Instant access to account balances, financial transactions, spending habits, and other personal finance information. Sends alerts. Lets you pay bills. Clean design.
Some features only accessible in the full website version.
- Bottom Line
The Mint app for Android does an excellent job of giving you insight to how much money you have, how much you owe, and where you spend it. Mint is the best mobile app for keeping your personal finances under control.
By Jill Duffy
If you don't have a Mint account, you're missing out on one of the best personal finance apps on the market. Mint tracks your spending, lets you set up budgets in different categories, and helps you plan for your financial future. To keep tabs on your money, and even pay your bills, when you're on the go, you'll want the Mint app on your phone. Mint helps you keep pace with your financial life around the clock and around the world, and it's dead simple to use.
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This review looks specifically at the Mint app for Android (there's also an iPhone app), which is a companion mobile app to the website Mint.com. For new users, I recommend setting up an account on the web version first and then signing into the mobile app later. See my full review of Mint.com for complete details on the service.
The Mint app is free to install, and the service is also free to use. There may be charges for paying certain bills within the app, but you'll always see a notice about any fees before agreeing to them. You might be wondering, "If so much of Mint is free, how does the app make money?"
Mint uses targeted advertising. When you use Mint, you give it read-access to your financial accounts. That means the app has information on the details of your credit cards, loans, and other finances, including how much interest you pay and whether you get hit with a ton of ATM fees. Because Mint knows all this information, it can offer you highly targeted advertising, such as a credit card with a lower interest rate than the one you currently have, or a savings account with a higher one. Advertisers let Mint make the match, and when you click through and sign up for one of the services, Mint gets a little payout from the advertiser.
Not all mobile finance apps are free. Those that help you with investments usually charge something, whether it's a small monthly fee, a transaction fee, or a percent of your earnings.
Acorns, for example, is a mobile app that encourages you to round up purchase prices and put the spare change into an investment account. You pay a dollar a month for the pleasure. Another investment app, Stash Invest, also charges $1 per month, although account holders with $5,000 or more invested pay 0.25 percent of their account balance per year.
It's up to you whether you'd rather see Mint's targeted ads or pay a little bit extra to use an ad-free app. It's worth noting, however, that the Mint's ads really can be useful.
Know Your Worth
Mint is one of those services that instantly make sense as a mobile app. At its most basic, Mint gives you real-time access to all your financial account balances and transactions. It's the same data you can likely get from your banks' own apps, but if you have seven or eight different financial accounts, you have to log into into and check seven or eight different places to keep track of everything. With Mint, they're all brought together into one big-picture view. More importantly, the app combines those balances to show your net worth or total debt.
Mint also shows exactly where and how you spend your money, as well as how you might be able to save more. It tracks and displays line item transactions across all your accounts, including Venmo and PayPal.
You can also add to your Mint account the value of assets you own, such as a home, so that the service can calculate your true net worth. The full Mint website has even more tools for setting up financial goals as well as budgets in different categories to help you keep track of your spending, which you can access (but not change) from the mobile app.
Manage Your Money
One of the clearest reasons to use Mint as a mobile app is to check whether you can afford something before you buy it. With Mint, you get a complete picture of your finances. Before you charge something to a debit card, you can check the available and pending balances. Before you buy another latte, you can check whether you've already exceeded your coffee budget for the month. Mint makes it simple to stay on top of all these kinds of details, which can affect your spending habits in the moment.
Two more reasons to keep the Mint app on your phone are for alerts and paying bills. Alerts let you know when something specific happens with your money, such as when a charge greater than a certain amount hits one of your accounts. Alerts are fully customizable, though you have to set them up via the website. From the mobile app, you can only see them and dismiss existing alerts. This is one of the app's drawbacks. It's easy to imagine wanting to set up tracking of a big payment you make while you're on vacation without access to a PC, for example.
Bill payment is another excellent feature, especially for people who are prone to forget paying their bills. With Mint, you can set up automatic bill pay and simply use the app to keep an eye on when bills are due and when they clear. Or you can use it to actually make payments one by one. Mint processes payments fast, too, often on the same day you set them up.
Mint's Mobile Security
Mint has good security features at the app level, as well as within the service itself. You can set up a four-digit PIN to lock the app, and you can add a fingerprint lock on phones that support that feature as well.
With the exception of the bill payment feature, you can't do anything with your money in Mint. You can't, for example, withdraw cash or transfer money from one bank account to another. The app never exposes your bank account numbers or credit card numbers either. The most secure accounts are those that ask you to log into third-party sites, such as Mint, using your username and an access code rather than your account password. More financial institutions are getting savvy to this option, but not enough have fully rolled it out to customers. This will go a long way to making third-party financial apps more secure.
Mint To Go
The Mint app is the best, most thorough, and simplest personal finance management app for Android phones. It does take a bit of time and patience to fully customize and learn how to use for your specific needs, but it does a wonderful job of helping you keep an eye on your money and future money. For all those reasons, Mint is one of of PCMag's favorite Android apps.
Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital formats. She is also the creator and author of ProductivityReport.org. Before joining PCMag.com, she was senior editor at the Association for Computing Machinery, a non-profit membership organization for… More »
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