QuickBooks vs. Quicken: An Overview

QuickBooks and Quicken are two of the most widely used financial management tools in the world. Both programs were part of Intuit (INTU), but Quicken was sold to H.I.G Capital in 2016. Both QuickBooks and Quicken have unique feature sets designed for different uses. Read on to find what each tool offers a user and to figure out which tool may be right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • QuickBooks and Quicken are financial management tools owned by Intuit and H.I.G. Capital, respectively.
  • QuickBooks is a full-featured business and management suite with all the tools that a small business would need, but it's also costlier.
  • Quicken helps families and individuals track account balances, investments, budgeting, and other expenses. While it can be used for small business, it is more limited; however, it costs less than QuickBooks.

What Is QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is a full-featured business and financial management suite complete with tools for accounting, inventory, payroll, tax filing, invoicing, bank account tracking and reconciliation, expense management, budgeting, payment processing, and accounts receivable and accounts payable management.

That feature set is not a complete list of what QuickBooks can do. It can also plug into many additional software tools for added features. Essentially, QuickBooks is the Swiss Army Knife of business financial tools—it can do just about anything you might need for your business. But, there are some features that many businesses will never need, and the high price tag for QuickBooks Professional may be a reason to look elsewhere.

If you run a small to medium-sized business and want to ensure you can track all financial information and create reports summarizing any aspect of your business, QuickBooks will not disappoint. Just be aware that there is a learning curve when starting out, and not all features are intuitive when you get the program up and running for the first time.

QuickBooks also offers both a desktop version for a fixed fee and an online version accessible through your web browser, tablet, or smartphone for a monthly or yearly subscription. Some features, such as payroll management and payment processing, incur an additional fee regardless of which version you choose.

What Is Quicken?

What QuickBooks offers for the small business, Quicken offers for individuals and families. Quicken tracks your account balances, transactions, investments, personal budgeting, loans, and any other part of your personal financial life. The premier version includes the ability to track rental properties and small business in addition to your personal information.

These features allow you to turn your computer into your financial command center with updated information from each bank, investment, and credit account downloaded right into Quicken. You can also track investments using the cost basis to best understand the tax implications of buying, selling, and how you are building your portfolio.

The business tools are much more limited than those in QuickBooks, but work just fine for a family with a few rental properties, or an individual who owns a side hustle business or sole proprietorship. Quicken is a desktop product. If you want an online version, look to Mint.com.

Key Differences

If you just want to track your personal financial information, Quicken has all of the features you could want. You can track everything related to your family’s finances in one place without a lot of extra hassle.

If you have a small business, you have a tougher decision to make. If you are an independent online freelancer, Quicken’s features may be enough for your business, but if you need something more robust, QuickBooks is the clear winner in terms of business features.

Make a decision that you can stick with, as you cannot easily convert Quicken data for QuickBooks, or vice versa. Each tool has its own download and data storage specifications and the two are not compatible.

The hardest part is finding the right balance between cost and features, as QuickBooks offers more for business, but it also costs more. In some cases, QuickBooks may offer more than necessary, but in most, QuickBooks is better for business financial management than Quicken.

If you are looking solely for your business, QuickBooks is clearly the best option of these two, but there are many other online accounting options to choose from as well.

What Is the Difference Between QuickBooks & Quicken?

QuickBooks focuses on the accounting processes of small businesses whereas Quicken focuses on the finances of individuals and families. QuickBooks also offers an online version of their software that many businesses can use, while Quicken focuses on providing local software that is accessed on individual computers. 

What Is a Quicken Alternative?

Personal finance is a popular niche for software-as-a-service (SaaS), so Quicken has seen the rise of many competitors over the past 10 years. A true alternative to Quicken gives individuals the ability to manage finances in a single place by helping them manage their budget and control expenses. Some of the most popular Quicken alternatives include You Need a Budget (YNAB), Personal Capital, Mint, and Tiller. 

What Is a QuickBooks Alternative?

Accounting software and other financial software focused on the small business niche has also grown in recent years. True alternatives will provide the ability to manage a business’ accounting books, send payments, create and send invoices, collect payments, and budget. Some of the most popular alternatives to QuickBooks include Xero, FreshBooks, Sage, Zoho, and Wave.