Quicken vs. Mint Personal Finance

By Pamela S Stevens
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Many people think of Quicken as something their dad has been using for 20 years and Mint– a new way to look at personal financial management – as minty fresh. Quicken and Mint are both Intuit products; however, they are not mirror products. Quicken is personal finance software that has been around for decades, and Mint is an online personal finance product launched in 2007. Mint now has more than 7 million users and continues to add innovations.

If you are trying to decide between Quicken and Mint, here are a few of the significant differences:

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Security: Online vs. Software
Mint is an online service and Quicken resides on your computer. For Mint to access your account information, you have to enter your login IDs and passwords. When you login to Mint, it retrieves updates, such as new transactions and deposits, automatically. Using Quicken, you can either login to your online accounts and download your data or direct the software to retrieve the data automatically using your login IDs and passwords.

Some people feel that storing their financial information on their own hard drive is safer and that they can better protect their personal information if it's stored on their computer than if it's stored on an online service's servers. If you feel this way, Quicken or another personal finance software may suit you best. However, keep in mind that even if someone could gain access to your Mint account, they could not do much. They would be able to see your account balances, but they could not withdraw money, send a payment, transfer money or view your account numbers.

Image and File Attachments
At this time, Mint cannot save images or file attachments with your transactions. This may seem like a little thing. However, imagine being able to store scanned receipts or images of your purchases with the transaction information. You may not use them immediately, but should you need to make an insurance claim later, it would prove quite beneficial to have an image, receipt, serial number and so on linked to each transaction where it's easily accessible. Unlike Mint, Quicken can store files associated with transactions.

Accessibility: Mac vs. PC vs. Mobile
Mint doesn't care where you are or whether you are a Mac lover or PC user. As long as you can access the internet, you can login to Mint. Mint also offers free apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android phones and Android devices such as the Kindle Fire. In terms of desktop versions, there is a huge difference between Quicken for Windows and Quicken for Macs. Quicken for PCs includes numerous versions that can handle a wide range of financial needs. Quicken for Mac only includes an Essentials version, which is extremely limited. Mac users will find Mint much more capable than Quicken Essentials for Mac.

Check Printing
For those who still use checks, Quicken is beneficial because it can print checks. You can also use Quicken to make payments. Mint cannot perform these two functions. However, for security reasons, it makes sense for Mint not to, for now. Although Intuit provides adept security (if you have filed your tax returns online using TurboTax, you have already trusted Intuit's security). Mint does not yet support payments, check printing or funds transfers. In the future, Mint may add online bill payment.

Free vs. Paid Software
Mint is free, always up to date and never has to be upgraded. According to Intuit, the company plans to keep it free. They can do so by benefiting from partner agreements. For example, when you're logged into Mint, it will recommend credit cards and savings plans to you from Intuit's partners. Quicken comes out with a new version every year that ranges from about $50 to $120 per license. If you need to manage your business or complex rental properties, Quicken may work better for you because Mint is primarily for personal finances. Paying a bit for software may be worth it if you need tax reports or the ability to import data into TurboTax.

In many ways, the choice between Quicken and Mint comes down to a generational preference. Quicken has been around for more than 20 years, and people have come to rely on it – it is familiar. There have even been jokes about how Quicken has enlarged fonts to accommodate older users who are losing their eyesight. People who choose Mint are comfortable with online services and understand that, like it or not, their personal data is already out there. Mint users are also likely more inclined to demand mobile apps and instant access to their accounts. Either way, the choice is yours.

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