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Best Online Personal Finance Tool

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CNN recently looked at four absolutely free online personal finance management webapps and came away with a winner. They took a look at the accounts the tool tracked, how easy it was to use, what they liked best, what they liked the least, and the bottom line of each of the four tools. From what I know about each service, I can’t say I disagree with their assessments of each tool.


Mint - Free Online Money Management was named winner, edging out Yodlee’s MoneyCenter, because of their recent investment tracking additions. You can now track bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. Yodlee can track a couple other things like frequent flyer miles but it can’t track investments; I think investments trump mileage anyway, especially since I fly Southwest.

Another notable plus for Mint was it’s “inviting layout” (I considered Mint to be the most visually attractive of all the tools when I reviewed Mint) and their biggest minus was the thinly veiled advertising. I don’t think you can blame them, they have to pay the bills somehow.

#2 Yodlee MoneyCenter

As mentioned earlier, Yodlee MoneyCenter came in second with the most comprehensive feature-set but was austere in its layout. Another knock against Yodlee was how difficult it was to navigate. Yodlee is the backend that powers many of the other personal finance tools. Mint used to (and may still use) it to retrieving account transaction data.

#3 Quicken Online

Quicken Online has been around for a while but only recently offered their online application for free. They too can track bank accounts, credit cards, investments and loans (the same as and have been in the business for many many years, which means strong customer support. The only downside is you can’t sync the online with the desktop app.

#4 Wesabe

Wesabe has since closed its doors and been replaced with its own forums.

Wesabe took fourth because it had a much shallower feature-set letting you only get data from bank accounts and credit cards. Until recently, had the same feature set as well but they’ve now put some distance between them. One security plus with Wesabe is that you retain your account login credentials on your computer, rather than storing them on the app’s server (encrypted, of course).

Of the four, I’ve used Quicken Online and and, if forced to choose one, would pick because of its interface and rich feature-set.

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Best Online Personal Finance Tool”

  1. Eric N. says:

    I use the MyPortfolio feature of BoA, which is powered by Yodlee I believe. I like having all of my accounts accessible from just logging into BoA’s homepage.

  2. Jordan says:

    Yodlee has support for investment accounts and transaction. It’s in MoneyCenter and it’s used by many advisor firms that use our products.

    ..Jordan, Yodlee Inc.

  3. Bill says:

    It is one thing to offer a Web application for free but it is more important, IMHO, to consider who is actually profiting from an application’s use. If you examine the facts, I contend that credit lenders are the biggest winners (at least until recently) among the “users” of the four applications profiled by CNN. I call them Commercial Lending Portals (CLPs). It is worthy to note that Yodlee is somewhat less a CLP than the other three.

    Such polished applications do not spring into life by themselves. Nor do they pay for their operational costs and maintenance. A considerable amount of money was spent by interested parties to drive users into these applications. Don’t take my word for it though. Follow the money and draw your own conclusions…

    Until Mvelopes took a turn toward becoming a CLP, I would have suggested it as an decent alternative to these four apps. Of course, it wasn’t free but then again, the users were meant to benefit from its use, not some bank.

  4. Patrick says:

    I have heard that Mint is a great tool, but I would be a little concerned that they have access to all of your private accounts. If they databases are not secure enough, somebody could easily get tons of people’s information easily through one site. Let’s hope that they have good security in place for all their systems.

  5. Chris says:

    I use BoA’s tool now because it’s easier to get my wife to use it. I liked Mint a lot, and have kept my account with them in the hopes that some day they develop a TRUE BUDGET TOOL. The one they have, last I used it, was horrific. It would constantly change my budget amounts, and do so to my average spending in an area. Obviously changing the budget amounts is horrific and frustrating, but if you are trying to help people spend less then why put it at their average??? Dumb dumb dumb.

    BoA’s usage of Yodlee is fairly easy to use. The rules engine for auto-categorization is lame (as is Yodlee’s of course), but gets the job done.

    I really wish Mint would get its budgeting act together.

  6. Chelsea says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for mentioning Quicken Online. We went free in October and launched our redesign Nov. 21. While you can’t sync Quicken Online with Quicken desktop products, you can export transactions from Quicken Online for use in a spreadsheet, for example. Quicken Online and Quicken desktop are really geared toward two totally different financial users. Quicken Online is meant to help newly financially independent people make the most of what they have and get a forward-looking view of their finances over the next couple of paychecks. Let me know if you have any questions or want a private demo of the newly redesigned Quicken Online.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey everyone,

    My name is Allese and I work at Wesabe. It’s interesting, one of our members posted this article in our Community and heated discussion has since occurred about the pros and cons of these sites (see it here: Some food for thought!

    @Patrick: If you’re worried about security, Wesabe is definitely the place to be as you never have to share your username and password (thanks Jim for pointing this out). Unlike all of the other services, Wesabe does not use a back end (like Cashedge or Yodlee) to swipe your financial information from your bank/credit union.
    Instead we developed a way for you to see all your accounts in one place, categorize your spending and use our budgeting tools without sharing sensitive information.

    @Jim: Thanks for the post!

  8. sarah says:

    I use Yodlee, and it does keep track of my investments. I love the budgeting tool – it sends me an email when I get close to one of my categories or go over at all. The auto-classifications are not always right (our grocery store is Apple Market, and they classified it as electronics….), but I can change that quickly & easily.

    I have not tried Mint, but I hear its about the same. Either way, the programs are nice to have to keep track of everything in one place.

  9. Nick says:

    I like yodlee the best, it does actually tack investments. While Mint has a very nice user interface, Yodlee offers much more customization. Yodlee also have a mobile site where you can access all of your finances on the go, which is great if you travel.

    Yodlee also offers a billpay feature, and a billpay calendar so you can see when your bills are due visually. Also throw in that you can add in a shared account.

    My 2cents.

  10. Jim says:

    The link to Wesabe seems broken.

  11. allese says:

    Hey Jim,

    Thanks for letting me know. Here it is again…

    Hope that works!

  12. Eric N. says:

    Wow Jim…your post attracted all the representatives here! 😉

  13. Chelsea says:

    Yes Jim, Great conversation starter 🙂

    – Chelsea, Quicken Online

  14. jim says:

    I almost missed the CNN Money story too!

  15. I still like the old-fashioned spreadsheet. Yes, I have some accounts of these as well, but I rarely think to log into them. I’m bad.

  16. Mike says:

    What is the best financial tool to develop business P&L? Is there a free ware on the Internet I can use? Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.


  17. Patric says:

    To me, the best tools out there are and budget-planner. both have great tools and are great for budget planning, and personal finance.

  18. Barb says:

    I just deleted my Mint account because it has severe problems loading information from BofA and numerous people continue to complain.
    Also, some retail credit cards do not update such as Target and Home Depot. Mint claims it is the retail sites fault, but has not offered solutions for any of these.

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