While it’s not exactly fair to say that QuickBooks has a monopoly concerning the online accounting industry, it is undoubtedly one of the more famous names that jump out. This is mainly due to its marketing potential and the fact that it offers so many products, as QuickBooks dominates the online accounting space.
There is no doubt that QuickBooks is a good product, but I believe it has gotten more respect than it deserves. In many online reviews, it will rank around #7 or #8, but it has gotten something of a default attribute as the best online accounting software on the market.
QuickBooks is a potent online accounting tool, but there are plenty of viable alternatives. I have listed the nine best alternatives to QuickBooks for 2021 and beyond below, as these platforms also offer excellent features.
QuickBooks Alternatives (In Short)
- FreshBooks – The best all-around accounting software for small businesses with less than 50 employees. Extremely user-friendly and with reasonable pricing plans. Read more.
- Sage Business Cloud Accounting – Professional, simple, powerful accounting software with no strings attached. It might not be the most intuitive and user-friendly, but has a massive range of accounting features for a reasonable price. Read more.
- Zoho Books – The most visually pleasing and easy-to-use accounting software I’ve reviewed, perfect for small and micro-businesses. However, it lacks payroll functionality, which is one of the only downsides. Read more.
- Patriot Accounting – Excellent at both payroll processing and accounting with two different applications. Patriot is primarily aimed at micro and small businesses. The first month is free. Read more.
- GoDaddy Bookkeeping – A lightweight and straightforward accounting solution aimed primarily at merchants using Etsy, Amazon, Paypal, and eBay. Direct, easy, and cheap. Read more.
- AccountEdge Pro – A functional and strong fully-featured accounting platform for businesses that want a sophisticated range of features, AccountEdge Pro has a good track record with superb support, though the interface is a little dated. Read more.
- Xero – Xero is a well-known accounting provider, and it has been in the market for a long time. Unfortunately, their prices have recently increased and its existing customers are not impressed. Read more.
- Wave – Best for freelancers, as it is completely free to use with zero limits. Has a vast appeal for digital nomads and micro-businesses with less than ten employees, but it has no time tracking or payroll feature. Read more.
- Kashoo – A friendly, easy-to-use, and functional accounting service based in Canada. It is ideally suited for micro-businesses with less than ten employees. Read more.
Table of Contents
How We Evaluated QuickBooks Alternatives
To successfully compare QuickBooks alternatives, I used several baseline metrics and measurements. While I have a few hard metrics, most of the feedback was qualitative based on our testers’ subjective feedback. Evaluations were based on:
- Price – How many features were available in a given price range?
- Functionality – What features are available, and do they work?
- Ease of Use – How easy is it to get set up and running with the platform? How intuitive are the dashboard and the daily operations?
- Customer Service – How quickly was a concern answered?
- Online Reviews – What are the customers saying in online review sites about the given platform?
After testing the platform’s free trials, I would query the customer service with some basic concerns. I tracked how long the response time was, whether the query got resolved, and how courteous the representative was.
With online reviews, I went to the typical review sites (Capterra, TrustPilot, GetApp, Sitejabber, Better Business Bureau). I calculated total scores across platforms in a spreadsheet (nothing too sophisticated, but provides us a rudimentary metric to work with for making a social review evaluation).
The ones that make it to the top of the list are outlined below. After testing 15 platforms overall, and nine stood out, which I list here.
FreshBooks has a superuser interface and all the features you could want. It is priced very affordably and offers 3 tiers to suit all businesses. Free trials are available on all plans. You can contract FreshBooks for a custom plan if you intend to bill more than 500 clients.
FreshBooks offers a total of 3 tiers, and each tier will have different features available. The complete list of features with the associated tier is as follows:
- Unlimited + Customized Invoices (Lite Package)
- Unlimited Expense Entries (Lite Package)
- Accept Credit Card Payments Online (Lite Package)
- Accept ACH Bank Transfers Online (Lite Package)
- Automated Bank Import (Lite Package)
- Unlimited Time Tracking (Lite Package)
- Unlimited Estimates (Lite Package)
- Insightful Tax Time Reports (Lite Package)
- Custom functionality and workflows with 200+ integrations (Lite Package)
- Mobile Mileage Tracking (Lite Package)
- Team Members ($10/person) (Lite Package)
- Unlimited, proposals (Plus Package)
- Automated Recurring Invoices (Plus Package)
- Double Entry Accounting Reports (Plus Package)
- Scheduled Late Fees (Plus Package)
- Automated Late Payment Reminders (Plus Package)
- Client Retainers (Plus Package)
- Team Members ($10/person) (Plus Package)
- Advanced Payments ($20/mo) (Plus Package)
FreshBooks offers three pricing plans - Lite, Plus, and Premium. The Lite plan is just $6 a month, the Plus plan is $10 a month, and the premium plan is just $20 a month. It is as good as it gets when it comes to pricing. However, most businesses are going to have to use the Premium plan due to the features it provides.
The Lite plan only allows for five billings, and the Plus plan only allows for 50 client billings. It is not enough for most businesses, which will need to upgrade to the premium package with 500 client billings. Custom plans are available for those who have more than 500 clients. The Premium plan does not seem to contain any more additional features than the Plus plan.
We found the customer service from FreshBooks to be astounding. Very clear in their communications, responsive, and resolved all of our issues. They operate at standard US hours (9 AM-5 PM EST) and regularly respond to queries on social review sites. Our issues were promptly resolved.
There are some negative reviews of FreshBooks on sites such as Trustpilot. The most common note is related to the forced upgrade to a new version of FreshBooks. Anytime an accounting company upgrades its services, it invariably results in a lot of dissatisfied customers. Still, FreshBooks has stellar ratings on GetApp and Capterra.
Sage Business Cloud Accounting (not Sage 50, an entirely different solution) is one of the most sophisticated accounting platforms on the market. Sage Business Cloud operates as a fully functioning accounting system, including general ledger, A/P, A/R, and payroll. Sage predates Intuit as one of the biggest accounting solutions providers in the world and has made a fantastic product with Sage Business Cloud Accounting. Unlike other platforms, Sage is getting better, not worse, with time.
The features available with the Sage Business Cloud Accounting platform include:
- Full accounts payable (Basic)
- Full accounts receivable functionality (Basic)
- Inventory management (Basic)
- Integrated payroll (Basic)
- Reports (Premium)
- An audit trail (Premium)
- Advanced budgeting(Premium)
- Job costing (Premium)
- Multi-company access (Quantum)
- Role-based security (Quantum)
- Industry-specific support (Quantum)
Sage is also reasonably priced. It offers two simple packages, “Accounting Start” ($10 a month) and “Accounting”($25 a month). Sage also offers a free 30 day trial on both packages. The accounting start package is limited, offering to create invoices, track what is owed, and connect to your bank. The Accounting package will further include:
- Real-time Reports
- Quotes And Estimates
- Ability To Record Purchase Invoices
- Ability To View Cash Flow Statements
- Auto entry To Remove Cash Flow Entry
Sage Business Cloud Accounting has excellent customer service. They have been in business for a long time and have perfected the business accounting model. The business model is long-term and they do not use any forced pricing options like their competitors. They are upfront with what they offer, and it is easy to unsubscribe from them or report any issues.
There were precious few negative reviews for Sage Business Cloud Accounting. Customers simply love the Sage Business Cloud Accounting platform, as did we. The reason is simple. Many other online accounting providers offer an excellent interface, a neat dashboard, and a clever solution. They make a lot of money in the first couple of years; then they fail to maintain quality of service years in.
Sage is not like that - they focus on fundamentals first, and the novel features a distant second. It’s why they have a better customer retention rate than any other online accounting platform. And this shows in customer reviews across various platforms.
#3 Zoho Books
Zoho is known for having a product for every imaginable function and offers a high level of seamless interoperability between these packages. So Zoho Books is specifically designed for accounting, but you can just add any of them if you need other modules, for example, document signing, HR, finance, or CRM. Zoho Books itself is easy to use, reasonably priced, and super intuitive. We loved it! But there are some caveats.
Zoho Books offers a vast number of features for all accounting purposes. The complete list for the Zoho Books package includes:
- Bank Reconciliation (Basic)
- Custom Invoices (Basic)
- Expense Tracking (Basic)
- Projects and Timesheets (Basic)
- Recurring Transactions (Basic)
- Sales Approval (Basic)
- Budgeting (Basic)
- Zoho Sign Integration (Basic)
- Vendor credits (Standard)
- Reporting tags (Standard)
- Purchase approval (Standard)
- Twilio integration (Standard)
- Purchase orders (Professional)
- Sales orders (Professional)
- Stock tracking (Professional)
- Custom domain (Professional)
- Vendor portal (Professional)
Like most accounting solutions, Zoho Books offers three packages:
- Basic – $8 a month, up to 50 contacts, two users, five workflows).
- Standard – $12 a month, up to 500 contacts, three users, ten workflows).
- Professional – $25 a month more than 500 contacts, ten users, ten workflows).
Keep in mind that you will likely upgrade to the Professional package due to the constraints on contacts and users. It is a common upsell technique among accounting providers.
Customer service with Zoho is ok, but not outstanding. They seem to have emphasized making easy-to-use modules so that customer services are not really a necessity (which works to a large degree, until you run into serious issues). They bounced us around to several different departments when the issue got resolved, just not smoothly.
Online reviews reflected our customer service experience. The thing is that the software is excellent as long as you don’t run into any issues, and it is quite streamlined. But there are multiple complaints from people who could not contact Zoho and whose issues simply did not get resolved. The problem is compounded when you use several different Zoho products, as support cannot tackle compatibility issues between the many, many, many Zoho modules.
Patriot is the most simplified and most straightforward accounting software to come to terms with, as everything is transparent and streamlined. It might not be as sleek or intuitive as Zoho Books or FreshBooks, but you certainly won’t run into an issue. You know precisely what you are getting - which is why this is a favorite among many small business owners.
Though it does not have a range of sophisticated features like QuickBooks, Patriot Accounting has more than enough features for micro and small businesses and does all the necessary work you would expect. The primary features include:
- Free expert support (Basic)
- Mobile support (Basic)
- Unlimited payments to vendors (Basic)
- Create and print 1099s and 1096s (Basic)
- Optional 1099 e-Filing (Basic)
- Track your expenses, income, and money (Basic)
- Create and track unlimited customers and invoices (Basic)
- Accept credit card payments (Basic)
- Record payments (Basic)
- Automatically import bank transactions (Basic)
- Departments (Basic)
- Payroll Integration (Basic)
- Account Reconciliation (Premium)
- Create And Send Estimates (Premium)
- Recurring Invoices (Premium)
- Invoice Payment Reminders (Premium)
- Custom Invoice Templates (Premium)
- Unlimited Users With Permissions (Premium)
- Receipts And Document Management (Premium)
Patriot Accounting only offers two pricing tiers. The Basic plan costs $15 a month, and the premium costs $25 a month after the free 30-day trial. It is a huge advantage, as there are no completed pricing systems like in other platforms with four tiers that limit the number of users. With Patriot Accounting, it is definitely worth getting the $25 a month package. Still, this is the same price as most other accounting platforms with similar features. Another thing I liked about Patriot Accounting is that they don’t require you to make a long-term obligation but use the platform on a month-to-month basis.
Patriot Accounting customer service is outstanding. It is a company that really sets itself apart from others when it comes to customer service, in a big way. All issues were quickly resolved and the representative was polite, courteous, and knowledgeable.
Possibly more than any other accounting platform, online reviews were overwhelmingly positive for Patriot Accounting. First, their customer service is outstanding. And second, they do not have a tonne of different modules that need to integrate, like Zoho, as more complexity means a more difficult time for customer service. Patriot is a breeze to use and customer service is excellent, which is why online reviews are so good.
GoDaddy Bookkeeping is one of the lesser-known services that you won’t find on too many top reviews. But, as we would discover, it has quite a lot going for it. GoDaddy is best known as a popular web hosting service. While GoDaddy Bookkeeping is quite basic and orientated towards online companies, it still has a lot going for it.
Like Patriot Accounting, GoDaddy Bookkeeping is not the most sophisticated when it comes to accounting features. Still, it certainly has enough for a small business to comply with the latest standards and maintain good records. It is especially suitable for merchants on Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. The primary features include:
- Invoices and estimates (Get Paid)
- Time Tracking (Get Paid)
- Mileage Tracking (Get Paid)
- Accept payments on your mobile devices (Get Paid)
- Multiple reports (Get Paid)
- Online Banks connections (Essentials)
- Credit card accounts (Essentials)
- Schedule C support (Essentials)
- Sales tax support (Essentials)
- Unlimited reports (Essentials)
- Data import from Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Etsy (Essentials)
- Invoice scheduling (Premium)
- Recurring invoices (Premium)
The site is available at three different pricing levels. The Get Paid plan, at $4.99 per month, is the simplest. The Essentials plan, for $9.99 per month, The $14.99-per-month Premium plan gives you all of those features as well as the ability to schedule and send recurring invoices. GoDaddy Bookkeeping Premium is just a penny shy of being the most expensive site for freelancers since QuickBooks Self-Employed costs $15 per month. FreshBooks' entry-level plan is $13.50, while Wave is free.
Customer service with GoDaddy Bookkeeping was better than expected, given that the knowledge base is underdeveloped and the website was relatively barebones. But it seems that the customer service teams are definitely not overworked (unlike many of the bigger contenders). You can get a response quite quickly, which is the most critical thing in terms of customer service. GoDaddy Bookkeeping is quick and easy, and you just don’t run into the major problems seen in the more heavyweight solutions like ZohoBooks and FreshBooks. Of course, you don’t get the same features set either.
GoDaddy Bookkeeping gets a solid four stars on sites such as GetApp and Capterra. It is because it is reliable and solid. To be clear, few people are raving about GoDaddy Bookkeeping. It’s just that it suits specific business models (i.e online merchants) exceptionally well as a way of integrating online sales and payroll easily, allowing easy integration of online sales and payroll.
It won’t blow you away, but we found it performed reasonably well across the board, especially when you consider the price. It’s perfect for small online business people but lacks the depth expected of a fully-fledged accounting solution.
AccountEdge Pro is a premium small business solution. It is feature-rich with superb customer support. While it is a little pricey, serious companies won’t mind paying extra for what’s on offer. It is comparable to Sage Business Cloud Accounting and it has been around since the 1990s. It is a Desktop system that also offers mobile and web access, which is an excellent compromise for small businesses who want the power of a desktop with the flexibility of the cloud.
AccountEdge Pro has all of the features you can expect from a heavyweight desktop accounting solution. The list of features include:
- Creation of sales invoices (Basic)
- Banking management (Basic)
- Customer management (Basic)
- Report creation (Basic)
- Full-service payroll (Basic)
- Credit card processing (Basic)
- The Chart of Accounts (Pro)
- Recurring transactions (Pro)
- Department separation (Pro)
- Mileage tracking (Pro)
- Company Data Auditor (Pro)
- Business Insights (Pro) (Mac only)
AccountEdge Pro costs $399 for the first user, and $249 for each user after that, with packs of five users costing a discounted $999. Upgrades from previous versions are cheaper, starting at $159 for a single user, with volume-based discounts for additional users.
Email customer support comes standard with every plan. All clients are guaranteed an email response within 48 hours. If you are a new customer (within 30 days of product registration) or have a paid plan, AccountEdge offers phone support from 9 AM to 6 PM EST, Monday through Friday. If you’re not on a paid plan but would like to purchase phone support, the cost is $199 per year.
AccountEdge pro tends to have solid online ratings of about 4.4 - 4.6 stars across various sites. Despite not having the most robust interface, it has terrific support and functions perfectly well. However, there are some complaints concerning Mac users and recent Mac updates. We found AccountEdge Pro to be a solid and reliable platform that did all that you could ask. It has excellent support and is straightforward to use.
Xero is a very established online accounting solution with sophisticated capabilities, and it is even more powerful than Sage Accounting with more integrations. It is also an industry standard within the realm of accounting. However, it is not best suited for small and micro-businesses; plus it is just not as intuitive or user-friendly as some other entries on this list.
Xero has a compelling set of features as a complete accounting solution. The feature set includes:
- Invoices and quotes (Starter)
- Bill management (Starter)
- Bank reconciliation (Starter)
- Inventory management (Starter)
- Live bank feeds (Starter)
- Purchase orders (Starter)
- Document storage (Starter)
- Reports (Starter)
- Unlimited users (Starter)
- Time Tracking (Standard)
- Expense claims (Add-on)
- Project management (Add-on)
- Multi-currency support (Premium)
Xero has three pricing plans, Starter, Standard, and Premium. Starter costs $20 per month and offers 20 invoices and quotes, enter five bills, bank reconciliation, inventory management, live bank feeds, purchase orders, document storage, reports, and unlimited users. The Standard Plan costs $30 a month and comes with unlimited invoices and quotes, as well as billing management. The Premium plan costs $40 a month and offers expenses claims, project management, and multi-currency support.
We were not overly impressed with Xero's customer support. It is lamentable since they used to have an excellent level of customer support, while now it is difficult to get in touch with a live representative. However, they have a great help center known as Xero Central. The in-software explanations are also handy. While the direct support is not great, the tutorials, videos, and walkthroughs are extremely helpful.
Online reviews for Xero are pretty strong, though there are some negative reviews. It is tricky to learn and is just not as slick or intuitive as some of the newer additions to the market.
Still, it is feature-rich and has a lot of positive reviews. Some companies need the power that only Xero can provide.
As one of the few free accounting tools on the market, Waves is making waves! It is more suited to freelancers and microbusinesses but can suffice for ‘small’ small businesses as well, with less than 10 employees or so. No time tracking is available. Payroll is limited, but you can upgrade to a paid option with more features. One of the most significant advantages is that there is no limit regarding pricing, invoices, or users. Practically all the big names in online accounting offer an artificially low basic plan that forces you to choose a more expensive option by limiting one of them. Wave does not do this.
Wave offers more features for free than any other comparable provider. It is a pretty cool thing to do. The primary features offered by Wave are:
- Unlimited invoicing (Free)
- Unlimited estimates (Free)
- Contact management (Free)
- Expense tracking (Free)
- Accounts payable (Free)
- Basic inventory (Free)
- Reports (Free)
- Payment Processing (2.9% + $0.30 per credit card transaction)
- Tax service payroll ($35/month + $6/month per employee or independent contractor)
- Self-service payroll ($20/month + $6/month per employee or independent contractor)
Wave is completely free with no artificial or enforced upgrades due to constraints. The only thing you have to pay for is adding payroll, payment processing, or professional bookkeeping. The company has also been rolling out update after update to make Wave a robust software with tons of features geared specifically toward small business owners.
However, Wave does charge for its payroll services, where it makes its profits. Wave offers two payroll options: tax service payroll or self-service payroll. The tax service payroll means Wave handles your payroll and payroll taxes for you, and this service costs $35/month + $6/month per employee or independent contractor.
The self-service payroll costs $20/month + $6/month per employee or independent contractor, and with self-service payroll, Wave will still calculate your payroll for you - you’re just responsible for filing your taxes.
Customer support with Wave is not the best, which is to be expected. As it is free, you should not expect it to provide a comprehensive customer service team. However, it is not accurate to say that Wave offers ‘terrible’ customer service. In fact, it is comparable to many of the more prominent in online accounting. It is a little slow and cumbersome, but you will get an answer, and your issue will be resolved, given time and patience.
Reviews for Wave Accounting are very high across platforms, often 4.5 and above. It is because it ticks a lot of boxes: it is entirely free, easy to use, easy to set up, and very, very, very useful. It is exactly what a micro-business needs when starting. If you are getting started, we recommend using Wave and upgrading when your business grows beyond ten or so employees. The payroll functionality is also very streamlined, though it's not free.
Kashoo is an accounting solution that offers superb customer support and is definitely an innovation in the market. It offers unlimited users and is very affordable with a slick interface. Kashoo offers a single pricing plan, unlike competitors that confuse you with many different options, forcing you to upgrade. All of this is an excellent intersection for most small business owners.
On its single pricing plan for $19.95 per month, Kashoo offers:
- Contact management
- Track income and expenses
- Manage bills
- Items list
- Project management
- Multi-Currency support
- Accountant access
- Unlimited users
Kashoo offers two transparent pricing plans: one for $20 a month, and the other at $30 a month. The TrySmall Accounting plan is with features optimized to fit the needs of truly small businesses. The Kashoo advanced accounting plan is for mid to large small businesses. Kashoo lacks integrated payroll, but it partners with SurePayroll, which comes as an add-on at an extra fee.
We found the Kashoo customer service to be unparalleled. The response time and the resolution was faster, by far than any other provider we tested. They were easy to contact, quick to respond, polite, and competent. There was no transfer from department to department. They knew exactly what we were doing and isolated the problem faster than we expected.
Like Wave, online reviews of Kashoo are incredibly positive. Customers seem to like simple solutions that are reasonably priced without being forced into higher tiers. Added to this is its high standard of customer service, and you have an online provider that the crowd simply adores.
There is a multitude of QuickBooks alternatives. And these alternatives are by no means a step-down. QuickBooks has put a significant emphasis on online marketing, which seems to have given it an unfair advantage, but this does not reflect its advantage in feature.
We invite you to take a more objective approach when it comes to an online accounting platform. Ignore the hype and focus only on the features you want, the standard of customer care, and the overall price tag.
At the end of the day, the accounting platform you use is there to make your accounting needs easier. If it does not do this, then I urge you to find another provider asap.