We compare an established company with a relative online newcomer to learn which small business accounting software is better.
When it comes to reliability, Intuit’s Quickbooks is top-rated for small business accounting. Developed in 1983, the software is fully integrated with web-based features like remote accessing.
Then there’s Xero. Founded in 2006, its accounting software has become one of the fastest-growing in the field through online collaboration. Today, Xero’s 860,000 subscribers are changing the way of doing business.
Xero certainly lives up to their tagline of “beautiful accounting software,” with an intuitive interface and excellent 24/7/365 customer support. They compete heavily with Quickbooks and win in almost every category we compared. As long as they keep their quality of service and advertised features as they grow, they are a great alternative for your small business accounting needs.
For its cloud-based services, both Quickbooks Online and Xero offer a dizzying array of services, integrations and hacks to make your life easier. Here are a few:
- Online accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Invoicing, payroll and billing management
- Financial reporting
- Document sharing
- Tax form preparation (W-2’s and 1099’s)
- Integrations and add-ons
- Free 30-day trials with no credit card required
Both companies offer similar features, but Xero includes most of them in all of their versions and pricing plans while Quickbooks restricts access of many to their Plus accounts. If you’re a small business who needs the basic function of time tracking or stock lists, for example, you’d find yourself needing the Plus plan on Quickbooks versus any version with Xero.
- Xero. More features are included in their lower level plans than Quickbooks Online.
Pricing & users
Both Quickbooks and Xero are cloud-based accounting services that charge monthly fees for use. However, Quickbooks may charge you more depending on how many employees you need to be able to access it, while Xero is one payment for unlimited access.
Xero allows access to as many of your employees and trusted accounting professionals as needed. Monthly pricing is nearly identical to Quickbooks and also depends on how much you need to accomplish with the software:
- Starter. For $9 a month, you can send five invoices and quotes, enter five bills and reconcile 20 bank transactions.
- Standard. For $30 a month, you can send invoices and quotes, enter bills and reconcile bank transfers with no limits. You can also process payroll for up to five employees or freelancers.
- Premium 10. For $70 a month, the number of people for which you can process payroll increases to 10. And you can do everything in multiple currencies.
Xero offers 30 days for you to get to know its software at no cost, and also offers tax form preparation (W-2’s and 1099’s).
Monthly pricing depends on the level of services you need for your business:
- Simple Start. For $15 a month, you can send and track custom invoices, track income and expenses, create and manage estimates and sync with bank accounts and apps.
- Essentials. For $30 a month, you can add to the above the ability to manage and pay bills as well as run instant sales and profit reports.
- Plus. For $40 a month, add the ability to track inventory and prepare and print 1099 tax forms for your freelancers.
Quickbooks offers a 30-day trial for each plan so that you can take the plunge risk free.
- Xero. While Quickbooks may win on slightly lower pricing for their higher-tier plans, Xero’s transparency — and unlimited users, no matter your plan — makes it a clear winner for small and medium-sized business.
Apps & integrations
Both Quickbooks Online and Xero have enormous app libraries that can make your day-to-day business administration easier, with around 360 for Quickbooks and over 500 add-ons with Xero. From bill pay to invoicing, reconciliation apps and even inventory, there is plenty to choose from as far as integrations go.
And that might be part of the problem. There is so much to choose from, how does one choose? It makes sense that some apps will work better with one software over the other. There are also a plethora of user reviews on each app to peruse. Both libraries can be filtered by purpose or type.
Both Quickbooks Online and Xero were built for the cloud, and come with free mobile apps so you can access your account from anywhere. Xero’s interface is beautiful and intuitive. However, Quickbooks does have desktop apps for Mac and Windows. Though it’s gone online, Quickbooks still hasn’t quite shaken its reputation as desktop software.