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Personal Capital vs. YNAB: Which is the Best Choice for You?

Personal Capital and YNAB are excellent apps that help you manage your finances, yet each works differently. While Personal Capital concentrates on your long-term goals, YNAB focuses on your month-to-month finances.

Both offer budgeting features, although Personal Capital has a stronger focus on your overall financial management, especially when it comes to investments. It includes comprehensive tools for investment management and retirement planning.

On the other hand, YNAB is purely a budgeting platform. Besides being a budgeting app, it helps with money management, setting and reaching savings goals, and getting out of debt.

Personal Capital: The Basics

Personal Capital offers digital wealth management for a fee and free money tools. In this article, we’ll look into the free financial tools, which give you a complete view of your financial situation.

How does it work? You link your existing bank accounts. With this overview of your financial life, you can track your spending, portfolio performance, net worth, investment fees, and retirement progress without paying for an account.

Wealth management services give you access to fiduciary financial advisors, making the experience more personal.

What is YNAB?

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget. As the name suggests, the platform is a unique budgeting app that walks you through the process of tracking your personal finances.

YNAB is an excellent option if you are looking for help to stay in control of your saving and spending habits.

The app’s primary focus is to help you create a budget and get ahead in your finances, giving you more control over your future spending and keeping you in charge of future financial goals.

Personal Capital vs. YNAB: Products and Features

Personal Capital and YNAB are two of the best personal finance apps. Each shines a light on a specific area of your overall financial picture. Here are the features you can expect to find in each.

Where Personal Capital Shines

  • Cash flow: Personal Capital comes with a full-featured personal financial tool that automatically collects your income and expenses. It displays your cash flow statistics in easy-to-understand graphs.
  • Budgeting: You have access to a budgeting section to set monthly spending targets and track them. You can also organize your spending and savings by category, date, or merchant.
  • Portfolio analysis: Regardless of your investment portfolio, you can visually explore where your assets are held. You can also compare your current portfolio with a target portfolio, based on your retirement horizon and self-assessed risk tolerance. This feature is useful when you want to manage your total asset allocation.
  • Net worth: Your balances, cash flow, and investment assets are all in one place with the Personal Capital net worth report. The Dashboard also works with Zillow, a real estate website, for regular updates on your home’s value.
  • Fee analyzer: You can check how your account fees affect your retirement date with Personal Capital’s fee analyzer. The platform will also provide insight into hidden costs in your mutual funds.

Top YNAB Features

  • Age of money: One of YNAB’s goals is to increase the age of your money. The idea is that the older your money is, the better off you’ll be with your total spending and saving habits.
  • Direct transaction import: YNAB automatically imports transactions from your bank account. Once your transactions are in the app, you can categorize each one to form a detailed budget. You also have the option to link your accounts manually.
  • Goals: The goals feature lets you set and track monthly or future-dated goals. For example, you might set a goal to pay off a specific debt by a certain date, and YNAB will help you get there.
  • Net worth tracker: YNAB gives you an idea of your net worth on the app through charts and pie graphs. These charts and graphs automatically update as your net worth changes.
  • Reports: This function gives you a birds-eye perspective of your finances and spending habits. For example, you can view how much money you spend in each category over a specific period.

Personal Capital vs. YNAB: Pricing and Fees

Personal Capital has free tools you can use to track your financial progress, while YNAB is a subscription-only service.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital offers free financial planning and budgeting tools to anyone who creates an account.

Additional services for investment management are available with a paid account.

Investment service

  • Management fee: 0.89%
  • Minimum investment: $100,000

Features summary: You have access to a financial advisor team for financial planning advice and retirement planning, online tools, and a professionally managed portfolio.

Wealth management

  • Management fee: 0.89%
  • Minimum investment: $200,000

Features summary: You are assigned two dedicated financial advisors and have access to financial specialists, tax optimization, and a regularly reviewed customized portfolio.

Private clients

  • Management fee: 0.49% – 0.79%
  • Minimum investment: $1 million

Features summary: You have priority access to financial advisors and specialists to create a one-on-one comprehensive financial plan.


Creating an account with YNAB is straightforward. First, you get a free 34-day trial. After that, you’re charged monthly or annually, depending on the fee structure you choose.

  • Monthly: $11.99
  • Annually: $84

The $84 annual fee works out to just $7 per month. However, the platform can waive the fee for students upon request.

Features summary: You get real-time access to your financial information, goal tracking, and reports from any device. It’s also simple to share finances with a partner to manage your accounts together.

Personal Capital vs. YNAB: Customer Service and Security

You can reach Personal Capital customer support by email.

The website has articles, guides, and an online support portal. You can also check out Daily Capital, which provides market updates and personal finance education.

Personal Capital takes your security seriously by providing:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Fingerprint scanning for iOS devices
  • Military-grade encryption (256-bit AES)
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Access to your data on registered devices only


YNAB has a message and live-chat feature available for when you have any questions. In addition, they will further send you a copy of your chat conversation to your email directly after the chat ends.

If you need to learn more about their features, you can access their blog posts, video courses or live weekly online workshops.

YNAB protects your data with:

  • 128-bit encryption (AES_128_GCM)
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Partnership with MX and Plaid for direct import services
  • A platform built on Heroku (trusted by the CIA)
  • Removal of your data if you delete your account

Personal Capital Budgeting vs. YNAB: Which Is Better?

Is Personal Capital good for budgeting? While it has a budgeting option to help you track cash flow, the app’s main focus is net worth and investment activities monitoring.

Still, you can view your transactions from the last month, last 90 days, last year, or another timeframe you choose. Each option totals how much you spent over the period you select.

On the other hand, YNAB is dedicated to budgeting specifically. Its zero-based budgeting approach guides you to give every dollar a purpose to support your long-term goals. You can create monthly budgets and set future savings goals.

If your income varies, you can set your YNAB budget to work with your paycheck frequency. It’s also simple to set up and share budgets with your partner.

YNAB vs. Personal Capital: Which is Better for Planning?

Which app is best for planning depends on your specific goals. Are you looking to help plan your budget, track your spending, and manage your short- and long-term savings goals? Then YNAB may be a good option, if you’re willing to pay the subscription fee.

Due to its advanced financial management capabilities, Personal Capital is the better option if your planning is investment-focused. The Retirement Planner allows you to run different scenarios to compare and create different plans for retirement. The free tools help manage risk, portfolio balancing, and tax efficiency.

YNAB vs. Personal Capital: Which is Better?

Personal Capital offers budgeting support but mainly focuses on big-picture wealth management. The platform is free to use. As your assets grow and your financial life becomes more complicated, you may sign on for wealth management services with additional features.

YNAB has a net-worth tracker for an overall view of your finances, but it’s primarily a budgeting platform. The services are free for the 34-day trial period, but you must pay for a subscription after that.

Both Personal Capital and YNAB are popular choices for financial management. Although YNAB is a strong option for budgeting purposes, Personal Capital is a clear winner for investment management. The decision simply depends on your personal preferences and financial focus.

Get Started with Personal Capital

Personal Capital compensates Andy Hill (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. Compensation not to exceed $500. Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation. The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

Andy Hill is a husband and father of two kids. His personal finance goal? To give his family the best life possible and strengthen their family tree for generations to come. In 2016, he launched Marriage, Kids, & Money, a blog and podcast about young family finance. In 2020, he and his wife achieved a personal goal of becoming millionaires in less than 10 years. Now, they thrive on helping others do the same.
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This year, my top financial priority is:

Building my emergency fund
Paying off high-interest debt
Budgeting better
Saving for a short-term goal, like a vacation or new car
Increasing my investment contributions
Maintaining status quo - I’ve got this under control

Make moves toward your money goals with Personal Capital’s free financial tools.