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QFX or QIF: which format is better to import data in Quicken?

Quicken for Windows up to the latest 2017 (and 2016, 2015, 2014) version, supports import for QIF and QFX (Web Connect) files.

Here are the major differences between QIF and QFX (Web Connect) format when you try to import them under Quicken:

Vendor Support

Quicken claims that the QIF format is outdated, and not supported anymore, however still allows importing a QIF file. On the QIF import screen Quicken tells, then you can import a QIF file only under cash account, offering in the drop down choice for account selection only cash accounts, but also “All Account” as well. Guess what, unless you have Quicken Essentials for Mac, QIF files are fully supported, but not the ones your bank offers you for download. There slightly different, “Quicken only”, QIF files that Quicken 2012 imports just fine under any account. CSV2QIF (CSV to QIF converter) and Bank2QIF (OFX, QFX, QIF, QBO, OFX to QIF converter) will help you create those files.

"Call Home" Required

Quicken does not do any “home calls” during QIF imports, but it does every time you are trying to import a QFX file (yes, you need the Internet connection, your firewall must allow Quicken to go through just to import a QFX file that you have locally on your computer). Quicken checks if the bank code supplied in the QFX file is ‘allowed’ by Quicken for a specific bank and even more bank account type. Some banks come and go, so your bank may drop QFX support tomorrow.

"Online linking"

Once a QFX file is imported under an account in Quicken you choose during the import, it “online links” that account to bank settings supplied in that QFX file. If you have other QFX file with different settings then your currently for the account in “online link”, Quicken will not allow you to import that other QFX file under “occupied” account. The cure for that is simple: edit account, click on “Online Services” tab and select “deactivate online link”.

Categories and Tag

QFX format as extended OFX format with additional Quicken only details, but the OFX specification does not provide category or tag attribute for transactions (or anything else similar) That’s it; you cannot import categories and tags assigned to your transactions using the QFX (Web Connect) format. On the other hand, QIF format still imports categories and tags just fine. There is a workaround (no great, but some) this limitation for categories: you can set “rename rules” in Quicken to have categories assigned to specific payee names. Should be ok for most payees, but not retailer stores, like Walmart.

Investment transactions

QIF format simplifies investment transactions by limiting the security identification to just security name. That’s it, no ticker symbol, no CUSIP numbers, just full Security name. When you import a QIF file with investment transactions under Quicken (or MS Money), Quicken will look up the security by its full name. You need to make sure your securities names do match the ones on the QIF file, but nothing more. For QFX (OFX) case, each transaction must be accompanied by the security record with CUSIP supplied. You do need to have CUSIP number for every security to create proper QFX file that Quicken can import.

Available converters to convert your existing transaction file to QIF or QFX:

To convert your existing transaction file to QIF format, use the following converters:

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