Anyone looking for a digital wealth management tool has probably come across Personal Capital.
It’s one of the most popular tools available today, and with its hybrid model of financial aggregation services, robo-advisor algorithms, and real human financial advisors offering personalized advice, it appears — on paper, at least — like a money management tool that offers something for everyone.
But what’s likely to really catch the eye of any budget-conscious potential customer is that Personal Capital claims to be free.
“Start with our free, powerful financial tools,” its homepage proclaims.
While it is true that Personal Capital offers both free and paid features, many potential users have asked the same question: Is Personal Capital really free?
As the age-old wisdom goes, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. You won’t pay any money to use Personal Captal’s free tier, but you will pay in other ways — like with your personal data. And if your online privacy is something you’re concerned about, you may find that using the “free” version of Personal Capital costs you quite a bit.
What Is Personal Capital?
Personal Capital is a pretty standard financial aggregation service, but with some other tools built in. Its digital money management features include a net worth overview, automatic budgeting, a savings planner, and a 30-day look at your cash flow.
For users who need longer-term wealth management, Personal Capital offers financial planning tools, a calculator to help see how much you’d need to save to meet certain goals, and a very handy analyzer to help you see if you’re paying any fees you’re not aware of for any linked accounts or services.
The paid versions of Personal Capital expands on that feature set even further, offering access to the app’s Wealth Management program, in which someone actively manages your investment portfolio for you.
Security features for Personal Capital are pretty standard for the industry, including encryption of your personal data, access controls, and built-in fraud detection.
It’s clear that Personal Capital offers more to its paid users — those features are more robust and comprehensive. But the free tier does appear, on paper, to be stacked with useful tools. Here’s what potential users need to know: Personal Capital isn’t really free, even if you only use the services it advertises as unpaid.
Why Personal Capital Isn’t Really Free
So is Personal Capital actually free to use? Not really.
The first reason is that once you sign up for the app’s free tools, you’ll be hit with pretty aggressive marketing and upselling. Paid features, like the personal financial advice Personal Capital is known for giving, are marketed extremely heavily to those who sign up to use services in the free tier.
But if you’re thinking that you can handle a little upselling and some sales pressure in exchange for getting some high-quality financial tools for free, there’s even more you should know.
Personal Capital Uses Your Private Financial Data to Market Paid Products
This is what we think is the biggest red flag about Personal Capital’s “free” personal finance tools — and the biggest reason we don’t consider them to be free at all.
On a personal finance forum in 2018, a user wrote this alarming story about their experience with Personal Capital.
“I used the free tool for the past year and found it really beneficial to see things like my market allocation. However, I went on one of their complimentary wealth management calls and realized that without me giving explicit permission the Personal Capital Wealth Advisor had complete and unrestricted access to my account.”
The user added, “I immediately deleted my account and am not going to use them going forward.”
This user isn’t alone, or even that unique. Personal Capital makes money off its free users, even though they don’t directly pay for services. It does this by using their personal wealth and financial information to try to sell them on other products and services offered by the app’s parent company, Empower Retirement.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Personal Capital is outright selling users’ personal data. In its terms and services, the app says that it won’t sell user data, and won’t share that data with third-parties unless they also promise not to sell it.
But it means that your personal data is being shared with third parties so they can try to sell you products and services they think you need, based on your wealth and financial information. And for privacy-minded users, that’s still a pretty major concern.
That’s the problem with any free financial service: It has to make money somehow, and if it’s not doing so through user fees, it will find another way. If you want complete control over the privacy of your financial information, you’re much better off using a paid service that supports itself with fees, and doesn’t need to use your data to drive revenue.
Paid Services Are Sometimes the Better Choice
That’s not to say that all you have to do is choose a paid wealth management tool and you can rest easy, knowing your data is safe, secure, and within your control.
Personal Capital is a perfect example of why it’s so important to do your research and read all the fine print, especially when you’re considering digital tools that will have access to your financial data.
A paid service is likely to be a better choice, because paid services can earn their revenue through fees and don’t need to sell or use your data to make a profit. But it’s still important to carefully examine the terms and conditions before signing up for any financial tool.
The key is to look for one that gives you absolute and total control over your own data and privacy. And one tool that does that — and more — is Kubera.
Kubera Will Never Sell Your Personal Data
Kubera is different from other digital wealth management tools in a lot of ways, but first things first: We will never sell your personal data.
Kubera is made by a small, independent company with one goal: Create a great, modern solution for tracking wealth. By design, that means it’s “privacy-friendly,” and we charge a subscription fee so we can support our platform without ever selling user data to third parties. We have a responsibility to store and protect your most sensitive data, and we take it seriously.
But there are even more reasons Kubera is the best choice in the sea of digital wealth management tools. It’s simple to use, supports a wide variety of assets, and can be linked right to your online accounts — banks, brokerages, and investments, but also crypto, global currencies, and digital assets like domain names or trademarks.
In fact, Kubera is the only wealth management tool available today that can track the wide variety of digital assets today’s investors typically own.
In addition to all that, Kubera’s pricing is simple. New users can enjoy unlimited access to every part of Kubera for a free trial period.
No, Kubera isn’t free. But in the world of digital wealth management, “free” isn’t always without cost. Learn more about how Kubera keeps you in control of your wealth — and your privacy.