The Best Way to Track Your Investments Online (and it’s Free!)

Review of: Personal Capital
Personal Capital

Reviewed by:
On September 14, 2012
Last modified:October 28, 2018


This free financial dashboard tracks all of your investments in one place, provides retirement projections, and monitors your monthly spending.

The internet has done wonders in the world of Investment Tracking. With websites like Mint and now Power Wallet, tracking your finances for free online is a snap. But one thing that’s been missing is a robust tool to automatically track your investments.

Best Investment Tracking App

Sites like Mint do allow you to link your investment accounts. But they don’t help you understand your asset allocation or investing expenses in any meaningful way. And that brings me to a site I’ve recently starting using called Personal Capital.

Personal CapitalBest Investment tracking app? is the best investment tracking tool that I’ve ever used. It solves several problems for me:

    1. It automatically links to my investment accounts, keeping my holdings updated throughout the trading day;
    2. It tracks the fees I’m paying for each mutual fund and ETF I own;
    3. It provides detailed asset allocation data for my investments, much like the X-Ray feature of Morningstar; and
    4. It alerts me when my asset allocation is over or under-weighted as compared to a target asset allocation model determined based on my age and tolerance for risk.
    5. Offers retirement income calculations and projections based on your investments, projected social security, pensions, annuities, and other retirement income sources.

I’ve enjoyed the tool so much, that I thought a detailed review was in order.

Getting Started

Personal Capital is a free tool. To get started, you simply create an account with your email address and password. Once you have access to the site, you can connect just about all of your bank and investment accounts into Personal Capital.

I had no trouble connecting accounts from Citi, Capital One 360, Vanguard, Scottrade and Fidelity. And once all of your accounts are connected, the fun begins.

The Dashboard
Personal Capital Dashboard

The Dashboard is the one place you’ll find high level information about all your finances. While I use Personal Capital primarily for my investments, you can also track your checking and savings accounts. In fact, they offer what is called a Cash Manager that let’s you see all of your spending in one place.

Investment Tracking

Personal Capital does a great job of tracking investments real-time. And just as importantly, the layout of the site and the way in which information about your investments is displayed is the best I’ve seen (note, the image is not of my personal investments):Personal Capital Investment Portfolio

What you can’t see from the above screen shot is what happens as you roll the cursor over parts of the screen. On the graph at the top left, you’ll see your investment balance by date. And as you roll the cursor over the colored ring top right, you’ll see details about each of your investment accounts.

And what’s really cool is when you click on an individual account in the list at the bottom. As you can see from the screenshot above, the graph highlights the portion of your total attributed to that account, and the colored ring breaks out the portion of the circle related to the selected account.

Now the truth is that while the above is really cool, it’s just information. It doesn’t really give you any analysis that you can actually use. But the next few features do.

Mutual Fund and ETF Expenses

As I’ve said many times, keeping investment expenses low is one of the most important factors for successful investing. And Personal Capital gives you two tools to help you. The first is a breakdown of your investment costs by mutual fund or ETF.

In my case, total investment costs are a real eye-opener. Personal Capital breaks down the cost by fund or ETF, so that you can focus your analysis and determine whether you need to make any changes. Through using the tool, it became clear to me that there are a couple of funds I need to dump for less expensive alternatives.

401(k) Fee Analyzer

The second tool to help fight the high cost of investing is revolutionary. It’s called the 401k Fee Analyzer.

401k Fee AnalyzerThe first time you run this tool, it will base its analysis on data not specific to your retirement funds. But you can get additional data on 401k expenses from your employer or broker to get more accurate results.

What’s so great about the analyzer is that it doesn’t stop with just the expense ratios of the funds and ETFs you own. That part’s easy. It also looks at the costs funds charge you for trading, which aren’t reflected in the expense ratio. And it looks at administrative costs charged to run the 401k, which are often passed down to employees.

If you have a 401k, this tool by itself makes it worth checking out Personal Capital. And it’s a good reminder as to why most folks should transfer their 401k to a rollover IRA when they leave their employer.

Asset Allocation ToolsAsset Allocation

The next handy tool is its asset allocation feature. The first thing it does is breaks down all of your investments by their asset class. And if a single fund or ETF contains investments that span more than one asset class, as most do, Personal Capital slices and dices the fund to apportion your account into each relevant asset class.

You can click on each investment in the box chart at the top or the list at the bottom to get details of your asset classes. This is extremely helpful when it comes to rebalancing your portfolio.

Investment Checkup

With the click of a button Personal Capital will analyze your investments. It compares your actual asset allocation with your target allocation, and flags asset classes in which you are over or under-weighted. It’s an easy way to see if you need to rebalance.

Note that in the above screenshot heading is a reference to my “target allocation.” You can set this by entering your name, how many years to retirement, and your investing style (e.g., aggressive, conservative). It takes all of 10 seconds, and Personal Capital then generates a target allocation for you.

Robust Retirement Calculator

Finally, Personal Capital offers a free retirement calculator. The tool takes into account your current investments, age, projected social security, projected savings, and just about any other information you want to include. Using monte carlo analysis, it then determines whether you are on track to retire.

Retirement Planner

As you can see from the screenshot, the retirement planner displays the results in easy to understand graphs. It also makes change the assumptions (e.g., inflation, social security) very easy.

So what’s not to like?

Frankly, not much. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that an advisor is available for a call or a live chat. When you log into your account, you’ll see a picture of your advisor, his or her name, and telephone number. And even better, they don’t hound you. I’ve not heard from my advisor, and that’s how I want it. If I need to speak to him, I’ll give him a call. But it’s good to know that’s an option.

Personal Capital also has mobile versions of its site for iPhone, iPad and Android. I use the iPad app and have had no issues. I’ve not had any issues with linking accounts. Occasionally I have to provide or confirm my login credentials for certain accounts. But that’s it.

But there are three things that could be improved:

  1. You can’t enter your own target asset allocation model. Personal Capital creates one for you based on your age, time to retirement, and investing style. This is probably fine for the majority of investors, but a custom option would be nice.
  2. The daily updates on stock and bond prices is a bit slow. As compared to Wikinvest, another tool I’ve used before, Personal Capital could be faster
  3. It does not include the cost basis of your investments, which would be nice.

So there you have it. It’s an excellent tool. If you want to give it a try, visit the Personal Capital website. And please leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the tool.

Check It Out: Personal Capital Review

Topics: Investing

53 Responses to “The Best Way to Track Your Investments Online (and it’s Free!)”

  1. When Quicken was sold and no longer as reliable, I went searching for something to taje it’s place. Personal Capitol got very good reviews so I tried it and I liked the features for banking and tracking categories. BUT I saw no indication I wojld get calledd by an advisor with a strong push to change financial planner/advisor. I was very clear with her we would not be leaving our advisor of 20 years. I still got calls. I don’t use the software anymore. I like it but ut is not worth being hassled.

  2. Amanda

    I’ve never invested. It’s sad but I’ve never been taught nor have I had the desire to learn about all these numbers. Although that has changed. I now have a 401k Roth and would like to further my investments as I get older (I’m 31). What is your advice in buying stocks/bonds?

  3. Very nice. Only two drawbacks.

    s there a way to categorize investment by type (Growth/Blend/Value) and Small/med/Large.

    Also, Fidelity FullView allows to export the raw data to Excel. Is that possible thru PC ?

  4. I’m getting ready to retire and looking for something to keep track of things both IRA, Roth and 401(k). Also, help me understand what I have and where I’m going. I’m with an advisor and she is honest and straight forward and very easy to work with but I need outside help on how stocks and mutual funds are doing and are they quite frankly any good.

  5. I would like to use the site without linking my accounts. I would prefer to key enter all of my stocks and ETF’s and track them and use the tools. that does not appear to be possible with any site that I have found.

  6. I’m curious if you know of any automated way to track different monies in one account over time? I have a taxable investment account and I basically want to “tag” each time I put money in with whether the money is for myself or my kid so that I can keep track of how much money is “his” without maintaining a separate account. I could do it manually by tracking shares and price information, but I wanted an automated tool to do it. My 401k does this, tracking my contributions vs employer contributions over time, but the taxable account doesn’t seem to. Any recommendations?

  7. Randi J

    I used Personal Capital for a few months and didn’t have problems until Optionshouse merged with TradeMonster and changed their platform. Since 1/23/2015 my Optionshouse accounts have been unable to connect and shown as zero. Personal Capital is aware of the problem but has no ETA for resolution since their software no longer works with OH. The solution offered by PC was to manually enter all the data. This defeats the purpose of having all the accounts collected together automatically. Right now I keep the data in a spreadsheet and I plan to try Mint to see if that is a reasonable solution.

  8. If I add a second trade to an existing ticker symbol, will it merge? I’m using yahoo finance right now and it keeps everything separate, but I’d like them to merge and just list the ticker symbol once…

    • Rob Berger

      Sam, Personal Capital tracks your investments by account. So if the trade occurs in the same account, it will show your total balance for that ticker. In addition, you can look at a transactional lever of detail if you want.

  9. I just linked my various accounts. The asset allocation information looks useful. But the tool is not picking up historical information. That’s a drag. I’m looking for a tool to tell me how my portfolio performed last year.

    • Rob Berger

      Cam, that is always difficult to do. One option is to manually enter your data from last year into Morningstar. It takes some time, but it will give you the information you’re looking for.

  10. I set up an account and then deleted it. Personal Capital doesn’t import cost and doesn’t allow cost to be entered, so there is no way to track overall performance. There are quite a few comments about this in the user forum and the response is basically that its not supported. Back to Google Finance…

  11. I’m interested in “mapping” accounts to their type so I could get summary totals for each of these categories: 401k Pre-tax, 401K Roth or Investment Acct. Do you know if Personal Capital or any other online (automatically updating) service offers something like that? If it allows grouping of accounts by Goals that could probably work too… Thanks! Rich

    • Rob Berger

      Rich, that’s an interesting idea. Personal Capital allows you to look at retirement accounts vs. taxable accounts. But I don’t believe you can group traditional vs Roth. Not sure of any tool that does that. Personal Capital does allow you to select which accounts you are viewing, so you could certainly group the accounts that way.

  12. I ran into a size limit with SigFig around 250 holdings…just got slower and slower under google chrome on my 4GB PC … running stand alone. How does Personal Capital compare on that?

  13. I used Mint some time back, but gave up because it did not recognize my credit union. There may have been other financial institutions that it did not recognize also, not sure. Does Personal Capital have any problems like that?

    • Rob Berger

      Yes. The import the data directly from your brokers, which tracks all of that information. Actually, Personal Capital is great to see how much in dividends you’ve earned over a given period of time. Much better than logging into various accounts one at a time.

    • Rob Berger

      Jim, I’m not sure what an LPL account is, but yes, Personal Capital works with just about any account. I use it for my 401ks, IRAs, and taxable accounts. I even have my credit cards and mortgage synced with Personal Capital.

  14. Hello Rob,
    Great Job! Thanks. Have a question? Have you heard of the website SigFig? Any comparisons b/w SigFig and Personal capital, like pros and cons will be very welcome.
    – Sudeep

  15. How can it be useful enough if it doesn’t provide the cost basis? I would expect a tool such as this to let me know how I’m performing and compare it to benchmarks such as the S&P500… just my two cents. I know Mint has that functionality. The Fee tracker is certainly useful and might itself make it worthwhile.

    Also, does the tool pull in history or just starts collecting data on a go forward basis?

  16. Steve

    Sounds a bit scary to link all of your financial accounts to a single site (server). The link from PC to your accounts is secure, same as any account with a secure link/encyption. What happens if the PC server is compromised…. I would think that this is a huge target for hackers/criminals… if they hack in, they have access to everyone’s funds in all their accounts.
    I have different passwords for each account I have for a reason….
    I do like what PC can do for you to help organize your finances..
    Just thinking out loud.. 🙂

    • Rob Berger

      Jim and RC, what I can tell you on security is that sites like Personal Capital use the same type of security that banks use and I’ve never had a problem. In terms of a revenue model, Personal Capital answers that very question. If you go to the site and click on the link How it Works, you’ll see a page on how they offer the service for free. The short answer is that they offer personal portfolio management for a few, for those customers that want it.

      • Debbie Vincent McCulloch

        A few years ago, I linked all of my accounts with Personal Capital. When I did this with Vanguard, they sternly warned me about giving such access to anyone. After considering the security issues, I closed my account with Personal Capital and changed my passwords. I have moved in another direction and sleep well at night.

  17. I just read the article, and I haven’t tried it yet. But the first thing occurred to me while I was reading the article is: is it safe for our investment accounts if Personal Capital know our online investment accounts? Sounds like it is too good (if free) to be true.

  18. Tried three times to log into Personal Capital, linking to my Fidelity account. All three times, I got the same message about how further action is required on my part and I had to log into Fidelity first. Gave up after the third try.

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