“At Mint, we believe that money is for living. That’s why we’ve created the simplest and most effective way to manage, save and grow your money... and why Mint.com is free.”
Mint.com is a personal financial service that enables its users to enter the bank account and credit card information and manage their money online. The website’s homepage humorously touts the service as “the best free way to manage your money.” The “free” is a seeming afterthought, scrawled above the rest of the slogan. While the website is definitely welcoming and easy to use, the slogan causes me to pause. Will Mint.com actually help me manage my money or is it just the best free option available?
My fears about the usefulness of Mint.com are quickly alleviated, as a smorgasbord of features and options quickly become apparent. The features that were particularly interesting to me were the saving and budgeting tools. Mint.com’s software compiles the data on all your bank accounts and credit cards into a more comprehensible portfolio of your finances. One list item stating that you spent $47.53 on groceries last weekend is less confusing and more beneficial to budgeting than a list of three arbitrarily named purchases.
Setting up an account on the website is almost an insultingly simple process. Other financial websites overwhelm users with complicated forms, confirmation emails, and account transfers and verifications. With Mint.com, you only have to supply your email address, password and zip code in order to activate your account. Of course, you must then enter your online banking username and password for each account and credit card; nevertheless, the process was surprisingly painless and easy.
While there is much to praise about Mint.com — I’ve never used or heard of a service that could rival its capability and ease of use — I still deleted my account and all my financial information after testing it out. There was no problem with functionality, but I questioned the website’s security.
The End User License Agreement contains troubling passages in which Mint.com denies all responsibility or fault should your financial information be stolen through the use of their service. While Mint.com uses read only access to bring your finances to the website, the service is effectively able to collect every bank account and routing number, your passwords for each account, and other extremely sensitive information. In the event user data is stolen, I hope Mint.com would offer at least the appearance of reassurance. Instead, Mint.com denies responsibility.
Mint.com should be praised for their service, which was executed brilliantly. Where they’re lacking is in guaranteeing the safety of your sensitive data. They proudly showcase the fact that they use “bank-level security,” but no system is perfect; and if broken, Mint.com would not just provide a hacker with a password. In effect, it would also give a hacker complete access to all the information within your online banking portals. Mint.com offers a great service, but it’s just not worth the risk for me.
For those interested, Mint can be accessed at http://mint.com
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