We're pleased that Intuit now gives you the option to pay $10 per year for 100MB worth of online backup--an affordable must that can safeguard your data in case of a catastrophe. If you choose that option, Quicken reminds you to back up online every third time you use the software. Microsoft Money, by contrast, asks to back up your accounts each time you use the program, and it demands that you use a Microsoft ID to do so. At least Quicken 2007 gives you the option to install the app locally and not connect online.
Within an account register, you can click on a link to bring up a tiny window of details about recent transactions from that vendor without having to leave the page. We like that with Quicken 2007, when you import expenses that bear cryptic coding instead of a vendor's name, you can rename that business, select a category, and tell Quicken to save and apply that change from that point on to matching expenses. A blue star next to a vendor name indicates that Quicken links to the Zipingo business review service; you can click and contribute your own rating. And as with earlier versions of Quicken, you can pick from among dozens of charts and reports to create a custom picture of your expenses and income and more. As in the past, you can also use Quicken to pay bills online without jumping to multiple bank and vendor Web sites.
Intuit has built a "virtual filing cabinet" within Quicken 2007 to reduce your use of paper filing. You can attach PDFs, JPGs, and other file types to Quicken to keep images of receipts, invoices, and expenses within the application. You can copy and paste images of checks from your bank's Web site or elsewhere directly into Quicken 2007, which now supports scanning. Those files live within an encrypted folder that remains inaccessible outside of Quicken.
Quicken Premier 2007's financial planning tools can help you juggle investments and attempt to rein in debts by imagining scenarios, complete with bar graphs, that predict future cash flow and net worth--helpful when we mulled adjusting a bimonthly 401(k) contribution. Other "what if" goals include buying a house or splurging on another major expense, as well as affording college or retirement. But as with other financial software, Quicken lacks help for managing student loans--a major deterrent for young users.
Still, a potential benefit to using Quicken to manage your money is that it integrates with TurboTax--handy when you file with the IRS--and other niche Intuit products, such as its $49.99 Home Inventory Manager, the $69.99 Medical Expense Manager (helpful in our preliminary tests), and $99.99 Rental Property Manager. To balance your digital checkbook on the go, the $39.95 Pocket Quicken syncs your financial snapshot on a Pocket PC or Palm OS handheld.
Tech support for Quicken 2007 is thorough but costly. As always, the searchable online knowledgebase and FAQs are in-depth, animated tutorials alert you to key features, and you can connect with other passionate users for help. Toll-free phone assistance is live weekdays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, and is free for discussing registration, upgrading, Bill Pay, and defects. It's too bad that most other questions, including online banking errors and data corruption, run a pricey $24.95 per incident. Luckily, though, online chat assistance is available 24/7 except between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 PT.
We find Quicken Premier 2007 to be a terrific value. The simplified, yet customizable interface and new features make this program worth the upgrade for long-time users.