Mint vs. Personal Capital vs. YNAB

Daniel Penzing
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About Mint

Mint is a personal finance software that collects your financial data from thousands of your financial accounts and credit cards in one place.

Mint organizes all your finances in one place by pulling information from your credit cards, bank accounts, loans, and investment accounts.

You can easily see your net worth, which keeps you up-to-date on your financial situation. It also alerts you to possible frauds, reasons for a higher interest rate, low credit score, high balance, and defaults.

It also helps you keep track of your finances by calculating your monthly spending and income.

It’s Web of Things connected so it automatically pulls data from connected devices like your thermostat and computer that are synched with Mint.

You can also add financial accounts that are not related to your bank and they are compatible with over 12K banks.

About Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free online solution for your personal finance needs, whether filing your taxes, planning your retirement, or trying to keep a handle on your day-to-day expenses. Create a profile and link all your accounts to track your net worth and find an easy-to-understand snapshot of where you stand financially. Then track your goals, monitor your net worth, and be alerted to important changes.

About YNAB

Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB) are both online budgeting tools made to help people manage their money. They do have a few differences, and you can use both of them to track your spending and create your budget.

The reason Mint is so popular is because it's free. It also has a good desktop and mobile app and makes it easy for people to track their accounts and their budgets.

YNAB is less popular than Mint, but it is a more complete program for budgeting. YNAB offers a full suite of features, although some of them cost extra. YNAB has a paid subscription program, which includes automatic transfers between accounts, bank feeds, and more. Both of apps support budgeting for credit cards.

If you want to see a comparison of YNAB vs. Mint, then check out this link.

After deciding whether you want to use a free or premium Mint or YNAB account, you need to decide how you want to use it. Mint is better if you want to keep track of your money, pay bills and get a handle on where you are spending your money.

With YNAB, you can see your spending and income. It also helps you figure out your spending habits and track them to help you create a budget.

How Are They the Same?

Personal Capital, YNAB and Mint are budgeting software tools developed to help consumers achieve their financial goals and maintain their control over spending. Each comes with a free package that’s basically just the core functionality, but more advanced features are at an additional cost.

As with most budgeting software tools, you enter in all of your bank accounts, credit cards and expenses, and then the software will categorize your expenses and create a budget for you to follow. Each of these software tools provides a variety of different reports and financial statements, as well as the tools you need to help your plan for the future.

All three of these popular software tools also have some unique features up their sleeve. Let’s take a look at a few that set them apart.

How Are They Different?

Mint is all about easy. With YNAB, things are a bit harder. Personal Capital makes you input everything manually … and it’s free!

YNAB makes you select all of your monthly bills and pay them off manually. Then you categorize your remaining funds into “Spending Money” and “Emergency Funds” by subtracting your previous categories from your total income.

Personal Capital makes you enter everything manually (so you know when your bill is paid), but also has a debt reduction calculator and alerts you if you are overspending (e.g., if you run out of money for the month). It’s also free.

Mint adds everything. You don’t even need to be linked to a bank to use it!

Unique Features

Personal Capital is a software that combines balance sheet management with net worth tracking. It analyzes investment and cash flow based on online bank feeds from all your accounts (checking, savings, credit cards, etc). It can be used to track spending, investments, mortgage, and retirement accounts.

As for the expense tracking feature, it allows you to use pre-made categories or create your own. The ultimate goal of the software is to help you achieve financial independence. It has revenue and expense reports that provide in-depth and valuable information.

You can track investments, retirement, banking, and spending with ease. Every time a bank feeds information to the software, it will automatically calculate your net worth. It will execute the same security reviews and transaction history each time.

There is a free version available. It includes US stocks, ETF's, and mutual funds. You can also track up to 300 different transactions on your own. This means that it will only display your net worth for the items that you have input.

The free version is great for beginners, but advanced users will need to purchase the premium version. This allows you to add individual stocks, bonds, and cash. You can even connect multiple bank accounts.

Features Unique to Mint

Mint supports multiple income streams (each individual income source can be tracked separately). This is really helpful for individuals with multiple income sources (such as freelancers, small business owners, and the self-employed). You can track your spend by individual category (spend by category is a whole lot more helpful than just tracking spend by month like YNAB does). You can link multiple bank accounts that are not with the financial institution where your Mint account is. (NOTE: You cannot transfer money between these accounts in their software). Spent/Saved is an option that is not available in YNAB, allowing for flexible budgeting habits. Cryptocurrency support is included, which is quite nice (although I don’t see the point in having this on mobile while on the go). Mint provides a Financial Health Score, which allows you to track your overall financial health, both for your current spending and for your retirement (via a linked 401k account). Mint’s mobile app is available for both iPhone and Android phones, allowing for easy financial monitoring on the go.

Features Unique to Personal Capital

Interested in the platform, but not sure if you should pick Personal Capital or Mint? Personal Capital vs. Mint is a question that comes from readers of Mint reviews frequently, so let’s take a look at the many features that Personal Capital offers.

Investment Guidance

If you are looking to invest in any way other than opening a Roth IRA, you only have a few basic options: savings accounts, CDs, stocks/ETFs, and mutual funds. You will be hard-pressed to find an investment account advisor who will take you on as a client unless you have over a million dollars and are investing for retirement. Personal Capital puts the majority of investment guidance that would be available to you with a large wealth advisor right at your fingertips with the click of a mouse. There are several investment advisor reviewers who have left glowing reviews for Personal Capital’s investment advice:

  • Taking on risk is one way to grow your money and with Personal Capital, I can easily see what I am taking on, the current value of my portfolio and what I need to do to feel more secure.
  • Personal Capital's unique account dashboard makes it easy to track, analyze, net out, and remove foreign fees, so you know exactly how much you're spending since the first time you said "I do."

Features Unique to YNAB

All three of these options also have mobile apps that allow you to take the same level of budgeting tools on the road.

YNAB functions with two types of accounts * personal and joint.

Although Mint and Personal Capital do allow you to create categories other than bills and spending, they are less flexible than YNAB in that respect. YNAB offers unique functionality that allows you to assign transactions to multiple categories, and often includes visualizations that show the structure of your budget.

While all three options offer unlimited transactions, Personal Capital is the only service that provides unlimited users. If you want to share your budget with your partner, for example, Mint and YNAB will only provide one free user per household.

For those who want to see their budget in charts and graphs that resemble Excel spreadsheets, YNAB excels. Personal Capital and Mint both rely on somewhat confusing bar graphs that require manual input. For those who have an information technology background this might not be a problem, but most people do not.

All three options allow you to sync your data to the cloud, so that you can access them from anywhere.

Annual Fees

As in most financial apps, Mint, Personal Capital and YNAB all have annual fees. These fees are relatively inexpensive, and if you use the app and find them valuable, I strongly recommend you consider paying the fee. I’ve found them to be invaluable and worth every penny.

Personal Capital gives you the option of paying by the month (at the same price) or annually (6.95 a month). They also give you a month free in case you want to give it a trial run with no obligation. If you want to see how they compare to YNAB, they scored an A for features, and a B for usability, which I found was fantastic for an online financial tool.

Standout Features

  • Get into the black within 3 years: YNAB followed by Mint
  • Employs the "envelope" budgeting method: YNAB followed by Mint
  • Pay off expensive credit cards and loans first: Personal Capital followed by YNAB
  • Split transaction into multiple categories: Personal Capital followed by YNAB
  • Set up savings targets and automatic transfers: Personal Capital followed by YNAB
  • Switch banks seamlessly: Mint followed by YNAB
  • Help you with budgeting on AWSOME Mobile version: none of them have a Mobile App
  • Wiki based help and support: YNAB followed by Personal Capital
  • When budgeting is on your mind 24/7, you need to be able to speak with Customer Support instantly. People who balance their checkbook manually love this feature. Mint wins this round.
  • Let you set up the budget categories you need and have access to full transaction history: Personal Capital followed by YNAB
  • Simple charts and reports to track spending: Personal Capital followed by YNAB

Customer Service

& The Cost: Mint vs. Personal Capital vs. YNAB

Mint’s customer service was once top notch, but in the last year or so, it seems to have dropped to the lower levels of the rest. There are numerous ways to contact Mint including a help center, social media, email, and phone. Although the company has a lot of different points of contact, it doesn’t seem to have a coordinated effort to address complaints.

Depending on your situation, you may reach out to customer service directly or talk with a salesperson who may or may not forward your issue to customer service. Variety in points of contact is good, but having too many options can, in some cases, make it hard to get a quick response.

One of the biggest problems with Mint’s customer service is that, generally, you have to pay for it. Mint offers a paid version of their website, and if you sign up for that version, you can contact customer service that way. However, most people don’t want to pay for something they can get for free.

Security

When it comes to personal finance management, security is a big issue. After all, it’s your money you’re dealing with. If you don’t feel comfortable handing over your bank account information to an application on your computer, checking account information, or credit/debit card information, you need to be sure that your money is well protected.

Finding a secure personal finance management tool is not hard, but it is important. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does it have a multilayered security system?
  • What is the level of encryption?
  • Is there automatic log off after a determined period of non-activity?
  • When you log in, does a two-factor identification process (sometimes called 2-Step Verification) take place?
  • How does the system handle passwords in the event that your password gets compromised?
  • Is there a self-destruct feature in case your computer gets infected?

Who Are They Best For?

Personal Capital and Mint are great financial planning apps for beginners. Both do a phenomenal job of tracking your personal finance data like bank accounts, credit card accounts, budgets and investments.

Once the data is in their systems they give you investment planning tools and manage your budget for you. They are most useful if you are just getting started with managing your money and need to know where all your money is going. This also allows you to easily make changes if you can see where extra money is going in your budget.

When it comes to investing management, both Personal Capital and Mint link to your brokerage accounts, like Vanguard or Schwab, to help you manage your investments. They have both performed well in the 529CollegeInvesting Plan, but that might not be your case.

Every investor is different and what works for one person might not work for another. Their greatest strengths lie in the budgeting and expense tracking tools that can make managing your personal money easier, especially if you are just starting out.

These apps are similar to the Simple system in the sense that they can be as simple or complex as you want them to be.

The Simple app might be better for someone that already has a knowledge of investing and wants to kick it up a notch with automatic re-balancing and tax loss harvesting.

Which Is the Best?

When we got married, my husband and I both changed financial advisors in order to get a better overall picture of our money in one place. Personal Capital came highly recommended to us, so we both signed up and began receiving their emails. Soon after the initial setup, I realized that I would only need an account with them if I wanted to get reports to use to prepare for taxes. So I closed our account with Personal Capital. Prior to closing the account, I asked for an export of the information that they had available. I didn’t need it all, and I wanted to make sure the account was closed off. They showed me a page with a few fields and asked me if I wanted to download everything. Since I was getting close to tax time, I said yes.