Review of: Quicken for Windows
Reviewed by: Larry Ludwig
Last modified: January 9, 2018
Quicken for Windows is the gold standard in personal finance software and budgeting. It remains the app to beat with the most comprehensive features. However, customers have long complained about customer service issues, bank synchronization problems and lack of substantial new features.
Quicken is the granddaddy of personal finance software, and it’s the product users love to hate. I’ve been a Quicken user since 1992 — now over 26 years. I used to track every one of my 60-plus accounts with Quicken. I had every bank account, credit card, asset, retirement, investment and liability linked to the software. So to say I’m a power-user of this product would be an understatement.
In case you missed it, Quicken is no longer owned by Inuit, which sold it to a private equity firm. Long term, I’m not sure what to make of this news or what it means for the future of Quicken. However, in the two years since the sales, there have been a number of improvements made to Quicken.
At one time, this software was the only game in town. Today, that is no longer the case, and you have many alternatives to Quicken to choose from.
However, these financial aggregation services tend to be read-only and are better suited for alerts or reporting your finances. Reconciliation and online bill pay aren’t available with these types of services. To be fair, most banks offer online bill pay via their websites or mobile apps, so the need for online bill pay with your personal finance software has waned.
But none of these applications come close to Quicken in terms of market share or the comprehensive personal finance features that still make Quicken for Windows the industry leader. So that brings us to reviewing the latest version of Quicken.
Quicken for Windows Features
|Price||$34.99 - $99.99/year|
|Access||Windows, iOS App, Android App|
|Credit Score Monitoring|
|Import QFX, QIF Files|
|Promotions||27 Month Subscription from Amazon|
Testing Quicken 2018
For this review, Quicken supplied a copy of Quicken Home, Business & Rental Property 2018 for Windows, and I converted from my previous test installation of Quicken 2017. This test was conducted over a six-week period and used most parts of the application.
To be fully transparent to our readers, I no longer use Quicken on a daily basis and have switched to using Personal Capital instead. So with Quicken 2018, I imported what I could from the old version but also set up new accounts missing from previous testing.
I specifically tested all accounts that had online synchronization, since that appears to be a common problem area among Quicken users.
Now an Annual Subscription
The big change for Quicken 2018 is that it’s now based on a subscription service. You must pay an annual toll to use it. With the old version, you had up to three years to use the software. But now, after your subscription period ends, the online services will no longer work.
Overall, this change makes sense for Quicken, since before it had to support at least three versions of the old software, which was a maintenance and tech support nightmare. This change gets the entire user base on the same version at all times. This version of Quicken seems to try to follow the company’s pledge to constantly update and fix bugs. During my testing, Quicken was updated at least four times.
I see many comments balking at the new pricing, but at least in my opinion, that’s way overblown. If you annualize the version I’m testing and use Amazon’s price of $159.99 for the term of 27 months, it comes to just $5.93 per month. I don’t know about your specific situation, but the value added by using Quicken is easily 10 times more than that amount paid — warts and all. And it’s especially worthwhile when you consider that YNAB — which has much less functionality — charges $6.99 per month.
Also keep in mind that if you used Quicken Bill Pay, it is now included (up to 15 months) in the price. This effectively further reduces your cost of using the latest version of Quicken.
However, when compared to a free service that can do most of what Quicken can do (e.g., Personal Capital), it becomes a much harder sell. In addition, many banks now offer features that were once exclusive to Quicken (such as bill pay), further reducing the need to pay for this software.
Of course, your milage may vary. But for individuals with complex financial lives, Quicken can greatly help them better organize and save time. However, I do think some comments about poor customer service experiences and a lack of major new features on a yearly basis are valid issues.
Our overall rating and criteria scores are lower for Quicken for these reasons.
In keeping up with Mint.com, Quicken’s latest version can now display your bills and allow you to pay them within the software.
This feature is very useful. However, in my specific case, many of my payments are already automatically paid directly though my checking account or via a credit card. (I must rack up those credit card rewards.) You can get upcoming bill alerts via the app and email so you are never late making a payment.
Less Support of Online Synchronization
Surprisingly, Quicken didn’t support as much online synchronization when compared to Personal Capital. There were quite a few accounts that worked flawlessly with Personal Capital that didn’t with Quicken. With Quicken, either I had to download transactions manually and import them into Quicken, or the transactions weren’t supported within Quicken at all. This was a huge disappointment and does decrease the usefulness of Quicken if more manual work is needed to keep your information in sync.
Quicken 2018 vs. Quicken 2017
So what has changed from last year’s version? Quicken 2018 added these new features:
- Online Bills — Access to 11,000-plus online billers, with Adobe Acrobat PDF downloads.
- Custom Reporting — Custom report layout options and direct Excel export.
- Free Upgrades — Get the latest features for the term of your software license (up to 27 months with special promotions).
- Free Online Backups — 5 GB of secure online backup of Quicken with Dropbox.
- Archive Investments — Move and archive investment transactions for Quicken Deluxe and higher.
- Investment Performance Analysis — Better analysis with buy-and-hold comparison for Premier and above.
- Free Quicken Bill Pay — Use Bill Pay 15 months for free with Premier and higher (a $149.25 value).
- Invoice Customization — Custom logo, color and payment links with Home, Business & Rental Property.
- E-mail Reminders — With Home, Business & Rental Property, notify tenants of rent due and send payment receipts.
Features Introduced in Quicken 2017
- Improved Mobile App — A more powerful mobile app, now with investment tracking (excludes Starter Edition), offline use and enhanced search.
- Redesigned User Interface — Easier-to-use interface with a new look and feel.
- Automatic Home Value Assessment — By using Zillow, Quicken will automatically determine the value of your house.
Features Introduced in Quicken 2016
- See, Track, and Pay Your Bills All in One Place — Link your bills and Quicken will automatically track the due date and amount due.
- Free Phone Support — Phone support is available Monday to Friday, 5 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time, and you can use the online chat support 24/7.
- Easier Upgrades — Moving from Windows to Mac is easier for older versions of Quicken (2010 and greater).
- Better Reliability of Bank Downloads — Ability to eliminate duplicate transactions.
Features Introduced in Quicken 2015
- Portfolio X-Ray — Available with Premier and higher, you can get insights from Morningstar about your investment portfolio.
- Free Credit Score — This is something Intuit also added to its Mint.com service.
- Mobile Improvements — You can create spending graphs, and syncing occurs faster.
- Improved Options Trades — Ability to better handle options trades.
Features Introduced in Quicken 2014
- Store and Save Receipts — You can take pictures of your receipts and store them within Quicken for later retrieval.
- Memorized Transactions Show Up in Register — This is perhaps the new feature I like best. Previously you had to enter memorized transactions, but this feature will display future events within the register before entering the transaction.
- Overall Speed Improvements — While I did not conduct exact performance tests, it seems Quicken 2014 was much more responsive.
- Mobile Synchronization Improvements — Many users complained how Quicken’s mobile synchronization was broken in 2013. Intuit claims this feature has been improved, and my testing thus far confirms it.
- Budget Improvements — Users also complained about the budget changes in 2013’s edition. Quicken added two options that should satisfy users who want their budget displayed while including and excluding specific transactions.
- More Connectivity Resolutions — Quicken 2014 makes it even easier to fix connectivity issues with your financial institution.
Features Introduced in Quicken 2013
- Quicken Mobile — First version of Quicken Mobile app for Apple and Android devices.
- Synchronization Improvements — Gave a step-by-step process to help with bank synchronization problems.
- New Budgeting Functionality — But many users complained about this new functionality, and it was improved in 2014.
Which Quicken Edition?
Not including the Macintosh version, Quicken currently has four versions of its product. Yes, it can be confusing as to which product to purchase. We created a quick summary of each edition and what functionality is available in each.
Get Up to 27 Months of Quicken From Amazon.
Note: Amazon frequently changes its prices. The prices listed below are updated hourly.
Confused on which one to pick? I recommend Quicken Premier 2018 for its investment features.
|Starter||Deluxe||Premier||Home, Business & Rental Property|
|More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info|
Quicken’s requirements have always been on the middle to low end of new computers. The specs listed below shouldn’t be an issue if your hardware is less than three years old. These are similar specs needed to run Quicken 2012–2017. I would recommend a slightly more powerful machine than listed. Note that Quicken 2018 does not support Windows XP or Vista.
- CPU — 1 GHz (I recommend a more powerful CPU)
- Operating System — Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (32 and 64-bit)
- Memory — 1 GB or more (I recommend at least 2 GB; 4 GB or more being ideal)
- Hard Disk Space — Up to 450 MB, up to 1.5 GB if .NET is not already installed (I recommend at least 10GB for data storage)
- Display — 1024×768 or higher resolution, 1280×1024 for large fonts
- Internet — 56 Kbps (broadband recommended for online services)
- Sound — Sound card and speakers recommended
- Printer — Any printer supported by Windows 7/8/8.1/10
- Additional Software (included in Quicken installer) — Microsoft .NET 4.6 or later
- Mobile Requirements — iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: Requires iOS 8 or higher. Android mobile and tablet: Requires 4.0 or higher. Windows Phone and Blackberry: Not compatible at this time.
Quicken for Windows Alternatives
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Using Quicken for Windows on a Macintosh
I’ve been using Quicken since my first MS-DOS computer in 1992. Now that I am a Macintosh user, the question becomes: How do I run Quicken for Windows on my Mac?
Even with the release of Quicken 2018 for Mac, it doesn’t have every feature the Windows version has or function in exactly the same way.
For some, there’s still the need to use Quicken 2018 Premier for Windows.
The added benefit of virtualizing Windows is an additional layer of security. Since no other software is installed on that instance, you don’t have to worry about any rogue viruses or software compromising your finances. This technique is also possible when running a Windows-based machine.
Pros and Cons
- Most Comprehensive — The most complete personal finance software app. Can help plan your future, for individuals just starting out to people with multi-million-dollar portfolios and near retirement.
- Strong Portfolio Management — Allows the tracking of multiple financial portfolios with stock quote updates.
- Bill Pay — For banks that support it, you can write checks directly within Quicken's Bill Pay service. Web-based aggregation sites do not offer this service.
- Robust Budgeting — One of the more robust budgeting tools.
- Improved Mobile App — 2017 introduces an improved mobile app.
- Unknown Future — Intuit has sold Quicken and the future of the product is unknown.
- Synchronization Issues for Some Users — Some users have reported synchronization issues in previous editions, though it's mostly financial institution specific.
- Poor Customer Service — Intuit has a long history of poor customer service for Quicken. Hopefully, the new owners have made improvements with this edition.
- Required to Use Desktop Software — Millennials who use their smartphone as their only device will not be able to use Quicken's mobile app since it requires purchasing and syncing with their desktop software.
Quicken is now published by an independent company. The new features are minor at best. The mobile app improvements are good but nowhere near the same functionality as Personal Capital’s mobile app.
As stated previously, I personally no longer use Quicken and have been using Personal Capital for the past few years.
If you are one of the Millennials whose smartphone is their primary or only device, using Quicken will be a non-starter for you. Quicken requires you to purchase the desktop application, which then sends your information to the free mobile app. So the mobile app does not stand on its own.
New users who like the idea of keeping their personal finance information on their desktop might want to seriously consider Quicken, as it still has the most features of any personal finance app. And for individuals who want their data stored offline, Quicken is still the best bet.
Existing users of earlier versions who still want to use Quicken should probably upgrade to this version, as it does improve some of the previous annoyances. Hopefully, Quicken did not introduce new bugs in the process. Typically with Quicken, it takes a few upgrades to fix any of the bugs missed during testing.
As I’ve mentioned previously, we are no longer recommending Quicken as the best personal finance software tool. We are recommending Personal Capital for individuals who need tools to focus on investment tracking, and YNAB for budgeting.