Sometimes it feels like the Quicken vs. QuickBooks battle has been raging forever… But let’s put an end to it.
Just a couple things you should know before we dive in:
First, I’ve only ever used Quicken to open it up and convert to QuickBooks desktop, and these days, I’m not even opening it. I’m getting the Quicken file from my client, converting to QuickBooks desktop, then converting that to QuickBooks Online.
Second, the “QuickBooks” part of this “Quicken vs QuickBooks” article is QuickBooks Online, and the “Quicken” part is looking at Quicken Home & Business.
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is designed to track business transactions: that’s its sole purpose. Quicken Home & Business (QHB) is designed to do personal and business—it’s even right there in the name.
As a bookkeeper, I’m not a fan of tracking both in the same place. If you’re a sole proprietor, it’s a best practice to keep all the transactions distinct: separate bank accounts and credit card accounts. Even if the credit card is in your personal name, pick one to keep just for business.
Why? It makes it easier to make decisions about the direction of the business, easier to move from Sole Prop to LLC, easier for bookkeepers and tax preparers to do our jobs.
However, if you want to use one application to track your personal and business finances, QHB does a great job of managing personal finances, and I prefer the way it handles investment accounts.
If you must have them in one place, or want to track personal and just have a very small amount of business transactions to manage, use QHB. QBO just doesn’t do a good job when managing personal and business at the same time.
Both QBO and QHB allow you track money in, money out. Both allow you balance/reconcile your bank and credit card accounts, create invoices, enter bills, create reports, and track sales tax. They both also offer the ability to connect to financial institutions, so you can download transactions and bring them into the programs.
With QBO, you have Bank Feed Rules that let you designate how bank feed transactions are managed, even telling QBO to automatically enter them if they meet certain criteria.
As I mentioned above, QHB does a much better job of managing investment accounts and mutual funds, and can help estimate capital gains. It also has features that assist with retirement planning. Great for personal finances!
QBO offers much more for the business user, including purchase orders and inventory, multi-users, time tracking, payroll, and true double-sided accounting in the form of journal entries. The automation options are fantastic: with QuickBooks Payments, you can send invoices and get paid online, as well as create recurring Sales Receipts that let you automatically charge a customer’s card, with appropriate written authorization.
Use QBO if you want to use products and/or services, need to manage inventory, have time tracking needs, want help with payroll, or require Purchase Orders. The online payments are life-changing.
In regards to interface, because QBO is specifically for business, the interface is much simpler. QHB may be more difficult to navigate than QBO, but only because it’s designed to track personal and business finances. I find both really easy to learn—it’s just a matter of clicking to find what you need.
As far as access: this one is easy for me. QHB is a desktop product, with a mobile app to which it will sync. QBO is a true online product, 100% in the cloud.
This means that with QHB, a user will have to make sure that the computer on which it is installed is always connected to the internet in order for it to sync (not that big of an issue these days, right?), and that there’s always the risk of sync errors. It also means that users can only access it from that one computer or from their mobile device.
With QBO, because it’s a online product, users aren’t tied to one computer. They can access from any computer, at any time, as long as there’s an internet connection. It means they don’t have to worry about reinstalling or moving a file if they get a new computer. It’s a monthly subscription, so there’s no upgrading—as long as new features are included in the subscription level they’re paying for, a user will get them.
There also isn’t any sync: a user can add a transaction on mobile and it’s immediately available to view from any other device: Mac, Windows, Chromebook, iPad, Apple Watch or Android.
QBO: it’s always on, anywhere, with any platform access.
My summary for Quicken vs. QuickBooks?
If you need to track personal finances and are looking to manage investment accounts, mutual funds, and retirement planning, and you have a side business that produces a handful of business transactions each month, go with Quicken Home & Business.
If you have a business that you’re working in full time—or plan on working in full time—and want it grow, then go with QuickBooks Online.
I am a small business LLC and I'm looking for software and in addition tax software as well. Do you have a recommendation? I was a project accountant for the last 8 years so I know my way around but am by no means a CPA.