I think Intuit is better than Direct Access. I have an "everything counts"
account at Citibank. Let them tell you what that means. Just be darned
sure that you don't go below the minimum balance, or you'll regret it.
Sorry, meant to say that with that account, paying bills through Intuit is
"free" in the sense of no extra charge beyond having that minimum balance
($10-20K, depending on whether there are brokerage accounts involved.
I'm confused. (not exactly the first time ...)
Citibank told me that with an Everything Counts account, they don't
subsidize the Quicken Online Bill Pay. Either you pay ten bucks a
month, every month, to Intuit (which I very much do not want to do),
or I use the free Citibank online bill pay. If your experience is
differnet, then it's time to get back on the phone with the Citi
The Citibank people could not tell me the advantages of the Quicken
service other their own. That is what I'm asking about.
I'm not surprised that you are confused, because Citibank will tell you
different things depending on how misinformed the particular rep is.
I signed up for Direct Connect after using Web Connect for years. I
have an Everything Counts account, and I don't pay anything extra now.
Neither do others I know with the same situation.
As far as what it does, I can tell you how it was described to me by
other users, and I can tell you how it works for me. They are not the
same, and I don't know if it's because something changed, or if it
works different for different Citibank customers. It might be that
Citibank FSB works differently from Citibank NA for example, or there
might be something else going on.
Anyway, once I signed up, which they don't make easy, I was able to get
Quicken to update things from Citibank directly. In the on line
center, I can make payments and transfers, and I can send email to
reps. The transfers are not instant, as they are if I use the website.
They must be entered using the current date, though. They tend to show
up the next business day (or two) so I'd avoid it for anything
For payments, it's much more straightforward using Quicken. It's easier
to enter, add a payee, etc. When I make a payment, I can enter the
standard fields that are used in the Quicken register, but it uses
Delivery Date instead of processing date. The check should arrive on
that date, and it won't let me use it if there's not enough time. I can
enter things in the on line center, or in the register. If I use the
register, then I put the word "Send" in the check num field. For
payee, I can pick from payees I've used before, but if I use a new
name, a window pops up to get the address.
I used it on the 17th to send myself a check. It decided that the
delivery date would be the 22nd. On the 22nd, the check arrived. It
was in a window envelope with my name and return address showing. The
check had the same routing number and account number as my standard
checks. The check was dated the 22nd. The money did not get taken out
of my account, and presumably will if and when I cash the check.
The way it was described to me was different. I was told that the money
would come out of my account on the delivery date. I was told that the
check would be similar to the ones that are used by the web system.
That is, they are not checks from me, but checks sent on my behalf from
the bank. Other Quicken users described it that way too.
After I process a payment in Quicken, there is a lightning bolt next
to the check number in the register. When I am on that entry, I see
the word "status" under the check number. It's underlined and when I
click on it, I get a status window. It shows information, and says
that the payment will come out of my account no earlier than the
delivery date. It also has an update button to get a more current
status. It's consistent with how this process was described to me, but
the message has no relation to how things really work.
If I make a transfer, I see the same lightning bolt, but the word
"status" does not work as a link. I don't know why it's even there.
Personally, I see this as a big advantage over the web payment system
in some cases. When I send a payment to a non payment center (a music
teacher or my insurance agent, for example) people get confused by the
web payment's envelope. It does not say it's from me, or indicate that
it's a payment. If they are looking out for mail from me, they don't
see it. Plus, they are more likely to have a reason not to cash it.
Getting a "CDSI Bill Payment Operations" check returned to me is a
pain, since the money is already gone from my account. But if my
gardener wants to give me back a check because he skips a week, it's
much easier if the money never left my account. It's also much easier
to know the status of the check. It will show up as cleared,
presumably, when it's really cleared.
As for starting the whole process, there's a form. It looks like a
glossy brochure, and I have no idea why they don't let you download it,
let alone fill it out on line. I asked for it over the phone, and it
took quite a while to show up. Once it came, I filled it out and sent
it back. It also took quite a while to hear back, and then they
responded by priority mail, which was strange considering they were in
The letter itself it confusing. It gives a temporary PIN, which is used
as you'd expect. It gives the bank's routing number, which it says
that Quicken will need. Perhaps I would have needed it had it not been
in Quicken already. Then it pretty much tells you to get into Quicken
and follow instructions.
In reality, I needed to change the account institution from Citibank
Web Connect to Citibank. Then when I went to update, it asked for my
customer ID and pin. The PIN was what was in the letter, but for the
customer ID, it really wanted my SSN. The letter did not say that
anywhere. Another user had told me that once, so I tried it when more
obvious choices failed. Then it asked me to change my PIN, and from
then on, things were pretty smooth. But for any accounts that did not
have new transactions to download, things were screwed up until they
did have new transactions. In the interim, the on line center showed
them as having a zero balance, but the register's on line balance was
It's easier than logging on all the time to download data, but I
haven't changed any of my scheduled payments from the website to use
Quicken instead. I'll probably use this for those payments that vary
in amount, and leave the ones alone that are on auto pilot.
It is a long time ago that I got an everything counts account. I use
Quicken to make payments from that account. It's done through the "on
line center". I have 800 446-5331 as a phone number for customer and
The whole thing is so transparent for me, I have no idea how it works,
but it is more "direct connect" than "Quicken BillPay", I believe.
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