Mint.com Review – What is It And What Is It For?
Mint.com is a free online personal finance service, similar to LearnVest.com and others. Established in 2008, Mint.com has a reputation for efficiency and high levels of usability. It also allows the user to customise how automated — or not — their Mint.com experience is. Mint.com is one of the oldest big-name online facilities of this type, but it’s no longer without competition. This Mint.com review will investigate the pros and cons of Mint.com, whether it deserves to be as successful as it is, and whether it’s right for you.
Setting Up A Mint.com Account
There’s little point in embarking upon a mint.com review that doesn’t consider how easy the website is to set up. The downside of any financial management or budgeting software is that you need to first of all connect it to your accounts and give it the information it needs to do your budgeting for you.
Luckily, setting up an account at Mint.com is relatively straightforward, which may be why it has 15 million registered users.
Again, Mint.com is a free service. There is no need to put in any money before it can help you save any. It is web-based and doesn’t require any software to be involved. You connect Mint.Com to your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments, if you have any, and when setup is complete, Mint will download all the financial data you’ve given it access to. Your information is updated every time you visit the site, and presented to you in the form of a number of graphs. The setup process itself is also extremely simple, with Mint.com taking you through a tour of your own finances first — step by step telling you what needs to be connected up. Then it shows you what all its own features do. This is especially helpful, since it means you’re never confused by the interface. You even get an option to decide whether any of your accounts needs to be kept separate from the rest, for example an account containing “emergency” money that can’t form part of the day to day budget.
Some have commented that Mint.com’s interface seems to be overly focused on glamor. This may be true — it’s certainly very pretty — but as long as it doesn’t lose functionality, this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Mint.com lets you draw up budgets, set financial goals and keep a close eye on all your accounts in the same place.
Features and Options of Mint.Com
Mint.com certainly has a well-reviewed interface. It’s colorful, well-designed and difficult to get lost in. The dashboard provides a good summary overview of all elements of your portfolio, and is regularly updated. You can make it update more often than it does automatically, if you like, and it shows you alerts for low balances and other unexpected issues. If you wish to receive alerts by SMS or email, it will do this too.
Mint’s primary aim is to help you keep track of your spending and to allocate your income to different categories of your budget. But there are also aspects like goals, emergency funds, specialised savings for particular items, house deposit accounts and other things. Mint.com can help you create plans to work towards each of these goals.
To an extent, Mint.com will automatically categorise your transactions into categories. If it gets this wrong to begin with, you can fiddle about with the categories until the website remembers. Once you’ve informed Mint.com what category a transaction falls into, it will remember, and it will also remember recurring payments and incorporate these into the budget without having to be told about them again.
A relatively recent aspect of Mint is that it now has a free option to keep track of your credit score. With this element incorporated into the Mint.com interface, you never need to use another website to find out any aspect of your financial picture. Mint has been bought by Intuit now, so it’s anticipated that there may be more investment-related features in Mint.com in the future. At the moment, investment isn’t its priority, but then, it’s for budgeting, and it does that well.
One edge Mint.com has over some other competitors is that it has Apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android, which some websites neglect. On iOS, the app works with fingerprint recognition for extra security. Mint will also send you weekly email summaries (if you want them) and there’s decent support for the apps.
Potential Issues – Ads and Security
Touch sensing security for the app is all well and good, but one thing that does concern some people when thinking about a Mint.com review is the actual security of the interface. After all, you are letting it access all your financial data. You have to do this on Mint.com — there is no option to input everything manually.
The data is all highly centralised, which means it could be entirely possible for a hacker to get into Mint.com and see the financial information of thousands of customers all in one place. Mint states that it uses bank-level security, so it doesn’t have access to what you type. You can’t transfer money or authorise checks through the interface, so a hacker couldn’t, either. Theoretically, it’s safe. But it’s worth knowing that if a hacker did make off with your financial information, you wouldn’t be covered by your bank. You would be described as having signed over your information to a third party. This has caused some to withdraw from Mint, despite finding it otherwise an excellent resource. This, of course, would be an issue for all websites like Mint.
One final thing to note about Mint.com is the prevalence of Ads. Mint.com does not charge its users fees, which means that it has to monetize them in other ways. At the moment, it makes money by suggesting ways in which you could make or save more money; they effectively use affiliates to encourage you to switch savings accounts or take out new loans, etc. But users have commented that, while you can’t turn ads off, they are often things that are worth knowing or doing. There are certainly other websites where we sit through far more useless ads and don’t complain. Ultimately, you have to decide whether Mint.com being free outweighs the issue of having to look at ads while you’re reviewing your financial situation.