Quicken online is gone. But there are plenty of great options. Here are the three best Quicken alternatives (and #1 is totally free).
Not all that long ago, Quicken was the leading giant in the personal financial planning market. It did everything you could want in a software. Then, Quicken one-upped itself by launching Quicken Online. Not all that long after, though, Quicken Online became obsolete. Here, we’ll talk about the history of Quicken Online, and talk about today’s best Quicken alternatives.
What Was Quicken Online?
Quicken software was created way back when people still used MS-DOS. (To the under-thirty crowd, you don’t even want to know!) It was built on a database structure. This make it a good option for managing complicated financial systems. But it also made cross-platform compatibility difficult. So Intuit, Quicken’s creating company, had to keep coming up with new models.
And, in fact, they still do. Quicken software is still a great option if you want a robust way to manage your personal or business finances. But it wasn’t doing what millennials wanted it to do.
This is why by back in 2007, Intuit launched Quicken Online. The tool was meant to help “young and responsible” individuals manage cash flow. At the time, the data seemed to say that the most pressing question for younger earners was whether or not they could actually pay the bills. So Quicken Online didn’t begin by tracking investments and other long-term goals. Instead, it focused on tracking checking, savings, and credit card transactions.
Intuit could have made a major misstep here by simply moving their old-school database-style software online. But that’s not what they did.
One of Quicken Online’s major differences was the fact that it did not track investments, which Quicken software users had come to expect. But it also made tracking everyday spending much easier.
At the time, financial software that actually synced with your bank accounts was a new concept. So Quicken Online jumped on that bandwagon early. You could connect your checking account directly to Quicken Online, and it would automatically import your transactions.
That’s not something unusual today, of course. But in 2007, it was still a pretty new concept.
What about the problem of uncashed checks? Today, that’s not as much of an issue. I, for one, use checks for only two or three monthly bills. But in 2007, I was still writing checks pretty often. So Quicken Online allowed users to manually enter written but unposted checks. Then, it calculated your actual account balance based on these numbers.
This was a great solution for those up-and-coming professionals struggling with day-to-day cash flow!
Quicken Online also helped people become more aware of their overall financial situation. For instance, new users would get a list of recurring bills suggested from their previous 90 days’ worth of transactions in each connected account. Then, users could set up bill reminders.
Quicken Online’s interface was sleek and user-friendly for the time, though today it would feel clunky and out of date. But it still gave users a quick way to get insight into their spending, saving, and other financial patterns.
Quicken Online also acted in an app-like way for iPhone users, specifically. These users could log into their account to view their updated balances and five latest transactions in each account. With transactions downloaded nightly, the feature is a far cry from the to-the-minute financial insight today’s apps offer. But it was still pretty high-tech for a decade ago!
Finally, Quicken Online eventually rolled out an online bill paying option. This was meant to help users manage short-term cash flow and to make their online bill paying easier. And Intuit, of course, tied Quicken Online into its TurboTaxOnline products, as well.
So What Happened to Quicken Online?
In short, it seems that other platforms were quicker to innovate than Intuit. They offered consumers better options than Quicken Online, and for cheaper. So in 2009, Intuit announced its $170 million acquisition of the still-popular financial management platform Mint.com.
Quicken then moved its Quicken Online users over to Mint.com, which was already a well-functioning platform for the most part. It did not go well. Quicken customers weren’t happy to lose their data, and the change was a frustrating one.
With that said, Mint.com still consistently ranks in the top ten lists for personal financial management software options. It’s in my personal top three!
In more recent history, Intuit has been trying hard to preserve Quicken, which was overshadowed by its more popular products, QuickBooks and TurboTax. But many consumers still benefit from using Mint.com on a regular basis.
What Other Options Are There?
If you are looking for a review for Quicken Online, you may be a bit disappointed. It just doesn’t exist anymore. But don’t despair! There are many excellent money management tools online these days. Here are the top three to consider:
Want a tool that accounts for everyday spending but has a heavier focus on long-term financial planning? Personal Capital may be exactly what you’re looking for. Like Mint, it features a user-friendly, image-driven interface. And like Mint, it syncs with your existing accounts to bring in data automatically.
Unlike Mint, though, Personal Capital has always had a heavy focus on investments. It helps you keep track of your net worth, and it also offers a variety of advising tools. For instance, you can use the investment checkup tool to find out your current asset allocation compared with Personal Capital’s suggested allocation. You can read our full review of this tool here.
It’s no surprise that Mint.com took over the Quicken Online space pretty quickly. And it’s evolved quite a lot since I started using it back in 2010. Back then, the syncing of transactions was sometimes sketchy, and users had now way to track financial goals or investments. These days, things are different.
Mint isn’t just for tracking your cash flow. You can also use it to set up financial goals for the near and long term. And you can automatically import your investment information to keep an eye on that piece of your finances. In short, it’s a comprehensive, visually-driven financial management tool that’s an excellent replacement for the older Quicken tool. Check out our full review here.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
Of these three tools, YNAB is the weakest when it comes to the visual interface. With that said, it’s still very user-friendly. It is based on a different type of financial management. One that focuses on using last month’s cash for this month’s spending. This is an excellent way to build more financial stability into your life.
YNAB imports transactions when you tell it to, but it does so fairly cleanly. It lets you categorize transactions and set goals. One of its unique features is that it tells you how old your money is. The longer your money sits in your checking account, the older it is. And that’s a good thing!
Not sure which of these options will work best for you? Get our breakdown of the best budget tools here.
Updated October 8, 2017 and originally published October 6, 2017.