers can link bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, mortgage loans, car loans, student loans and rewards points from more than 11,000 institutions and access charts that automatically categorise their spending, set budgets, receive alerts to stay on track, and get updates on their investments.
The personal financial management (PFM) space has become a hotly-contested market as recession-hit consumers seek to reign in their spending and take greater control of their finances.
In September, word leaked out that Citi and Microsoft were pouring millions of dollars into the creation of a PFM tool capable of taking on start-ups like Mint, currently the subject of a $170 million buy-out from Intuit.