This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
Are you looking for something else? Read our guide to the best small business accounting software.
QuickBooks Online Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that need inventory management, project accounting, and the ability to track income and expense by class and location
30 days with no credit card required
50% off for three months, unless you choose the 30-day free trial
QuickBooks Payroll; $45 plus $4 per employee
Overall Ease of Use
QuickBooks Online generally is user-friendly but may require you to at least know the basics. You may check out our free QuickBooks Online tutorials to get started.
Self-help resources, chatbot, live chat, and phone support (send a request and wait for a call from QuickBooks)
QuickBooks Online New Features for 2023
- Improved speed: QuickBooks Online is now 12% faster, helping you get your accounting done quicker.
- New integrations: QuickBooks Online Advanced integrates with new tools, such as PandaDoc, Centage, and Spreadsheet Sync, to boost your productivity further.
- Enhanced migration process: The export process includes a user ID automatically, allowing you to create an account easily. Also, the transaction limit has been raised from 350,000 to 750,000.
- Better customer support: Intuit has made some improvements in customer service, such as building expert knowledge on QuickBooks Payroll and QuickBooks Payments and reducing waiting times.
QuickBooks Online Alternatives
Best for: Businesses that need assembly inventory accounting
Best for: Service businesses that want to track estimated vs actual project costs
Best for: Companies that require fixed asset management
Starts at: $799 per year for one user
Starts at: $15 per month
Starts at: $12 per month
QuickBooks Online is an exceptional product and a good value for companies needing the features it has to offer. However, it’s among the most expensive small business accounting software, so if you’re looking for simple income and loss tracking, you can probably find something less expensive or even free like Lendio:
- Simple Start: Simple Start costs $30 monthly and supports a single user. It includes basic features, like income and expense tracking, bank feeds, invoicing, receipt capture, and mileage tracking.
- Essentials: Essentials is available for $55 per month with up to three users. A good reason to update to Essentials is the ability to manage unpaid bills and assign billable time and expenses to customers.
- Plus: Considered QuickBooks Online’s most popular plan, Plus costs $85 a month with up to five users. The biggest improvement to Plus over Essentials is that it allows you to handle inventory and track income and expenses by projects.
- Advanced: Advanced costs $200 per month and supports up to 25 users. The majority of Advanced’s features are designed for customization and expansion, such as customized access by roles, a dedicated success manager, and free training for your staff.
Fit Small Business Case Study
To formulate a detailed Intuit QuickBooks Online review, we conducted a case study with a five-point scoring rubric focusing on different key categories, including pricing, features, and ease of use. We assigned weights to each category—with some more heavily judged than the others based on their importance in accounting. The final scores (0 to 5, 5 being the highest) are determined based on how QuickBooks Online functions against our preset metrics covered in each individual category.
For pricing, we rated a software based on its affordability compared to similar providers and also considered the number of users included. For instance, while QuickBooks Online is rated 3, a free software program like Lendio Accounting will be rated 5 (highest score).
QuickBooks Online vs Competitors
To determine how QuickBooks Online stacks up against other similar software, we conducted a comparative case study against FreshBooks and Xero. Based on the results, QuickBooks Online dominates FreshBooks in almost all categories but is close to Xero. QuickBooks Online stands out in terms of banking and cash management, A/R, and reporting, though both QuickBooks and Xero are equally good at managing inventories and A/P.
QuickBooks Online vs Competitors FSB Case Study
Touch the graph above to interact Click on the graphs above to interact
QuickBooks Online Starting at $30/month; $85 as tested
FreshBooks Starting at $15/month; $50 as tested
Xero Starting at $11/month; $62 as tested
QuickBooks Online could’ve garnered a higher score in general features if it had the ability to import beginning balances, which could have helped make reconciliation and reporting easier. Also, setting up a company in QuickBooks Online takes time—you have to go through a series of steps, including entering your company name, email address, and entity type.
To customize your accounting process, configure your advanced settings from the Advanced menu under the Account and Settings page. From here, you can enter the fiscal year and tax year of your company, choose the accounting method, and set up categories to track your income and expenses.
One of QuickBooks Online’s biggest strengths is the ability to create classes and locations for tracking P&L. You can also modify your chart of accounts, enter an additional user, and control how much access you want to give them. QuickBooks Online allows you to close books at year-end, which is important to prevent changes in your financial data.
On the downside, you can’t import or input opening balances, so you have to use a journal entry. Overall, QuickBooks Online offers a lot of advanced features to control how you run your accounting, but in terms of ease of setup and use, you might prefer Xero.
QuickBooks Online General Features Video
QuickBooks Online could have earned a perfect score if not for its inventory module, which we found a bit difficult to use. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do in QuickBooks Online in terms of managing unpaid bills and expenses.
You can view the list of your unpaid bills to track them effectively. With a little practice, it’s easy to record a bill, add a new vendor, record an expense without paying, and attach and send a copy of the receipt. All these transactions can be conveniently initiated from the + New button on your dashboard. You can create recurring transactions, record partial payments of an invoice, set up and track inventory items, and print checks instead of writing them manually.
To enter a new bill in QuickBooks Online, click on the + New button, select Bill, and then provide the required information in the Enter Bill screen, as shown in the screenshot below.
QuickBooks Online Accounts Payable Video
The only problem we saw is the inability to issue a refund check when giving your customer a refund or credit. Despite the tiny issue, we found QuickBooks Online’s ability to manage sales taxes and invoices equally as terrific as its ability to manage payables, making it our overall best invoicing software. The good thing is that QuickBooks calculates sales taxes in every jurisdiction where you collect sales tax automatically.
In terms of invoicing, there are many reasons to love QuickBooks Online. You can choose from different templates, add your logo, change colors, and include personalized messages. You set up recurring invoices and print and email them to your customers.
QuickBooks Online also lets you combine multiple checks into a single deposit, which makes reconciling between your check register and your bank statement much easier.
Other great features include the ability to
- View sales tax liability details
- View and track sales tax collected and remitted
- Pay sales tax liability with a check
- Accept short payments from customers
QuickBooks Online Accounts Receivable Video
Just like most accounting software, you can connect your bank and credit card account to QuickBooks Online. If you’re uncomfortable connecting your bank account, you can upload your transactions in a QuickBooks Online format.
If you dread reconciling your bank account manually, you can use QuickBooks Online’s powerful bank reconciliation feature and generate reconciliation reports to see cleared and uncleared transactions. Unlike FreshBooks and Xero, QuickBooks allows you to reconcile your bank and credit card accounts, even if you choose to record all activity manually vs importing bank transactions.
QuickBooks Online Cash Management & Banking Video
QuickBooks Online’s score in this criterion took a hit because it can’t set up cost estimates for projects and compare them to actual costs, which is an important feature for contractors. However, the platform is good for project accounting. You can create projects and assign wages and income and expenses to a project. You can also create project estimates and include inventories, sales taxes, and labor in those estimates.
If you want a feature to compare actual costs to estimates, find alternatives in our list of the best construction accounting software.
QuickBooks Online Project Accounting Video
QuickBooks Online does a great job at sales and income tax tracking, and it could’ve scored higher if the QuickBooks team had a service for filing sales tax returns on behalf of the client.
You can add sales taxes to your receipts, invoices, and estimates, and QuickBooks Online will calculate and track them automatically for easy tax filing. It also keeps track of your tax payment due dates to avoid late filing and late payment penalties. One of its advantages over similar software is that you can e-file your taxes either through email or your agency’s website. If you’re working with independent contractors, QuickBooks Online lets you generate 1099 tax forms and either file them online or print and then mail them to the IRS.
We evaluated QuickBooks Online’s sales and income tax features across the other categories, so there’s no separate video.
If inventory accounting is a crucial part of your business, QuickBooks Online can be a great choice. Available for QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced users, the inventory accounting feature lets you track stock items and quantities, update inventory quantities automatically, organize items by their taxable and non-taxable status, create purchase orders and send them to vendors, and set up alerts to see when it’s best to replenish your stock. However, QuickBooks Online doesn’t handle inventory assembly like QuickBooks Desktop Premier.
There’s no separate video since QuickBooks Online’s inventory management is evaluated across the other categories.
QuickBooks Online is arguably one of the best accounting software programs for reporting. In our case study, we generated 16 different types of reports successfully, which isn’t possible in most other accounting software. QuickBooks Online can generate more than 100 reports, depending on your subscription. Whether you need standard reports, such as balance sheets, P&L statements, and cash flow statements, or sales reports by customer, location, or class, you can do it all in QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online Reporting Video
Our ease of use score includes a subjective evaluation, customer service, and the availability of support from third-party independent bookkeepers. We find QuickBooks Online to be relatively easy-to-use especially given how many features it offers.
It has pretty decent customer service. If you want to talk with a real person, you need to submit a form and wait for them to call you, which means that you can’t initiate a call. You can also seek help through a chatbot, chat with representatives online, and check out its vast self-help resources, such as blogs, setup guides, troubleshooting tips, and community forums. If you prefer getting support through email, then QuickBooks isn’t for you.
A huge advantage of choosing QuickBooks is the availability of local bookkeepers in your area who can provide assistance. QuickBooks dominates the market for small business accounting, and most professional bookkeepers use it for their small business clients. It’s almost certain you’ll be able to find a local QuickBooks ProAdvisor to help you.
QuickBooks’ mobile app is functional, but we hope to see more features in the future, such as the ability to enter bills and record time worked. Available for Android and iOS devices, it contains many features available in the browser-based desktop interface, making it a top pick in our list of the best mobile accounting apps. It even allows you to create and send invoices on the go, receive payments from customers, assign expenses to customers or projects, and view financial reports.
QuickBooks Online Mobile App Video
QuickBooks Online Integrations
QuickBooks Online integrates with a wide range of third-party software, including popular tools like PayPal, Square, Stripe, Gmail, Google Sheets, Salesforce, HubSpot, WooCommerce, and Shopify. It also connects with thousands of apps through Zapier. If integration is important to your business process, we highly recommend QuickBooks Online.
Most of the positive QuickBooks Online reviews are attributed to the program’s robust feature set and ease of use. Many users commented that it’s extremely easy to add customers and vendors and share files with their accountants. Meanwhile, some dislike that the platform can’t manage multiple companies using a single account and that it lacks advanced inventory accounting features, such as assembly management.
We have compiled the top QuickBooks Online ratings from several review websites.
- TrustRadius: 8.0 out of 10 based on around 1,390 reviews
- G2: 4.0 out of 5 based on about 2,920 reviews
- Software Advice: 4.31 out of 5 based on nearly 5,350 reviews
- App Store (mobile app): 4.7 out of 5 based on around 128,800 reviews
- Google Play (mobile app): 4.0 out of 5 based on around 44,000 reviews
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What businesses is QuickBooks Online right for?
QuickBooks Online is great for businesses needing inventory and project accounting and companies wanting to track activity by class and location.
What are the top QuickBooks Online alternatives?
Some of the top alternatives to QuickBooks Online are Zoho Books, Xero, Lendio Accounting, and FreshBooks. These QuickBooks alternatives might save you money and provide a better solution for your business.
How do I learn to use QuickBooks Online?
QuickBooks Online is very user-friendly, but you need to know the basics. Check out our series of 46 free QuickBooks Online tutorials to get started.
Which QuickBooks Online plan should I choose?
The best plan depends on the size of your company and the features you need. We have an in-depth comparison of QuickBooks Online plans to help you choose the best one for your business.
QuickBooks Online dominates the market for small business accounting software due to its extensive features and flexibility in meeting the needs of nearly any small business. It can track inventory costs, generate invoices, track unpaid bills, and calculate P&L separated by many factors, including user-defined classes and locations.