The Best Way To Track Your Finances: Personal Capital vs. Quicken

in Financial Planning by

  • We break down how to choose which financial tool to use.
  • Determine how accessible or adaptable each tool is.
  • Compare pricing plans & features to help you manage your financial life.

5 Things You Should Consider When Choosing Between Your Personal Finance Tool Options

For so long, one kind of financial tool dominated the market. Quicken was considered the gold standard. But with Intuit’s recent announcement that it will be selling Quicken, the question of which personal finance tool is best for investors has become a critical question for anyone seeking a Quicken alternative.

To help you narrow down your choices, we’ll focus on five key elements to consider when you’re selecting a new personal finance tool – adaptability, accessibility, price, comprehensive investment tracking, and features – comparing Quicken to Personal Capital. So read on for a closer look at what the experts have to say about these two contenders:

1. Adaptability

The financial markets are in constant change, and how you manage and invest your money must stay current to make sure you make the most of your investments.

When it comes to iterating to market changes, Investor Junkie says, “Intuit never makes radical changes with their annual software updates, as they incrementally add features to Quicken, and the enhancements tend to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. This year, the biggest new feature was to automatically track bill payments. That’s it!”
As you become a savvier investor, it helps to have a personal finance tool that adjusts to your needs. That’s why Personal Capital rolled out Retirement Planner this year – to provide you with an easy way to set retirement goals, add important life events to your retirement plan, and help you evaluate if you’re on track to having the retirement of your dreams.

2. Accessibility

You don’t turn off your portfolio when you leave your home or office. And strong financial tools should be able to go with you wherever you are. Look for anytime, anywhere access. The market doesn’t care where you are when it makes a move – and neither should you.

As personal finance blogger Cash Cow Couple says, “Personal Capital can be used on the computer, tablet, or smart phone. They have apps available and all integrate seamlessly. This makes it easy to check or track accounts on the go.”

Quicken Deluxe, on the other hand, “faces the same remote access problems that all desktop software does, but its ease of use, comprehensive account access and flexible, detailed managing of transactions can’t be found elsewhere.” (PC Mag)

Both Quicken and Personal Capital offer mobile applications, but their ease of use differs. When you’re choosing a personal finance tool, look for an option that provides you with robust, anytime, anywhere updates on your portfolio, so you can stay in control of your net worth at any time.

3. Price

Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of personal finance solutions to choose from. Some come with a steep price tag, others are free. Which is right for you? Make sure to review all of the features and services available for the savvy investor before you decide. Personal Capital’s tools are free, and Quicken has a range of costs depending on which version you go with.

Cost Overview

The cost to use Personal Capital’s tools: 100% free.

The cost to use Quicken’s software: not free. There are three versions, one of which might meet your needs and price point:
• Starter Edition ($39.99)
• Deluxe ($74.99)
• Premier ($104.99)

Frugal Rules comments, “Managing your finances is important, to say the least. There are many tools you can use to do that and you need to find the one that fits you and your needs most. With that being said, I’ve had a great experience using Personal Capital – even more so because it’s completely free to use!”

Whatever your choice, financial tools and calculators are great assets for investors who want to better manage their entire financial life.

4. Comprehensive Investment Tracking

A complete view of your portfolio is critical for a successful retirement plan. To understand where you really stand, you need to be able to see all of your financial accounts in one place – from your checking and savings accounts, to your investment accounts, IRA’s, mortgage, home equity loans and credit cards.

But just seeing your accounts aggregated – without understanding how your investments are doing versus the market – will not help you be a successful investor.

And that’s where Quicken falls short. “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,” says Investor Junkie.

In the words of blogger Cash Cow Couple, “Personal Capital… exists to help you track and understand your financial accounts. After connecting your various accounts, including your mortgage, credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, and whatever else you may have, the free service will explain your situation and offer basic investment guidance.”

Both Quicken and Personal Capital will help you view your investments, but you should review both to see which goes further in helping you understand your net worth and build your retirement portfolio.

5. Features

In addition to basic services like financial account aggregation and investment tracking, you should look for a personal finance tool that provides you with deeper investing insights. Quicken and Personal Capital fill this need to different degrees.

The benefit of Personal Capital is that, “rather than just being able to track your investments, Personal Capital allows you to “see how well your investments are performing and, most importantly, see how your investments could be doing better.” (AdvisoryHQ)

Feature by feature, here’s how Personal Capital and Quicken stack up:

quickenGraph (1)

Make sure you’re not only able to track your investments, but that you can also compare your results to the markets, analyze your holdings by asset category or explore your investments and holdings in depth within each asset class. Most investors find it difficult to track what they’re saving and spending month over month without the help of a personal finance tool.

Choosing the best personal finance tool for your goals
Selecting the right personal finance tool for your life is critical for achieving your goals – understanding your net worth, supporting or growing your lifestyle, and building an attainable retirement plan.

Quicken and Personal Capital are two of the leading personal finance tools on the market. We recommend you try out both and see what works best for you.

Here’s what the experts say when they compare the two:

“I’ve been a longtime user of Intuit’s Quicken… But due to the lack of new features, functionality, the software’s quirkiness, constant upgrades and bugs, it’s unfortunately time for me to say good-bye to Quicken. In my testing, I’ve always enjoyed using Personal Capital as it allows me to see my entire financial picture and investment portfolio at a glance. So much that I even recommend it as one of the best investment apps available today.” (Investor Junkie)

“Over the years, I’ve used and tested dozens of different personal finance apps, but most lose their novelty after a while. I keep coming back to Personal Capital because it’s the one program I’ve found that gives me insight into my entire investing portfolio… The net worth dashboard is also a great way to see an approximation of my net worth without manually updating a spreadsheet.” (Money under 30)

Based on the five most important criteria for picking the right personal finance tools for your life – adaptability, accessibility, cost, comprehensive investment tracking and features – it’s clear that Personal Capital provides you with the tools you need to think long-term and develop better financial habits. And, it’s available through the convenience of mobile, tablet and desktop apps. So if you’re looking for a Quicken alternative, give Personal Capital a try.

Try Personal Capital’s Free Financial Tools

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David Douglass

David Douglass

David Douglass is an award-winning marketing professional. He has held marketing leadership positions with Silicon Valley start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and a leading online broker. He started his career as a screenwriter in Hollywood before working as an ad agency copywriter. David is a graduate of Wesleyan University.


  1. Jim Y

    Microsoft Money sunset edition is free and works really well.

    I don’t know how Personal Capital does at helping you balance your checkbook or credit cards.

    And I don’t like to have all my accounts accessible by a company like Personal Capital. MS Money runs locally.

    There is a script that you can use to update the transactions from your brokerage company (eg Fidelity, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, etc.) It works well but may be the weakest link of the free MS Money solution. But I have used it now for lots of years.

  2. Cathy R

    I have a couple of comments on Personal Capital vs Quicken. First of all, other than the standard displays provided by Personal Capital, the reporting is much more comprehensive in Quicken. Also, to me, the fact that there is no way to export data from Personal Capital means you can’t even supplement the reporting using a spreadsheet type tool. I love Personal Capital for aggregating my investment accounts, but have no interest in using it for managing/tracking detailed expenses.

  3. C. Barry Hayden

    I have been a Quicken for Windows user since the early 90’s. I started on a PC and switched to Mac in 2008 after using Vista for a while. I used Parallels as a platform on my Macs. For numerous reasons, I am desirous of switching from Quicken & Parallels. “Personal Capital” has been stated repeatedly as the program to switch to. I have been looking for information on Personal Capital, but I haven’t been very thorough in my search. The information I have found is very limited in scope. It looks more like a Web based analysis than a “program” per se. I was searching for ways to set up accounts and categories, etc. Can you send me any information that will direct me to a source that explains what “Personal Capital” is about, and how it works? Thank you!

  4. L M Whitehead (Don)

    The above describes my situation exactly and I would appreciate receiving the very same information. Please contact me by e-mail at the address below or leave information where I can contact someone that can assist me further. Your immediate response would be very much appreciated. Thank you much!!!

  5. Dan

    I’m echoing some of the same questions above, as opposed to answering them, so sorry to Don and Barry. I have been using Quicken since 2002 and have somewhere in the 100s of thousands of transactions in my various account registers. I have never really used the budgeting features, but I heavily use the ability to track all my spending, determine where I was and what I was doing (based on spending), keep track of my assets and portfolios, etc. Although updating actual stock holdings has been unwieldy so I don’t use Quicken in that way other than for a single account.

    I started using Personal Capital (just testing it) a few days ago and it is a breeze to set up and appears to be far superior to Quicken as far as aggregating accounts, providing current balances, etc. I like how the credit card and brokerage transactions are all “there” (as opposed to downloaded and awaiting approval/categorization), but apparently they can be further categorized if I like. There are a few things that will be deal breakers for me, however, and I’m not sure if PC can do them at all.

    1. Transaction history. In PC, my choices when asking for spending reports are a date range and which account(s). Nothing near the robust search feature and reporting capability of Quicken. If the farthest back we can go is last years, PC will absolutely not work for me. Spending history from 10 years ago is really, really cool to have, I absolutely do not want to move to a tool that won’t allow me to do that.

    2. Transaction categorization. Apparently PC does not allow me to create my own categories, subcategories or “tags”. In Quicken, those features allow me to track expenditures by the categories I want to use, as many as I want. And to track subcategories and special projects. If I want to know how much a particular trip cost, for which we purchased airline tickets or hotel rooms many months in advance, and spent money during the trip, as long as I apply the proper tag to all the transactions, I can generate a report in a few seconds that shows how much the trip cost. Same with something like a home improvement project, of a child’s higher education expenditures. Not sure I could do that with PC.

    3. Receipt images. I like very much the feature in Quicken that allows me to attach the receipt to the transaction. That has come in handy several times when my string trimmer with the warranty stopped functioning.

    4. Off-line accounts. Sometimes I withdraw cash but don’t spend it immediately. I consider those funds to be in a “cash” account, from which I can spend the funds and record the transactions (sometimes I have been more diligent about that than others). Not sure if PC can do this at all.

    These are my observations after just a few days of trying to set it up and use it. I suspect I’ll find more things it can’t do as I keep using it. Unfortunately, I think I’m going to need to stick with Quicken. I might just keep using PC for the quick, easy portfolio on-line portfolio aggregation that it does. Any commentary would be greatly appreciated. Dan

    • Jim Y

      I use Microsoft Money Sunset addition. It is very robust (except when doing transfers so I do double entries to get around that.) There is a python script that allows you to update transactions from most banks and brokerages.

      The ability to attach a picture of the receipt to a transaction could be handy. I just keep the warranty receipts in a separate box of receipts and then dig through that box if I need a receipt for warranty.

      You are right that the online services can’t compete with Quicken and MS Money.

      Why do you want to stop using Quicken? When I used Quicken, a dozen years ago or so, it was very unreliable. Wanted to throw the computer through the window several times as it lost transactions or they became corrupt.

  6. Ellen

    I’m looking for a secure desktop finance program, not one on a web app, to replace quicken. I want it to be desktop, with online daily/weekly updates on prices, but desktop purely for security and safety reasons. What would you recommend?

    • Alex

      Geltbox money!

  7. Adam

    I use Geltbox money -automatic download from any website (banks,credit cards).

    I like that I can keep my data locally instead of in the cloud.
    An excellent home finance planner and tracker.

  8. Anonymous

    PC is awesome, but it doesnt matter. No matter how great you make it, if I cant import my old records (proprietary files would be great, like quicken, but Ill take even a csv) then it cannot replace what I use now. Im looking to have a new system, not additional systems. If I cant replace my old, then all you are doing is adding labor.

    • Anonymous

      best said…Agree


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