Quicken is one of the oldest and most recognized personal finance programs available, with more than three decades of history behind it. But for many users, it just doesn’t cut it.
The first edition of Quicken was released back in 1983 — long before the World Wide Web went live. Developed by former owner Intuit, Quicken was a sturdy, workhorse software solution for personal finance management.
But then everything changed when practically every aspect of our lives went online.
How Mint.com Edged Out Quicken
The downfall of Quicken can be traced back to September 2009, when Intuit, then-owner of Quicken, Quickbooks, and TurboTax, purchased Mint.com and added the site to its product portfolio. In the following years, Intuit operated an online version of Quicken, called Quicken Online, in parallel with Mint, which offered a nearly identical feature set. In late 2009, Intuit announced that Quicken Online would be merged into Mint. This was the first big sign that Quicken was on the way out of favor at Intuit. And existing Quicken Online users were left in a precarious situation with no ability to migrate their historic data.
Quicken Desktop users fared better, as the program was updated each year and was even sold to a private equity firm. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Why It May Be Time to Ditch Quicken
There are many downsides to Quicken’s desktop program that make the service unappealing to Millennials and other tech-savvy personal finance enthusiasts. Here are some of the downsides of Quicken compared to better Quicken alternatives:
- No automatic background updates.
- Clumsy process to manage bank account connections.
- Data saved on your computer is susceptible to loss from a computer crash.
- Multiple editions with higher pricing for more features.
- Some features not available on both Windows or Mac versions.
- Desktop and mobile apps both required to view data on your phone.
- Quicken doesn’t support some banks and finance companies that other programs support.
- Quicken can be expensive, while most Quicken alternatives are free to use.
The one place Quicken stands out as a stronger product is in tracking investments over time. However, the most important features to track cost basis and potential taxes are built into most brokerage websites when you log into your account.
Alternatives to Quicken 2017
While there are some good alternatives, the list of desktop-based personal finance apps is quite short. In fact, Quicken doesn’t have much competition. And not all of these services will cater to your personal finance needs. So it’s important to read our detailed reviews and determine the best one for your situation.
The most exciting services today are web based, including several options below. However, if you’re looking to transition to online personal finance management instead of desktop software, you might find some interesting choices in our Mint.com alternatives article.
If you are looking for a web-based finance app that focuses on investing, this is we recommend Personal Capital. In fact, we have it on our list of the best investment apps. Unlike Mint, which focuses a lot on budgeting (and where your money has gone), Personal Capital emphasizes investing and saving for retirement. You can track expenses with this app, but you can also create an investing plan — and even have the app analyze your investing fees and help you avoid them. Larry Ludwig, our editor-in-chief, has replaced Quicken with Personal Capital and lists the reasons why here.
Why we like it: This free app summarizes all of your accounts in one dashboard with an emphasis on investments. While it is light on budgeting tools, it is great for helping you save on investment fees and manage your portfolio for long-term growth.
YNAB focuses on four basic principles: Stop living paycheck to paycheck, give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, and roll with the punches. It’s less about tracking where your money went and more about telling it where to go. This is a great software option for those especially interested in zero-based budgeting.
Why we like it: This app has a cult-like following with fans who love its strategy of giving every dollar a job. YNAB is budget-first and is designed to make you think about how you and your family spend, save, or invest every single dollar you earn.
Moneydance is a desktop app. It allows you to create a budget, gives you bill-pay reminders, generates helpful financial charts and graphs and offers investment support. You can link your accounts online for automatic updates or enter your information manually.
Why we like it: Mac, Windows and Linux users can all use this desktop-based app. This is one of the closest competitors of Quicken, and it stands out for its ledger-based account management and useful graphics and reports.
Moneyspire offers support for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can create a budget and download transactions from your bank. Moneyspire is free to try and can be downloaded from their website. The mobile version is available for iOS only, with no Android support.
Why we like it: Moneyspire is focused on making money management easy and does so with simple and easy-to-follow views. The majority of your time in the app takes place on one screen so you don’t have to worry about jumping around between views.
Banktivity is one of the few native applications for Apple’s MacOS operating system, along with Moneydance and Moneyspire. Of these three, Banktivity is one with the most features. In addition, like Quicken for Windows, Banktivity offers mobile synchronization with your iPad, iPhone and even your Apple Watch.
Why we like it: Mac users rejoice; this Mac-first app looks and feels natural for Mac computers rather than just putting a Windows program in a Mac wrapper. Banktivity is easy to navigate and quickly find what you need. Or set up workspaces (pages) to see exactly what you want when you want it.
CountAbout is an online service that automatically downloads your transactions into one central place and allows you to create budgets with ease. Unique to CountAbout, you can import your existing transactions from Mint or Quicken. Sign up for the free 15-day trial.
Why we like it: It is rare to find a web-based personal finance app that can import from Quicken or Mint, but CountAbout has you covered. And you can access your data from your phone. While CountAbout is not free, it offers a clean, ad-free experience.
Web-based PocketSmith not only lets you track your spending, but it generates projections of your future financial picture. You can also create monthly, weekly or even daily budgets that start on any day you choose (no waiting till the first of the month).
Why we like it: PocketSmith is easy to set up and use, flexible and convenient. Plus, its unique calendar feature is extremely handy and gives you a window on the future of your finances.
Read the Review »
Readers: Which alternative do you like? What’s your favorite software option? Got another suggestion for a Quicken alternative? Leave a comment!