Personal Capital vs YNAB (2020) – Which Money App Is Best For Budgeting?

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Personal Capital vs YNAB Review Summary

  • Personal Capital is a FREE money app that gives you detailed insights about your investment accounts
  • YNAB is a budgeting tool that costs $8.25/mo and gives you complete control of your money
  • Personal Capital is best for review your investing accounts, including fee analysis and projecting your retirement
  • YNAB is best for learning how to manage your money day-to-day and paying off debt
  • Personal Capital and YNAB are great companion apps and are best used together. YNAB for daily money management, and Personal Capital for investing decisions.

Personal Capital vs YNAB: Full Review

A quick scroll through the App Store reveals that there are dozens of budgeting apps available.

Which do you choose? 

Two of the best are facing off in this post to help you see if the Personal Capital app or the YNAB app will help you budget better. 

Want to see other comparisons?

See how these budgeting apps stack up:

What’s Personal Capital All About?

Personal Capital wants you to feel more confident with your money. After all, money is the tool you need to unlock the life you want.

To do that, Personal Capital created software that allows users to look at their current financial situation and plan for the future of their dreams. The dashboard houses your complete financial picture. 

You can also track your net worth, get insight into your budget, and monitor your cash flow. 

Other aspects of the software allow you to keep an eye on your investments and any related fees. That way, you can keep your money working for your goals. 

Should you choose, you can also connect with their financial advisors for more personalized support. Since Personal Capital is a registered investment advisor, their financial services are only a phone call away! 

Download Personal Capital from the App Store or Google Play. You can also access their software using the desktop version at PersonalCapital.com.

To see the Personal Capital app in action, watch their overview video or check out their YouTube channel to get an in-depth look at the different tools within Personal Capital. 

What Is YNAB?

You know you need a better budget. But if budgeting sounds restrictive and tedious, let YNAB help. 

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is designed to help users stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. With their software, you can give every job a dollar, cancel your debt, and finally start saving. With help from the YNAB app, you gain total control of your money. 

Based on the envelope system of budgeting, YNAB allows users to set budget goals and track their spending by category. As you move throughout the month, YNAB will monitor your spending for you and help you easily spot if you are on track with your budget or not. 

The graphs and charts make it easy to visualize your progress and celebrate along the way. 

YNAB is available via desktop and for iOS and Android. 

To learn more, take a look at our full YNAB review here

If you want to see YNAB in action, you can also check out their YouTube channel.

Personal Capital: Is It Easy To Get Started?

Ask any Personal Capital user, and they will likely say that it is very easy to get started with the Personal Capital app. Simply go to PersonalCapital.com, click sign up, and get started. 

Once you create your account, Personal Capital will ask you a few simple questions to get to know you, your financial picture, and your retirement goals. 

Afterward, you can start syncing your accounts. Using their site or the mobile app, you can link your current checking and savings accounts. Plus, you can also connect to your credit cards. 

To make use of even more of the financial tools that Personal Capital offers, users can also link their retirement and investment accounts. 

Personal Capital is currently synced with thousands of financial institutions. If yours doesn’t populate right away, you can manually search for your bank by typing the bank name or dropping in the URL. 

Personal Capital is continually updating their list of popular institutions to make the onboarding process even easier. 

Once your accounts are synced, you can begin exploring all of the features. You will be able to start budgeting, examine your current cash flow, see your net worth, and more. 

YNAB: How Quickly Can I Get Set Up?

The YNAB app boasts a quick start up as well. YNAB recommends dedicating 20 minutes to get everything you need up and running.

The biggest decision to make before creating your account is deciding whether you want to track manually or automatically. 

No matter what you choose, to make the process even simpler, tally up your expenses and make sure you know your account logins if you want to connect YNAB to your primary spending accounts. Don’t worry if you don’t know your current spending to the penny. Even an approximation is helpful.

It is also worth noting that you can add accounts at any time. This is particularly helpful if you forget an account or open a new one. YNAB gives you the option to add an account from the site. You can also use the YNAB app to add an account. 

To learn more about getting set up with YNAB, take a look at their ultimate guide here.

How Much Do These Apps Cost?

These apps are designed to give you back control of your finances. But what do the apps cost? Let’s see how Personal Capital vs YNAB stack up in terms of expense. 

The Personal Capital app is a free tool. Personal Capital also offers robo investing and financial advisory services for a fee. However, if you are only interested in using the app to track your spending and monitor your net worth, there is no cost. 

A word of caution: Users with a net worth of more than $100,000 should expect some outreach from the company, attempting to get you to engage in their paid services. I received a call

The YNAB app offers two different pricing options. Users can pay monthly for $14.99 per month. Or you can elect to keep some of your cash and pay $98.99 for the year. 

The yearly purchase is billed once. Both pricing models allow you to cancel at any time.  

If you aren’t sure if you will get your money’s worth from the app, YNAB allows users to try out the app for 34 days for free. YNAB also promises a no-risk, 100% money back guarantee. 

YNAB vs. Personal Capital: Feature Comparison

The goal of any good budgeting app is to save more money and grow your wealth. But when there are so many apps, how do you choose which to use? 

When it comes to YNAB vs Personal Capital, determining which budgeting app to download may come down to the features they offer. 

To make your decision easier, let’s explore how both apps stack up in the feature comparison below. We will explore how both apps tackle budgeting, goal setting and investment tracking. 

Plus, we also offer up insight about the customer service they provide and how they promote security for users. 


When it comes to Personal Capital vs YNAB, the budgeting feature is where the apps really set themselves apart from one another. 

Personal Capital is a comprehensive financial tool with a budgeting component. YNAB, on the other hand, is dedicated specifically to budgeting. 

Personal Capital says that their priority is to provide a tool that offers a holistic look at your finances. In fact, they say that rather than focusing primarily on your budget, your attention should be on your overall saving and spending habits. Nonetheless, there is a budgeting component to the app. 

The Budgeting Widget is part of the Personal Capital dashboard. It gives you at-a-glance access to your budget, so you can see where your money is going. 

You can edit your monthly budget; however, it is not currently possible to set specific budgeting goals. Some of the additional at-a-glance budgeting features include how much you’ve spent in the past 30 days and how your spending compares to previous months. Plus, Personal Capital identifies your top five expense categories.

While budgeting is one component of Personal Capital, it is the lifeblood of YNAB. YNAB helps users give every dollar a job to get your money working for you. 

Since YNAB understands that no two financial situations are the same, the budgeting tool is incredibly robust. Not only does YNAB help you get a handle on your current budget, it can also help you plan future budgets. 

Additionally, YNAB can help individuals with variable incomes set up budgets that work for them. YNAB also walks you through what it takes to set up a budget with a partner. 

No matter how you set up your YNAB budget, there are colors and icons to make reading your budget easier. Basically, the YNAB app wants you to know with one glance if your money has another job to do. 

Red flags show overspending and yellow indicates that a category is underfunded. If a dollar amount turns gray, that means it’s at a zero balance but it isn’t underfunded. Basically, your budget isn’t planning on pulling anything else from that category. 

Of course, the goal is to see green. Green means you can cover upcoming scheduled expenses and you’re likely on track to meet your goals. 

Goal Setting

The Personal Capital app can help with overall goal setting, but the YNAB app stands out in terms of goal setting related to your personal budget. 

Personal Capital does not offer a specific budget-related goal setting system. It does, however, help users think about their money in the short-term and the long-term using the different features in their Web Dashboard. 

Personal Capital Dashboard

Users can track their cash flow, look at their budget, and more to get an immediate sense of their finances. Plus, there are other tools like the Retirement Planner, Education Planner, Investment Checkup, and Fee Analyzer that can help you think more long-term.

YNAB features five different kinds of goals specific to your budget. Of the five goals, three are related to your spending and two concern credit cards.

When you build your budget in YNAB, you can set weekly and monthly goals. You also have the option to set up a goal by date. This is particularly helpful for big occasions, such as vacations or holidays. 

If you use credit cards, you can also set goals to help you pay your balance by a certain date and pay a specific amount each month. Goal setting in these areas can help you become consumer debt free and stay that way. 

Investment Tracking

If you are looking for an app that helps you keep an eye on your budget and your investments, that is where Personal Capital shines. 

Personal Capital provides an in-depth look at your net worth and it also features an Investment Checkup tool. This tool takes your current investing portfolio and compares it to your ideal target asset allocation.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner

In other words, the tool can help you make sure that you take enough risk with your investments to see growth without taking so much risk that you are uncomfortable. 

YNAB also lets you track your investments. The app does not go as in-depth as Personal Capital, but it certainly provides enough tracking to keep an eye on your overall net worth growth. 

YNAB outlines two options for monitoring your investments. 

  1. The simplest method is to set up a budgeting category for investments and simply make your contributions. Then, you move the money to your actual investment accounts separate from the YNAB app. 
  2. The other option involves linking your investment accounts. While this requires more set up, you get the added benefit of seeing a more accurate Net Worth Report. 

Customer Service

When it comes to customer service, both Personal Capital and YNAB offer support for their users.

Personal Capital has a comprehensive Customer Service Support portal on their website. In addition to that database, you can also start a chat or submit a request. If you want more information regarding their advisory services, you can also speak to a live person.

It is also worth noting that Personal Capital will do some outreach if you have $100,000 or more in assets. People who are uncomfortable with sales pitches may have a hard time anticipating that call. It’s nothing to fret over. Personal Capital users state that when they decline any extra services, they are left alone after that initial call. 

YNAB also offers a comprehensive library of content to help users better understand the app, the mobile site, and personal finance concepts in general. One of the things that users love most about the YNAB support page is that the information is clear and easy to understand. 

Additionally, there are videos and podcasts for support. Plus, you can join the YNAB Community in the Support Forum, where you are encouraged to share tips and tricks. 

In addition to support from the community and their content library, you can also connect with their support team in just a few clicks. 


Security is a big concern of any Internet user. The good news is that in the Personal Capital vs. YNAB battle, both apps take your security seriously. 

Personal Capital prioritizes ongoing security testing to stay ahead of cyber criminals. Currently, your data is encrypted with AES-256, which is better than most banks. Moreso, no individual at Personal Capital has access to your credentials.

Personal Capital also offers fraud protection by letting you monitor all of your accounts in one place and giving you the choice to opt in for their Daily Transaction Monitor emails. The mobile app also includes Touch ID authentication on iPhone and mobile-only PINs for Android and iOS. 

YNAB also focuses on customer account security. YNAB uses bank-grade or better encryption. Their traffic encryption is 128-bit. 

User passwords are one-way salted and hashed–which sounds like cooking, but actually makes your password virtually undiscoverable in the event of a breech. Should you decide to close your YNAB account, you can also request to have your account data destroyed. 

Which App Is Best?

Personal Capital is best for those who want a better tool to manage their investments. It is also best for someone only looking for a tracking app, and not a true budgeting tool. 

Personal Capital also offers robust future planning features, such as retirement planning. This is helpful even if you aren’t at the stage of your financial planning just yet. 

If building and tracking a basic budget within your overall financial picture meets your needs, Personal Capital is likely the app for you. 

YNAB is for those who want complete control of their budget, and the ability to manage their finances to the penny. It’s probably best for anyone trying to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, and looking to pay off their consumer debt. 

YNAB prioritizes budgeting above all else, and even offers features to help you budget credit card use carefully. This feature is an important tool to help users understand consumer debt and stay out of it once their debts are paid. 

If a truly robust and supportive budgeting tool is what your finances need, YNAB might be the budgeting app for you.

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

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