And I was sorely disappointed.
Earlier this month I reviewed Mint, an online personal finance website. At the time I promised I would review some of Mint’s competitors. Today I took a look at Quicken Online.
Quicken Online is designed to compete with websites like Mint, but is not a replacement for desktop finance apps. It’s a single portal to view all of your bank transactions… and that’s about it. I don’t see any significant features that Mint doesn’t already have.
When you sign up for a Quicken Online account, it asks you to enter the usernames and passwords for your bank accounts. Intuit claims that the sign-on data is “encrypted and stored on our firewall-protected servers,” but as a software developer, I don’t find that particularly reassuring. I’d rather avoid giving my sign-on information to third parties altogether. That said, Intuit is a large company with many years of experience in storing financial data, so I do have some faith that they know how to handle it safely.
Once you enter your bank accounts, you can view transactions in those accounts from the Quicken Online home page. One nice feature is that you can enter upcoming transactions before they’re posted by your bank, so you can get an estimate of your upcoming cash flow. But you can’t enter any accounts that don’t have sync capabilities with Intuit.
Unlike many people, I still keep track of my transactions separately from my banks, and reconcile bills and statements when they arrive. It’s a good way to avoid unauthorized charges and keep track of my spending. I’d like to “bring that to the 21st century” by checking off transactions as they post from my bank, rather than having to enter every transaction. Well, Quicken Online doesn’t have any such features. Here’s how they justify this:
Reconciling is useful for matching up your paper checkbook register with the transactions on your bank statement. But who keeps a paper checkbook register these days?
I find this justification highly suspect, coming from a company that sells millions of copies of an electronic check register that does just that. Of course I don’t want to reconcile a paper checkbook register. I do want to reconcile credit card receipts and (gasp) paper checks. I want to differentiate transactions I’ve already seen from those that are brand new. Reconciliation is a critical process of staying within a budget and avoiding fraudulent charges. I can’t tell whether Intuit’s online division’s management truly believes that reconciliation has gone the way of the dodo, or whether they’re just trying to avoid cannibalizing Quicken software sales.
At any rate, I can’t find any significant reasons to recommend Quicken Online. Intuit is a more established company than Mint and Wesabe, so I trust them a little more to store my bank account login safely. But Mint has a much “fresher” design, a nice iPhone app, and a more active user community.
In a few days I’ll review Wesabe as well and see how it matches up to these two.