Update: Please see my newer Quicken 2016 review!
Since I use Quicken 2014 daily in reviewing my finances and investments, I decided to upgrade to the newest release which is Quicken 2015. Here are my thoughts about the latest version as well as an unexpected look at my Credit Score!
Quicken 2015 – what is it?
Quicken 2015 is the latest release in one of the main personal finance desktop applications for PCs & Macs. It’s owned by Intuit who also operate the popular (and free) mint.com website. Eventually I expect the two separate systems will converge but currently there’s no real connection between Mint and Quicken, despite Intuit acquiring Mint several years ago. Quicken has its own online ID and web portal which is entirely separate from Mint’s. Use of the Quicken online service is optional and not required to use Quicken itself.
Quicken comes in several different versions – Starter ($39.99), Deluxe ($74.99) and Premier ($104.99). However, if you’re at all interested in purchasing or upgrading, never buy directly from Quicken and never use their “$20 discount” upgrade offer. Instead go to Amazon.com and wait for better prices. I paid $69 for the Premier edition at Amazon.
I won’t go into detail between the various versions; you can see that information at Quicken’s site. I use the investing features which are only available with Quicken Premier so there’s only one version I’m interested in.
Features I use every day
Quicken has many features for budgeting, setting savings goals and planning retirement. I don’t use any of them since I do all budgeting and tracking in Excel, so I can’t comment on how good those features are. Here are the features that I do use in Quicken however.
Online account synchronization
Quicken can connect to all my accounts and download the latest transactions. I have a number of savings, checking and brokerage accounts between Vanguard, American Express, Charles Schwab, Chase, Barclays, Fidelity, HSBC and Sharebuilder and Quicken can pull all this information in one go. This is the feature I use the most as it allows me to review all transactions going through all my accounts and helps me check off the transactions as they occur in my Excel file. The only account it’s not able to access is my HSA account at Bank of America, which also has the dubious honor of being the worst banking website that I have to use.
Note: Mint.com can do all this too. But, what I like about Quicken compared to Mint is that the transactions can be connected between accounts. If I transfer money from one account to another, it’s one single transaction and not two separate ones.
Historical Investment Cost Basis
This is the feature I use next often; Quicken provides a very simple interface for viewing the value of your portfolio on any given date. This feature works on all investment accounts since Quicken downloads the historical price data for each stock / fund that you own.
Here for example is a portion of my Sharebuilder account, showing my LNT purchases and associated cost data. By changing the date in the “As of” field at the top, I can go back in time and see values on different dates which helps me in producing monthly and yearly reports. Sadly you can’t go forward in time and look at future stock prices!
The little report icon to the right of the stock name links to news relating to that company such as dividend increases and other events.
There are also a number of investment reports that can be customized and while I use them less often, they can be quite interesting. Especially if you want to compare your portfolio’s performance to major stock indexes etc. Here’s my Sharebuilder account performance compared to the S&P.
Quicken allows each transaction to be classified with a category so I tend to use that feature when reconciling with my Excel sheet where I budget based on categories. It can generate reports that group expenses into each category and provide a breakdown into sub-categories. I’ve used this quite a few times when the expenses in my accounts don’t match my Excel file.
See the Quicken site for a complete list of improvements in this version. Some new features stand out in the 2015 edition that have not been offered before.
NEW – Morningstar X-Ray
Morningstar offer an X-Ray feature if you pay their subscription fee and this analyses your portfolio holdings, breaking them into sector and regions. This can help you see what you really have in your portfolio and what you might be exposed to; particularly if you hold a number of mutual funds.
In this version, Quicken has partnered with Morningstar and offered this feature. The report can be customized to view one or all of your investment & retirement accounts.
I doubt that I’ll be using this feature much in the short term to be honest but maybe it’ll become more useful as my portfolio grows. Here are some results from my dividend income portfolio accounts at present to give you an idea of the breakdown that it produces.
Investments by Region
Stock & Bond Style
Investment Type & Fees
NEW – Credit Score
All versions offer a Free Credit score report – this is a quarterly report from Equifax and it offers some basic personalized advice based on your credit report. The Score is not the “FICO” score but the Equifax Credit Score. The report consists of the following sections “Credit Card Usage”, “Payment History”, “Age of Credit”, “Total Accounts”, “Credit Inquiries” and “Derogatory Marks”.
I was interested in this feature and pleased to see it offered as I’ve not been willing to subscribe to a monthly service to obtain my credit score. Although of late some credit card companies are offering Credit Scores as part of their service too (I think the Discover cards do). Anyway, here are some portions from the report it gave me.
Credit Card Usage
Age of Credit
Obviously no software is perfect and Quicken is no exception to that rule. Most of the problems I’ve had with it are related to online banking services failing to connect some times. This can be problems at the bank, problems at Quicken or problems at both ends. Support for Quicken is not particularly great. I contacted support recently when my Chase accounts stopped downloading and after a lengthy online chat including supplying connection log files, the issue was ‘escalated’. It must have been escalated into outer space, since I never heard back from Quicken. I ended up fixing the connectivity issue myself as there were many forum posts about it by that time.
Based on my experience, you’ll likely see some connectivity issue with an online institution once a month or so. Usually to fix it you have to go to the account and tell it up ‘update now’. I’ve no idea why the global ‘update now’ isn’t capable of doing whatever the individual command does.
Is it worth it?
Well I guess that depends, most likely on how much you value the Credit Score and X-Ray features. This is not a comprehensive upgrade of Quicken and it looks pretty much the same as 2014 for the most part. Quicken supports 3 years of connectivity so if you’re using Quicken 2014 right now you’ll have until 2017 before you’ll have to upgrade or lose connectivity.
On the other hand, if you’re using Mint or Personal Capital or some other free service, there’s likely little value here in Quicken for you. Unless you’re OCD like I am and want total control over all transactions. The Starter edition gives you a means to check your Credit Score quarterly for the next several years for $33. This is cheaper than many credit monitoring services (e.g. IdentityGuard, Experian, Lifelock etc) although you don’t get the credit monitoring aspect of those services.
Quote of the day
Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.