By Daniel Lewis,
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4.7 / 5
TOTAL SCORE
SUMMARY

Small businesses that want an affordable but easy solution to accounting, without requiring payroll functionality.

DETAILED RATING
Features
Pricing
User Experience
Security
Service & Support
POSITIVES
  • Reputable and established company
  • Tonnes of integrations
  • Lots of functionality
  • Sleek interface
  • Customizable reports
  • Expert payroll support
NEGATIVES
  • Not the most affordable
  • Not the most user-friendly
  • Online support lacking

Quickbooks Online is one of the most well-known and functional online accounting platforms on the market. It has pretty much taken over the sector and has all of the integrations a business could possibly need. Moreover, the payroll functionality is very highly regarded. With the basic package of Quickbooks Online you can:

  • Track Income & Expenses
  • Send Unlimited Invoices & Quotes
  • Snap & Store Receipts
  • Track Kilometres
  • Connect Your Bank
  • Track GST & E-lodge Bas
  • Manage Cash Flow
  • Insights & Reports
  • Manage Payroll (4 Staff Included)

With this in mind, I decided to put it to the test by trying the software and seeing if it could perform essential small business accounting requirements as compared to other accounting solutions. The software did not disappoint, though there are some areas for improvement.

This guide will educate you on all the positives and negatives associated with Quickbooks online. It will focus on features, price, user experience, customer service, and security. I believe these are the prime components of superior accounting software.

Editor’s note: Quickbooks Online, not any of the other Quickbooks products. Other reviews and accounts tend to mix up all of the different versions of Quickbooks which can be confusing to most readers. Overall, I found Quickbooks Online to be deserving of its position as the top small business accounting solution, but it certainly comes with a hefty price tag. Small business owners will need to decide whether or not to pay a bit extra for a really smart and intuitive accounting platform – Quickbooks Online.

Quickbooks Online – What is it?

What is Quickbooks? Quickbooks is a big name in the accounting industry. In fact, it’s the biggest. They provide a wealth of accounting solutions and a range of packages. Quickbooks Online is a business accounting software platform hosted online. There are many different versions of Quickbooks, but all of them focus on business accounting. All of them will have the essential functionality to help business owners manage their accounting and bookkeeping.

This guide will be specifically focusing on Quickbooks Online. This is distinct from Quickbooks Desktop, Quickbooks Enterprise, and Quickbooks Self Employed. Regardless of which version you select, however, you will be working with one of the biggest names in online accounting. Quickbooks has a lot of experience and is a well-known brand.

In other words, Quickbooks Online is an online platform that streamlines all essential accounting functions. It can be integrated with other data streams and is an all-in-one business accounting solution. It’s important to note that there are 4 packages under Quickbooks Online – Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced.

Quickbooks Online Features

In terms of functionality and features, there is quite a lot to cover. The different Quickbooks Online packages each provide different features. The ‘Simple Start’ package offers the following features:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Create, send, and track invoices and estimates
  • Download and automate transactions
  • Print checks, record transactions, accept payments
  • Run basic reports
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Easily import data from Excel or QuickBooks Desktop
  • Capture and attach paper receipts
  • Allow up to two accountants to access your data
  • Use the mobile QuickBooks accounting app
  • Manage 1099 contractors
  • Integrate with hundreds of third-party tools and other QuickBooks products

This is more than enough for most small businesses, as it covers the basic accounting functionality. The Essentials plan does all of this and adds bill management, support for up to three users, and time tracking. The Plus plan also lets you track inventory and project profitability and allows access for up to five users. Finally, the Advanced version supports up to 25 users and includes numerous advanced features, including enhanced analysis and support. But this is only relevant for advanced users.

The Quickbooks online dashboard is easy to use, though not as streamlined as competitors such as Onpay. The Sales module is very effective but kind of ‘busy’. It takes a while to get used to. This is understandable – you want a granular level of detail in your sales module. Quickbooks offers a good level of functionality in terms of invoicing, expenses, time tracking, inventory, contact management, and sales overview.

Intuit QuickBooks Online displays a vertical pane on the left with tabs that represent each major part of the site: Dashboard, Banking, Expenses, Sales, Cash Flow (new), Projects, Payroll, Reports, Taxes, Mileage, Accounting, My Accountant, Capital (new), and Apps. It highlights the tasks that small businesses typically do most often.

There were two areas of Quickbooks Online that really excels – payroll and reports. Quickbooks online is one of the few accounting solutions that offers fully integrated payroll services, which includes time tracking. Users have the choice of self-service or full service. For more information on payroll solutions, check out this guide. 

The other area where Quickbooks excels in terms of functionality is reports. If you create records containing details about customers and vendors, products, and services, you can access those records when you create transactions and reports. QuickBooks Online is fantastic when it comes to the thoroughness and flexibility of its record templates, though it lacks some custom fields.

Quickbooks Online Price Plans

So, what is the Quickbooks Online pricing? Quickbooks has 4 packages and different prices for each. So even within this one section, there is enough flexibility for all types of business owners. The 4 packages are:

  • Quickbooks Simple Start – $25 a month. Offers all the basic functionality including income tracking, expenses, invoices and estimates, automated transactions, checks, record transactions, accept payments, basic reports, sales and sales tax, data import, paper receipts, 2 accountants, mobile application, 1099 contractors, and third-party integration
  • Quickbooks Online Essentials – $40 a month. Same as Simple Start, but with the following: add up to three users, manage and pay vendor bills, enter and schedule bill payments ahead of time, track billable hours by client or employee, TSheets integration
  • Quickbooks Online Plus – $70 per month. Same as online Essentials, with the following: up to five users, inventory tracking, prep and print 1099s, track project profitability, track labor costs, track payroll, track expenses with job costing, and custom user permissions
  • Quickbooks Online Advanced – $150 a month. Same as Quickbooks Online plus, with the following: accelerated invoicing, smart reporting powered by fathom, enhanced custom fields, premium customer support with Quickbooks priority circle, up to 25 users.

Note that all of the above are discounted by 50% for the first 3 months. This is separate from the free trial offered by Quickbooks. So you really have a long time to test out the different price plans for free or at a discounted rate. However, the typical rate is quite expensive by the usual standards.

Brand Base Price Plan Advantages Limitations
Quickbooks Online $25 per month All basic accounting functionality. Excels at payroll. Superb level of functionality. Lots of integrations. 50% off the first 3 months. Steep learning curve. Customer service is not the most helpful. Constantly upgrading and changing products and services.
Zoho BooksZoho Books $9 per month All basic accounting functionality. Excellent invoicing functionality. Very intuitive and easy to use. Excellent customer support. Only allows 50 contacts and 2 users. Users can be added at $2 a month.
Patriot Accounting Software $15 per month Basic accounting functionality. Integrates easily with Patriot Payroll. Simple pricing structure. Very easy to use. Ideal for small businesses. Excellent customer reviews. Not a complete accounting solution. More suitable for microbusinesses.

Onpay

$36 per month Basic accounting functionality. Integrates easily with Patriot Payroll. Very intuitive and easy to use. Simple pricing structure. + $4 a month for each person

Quickbooks Online User Experience

User experience is one area where Quickbooks Online is lacking as compared to other services, such as Zoho or Onpay. It takes a while to get used to, though the interface is pretty slick. As a previous user of Quickbooks Desktop and a relatively tech-savvy individual, I found the learning curve steep. 

On the other hand, the learning curve is not excessively steep, just a little unusual. Once you get used to it, you’ll never look back. Everything that you need is stored on the left in neat tabs will drop-down menus. The tabs include:

  • Banking – offers access to areas that can automatically bring in downloads and show matches for existing bill payments and bank deposits
  • Sales – offers access to the Customer Center, where your customers, invoices, products, and services can be found
  • Expenses – offers access to vendor and expense details. Vendor details still appear at the top along with a running total of open and overdue bills
  • Workers – offers access to payroll for employees and contractors. The does a great job of showing which vendors are contractors (a check box located in the vendor detail section) and the amount paid out
  • Reports – offers access to all reporting functions as well as customized reports you may have saved as favorites. The Online version tries to group everything by what you need: all your overview, A/P, A/R, employee, and other reports will be grouped together to help you find the report best suited for your needs
  • Taxes and Accounting – this is pretty simple. Taxes provide an area for you to pay sales and payroll taxes while Accounting is where you will be able to review the Chart of Accounts and begin reconciling your cash accounts

One user experience ‘feature’ that I hate is that you have to manually enter transactions one by one. It takes way longer. It is true that it slows bookkeepers down to the point where they can review transactions, and these mistakes will take more time to rectify down the line. But a batch transaction feature would still be a welcome usability addition.

Quickbooks Online Customer Service

When it comes to Quickbooks customer service, the most common criticism is that of a lack of live Quickbooks support. When I tried out this software, I also found this to be the case. It’s not exactly that the customer support is poor but it is certainly lacking. This is partially due to the fact that Quickbooks Online offers such a comprehensive accounting solution with so many integrations, it is quite difficult to provide support for all of it. Regardless, Quickbooks customer service could certainly be improved.

The written customer support, FAQs, blogs, forums, and videos are all excellent. But, if it can be believed, you will not be able to talk to a live person. They even have a recorded message on their 888 number stating that you can’t talk to a live representative. In other words, they seem to be migrating 100% to chatbots and online tutorials and doing it before they have the infrastructure in place.

It’s not just disgruntled customers that are unhappy with customer support. Even people who are thrilled with the product rarely have good things to say about it. If you do run into difficulty with something, then it can be a real pain getting it resolved. With the steep learning curve, be prepared to dive right in and learn all you need to know about this product because you are on your own! The good news is that the core product itself is super functional and runs seamlessly.

You are unlikely to run into any problems once you become familiar with the platform. It’s also worth noting that they offer Live Pro Advisers to certain subscribers, who are helpful in general but cannot resolve complex queries.

Quickbooks Online Security

Quickbooks online offers the technical security features you would expect with a multinational company offering high-quality accounting solutions. Two Factor Authentication is optional, meaning you can provide an extra layer of device authentication upon login. This is among the most robust security features any online provider can give you – once you use it and make it mandatory for all users. 

Moreover, you can set user permissions to control the access of employees you allow onto the platform and the software includes an audit log that tracks every login and logout as well as every change made to your files.

In terms of online banking, you only have ‘read-only’ access during the connection to prevent hacks. A pin and customer identification number are required when you transmit data to a third party. This is done through a secure third-party provider known as VeriSign. SSL and RSA are used to encrypt all communications and to secure the data itself. Quickbooks does not use your data for commercial purposes.

Nobody at Intuit has access to your data, not even at the backend. With multi-factor authentication, your data is protected even if your Quickbooks login and password were to be compromised. In other words, Quickbooks Online gets full marks for its security features.

Quickbooks Online FAQ

Is QuickBooks Any Good?

Quickbooks is one of the best accounting platforms on the market. Its functionality is near unparalleled. Intuit is well-known in the accounting industry and if you want something done, then Quickbooks can do it. Of course, like many other products, there are some pitfalls. It’s not the most user-friendly and takes some getting used to. It is expensive compared to the other available options. But it’s a fantastic choice for businesses that want sophisticated accounting solutions hosted online, with a tonne of easy integrations. There are cheaper alternatives, but they are simply not as powerful.

What Is the Difference Between QuickBooks Desktop and Online?

To have an online solution means that multiple users can access it, once they have an internet connection. It is way more convenient. It is charged monthly and allows many people to access the same document remotely. Quickbooks Desktop is for static businesses with a single office. It is better suited to ‘traditional’ businesses that value security above all else. Businesses with a small number of people who need access to the books would prefer Quickbooks Desktop. Because the books are not accessible online, it is also more secure. People can only access it once they access the office location. However, Quickbooks Desktop is being discontinued – people are migrating to Quickbooks Online. After 2021, it will no longer be supported.

How To Process Credit Card Payments in QuickBooks Online?

Processing credit card payments are not automatic. You need to have a Quickbooks payments account in order to do so. Next, there are two primary ways to process credit card payments in Quickbooks online. The first is by receiving payment via invoices. Send your customer online payments and they can pay by credit card. The second way is a little more complicated. You can create a sales receipt if you do not accept invoices. Simply select ‘credit card’ as the payment method and you are good to go. These are two simple ways to process credit card payments in Quickbooks Online.

What Are Retained Earnings in Quickbooks?

Retained earnings are simply last year’s net profit or less. It will also show all of your income and expenditure from all previous years. At the end of the year, Quickbooks automatically runs an automatic swap to move money to retained earnings. In Quickbooks, you cannot deactivate retained earnings. To see what makes up your retained earnings, you’ll need to look at the profit and loss statement for the previous year. If you are looking to transfer funds to a different account, then you will need to create a journal entry. Just make sure to check this with your accountant first!

How To Transfer QuickBooks to a New Computer?

If you are using Quickbooks Desktop, which is being discontinued, then you can transfer it to a different computer. You must be the company administrator within Quickbooks. You will use a ‘Migrator Tool’ to copy Quickbooks Desktop to a USB flash drive, and then reinstall it to another computer. You will need between 150 – 250 MB to transfer the files and application. You will need to create a complex one-time password while switching over.

How Do I Get Paid in QuickBooks?

Quickbooks Payments is a remarkably flexible tool that allows clients to get paid in a variety of different ways. You can send invoices from any device to accept mobile payments. You can accept payment via debit, credit, Apple Pay, or bank transfer. It allows an easy repository to manage all kinds of payments. You can add an easy ‘Pay Now’ button on your products so you will get paid directly through Quickbooks Payments. You can select instant deposits if you want the cash immediately. Quickbooks invoicing and payment processing is very streamlined and user-friendly, unlike the Quickbooks Online application!

Quickbooks Online Conclusion

Quickbooks Online is one of the best accounting platforms on the market. This is not an idle claim – it is the biggest for a reason. It is a complete accounting solution with tonnes of integrations.

The customer service could be a little better, and it’s definitely not the cheapest option. It comes with a steep learning curve. But there are few alternatives in terms of accounting functionality and integrations with other applications that the majority of business owners will be familiar with.

I loved it. And I’m confident that you will too.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.

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