Compare QuickBooks Online Products (Updated for 2017): 

Use the comparison chart below and read the reviews from our own tests to determine which version of QuickBooks Online is the best fit for you and your business.

QuickBooks 2016-17

Simple Start

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Online Essentials

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Online Plus

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Xero Standard

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Software Type Online Online Online Online
Price $15 $10/month $30 $21/month $40 $28/month $30/month
Best For Basic Financial Tracking Remote Access without Inventory Remote Access with Inventory Remote Access with Inventory & Payroll
Number of User Accounts 1 3 5 9999
Free Trial
Unlimited Customer Support Free Free Free Free
Ease of Use
Managerial Features Very Basic Beginner Advanced Advanced+Payroll
Number of Reports 20+ 40+ 65+ 40+
Online Access
Prints Checks
Creates Invoices
Uploads Bank Files
Tracks Inventory    
Helps Create Tax Forms    
Industry-Specific Reports        

Quickbooks Online (Updated November, 2016)

Scroll down for our reviews of QuickBooks Online software. Click here to compare all QuickBooks products.

Anyone who works with Intuit’s Quickbooks is probably aware that the company has been pushing its online product over Quickbooks Desktop in recent years. Here’s a closer look at Quickbooks Online, how it works, and what its features are.

What is Quickbooks Online?

QuickBooks online is cloud-based bookkeeping software, which means you must have a reliable Internet connection to make it work. Because it is cloud-based, you can access it from anywhere you have an Internet connection, and from any device. QuickBooks online also comes with free support, a free 30-day trial – after which you pay a monthly subscription – and allows for up to 25 simultaneous users.

QuickBooks online has a host of automatic features - including invoice, receipt, and report transactions. It also has automation features for items like email reports, customer billing, and downloading bank transactions.

Intuit is also eager to point out the features that you can only find with QuickBooks online: the ability to automatically schedule and send invoices and work from PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablets at any time; instant file access for accountants, and connection to more than 300 cloud-based apps.

Other features that come at no extra charge with QuickBooks online are the ability to automatically download your bank transactions, automatic backup, access to the latest feature updates, and access for up to five users. Those features are available with the desktop version, but at an added cost.

One feature you won’t find in the online version is the ability to customize certain forms.  Whereas you can track mileage, track inventory, and create industry-specific reports in the desktop version, those functions are limited or nonexistent in the online version.

Quickbooks Online comes with three tiers: Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus. Simple Start comes with one user account, and runs $15 per month; Essentials includes up to three user accounts and costs $30 per month; and Plus includes up to five user accounts and is $40 per month.

As the name implies, Simple Start is basic bookkeeping software, and works well for very small businesses that want to organize and track bank and credit card transactions. Essentials includes a little more, and would work for businesses that need to outsource their bookkeeping duties. Plus comes with the most features – 65 reporting features in all – and lets businesses track inventory, create purchase orders, and prepare and print tax forms.

Overall, Quickbooks Online is probably best for businesses that will need employees to have remote access to bookkeeping and will need for multiple employees to be able to access QuickBooks at the same time, and that want to take advantage of automation.

Advantages and Disadvantages

One of the main advantages to Quickbooks Online is that, because it is cloud-based, it allows multiple users to operate it from anywhere. So if a business in Austin, Texas has a New York-based bookkeeper, both parties can access reports. Bookkeepers and accountants also report that it’s easy to add and remove users.

Being cloud-based also mean automatic backups, so data isn’t lost.

Quickbooks Online’s disadvantages include a sometimes difficult-to-navigate setup, as well as limited access to multiple screens. That can make it hard to switch between reports, bills, and vendors. Some accountants have also reported that Quickbooks Online will sometimes save a client’s entry as a fixed transaction that a CPA cannot correct, should there be an error.

The Role of Payroll

If your business uses Intuit’s Payroll, it will work with Quickbooks, but Intuit wants you to buy them bundled together. The company sells two integrated products: Quickbooks with Enhanced Payroll, for $54 per month – with a 50% discount for the first six months – or Quickbooks with Full Service Payroll for $114 per month, also with a 50% discount for the first six months.

As a standalone software, Intuit Online Payroll will export transactions to Quickbooks Desktop and to Quickbooks Online, for those who don’t want or need to buy the already-combined software.

QuickBooks Online Recent Updates

Intuit has release a few updates to QuickBooks Online over the past few months, which mainly impact customer and vendor attachments, bundles, and the ability to cc and bcc on invoice emails.

In September 2016, Intuit introduced bundles, a group of items that a business often sells together and would need to track together. For example, a landscaping business might have a bundle labeled “garden fountains” that includes concrete, fountain pumps, and rock fountains. Then, when you create a form, you can add your bundle to that form just as you would add any other item. In the same month, Intuit also added the ability to cc and bcc people when sending invoice emails. QuickBooks Online also got another attachment update in June 2016: the ability for users to attach files – such as 1099 documents, photos, receipts, and contracts - to customers and vendors to keep important information together. 

Simple Start Screenshots
(Click Thumbnails for Larger Images)

This version is great for:

  • People who primarily want to organize and track bank and credit card transactions for their business
  • People who do not want to use this software to enter bills and schedule payments

Conclusion:

Online Simple Start is the most basic bookkeeping software Intuit offers and will work for extremely simple businesses that don't require the ability to enter and track bills form vendors. Simple Start now (finally) includes the ability to download transactions from your bank and credit card accounts, which dramatically reduces the time it takes to keep your books up to date. However, you are not able to enter bill from vendors for future payment. if you have a simple business and don't mind only entering expenses when they are paid and not having the ability to enter bills for future payment, Simple Start is a good starting point, and you can easily upgrade to another QuickBooks Online version with more features like Online Essentials or Online Plus at a later time.
 
Simple Start Features

Price

$15 $10/month

Number of User Accounts

1

Free Trial

30 Days, but

Unlimited Customer Support

Free

Ease of Use

Managerial Features

Very Basic

Number of Reports

20

Online Access

Prints Checks

Creates Invoices

Uploads Bank Files

Tracks Inventory

Helps Create Tax Forms

Industry-Specific Reports



Online Essentials Screenshots
(Click Thumbnails for Larger Images)

This version is great for:

  • Any small business that wants access to their books from anywhere with an Internet connection and doesn't need to track inventory
  • Small businesses that need to accomplish basic bookkeeping tasks, including the ability to upload bank and other financial files
  • Companies that outsource their bookkeeping duties
  • Those who wish to give multiple users (up to 3) remote access to the books
  • People who want to have copies of their books automatically backed up online

Conclusion:

Online Essentials is an excellent starting point for small businesses that want to have online access to their books. With this version, you will get all of the necessary bookkeeping tools and the ability to easily upload bank and other financial files. Online Essentials gives you unlimited access to phone and email support if you ever have a question or problem. With this software, remote and mobile access is included as well as online backup. If your business has inventory, upgrading to Online Plus will be necessary to give you the ability to track these products. There is no copy of this software that you can work on directly from your computer without an Internet connection, if you don't want the online access capabilities, try QuickBooks Desktop software.

Online Essentials Features

Price

$30 $21/month

Number of User Accounts

3

Free Trial

30 Days, but

Unlimited Customer Support

Free

Ease of Use

Managerial Features

Beginner

Number of Reports

40

Online Access

Prints Checks

Creates Invoices

Uploads Bank Files

Tracks Inventory

Helps Create Tax Forms

Industry-Specific Reports



Online Plus Screenshots
(Click Thumbnails for Larger Images)

This version is great for:

  • Any small business that needs to track inventory and wants remote, online access to their books
  • Bookkeepers and accountants who want the added guidance of setting up tax forms through their bookkeeping software
  • Small businesses that need to accomplish basic bookkeeping tasks, including the ability to upload bank and other financial files
  • Companies that outsource their bookkeeping duties
  • Those who will need to give multiple users (up to 5) remote access to their books
  • People who want to have copies of their books automatically backed up online

Conclusion:

QuickBooks Online Plus is the most robust Online version that QuickBooks offers and includes more than 65 reporting features. It has all of the features of Online Essentials, plus the ability to track inventory, create purchase orders, and prepare and print tax forms. This software automatically backs up all of your bookkeeping data. Online Plus also includes unlimited phone and email support as well as remote and mobile access. One downside with all QuickBooks Online versions is that you cannot work with your business’ books without an Internet connection. If you want to have this ability, you'll have to go with one of the QuickBooks Desktop products.

Online Plus Features

Price

$40 $28/month

Number of User Accounts

5

Free Trial

30 Days, but

Unlimited Customer Support

Free

Ease of Use

Managerial Features

Advanced

Number of Reports

65

Online Access

Prints Checks

Creates Invoices

Uploads Bank Files

Tracks Inventory

Helps Create Tax Forms

Industry-Specific Reports



Xero Standard Screenshots
(Click Thumbnails for Larger Images)

This version is great for:

XERO IS NOT OWNED BY INTUIT OR AFFILIATED WITH QUICKBOOKS. IT IS AN ALTERNATIVE, COMPETING PRODUCT.
  • Small businesses that have employees on payroll and need a full featured bookkeeping tool. Xero includes both services in their plans.*
  • Xero is touted as being more intuitive than QuickBooks Online, so it is a good option for people seeking an alternative
  • Remote access and multiple users make it great for remote teams with offsite or outsourced bookkeeping
  • Businesses with simple inventory management needs (more advanced inventory management available through Xero app store for additional fees)
  • If you use multiple currencies, or have more than five employees on payroll, you'll need to upgrade to a higher level of service.

*Payroll services only offered in these states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Conclusion:

Xero Standard is a legitimate alternative to QuickBooks Online Plus. The service includes every major feature offered by Online Plus, is less expensive AND provides payroll services for up to five employees for no additional fee. Xero's service is intuitive and flexible and offers over 500 integrations through their app marketplace. The only significant drawbacks to Xero are the lack of phone support and the fact that they aren't QuickBooks, which means they are still a relatively tiny (but growing) competitor in the bookkeeping industry.

 
Xero Standard Features

Price

$30/month

Number of User Accounts

9999

Free Trial

30 days

Unlimited Customer Support

Free

Ease of Use

Managerial Features

Advanced+Payroll

Number of Reports

40

Online Access

Prints Checks

Creates Invoices

Uploads Bank Files

Tracks Inventory

Helps Create Tax Forms

Industry-Specific Reports