Quicken Beam Checks Your Balances On Your Cellphone

Sick of overdrafts? Don’t feel like juggling your bank balance in your head? Quickenbeam from Intuit is a new free service, in beta, that lets you check your account balances, no matter what bank you have, from your cellphone.

Just sign up, hand over your bank username and login (yes, this is potentially dangerous), and reply to a text message on your cellphone to get it running. After that you can text BAL to 636363 to get your balances and last 5 transactions, along with a few other commands. You can also set it up to send you a daily message with your account balances, alert you when your balance goes below a certain level, or alert you if a purchase over X amount gets charged to your account.

I gave it a shot and it was quick and worked perfectly. It’s a very streamlined service but it’s handy for checking on your balances on-the-go, for free. Some banks will charge you a fee just to check your balance from an ATM. It’s also great if your bank is the kind that will let you withdraw from the ATM or use your debit for more than your balance and then charge you fees for it. Now you have no excuse for not knowing how much money you have on hand.

QuickenBeam [Official Site]

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  1. Mr_D says:

    I’ve been using Chase’s version of this for a while. Not as fancy as the commercials, but functional. No need to pay those silly $1.50 ATM fees to check balances (yes, some charge for balance inquiries).

  2. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Chase Bank advises me not to trust my online balance as their website numbers are not up to date. I’ve been screwed before by trusting the website balances. Why would Beam be any better?

    • NotATool says:

      @IfThenElvis: Exactly. The potential for epic fail on this is huge.

      1. Quickenbeam tells user they have $200 in their account, which may be true.
      2. Quickenbeam doesn’t know user has racked up $190 in checks and debit transactions against this balance which have not yet posted.
      3. User spends $50 on dinner.
      4. Overdraft fest ensues.

      Let me guess, Quickenbeam was invented by banks as yet another way to try to extract more fees from their cusomters.

  3. snead says:

    Confidential financial information through my cellphone? It’s foolproof!

  4. m1k3g says:

    I hope they include account numbers with that data. Hackers are just dying for some new data interception opportunities!

  5. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    If you only have 207 dollars in your account: here’s a tip. Rent a movie and stay in for the night.

  6. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    BTW, “Let’s Roll Out”? Did Optimus Prime become a hipster while I was looking the other way?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: HAHAHAHAHAHA!
      I hereby DEMAND Optimus Prime in future advertising for this service.

      The strip does not give us enough information to freak out over someone going out with $207 in their checking account. As someone said earlier going out might mean McDonalds or something else cheap. Dude might be getting paid tomorrow. Maybe all of their money is splurge money because they’re living at home.

      I’m kinda wondering where you guys are going where going out means spending that kind of money.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: I lived at home for about a year before getting married and getting my own place. I definitely didn’t spend so much that I only had $207 in my account.

        But you know, it’s kind of hilarious that a lot of our posts are based on a cartoon example, and we’re conjecturing as to why the animated people are stealing phrases from Optimus Prime and may or may not be going to McDonalds.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          But you know, it’s kind of hilarious that a lot of our posts are based on a cartoon example…

          @IHaveAFreezeRay: I concur!
          Also, I think quoting Optimus Prime is more likely a result of watching Robot Chicken than the Transformers movie. We should have a poll.

          “Sure you may not know the figure to the cents, but you ought to have some idea of how much you have to your name, right?”
          @tundey: If it’s just your account yes but the lady in the cartoon asks if “we” have money which implies that they have a joint account. It’s probably easier to check the balance than to constantly ask each other how much they spent.

  7. zibby says:

    Yeah, $207 in checking is really the time to go out and splurge! Sadly, that little strip is probably pretty accurate.

  8. macinjosh says:

    chase and wamu already have SMS-based mobile messaging. I’ll just use that, or yodlee.

    I initially was annoyed that my main F.I.s use SMS instead of a mobile web site but it feels like it’s faster to just SMS “BAL C1″ to one number or the another

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    Instantly access inaccurate information!

    Send secure passwords via an insecure media!

    I can’t imagine any real benefit. As others have said, most banks update nightly, and don’t make any claims to real-time accuracy, let along debit ‘holds’ that wouldn’t impact a balance, but would impact access to that balance.

    If the banking industry didn’t help fund this development, they owe Intuit a very nice Christmas present.

  10. thebluepill says:

    Wachovia has an app for this for the Blackberry.. I cant ever get it to work.

  11. FLConsumer says:

    Been using Wachovia & ING’s WAP sites for some time now with no issues. I wish they didn’t strip them down so much, but it’s close ‘nuf.

  12. humphrmi says:

    In my opinion, this just further enables the problem that people have making and sticking to a budget. My checking account balance various dramatically throughout the year, depending on many factors (including dumping extra cash I may receive into a linked money market account, or CD, etc.) but my budget is always the same. People who base a purchase (or worse, dining) decision on whether they have enough money in the bank to cover the expense need more help than just up-to-the-minute balance inquiries. They need to learn to budget.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @humphrmi:

      Exactly.

      I know this is probably a cool gadget to help high school or college kids keep track of their money, and that’s it’s gimmick, but it’ll just be a problem in the long run. The cartoon’s low balance is ironically, a very good example as to WHY a service like this is a bad idea. For responsible people, I understand that it’s a handy way of checking your balance … but if you need to check your balance before you make a purchase, you should probably just rethink the purchase.

      I encountered a lot of that in college – around the magical 6 pm hour when everyone was getting ready to go out, there would be lines and groups of people around the ATMs of people checking their balance and pulling out money. I had one friend who checked her balance, pulled out $20 and then said, “wow, I only have $30 left.” Suffice to say, I would have just stayed in the dorm room. Internet, comfy (sort of) bed and popcorn are already paid for…dinner and a movie out when you only have $30 left in your account is just a bad idea.

  13. ViperBorg says:

    Um, no thanks. Chase does this for free. And I don’t give my Username and Password information to a 3rd party.

  14. Mr_D says:

    Oh, Chase’s service will also tell you balances, due dates, transactions, for any of your Chase accounts – checking, savings, credit cards, auto loans, and I’d imagine investments.

    And maybe they’re going to McDonalds. I think $200 is enough for McDonalds. But in this economy, who knows?

  15. Colage says:

    Well, yes, everyone should stay within their means and not overspend, but the fact of the matter is, the audience they’re preaching to (18-25ish) doesn’t do that. If this helps a few people avoid an overdraft fee or two, then more power to it.

    • harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

      @Colage: Except it won’t help people to avoid an overdraft. It will increase overdrafts as people will rely on these numbers when they are not up to date or accurate.

  16. Zeniq says:

    Yeah, you only have $207 and your going out? If I had that much I would be staying at home, thanks you very much.

  17. azntg says:

    I only see three possible outcomes from this service (each do not have to be mutually exclusive):

    1) Quicken Beam database compromised! Several thousand users advised to change their online banking credentials immediately! Calamity ensues!

    2) Stick up! Quicken Beam now comes with a monthly charge of $29.95/mo. $50 cancellation fees apply for beta testers who want out.

    3) Competition! Microsoft Money-On-The-Go and Google SMS Personal Finance service debuts. Each promises to outdo Quicken Beam.

    • azntg says:

      @azntg: Oh, and I forgot to add this:

      4) Quicken Beam discontinued. Users advised to upgrade to Quicken Beam 2009 or risk losing instant access to banking information on their cell phone.

      How could I have forgotten? They are the guys NOTORIOUS for their “generous” sunset policies!

  18. Jonbo298 says:

    m.usbank.com works for me. Not ideal since it doesn’t show pending transactions (CC transactions that are in a ‘hold’ for a few days) but it does reflect pending transactions in the total amount available at least.

  19. tundey says:

    Are people really in the habit of not knowing their balance? Sure you may not know the figure to the cents, but you ought to have some idea of how much you have to your name, right?

    I usually laugh at the Chase commercials. Who goes to buy a big screen TV without thinking about it? Either you are stinkingly rich, in which case your bank balance doesn’t matter. Or you are just getting by…all the more reason to know your balance.

  20. INsano says:

    Always question the judgment of anyone who inserts “sweet” or “like” before a declarative sentence.

  21. krztov says:

    the bank of america mobile site works well, plus lets me do account fund transfers.

    • Tankueray says:

      @krztov: Yes, BoA’s mobile site works well and you can get SMS messages from them too. No texting to see a balance, it takes you a few minutes to log in to the mobile site and get it. I had been using mint to text me when there was activity on my accounts, works okay for accounts that don’t have an SMS feature, but mint was sending me texts long after the transaction had processed. I got one from them yesterday that my mortgage payment had gone through, well, it was debited on 8/22. BoA also tells me if my credit card and debit card have been used without physically having the card. (Internet, automatic debits, mail) Handy in case the numbers get compromised. And it lets me know when direct deposits come in. Like last week I got a DD for a travel payment that I had forgotten about. Calling the bank for balances is so 1980. I also check it online a few times a week, both the banking sites and mint are pretty good for this.

  22. Zenne says:

    Wow. I thought that cartoon was a joke by the Consumerist, but the company really did find a lazy artist somewhere who barely knows how to trace photos and copy-paste them.

  23. zibby says:

    Many good points have been brought forth; hell, I was so broke in college that I usually had to find an ATM that worked in denominations of $10 to get money without overdrawing. Still, I feel that cartoon is actually a pretty accurate portrayal of the way a lot of people think about money and spending, including people old enough to know better.

  24. kkberman says:

    Hey I’m from Intuit, on the ‘Beam Team.’ It’s true. We are targeting hipsters with heavy eyeshadow. j/k :)
    I do want to address the security concerns. Yes, you are entering your data on a third party site to sign up, but it is protected by a secure Internet connection layer (SSL) and encryption during transmission, to make your info unreadable. Overall, Intuit doesn’t take chances with this stuff.

    $207 aside, a lot of people have been using Beam not only in the store to check their balance, but also to get updated when their rent check clears and to monitor unusual transactions. (whether it be identity theft…or your husband.)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I kind of want to keep it out there that if you don’t have enough left over in your bank account to cover a purchase and you have to keep track of when your rent check clears, as it clears (rather than going home at night and logging into your checking account) – maybe you should consider either living in a less expensive place, spending less, or making more money.

      I never worry about my rent check clearing or when it clears. And, I’m in Beam’s supposed target demographic (I’m 24). And whatever ‘unusual activity’ that might be on my account, I can see on my own by logging into my bank account instead of giving my information to a third party, no matter how secure they say they are.

      I’m sure @kkberman: Yes, because all women are nagging, suspicious beings who will use Beam to monitor and track their husbands’ every financial move. Thanks. Really. This convinces me that Beam is worth giving out sensitive financial information to.

      • lpranal says:

        @IHaveAFreezeRay: “consider making more money”.

        I’ll consider it, but I can’t promise anything. Sounds fishy to me.

      • BrienBear Thinks Stupidity Defies Logic says:

        I’m so confused right now. If generally have 200-300 bucks in my checking account after I pay all my bills. Why is that such a bad thing?

        @IHaveAFreezeRay: I kind of want to keep it out there that if you don’t have enough left over in your bank account to cover a purchase and you have to keep track of when your rent check clears, as it clears (rather than going home at night and logging into your checking account) – maybe you should consider either living in a less expensive place, spending less, or making more money.

        Huh? I make 50K+ (just over) and I think I live very comfortably…. Aside from wanting to make more because I want more “stuff”, why do I *need* to consider it? I’m so confused right now.

  25. carbonero says:

    if you have to check your balance before going out to dinner—-you shouldn’t be going out to dinner.

  26. goodkitty says:

    This just reminds me of how absolutely awesome it would be if, just if, someone undertook as a public service the goal of creating a relatively secure personal ID mechanism. I would never use a service like this because I’d be horrified someone would steal my phone and get into my bank account somehow. Imagine losing your purse, someone getting your credit/debit cards and phone, and asking themselves, “gee, how much can I steal before getting caught… oh wait, they have quickenbeam! cool!”

  27. henrygates says:

    I would have embraced this in college. Notice that the people in the strip seem to be young kids. This is not likely marketed to families who actually budget and have learned a thing or two about finances.

  28. fonzette says:

    Am I living in credit union paradise? Do ‘normal’ banks not offer automated balance info over the phone? Texts are good and all, but I fail to see how this is some enormous innovation.

  29. technopimp says:

    Behold! The service of suspect worth
    which helps you plan for nights of mirth.
    If you’re not sure you can pay,
    come and join the BEAM today!

  30. Drowner says:

    Can’t… can’t you just call your banks 800 number? TD Banknorth has this right on the back of thier atm card. Or is this for people who would rather give their personal information to the same industry who wants them buy nekkid lady wallpapers and a “Smack Dat” ringtone?

  31. twritersf says:

    OK, let’s get some facts straight here. First of all, I work at Intuit (although not on the Quicken team) and this is, interestingly, the first thing I’ve heard about this product. That said, we are quite aware of the changing ways people use to communicate, access information, and manage their lives. Increasingly, this is by cell phone/smartphone. (I just got an iPhone myself, and many people here, especially managers, use some sort of smartphone (often Blackberries) as an integral part of their work. It seems reasonable, then, that for Quicken users who are often on the go and away from their computers, an on-the-go tool to see the latest information from your bank is a natural extension of the product, fitting in well in today’s lifestyles. However someone used a hypothetical situation where they would get a balance, yet have unprocessed transactions, then would spend money and get an overdraft. This is misleading. All transactions take some finite time, depending on the financial institution, to be processed and posted to your account. the “current” nalance that you receive through the QuickenBeam service is no different than if you were to log on to your bank’s website and look at your current balance or call them up directly and ask them. The information you wold receive at any of those moments would be exactly the same, and none of the amounts would include uncleared transactions. Finally, I can say too that while I do not know the technology involved in this particular service, I know that it is one of our most fundamental and important objectives and passions to make sure that our customers’ data is as secure as possible, and I’m confident that this product would not have been released to the world without making sure that the information sent is received only by people authorized to see it. (And we actively listen to and monitor customer feedback, so comments sent to us are actually seen by human eyes.)