QuickBooks Online is one of the most well-known business accounting solutions on the market. However, QuickBooks Online may not be the best solution for every small business. With this QuickBooks Online review, we’ll explore the breadth of the QuickBooks Online service, plans, features, add-ons and pricing. We’ll also break down the pros and cons of QuickBooks Online, as well as offer top accounting software alternatives.
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software designed to help small business owners manage their bookkeeping and accounting. With QuickBooks Online, you can access your accounting platform wherever you have internet access (making this software different than the traditional QuickBooks Desktop), as well as on your mobile device. You can use QuickBooks Online in the full range of web browsers, as well as through the downloadable QuickBooks Mac or Windows app.
QuickBooks Online is available on a monthly subscription basis, in four different pricing plans. Each QuickBooks Online plan offers more features, and therefore, a greater level of functionality. This accounting platform allows you to perform essential accounting tasks as well as automate your processes without having to sign a long-term contract.
All QuickBooks Online plans have these features and capabilities:
QuickBooks Online offers four subscription plans: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. The plan you choose dictates the features included in your QuickBooks platform.
This is the simplest of the four plans. This plan allows you to perform basic accounting tasks and is designed for sole proprietorships, very small businesses, or businesses just starting out.
The Simple Start is the most affordable of the QuickBooks Online plans, costing $25 per month. However, for a limited time only, you can get QuickBooks Self-Employed for 50% off.
In addition to the general features listed above, the Simple Start QuickBooks Online plan allows you to:
At a higher monthly cost, this plan offers greater capabilities, particularly for managing bills and time tracking. The Essentials plan is a great option for those who need more than the Simple Start plan provides—especially if they invoice for their time.
The Essentials plan costs twice as much as the Simple Start plan, at $50 per month. Just like Simple Start, however, QuickBooks is offering a limited-time discount of 50% off the first three months of your subscription.
On top of the functionality of the Simple Start plan, the Essentials plan can:
The Plus plan costs more than the Essentials plan but offers tools for inventory and projects to expand the breadth of your accounting software. This plan may be best suited for small to midsize businesses, especially those that want to track inventory and manage a wide variety of business operational tasks in one place.
The QuickBooks Online pricing for the Plus plan is $80 per month. Just as with the Simple Start and Essentials plans, however, you can currently get the Plus plan at 50% off for three months.
The Plus plan has all of the features of the previous two plans, as well as the ability to:
The Advanced plan is the most expansive—and most expensive—QuickBooks Online offering. However, QuickBooks Online Advanced has more in-depth tools and capabilities to automate and optimize business processes, making it a better fit for growing or larger small businesses that want substantial functionality from their accounting software and can afford a higher monthly cost.
QuickBooks Online Advanced is the most expensive of the four plans—costing $180 per month. You can access the Advanced plan at 50% off for three months with QuickBooks’ limited-time discount.
QuickBooks Online Advanced plan provides all of the functionalities of the previous three plans, plus:
All QuickBooks Online plans connect to various third-party tools and integrate with other QuickBooks products. One add-on option to note is QuickBooks Payroll.
QuickBooks Payroll can connect to any of the QuickBooks Online plan options for an extra cost. There are two different offerings—Self-Service Payroll and Full-Service Payroll. Both allow you to run payroll on your schedule, pay employees and contractors using free direct deposit, and prepare federal and state payroll taxes.
The second QuickBooks add-on worth mentioning is TSheets by QuickBooks. Unlike QuickBooks Payroll, you need at least the Essentials plan to utilize this QuickBooks add-on.
On the whole, QuickBooks Online has a thorough feature set—including everything from invoicing to taxes—and the ability to use their software wherever you go, making it a worthy option for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Additionally, if you’re comparing QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop, QuickBooks Online has capabilities that Desktop doesn’t offer, such as custom banking rules, automatically scheduling and sending transactions, and more. The four different plans and the integration options gives small-business owners the ability to customize QuickBooks Online to meet your business’s needs.
Another notable benefit of QuickBooks Online is the opportunity for add-ons and integrations. With any of the QuickBooks Online plans, you can connect the QuickBooks payroll options, as well as choose from hundreds of other third-party bookkeeping, productivity and accounting tools. If QuickBooks Online is missing a capability that you need, there will more than likely be an add-on you can use to fill that gap.
Although QuickBooks Desktop is a comparable product, one of the biggest advantages that QuickBooks Online has over this solution and Quicken is the accessibility it offers. You can access your software through any web browser, as well as through a desktop app, on your mobile device, and on tablets (both iOS and Android). Plus, with automatic data backup and included data security, you have mobile accessibility and can help protect important business information.
Before deciding whether QuickBooks Online is the right solution for your business, think about these possible drawbacks.
Discounts aside, QuickBooks Online isn’t the most affordable accounting software out there. FreshBooks and Sage offer similar accounting services at a lower cost. Plus, many providers, including FreshBooks, offer annual discounts that QuickBooks does not.
Although cost shouldn’t be your only consideration, it is certainly a factor. If price is one of your top concerns, you might be able to find a service that supports your business needs at a lesser cost—or, in the case of Wave accounting, for free.
Don’t get us wrong—QuickBooks Online is a pretty user-friendly accounting solution. You can set up QuickBooks Online fairly quickly and easily, plus, many accountants and bookkeepers are familiar with the QuickBooks interface.
However, it’s not the most intuitive system out there. In fact, many QuickBooks Online reviews report that they wish some of the functions were easier to use, less complex, and generally more intuitive.
Some QuickBooks Online alternatives are known for their approachability and extreme ease of use, such as Wave and even Xero. Therefore, if usability is one of your top concerns, keep this in mind as you consider different accounting solutions.
QuickBooks Desktop is a worthy alternative if you’re looking for a locally hosted solution with even greater functionality for your business accounting and related processes.
QuickBooks Desktop, as a QuickBooks product, is very similar to QuickBooks Online and in fact, does offer extended capabilities that QuickBooks Online does not. The various versions of Desktop—QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise—have advanced features for inventory, reporting, job costing, and pricing that you won’t receive with QuickBooks Online.
Additionally, many QuickBooks Desktop products are available at a one-time cost, or annual subscription, which you may prefer over the monthly cost of QuickBooks Online.
If you’re looking for a web-based alternative to QuickBooks Online, consider Xero accounting. Although relatively new on the market, Xero has quickly become one of QuickBooks’ biggest competitors.
Xero is cloud-based and has features such as:
Additionally, like QuickBooks, Xero connects to hundreds of third-party tools, offers a mobile app and has different plans to choose from.
The three Xero plans—Early, Growing, and Established—differ in functionality, with the Established plan offering the most robust features. These plans are available at a monthly subscription fee of $9, $30, and $60, respectively.
When you compare Xero vs. QuickBooks, the two are actually very similar. However, Xero may be the more intuitive of the two platforms, with a greater focus on usability and mobile-friendliness. Moreover, Xero allows you to add an unlimited number of users—a notable benefit compared to any of the QuickBooks products. Xero also offers a 30-day free trial, giving you the opportunity to test the system’s use for yourself.
QuickBooks Online can well serve a variety of businesses, and it is one of the most popular small business options for a reason. However, with comparable software on the market, you may find that Xero, Wave, FreshBooks, or another solution is better for your business.
And at the end of the day, if you’ve sifted through various QuickBooks Online reviews, as well as reviews for other accounting solutions, and you still aren’t sure what’s best, take advantage of free trials that are offered. By experiencing a particular accounting software for yourself, you’ll have a greater sense if it can fulfill your business needs.
Stacy Kildal is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Stacy Kildal is owner/operator of Kildal Services LLC—an accounting and technology consulting company that specializes in all things QuickBooks. From 2012 to 2017, Stacy has been named one of CPA Practice Advisor’s Most Powerful Women In Accounting.
Stacy is one of the three hosts for the QB Show and has also been featured frequently on Intuit’s Accountant Blog, Community “Ask the Expert” forums, at various Intuit Academy To Go podcasts, as well as hosting a number of Intuit Small Business Online Town Hall sessions.
She is a big fan of working mobile and has been recognized by Intuit as being an expert on QuickBooks Online, having written Intuit’s original courses for the U.S., Singapore and Canadian versions.
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