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The rise of commercial transaction technologies such as credit/debit cards, subscription services and billing autopay have revolutionized the way people spend their hard-earned money in the 21st century. Unfortunately, this convenience can lead to “set it and forget it” behaviors that make it hard to adequately keep track of one’s expenses and achieve financial goals without sticking to a personal budget.

If you’re looking to better manage your finances, there are a variety of methods available. A simple notebook or Excel spreadsheet is cost-effective but can be cumbersome to maintain. Accountants and financial advisors offer expert advice and help carry the workload, but their services come at a cost.

An increasingly popular method that can be both affordable and provide professional help is the use of budget management applications, of which Mint and Personal Capital are two of the most attractive options. But which one should you choose? Today we’re talking Personal Capital vs. Mint and providing an in-depth comparison to help you decide which is right for you.

All About Personal Mint

Image © thenextweb.com

All About Mint

Mint, founded in 2006, is one of the oldest and most respected budget management applications available. With a reported 20 million users as of 2016, it’s also certainly one of the most popular. These are the key features of Mint:

  • A single user interface for creating budgets and tracking financial goals.
  • The ability to sync banking, credit card, loans and other accounts with the application.
  • Simple, easy-to-use navigation and alerts to remind you when bills are due.
  • Bank-level security and encryption to help secure your data.

While some of these features are certainly not unique to Mint, it does offer distinct benefits. An acquisition in 2009 by Intuit, makers of the respected accounting programs Quicken and TurboTax, has led to improvements and greater usability. In addition, it has provided for cross-compatibility between Mint and Intuit’s other applications. Mint also allows the user to create their own budgetary categories and spending limits, features that aren’t always available in more strict finance programs.

Ready for the best part? Mint is completely 100 percent free to use and offers a highly rated smartphone application that was one of the first to market in the industry. Although features such as these have led many to dub Mint the budgeting app of choice for millennials, the application easily appeals to users of any generation.

All About Personal CapitalImage © www.millennialschool.com

All About Personal Capital

Personal Capital is another budget management program that has been on the scene for quite some time, having originally hit the market in 2011. While Personal Capital does include some of the same basic budgeting features as Mint, its primary focus is more centered around tracking investments and long-term financial targets, primarily through features such as these:

  • An intuitive dashboard that provides a holistic view of your net worth.
  • Analysis tools that link to investment accounts such as 401(k)s, mutual funds, retirement accounts and more.
  • The option to receive dedicated assistance from financial analysts if desired.

Personal Capital is legally registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment advisor, allowing it to provide legal long-term financial services that can be an attractive feature not included in many other applications. This status also means that Personal Capital can help you to manage your assets if desired.

Like Mint, Personal Capital’s software and phone application are completely free and are a great way to personally monitor smaller accounts and limited assets. Personal Capital’s advisory and money management services, on the other hand, do require fees but are highly recommended for those users with larger portfolios (generally $100,000 or more).

The Fee Calculator

An oft forgotten yet costly component of financial investing is the fees, especially hidden ones. One of Personal Capital’s most attractive features is a dashboard, known as the Fee Calculator, which provides in-depth analysis regarding the impact of fees in relation to gains, including percentage of earnings lost.

Direct Comparisons

Direct Comparisons

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the features Mint and Personal Capital can provide, it’s time to compare and contrast. We’ve assessed the applications in several key categories that should help with a final decision on which software to choose.

Target Audience

  • Mint: Anyone seeking a personal budgeting tool without the need for professional assistance or in-depth financial planning
  • Personal Capital: Users seeking financial advisory and/or money management services on top of the ability to perform limited budgeting
  • Budgeting

  • Mint: Designed with personal budgets in mind, Mint is one of the most advanced applications available in this space and allows the user much more customization options than other software. This includes the ability to define custom categories and spending limits. Credit monitoring is also available.
  • Personal Capital: Cash flow and spending habits can be monitored, but users are unable to set specific limits. Personal Capital’s budgeting functionality is overall much less robust than Mint and is currently only available via the cell phone app. The service does not include credit scores or reports.
  • Billing Alerts and Payments

  • Mint: Includes cell notifications and email alerts that will notify you when bills for linked or entered accounts are coming due. In the past, Mint has offered the ability to pay bills through the service, but this feature was removed in June 2018.
  • Personal Capital: Also boasts a billing alert notification system, but testing has shown it to be less reliable than the service offered by Mint. Bill payment functionality is not included.
  • Customer Service

  • Mint: Unfortunately, outside of online FAQs, Mint does not offer any customer support. This can cause hassles and frustration if questions arise or problems occur with account synchronization.
  • Personal Capital: With a dedicated team of financial and application experts on staff, Personal Capital has some of the best customer service in the budget management space. Users frequently receive support within 24 hours.
  • Smartphone Access

  • Mint: Features an easy-to-use smartphone application that was one of the first to market. It is currently available for both Apple and Android devices and is consistently among the highest-rated financial apps for both platforms.
  • Personal Capital: Also offers a popular smartphone application for both Apple and Android devices. While Personal Capital’s app has similar ratings to that of Mint, its smaller userbase means there are less reviews available.
  • Security

  • Mint: Security is a high priority and the software includes two-factor authentication, fingerprint login on supported devices and bank-level, 128-bit SSL encryption to help keep your data safe. The application also requires that a four-digit PIN code be established and entered prior to access.
  • Personal Capital: Utilizes best available 256-bit AES encryption — the same standard used by the U.S. government — to help secure information. While Personal Capital also allows a personal PIN code for added security, it does not currently feature two-factor authentication. The option for fingerprint login is included on supported devices.
  • Investment

  • Mint: With a primary focus on billing and budgeting, Mint has limited options when it comes to monitoring retirement and investment funds. While the program does allow for some tracking of portfolio values over time, it does not include tools to help with asset allocation, fees, planning, etc.
  • Personal Capital: If an investment application is what you’re looking for, it’s hard to beat the features provided by Personal Capital. Aside from the aforementioned Fee Calculator and advisory services, the program includes a variety of other tools including portfolio projections, personal evaluations, forecasting, variable analysis and more. Keep in mind, however, that Personal Capital’s premium services require a fee.
  • Costs/Fees

  • Mint: Completely free to use on both computer and smartphone devices; no premium services available.
  • Personal Capital: The computer version and smartphone application are free. Premium services including financial advisory and management are available but tailored towards high net worth investors ($100,000 or more in managed funds). Personal Capital’s fee structure is percentage-based and depends on the amount of funds beings managed. Fees range from 0.89% for the first $1 million to 0.49% for investors with portfolios of $10 million or more.
  • Similarities


    Despite their differences, Mint and Personal Capital do have several similarities. While the shared nature of these features won’t help you decide which to choose, they are nonetheless important and worthy of mention if you’re considering the use of any budget management software:

    • The ability to monitor regular cash flow as a means of tracking and staying within budget goals
    • Notifications to help alert you of upcoming bills and/or transactions
    • Partnerships with financial institutions that allow the user to synchronize accounts with the software

    Also, as previously mentioned, both programs offer highly rated smartphone applications that are available for free.

    In Conclusion

    Our Final Thoughts

    Both Mint and Personal Capital are highly respected financial planning applications but are geared towards differing monetary needs. If you’re looking for simple budgeting software to help you set and maintain monthly spending limits and ensure that bills are being paid on time without the need for professional assistance, Mint could be the perfect program for you. If your financial needs are more advanced and include investment portfolios, Personal Capital can help you achieve your long-term financial dreams. Ultimately, it all depends on your own personal financial needs.

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