Editors' Note, February 23, 2015: Financial app Mint purchased Check and renamed the app as Mint Bills. This review has been updated to reflect that change.
Mint Bills (Android|iOS) is a free app from Intuit (the same company that built money-management app Mint) that helps you stay on top of all your recurring bills and help you make payments. The service works with credit card companies, cell phone carriers, utility companies, Internet service providers, car loans, mortgages, and even your rent. Essentially, if you have to bill to pay, you can likely pay it with Mint Bills.
While a handful of companies offer apps with bill-paying options, many are poorly designed or hard to use (I'm looking at you, T-Mobile). What's more, if you pay three bills every month, you'd need three apps, one for each service. Mint Bills lives up to its promise to consolidate your monthly bill responsibilities into a single app and make sure you never miss a payment.
You need a Mint Bills account to start, which is different from a regular Mint account. That means if you already use the money management service Mint, you'll need to sign up for Mint Bills separately, since the two services aren't linked. Any bank or loan accounts that are in your Mint account will not show up in Mint Bills. You can sign up for Mint Bills in the app with your e-mail and a password.
When you first sign up, the app asks you for your zip code so it can find the common utility and communications companies in your area. For San Francisco, that meant Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Comcast (TV and Internet), and San Francisco's water service. Alongside local utilities, it also suggested major banks and wireless carriers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Verizon, and AT&T. It's a minor feature, but one that makes getting set up on Mint Bills a little easier.
Mint Bills has a simple layout, with a color-coded design that helps you quickly see which bills have been paid, which are coming up, and which are past due.
The home screen has three sections; one for your bank and investment balances, one for your bills, and one for your credit cards. On the left, you can swipe to reveal a menu with your account information, and links to pay bills, add an account, and view activity reports (more on those later). There's also a right side menu on the home screen which shows all of your bill alerts.
The top section shows the total amount of money available in your bank accounts, provided you've connected your accounts to Mint. If you have any investment accounts that you've connected to Mint Bills, you can swipe left or right in that section to see the total amount available in them. You can connect as many accounts as you want from multiple banks and investment firms.
In the bills section, you'll see your total number of bills and the amount you owe on all of your accounts. There's a cute half-circle design with segments that represent the number of bills you've connected to Mint Bills. Inside that circle, the app also tells you how many bills are due. Each segment is a color corresponding to the bill's status -- green means it's been paid, yellow means upcoming, and red means overdue. You'll also see your next upcoming bill at the bottom of the bills section, with a button to pay it immediately, which is helpful.
The bottom section of the homepage shows your credit card balances, offers from Mint Bills, and your credit score. The company makes some of its money from credit card and savings account offers, store coupons (advertisements), and credit monitoring, all of which I didn't find all that useful. You can sign up for credit card monitoring with Mint Bills, which costs $7 per month and tracks your credit score and protects against identity theft and fraud. I like that these extras are tucked away in the "My Offers" section of the app and don't pop up elsewhere, in case you never want to look at credit card offers.
Pay your bills
When it comes to managing your bills, you have two options: either make a one-time payment, or save your account information to make recurring payments, get bill alerts, and keep tabs on your activity, such as a cell phone minutes or credit card spending. For each account you connect to Mint Bills, the app will remember the bill's due date and track how much you owe every month. All you need to do to connect a new bill is either enter your account number, or log in with the same information you would use on that company's website, if applicable.