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Quicken 2018’s subscription isn’t really a subscription

When Mac Quicken 2018 was announced as subscription only, I vented on Twitter

“Quicken is now sold on a membership basis.”

Screw that—it’d cost me $50/year just for quote downloads, basically. #Quicken2007Forever

However, as part of my work on finding a replacement for Quicken 2007, I discovered that Quicken has done themselves something of a disservice with their marketing: Quicken 2018 is not a typical software subscription, it’s more of a traditional model.

Note: For those who aren’t aware, Quicken is no longer owned by Intuit; they were bought by an investment bank. That’s both good and bad. It’s good that they’re out from under Intuit’s lack of interest in the Mac app, but it’s possibly bad in that an investment group only buys a company for one reason: To later sell it at a big profit. However, to profit, you need to provide things people want, so New Quicken should be focused on providing excellent apps.

In a modern software subscription plan, as with Microsoft’s Office 365 or Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you only have rights to use the software while your subscription is active. Stop subscribing, and you can’t use the apps any more. (Though I believe Office will run in view-only mode.)

But that’s not how Quicken’s subscription works. Quicken’s subscription is backed by something they call the Data Access Guarantee, which insures you’ll always be able to access your financial data. From that page, with my emphasis added:

…whether you renew your subscription or not, you’ll always have full access to and ownership of your data. You can view, edit, export, and manually enter transactions and accounts, even after your subscription ends.

Access to online services, such as transaction download, quotes, and mobile sync, along with access to Quicken Support, will end if your subscription does.

Even if I stop subscribing, I’ll be able to continue using Quicken 2018 (or 2019 or whatever) much the same way I use Quicken 2007 today: As a standalone app without access to online services or Quicken’s support services. (Note that this doesn’t apply to the Starter edition, just Deluxe and Premier. But Starter is very limited; I imagine most users will have at least Deluxe.)

This policy allays my fears about the subscription: If I decide I don’t need the online services, I can stop subscribing and still use the app manually. If they had communicated this more clearly up front, I wouldn’t have had any qualms with supporting their new approach, nor would I have vented on Twitter.

The ability to continue using the app after my subscription ends allays my main fear with subscriptions: Once you start, you’re locked in because you lose the software if you ever stop paying. Thanks, Quicken, for taking this approach.

48 Comments

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  1. Taking into consideration Intuit’s reputation, your reaction would be normal.
    I don’t trust them and they can change their policy at any time.

    1. Whoops, thanks for reminding me of a bit I forgot to include: Intuit no longer owns Quicken. They sold it off two years ago; I’ve added a note and link to the post.

      -rob.

  2. Eager to read your research on a Quicken 2007 replacement. I’ve searched for years after a forced “upgrade” from Quicken 2005, which I stuck with for ten years. Converting my huge data file from ’05 to ’07 (which was required before going to ’11) resulted in massive corruption, with duplicate and dropped transactions. So many functions are missing or awkward in these later versions. I won’t consider a web app, don’t want mobile, and hate the idea of subscription. So far, as far as I know, imperfect Quicken is the only option. I hope you’ve discovered an alternative!

    1. After trying what I consider to be the “big three,” I felt Quicken offered the best feature set at the lowest cost – and possibly the most upside, with the company now being split from Intuit and wanting to “do right” by its customers. Here’s the writeup.

      -rob.

  3. I have Quicken 2017 and I like it. It’s a lot better than Quicken essentials. The reports could be a bit better, but it’s a worthwhile financial package. I doubt I will need to upgrade for a while though.

  4. I moved from Quicken 2007 to Quicken 2017 and was so disappointed, that after 18 months using it, I’m in the process of moving data back to quicken 2007. It had so many reports and other functions they simply did not bring to ’17 — I can’t pull simple information for my CPA based on category reports, that show a total spend by category. I was printing out the report and adding the numbers up with a calculator!!!! And then I find the numbers are not even correct — if an item was part of a VISA bill, it brought the entire VISA amount onto the report (not the categorized item). also gone — QuickReport. Clearly the folks who did it just scraped the surface and did a very light version. Also annyoying, they try to sell you something every time you open the file. With NO WAY to turn it off.

    1. Sherry:

      I never tried Quicken 2017, but it sounds nothing like Quicken 2018. I can create a Transaction Report hat summarizes by category, which you can then customize and save as a custom report (and customer reports appear directly in the Reports menu). It’s definitely not pulling entire credit cards into reports either—as we do most of our buying on credit cards, i’d notice that immediately.

      You should probably give the 2018 version a trial: I find it much better than the 2007 version, especially in terms of interface and usability. They have a full money back guarantee, so there’s not much to lose. Import your data file, spend a few minutes with it, and see if it’s solved the issues you saw with 2017.

      Also: It has never tried to sell me anything at all on launch (or at any other time).

      -rob.

      1. Well, the free ride is over now on Quicken 2018. I’d rather not manually enter every transaction, and I am not buying the subscription they are selling. Any thoughts

  5. The only drawback I can see with the subscription ending is that I will no longer be able to download my entries from my financial institution. I use this feature twice a week. I am currently using Quicken Deluxe 2017 and I will probably put off as long as possible buying a “subscription” Quicken. And yes, I do have an advertisement that shows up every time I open Quicken even though I have checked/unchecked the Remind Me Later box.

  6. Quicken is dead to me. I’ve used it since 1998. One reason for using it was taken away when the government required brokers to keep up with cost data. But Quicken added the transaction download which was cool . . . at first. Having to buy it every 3 years was not a big deal, and justified because they had to keep developing to track changes in the account interfaces.

    But the last two years the transaction download has caused more time to be spent chasing problems than it has saved. The match is really going bad. Especially transfers from one account to another. These almost never match the way financial institutions report data. So I’ve decided never to buy another copy. I resent that they have the password deal, which is checked online, because I could lose access to my data (regardless of what their guarantee says), and I’m thinking of looking for a way around that. Anybody know a way?

    1. i have used quicken for many years; now on q 16. i will not go to subscription svc. i do not want my info stored outside my pc. i found that my two brokers (Schwab and TRPrice) have reports that give me all i need. Goodby Q in 19. floyd w

  7. I upgraded to Quicken 2018 Premier on 12/1/18 for $47.80 with a $30 discount. $50 per year seemed high, but I was willing to pay it. My subscription auto-renewed today at the full $74.99. This is ridiculous. There were no emails with a discount for renewing early. This is another case of new customers getting a deal while loyal customers (21 years) are getting screwed. Not much I can do now. I have shut off auto-renew and plan to transition to something else before 12/1/19.

    1. You should ALWAYS turn off auto-renew as soon as you renew ANY subscription so you have the OPPORTUNITY for better deals.

  8. Given Intuit’s reputation and treatment of loyal users, your reaction is completely justified.
    I share your disappointment and don’t buy into the ” Data Access Guarantee”
    I faithfully bought into the newest versions every couple of yrs.
    New owner needs high monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to improve the value when they ultimately sell..
    I don’t trust them and they can change their policy at any time.

  9. Quicken user since 1998 and very upset I’ll now have to pay $45 per year instead of ~$50 per 3 years for a buggy software

    1. You do understand it’s not owned by the same company, and it’s really not even the same software any more, don’t you? I’ve had no crashes since updating, and have received regular software updates that add features, fix issues, and improve features—this was more than I ever got from Intuit.

      You can choose to not renew the subscription and just use it after the term of your initial license expires—you just won’t get online downloads (which I never had with the old Quicken anyway–they never seemed to work).

      -rob.

      1. I understand that you can’t get online downloads once the subscription expires but can you upload data from excel? I want to make sure that the voluminous data my family incurs on credit cards can somehow be uploaded and not be required to manually enter. Thx for your help.

        1. The Import menu shows QFX, OFX, QDFM, QDF, QXF, some various Quicken Mac formats, and “Mint.com (CSV)” as the choices. If you can get Excel to spit out one of those formats, it may work.

          That’s about all I can see, though, which isn’t all that useful.

          regards;
          -rob.

      2. I purchased the 2018 Quicken for Home and Business in Jan of 2018, but in mid Jan my “subscription” ran out. I can no longer enter data(quickly or accurately) because they added a Pane about 2″ wide on the right asking to renew my subscription (as well as a banner at the top). It squeezes the data space on the main part of the screen so that most columns are only 3 characters wide! I contacted customer service and they state that the advertisement pane CANNOT be removed!! They have “‘handicapped” the program so that it is very difficult to enter new data quickly or accurately. I did not use the Download Date function. I will have to re-enter Jan and Feb in my old version and then see if access to my 2018 year of data remains available. Any other Programs available?

    2. Very interesting business practice by Quicken. They install a patch on your computer that corrupts your original function for you to buy their new subscription scheme. I wonder if it is legal!
      What I mean is that the download of currency exchange rate is not an “Ancillary Services” as Quicken define it. It is a crucial part of the software operation. Quicken has rendered my software obsolete by installing a patch on my 2016 version and not allowing me to upload the exchange rates anymore. I am expecting that Quicken fixes this problem immediately.

  10. I’ve used Quicken (Mac) since 1995 and have stuck with 2007 because 2017 looked like Quicken Essentials. The old Quickens used to ask what type of account register you wanted and then they’d start one that had exactly what you needed. The registers had different colors depending on the account type: credit card, bank, investment, loan. The best part was that the people who wrote the software actually understood mutual fund investments. The action column had buy, sell, long term gain etc. There was a sharesin/cashout column and a sharesout/cashin column. There was a shareprice/commission column. These 3 columns were all interdependent and came up with a sharebalance. There isn’t one other financial software that’s so comprehensive in this regard. Most have a stupid cash balance column, which may be fine if you have a brokerage account. But a mutual fund account is for buying shares of mutual funds, and the cash balance should be zero. You want to reconcile the number of shares on the Quicken register with what the mutual fund company says you have. So, long story … Are quicken 2018 registers as rational as Quicken 2007 registers? Also, can you still do a quick report for one category?

    1. There are no colored registers, but with the summary window showing accounts grouped by type, I don’t miss that much. The investment type pop-up has all sorts of options, including all those you listed, plus stuff like stock split, return of capital, short sell, buy to cover, etc.

      I only have a couple of mutual funds, but I’ve had no trouble with them: One of them downloads automatically, which is like magic, and I’ve had no trouble getting the share balance correct on the other.

      I’m not sure if I fully understand the report question, but you can create a report and specify anywhere from one to all categories to include.

      -rob.

  11. I have been a Quicken user for 2 decades. The last upgrade I purchased was Quicken 2017. Thankfully, the 2017 version will be supported until April 30, 2020, which means that until then I can continue using the online bill pay, downloading my transactions and receiving software patches and updates. That said, when the discontinuation date is reached, I will be looking elsewhere. My thoughts on the matter are simple. If an organization wants users to purchase upgrades, then they need to make improvements to the product that are hard for users to resist, not disable the software (even though you maintain access to your financial data). If an organization is not talented enough to make improvements that would draw users to upgrade every couple of years, then perhaps they need to look at moving in a different direction and leave software for those who can meet the challenge.

  12. I started using q back in 2000 renewing version every two years. I have q 16 now. Agree with most of the comments that current owner is temporary and besides, having my personal financial data in internet for a hedge fund to watch is not one of my preferred options. I do not know what will do next. Quicken has been managing my finances for almost two decades. It will not be easy for me to change. I would like to see quicken going back to the stand alone version and allowing customers to decide what is best, or at least give possibility to have both alternatives. By the way, I am outside US with accounts in USD, Euro and local currency and cannot sync in app accounts in other currencies so access to internet is useless for me.

    1. Why does everyone think your data is in the cloud? It’s not; it’s a locally stored file. They just rolled out an entirely optional feature to allow remote access, but it’s just that—optional. There’s nothing different about how the current Quicken functions relative to online data (i.e. downloading from the net is what it can do) than were prior versions.

      -rob.

  13. I am still using my trusty Quicken 2004 and have no need to connect it to my bank. I just like having an electronic check register. But I now have a Mac and even if I transfer the CD files to a hard drive, I can’t install this on a Mac. So is my best option to download the latest version for Mac and then unsubscribe? And if I’m only using it as a checkbook register, do I need Deluxe? Thanks for the help!

  14. what alternatives are there to quicken, Microsoft Money used to be one, but that is no longer offered

  15. Got an “ad” on my Quicken 2016 offering to do a 2 year license for $59.99. That’s not too bad. I declined it right now, but hopefully I can get the offer another time.

  16. Just got off the phone with Quicken, as my subscription expired this month. The truth is that this new business model is different, yet more software companies are starting to use it or similar. I have been a Quicken user since 1991 back when it was a DOS program. The only drawback to using the software is that you will have a banner across the top of the screen indicating your membership has expired. Also on the right side of the screen you will have under a Tips and Tutorial the same membership expired and a renewal button. All of the rest of the functions seen to work fine with no online access. This does not bother me other than the fact I have less real-estate to display my data.

  17. I was just buying TurboTax from Office Depot and they offered Quicken 2019 for one year at $9.99. So I bought it. Unfortunately, the download link for the TurboTax isn’t working, so I haven’t even bothered downloading the Quicken yet,

  18. I was just about to pull the trigger on the purchase of Quicken 2019 Deluxe when I came across your blog. Now I’m not so sure this is a product that will suit me. I definitely want download ability from banks and credit cards but am totally against having to pay for this privilege on a yearly basis. (It was Sage Simply Accounting’s exorbitant annual charge for the software with the latest tax tables for payroll for our small business that pushed me into the arms of a great payroll service – and I will never go back! And perhaps the best part is that my last version of the accounting software has worked just fine for all of my records for several years now.) But I digress…

    I used Quicken 2002 “Suite” for as many years as possible, happily downloading bank and credit card entries in order to track spending. I manually entered investment totals every 4 or 6 months, and tracked net worth at those times. The usefulness of Quicken died a slow death as first one and then the other credit card or bank download was ‘no longer supported’. After floundering around for awhile I finally gave in and bought a newer version, only to be hopelessly confused trying to set it up. The data from the 2002 version could not be transferred, and I gave up trying to co-ordinate dates and amounts.

    My question is this: If I set up an Excel spreadsheet to track expenses can I download bank and credit card entries into it?

    1. I just replaced Quicken with MoneySpire. I had used Quicken since 1993, but will not pay for the overpriced subscription.

  19. Rob, thanks for you detailed information. Most appreciated. I’ve always done my work in Excel and I am ready to move to Quicken for rental property bookkeeping and now a small business. So, any comments for the rental property feature of the Quicken Home & Business?

  20. So my Quicken 17 connectivity expired today. But yesterday, just before the expiration, all the type used in my register and side menu converted to a very thin, light face, making it hard to read. Real nice Quicken! What a bunch of assholes.

  21. This article is such a lie. You absolutely CANNOT use Quicken after your subscription, as there is no Quicken without bank downloads. What would the point even be? This is NOT the same as before,as for $60 you could buy the full version and use it completely functionally for 3 years.

    1. I used Quicken 2007 for about a decade without bank downloads, so I don’t see it as a usability issue. And the old Quicken was buggy and never updated; this Quicken is getting regular updates. If that’s what paying gets me, I don’t have a problem with it—as long as the cost remains reasonable, which is yet to be determined.

      I’ve tried pretty much every Mac financial management app out there, and for me, Quicken feels the most Mac like, works best with my financial providers, and has the features I use. Feel free to disagree, but what I wrote is not a lie: Quicken is very usable without a subscription.

      -rob.

  22. Thank you Rob for all the information. I’m a senior citizen just trying to make it through & the message about a Quicken subscription didn’t set well with me. I had questions in my mind that you answered before I had to ask. And, as far as Mr. Mcgee who feels there is no Quicken without bank downloads ….. I have never trusted the vast cyber space world with things as important as my banking, so I have not nor will I ever hand over my money or bill paying in hopes that I can trust the unknown. All Quicken needs to do is write checks & track deposits that I have manually entered …… show me a bank balance. Through the categories I can create any reports that I need – all of the graphs, & budgets & hypothetical information have no use to me. I just prefer real life activity. Again Rob, thanks a bunch.

  23. I’m livid that Quicken tried to start charging me a subscription fee without my permission. I put a stop to that, but now I have a banner across the top. No big deal, but it will definitely lead me to find an alternative. This is what investment bankers do – buy established services or businesses and then do everything they can do pump up revenue and cut costs, customer good will be damned. Squeeze the money out – screw the product.

    I paid the price to BUY Quicken as a transaction register. NOT to rent it. It works fine that way and I do NOT need to subscribe to any online services. If Quicken’s new owners try to undo my ownership and use of the software I bought, they’re in for a fight.

    One other thing – when you see the screen that asks permission to allow Quicken to make changes to your computer, ALWAYS say NO. I think that’s why I’m still able to use the software I paid for.

    1. GSN: You’re able to keep using it because Quicken expressly states that in their terms—it’s quoted above in my blog post:

      “…whether you renew your subscription or not, you’ll always have full access to and ownership of your data. You can view, edit, export, and manually enter transactions and accounts, even after your subscription ends”

      So you can keep using it, albeit with a banner above, if you don’t pay to maintain the subscription. That was the entire point of this blog post, to talk about the “non-subscription subscription.” Contrast this with Adobe (apps don’t work at all) or Microsoft Office (functions as a viewer only) and it’s definitely not a normal subscription.

      As for the investment banker comment: Quicken for Mac prior to the sale was a sad, ignored, dead piece of code. The fact that many Quicken Mac users, myself included, were still using Quicken 2007 tells you everything you need to know about Quicken Mac’s life with Intuit. I’m happy someone is spending money on the app, and making regular updates. Yes, they will eventually want to sell it off, but they can’t do that without a large, happy, and renewing user base. To get that, they have to write good software. And so far, based on my time with it, they’ve done just that.

      When I looked for alternatives, I couldn’t find one that came anywhere near the polish of Quicken, that worked as well as Quicken, and that felt as “Mac like” as Quicken does. If you find one, that’s great—please post back with what you selected, as I’d be interested in knowing. I tried every single one I could find, and didn’t like any of them nearly as well as I liked Quicken—whether that was new Quicken Mac or old Quicken 2007.

      -rob.

  24. I’m simply amazed at the level of cheapness I’m seeing on this thread. While I agree that $75 per year is asking a bit much, there are deals to be had on this product if you search the internet just a little bit or wait for that annual holiday/Black Friday deal. Simply time your renewal around those annual timeframes and the same deals will likely be there for you year after year.

    We complain about spending $60 annually or $5 per month for a product that could, in theory, help a person become financially independent if the product’s many features are fully utilized. If you don’t know what your financial net worth is on a regular basis, how can you possibly know if your financial situation is improving?

    I have been a user of quicken since 1993. My purchase of that product and subsequent upgrades has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. The financial return on investment has been incredible in the larger scheme of things.

    I was actually thrilled when Quicken was sold to another company because it meant there was a possibility that someone would again care about the product. I’m glad to see the same team (Eric Dunn) now with resources that that they need to improve the product. Since I have upgraded to the current version, I have had no issues or crashes and am very satisfied with the direction the company is taking.

    Does it really matter who owns the company as long as the people working in the trenches on Quicken are able to successfully improve the final product?

    We complain about the subscription price. However many people wouldn’t think twice about dropping $50 or $60 on one dinner eating out…..one dinner.

    In 1993 I used to buy fast food value meals for $2.99. In 2019 they go for $10. Should I abandon everything that costs more than it did in 1993? Inflation takes its toll on our purchasing power and we have to adjust. I paid $42 for quicken 2.0 in 1993. Adjusted for inflation that cost is $75. Just got another system patch upgrade today. As long as the product continues to be improved and updated I will continue my support of Quicken.

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