July 20, 2012, 8:54 PM — Over the last several years Ive had the opportunity to look at a multitude of personal financial applications, all of which offer useful collections of tools for managing your money matters. Of all these apps, none comes close to offering the breadth of features and capabilities of the free, web-based Personal Capital.
As is the case with all applications of this sort, setup is the initial hurdle you have to clear if you hope to track all of your financial data. Personal Capital makes this process incredibly easy, although its important to note that in order to use this application you will already have to have some kind of online relationship with all the financial institutions you want to track using Personal Capital.
Adding accounts to Personal Capital is easy, all you need to do is select or search for the bank, credit union, credit card, or investment company you want to track data for and then enter your current login information for that entity. Personal Capital will then log in to the site and begin aggregating your financial data. If the financial site youre connecting to requires additional authentication information, like your mothers maiden name or the first elementary school you attended, personal Capital can handle this too, without any problems. This is in stark contrast to Mint which always seems to need me to log in to fix some sort of authentication problem related to the extra questions banks require you to answer to see your financial information.
One problem Ive had with every financial application Ive used is their inability to automatically collect data from all the financial institutions I use. Most notably, my local credit union and the company holding the 401k money I had at a former employer. In short, I have never been able to connect to and retrieve data from these institutions no matter what application Ive used. Personal Capital connects to them both without a hitch.
This isnt to say that Personal Capital is perfect. Its new enough that, while I was able to connect to all my bank accounts, I was not able to create links to the credit cards issued by some of those banks. I dont expect this to be a persistent issue (when I contacted tech support at Personal Capital, they stated that the card was currently in beta and should be available soon.) But depending on the financial institutions you use, this could mean you may not initially be able track some of your financial information.