QuickBooks is undoubtedly the leading name in business accounting software. Regardless of your business’s size, needs, and billing volume, QuickBooks will have an accounting software product for you—whether that’s QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Advanced… the list goes on. And the platform recently added a new service to their extensive docket: QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping. It’s by far their most personalized offering yet.
In fact, it’s virtually impossible to get much more personalized support than what QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping offers. When you sign up for this service, QuickBooks will connect you with a certified bookkeeper (yes, a human bookkeeper), with whom you’ll communicate through video chat. You can contact your bookkeeper any time with questions or concerns about your accounting, and your bookkeeper will manage your books for you and provide you with month-end reports.
It’s an impressive service, to be sure. But that doesn’t mean QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is right, or affordable, for every SMB out there. So in addition to telling you everything you need to know about QuickBooks Live, in this article we’ll also provide you with some alternative accounting software that might better suit your needs and your budget.
An Overview of QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping
QuickBooks Live is a new service attached to QuickBooks Online. Essentially, this service does exactly what the name suggests: It connects QuickBooks clients to QuickBooks-certified bookkeepers for personalized, real-time support.
As of June 2019, QuickBooks Live was available only to select few QuickBooks Online customers, but they planned to roll out wider availability in the following months—so if you have QuickBooks Online, it’s worth checking to see whether you have access to this service. You’ll know you have it if you see a “Live Bookkeeping” menu in the left navigation menu.
Otherwise, you can sign up for the service directly. All QuickBooks Live service plans include a subscription to QuickBooks Online Plus, which is their most popular accounting software for small business owners.
How QuickBooks Live Works
After you sign up for QuickBooks Live, you’ll provide QuickBooks with some information about your business, and they’ll match you with a certified bookkeeper within a couple of minutes. This will be your primary contact, but you can also leave a message with an additional team of bookkeepers if you have any questions. Note that your bookkeeping team is only available during regular business hours.
From there on out, you can schedule a video and screen-sharing session with your bookkeeper whenever you want or need. Your team of bookkeepers will also maintain your books throughout the month, and they’ll review and close your books at the end of every month. They’ll also provide you with a monthly report, which they can walk you through either by phone or video chat.
However, there’s one major caveat: QuickBooks Live bookkeepers won’t handle your payroll setup, administration, or support. And although they’ll organize your books for tax season, they won’t file your taxes for you. For that, you’ll need to stick with your CPA or accountant, PEO, or payroll software that’s certified to calculate and file taxes on your behalf.
QuickBooks Online Plus Features
As we mentioned, all QuickBooks Live plans include a subscription to QuickBooks Online Plus. This accounting software comes with all the essential accounting features most small business owners need, including:
- Income and expense tracking
- Maximize tax deductions
- Capture and organize receipts
- Manage 1099 contractors
- Manage bills
- Time tracking
- Track project profitability
- Inventory tracking
This plan can accommodate up to five users, so you can provide access to your accountant and relevant employees with custom permissions. QuickBooks Online is web-based, too, which gives you the flexibility to access your books anytime, anywhere.
QuickBooks Live Pricing
QuickBooks Live has three service plans:
- Low-volume bookkeeping: This plan works for businesses with up to $25,000 in monthly expenses and costs $270 per month, with a discounted monthly price of $221 for the first three months.
- Medium-volume bookkeeping: $470 per month ($421 for first three months). This plan is suitable for businesses with $25,001 to $150,000 in monthly expenses.
- High-volume bookkeeping: $670 per month ($621 for first three months). This highest-tier plan is designed for businesses with $150,001+ in monthly expenses.
As you can see, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping doesn’t come cheap. But keep in mind that QuickBooks Live doesn’t have long-term contracts, so you can switch or cancel your service at any time without incurring fees.
Top Alternatives to QuickBooks Live
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping offers business owners the unique opportunity to connect with certified bookkeepers remotely, along with a reliable, flexible, and easy-to-use cloud-based accounting software. We haven’t seen a comparable service on the market.
That said, not every small business owner wants or needs this personalized level of support, especially if your finances are relatively simple to manage. There’s also the price to keep in mind, of course, which is fairly expensive. So if you’re looking for a simpler or more affordable bookkeeping software—or if you just want to explore your options beyond QuickBooks—we’d recommend looking into the following options.
The Best Alternative to QuickBooks Live With Free Accounting Software: Wave Advisors
If the steep cost of QuickBooks Live is an issue for you, you might consider Wave Accounting—and their Wave Advisor service as a more cost-effective alternative.
Wave Accounting is one of the very few business accounting software providers on the market that’s completely free. Plus, the software itself is intuitive and easy to use.
This being said, in addition to their free accounting software, Wave offers their Advisor service, which is similar to QuickBooks Live. With Wave Advisors, you can choose from three different plans—Bookkeeping, Tax Service, and Accounting Coaching.
With these services, you’ll have access to experienced professionals to help you through your most important accounting and bookkeeping tasks. The Bookkeeping service, for example, allows you to outsource the entirety of your bookkeeping tasks, including account reconciliation, transaction categorization, statement organization, and more. With the Tax Service, Wave Advisors will complete and file your federal and state income tax returns and represent you with the IRS. Finally, with the Accounting Coaching service, Wave Advisors will offer personal coaching to help keep your business finances organized and on track.
Prices for the Bookkeeping and Tax Service options can range depending on your needs, but each start at $129 per month. The Accounting Coaching service, on the other hand, has a one-time fee of $279 for two hours of live coaching with 30 days of email support.
Ultimately, not only do each of these Wave Advisor services start at a more affordable cost than QuickBooks Live (aside from Accounting Coaching), but they also offer a more specialized service based on your business’s specific needs. Plus, even if you were to opt for both Bookkeeping and Tax Service at $129 per month each, your total of $258 per month would be less than the low-volume bookkeeping version of QuickBooks Live—and would include tax filings, which QuickBooks Live does not provide.
The Best Customer Service-Focused Alternative to QuickBooks Live: FreshBooks
Although you won’t receive the same level of personalized bookkeeping solutions with FreshBooks as you would with QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, you’ll appreciate FreshBooks’ award-winning customer service nonetheless. FreshBooks prides themselves on their highly trained, professional, and approachable customer support team, whom you can contact either via email or phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Their customer service receives consistently stellar ratings across major review platforms, too.
Beyond their excellent customer service, FreshBooks is a great alternative to QuickBooks overall, as each software’s accounting and administrative tools are comparable. And in addition to essential accounting capabilities, FreshBooks customers can take advantage of time tracking, team management, and invoicing tools, as well as online payment acceptance. As FreshBooks is a cloud-based software, all of their services are fully accessible via mobile app.
FreshBooks offers three service plans ranging from $15 to $50 per month, but larger businesses with 500+ billable clients can contact FreshBooks directly for a custom pricing plan.
The Best Alternative to QuickBooks Live If You’re Self-Employed: Bonsai
While self-employed people and freelancers can certainly use QuickBooks Live, it’s not necessarily designed particularly for their needs—but Bonsai Freelance actually is. And in addition to providing freelancers with a simple, straightforward accounting software, Bonsai offers a suite of tools designed to streamline, automate, and aggregate all their back-end, administrative processes onto one platform.
On the accounting end, Bonsai enables expense tracking, customizable invoice creation and automatic invoice tracking, payment acceptance and tracking, the ability to set up recurring payments for retainer agreements, and simple freelance tax prep tools.
A few other tools freelancers will appreciate? Proposal creation and tracking, contract templates, an integrated time tracker, third-party app integration, and a freelance rate calculator, just to name a few. And with service plans starting at $12 per month, Bonsai works within a freelancer’s typically tight budget.
Is QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping Right for Your Business?
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is a truly unique service. It can be a major help for business owners who don’t have the time to keep their own books, and who want the hands-on, human support that a basic, self-directed accounting software just can’t offer them. But you have to be willing and able to pay for this ultra-personalized level of service. If you don’t have room in your budget for QuickBooks Live, you’re better off opting either for QuickBooks Online, or one of the QuickBooks Live alternatives we mentioned above—or any other of our recommended business accounting software.
Also keep in mind that QuickBooks Live’s bookkeepers won’t handle tax filings on your behalf, so you’ll still need to pay for your accountant or other tax service to do so for you (or you’ll need to take the time to file taxes yourself). Take a close look at your business budget, your business’s needs, and your bandwidth to determine whether springing for QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is a viable option for your business.
Billie Anne Grigg
Billie Anne Grigg is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Billie Anne has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century. She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, FreshBooks Certified Beancounter, and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional. She is also a guide for the Profit First Professionals organization.
Billie Anne started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping in 2012 to provide an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full-time, in-house bookkeeping staff.