There are so many online financial tools in 2016 that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. One of the most widely known tools is Mint.com. Started in 2006, Mint.com now has over 16 million users.
What is Mint.com?
Mint.com is a website that provides you with an online software for 1) budgeting, 2) setting financial goals and 3) credit score reporting.
Budgeting: Through Mint.com’s budgeting software, you can connect their bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and other financial accounts, and Mint.com will track all transactions from the accounts (i.e. spending). Not only does Mint.com track spending and saving, but you can also see all transactions in charts and graphs, which makes visualizing budgets easier.
Goal Setting: You can set financial goals, and Mint.com will show the progress over time.
Credit Score Monitoring: Mint.com shows you your credit right on the dashboard of your account. While this is a credit score based off the Equifax credit-scoring model, it is still a credit score nonetheless and likely a close estimate to your FICO score.
How does Mint.com work?
After you signup for an account with Mint.com, you can connect your financial accounts very easily by entering in your financial account information (usernames and passwords). Your accounts will sync with Mint.com and your data will be updated automatically each time you log in to Mint.com. For these reasons, Mint.com is very user friendly and easy to use.
What security features does Mint.com offer?
To use Mint.com, you must provide their names and login information for all of the accounts that they will link to Mint.com. According to its website, Mint.com keeps login information “stored securely in a separate database using multi-layered hardware and software encryption to protect users” (read more about Mint.com’s security here).
Mint.com requires a two-step authentication before allowing you to access your account. This means that when you try to log in, they will first be asked to verify their identity through email or text messages.
Who is Mint.com best for?
Mint.com is best for you if you are just starting to budget, you want to have software do most of the work for you (versus paper budgets), and you want access to your information on mobile friendly devices.
Mint.com is great if you are a beginner who needs to get organized and if you are learning how to manage money and want to create a budget to track spending and meet financial goals. The web-design and features make Mint.com simple to use on any device, which means financial information is easily accessible on mobile devices.
What does Mint.com cost?
You can signup for Mint.com for free and continue to use Mint.com completely free of any charges.
Mint.com makes money not through users paying for the service, but through offering users financial products for which Mint.com gets a referral fee. So, you can use Mint.com completely free and clear, but you will find advertisements and offerings of financial products throughout the software. Be aware that products pushed to you on Mint are based on the fact the company gets a referral fee, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is the best fit for you.
What are the pros and cons of using Mint.com?
If you are deciding whether to use Mint.com, consider the following pros and cons.
- Simple to use.
- Goal-setting tools provided to help you meet your goals.
- Provides a complete budgeting software system that links all accounts.
- It’s completely free.
- You have access to a free credit score.
- You can visualize their saving and spending through graphs and charts.
- Mint.com has a lot of advertisements and aims to get you to buy financial products, which may or may not be the best fit for you.
- For advanced investors or budgeting experts, Mint.com may be too basic. There is no trading or actual investing through Mint.com.
- Like any online tool, there is always a security risk of a hack and your data being compromised.
How does Mint Stack up Against the Competition?
Mint.com is not the only web-based program that offers budgeting. LevelMoney, EveryDollar, and Personal Capital are three alternatives to Mint.com.
Level Money is a simple program that makes budgeting very easy (by categorizing your spending as income, bills, save, and spendable). Level Money gives you a dollar amount that you can spend per day (this is helpful if you’re a big spender). Unlike Mint.com, which gives you a complete overview of your finances at any given time, Level Money aims to help you control your money and spend less. It’s like a moral compass for your money.
EveryDollar is a budgeting software system developed by Dave Ramsey’s team that allows users to track saving and spending under the zero sum budget strategy. Budgeting in EveryDollar is super fast and easy (even easier than Mint.com), but it costs. If you want the ability to link all your accounts to the app like you can with Mint, then you’ll need to pay $99 annually. There is less clicking and refreshing – everything you need to complete your budget is done on one page. However, EveryDollar doesn’t have the graphs and charts that Mint.com does with respect to reporting on your historical spending. For that reason, if you would like a more in depth tool, Mint.com may be better.
Personal Capital is similar to Mint.com with the additional feature of actual investing and no advertisements. You can actually invest your money with Personal Capital, unlike with Mint.com (read more about Personal Capital here). Otherwise, the features of Mint.com and Personal Capital are very similar – both use charts and graphs to show your financial snapshot and historical spending. One feature about Personal Capital that is nice is that it doesn’t have any advertisements because it makes money through people paying them for their services (i.e. investing with them). However, both services are free to use, so you can’t go wrong with either.
Should You Use Mint.com?
You should decide whether to use Mint.com by identifying whether it will help you.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide weather to use Mint.com.
- Are you just getting started budgeting?
- Do you need an online tool to help you track your saving and spending?
- Do you need encouragement and tracking software to achieve financial goals?
- Do you wish you had access to a free credit score?
If the answer is yes to these questions, then Mint.com may be a valuable tool for you to use. The bonus is that Mint.com is completely free and you can deactivate it at any time.