Personal Capital vs. Quicken vs. Moneydance

Daniel Penzing
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About Personal Capital

Vs. Quicken vs. Moneydance Personal Capital is a personal finance manager web-based service and a very strong contender in this arena of personal finance management. They stand out for their strong track record and because they don't have many premium or paid features. There's no paid advisor, no bill pay and no check writing. That being said, they have tons of features and capabilities. Quicken has been at it for over 30 years and they're synonymous with personal finance management. Their strength is in their desktop application. Quicken does bill-pay, check writing and they have an advisor. Moneydance is more modern in approach and their strength is in their online interface for managing your money. They're really good about iPhone and iPad integration as well. Personal Capital vs. Quicken vs. Moneydance

About Quicken

In 1979, personal financial management software first became available on a home computer, allowing consumers to manage their spending and saving. Since then, several personal financial management applications have been created, including Quicken.

Some people love Quicken. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and it provides necessary information and guidance for improving personal financial management. So what’s the problem? The problem is that Quicken is wicked expensive! It’s not hard to find cheaper management software that still has a lot to offer.

After an hour or two of researching the major personal finance management software options, I decided to give Moneydance a try. It’s a free personal finance management application, so there’s no initial investment. (The company does offer a premium version with added features for a fee.) While it’s not perfect, it’s certainly a viable option for many people, including myself.

Bottom line? If you’re looking for an alternative to Quicken and you don’t mind a free personal finance management application, Moneydance is a great option.

About Moneydance

What makes Moneydance unique is that it is a personal finance application first and foremost. Therefore, it has a focus on budget features, goal tracking, and category management that you don’t find in other personal finance software. That’s not to say it doesn’t have other features – it certainly does – but the app is designed to be a convenient, easy way for you to log your spending and meet your financial goals.

Moneydance is a complete personal finance application. It can do your budgeting, transactions, and investment tracking with the best of them, and for the price, it’s hard to beat. Moneydance also offers tools for tracking three major goals – debt reduction (and overall debt management), retirement planning, and household budget management. Customizable reporting tools and budgeting templates allow you to get a detailed view of your current state, as well as set your life on the right financial track.

Moneydance is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

How Are They the Same?

The first thing I noticed and liked right away with Personal Capital is how much they're trying to appeal to the individual. The personal finance space is absolutely saturated, they've got a lot of competition out there.

I think what sets Personal Capital apart from other financial apps on the market is mainly the fact that it's not limited to just your investment accounts. This one covers everything. Checking, savings, investments, IRAs, credit, investments, and it has some of the best budgeting tools I've seen for free.

Other things that make it a top contender in the personal finance suite space include:

It's available for both Android and iOS. (I'm a fan of apps on both.)

They've got some of the most robust UI I've seen yet. This is NOT a boring app. In fact, when I first opened it, it looked similar to a news application.

Personal Capital is a customer-first app. They're not focused on telling you what to do or what's best for you but instead they're focused on providing you with the tools to make good decisions.

You get to decide how much information you want to enter about each of your investments. Basically, this is a huge selling point for people who are like me and already keep very good records. When I opened up my TDAmeritrade account, it was a breeze logging in and importing my holdings.

How Are They Different?

Personal finance software is unique in that it is both specialized and universal. Specialized, in that it is designed for and intended to run a specific, well-defined, and purpose-built tool. Universal, in that it can be used for more than one purpose, but the footprint and functionality is sometimes less than desirable for such a multi-function application.

Personal Capital, Quicken, and Moneydance are three very different personal finance softwares that can suit different users in very different ways.

In this comparison, I will focus on three specific categories of personal finance software:

  • Personal Capital Quicken Moneydance Financial Management Multiple Accounts Multiple Accounts Multiple Accounts Integrates With Transfer Funds Into Transfer Funds From Completely free transaction history Completely free transaction history Completely free transaction history Access Features Features and functionality by-
  • investment type features and functionality by-
  • investment type by-investment type by-investment type by-investment type Security

While Quicken and Moneydance provide secure login credentials, both Personal Capital and Quicken provide additional features to help you keep your identity safe. Quicken will provide identity theft insurance for your account with certain service providers and Personal Capital will alert you to possible security breaches. This is a decision that you should discuss with your security provider, depending on the requirements that you have for your account. Tax Management

Unique Features

All three of these programs are compatible with over 10,000 financial institutions. Bank of America, Merrill Edge, Barclays, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Vanguard, Ally, who have even more? All three have the ability to sync transactions from accounts at over 10,000 institutions.

And all three have the ability to chart your spending by category. Moneydance leads the way, allowing you to create budgets and track spending within those budgets.

However, what they’re lacking is a checkbook register. If you’re looking for a simple way to track your spending, you’ll need a dedicated check register. Or, at the very least, a ledger.

Personal Capital is an easy to use tool that allows you to import your financials into the system.

Quicken allows you to setup an audit trail to track your investment accounts. One caveat, it is only compatible with accounts at 30,000 institutions.

Quicken leads the pack in budgeting capabilities. It also has the best reconciliation. And, Quicken also has the least amount of transaction fees.

Features Unique to Personal Capital

Personal Capital is my favorite online financial tool. Truly a powerful user experience. There are a number of critical features unique to Personal Capital:

  • Their portfolio net worth feature will wow you and provide important confidence builder in your ability to reach your financial goals
  • they provide a variety of useful reports about your portfolio – all completely customizable
  • They allow online financial advisors to use their system and report back to clients
  • They provide users with a variety of export/import options, including XML (Quicken) and QIF (Moneydance)
  • They offer a number of useful financial calculators, all free and custom-designed for them (some examples: Estate planning, Retirement planning, Subordination calculator, Charitable giving)

Features Unique to Quicken

One of the most significant differences between Quicken and the other two programs is the fact that it works with multiple financial institutions. Personal Capital and Moneydance both work with the two major banks, but if you bank with institutions other than these two, Quicken is the program for you.

Another unique feature of Quicken is that it allows you to sync your accounts with other devices. For example, you can use the mirroring feature to see your accounts in real time from your mobile device. This is much easier than manually entering transactions throughout the day.

We talked earlier about the security breaches that Personal Capital and Moneydance have had that resulted in the loss of user funds. Quicken has been around much longer, and the company has implemented a way to protect your data. They have combined multiple technologies to keep your data secure while also making it incredibly accessible. These technologies include Intuit ID, two-factor authentication, and multi-factor authentication.

The program will automatically sync your accounts from multiple different service providers to let you see your information in one place. But if you need still more financial institutions, Quicken has the strongest network of companies to which you can link your accounts. If you want to have a completely streamlined and centralized experience, Quicken is the way to go.

Features Unique to Moneydance

While the 3 personal finance software providers listed above will all help you gain control of your finances, Moneydance includes features that are not available in the competing programs.

Moneydance is also available for the Mac platform, something that neither Quicken nor Personal Capital can claim.

Some of the features unique to Moneydance are:

Works natively with multiple financial institutions on both the mobile and desktop sides.

Cash Management

Personal Capital, Quicken and Moneydance all allow you to see your cash balances within the app. However, whereas the 2 other software providers can’t display your cash balances in real time, Moneydance’s experience allows you to get real time cash balances for all of your accounts.

In addition, you can also set and track cash flow goals in Moneydance, something that neither of the competing financial management apps offer.

You can also track your cash flow against a goal. If you’re a big spender, find out if you’re spending more than you earn and how close you’re getting to a problem. If you are saving, check to see if you’re saving enough.

The reporting tools in Moneydance are powerful. With relatively few pages and a few mouse clicks, you can build a complete financial report.


This is a financial planning tool and not a trading platform for the purchase of securities. As such, it does not have the pricing structure of a typical financial planning tool.

The first thing to consider is if you can afford the price of the product. You could also ask if it is worth the price of the product. You will also have to look at how you are going to work with the product and if you can work with what you are given.

Another thing to remember is that there are no ads. There are commercials, but they are very few and far between. This allows the software to work faster than you might expect. It can cover a lot of ground, and because of the pricing structure, it is able to cover that ground by itself.

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Standout Features

Personal Capital was built with the personal investor in mind. With tools that are all in one place, it makes tracking your accounts easy. In addition to Personal Capital, there is also a Personal Capital Credit Card for rewards. All of your financial information will be in one place, which is great for large investors looking to better track their portfolio.

Quicken is classic and is also available on Quicken Online. If you are a Quicken user from the past, you will love the familiarity this has. Still, the new version is constantly being updated, so there is always something to learn.

Moneydance is for people on a budget and it’s free. The app is clean, simple, and easy to use.

Customer Service

Quicken’s customer service is terrible. It’s based in India, and I can’t speak enough negatively about it. They’ll need to redo your work, and you’ll find that they are unhelpful. They’ve lost my financial history and most of my file, and I’ve been battling them to get it back. With limited success.

Personal Capital has service reps in the US, and they respond to you almost immediately. They do costs you a few bucks a month, but it’s well worth it. They are very efficient and resolve issues much more quickly than Quicken. The web app is much better, and they offer a mobile app.


When you choose to use a personal budget app, you will have to log into an online account which is run by a company. The company will store all your information along with your login information.

Security can be an issue with some of the free budget apps, but as long as you practice safe Internet usage you will likely be fine. The best thing to do is to make sure you don’t use the same passwords across multiple budget applications. As long as you take the time to create a strong and unique password, you will likely be secure.

Who Are They Best For?

Personal Capital is a cloud-based service that helps its users prioritize their finances, view their portfolio in real time, and stay on top of their finances with in-depth investment analytics. Quicken and Moneydance are personal finance management (PFM) tools, but, unlike Personal Capital, they are desktop-based.

Personal Capital is particularly adept at helping you manage current investments. Its detailed investment guides and advice, along with its slick mobile app make it a formidable tool for experienced investors and those new to finance alike. If you are someone who doesn’t want to spend time learning everything there is to know about finance, but you do want help keeping track of and managing your cash and investments, Personal Capital might be the right choice for you.

Quicken and Moneydance, on the other hand, are better equipped to help you manage your finances more generally. This is especially true if you get a tool that syncs with popular accounting software like Quickbooks, which allows you to track and manage revenue and expenses.

Which Is the Best?

If you’re in the market for a new personal finance software, you might be wondering where you can find the best one. Well, it depends. You see, it’s like finding a house – there is no one “best” house because it all depends on what you want and need. The same is true of financial software.

But for those of you who want a recommendation for the best financial software for you, read on as I will share my thoughts and recommendations based on what I have used.

Quickbooks: Quickbooks is the personal finance software that I have been using for over 10 years. It is the only one that I will use for financial accounting, budgeting, and invoicing. However, it really isn’t the best for managing your investments. Given that I have to manually enter all my investment transactions, I’ve only been able to auto-transfer my investment income into my checking account every two weeks.

So I need another software to manage my investments.