Gone are the days of using spreadsheets to manage your finances. Today, there are numerous personal financial management apps available to help you track your spending habits and investments.
Two of the most popular financial apps available are Mint and Personal Capital. Both of these solutions offer you powerful platforms to help you manage your money effectively and efficiently. However, which one of the two is the best choice for you?
In this review, we’ll match these programs head-to-head in a duel for the title of the best personal management software.
Mint – An Overview
Intuit is the company responsible for bringing Mint to the market. This company is also the firm responsible for creating the world’s most popular financial desktop program – Quicken.
Intuit sold its stake in Quicken in 2016 and decided to focus on creating a mobile solution for people who want to manage their financial position on the move. This software doesn’t offer users the comprehensive suite of management tools available in Quicken. Still, if you’re a newbie with financial management, then you don’t need all of the functionality of the program.
Mint is the ideal option for newbies that want to track their spending habits, and it’s the perfect platform for those users that want an uncomplicated and effective means of managing their money.
You don’t have to install any software on a desktop computer, as Mint works within your browser, and the mobile app id easy to navigate and manage.
Mint incorporates all of your accounts in one space, giving you control over your bank accounts, investments, credit card balances, and outstanding loan amounts. As a result, you get a snapshot of your entire financial position, all in one user-friendly app.
You can read our full review of Mint here.
Personal Capital – An Overview
This program has many similarities to Mint, with a focus on managing your investments more than budgeting. Think of Personal Capital as a two-in-one financial management app. The program gives you a free financial management portal, as well as access to paid-for financial services, like estate and financial planning advice.
Personal Capital provides users with a resource they can use to set financial and retirement goals, such as saving for a down payment of a new apartment or buying a car. The suite of tools on offer in Personal Capital also allows you to track the performance of the market, and how it’s impacting your 401(k) and IRA investments.
Personal Capital is ideal for people that are well into their careers and need an app that can manage all of their finances in one space. The app gives you data on your net=-worth, and the direction it’s trending, allowing you to make adjustments to your spending habits to meet your financial goals.
Read our full review of Personal Capital here.
How We Determined the Winner of This Review
When assessing the performance and utility of both of these platforms side-by-side, we used the following criteria to decide on the winner.
- Ease of Linking Accounts
- User Interface with the Dashboard
- Budgeting Tolls
- Investment Tolls
- Additional Features
- Cost of Ownership
- Mobile Apps
- Customer Service
Each of these criteria plays a significant role in determining our winner. We’ll look at each of these categories and decide which app offers the best utility, and functionality, in each of the categories.
Ease of Linking Accounts
Winner – Personal Capital
When you open the app for the first time, it prompts you to connect your accounts. The process of linking the accounts you want to track is simple and similar between both apps. All you need to do is select your account with your provider, and enter your login information to allow the program to access your financial data.
Both Mint and Personal capital allow syncing with all of your accounts, although some people might find it challenging to access accounts from obscure providers like smaller credit unions. It’s challenging for us to select a winner in this category, but if we had to pick a winner, then we would have to go with Personal Capital. Mint requires two-factor authentication, which adds a snag to the process.
Winner – Personal Capital
Both of these programs offer simple, easy-to-navigate dashboards. After uploading your account data, you’re ready to start using the app. Here are the key features for each of the dashboards.
When opening your dashboard, you’ll notice that the data on offer with Personal Capital focuses on your investments and net-worth, while Mint focuses on your budget. It’s a key difference between the two software’s, and you’ll notice how this theme plays out in all of the app’s features moving forward.
With Mint, you can customize your dashboard, allowing you to select which features you want and the order the app presents them to you. Personal capital provides you with a visual image of your financial performance using charts and graphs, which is easy on the eyes.
Both apps have a user-friendly interface, but we feel that Personal Capital has the edge in this category, even if it is only by a slim margin.
Winner – Mint
We love the fact that both of these apps automatically track your spending after you link all of your accounts. Intuit designed Mint as a budgeting app, so it’s not surprising to see that it has the edge in this category.
Mint lets you build categories and subcategories for your spending, such as “food” and subcategories of “Fast Food.” The app then tracks your spending in each of these categories, allowing you to keep an eye on your monthly budget allocation to this category.
If you’re a newbie to personal finance and budgeting, then Mints budgeting tools are a blessing, and you’ll find it incredibly useful for tracking all of your spending habits. Mint also offers users a billing feature, as well. You can link your online billing, such as utilities and insurance premiums, and even your rental payments.
Managing your budget with Personal Capital focuses more on your cash flow than your expenses. You set a budget using a dollar amount, and the app allocates your spending to different categories, similar to Mint.
However, with Personal Capital, you don’t get to compare category-wide spending versus an allocated budget. We think that Personal Capitals budgeting tool is more of a spending report than it is a real budget.
It’s for this reason that we feel like Personal Capital is more of a beneficial tool for people that have a firm grip on handling their budget already. While Personal Capital does offer automatic payments, it’s more challenging to set up this feature, and you might find it a hassle. The program also doesn’t provide any alert functionality, either.
Winner – Personal Capital
Both Mint and Personal Capital will track your investment accounts. However, the investment tracking on Mint is almost entirely useless. Similar to Personal Capitals offering, Mint gives you a breakdown of all of your investments, tallying them into your net-worth.
However, Mints’ investment feature is somewhat buggy, and we find that the limited historical data in the app provides an inaccurate view of your investment’s past performance. The graph for investment performance tracking displays erroneous information, and we find that the detailed reports don’t apply to all asset classes and all investments.
Personal Capital has the edge, by a long way, when it comes to tracking the performance of your investments. The designers created this platform to be more of an investment tracking software than a budgeting tool, and it’s in this department that Personal Capital takes the lead in this review.
The platform has in-depth analysis tools with top-notch features that you’d expect from this kind of program. You get high-tech features, without the hassle of a buggy interface like you get with Mint. Personal Capital provides you with plenty of historical data on the performance of your investments, and it has no problem identifying any investment accounts with brokers of financial service providers.
What makes Personal Capital and outstanding service, is that it tracks the individual asset performance of your portfolio. By monitoring your individual holdings in your portfolio, the program gives you an exact portfolio allocation.
Personal Capital also offers you advice on asset allocation within your investment portfolio, and it even calculates the risk involved with the asset as well.
Winner – Personal Capital
Both platforms offer additional bonus features you can use to bolster your finances.
The bill pay feature on offer from Mint is its most impressive bonus feature. You can pay your bills directly from the dashboard, allowing you to pay your credit card statement, car insurance, and life insurance premiums, as well as your utility bills. It’s a real time-saver, and we have to say we fell in love with this functionality.
Mint also allows you access to your credit score from within the dashboard as well. Unfortunately, many users report this feature as buggy, and the program often produces an error message when retrieving your credit score.
You can also add goals, prioritizing your finances. Set up your account to focus on financial goals like saving for a down payment on a home, or paying off your outstanding debt.
Personal Capital also offers some interesting and useful additional features as well. You get a retirement and investment fee analyzer, which allows you to scan all of the investments in your portfolio, providing you with a report on all of the fees you’re paying on your investment and retirement accounts.
Investment fees can be confusing to many investors, and this feature of Personal Capital gives you insight on how much of your profits go toward fees every year – something that might shock you when you see the figure.
You also get access to a free retirement calculator, as well. The platform utilizes the Monte Carlo analysis, which analyzes 5,000-retirement scenarios to give you information about how long your current cash holdings and investments will last you if you stop working.
The calculator works with your financial goals to analyze your financial position, and there’s plenty of customizable options to help you tailor your unique financial situation. Add your expected Social Security payments rental income, and inheritances to name a few of the options on offer with the calculator.
The calculator also lets you factor in other large savings goals, such as family vacations, healthcare expenses, and charitable donations as well. You can’t beat the in-depth analytics and functional tools on offer from Personal Capital. However, if you’re looking for more of a budgeting tool, then Mint offers the best functionality in its category.
Cost of Ownership
Winner – Draw
Since both of these applications are available for free from the designers, you might find yourself asking how these platforms make money?
Mint has in-app advertising related to your financial habits. The app might suggest you switch credit cards to a facility with a lower APR, and present you with an offering from one of its advertisers. There are also annoying pop-up ads throughout the program’s features, as well.
Personal Capital also features in-app advertising as well. The company has an investment firm partner, and it tries to convert you into signing up for investment accounts with its partner firm. These investment accounts and advisory services come with high fees that make the company profit.
You’ll also get pop-up adds that coax you toward “meeting with a professional,” to discuss your financial position and investments. If you have a problem with in-app advertising, then both of these apps will drive you crazy.
Winner – Draw
When signing up for either of the platforms, you’ll have to load all of your accounts into the app manually. With stories of internet hackers compromising the security of top financial firms like Experian, how safe is it handing your financial data over to these apps?
Both Mint and Personal Capital use top-end encryption through the AES-256-bit technology that makes it impossible for hackers to steal your information. IF you don’t have an understanding of encryption protocols, then you should take some comfort in the fact that AES-256-bit encryption is the same tech used by the government.
AES 256-bit technology is virtually impenetrable to traditional hacking methods like “Brute-Force.” To give you an idea of what it would take for a hacker to break this level of encryption, they would need 50 Cray supercomputers. The computers would have to check more than a trillion keys per second, around 3,000-years, to break the encryption protocol.
Even if some hacker managed to break into your account, which is highly unlikely, there’s not much they can do with your money. All the app does is check your account and investment balances. There’s no option to transfer money to other accounts, rendering the platform useless to hackers.
We think that using Mint or Personal Capital to manage your finances and investments comes with the same level of risk that you would expect to take when logging into your internet banking facility.
Winner – Personal Capital
One of the most significant drawbacks of personal finance software is that the mobile app often doesn’t have the same features as the desktop client or web browser version. However, that’s not the case with Personal Capital, as the mobile app offers the same functionality as the desktop version. You get all the same functionality as on the website, and it’s a mobile-friendly experience.
Mint, on the other hand, does not have the same mobile utility. All the budgeting tools work well, but the investments and financial goals section are not available on the mobile app.
Winner – Personal Capital
When it comes to customer service, Mint users are on their own. The app and the website program offer no customer service support, which is very frustrating if you hit a snag and need to ask a question. While the site does have an FAQ for assistance, it’s nothing like talking to a real person.
Personal Capital is the exact opposite of Mint. The platform offers you customer service support that’s fast and efficient, and we never waited more than a few minutes to get in touch with a customer service representative.
After reading our review, we want to give you the key takeaways for using these software programs to manage your finances.
- 401(k) and IRA Fee Analyzing Tools — Get a report on how much you’re paying in fees to the management of your investment accounts. This tool can help you identify where you’re paying high fees that might be eating into your investment returns. The app also makes suggestions for top-performing funds that charge low fees.
- Retirement Calculator and Planning Tools — Track your progress to achieving your retirement goals. The apps AI system runs your current financial situation through over 5,000-scenarios while forecasting your financial earnings into the future.
- Financial Advice and Management — You get the option of registering and paying for financial advice. Personal Capital has a partnership firm that can handle your financial and estate planning, as well as provide you with top-notch investment advice from leading professionals.
- Asset Allocations Targets – Analyze your investments to see if you’re overweight or underweight in any category. Move your assets allocation around with the advice of the platform to diversify your
- Budgeting Tools — While Personal Capitals spending reports can monitor your cash flow, it’s not so great for handling your budget. However, the budgeting features on this app are fantastic and clearly, have the upper-hand on Personal Capital in this category.
- Saving Recommendations — Mint provides you with advice and recommendations of where you can save money in your budget. The app makes suggestions through pop-ups for other cheaper ways to manage your money, such as low-interest credit card facilities. Unfortunately, these recommendations are nothing more that adverts that the platform uses to subsidize your usage of the software.
- Credit Score Monitoring — Mint also offers you a way to keep track of changes in your credit score every quarter. However, pulling up your credit score on the platform typically results in an error message most of the time.
- Two-Factor Authentication — Mint offers two-factor authentication for logging into your account, ensuring that no-one can gain unauthorized access to your financial information. Unfortunately, this also slows down the process of accessing your account and can become frustrating at times.
The Verdict – Which is the Better Program?
If we’re looking at the results of this review, it’s easy to see that Personal Capital wins’ hands-down.
However, the result might not be as black-and-white as you think. Both of these apps have a slightly different user base, and they tailor the offering to suit the user.
- People who have more of an interest in budgeting, and few investments, might find that while Personal Capital is a fantastic app, it doesn’t suit their budgeting needs.
- Mint is the better option, with a better user-interface for budgeting throughout the month. Personal Capitals budgeting tools are useful, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the same functionality and user-friendly operation as Mint.
- However, those savvy financial millennials that understand the nuances of budgeting might find that Mints budgeting tools are not what they are looking for in a financial app.
- The spending reports on offer in Personal Capital might be a better option for these users. You might also find that you’ll gain more utility from Personal Capitals investment management tools.
- Personal Capital’s retirement calculator and fee analyzer is also a handy feature that suits investors as well, bringing an additional layer of functionality to the app that you don’t get with Mint.
- Mint also seems more buggy than Personal Capital, with some users reporting that the software unlinks credit cards, and they won’t accept re-registration of the card, even after several tries to do so.
We crown the winner of our comparison as: Personal Capital.
Visit our review if you’d like to learn more.