It’s even better when a solution is simple, free, unrestricted, and bursting with value.
This is my review of the online bill tracking, service provider aggregating, and statement storing website Manilla.com (affiliate link).
So why do my own?
Because the others lacked this level of detail for why Manilla might be a good fit for you and how it functionally works.
This review is perfect for people who:
- Don’t like their current bill tracking system (or don’t have one)
- Are sick of getting vendor and financial statements in the mail and the filing/shredding that comes with it
- Want a complete view of points earned in various vendor loyalty programs
- Need to reduce their amount of paper
- Wish to spend less time and energy keeping up with online accounts
This is broken up into key sections so you only have to read the parts relevant to you. I have a feeling you’ll want to read it all though as this is packed with insight you can’t get anywhere else.
Sign Up Process, Initial Use, and Profile Settings
I have to hand it to the Manilla website designers.
The sign up process is super-fast and easy. I wrote a step-by-step guide to the process – with some helpful tips – so you can know ahead of time what you’re getting into.
This also gives you a great look into your initial use of Manilla and some insider understanding to maximize your profile options.
Click here to benefit from this bonus resource.
I’d also like to note what Manilla did well during my sign up and vendor linking process. Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen any online vendor do it better.
- I could link to just about every household and financial vendor I had a relationship with.
- You enter log on information for vendors one at a time but they don’t attempt to verify the information until it’s entered for all providers. This speeds up the overall process by not interrupting the linking part.
- They have a link labeled “forgot login information?” below the user name and password to each vendor. Clicking it takes you to the vendor’s website page where you can get a user name/password reminder or the ability to reset your password.
- If any log on information can’t be verified, they make it obvious which vendors you needed to follow up on.
- You instantly see your balance and when the next bill is due for some vendors that were linked. And they have your frequent flier point balances displayed right away if you added a program.
The only thing I didn’t like was their forcing electronic delivery of statements for some vendors like CitiBank, Comcast, AT&T, or DIRECTV. If you don’t check the “I agree” box then it’s too bad, so sad.
Personally, I don’t care. But this seems like a needless restriction from a wider community perspective. I think I understand why they do it though, since I assume these vendors give them a financial incentive for each paperless sign up.
So check out the step-by-step set up guide or come with me straight to the feature review.
Manilla’s approach to their core features is excellent. They know what people want and how they plan to use their service. Basically, you get the car and the keys without the confusion of learning to use an advanced version.
The main sections of the website are broken up into reminders, documents, and accounts. And I’m here to give you the insider’s view of each of these.
Automated reminders are the bread and butter of many online services. The problem is most are annoying and don’t have the ability to customize the frequency and type. No so with Manilla.
The email reminders are actually useful. This shouldn’t be refreshing, but I’ve used enough online services to know it’s rare.
And if you don’t want to get an email reminder for a certain vendor because, say, your bill is on auto payment, you can easily change the notifications with a link.
They give you two views to review your general reminders and the bill payment specific ones. I’m partial to the calendar view but the list view was pretty good as well.
They also let you set a reminder for any bill, even the ones not linked to Manilla. Just add a reminder with any level of detail and they’ll inform you about it via text or email.
I like it!
I can really see how Manilla helps people with issues paying their bills on time. They break down your bills into three categories with the urgent items at the top.
Then they give you the “act now” items.
And then at the bottom, the “act soon” items.
It looks like the threshold for a bill to move from “act soon” to “act now” status is 14 calendar days. However, what I think I should “act soon” on or “act now” on is different than what they do. I want to see an option added to tweak the threshold for the number of days in various reminder statuses but I’ll admit I’m splitting hairs here.
To make up for this limitation, I can manually change the status of a bill from “urgent” to “payment submitted” with a single click of a drop down option. The change looks like this:
And if for some reason I mistakenly mark the bill paid but it isn’t, I can move the status back to “urgent” easily.
The first time I went to the Documents tab there were already 15 waiting for me. From the start, Manilla was fulfilling its greatest promise: a one-stop-shop for all electronic documents for all my vendors with an unlimited retention period.
It’s groovy that I can sort them by account, type (bill, notice, statement, etc.), and date.
There are some minor quirks though. A month after signing up, I logged in to access the Documents section. My bills were coming into Manilla the way I expected but I had zero statements imported since I signed up for the service.
I’m not sure what the deal was with that.
I’m also unclear when I’ll get documents related to “offers” and “coupons” as the navigation options shows me both of these document categories.
Going to the Accounts tab lists all your linked accounts in Manilla.
Two things I like stand out right away.
- They break the accounts down into sub-categories like household, finance, subscriptions, and travel & rewards.
- You can specify the settings for each account and even nickname each one.
If you’re familiar with how Quicken, Yodlee, Mint, or other aggregators display linked accounts, then Manilla is more of the same. It’s completely straight forward even if you’re new to seeing all your accounts in one place.
Making Money Through Referrals
I didn’t notice it right away but there’s a link named “refer a friend” – in a not so subtle orange font – to refer people to Manilla.
And they’re offering $5.00 for every person who signs up for Manilla with your referral link (yep, that’s my referral link).
However, make sure you read the fine print. After clicking the referral link for the first time, Manilla sent me an email clarifying how I can earn $5.00. They say:
“For every friend that joins Manilla and links at least three accounts, you get a $5 gift card.”
But don’t have dreams of getting rich as they have an annual cap of $600.00. See the rest of the referral program details here.
Kudos to them for easy ways to refer people like email, social media, or custom links.
Note: At the moment you can only redeem your rewards for a Walmart, iTunes, or an Amazon gift card. I would hope they’d expand the options in the future, like a check made payable to you.
So What’s the Catch?
I did my homework and can’t see a catch.
They seem to have all their bases covered like:
- Data security just as good (if not better) than most financial institutions
- Disclosure of how you get this all for free (linked providers pay Manilla a small fee)
- Offering email support with a one day turnaround time and phone support during traditional business hours
They even have a free mobile app for iPhones and Android if you and your smartphone are best buddies.
Just about the only thing I can’t give a thumbs up to is the Manilla blog. I’ve read some of the articles like “How to Create a Personal Budget Using Manilla” and they fall short in value. And I don’t need them telling me how to get summer fashion trends for under $50.
Perhaps a guest post would spruce up the quality of their blog. TBD on that one.
I would recommend Manilla if you fall into any of these categories:
- You need a simple and portable bill tracking system
- You despise filing and shredding all those physical vendor and financial statements
- You value a fast and easy sign up process
- You want a one-stop shop for seeing your vendor loyalty program points
- You appreciate the possibility of paperless
- You need more time with friends and family and less time viewing online accounts
The best part about Manilla is they give you tons of reasons to sign up and to continue using their service.
I suggest you sign up immediately if you struggle with paperwork, bills, or finding simple solutions to complex problems.
And now it’s your turn to review this Manilla run down.
How was this review helpful to you? Do you have experience with another product or service that could be compared to Manilla? Please leave a comment about it!