Desktop software isn’t dead, at least not where money management is concerned. Quicken Deluxe for Windows is the most feature-rich personal finance app available today, which is why it remains an Editors’ Choice winner alongside Mint. While Quicken runs on your desktop, it also connects to a companion website and mobile app, so you can access much of your Quicken data from anywhere. New since last year is a completely revamped Dashboard, an enhanced UI, and improvements to the software’s data connections thanks to a new data-aggregation platform.
How Much Does Quicken Cost?
There are four versions of Quicken. When you see them advertised online, usually you see a monthly price, which is misleading because you can only pay annually. The four versions and their prices are:
Quicken Starter for $41.88 per year
Quicken Deluxe for $59.88 per year
Quicken Premier for $83.88 per year
Quicken Home & Business for $119.88 per year
Every version lets you download transactions from financial institutions (for checking accounts, credit cards, and so on) to give you a comprehensive view of your finances through a variety of lenses. You can track your income and expenses, create budgets, and run reports in every version. Quicken Starter is best if you just want to connect to your financial accounts and track income and expenses, monthly budgets, bills, reports, calendars, and alerts. The version we tested, Quicken Deluxe, also tracks loans, investments, and retirement accounts. Quicken Premier offers more sophisticated investment tracking. Quicken Home & Business lets you track business and tax data; it also supports invoicing and some rental property management.
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How to Get Started With Quicken
Quicken Deluxe comes ready to use, but you need to do a few setup chores to make it work the way you want. Open the Edit menu in the Windows toolbar and select Preferences. There you can choose from options related to program functions like navigation, the register display, and downloaded transactions.
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Another crucial part of the set up is connecting your online accounts if you want Quicken to import cleared transactions from your financial institutions. You usually just supply the username and password that you use to log in to these online accounts, though sometimes there are additional security requirements. Mint and other competitors work similarly.
Quicken Deluxe now includes a setup bar on the right side of the screen that walks new users through the steps of preparing the software for use.
Is Quicken Safe to Use?
Even if you only use Quicken as a desktop program and don’t access the companion website or the mobile apps, your computer can still be hacked and your personal financial data stolen. Security is more critical when you're accessing your information over the internet, but Quicken has added support for multi-factor authentication at login to increase protection against identity theft. It’s still important to take steps on your own to protect yourself, like using a unique password generated and stored in a password manager, and not clicking suspicious links in email.
See our list of 12 things you can do to be more secure online for more advice.
How Is Quicken’s User Experience?
If you're familiar with Quicken, it looks and works much as it did in recent years, though its performance has improved, and it’s updated with enhancements every four to six weeks. Quicken's newest tools, especially the companion mobile app, offer a state-of-the-art user experience, which tends to make older features look dated by comparison.
Your accounts and their balances appear in a vertical pane on the left, divided into Spending and Saving, Investing and Retirement, Property and Assets, and Loans and Debt. Clicking on any of these takes you to a more detailed view, usually a register or graphs. Your net worth appears at the bottom of the pane, as well as a link to your credit score. To get your credit score, you must sign up for Quicken's free service. Unfortunately, Quicken's free credit score is only updated quarterly, as opposed to Credit Karma's daily updates.
A horizontal toolbar at the top of the page divides the software into its primary activity areas, like Spending, Bills & Income, and Planning. Clicking on one of these opens a submenu of functions for that topic.
The center of the screen is your working area, and it's generally quite understandable. Standard Windows conventions like icons, fill-in-the-blank data fields, and occasional wizard-like tools simplify navigation and data entry.
The software’s overall user interface is quite good, although—and this is a minor quibble—some screens are a blend of newish, state-of-the-art graphics and old Quicken dialog boxes and buttons. The mishmash makes for an inconsistent user experience, but it doesn’t get in the way.
Your Quicken Dashboard
Quicken has two homepages, accessible by clicking tabs in the upper left of the screen. The first is the new Dashboard. It has a collection of cards (oblong boxes), which, taken together, provide a good overview of your finances. Cards shows you Uncategorized Transactions, Recent Transactions, Top Spending Categories, Bills, and Income & Transfers. You can hide cards, duplicate or rename them, and choose accounts to include. I appreciate that you can see the entire dashboard on one screen, no scrolling required.
What used to be called the Dashboard is now the Main View, which is exceptionally customizable. You can choose from numerous types of tables, charts, and other graphical content to display there. You could, for example, choose a calendar that shows what happens every day, such as expected income and upcoming expenses or overdue transactions. There are lists of bill and income reminders, graphs illustrating total spending by category, asset allocation charts, and budget adherence reports. You can also save multiple views containing different groupings of content.
I’m not really sure how this new two-page approach helps the user. The old Main View worked just fine, except that the content blocks took up so much space that a lot of scrolling was in order if you added too many of them. A combination of the Main View’s customizability with the Dashboard’s look and layout would be great.
How Does Quicken Help You Plan for the Future?
For many years, Quicken has included tools that some people will never use, such as long-term planning tools and property/debt-tracking features. But they're there and they stay out of your way when you don't need them.
If you're not familiar with Quicken, you should click through the program tabs (such as Planning) at some point, as you might find something you'd like to explore. Still, the sheer volume of tools can be overwhelming. No one else, though, comes close to providing such a wealth of guidance and tracking tools in either a software or web-based application as Quicken.
Take the Planning section, for example, which has several sets of tools. Quicken Deluxe lets you create multiple budgets based on categories you choose—or which Quicken chooses for you based on your income and expense patterns. You can view your progress in an easy-to-understand graphical format and adjust your budget when needed. If you really want to micromanage your budget, Quicken accommodates you. It’s very complex and flexible software.
Other features in this section help you reduce debt, make a lifetime plan, track and project income taxes, and establish savings goals. These interactive tools combine fill-in-the-blank fields with sophisticated calculators and reports. They then feed your responses back to you as graphs and tables.
Tracking Income and Expenses With Quicken
From its earliest days, Quicken has focused on personal income and spending. If you only use the software to track your money (including investments) and don't access its longer-term planning and tracking tools, it's still worth the few dollars per month that you pay in subscription fees for Quicken Deluxe as opposed to Starter.
Click the Spending tab, and you arrive at a big, colorful chart that illustrates your spending by category over the last 30 days. You can modify this date range to cover alternate periods and view the graphic by individual or all accounts. Below that is a register containing transactions that have been imported from your financial institutions or entered manually. You can toggle this register to reflect either income or spending and access tools that let you work with your transactions.
Transaction options include splitting; adding notes, flags, and attachments; changing categories; and assigning tax lines. Accurate categorization of your transactions is very important. It makes your reports more useful and your taxes correct should you use Quicken data to help prepare your income taxes. Quicken Deluxe 2020 added the ability to update categories assigned to past transactions as well as new ones.
Using Quicken for Investment Tracking
Quicken Deluxe’s investment portfolio tracker lets you track prices during the market day, see detailed views of individual securities, monitor and change your asset allocation, and estimate capital gains. Quicken’s investment tools go well beyond what any other personal finance app offers, especially in the more advanced versions. Recent features here include automatic lot assignment(Opens in a new window) for downloaded sell transactions and enhancements to investment reports. Property owners (vehicle, home, or other assets) can use a wizard to create accounts for assets and track their progress toward ownership.
Can You Pay Bills Through Quicken?
While you can manage bills in Quicken, you need Quicken Bill Pay (extra fees apply) to actually pay them.
Content under the Bills and Income tab deals primarily with your incoming bills. You can set up reminders to track upcoming bills and enter each manually, or you can connect to online billers where you have accounts to download the pertinent details. You view the list by biller name, due date, or as a graphical calendar. This allows you to see the amount due and due date.
Once a bill has been added, you can edit it (once or for all future occurrences), mark it as paid, and enter it as a transaction in the appropriate register.
If you want to use Quicken Bill Pay to actually pay the bills, you need either Quicken Premier or Home & Business. It doesn't work with Starter or Deluxe.
Income is also addressed in this section of Quicken, which is puzzling at first. I would have expected to see it grouped with spending. But the logic becomes clear after you see that you can not only track your income in multiple views, but also see a chart that projects your account balances based on upcoming bills and income.
Does Quicken Deluxe Include Reports?
If you have enough financial resources that you'd make use of all of Quicken's personal finance tools, you'll be spending a lot of time keeping the software current. Such compliance can result in meaningful feedback and guidance from Quicken, but it takes constant commitment. It's not something you can do half-heartedly. A financial professional can run similar numbers for you and can go a step further using more sophisticated tools, offering expert, personalized advice that Quicken can't. It depends on how diligent you want to be and your confidence level.
Reports can help you better understand your financial picture on your own. Quicken Deluxe offers far more reports than any competitor. Numerous customizable reports are available for every element of the software, including Banking, Spending, and Investing. In the Spending area, for example, you can quickly generate reports for Spending by Category, Spending by Payee, and Income and Expense by Payee.
What If You Need Help With Quicken?
Quicken has a learning curve. It takes some time to simply learn what it can do and how each area of the software integrates with the others. But you don't have to explore everything. Quicken has a huge range of capabilities that have been added on over the years. You can either use or ignore them.
If you do choose to tackle more sophisticated features, plenty of support is available. There are written guides and videos, an active online community, and FAQs. You can also chat with a support agent or call one Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.
Quicken's Mobile App
As robust as Quicken is, you wouldn't expect to be able to access all of its features remotely. And you can't. The Quicken mobile app for iOS and Android offers a surprising amount of your financial information, but not all of it. The mobile app focuses on delivering the tools and data you most likely need when you're away from your computer.
The Dashboard, for example, displays your account balances, bills and income for the next seven days, recent transactions and your top spending categories for the current month. You can also see how you’re doing with your budget and investments and view historical charts for spending and income. Click on any content to see deeper detail.
The mobile app's user experience is better overall than the desktop software's. It's more consistent, for one thing, and it’s attractive and intuitive. Rather than a toolbar running horizontally across the top of the screen, like in desktop Quicken, the app has a vertical toolbar that pops out when you click a link in the upper left, though it's more abbreviated than in the desktop version.
Can You Access Quicken Data Through Your Web Browser?
Yes, there is a browser-based version of Quicken (app.quicken.com). It's a companion to the desktop version and like the mobile app, it takes some of the intimidation factor out of Quicken for people who aren't power users (though those people would likely find it helpful, too). The site's Dashboard is great—better than in the desktop version even—and it may be all you need to look at for a quick overview. It displays tables and charts that show you, for example, how you're doing with spending and income and your most recent transactions.
Between this homepage and its links, you can access and interact with a great deal of data. You can view your account balances and their corresponding registers, for example, working with and adding transactions. Your budget goals and your investment portfolio are available as are tools for dealing with bills and income. Though the companion website doesn't include every feature in Quicken's desktop version, it provides the numbers you'd most want to see when you check in. You can do more than I’d expect online.
The browser-based application can do more than it did a year ago. For example, you can manage and create categories and tags, and edit multiple transactions simultaneously. The investment section has been redesigned, and there’s more customization and the ability to see multiple budgets.
If you're considering a personal finance application for the first time, we suggest you start with Mint, our Editors' Choice winner for free personal finance apps, since there’s no financial commitment. Quicken does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, but you of course have to pay upfront.
That said, Mint is web- and mobile-based, and many people prefer a dedicated desktop app. Quicken Deluxe offers the best of both worlds. You pay an annual fee for it, but Quicken Deluxe includes excellent reports, transaction tracking, short- and long-term planning, and good support. Toss in the synchronized companion website and great mobile apps, and you see why Quicken Deluxe is a PCMag Editors' Choice for paid personal finance software. If you don’t want or need much functionality, you might consider Quicken’s solely web-based application, Simplifi by Quicken, which, like Quicken, has a subscription fee.
(Opens in a new window)See It$46.79 Per Year at Quicken(Opens in a new window)
Price as Tested $59.88
Robust set of personal finance, planning, and investment tools
New Dashboard displays data on one screen
Connected companion website is excellent
Flexible, in-depth transaction tracking
Great support options
Inconsistent user experience
Electronic bill pay not available
Can be intimidating for some
The Bottom Line
Quicken Deluxe includes more personal finance management tools than any competitor. This desktop software comes with a connected companion website, and it’s quite customizable and intuitive. No one does personal finance more comprehensively.
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