*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure
I personally use both Mint and Personal Capital, and they are the top free money apps in my opinion. I still use YNAB for my day-to-day budgeting, but both Mint and Personal Capital have unique features that I really enjoy.
But which one gives you the most control of your finances, and which one truly is the best free money app available?
Let’s compare these apps side-by-side and see which one is truly the best free budgeting app!
Personal Capital Summary
Personal Capital started in 2009, founded by Bill Harris, Rob Foregger, Louie Gasparini and Paul Bergholm. They have always a Free app, and it is funded by their Paid investment management services. They now have over 2.5 Million app users, and manage over $12.3 Billion in assets for their clients. On the money management side, they have services available for those with a minimum of $100k of investable assets.
For this comparison with Mint, I want to focus on the Free app.
Personal Capital is a VERY thorough investment tracking tool that helps you plan for retirement, set goals, and avoid costly investment fees!
Each tool gives you a deep dive into how your current investments are performing, and they identify areas of improvement to help you reach your investing goals.
Similar to Mint, they also make it REALLY easy to calculate your Net Worth by plugging in all your financial accounts and assets into one place.
Mint.com is a FREE money management tool that helps you create a budget, track your spending, track your bills, set money goals and see a full snapshot of your finances. It is owned by Intuit, the same company that brought you Quicken and Turbotax. It is ad-supported, so there is no monthly cost to use it.
With over 20 Million users, it is the most popular budgeting and money app around!
Mint started as a true budgeting app, and over time has added tons of new features such as:
- Investment tracking
- Bill Pay alerts
- Credit monitoring
- Goal setting
- Money trends
For a full overview of ALL of Mint’s features and how to use it, check out my Complete Mint.com Review here.
Personal Capital: Is It Easy To Get Started?
Personal Capital is a truly free tool that makes singing up a cinch!
Simply enter your email address, password and phone number (for extra security), and you’re in!
The next step is connecting your financial accounts. Similar to Mint (or most other money apps), Personal Capital works with thousands of financial institutions, so you should be able to find yours quickly.
Once you connect your accounts, Personal Capital will show you a complete Dashboard Overview of your finances, including your investments, spending and net worth!
It’s so pretty I could cry…
And that’s it!
Mint: How Quickly Can I Get Set Up?
Mint.com has a very simply setup process, and has always been a leader in giving their customer a super simple user experience.
To get started, simply enter your email address, phone number (optional), and password.
Once you’ve signed up, it’s almost the exact same process as Personal Capital. Plug in your financial accounts to get a complete overview of your money.
Once you connect your accounts, Mint will show you a complete Dashboard Overview of your finances. It’s more budget-focused, so that’s what you’ll see first.
And that’s it!
Personal Capital vs Mint – Ease of Setup: Both are incredibly easy to set up. It’s a Tie!
Cost: How Does Personal Capital and Mint Make Money?
Both Personal Capital and Mint offer their online tools and app for FREE. But HOW they do this is slightly different.
Mint.com is funded by ad revenue. Meaning, you WILL see 3rd party ads (lots of them) when using the tool, either on your computer or on the phone app. They are usually for other financial products, like credit cards, loans, and insurance.
Personal Capital, on the other hand, does NOT advertise 3rd party services, but instead makes their money on their “Wealth Management” services. You will see offers for this, and if you have over $100,000 in investments, they will even pop up an ad for a free consultation call with one of their advisors.
Both tools are truly free, and you can ignore the ads, and disregard the services if you want.
But as well all know, nothing is truly “Free”, so I wanted to be transparent and show how they make money.
Personally, I get a bit annoyed by the Mint.com ads, and prefer the cleaner interface and mobile app of Personal Capital. But I also am getting pitched their Wealth Management services, and even got a phone call from them to schedule my free call.
Cost: Winner –> Personal Capital
Mint vs. Personal Capital: Feature Comparison
Both of these apps have over a decade of growth under their belt, and they have the features to prove it. Check it out!
<feature comparison table>
Let’s break down the features that both apps share, and compare each of them with each other.
Mint.com is first, and foremost, and budgeting tool. It has evolved over the years, but it has VERY robust budgeting functionality. Creating a budget is simple, and they give you a great visual on where you are at during the month.
Add in the ability to set alerts on each category (tells you when you’ve overspent), setting and tracking savings goals, and advanced features like splitting transactions, Mint has a great set of budgeting features for a FREE tool!
Related: Check out my step-by-step guide to creating a budget with Mint.com
Personal Capital, on the other hand, does NOT have true budgeting built into the tool. They allow you to track and categorize your spending, but that’s about it.
You cannot adjust each category, but simply set a monthly total expenses target, and Personal Capital tracks where the money goes.
Overall, I would say that Mint is the clear winner here. Personal Capital is NOT a true budgeting app, and can only report what you spend AFTER IT HAPPENS, instead of setting a budget for each category to help you stick to a plan.
Budgeting: Winner –> Mint
Mint.com has one of the better goal-setting features I’ve seen in ANY money app! Under their “Goals” tab, simply select “Add A Goal” and they have a ton of pre-built Goal templates to choose from.
Debt payoff, savings, investing, vacation, new car, and many others are available, with unique goal features in each. You can also create your own custom goal.
The best part is that the goals will auto-calculate how much you need to save each month to hit the goal on time. It’s very similar to my Savings Buckets strategy, breaking down larger goals into a monthly savings amount.
Mint makes this really easy to calculate, and will help you track it each month as well.
Personal Capital also has a goal-setting tool called the “Savings Planner” to help you track:
- Debt Paydown
- Emergency Fund
The Debt Paydown tool simply tracks your debt balances over time, and shows you the change in balance each year. The Emergency Fund tool shows your current Emergency Fund balance (based on a selected account), and compares that with your monthly expenses. They recommend 3-6 months of expenses saved.
The Retirement tool is based on the settings in their “Retirement Planner” section. Then is tells you how much you need to save (invest, actually) to hit your retirement goals.
And that’s the extent of their Goal-setting. You can only make these 3 goals (which admittedly, are VERY important goals), leaving Personal Capital falling a bit flat in the goal-setting category.
Goals: Winner –> Mint
Mint.com has added in investment tracking tools over time, but they are very basic.
They will show you the value of your portfolio over time, and try to give you the “Price Paid” vs “Market Price” details, but they are based on when you connect your accounts, and honestly not accurate at all.
Honestly, Mint’s investment tracking is only really good to see your current balance, and have it count toward your total net worth tracking.
On the other hand, Personal Capital is an absolute BEAST when it comes to tracking your investments.
Not only are there multiple tools to see how things are going, they are also going to give you personalized investing advice based on your retirement goals.
Personal Capital’s investing section will show you a few different views of your investments:
Holdings. This shows you ALL your investments in one place, including a snapshot of how they have done over time. It will also let you compare it against popular indexes to see how you are doing.
Balances. This shows you the growth over time, including 1-day and 90-day changes. You can see it split out by each account (for me, I see my IRA, my Roth IRA, and Michelle’s Roth IRA.
Performance. This shows you how much you’re making with your investments (and spending). It breaks down your “income” and “expenses” to show you true details of your investments as income-generating assets.
Allocation. This shows your asset allocation (cash vs. stock vs. bonds vs. other). It’s a nice-looking, color-coded way to see how your money is invested.
US Sectors. This shows how your investments are split between the US Sectors (Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology, Utilities, etc.). Cool way to see what you are actually investing in.
As you can see, Personal Capital has no shortage of investment tracking options, and can give you some
Investment Tracking: Winner –> Personal Capital
Mint has one Retirement Planning tool, setting a “Goal” for a certain amount in retirement. It gives you a good basic number to choose from, and breaks it down into a monthly investment amount….it doesn’t really tell you any more than that.
Personal Capital on the other hand has some AMAZING tools, my favorite being the “Retirement Fee Analyzer.”
Here’s a quick snapshot of how they help you plan your retirement and save money along the way:
Retirement Planner. This tool is comprehensive, and has you plug in your savings and spending goals, and will give you a complete breakdown (year by year) of your investing growth projections. Essentially, they try to use REAL numbers based on your investments, and then even add in things like Social Security estimate income, and projected spending in retirement. It’s not perfect, but is a great starting point to build a plan (with REAL numbers) for retiring.
Savings Planner. This tool covers more than just retirement savings, but when looking at the “Retirement” section, it allows you to set a goal for how much you will invest each year toward retirement. It will then help you track your progress toward that goal. It will even tell you how much you need to invest yearly to get to a 70% chance of success in your retirement portfolio.
Retirement Fee Analyzer. This tool is my favorite. Not only can you plug in ALL your investment accounts (even your 401k), but it will show you what your current fees are in each account, AND how much that may be costing you! For example; did you know a 2% fee per year on your retirement accounts can cost you 48% of your retirement growth?! Simply plugging your accounts into this tool is a GAME-CHANGER! I always recommend low-fee index funds, and this tool will help you see why!
Investment Checkup. This tool gets a bit deeper, but basically tells you if your asset allocation matches their recommendations. For example, I am 100% in equities, and it tells me I’m too aggressive (I’m ok with this…). It talks about their investment strategy a bit, and offers a consultation for them to help you. This is an ad for their services, but again, a good overview of your investments, and a fair offer if you want some help with your long-term planning.
Retirement Planning: Winner –> Personal Capital
Both Mint and Personal Capital have spent years perfecting their user interface, both on the web version and their mobile app.
Both of them give you some awesome graphics, visuals, and breakdowns of your money, and give the user control of their financial lives.
Mint shines with the budget. Their simple breakdown of each category, the ability to set overspending alerts, and the color-coding of everything lets you know immediately how things are going with your budget.
They also have some great insights in their “Trends” tab that shows you a quick pie chart of your spending, and a great comparison of your income over time with a bar graph.
Overall, on the desktop and mobile app, Mint makes budgeting VERY easy. The main downside to Mint would be wading through various ads, because that is how they make their money. This does hinder the user experience a bit, because there is an EXCESS of advertisements on every screen.
As for Personal Capital, their web dashboard right what you log in is fantastic. You can get a complete snapshot of your spending, investing, goals and financial accounts all in one place.
Their mobile app doesn’t have the same beautiful dashboard (because of screen size, honestly), but allows you to quickly jump to each section and see what’s going on. And of course, their retirement planning and portfolio tracking is simple, and beautiful right on the mobile app as well.
Personally, I use Mint on the mobile app, and Personal Capital on the web. It’s my preference for getting the important information quickly.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses as far as user experience goes, Mint has a better mobile app for budgeting, and Personal Capital has the better overall web user experience. I’m going to have to call this one a tie!
User Experience: Winner –> Both
Personal Capital has a simple help button that has access to all their FAQ’s and docs for using their app. You can also “Leave a Message” and send a message, to which they will respond over email. Most reports show that they respond within 24 hours, and are EXTREMELY helpful.
Mint has a similar button with help docs, and a “Chat” feature as well. Their docs say they are open “5am – 9pm PT” for help. Most report state that Mint has a very slow response time and is less-than-helpful, as most of these are probably Intuit employees giving generic help with the app.
Being a small company with investment services attached, Personal Capital simply has a higher level of customer service, and their response times and helpfulness shows.
Customer Service: Winner –> Personal Capital
Both of these apps offer very serious security features, as they should. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of security each app offers:
- Both apps are “read-only”, and do not have access to edit anything on ANY of your financial accounts
- Both apps do NOT download any identifiable account information, and do not display your account numbers, etc.
- Fingerprint access for mobile apps
- Both apps use bank-level encryption (AES-256, rotating keys, etc.)
Now, Mint (who is owned by giant software company Intuit), has a few extra features worth noting:
- Two-Factor Authentication. Basically, you can require a text message or email code for each login. Personal Capital can “register your computer”, but it’s not true 2FA.
- Mobile app pin code. You can set a 4-digit pin code for the mobile app.
- No screenshots on mobile app. The mobile app will NOT allow screenshots. Personal Capital does.
With the additional layers of security, Mint wins here, but I lose ZERO sleep connecting my financial accounts to both services.
Security: Winner –> Mint
Mint Unique Features
Mint offers Credit Score Monitoring and Personal Capital does not. This service uses the TransUnion VantageScore® to report your estimate credit score.
Not only do they show your score, they also give you a quick overview of the top 6 factors affecting your credit score:
- On-time payments
- Credit Utilization
- Age of Credit
- Total Credit Accounts
- Credit Inquiries (over past few years)
- Derogatory Marks
This isn’t a replacement for getting your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com, but is a quick way to see how things are going, and catch anything you may have missed.
Personal Capital Unique Features
As mentioned earlier, Personal Capital really BRINGS IT with the free investing tools. Here’s a list of what they offer than Mint does not.
- Investment Tools. Breakdown of asset allocations and sectors of investment holdings.
- Retirement Planner. Comprehensive tool to plan your retirement.
- Savings Planner. Plan how much to save for retirement per year (based on plan).
- Retirement Fee Analyzer. Keep your fees in check and save THOUSANDS.
- Investment Checkup. Introduction to their investing advice and methods, and how you stack up.
- Wealth Management. Full investment firm with SEC registered advisors.
Personal Capital is truly the best Free investment tool out there.
Personal Capital vs. Mint? The Winner Is……Personal Capital!
Let’s tally up the score of each apps feature comparison!
Mint.com – 66 out of 90
Personal Capital – 76 out of 90
Overall Winner = Personal Capital
Personal Capital edges out Mint.com in this comparison, but in reality, both apps serve different purposes.
Mint is a budgeting powerhouse, and can help you get started quickly in managing your day-to-day finances.
Personal Capital makes is simple to plug in your investments and truly set yourself up for retirement using their powerful investing tools.
So, in practice, the best option would be to use BOTH APPS. In fact, this is why I believe that Personal Capital is the best “companion app” available. No matter what budgeting app you choose, use it in tandem with Personal Capital’s investing prowess, and you are in TOTAL CONTROL of your finances.
Any heck, they are both FREE, so there’s nothing to lose but checking them both out today!