I am nearing a vacation that is going to take me to cities with two foreign currencies. While my international travels to the Caribbean and Latin America allowed me to use my US dollars, I am not planning on the same luxury in England and the Eurozone.
I travel a lot. If you are anything like me, you like having your travel documents, plans, and information all in one place. I used to print out a stack of papers for each hotel, flight, rental car, and other reservation during a trip. Thanks to TripIt, that is now a dead practice. This site is the Mint.com of travel.
What Is TripIt?
TripIt is a web application that works in conjunction with your Android, iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Phone. It creates itineraries for your upcoming trips that are consolidated into one location for easy and instant access.
From the TripIt website, I ensure everything I could want to know for upcoming travel plans is entered in as a Trip.
How Does TripIt Work?
Every time I make a flight or hotel reservation, I get an email confirmation. I gave TripIt access to my Gmail inbox and it regularly searches it for new confirmation emails. If it finds one, it creates a new trip and ads the information for easy access.
When you click on the trip (see above), a screen opens up with every flight, confirmation number, hotel, maps, links to directions, weather forecasts, and anything else you might want. You can add restaurant and show reservations too.
If a plan does not import automatically, you can forward the confirmation email to [email protected] and it is added for you. If the site can’t read the email, which is rare, you can always add it manually.
The Social Aspect
I have seven friends currently active on TripIt. I can see their upcoming trips and annual miles traveled. It is a fun way to interact with friends. You can also automatically post to Facebook, but I don’t.
I only add people on TripIt that I actually want to know where I am. Anyone you connect with can see your general plans for your trip, so only allow people you trust to connect. Outside of those people, everything is secure.
Automation and Time Savings
Outside of saving a few trees and printer ink, this site is a huge time savings. I know I can just pack up and head to the airport without worries of forgetting anything. When I get there, I just open up the TripIt app and check in for my flight. When I land, I just open my phone to grab directions to the hotel or rental car reservation information.
It is so easy that people might not get how it works. The thing is, there is not much to get. It just does everything for you so you don’t have to waste time.
The battle of the financial aggregators continues here at Narrow Bridge. In the past, we did an in depth comparison of Mint.com and Thrive. Today, we look at another alternative to these services, PageOnce, and compare it with current leader Mint.com.
What They Have In Common
Both sites are designed to bring your information to one place with a single log in. After an initial setup process, both sites pull in balance and transaction data from your various bank, credit card, and investment accounts. Any financial account is fair game.
That is about as far as I would compare them.
What Sets PageOnce Apart
PageOnce is focused on bringing a wide variety of accounts into one place. This goes far beyond financial accounts. For the life hacker in you, PageOnce can be a great tool.
In addition to my financial accounts (I only loaded a limited number as a test), I have added shopping accounts such as eBay and Amazon, services like Netflix (limited queue management), utilities such as my home internet, cable (canceled), and wireless phone provider, various social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn, and my Gmail.
While it is fun to have my social media accounts accessible with one login, I can’t do anything with them through the PageOnce interface, it juts provides me links to visit and edit those sites.
What really sets PageOnce apart is the ability to pull in utility bills, insurance accounts, and travel rewards accounts.
With one log in, I can see updated data on my airline and hotel points and miles along with expiration dates. Managing travel rewards is a huge pain in the ass if you use multiple hotel and airline reward programs. PageOnce makes it simple and easy.
The “alerts” feature is also a benefit, but it has also proved to be an annoyance. On one page, I can see new e-mails, bills coming due, and other important information. However, the default settings and updating system have proved to be a bit buggy. I got the same e-mail that I had paid my Qwest bill every day for a week.
What Sets Mint.com Apart
I have written about Mint.com many, many times on this site. I have been using it for well over three years and have seen features come and go.
Mint’s financial analysis features blow PageOnce out of the water. Mint.com offers tools for budgeting, investment tracking, long term spending tracking by category, goal tracking, a transaction history search function, and net worth tracking.
Mint is a full service financial tracking system and has been improved over time to include more features and better account and transaction tracking systems.
To highlight a few prominent features:
- Mint.com imports your transactions and automatically categorizes them. You can view historical charts of your spending by category over a specified time period.
- Mint fills in a budget throughout the month comparing your spending to your pre-set budget limits.
- You can set a goal, such as paying off a credit card or saving for a vacation, and designate accounts tied to the goal. Mint does the math and coaches you through the steps to reach your goals.
- Mint tracks your investments and their performance over time. (I have found many bugs in this feature)
The biggest problems I have with Mint are around bugs and customer service. While I did not need to report anything to PageOnce, as it all just worked, over the years I have had many account connection and update issues with Mint. Over time, their customer service has severely degraded. While I get an auto-response that I will hear back from Mint staff in 24-48 hours if I file a bug report, I rarely hear back at all. Some accounts go for months without updating correctly. Luckily these have been less important accounts, but if my primary checking or credit card stopped updating I would be up a creek without a paddle. A company owned by such a reputable company (Intuit) should have its act together better than Mint does today.
The sites have different focuses. Mint is primarily focused on personal financial tracking. PageOnce is a general aggregation service. However, this is a personal finance site. Mint.com is a clear winner due to its extensive budgeting and financial modeling tools.
To compete, PageOnce can increase its budget and transaction offerings on its site. Mint can learn a few things from PageOnce, however. First, have your product actually work 100% of the time. The constant bugs are unprofessional and the customer service is terrible. Also, Mint could add a new feature to track travel points accounts and some major billing providers. However, they should focus on doing what they already do better before they add new features.
Another alternative that I have begun to love is Personal Capital. If you are focused on tracking investment accounts and your retirement, be sure to check it out!
I always wished that Mint.com would add something to track my frequent flyer mile accounts, hotel point accounts, and so on. Fortunately, someone came up with a way to do it.
Award Wallet lets you input your airline, hotel, and many other online accounts for automatic updating. You also get a weekly e-mail with updates to your accounts if you choose. I really like the warning that tells you if your points will be expiring in the near future.
The site is not perfect. There are some missing accounts and I have a few that will not update correctly, such as Southwest Airlines. However, it is a great step forward and it looks like they are adding new accounts regularly.
I have been using the site for about a month, and I suggest it to anyone who likes financial aggregation sites.