Mint.com is owned and operated by Intuit, placing it in the same family of companies as TurboTax and QuickBooks. In addition to its well-known personal finance tools, Mint offers Mint Credit Score, a basic free credit monitoring service, along with the more robust Mint Credit Monitor, which costs $16.99 per month. This review dives into Mint’s credit monitoring services to see how the company stacks up to the competition.
- Integrated with Mint.com
- Free version available
- Mobile app
Integrated with Mint.com
Mint is an immensely popular free online personal finance tool that has over 10 million users. The integration of Mint Credit Score with the rest of Mint’s tools make it an extremely convenient option for those millions of people already using Mint on a regular basis to manage their personal finances. This integration isn’t limited to just the website, either. One can quickly and easily access their Mint Credit Score from within the mobile Mint app on their Apple, Amazon, Windows, and Android devices as well, reducing the number of apps and accounts users need to keep track of to manage all aspects of their personal finances.
Free Version Available
We love it when companies make free versions of their core product available for customers to try out on their own, especially when a credit card is not required to do so. Mint offers Mint Credit Score for free, which includes access to a quarterly credit report from Equifax, along with an Equifax Risk Score based on the contents of that report. Although the free service only monitors one of the three credit bureaus, it gives customers who are curious about their credit a reasonable starting point at zero cost. If users like what they see, it’s a simple task to upgrade to the more robust Mint Credit Monitor.
Mint Credit Monitor is powered by Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, and its core credit monitoring features are very similar to the bureau’s credit monitoring service, except that it has fewer identity protection features and more credit features. For $16.99 a month, Mint Credit Monitor provides users with credit reports from all three credit bureaus (updated monthly), along with an Equifax Risk score for each of those reports, ongoing monitoring of all three credit bureaus with alerts, and monthly identity monitoring.
Mint offers a dynamic and free mobile app for all major mobile platforms—Windows, Apple and Android mobile devices are all compatible and one can monitor their credit from any internet-connected device. Alerts are available via push notifications should there be any suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity on your credit. As mentioned earlier, Mint Credit Score is accessible from inside the normal mint personal finance app, so no separate app is required.
- Free service limitations
- Scoring model
- Refresh rate
- Security issues
Free Service Limitations
As much as we applaud free services, the simple fact is that Mint’s free option is not especially remarkable compared to other free options available in the credit monitoring space. Most of the free services available provide monthly, if not weekly credit reports from one, or in some cases, two credit bureaus. Simply put, if you’re an existing Mint user looking for some idea of your credit health, Mint Credit Score isn’t necessarily a bad way to go. But if you’re more serious about tracking your credit, there are more comprehensive free options available from both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame which provide more frequent reports from more bureaus or greater functionality at no cost.
Both Mint Credit Score and Mint Credit Monitor provide users with credit scores based on the Equifax Risk Score. While the Equifax score may give customers a rough idea of their credit health, it is not considered an industry-standard credit score that lenders actually use. In other words, the credit scores a user sees in Mint Credit Monitor is not the same as the FICO scores most lenders will actually use in making credit decisions. There have been many complaints over the years of customers either over- or under-estimating their creditworthiness after mistaking an Equifax Risk Score for a FICO score.
Unfortunately, Mint only updates credit scores and reports once per month. A lot can happen to an individual’s credit in a month, so it’s frustrating that customers cannot view their credit information in real time.
In April 2015, a potential class-action lawsuit was filed in San Francisco against Intuit (Mint’s parent company). The company was accused of failing to properly secure its customer’s personal information and facilitating identity theft. The suit was filed by two women who were victims of tax refund fraud after filing returns with Intuit TurboTax. While Mint Credit Monitor has not been specifically named in the recent security breaches which have plagued TurboTax users, being that both entities are operated by the same parent company and integrate with each other, one may wonder at how secure their data really is when using Mint’s services.