Is Mint.com a scam? Admit it, lots of us are not that experts when it comes to saving. We usually spend more than what we have in our bank accounts. Sometimes, we forget to pay bills and we splurge out cash for very unnecessary needs.
I mean, come on, there are expenses everyday and life is fast-paced and busy, who has the time to budget out everything?
For some of us, we may need an extra pair of eyes to look out for our personal finances and expenses. We may need a companion at times. This is where Mint comes into action.
Mint is a website which keeps track of all your finances. Yeah, I know, this is not new in the finance niche. We always had finance trackers like Mint within the market. Some of it are satisfactory, while some of it turns out to be insecure and may be potential scams.
Mint is a contender in this market, and heads are turning for this one. It makes people like me who are the worst at budgeting and handling money ask the question ‘Is Mint.com a scam?’. Who knows, it could be and it could be the greatest finance management website there is. That’s what we’re going to find out.
In this Mint review, we are going to know what Mint is all about, how it works, and if it could be your next personal finance manager.
So, let’s get into it!
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Mint is a web based personal finance management system. This system syncs all your savings account, credit cards, debit cards, investment accounts, and other bank accounts to download all the data regarding your finances and apply this to track all your expenses, and other features to help you spend better.
Intuit Inc., the company behind Mint, goes a long way back as it was founded in 1983. Founders Scott Cook and Tom Proulx built the company from the ground up when the idea of personal finance management websites were at its novel and juvenile stage.
Ever since then, Intuit Inc. has been expanding its trademarks from Quick Books, Pro Connect, Turbo Tax, and to their latest trademark, Mint.
Mint has been in the personal finance niche for 13 years as it was founded by Aaron Patzer back in 2006. Apparently, when he was 25, he sold Mint to Intuit for a large sum.
His decision to sell Mint to Intuit made it a competitor of dominant financial management websites like Microsoft Money, and Intuit’s Quicken.
Is it any better than its competitors? More importantly, is Mint.com a scam? To find out the answers to these questions, let us first know how this web based financial management system works.
Before delving in any further in regards to the functionalities of the website, let us first know exactly what happens when you sign up for Mint.
Signing up to Mint is fairly simple and I would consider a breeze. Of course, you’re going to have to provide demographic information like your name, country, zip code. Plus, your email address and a password you prefer.
Take note, Mint is currently only available to use for those who reside within the US and Canada.
Once you have input all the basic information needed, you are now ready to add and setup all your financial accounts. You can add whatever financial account you have, whether it be checking, savings, credit, and investment as long as you are still using it for transactions.
It could take a while from minutes to half an hour for Mint to link all your accounts since there would have to be requests between the bank and the website to download your banking transactions, history and details.
Take note, everytime you log into your account, your financial data will always be updated automatically.
Now, you might be thinking, is it really safe to consolidate all your financial accounts to a third party app or website? Banks have warned us over and over again what this could do to your money. But I am confident that Mint is safe. I’ll tell you more about this later on.
The best part of all this is you could utilize the website without having to pay for any sign up fees or upsells because it is for free!
Let’s admit it, if it doesn’t come with an app, then maybe it would be time to reconsider our options. Of course, we are always on the go, and our daily lives are fast paced so if we were to choose a financial management companion, it needs to catch up.
Fortunately, Mint offers a variety of mobile apps. You can download their apps either on The App Store or Google Play Store. Mint has been recognized for their apps and have been awarded PC Magazine “Editor’s Choice”, Lifehacker “Best Mobile Personal Finance Tool” and many more!
The apps aren’t as comprehensive and featured as the website is, but the apps can be really useful for reminding you to pay your bills or if you have overspent when you’re outside with your friends.
One of the apps Mint has released back in 2012 was Mint Quickview. This companion app allows you to catch a quick glimpse into your personal finances. Mint Quickview can also be linked to your Mint account so you don’t need to transfer all the data by yourself. Sadly, this is only available for Apple users.
What I like about these apps is its added security. Mint incorporates the Touch ID sensor to log in to the app. Not only does this give added security, it also allows you to access the app quickly.
In the transactions feature of the Mint website, you are able to see all the transactions you have made in your accounts or if you wish, you can also view your transactions by category or by account.
Mint also categorizes all your expenses when it has extracted your data from previous transactions on your account. Take for instance, when you have bought a pair of shoes from Nike, Mint will automatically categorize this as a ‘Shopping’ expense. This way, you are able to see if you are spending your money wisely on things that are considered as necessities.
However, there has been some talk about this auto-categorization feature of Mint. It is reported that sometimes Mint does not really know what to categorize a certain expense, leaving this ‘uncategorized’. This implies you would have to be the one to categorize it for Mint. I know, such an inconvenience, right?
That’s okay, though. Mint is always working on improving the system. It won’t be long until Mint perfects this feature.
Budgeting and Tracking
Source: Mint.com Homepage
This is where I believe Mint excels the most. Mint assigns budgets to each category of your expenses derived from your income and data gathered from previous transactions.
You can also make categories of your own depending on your needs. With the use of this budgeting feature, you are now able to know whether you still have enough money for a certain category or if you have surpassed the assigned budget.
With this information, you will be able to decide if a certain expense really needs that much budget or if you’re going to need more budget for another expense in which you deem is more important and necessary.
Mint also gives you weekly or monthly email summaries with regards to your budget.
Are you planning to save up for college? To buy a car? Or even save up for when you’re retired? Mint has your back on that. Mint allows you to set your goals and save money for it.
You can pay off loans, pay off credit card debt, save for an emergency, buy a home, and even take a trip. Mint also gives you the privilege to set a goal yourself. Here is how things go down in this feature.
If you are planning to go to Bora Bora during the summer season, you would have to link a financial account. Then, Mint will indicate when you are able to accomplish this goal and to what extent you would have to save.
Source: Mint.com Homepage
I think this is one of the necessary features you would need to be more disciplined in handling your finances. Let’s face it, we tend to forget when our bills are due and we tend to not know if we had already overspend for a certain expense.
Thankfully, Mint will alert you if you ever do such an act. Mint can notify you by means of email or SMS. Mint will notify you if you have late fees, large purchases, unusual spending, or if you have excess budget for a certain category.
It will also remind when you should pay your bills or if there are rate changes you should be aware of.
The only downside in this alerts feature is you’re going to have to deal with a lot of emails and text messages. Good news, though! You can turn off alerts for certain financial situations. You can choose to not be reminded of a low balance, but still be alerted for a bill reminder.
Also, you can choose whether you want to be alerted through email or SMS.
This is one of the features Mint should work on to improve. The investment options with Mint are very limited and you really don’t have much to do with it. You will be given daily updates on how your investments are doing, but that’s really mostly just it.
As a bonus, Mint has featured a free credit score tracking option. As the name implies, by clicking the “Show Details” button, you are able to view your credit score, payment history, age of credit accounts and more.
If you want to know how to budget wisely with Mint, you may want to watch the video below.
How come Mint lets us use their website without letting us pay? Do they secretly extract cash from your accounts? Not necessarily.
Mint is completely free to use and there are no upsells either, because maybe they don’t need your money since they have a lot of sources for their cash flow.
For one thing, Mint recommends various financial services to its users and they are paid referral fees by these companies when you use these services. You might not know this, but usually websites and apps that are free to use usually earn money by referral fees.
The website isn’t completely free to use, though, as how it was advertised. You are also given the opportunity to upgrade your account to premium, which as you might have already guessed, have more features so that you can get the most out of Mint.
You will also see ad banners all throughout the website in which these promote their own products like Turbo Tax. It could even be credit cards, investment accounts, home mortgages and other products their partner companies offer.
Another thing, Mint also sells your information to various providers. Don’t panic! The website just collects all of Mint users’ information and sells the data as an aggregate. Your data will be sent anonymously.
These various providers are only buying this information so that they could gain further information about consumer spending, how many people are planning for their retirement, or what’s the average credit card balance.
It’s really just as simple and harmless like that.
Source: Mint.com Homepage
Mint features a two-factor authentication system. What is this all about? For you to access your account, you would have to enter your password, but that’s only one factor.
The other factor for you to be authenticated is a random code sent to you by Mint through email or a text message. This code is what you would have to enter to Mint so that you can access your account.
That’s not all though. Mint uses security measures such as 128-bit SSL encryption and 256 bit encryption to protect your files in the servers of the company.
This website also monitors your account through third-party sites like TRUSTe and VeriSign.
How about when your account has been hacked or there has been a data breach? Mint says that a hacker would have nothing to do with your information since users can’t make transactions with the app. The website is designed as a read-only format.
Also, the website does not display full account information and usernames.
Of course, you must also do your part in keeping your information safe. It could be something as simple as creating a really secure password, a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
What if you lost your phone and Mint is still running in the background with all your banking information? Remember, you can still access your account online. You can easily deactivate and delete your account, or disconnect your mobile device from your account.
Sometimes, Mint does not effectively synchronize with your financial accounts. It could take a long time before your financial activities be downloaded by Mint and show up on the website.
Crappy Customer Service
When we are experiencing difficulties with a product or service, we want answers and relief fast. However, you won’t be getting any of that with Mint.
Inaccuracies With Categorization
It could get frustrating having the need to categorize a certain expense when Mint does not know how to categorize it. Fortunately for this feature, everytime this happens, Mint memorizes it and starts to apply your custom categorizations in future transactions.
Bill Pay is Gone
Before, you can pay bills with Mint. However, now, you are only given the option to be reminded when you should pay your bills. That’s pretty much just it.
Limited Investment Features
One of the best things about Mint is its simplicity, from the title to its functionality. Anyone can adapt to the website in a short amount of time. However, it may have adapted this simplicity to the investment feature.
Keep All Your Accounts in One Place
You don’t have to use different websites for different account types. All your savings, credit, debit, and investment accounts can easily be consolidated within your Mint account.
It is Safe
Mint has a lot of security features to ensure no one will be able to do anything with your banking information.
Ready to Go
Mint offers a wide range of apps that will enable you to take Mint wherever you go.
Your banking information is presented as pretty graphs and tables so that you can easily view your finances without having to go through the hassle of reading spreadsheets.
Budgeting and Tracking Feature
I like the idea of having a companion that would do all the budgeting for all my expenses. Let’s get real, budgeting isn’t really the most fun thing to do and it could get really confusing without proper resources.
A lot of us tend to forget, and I like that you can receive emails or text messages to inform you about a certain financial situation.
I believe Mint.com is not a scam. It is a legit personal finance management website and you could bet your ass that your banking information is kept safe and secure.
With Mint, you are able to keep track of your personal finances and you can take this opportunity to develop discipline within yourself when it comes to spending and saving money.
But you know what’s better than a financial management website? I do!
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