Intuit QuickBooks is an accounting platform with a wide range of features meant to put business finances directly in your hands. QuickBooks has become a fixture in the business world by providing accounting software that is powerful and easy to use—no matter the size and structure of your business.
Today we’re giving you a detailed review of the QuickBooks suite, including each of the software tiers, pricing, pros and cons, and insights to help you decide if QuickBooks accounting software is right for you. Let’s get started with this QuickBooks review.
In this article:
What is QuickBooks Online?
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a cloud-based accounting solution which takes the foundation of QuickBooks desktop and modernizes it with an impressive mobile application and software you can access anywhere. This suite of software includes four tiers, each catering to a different size of business. Each tier can be customized with add-on services and features as desired.
QuickBooks Online pros and cons
|QBO Pros||QBO Cons|
|Easy to set up||Expensive subscription plans|
|Very user-friendly||Poor customer service and support|
|Excellent reporting||Paid features have superior free competitors|
|Best mobile app for accounting|
Intuit has been in the accounting game since the 1980s, and the experience shows through in the QuickBooks suite. These names have earned a reputation of reliability for small businesses, and remain profitable despite free accounting software options on the market because of their highly usable product. QuickBooks Online is the newest development, and has rapidly risen in popularity as it meets the most pressing demands of the modern digital workforce. In particular, the QuickBooks app is the best accounting app on the market, making it easier to see transactions on the fly.
How much does QuickBooks cost?
QuickBooks Plus is the most popular QBO plan at $70/month. QuickBooks Simple Start is a pared down version at $25/month, and QuickBooks Advanced provides premium features for $150/month.
QuickBooks has fine-tuned their plans to provide varying levels of functionality at matching price points. Whether you need to start with your budget or necessary features, QuickBooks makes it easy to find the plan that best meets your unique business needs.
QuickBooks Online Pricing
|Least expensive||QuickBooks Self-Employed||$15/month||Designed for sole proprietors and freelancers|
|Cheapest for small business||QuickBooks Simple Start||$25/month||Basic expense tracking, invoicing, tax deductions|
|Mid-range||QuickBooks Plus||$70/month||Up to 5 users, bill pay, inventory tracking, manage payments|
|Premium||QuickBooks Advanced||$150/month||Up to 25 users, high levels of customization and automation|
Payroll functionality can be added to any plan to improve your QuickBooks suite for a monthly upgrade of $22-$62. You can also add a one-time $50 session with a QuickBooks certified bookkeeper who will help you set up your books to hit the ground running.
There are discounts for new QuickBooks users, so you can expect a free 30 day trial or 50% off your first three months.
- Best for: Freelancers
- Pricing: $15/month
- Review: Expensive for freelancers, but the tax add-on can make it worth it.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is specific to self-employed freelancers, and likely won’t work for the complexity of a startup or sole proprietorship needing complex business taxes. Key features of QuickBooks Self-Employed include:
- Receipt capture
- Quarterly tax estimates
- Balance sheets
QuickBooks Self-Employed also offers a tax add-on that links directly with TurboTax. Many freelancers find that the $15/month price tag doesn’t beat the free accounting solutions like Wave or ZipBooks, but if you need a reliable accounting app to track income or send invoices for your freelancing business this might be the right choice for you.
What’s the difference between QuickBooks and QuickBooks Self-Employed?
QuickBooks Self-Employed is designed with freelancers and sole-proprietors in mind. Self-employed individuals don’t need all the features and price tag of a premium plan, so QuickBooks Self-Employed gathers all of the most necessary bookkeeping elements for freelancers and provides them in a streamlined, affordable package.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is:
- More affordable
- Focused on maximizing Schedule C deductions
- Best for quarterly tax estimations
QuickBooks Self-Employed can only be used by freelancers (it truly won’t work for you if you aren’t one), but it provides all the basic accounting functions freelancers need as well as a highly functional accounting app.
QuickBooks Simple Start
- Best for: Small businesses on a budget
- Pricing: $25/month
- Review: The most affordable option for small businesses needing basic features.
The next step up is QBO Self Start, designed for new small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. It’s more powerful (and expensive) than Self-Employed, and includes:
- Receipt capture
- Expense tracking
- Mileage tracking
- Sales tracking
- 1099 contractor management
- Customizable reports
The only complaints about this tier are the price tag ($25/month) and the lack of inventory tracking. Most businesses can get around the latter by syncing with an inventory tracking third-party app. (Consensus is that QuickBooks’ inventory tracking isn’t best in class, anyway.) This is regarded as the best option for small businesses needing basic accounting software.
- Best for: Small businesses needing growth features
- Price: $70/month
- Review: Multiple features make this a very useful platform for small businesses dealing with inventory and custom pricing.
QuickBooks Plus includes all of the Self Start features, but expands a few functions to allow business owners to do more within the QuickBooks software. This plan jumps to $70/month and gives you:
- 5 users
- Inventory tracking
- Project profitability tracking
- Custom job pricing & job costing
While more expensive, businesses with high levels of customized pricing, sales tax monitoring, and customer quotes might find this additional functionality useful. QuickBooks is phasing out their most popular QuickBooks Essential tier to try to push more customers to this plan, but unless you absolutely require project profitability and inventory tracking without a third-party app, you’re better off with the cheaper Simple Start plan.
- Best for: High-performing small businesses
- Price: $150/month
- Review: Very expensive, but might be worth it for small businesses nearing a jump to mid-sized enterprise business.
For more established and complex small businesses, QuickBooks Advanced provides a premium tier for the pre-enterprise stage. This plan costs $150/month and provides:
- 25 users
- Increased reporting capabilities
- Extensive online training
- A dedicated QuickBooks account manager
This option is best for larger small businesses with established finances and strong cash flow. QuickBooks Advanced may be the best stepping stone to a customized in-house accounting software or an upgrade to the QuickBooks Enterprise plan for larger businesses and corporations.
QuickBooks Online has the benefit of allowing daily updates and new features on the fly. You can customize your QuickBooks plan by selecting add-ons or upgrades that meet your needs.
Plan upgrades: You can upgrade your plan to a higher tier at any time, with instant access to the new plan’s features. It goes both directions, too, so if you find you’re not using all the features of your chosen plan you can downgrade to a simpler plan to save money.
Professional setup: All users have the option of adding professional QuickBooks setup for a one time payment of $50, which helps you get your accounting up and running with the help of a certified QuickBooks professional.
QuickBooks ProAdvisor: This program allows accountants to access special training and features by becoming an affiliated ProAdvisor.
Tax Bundles: QuickBooks Self-Employed offers two tiers of tax add-ons: $10 or $20/month for linked TurboTax. The $10 tax bundle allows you to pay quarterly taxes directly and file one state and federal tax return annually. The $20 bundle provides the same but with the added support of CPA consultations on demand, and a CPA review of your taxes before submission.
Payroll: QuickBooks offers a payroll add-on that will provide full-service payroll, including automated taxes and forms. This is a popular premium add-on, as it can save small businesses money and time managing payroll, and keeps finances all in the same system. QuickBooks Payroll manages payroll taxes and reporting, as well as all the legal forms needed for yearly taxes and tax deductions. Payroll add-ons are available for all plans except QuickBooks Self-Employed.
QuickBooks Payroll add-ons
|Payroll Core||Payroll Premium||Payroll Elite|
Payroll can also be added to QuickBooks Desktop with these same pricing tiers, though users complain that more expensive plans are needed to pay 1099 contractors.
If you already have a payroll provider that you like, you may be able to integrate directly with QuickBooks rather than switching over. Gusto, ADP, and Paychex all offer QBO integrations.
Is QuickBooks Online better than QuickBooks Desktop?
The short answer is yes. QuickBooks Online provides all of the features of QuickBooks desktop version and more, with the flexibility of cloud-based access and easy-to-use apps. QuickBooks Online also allows for virtual or freelance bookkeeping, which has grown more appealing in the age of remote work.
QuickBooks desktop might be preferable if you only need accounting from your dedicated workstation, or you prefer a one time purchase (QuickBooks Pro will cost you $399). Upgrading to Premier or Enterprise plans will provide you the same reliable accounting software in the desktop version, but with highly customizable reports, additional financial forecasting, and more users.
The Plus upgrades are annual subscriptions and provide data backup and automatic updates for your desktop version.
QuickBooks Desktop options
|QuickBooks Pro||Basic plan||$399.99 one time payment|
|QuickBooks Pro Plus||Basic plan + customer service, data backup, automatic updates||$299.99 annually|
|QuickBooks Premier||Basic plan + customizable industry reports, forecasting, two additional users||$649.99 one time payment|
|QuickBooks Premier Plus||Premier + customer service, data backup, automatic updates||$499.99 annually|
|QuickBooks Enterprise||All features + 40 users||$1,213 annually|
Is QuickBooks easy to use?
According to Business.org, QuickBooks is the most user-friendly accounting software option out there. You pay a little bit more for the convenience, but the ease and reliability make up for it. QuickBooks draws on decades of accounting experience to create accounting software that is easy to understand and use. In fact, their mobile accounting app is the best on the market, making it easy to manage finances on-the-go.
QuickBooks offers a wide range of resources to help small business owners use their software including:
- Help articles
- Training courses
- 1 hour paid setup
- Live bookkeeping services (paid)
QuickBooks is very easy to use, but some users balk at the reports of poor customer support. It’s true that their ratings for customer service and troubleshooting are less than stellar, but with their simple foundation and wide range of help resources it’s likely you won’t have to deal with customer support too often.
How many apps sync with QuickBooks?
According to GetApp, at least 116 applications sync with QuickBooks Online, including popular business choices like Paypal, Shopify, Square, and more. Some applications only sync with QuickBooks Advanced, or allow additional feature access with the upgraded plan.
QuickBooks syncs with inventory, payroll, accounting, POS, credit card processing, and banking applications to make your business finances easily manageable in one place. Before making the switch, check to see which applications you already use that will sync seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting software.
Can you use QuickBooks online for an LLC?
Yes. QuickBooks online can be used for an LLC of any size. When you start to near an enterprise-level business or corporation size (usually when you grow past 500 employees or so), you may find that QuickBooks online requires so many add-ons and third-party solutions, but still doesn’t provide the customization you need. At this point you may consider graduating to a more comprehensive solutions like Netsuite.
What are good alternatives to QuickBooks?
QuickBooks is known to be a more expensive option in the market, and there are many competitors which offer similar accounting services with a more affordable price tag.
- Xero at $11/month
- QuickBooks Online at $25/month
- FreshBooks at $15/month
- Wave at $0/month with add-ons available
- Zoho Books at $9/month
Each competitor offers a unique blend of accounting help, and all feature at least a 2 week free trial, so don’t be afraid to try more than one to find the right fit.
QuickBooks Online is popular for a reason: it provides easy-to-use software that meets the needs of business owners based on their size. The only real drawbacks are the price and lack of customer support.
If you can afford the plan for your designated business size and have straightforward accounting needs, QuickBooks Online is an excellent choice. However, there are free accounting software programs that can provide a good start while you figure out your accounting needs.
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