Choosing to outsource your bookkeeping to a virtual bookkeeping service can ultimately save you money and time. The best bookkeeping service for you is the one that best suits your needs when it comes to your budget, how involved you want to be, and your expectations for communication. QuickBooks Live offers a more personalized approach to bookkeeping services while Merritt Bookkeeping is less expensive and offers 1099 tax filing in addition to its basic bookkeeping support.
Who QuickBooks Live Is Good For
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) QuickBooks Online users: QuickBooks Live will reconcile your bank accounts, classify your transactions, and run reports, but you’ll maintain primary control over your QuickBooks account.
- Small businesses that need to invoice customers and pay bills: With QuickBooks Live, you’ll be able to use your Quickbooks Online account to create and track invoices as well as track and pay your bills.
- Small businesses seeking personal service and enhanced communication: The benefit to working with QuickBooks-certified dedicated bookkeepers is that you can meet with them via one-way video conferencing, with an option to screen-share your documents.
Who Merritt Bookkeeping Is Good For
- Freelancers, 1099 employees, and independent contractors: If all you need is basic bookkeeping for tax purposes, Merritt is the cheapest online bookkeeper we’ve found.
- Small businesses that prefer a hands-off approach to their bookkeeping: Merritt doesn’t give you access to your QuickBooks account, so you can’t use it for invoicing or bill tracking. If you don’t foresee a need for this or have other methods for tracking your accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable (A/P), then Merritt could be a good solution for you.
- Small businesses that work with independent contractors: Although Merritt doesn’t handle personal or business tax return filing, it’ll process your contractors’ 1099s at a fee of $75 plus an additional $8 per return. Unlimited email support is also included.
If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of accounting software that are available for your small business, check out our top picks for the best small business accounting software.
Who Should Use an Alternative
- Xero users: Since both QuickBooks Live and Merritt Bookkeeping strictly work with QuickBooks Online users, Xero users can opt for Bookkeeper360, which provides services to both Xero and QuickBooks users. Bookkeeper360 offers bookkeeping, accounting, and advisory services.
- FreshBooks users: Bench has partnered with FreshBooks to provide basic bookkeeping services. Users can opt for additional services, such as tax advisory and filing and catch-up bookkeeping.
- Businesses that want basic tax services with their bookkeeping: Pilot not only offers basic bookkeeping services, but it also has a separate tax solution called Pilot Tax, which provides tax management and filing services.
For more information about the types of online bookkeeping services that are available for your small business, check out our article on the best online bookkeeping services.
Compare QuickBooks Live and Merritt Bookkeeping at a Glance
Who It’s Best For
Users that want to use their QuickBooks account to issue invoices and track bills
Freelancers, 1099 employees, and independent contractors
Monthly Pricing Plans
Starting at $200 per month plus a minimum of $25 per month for QuickBooks Online subscription
Flat rate of $190 per month
A/R & A/P Tracking
QuickBooks Live vs Merritt Bookkeeping: Pricing
There’s a distinct difference in the pricing between QuickBooks Live and Merritt Bookkeeping. While QuickBooks Live’s pricing is determined by a company’s monthly expenses, Merritt charges a flat monthly rate that is the cheapest we have encountered for online bookkeeping services. Also, Merritt guarantees the quality of its services with its 90-day money-back guarantee. QuickBooks Live doesn’t offer the same guarantee, but it does have a 100% Accurate Books Guarantee, which allows you to request a free audit of your books at any time.
QuickBooks Live Pricing
There are three subscription plans available for QuickBooks Live, and the prices for each are determined by your monthly expenses. There’s an initial cost of $500 for onboarding, and then the appropriate fee applies. QuickBooks Live also requires that you have a subscription to any version of QuickBooks Online, which starts at $25 per month for QuickBooks Simple Start.
QuickBooks Live doesn’t offer a free trial, but you can receive a free consultation to learn more about QuickBooks Live’s services. You don’t need to sign a long-term contract, so you can switch or cancel your service at any time without incurring fees.
Monthly Expense Cap
Up to $25,000
$25,000 to $150,000
More than $150,000
Dedicated Bookkeeper & Account Manager
Month-end Close with Bank & Credit Card Reconciliation
Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss (P&L) & Statement of Cash Flows
Cash or Accrual
Secure Portal With Document Storage
Monthly Scheduled Meetings
No limit, but must be scheduled one at a time
No limit, but must be scheduled one at a time
No limit, but must be scheduled one at a time
Lite CFO & Advisory Services
Merritt Bookkeeping Pricing
Merritt charges a flat rate of $190 per month for bookkeeping services—the price is the same regardless of business size, monthly expenses, accounts, transactions, or number of employees. It also provides catch-up bookkeeping services at a rate of $140 per month for each month it works on. Months that require less than ten transactions to be entered will be discounted to $70 per month.
Although a free trial isn’t available, its 90-day money-back guarantee allows you to test drive the software for three months with no additional risk.
Takeaway: If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable monthly rate for basic bookkeeping services, Merritt Bookkeeping is the better choice. However, if it’s worth it to pay a little more for more features, such as video meetings and the ability to access your own QuickBooks file, then QuickBooks Live is worth the consideration.
QuickBooks Live vs Merritt Bookkeeping: Features
Both QuickBooks Live and Merritt Bookkeeping offer “lightweight” bookkeeping services that focus on tasks like categorizing transactions, reconciling your accounts, and sending you monthly financial reports. While QuickBooks Live matches you with a dedicated bookkeeper who you can meet with regularly, Merritt doesn’t provide a comparable option, instead leaving it up to you to reach out via phone with any questions.
QuickBooks Online is the software of choice for both QuickBooks Live and Merritt, but they approach the bookkeeping differently as well. Some businesses may prefer not having to maintain their own QuickBooks file, in which case Merritt would be a good fit. But if you want to send out your own invoices and use QuickBooks to track your A/R and A/P, then QuickBooks Live allows you that option.
QuickBooks Live Features
QuickBooks Live offers a variety of features that’ll appeal to small businesses seeking an online bookkeeping service. It manages your monthly bookkeeping effectively and allows you to perform your day-to-day tasks like invoicing and bill pay. You can also meet with your dedicated bookkeeper at least once a month so they can review your reports and answer any questions. If you’re a new user, they’ll help you set up and customize your accounts and can also assist with entering historical data. In our opinion, the most valuable feature is the enhanced meeting capability and the fact that you’re working with bookkeepers who are well-versed in the software.
- Dedicated bookkeeper: You’ll be matched with a team of QuickBooks-certified bookkeepers, with one dedicated bookkeeper who’ll serve as your point of contact. They’ll meet with you as needed to answer your bookkeeping questions.
- 100% Accurate Books Guarantee: QuickBooks Live offers the guarantee that if you ever suspect there are inaccuracies with your books, you can request a free audit at any time.
- Customized setup: Your bookkeeper will assist you with customizing your account setup, including your chart of accounts, customer and vendor lists, and connecting your bank and credit card accounts.
- Month-end close: Each month, your bookkeeper will close your books and prepare a trial balance so that you can confirm they’re accurate.
- Enhanced communication: You can set up video meetings with your QuickBooks Live bookkeeper on an as-needed basis as long as they’re scheduled one at a time. During these meetings, you can screen-share documents, allowing you to clarify information more easily. You can also reach out to product support via live chat to answer any software-related questions.
- Reporting: Each month you’ll receive copies of key financial reports, including your balance sheet and P&L statement. Your bookkeeper will help you to analyze these reports and answer any questions you may have.
For more information about the features offered, check out our QuickBooks Live review.
Merritt Bookkeeping Features
Merritt Bookkeeping is ideal for freelancers and independent contractors that want to be more hands-off with their bookkeeping. After allowing your bookkeeper to set up your accounts, they’ll handle categorizing transactions, and you can access your file through a client portal. This portal is how you’ll interact with your bookkeeper, with the ability to correct any inaccuracies with the categorization of transactions. You’ll also receive reports on a monthly basis. The most attractive feature of Merritt Bookkeeping is the budget-friendly flat-rate pricing, making the service very affordable.
- Client portal: Equipped with a user-friendly interface, the client portal enables you to view reports and see how your transactions are categorized. If you spot any errors, Merritt has designed a custom form that allows you to indicate the correct categories.
- Financial reports: You’ll be sent your P&L statement and balance sheet each month, and you can also access them via your client portal.
- 1099 filing: If you need to send 1099 forms to your contractors, Merritt will assist with filing the forms for an additional fee of $75 for the report preparation and $8 per form.
- Catch-up bookkeeping: If you’re behind on your books, Merritt will provide catch-up bookkeeping at the discounted rate of $140 per month.
- QuickBooks integration: Once your bank and credit card accounts are connected, your bookkeeper can download your accounts into a QuickBooks file that they have set up for you. If you’re already a QuickBooks user, you can send them your QuickBooks file. This makes it easier to organize and manage information.
- Budget-friendly pricing: One of the benefits of using Merritt Bookkeeping’s services is that it offers an affordable flat rate, and that rate applies to any business, no matter the size or amount of monthly expenses.
Takeaway: Although the services that QuickBooks Live and Merritt provide may be similar, the one major difference is that QuickBooks Live gives you access to your QuickBooks file while Merritt does not. Whether this is important to you’ll determine which service is a better fit. Also, the enhanced communication that QuickBooks Live provides may be important if you want to be able to videoconference with your bookkeeper.
For more information about the features offered, check out our Merritt Bookkeeping review.
QuickBooks Live vs Merritt Bookkeeping: Working With Your Bookkeeper
QuickBooks Live and Merritt Bookkeeping have different approaches to their online bookkeeping services. With QuickBooks, the emphasis is on the relationship between you and your dedicated bookkeeper, someone who’ll partner with you and learn your business. Your ability to meet with them via one-way videoconference enhances this relationship, and it’s also reassuring to know that you can ask them questions about your reports or bookkeeping procedures in general. Merritt, on the other hand, outsources your work to overseas contractors while its in-house team provides quality control and serves as your point of contact for your questions.
QuickBooks Live: Working With Your Bookkeeper
Once you sign up for QuickBooks Live, you’ll be assigned a dedicated bookkeeper who’ll work with you to establish the best strategy for your business. You’ll connect via one-way video chat, and they’ll assist you with connecting your bank and credit card accounts. If you’re a new QuickBooks Online user, they’ll help you to customize your chart of accounts. Once your account is established, you’ll receive access to the QuickBooks Live Hub, which is your own secure space on the site.
You’ll receive financial statements every month that you can review with your bookkeeper, and you can monitor your bookkeeper’s progress in your QuickBooks Live Hub with a task list that is updated in real-time as items are completed. You can view related documents and access your bookkeeper’s schedule so that you can make an appointment for a video chat. Although there’s no limit to the amount of time that you can spend with your bookkeeper, you can only schedule one appointment at a time:
Merritt Bookkeeping: Working With Your Bookkeeper
Merritt Bookkeeping has a different approach to its online bookkeeping services—although it’s run by a small team in San Diego, it outsources the actual bookkeeping to several overseas contractors. The San Diego team serves as the point of contact, available to answer questions and also provide quality control.
Upon enrollment with Merritt Bookkeeping, an employee will assist with setting up your bank and merchant accounts. Your finances will be managed with QuickBooks Online, but you won’t have personal access to your QuickBooks files. This is achieved by importing read-only versions of your statements using LedgerSync, a free third-party software. After set-up, contact will be limited. You’ll receive a link to your Dashboard each month, where you can access financial reports and transaction details. If you spot any inaccuracies, you must indicate that on the review checklist, a sample of which is shown below.
If you have any questions, you can contact Merritt by email or phone during regular business hours. Unlike QuickBooks Live, Merritt doesn’t offer video meetings:
Takeaway: The best option for you depends on whether you prefer to work closely with a dedicated bookkeeper, as with QuickBooks Live, or if you would rather have a more hands-off approach, as with Merritt Bookkeeping. The major difference between the two services is that you can meet with your QuickBooks Live bookkeeper via video conference, but with Merritt, you don’t have a similar option. You also have access to your QuickBooks Online file with QuickBooks Live, but not with Merritt, which prevents you from invoicing customers or entering bills.
If you’re on a budget and looking for basic bookkeeping services at a flat monthly rate, then Merritt could be a good option for you. However, if you prefer an online bookkeeping service that will work one-on-one with you to learn the needs of your business and ensure that you understand your financial data, then QuickBooks Live is the best choice. Your bookkeeping needs, such as whether you want to be able to invoice your customers or pay bills within QuickBooks Online, are also an important factor to determine when evaluating your options.