Mint is a popular pioneer in savings apps that offers a zero-fee platform for individuals with any amount of money on hand to start budgeting. The flexible platform was one of the first in its field and is difficult to top. Alternatively, Albert is an up-and-coming app with more features but less of a track record. Between the known pioneer and the new startup, which budgeting app do we recommend?
- Founded in 2006, purchased by Intuit in 2009
- Founder: Aaron Patzer
- Tradable assets: n/a, but users can track their investments from other platforms
- Available in the U.S. and Canada
- Fees: none, but there is a paid upgrade available
- Mobile and desktop availability
- Founded in 2015
- Founders: Yinon Ravid and Andrzej Baraniak
- Tradable assets: Stocks and ETFs
- Available in the U.S.
- Fees: $4 minimum per month for Genius features
- Mobile only
The Basics: Mint
Mint seeks to help you stay on top of your finances by helping you plan your budget, monitor your credit score, and track your spending. The idea is that, if you see exactly where your money goes, you’ll probably end up spending less of it.
By connecting your bank account and credit cards, you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re spending your money. Mint tracks your subscriptions so you can cancel ones you don’t use anymore. You can also set your own budgets in different categories and know how much money you have left to spend in those categories.
Mint sends notifications to users when they’re about to go over budget, have a bill coming up, get charged a hidden fee, or have unusual spending on their account.
The Basics: Albert
Albert has tons of features that Mint does not offer, making it more of a bank-style Fintech than a simple budgeting app. They have Cash, Instant (a cash advance/early payday service), Savings, Investing, and Planning (buy insurance directly through the app). The Savings section is the closest to Mint, because users can plan for big goals and make small contributions to them over time. However, the Savings section is like the reverse of Mint. Instead of helping you spend less, Albert helps you put savings directly toward goals.
Albert could essentially replace a bank. It markets itself as the marriage of human knowledge and technological innovation: rather than being purely AI driven, users have access to a team of human experts who can help you make decisions around your money.
Albert is not free. They require $4 minimum per month payments, but then allow their users to pay more if they believe the services are worth it. According to their Help section, “the core Albert functionality is always free.” Users can go without the Genius section on the app and use the other functionalities.
Image: The core functionality of Mint is the budget-setting feature. The idea is that, if you know how much you have to spend, you’ll end up spending less. Set monthly budgets with sub categories that help you know when to reel it in and when you’re doing fine. Image from mint.intuit.com.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
The shining jewel of Mint is the budget setting capabilities. Set monthly budgets, grocery budgets, transportation budgets, and more. The app will show you how close you are to hitting your limit and if you need to cut back on spending in that category.
We believe that setting budgets for different areas of your life is incredibly beneficial. Even though this feature seems simple, it can make vast differences in your spending habits.
You can also set reminders to notify you when you’re going over your budget. You’ll also get notified if any unusual spending occurs on any of your accounts, giving you a heads up in case of fraud.
Image: Like many emerging Fintechs, Albert strives to be an all-in-one solution for your finances. The app is more like a bank than a budgeting service, but it helps you save by giving recommendations and automatically putting your money toward goals both big and small. Image from albert.com.
The Features of Albert
There are so many features of Albert that it’s more like a bank than a budgeting app. Here’s the breakdown:
Genius: Users have access to a team of financial experts called geniuses who can offer financial advice. You also get recommendations on your spending habits, such as how to save more and what you could be investing in.
Cash: Get your paycheck sent to Albert and then use your World Debit card to access it. Users can get paid two days earlier than normal and can then transfer their paycheck into savings easily.
Instant: This feature allows users to request cash advances. For a $5 fee, you can get up to $250 from your upcoming paycheck deposited into your account ahead of time. Only users who have a consistent paying job can qualify for this service, and the maximum number of requests is three per pay period.
Savings: Albert’s algorithm analyzes your account and gives you recommendations based on what you could be saving. Set savings goals and Albert will automatically put money toward them when you have extra cash on hand. It is not clear exactly how Albert determines what you should be saving or when cash is moved between accounts. Users don’t have to use the automatic feature, however—they can set manual withdrawals from checking into savings.
Investing: Unlike the Savings section, Albert Investing is mostly self-managed. Genius will give you a custom portfolio, but you decide where to put your money. The website refers to this as “guided investing.”
Planning: Users can buy life insurance, car insurance, and home or renters insurance directly through the app. They partner with Ladder for life insurance, but it is unclear where the other insurance plans come from.
Image: One of our favorite features of Mint is the subscription and bill tracker. It can be difficult to keep up with all your subscriptions, so Mint notifies you if they’ve gone up or when they’re going to renew. You can also stay up to date on your bills and get notifications when payments are coming up. Image from minit.intuit.com.
Stay on Top of Bills and Subscriptions
It can be difficult to know how many services you’re subscribed to at once and when they’re all going to renew. The bill tracker on Mint tells you when bills and subscriptions are coming due, as well as when prices change. This service is super helpful because it ensures you’re never late on paying your bills. It also helps you know which subscriptions are renewing their cycle, so you can cancel the ones you don’t use anymore.
You can also set up bill reminders so you get a notification when it’s time to pay them. This is a great way to avoid late fees and build your credit score.
Get Recommendations From a Genius
Albert’s main marketing point is that they give users financial recommendations from their team of geniuses, which uses AI-driven algorithms. Users get notifications of recommendations for how they can better use their money. They also get notified if the app believes they are spending too much on something or if a bill is strangely high. While fraud alerts can certainly be helpful, we’re not sure how Genius determines if an individual is overpaying for something.
Similar to Mint, the Genius feature of Albert seeks to help users save and spend smarter. It’s just done in a different way.
Image: Albert allows users to set savings goals. Once set, Albert uses its algorithm to determine how much money you should put into each savings bucket in order to reach your goals. Albert also helps you set up an emergency fund, or a rainy day fund, so you’re never strapped for cash. Image from albert.com.
Who it’s For: Mint
Mint is for just about anyone who wants to set up a budget. The app is simple, easy to use, and doesn’t have the extra bells and whistles that many other budgeting apps have today. It’s perfect for individuals who want to learn how to budget or are very experienced in setting budgets. It will make your financial life easier in just about every aspect!
It’s also important to note that Mint is completely free for all users. Compared to other savings apps like Digit and Qapital, having a completely free option puts Mint well above the competitors.
Who it’s For: Albert
Individuals who want an all-in-one solution for their financial life and don’t mind trying a new product that has a limited track record will find that Albert is the perfect fit for them. If they like AI-driven apps that offer unique, new services, they should give Albert a try.
Albert is not for people who want to have full control over their finances and where there money goes, because Albert does many things automatically.
Image: Mint gives users notifications when they’re charged hidden fees, when they’re about to go over budget, when unusual spending occurs on their account, and when a bill is coming due. Image from mint.intuit.com.
While Albert has lots of shiny new features, we believe that Mint will help you save the most money. The simple act of seeing where your money goes can make a world of difference in spending habits. We also like that Mint focuses on doing one thing well—budgeting—and has zero fees. For us, a savings app with subscription fees is a red flag.
Albert can help with other needs, such as buying insurance or getting quick cash, but it is not the best app out there for saving money. Even though their Genius feature may give users helpful information and tips that they wouldn’t have had before, we think Mint does this better.
For more budgeting app reviews, check out our Budgeting section. Mint users might also like this review of YNAB (You Need a Budget).
Is Mint free?
Yes, Mint is completely free for everyone to use. There is a paid upgrade available.
Do you have to pay for Albert app?
Albert costs a minimum of $4 a month. Users are encouraged to pay however much they believe the service is worth, so above $4, they get to choose what to pay.
Is Albert app legit?
Yes, your money is safe on Albert. They are FDIC-insured.
What does the Albert app do?
Albert brings your entire financial life into one place. The Genius section gives you personalized recommendations for how to optimize your finances and save more. There are tons of features on the app: users can request cash advances, buy insurance, invest in ETFs, and set savings goals.
How does Mint make money?
Mint sells advertising space on its platform and refers users to paid services, which both generate money for the platform. Users also have the option to upgrade to a paid premium plan. It is unclear whether or not Mint sells user data to make money. According to their website, they do not sell user data, but other sources claim that they do.
Is Mint a safe app?
Yes, your information is safe and secure on Mint. You don’t actually keep your money in Mint, and your information is encrypted and protected by two-factor authentication.
What does the app Mint do?
The Mint app helps individuals save money by setting budgets, notifying users when they are close to hitting their budget limit, and monitoring bills and subscriptions. Mint connects to your bank account and credit cards to seamlessly track your spending and even your investments.
Is Mint worth using?
Yes, we believe that using Mint can significantly increase your savings and lower your spending. By simply seeing where your money is going, you’re more likely to manage it better. And their budgets make it easy to see how much you’ve spent and how much you have left to spend in that category. We also like that they notify you when you have a bill coming up and when a subscription is about to renew.
Does Albert let you borrow money?
On Albert you can request cash advances off your upcoming paycheck up to $250. These advances cost a $5 fee, which you pay with your next paycheck. You can request up to three advances per pay period.
Where is Albert available?
Albert is available for U.S. residents only.
Where is Mint available?
Mint is available in the U.S. and Canada.