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Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Financial Future: Personal Capital Review

Last Updated on March 13, 2019 Last Updated on March 13, 2019
Personal Capital Review:

Personal Capital is a free suite of tools that help track wealth and optimize investments. These tools help investors track their net worth, budget, improve investment allocations and cut 401k fees. The Retirement Planner tool is the most sophisticated, realistic retirement planning calculator available today.

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As technology advances, it enables people to become more connected and informed. One of the biggest effects of new technology is on the financial world. Now, investments are incredibly accessible to all people searching to live a more flexible financial life. People can invest their money more easily than ever before

Online financial planning and management services allow people to invest money and manage their portfolios from their computers or phones.

Online management takes the guesswork out of investing. It gives users the opportunity to establish and develop a portfolio of investments with ease. Because let’s face it, we aren’t Warren Buffett. Picking the right stocks, at the right time, and holding on through the ups and downs, can be impossible.

Enter Personal Capital

One such online investment platform, Personal Capital, has made a name for itself as a comprehensive investment checkup tool that offers a range of services at a low cost. But does this platform live up to the hype?

Below you will find a comprehensive Personal Capital review—the pros, cons, and whether or not it can help you improve your financial situation.

Let’s get started.

About the Personal Capital app

Personal Capital has been around since 2009, and the platform has since developed a user base of more than 165 million investors. These investors have a combined account holding of $7 billion.

Personal Capital Screenshots

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There are two basic services offered through a Personal Capital account: free finance aggregation, and paid advisory service.

Most advisors use the free aggregation tools, but higher net worth investors tend to opt for the paid service.

To be eligible to use their paid services, investors must have at least $100,000 to start their accounts. Personal Capital targets these higher net worth investors with its paid service.  This helps bolster its free service for other users.

Therefore, the platform truly offers something for everyone.

There are several different features that investors using Personal Capital have access to. And, the platform is frequently expanding to increase its offerings.

BudgetingThe Personal Capital budgeting tool draws information from your various bank accounts to help keep track of how much you're spending and what you are paying for.
Retirement PlanningThe retirement planning tool offered by Personal Capital gives users an overview of their retirement savings at a glance and helps them stay on track.
Account IntegrationYou can plug in the credentials for various brokerage accounts, wealth management services, and bank accounts to your Personal Capital dashboard.
401(K) AnalyzerPersonal Capital’s 401(k) fee analyzer enables you to understand exactly how these types of fees are affecting your account.
Risk AssessmentsPersonal Capital offers you to select different risk profiles and allocate your investment accounts accordingly.
AlertsPersonal Capital will send you text and email notifications to keep you up to date on what is going on with your accounts and portfolios.
Education PlannerHelps you compare colleges, costs, and track your savings progress.

Personal Capital budgeting

Having a budget—and sticking to it—is one of the best things you can do for your short and long-term financial health.

Unfortunately, budgeting can be a struggle for many people. The Personal Capital budgeting tool draws information from your various bank accounts to help keep track of how much you’re spending and what you are paying for.

personal capital app review

This allows you to get a better grasp on your spending habits. And, ultimately, make changes to help support your saving and investment goals.

Personal Capital retirement planning

When people start investing, they often do so in an attempt to prepare for retirement. The retirement planning tool offered by Personal Capital. It gives users an overview of their retirement savings to help them stay on the right track.

personal capital app retirement tool

You can use this tool to help you determine whether you are saving aggressively enough. It will tell you then are you meeting your retirement goals on time.

Personal Capital users can access this feature from the online dashboard or on the iPad, iPhone or mobile app.

Account integration options

Personal Capital enables you to plug in credentials for various brokerage accounts, wealth management services, and bank accounts. This allows you to get a comprehensive view of your investment portfolio from a single dashboard. This includes your IRA, 401(k), stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, credit cards, and other investment accounts.

All this from the Personal Capital free account!

personal capital app account integration

Instead of checking 12 online banking account balances, you can sync them all to your Personal Capital dashboard. Here, you can more easily track your account performance, management fees, and spending habits.

Personal Capital 401(k) and IRA Analysis

Regardless of which institution or entity manages your 401(k) and IRA accounts, you could be paying more in fees than you might think.

The truth is, fees on your 401(k) will affect not only your savings in the short run, but they can also significantly decrease your holdings. They do this by decreasing the amount you earn in interest over time.

Personal Capital’s 401(k) fee analyzer enables you to understand exactly how these types of fees are affecting your account.

401(k) fee analyzer - personal capital app review

Personal Capital risk assessment

Depending on your goals, your financial holdings, and the duration of time you plan on leaving your money invested, your tolerance for risk will fluctuate.

Personal Capital offers you to select different risk options. The platform will then allocate your investment accounts accordingly.

This enables you to invest your money in accordance with your risk tolerance without any of the guesswork.

Personal Capital Account: Some Other Cool Stuff

Personal Capital also has the option to send you text and email notifications. They do this to keep you up to date on what is going on with your accounts and portfolios.


I’m being told this isn’t the exact wording Personal Capital uses, but I’m guessing it’s close.

Personal Capital sends notifications even when you’re not logged into your dashboard or using your mobile application.

These alerts are totally voluntary, and you can shut them off if you don’t like them. However, they can be quite helpful if you like having a summary of your account holdings and activities on a regular basis.

When it comes to tax time, Personal Capital has a bunch of resources for users to help analyze your taxable accounts. This includes tax-loss harvesting tools.

Finally, Personal Capital also has an education planner tool. This allows you to prepare for college life. The tool can help you compare colleges, costs, and track your savings progress.

So Who Should Use Personal Capital?

Everyone. Next.

But seriously, investors of all types should try Personal Capital. Investing only a small amount of money at first is still a great way to start your investment journey!

The platform is also great for more experienced or wealthy investors. It is designed for those who wish to use technology to make the most of their money without having to rely so much on a financial advisor service.

Below is a list of those who will find great use from using the Personal Capital budgeting, planning, and investment tools

Personal Capital for High Net Worth Investors

Because of the many free tools and services that Personal Capital offers, the platform appeals to many different people. High net worth investors who are looking for a paid service are drawn to the platform because of its competitive rates compared with another paid advisory service.

personal capital client fees - app review

Personal Capital for Retirement Planners

Those who truly want to focus on achieving their retirement goals enjoy the 401(k) analyzer tool that Personal Capital offers. The platform also enables these retirement planners to maintain a portfolio that is in line with their tolerance for risk and their plans for the years ahead.

Personal Capital for Beginners

Users who have never invested before often choose Personal Capital because of its user-friendly application. This makes it easy for them to start investing. By integrating information from all of their accounts, the platform gives users the ability to view their financial health and holdings from a single platform.

This gives users the ability to grow their investments over time through strategic investments in stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more.

Shity Budgeters

You know who you are! Thanks to its robust budgeting features and bill and credit card tracking capabilities, Personal Capital is useful for individuals who are looking for a way to take control of their finances. And, ultimately, break bad spending habits.

personal capital app budgeting

Personal Capital Review: Pros and Cons

As with any financial platforms, there are some notable downsides to Personal Capital. The best way for you to determine whether the platform is the right one for you is to register and give it a try.

As you use the platform, here are some key considerations.

Personal Capital Advantages

Versatility: Because Personal Capital incorporates so many different services and free tools, it can be utilized for a wide range of purposes.

This includes budgeting, credit card analysis, education planning, retirement savings, and investment tracking. Regardless of what your specific goals are, you will likely be able to derive some value from the platform.

Communication: You can always stay informed about your account activity and your portfolio through notifications. You can set up email, text and notification settings based on the kind of information and alerts you wish to receive.

If you opt-in, Personal Capital can notify you about upcoming bill due dates and weekly changes to your account holdings and net worth.

Features: While some people prefer a no-frills approach to an investment checkup tool and their financial management, many others benefit from the various tools that Personal Capital offers.

These extra tools are offered at no additional cost. And, the platform often introduces new features and capabilities to offer refined wealth management, financial planning, and investment services to users.

Security: Perhaps one of the biggest concerns users have when they use a financial platform is whether it is actually secure. Personal Capital incorporates a variety of security measures and authorization processes to prevent unauthorized account access and to secure your personal information.

Every time you use Personal Capital on a new device, you must register and authorize it through a verification process. In addition, they utilize encryption rather than plain text to store information. Personal Capital is a read-only platform and does not facilitate withdrawals or transfers within the service.

Convenience: Users are drawn to Personal Capital because it offers a high level of convenience. Setting up an account is quick and straightforward. And, you can link all of your external accounts easily through the app or the online dashboard.

After you set up your account, sync your other financial accounts, and input the relevant information about your financial preferences and goals, you have it all in one place.

Now, you have a single platform that helps you manage virtually all of your financial information and spending habits.

Instead of logging into various accounts and using other third-party financial tools, you can find everything you need from a single platform that’s designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

Inclusivity: Whether you have a PC or a tablet, you can take advantage of Personal Capital’s versatile interface. It can be accessed online or through a mobile or tablet device.

Although there are certain features that are only available on certain devices, the core platform remains consistent regardless of the device you use.

Customization: Once you’ve inserted your preferences, risk tolerance and financial information, Personal Capital will help you balance your portfolio. They do this by analyzing your existing holdings so that you can get on track to achieve your goals for saving and retirement.

You can view metrics that measure your personal accounts. This gives you a clear picture of where you are at financially.

Reporting: Weekly reports track changes to your account and fluctuations in your net worth. These give you a fairly comprehensive snapshot and are a useful tool that you can use to analyze and re-assess your current financial and investing habits.

Reporting through Personal Capital is thorough enough that many users leverage it as a starting point to make changes to their portfolio and adjust their preferences and goals.

Personal Capital Disadvantages

Fees: When it comes to Personal Capital’s paid service, there is some debate related to whether the applicable management fees are fair based on the service. Personal Capital fees for their paid service are undoubtedly much less expensive than consulting with traditional advisors. They are however more expensive than comparable robo-advisors, like Wealthfront.

Annual FeePersonal CapitalBettermentWealthfront
First $1M0.89%0.25%0.25%
First $3M0.79%Waives fee0.25%
Next $2M0.69%Waives fee0.25%
Next $5M0.59%Waives fee0.25%
Over $10M0.49%Waives fee0.25%

It’s likely that these fees are higher in order to maintain its free service. Whereas other robo-advisor services take small fees from your assets under management.

Reliability: When you use a financial tool or investment service, you want to feel confident that you will be able to access it reliably. Unfortunately, Personal Capital does have a history of technical bugs and glitches in its platform.

These issues were most prevalent when the service first launched. But they still crop up from time to time. New updates to the platform help curb these problems. But, users still experience issues occasionally—particularly when trying to link a new account.

Solicitation: They say that nothing is really free and. Although they do offer great services without any charges, it still pushes its paid service through solicitation to free users. You may see ads within the platform for the paid service.

Or, in some cases, you might even receive a call from a salesperson asking if you want to upgrade. If you can get over this solicitation, the free platform really does offer a lot of perks to Personal Capital users.

Personal Capital vs Mint

Both Mind and Personal Capital offer free online platforms that help you track your finances and spending patterns.

Unlike Personal Capital, Mint does not have extra tools that allow you to plan for your education or retirement. Nor does Mint provide investment analysis. Mint focuses on, and in many ways excels at, tracking your personal finances.

One thing is worth pointing out. Both Mint and Personal Capital were designed with the user in mind, and are extremely user-friendly.

Mint also provides more credit monitoring services, for a fee, which depending on your needs may be an important feature for you. If however, you are looking for a wider array of tools such as a 401(k) analyzer, asset allocation advice, financial management, and retirement planning, then Personal Capital may be the right choice.

Personal Capital vs Quicken

Quicken is much more focused on budgeting tracking than is Personal Capital. Quicken provides an entire suite of budgeting tools such as bill tracking, cash flow, and expense projections, and budgeting.

Although Personal Capital provides variations of these services, Quicken is more comprehensive when it comes to budgeting. That said, Quicken is not a free service like Personal Capital, and starts at $34.99 annually. It is also worth noting that Quicken users has been on the decline as of late.

Further, Personal Capital has many more integrations than Quicken and can sync with more banking institutions. There’s nothing more frustrating than having personal finance software that can’t sync with an account you own!

Personal Capital: The final verdict

Personal Capital has the purpose and the potential to help a wide variety of investors achieve their goals and manage their portfolios from a convenient, user-friendly platform.

However, like every other financial account aggregator and advisory service, it is important to take its flaws. This includes occasional technical glitches and solicitation for its paid service, into account before you start using it.

The best way to get to know if a platform like Personal Capital is right for you, is to start using it. This will allow you to see if it can help you keep your finances in order.

In many cases, the benefits of Personal Capital far outweigh the disadvantages for investors. If you are on the fence about whether you want to use Personal capital, consider giving it a try to see how you like it. Getting a feel for its structure, services and platform can give you a better idea of whether it’s the right fit for your needs.

Besides, you can access many of its services and tools completely free of charge. So, you do not really have anything to lose by conducting a trial run. Start living a better financial life today.

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