Dedicated to Deposits: Deals, Data, and Discussion

My Experiences with Mint.com for Bank Account Tracking


Over the last five years, I've opened many bank and credit union accounts. Not only did I want to take advantage of deals, but I also wanted to review the accounts for this blog. If there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, I've typically left the accounts open just in case a good deal returns. The result is that I've accumulated many accounts, and it's time consuming to log into all of them on a regular basis. So I decided it was time to give one of the account aggregation services a try.

I've always been a little worried about these services since to automate the account tracking, you have to provide your login info for each bank account that you want it to track. But I decided it was better to have regular reviews of the accounts through an aggregation service.

There are several aggregation services available. This FW thread has a list of the popular ones. Yodlee appears to be the granddaddy of web-based account aggregators, and its aggregation engine powers several applications for customers like Mint.com, Fidelity and HSBC. Based on its popularity, I decided to go with Mint.com. There's a good overview of the service at Mint.com's About page, and you can review the security and privacy protections here.

I've been using Mint.com over the last 6 weeks, and it has worked well. Entering your bank login info can be time consuming. With the extra bank security these days, you not only have to enter your username and password, but also your security answers (like oldest brother's middle name). Not all accounts went through without problems. It took multiple tries for Mint.com to log into some of my bank accounts, and it couldn't work with a few, especially for the smaller banks and credit unions that weren't in its database.

Once the login info has been entered, Mint.com does in fact automate account tracking. I especially like how it sends you email on certain account activities. One Mint.com email came in very handy when one of my credit unions charged me an inactivity fee. Here's a snapshot of the email that I received (Note, I was able to get the fee waived by calling).

mint fee notification example

Another useful email notified me of an ING Direct rate change (Although I think I found out about it before the email)

mint rate change alert

Other useful notifications include low account balances and large deposits and/or debits. The weekly account summary emails are also useful.

What's your favorite account aggregation service? And what problems and useful features have you experienced?



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Comments
14 Comments.
Comment #1 by Mike (anonymous) posted on
Mike
Ken,

This month's Money Magazine (pg.76, March 2010 issue) includes Mint.com and Yodlee.com in "The 20 best money websites."  I was very surprised to see Bankdeals missing.

I would love to use this kind of management tool, but the security issues keep me from moving foward.  I had done that with the microsoft money for a while (2002, I think), but then got nervous about the security.  Microsoft Money did work well while I used it though.

Perhaps your good experience, in time, may bring me back in that direction.  You do a fantastic Job here.  Thanks.

6
Comment #3 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
.

 

Err ... forgot to mention ... If you've created your own challenge questions (rather than using the "standard" ones that are provided by the web-site) then the Fido's Full View cannot work with these.  Therefore if you intend to use the accounts with Fido' Full View, then you must not create your own challenge questions on the underlying web-site.

 

.

4
Comment #4 by 51hh posted on
51hh
Hi Ken,

I am with Mike on this.  I am concerned about the security aspect (which is called single-point failure).  That is, one hit would compromise ALL of one's financial information, if it is penetrated successfully.  It is much safer to dsitribute one's financial information and monitor them one at a time.  It is more tedious, but much safer.  Just my take.

On whether or not to close "unused" accounts, I now favor closing RCAs when they fall out of range (say 4% at $25,000).  The main reasons are two fold.  First, the inactivity fee you just outlined.  Second, the security/fraud risk with debit cards/account information leakage.

9
Comment #5 by paul g (anonymous) posted on
paul g
Hi,

i just started opening bank accounts for fun and profit and have added this site to my list of research tools. 

You brought up that you dont close accounts as you want to take advantage of deals.  I am looking to close bank acconts as soon as possible without major penalities as i will now have the oppourtnity to open another account in 3 to 12 months and recieve another bonus.  I would think you would have the same advantages as opening an account vs keeping account.

like i said i am new to the game so feel free to let me know if my thinking is wrong or you have some past situation where this has paid off i would like to know so i can correct my thinking.

the only accounts i would consider keeping open now is the ones that offer big referral bonuses but these bounuses are open to new accounts and old accounts so i don't really see the advantage when i can open the account and get the refferal.

Re mint

i think mint is a great idea but if that site is hacked you are ****ed.  diversification is one of the keys to investing.  the old sayings of the past are true today as they were 100 years ago "don't put all your eggs in one basket".  All of your passwords in one place seems very tempting to a ****ed off employee.

3
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Pageonce?

 

Bank of America My Portfolio?

-2
Comment #7 by Gaelicwench posted on
Gaelicwench
Don't you get turned down when opening a new account due to many inquiries? That's what happened to me. Also, many banks are now charging fees for inactivity. I know Chase is doing this very thing, which is why I closed my account with them.

ONe that I benefitted with and am now using as my primary bill pay account - I also have Direct Deposit going in it - is USAA; they offered a $100 bonus. No minimum balance, direct deposit or certain number of transactions. The only stipulation was that I keep the account open for six months, and then afterwards they would deposit the $100 bonus. They were true to their word, too.

I've tried Mint.com, but the issues I have are that they don't have certain banks listed on their list. And since I do local banking - community and credit union - where I live, neither are listed. I guess that is why I prefer Mvelopes and YNAB3.

I've also tried Wesabe, which is a really great one; it's really inspiring to read posts and write my own when it comes to ideas and advice regarding one's finances.

Lastly, I agree with Mike that it IS too bad that this website wasn't on the list. This is one of my "daily" stops to see what the latest is in the financial world. Matter of fact, I like it a heck of a lot more than bankrate.com.......cheers!

3
Comment #8 by Dan (anonymous) posted on
Dan
I have been using Yodlee for 10 years - no security issues.  I use strong passwords.  It can be painful to deal with when opening new accounts, but the best thing you can do for security is freeze your credit and unlock when necessary.  I have never tried Mint - I am sure it is good, but after using Yodlee for so long, it would be hard to switch.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Ken have always had the utmost respect for you, and for your work.  That respect continues undiminished.  But I'm not with you on this one.  No other person or entity will ever learn my bank or CU user names or passwords voluntarily.  To me, you have a guillotine blade hanging over your neck . . . . and you never know when or if that blade is going to fall.
 

Years ago a vendor, a third party, visiting a bank where I had a large deposit peeked at some records and stole my identity.  This was not a bank employee, just a person from the outside who was (erroneouusly) trusted by the bank.  Most folks are honest.  But remember, it takes only one dishonest person to compromise you.  And there can be hell to pay setting such matters right.  Fortunately for me, in this instance the bank accepted responsibility for their error.
 

Also importantly, neither the NCUA nor the FDIC will be there to save you in the event of bank or CU fraud.  And if the fraud happens because of something YOU did, like releasing your security data to a third party, you will be so completely SOL it'll make your head spin.
 

These services are supposedly safe and foolproof.  But if that ever should break down, and you lose funds with it not being the bank or CU's fault, just exactly what is the recourse?  Worst case:  does this arrangement fail safe??  I think not.  And I surely will not bet my money on it.

8
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I keep two accounts at each institution - savings and free checking.

I leave $5 above the minimum in one account.

At least every quarter I check online to make sure that the accounts are still OK.

At that time, I move that $5 from checking to savings or vice-versa to keep the account active.

3
Comment #11 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I use Vanguard.com to show all my bank accounts, as well as credit cards. Vanguard over the years has earned my loyalty and trust as my "main" financial account, so I am comfortable in giving my various logins to Vanguard's server.

Now if someone hacks my Vanguard account, then, well, I am in trouble. Hmmm.

2
Comment #12 by Gary (anonymous) posted on
Gary
Mint.com is a good product for tracking all of your financial accounts and handling the updates automatically.  However, Mint.com's functionality only scratches the surface of Quickens full in-depth power.  If you have a large number of accounts to track and manage, including stocks, Quicken Deluxe or Premier is by far the best choice of any product on the market.  I've used Quicken since it's inception as a DOS product and it's still the best personal financial management software on the market.  Most competitors have given up including Microsoft when it discontinued Money.  By the way, Mint.com and Quicken are both owned by Intuit.  The big downside of Mint.com is that you are loading all of your personal finacial data to the Internet.  There is still lots of risk doing this even with all of the saftey measures that have been taken to protect your data.  Maybe I'm old fashioned.  But I'm very tech savy and would never ever upload my entire personal finacial life to the world on the Internet.

2
Comment #13 by Teressa (anonymous) posted on
Teressa
I have been thinking about Mint for a while and as much as I read all the good points they say about their website, there is something telling me not to go ahead and put all my financial information. I guess just too good to be true. I would have to agree with Paul G. "Don't put all you eggs in on basket". What if something goes wrong? 

1
Comment #15 by name (anonymous) posted on
name
Within a week or so of setting up my mint.com account, some small payments showed up as multi-thousand-dollar Income items. I reported the issue and about a week later received an email saying the problem had been corrected. I responded that it had NOT been corrected. About another week later I received another email saying the problem had been corrected. (Nope, it’s still not corrected.) MINT IS UNTRUSTWORTHY (and the customer support is certainly non-responsive). I’m deleting my account now, and will be highly suspicious of using any mint (or Quicken) resources in the future. Very disappointed; I had looked forward to using it.

1
Comment #16 by JorgeCalder (anonymous) posted on
JorgeCalder
PROS

1. FREE automatic downloads & sync from banks, credit unions and brokerage firms. (with Quicken you have to pay $10/mo. average per bank)
2. Categorizes downloaded items automatically for you
3. Let you export downloaded items in CSV format
4. Let you add transactions by hand
5. One button to filter and display all bank fees

CONS

1. No balance column
2. No reference code column that helps you reconciliate, enter check numbers and transaction ids
3. Can't import data at all
4. No reports facility period
5. The All Accounts view does not display a column indicating which bank or account the item comes from.
6. Can't export to Quicken (Web Connect) or MS Money Format
7. CSV exports are unusable. One Amount column and one transaction type column (credit or debit) as opposed to one Credits and One Debits columns. No balance column.

CONCLUSION

Unusable for most people

2