June 23, 2019

Personal Capital vs Quicken

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Quicken is the oldest name in personal finance software, while Personal Capital is newer and offers advanced tools for free. Read on to see if it's a good alternative to Quicken.

About Personal Capital and Quicken

About Quicken:
Quicken can be considered the granddaddy of personal finance software, originating all the way back in 1983. It allowed people to gather all their finances in one place and quickly perform tasks that were usually done on paper.

Quicken is a subscription-based desktop software. It offers comprehensive financial tools, including budgeting, bill pay, investment tracker, and property and business accounting tools.

About Personal Capital:
If Quicken is the veteran, then Personal Capital is the new kid, having formally launched in 2011. It's digital-only and offers two services:

  1. A free advanced financial tools

  2. A paid robo-advisor service for investors with at least $100k.

In this comparison review, we're only looking at Personal Capital's free personal finance tools versus Quicken's tools.

Quick Takeaway: Which is better—Personal Capital or Quicken?
Personal Capital is better for the average investor looking to track their investments and finances in one place. Quicken is better for budgeting and has robust tools for business managers and property managers.

Personal Capital's tools are completely free, while Quicken charges a subscription fee. Read on to learn which is right for you.

Key Similarities

Both Personal Capital and Quicken allow you to link all your external accounts so you can view your financial life in one place.

Both offer these features:

  • Overall Picture of Finances
    View balances on your accounts and your overall net worth

  • Cash Management
    See your spending by category, sort transactions from all your accounts, and track income and expenses

  • Bill Reminders
    Alert you about upcoming bills

  • Investment Tracking
    Track your investments across all accounts, compare your returns to market indexes, analyze fees, and suggest target allocations

  • Retirement Planning
    Play with different scenarios to see how they'd impact your retirement nest egg

  • Security
    256-bit encryption security

However, note that Personal Capital offers all of these for free, while you have to pay a subscription fee for Quicken.

Key Differences

Here's a quick look at where Personal Capital and Quicken differ.

Personal Capital offers:

  • Free money management tools
  • Online web- and app-based platform
  • Shows your net worth right on the dashboard
  • Personalized investment advice for ideal allocation
  • Education planner to estimates college costs and create a savings goal.

Quicken offers:

  • Subscription-based service ($34.99–$99.99/year)
  • Desktop program that can be used offline
  • Ability to manually enter transactions
  • More advanced budgeting software
  • Store and save pictures of receipts
  • Debt reduction tool (Deluxe plan)
  • Ability to pay bills (Premier plan)
  • Accounting for small businesses (Home & Business plan)
  • Property management (Home & Business plan).
  • Creation of tax reports
  • Export Quicken data directly into TurboTax
  • Free credit report

Detailed Comparisons Breakdown

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Now let's take a more detailed look at how the two compare.

Cost—Winner: Personal Capital

All Personal Capital financial tools are free. You just can't beat that. For the average person, the free tools offer more than enough to effectively manage your finances.

On the other hand, Quicken's tools are on an annual subscription basis. Quicken offers 4 plans:

  • Starter: $34.99/year
    See all your accounts, create a budget, categorize expenses, manage bills, export to Excel

  • Deluxe: $49.99/year
    Added functions include: track loans, investments, and retirement accounts; create customized budget, manage and track debt, create savings goals

  • Premier: $74.99/year
    Added functions include: online bill pay, investment analysis, create Schedule D tax reports, track market value of your home, priority customer support

  • Home & Business: $99.99/year (Windows only)
    Added functions include tools for small business and real estate managers (see more detail below)

The cost is quite expensive for simple features such as budgeting and expense tracking. Many other apps do these same functions for free.

But more advanced features like debt reduction planning, tax reporting, business accounting, and real estate management could be very valuable for the price.

Quicken has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all their plans.

Synchronization & Accessibility—Winner: Personal Capital

Personal Capital operates online only through a web platform and mobile app. Linking accounts is fast and automatically synced between the web and mobile app. This makes it easier to manage your finances in real-time.

On the other hand, Quicken is a desktop software that you need to purchase and install on your computer. You'll need internet connection to import your accounts and manually initiate updates. (You get 5GB of secure online backup with Dropbox.)

Quicken's desktop software seems outdated. But it may appeal to those who don't trust their information being stored in the web/cloud.

Recently, Quicken introduced a web platform. And a mobile app has been around for years. These are optional companions to the software. You'll need to manually sync your Quicken data to the cloud to be able to access your info on-the-go.

Note that Quicken lacks features for Mac users. Home & Business is only available for Windows. And some of the investment monitoring features are not available on Mac.

Budgeting—Winner: Quicken

Quicken has comprehensive budgeting tools, while Personal Capital only offers limited functions.

Personal Capital's budgeting feature is simple. You can only set an overall monthly budget. It'll track how much you've spent this month so far, and compare it to your spending last month. You can't assign a budget to each spending category or set other features.

Quicken allows you to create a more customized budget. Features include:

  • Create as many spending categories as you want
  • Set a budget for each category and see how much you've spent
  • Analyze areas where you can save more
  • See regular expenses that you may have missed
  • Include or exclude specific expenses

Quicken lets you projects your account balance after your bills are paid. Simply up when you expect income and bill dates - it estimates how much you'll have left. This helps you know how much actual cash you have to spend.

Debt Reduction—Winner: Quicken

The Debt Reduction Planner is a feature unique to Quicken (offered in the Deluxe plan). This helps you create the best debt pay-off plan to minimize interest.

  • Automatically searches for loan and credit card balances
  • Exclude or add a debt manually
  • Set an amount to pay towards debt each month
  • Project how different payment amounts will impact pay-off

This can be a valuable tool for those in debt and who need a solid pay-off plan they can actually afford.

Personal Capital does not offer debt reduction planning.

Bill Pay & Reminders—Winner: Quicken

Both Personal Capital and Quicken have bill reminders. However, Personal Capital only has reminders for credit cards, loans, and mortgages. Quicken also allows you to set up bill reminders for gas, utilities, and telecom services.

Quicken also has online bill pay access to over 11,000 online billers. You can pay your bills directly through the software. Personal Capital does not have bill pay.

However, the online bill pay is only available at the Premier plan. Many banks now offer free online bill pay, so this isn't a feature we should have to pay for anymore.

Investment Tracking—Winner: Personal Capital

We'd give this one to Personal Capital because it really shines in investment tracking. It offers personalized advice for your investments—and all for free. Personal Capital's investment tools include:

  • Portfolio Overview
    See the overall performance of your portfolios compared to market indexes, such as S&P 500, DOW, etc.

  • Fee Analyzer
    Calculates how much is being lost to fees and the expense ratio within each fund. This way, you can consider switching out funds with high fees.

  • Investment Checkup
    Analyzes your current investment strategy and suggests a target allocation. It also tells you exactly how to rebalance your portfolio to reach the suggested allocation.

Read more about Personal Capital's investment tracking tools (with screenshots) in our detailed review.

Quicken only offers investment tracking in the Premier and Home & Business plans. Some features include:

  • See all your investment fees and your true market returns.

  • Set up stock watchlists.

  • See your actual portfolio allocation and target allocation (Windows only).

  • Evaluate your portfolio with Morningstar's X-Ray tool (Windows only).

  • Run IRR and ROI reports.

  • Compare your portfolio's performance to market benchmarks.

  • See realized and unrealized gains for tax planning.

  • Use "what if" scenarios to see tax implications of selling.

  • See market comparisons to help with buy/sell decisions.

Retirement Planning—Winner: Tie

Personal Capital has one of the most advanced FREE retirement planning tools. You set at what age you want to retire and how much you plan to save per year. Personal Capital will calculate what your retirement looks like.

  • See projected portfolio values at different ages.

  • See projected monthly retirement income.

  • See calculated Social Security distributions.

  • Get recommendations on what you can change to grow your retirement savings.

  • Enter "what if" scenarios (like buying a house, paying for a wedding, traveling), and see how these will impact your retirement.

Quicken has a "Lifetime Planner" that also lets you to play with different scenarios. You can input things like future homes, college costs, future loans, living cost adjustments, etc. Quicken will use these assumptions to give you an interactive look at how they'll affect things.

Both programs do a good job of showing you how big financial events would impact your retirement nest egg.

Property & Small Business Management—Winner: Quicken

Personal Capital doesn't offer any functions for real estate and small business management. So this section will cover what Quicken offers.

Quicken's small business and property management are only included in the Home & Business plan. Note that this is only available for Windows.

Small Business Management Features:

  • Track all your assets and liabilities
  • Separate business and personal transactions
  • Store contracts, receipts, and other business documents
  • Create Schedule A to E tax reports
  • Track business deductions, even from personal accounts
  • Export directly to Turbotax
  • Create and email custom invoices

Real Estate Management Features:

  • Track property value, loans, rental income, and expenses.
  • Save tenant lists, lease terms, rental rates, and security deposits.
  • Track outstanding and paid rents.
  • Send email reminders and custom rent receipts.
  • Run Schedule E and other tax schedule reports.

The fee for Home & Business plan is a great deal to better handle more complicated finances and simply your taxes.

Personal Capital Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tools are completely free
  • Digital only and automatically updates accounts
  • See your accounts in real-time
  • See net worth instantly displayed on your dashboard
  • Portfolio analysis and personalized recommendations
  • Robust retirement planner
  • User-friendly interface and mobile app

Cons

  • Simple budgeting features
  • No manual transaction entries
  • No tax reporting
  • No business or property management features
  • No online bill pay

Quicken Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Most comprehensive set of financial tools
  • More advanced budgeting tools
  • Reconcile accounts
  • Manual transaction entries
  • Debt reduction planning (Deluxe plan)
  • Online bill pay (Premier plan)
  • Small business and property management (Home & Business plan)
  • Import directly into TurboTax
  • Free credit report

Cons

  • Costs $34.99–$99.99/year
  • Need to manually import data
  • Synchronization issues
  • Lots of customer service complaints

Bottom Line: Which Is Better?

This is hard to say, because it's hard to compare a free service with a paid one. Yes, Quicken offers more robust, comprehensive features, but you need to pay for those. Personal Capital's free tools are just about the best on the market and… well, they're free.

This makes Personal Capital the better choice for the average person. Quicken is better for small business owners, multiple property owners, and those with more complex finances. You do need to pay for the software, but it'll save you time and make managing your money easier.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

More from CreditDonkey:


Personal Capital Review


Quicken Review


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