Best Accounting Software 2021

QuickBooks Online Competitors & Alternatives

Are you considering QuickBooks Online to manage accounting for your business? Before choosing a software, it’s important to learn about other accounting software platforms for small businesses. The top five alternatives are listed below, along with valuable insights about their features, pricing, and usability.

The information in this article is based on our research, interviews with customers, professional bookkeepers, and certified public accountants, as well as dozens of hours hand-testing each platform. The details of our review process can be found in this description of our research methodology.

QuickBooks Online is the top accounting software for small businesses. With more than 70 financial and accounting reports, add-on features like payroll and accounting services, and a large network of accounting and bookkeeping professionals, this platform is the undeniable leader in the accounting space. However, it still exists in a competitive market, with a handful of other popular systems that may be better for your business.

There are five accounting tools we believe are worth consideration before you purchase QuickBooks Online, which is one of the most expensive platforms. They differentiate based on the intended customer segment. For example, QuickBooks Online is not very user-friendly, so freelancers and smaller businesses will have an easier time getting a handle on tools like Wave or FreshBooks.

Here’s a breakdown of our review criteria and how QuickBooks Online competitors performed in each category.

Software CompanyAnalyst RatingFeaturesUsabilityPricingCustomer Support
QuickBooks Online94108910
Xero9199.599
Zoho Books8910798
Wave86810106
FreshBooks868999
Sage Business Cloud837.5998.5

In this article, we’ll describe QuickBooks Online, outline its features and pricing, and compare these factors against popular competitors. If you’d like a full description of QuickBooks Online, you can read our in-depth QuickBooks Online review.

Table of Contents

QuickBooks Online Features

QuickBooks Online has not only the most features across accounting software tools, but also the most detailed features. Though some additional features come at an additional cost, like the payroll, that the features are in-house and interconnected is very helpful.

QuickBooks Online FeatureDescription
InvoicingInvoicing is one of the easiest things to do with QuickBooks Online. It’s notable that this is quite simple, as the rest of the platform is not particularly user-friendly.
Inventory ManagementThe Plus and Advanced plans include inventory management, which syncs seamlessly with Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify. If you’re an ecommerce business, this feature is indispensable.
Payroll ServiceStarting at $45 per month, QuickBooks Online’s full-service payroll automates your taxes and forms, facilitates 401(k) plans, and lets you administer next-day direct deposits to your employees.
Time TrackingThe time tracking feature costs an additional $20 per month, but it’s key for running real-time reports, tracking time off and accruals, calculating time off, and more.
Accounting ReportsQuickBooks Online offers the most built-in accounting reports across the software tools in this article, with more than 70 reports. Beyond that, there’s also a section where you and your accountant can create customized reports, just in case there’s something else that you need.
Multiple UsersMultiple authorized users can access and utilize the software at the same time. This facilitates live coworking with your bookkeeper or accountant and will ultimately save time.

QuickBooks Online Competitor Overview: Features

The chart below provides a quick visualisation of each platform’s features. It’s important to know the features that you’ll absolutely need, because no matter how streamlined or advanced your platform is, it won’t work unless it has exactly what you need. Pay close attention to whether or not the platform has inventory management features and if it has accounting and bookkeeping services.

QuickBooks Online feature comparison chart vs. competitors

QuickBooks Online Competitor Overview: Pricing

QuickBooks Online is one of the more expensive accounting tools on the market. QuickBooks Online pricing begins at $25 per month for one user and basic features. Their most popular plan is the $70 per month plan, which includes five users, and payroll pricing begins at $45 per month. The table below will give you an idea of how these solutions are priced on a plan-by-plan basis.

Accounting SoftwarePricing
QuickBooks Online
  • Simple Start: $25 per month
  • Essentials: $40 per month
  • Plus: $70 per month
  • Advanced: $150 per month
Wave
  • Accounting: Free
  • Payroll: Starts at $26 per month
Xero
  • Early: $11 per month
  • Growing: $32 per month
  • Established: $62 per month
FreshBooks
  • Lite: $15 per month
  • Plus: $25 per month
  • Premium: $50 per month
Zoho Books
  • Standard: $20 per month
  • Professional: $50 per month
  • Premium: $70 per month
Sage Business Cloud
  • Start: $10 per month
  • Accounting: $25 per month

Top QuickBooks Online Competitors

As we mentioned, QuickBooks Online has no true equal in terms of what it offers for small businesses. However, as robust as the platform is, it is certainly not for everyone. Freelancers will likely prefer to pay less for a software while also having an easier time using their accounting tools.

We’ve listed the top competitors and alternatives to QuickBooks Online based on their similarities to the tool, taking features, pricing, and usability into consideration.

The top QuickBooks Online competitors are:

  • Zoho Books
  • Xero
  • Wave
  • FreshBooks
  • Sage Business Cloud

1: Zoho Books

Zoho Books is an advanced accounting software that’s most similar to QuickBooks Online in terms of features, power, and the reporting capabilities. As you can see in the features chart, Zoho Books has everything that QuickBooks Online does except for accounting and bookkeeping services. Zoho Books is also particularly helpful because it’s one of many software products by Zoho, which has more than 30 software tools you can seamlessly integrate with Zoho Books.

For a direct comparison between the two, check out our QuickBooks Online vs. Zoho Books article.

You'll prefer QuickBooks Online if:

  • You want bookkeeping and accounting services
  • You want a tool that’s a little more user-friendly and intuitive to navigate
  • You want a trial run of the software for 30 days
You'll prefer Zoho Books if:

  • You conduct business with customers in many different currencies
  • You’d like access to 16 invoicing templates
  • You want to process payments via nine payment gateways
Zoho Books
Rating: 89
Starting Price: $20 per month

Zoho Books is an accounting software designed for small and medium businesses. Its standout features are its invoicing templates and vast number of financial reports. We recommend Zoho Books for those who need inventory management features.

Pros:
  • Significantly more detailed and functional than alternatives
  • More than 50 financial reports and 16 invoicing templates included
  • Advanced automation and workflow rules that'll save time
Cons:
  • More difficult to learn to user than simpler accounting tools like FreshBooks
  • Less popular among accountants than QuickBooks and Xero
  • Free trial is 14 days, and most alternatives offer a 30-day trial

2: Xero

Xero received the second-highest rating in our accounting category, second only to QuickBooks Online. It’s much easier to use than QuickBooks Online, has more than 800 pre-built integrations with third-party software tools, and is significantly cheaper. However, Xero is slightly less powerful than QuickBooks Online, and it’s not quite as popular among accountants and bookkeepers. Choose Xero if you’d like a software that’s very powerful for a moderate price.

To read a more in-depth comparison, check out our QuickBooks Online vs. Xero article.

You'll prefer QuickBooks Online if:

  • You can afford to pay a bit more each month
  • You want to track time for your projects
  • You want a built-in payroll feature
You'll prefer Xero if:

  • You want a software tool that’s easy to onboard with and use
  • You’re interested in one of 800 integrations with the Xero Marketplace
  • You don’t need to sign up for bookkeeping services
Xero
Rating: 91
Starting Price: $11 per month

Xero is an accounting software that's used by more than 2 million customers worldwide. It includes all essential accounting features like reporting, invoicing, inventory management, and tax form generation. It's a great option for most small and medium businesses in any industry.

Pros:
  • The software is as equally accessible to business owners as it is to accountants
  • Connections with over 800 third-party software applications available in the Xero Marketplace
  • The software has a great balance of being advanced yet user-friendly
  • One of the most advanced platforms, though still relatively inexpensive
Cons:
  • The reporting section is a bit thin compared with reporting in QuickBooks Online
  • Slightly difficult to get in touch with the customer support team
  • Reports did not always generate on demand
  • Xero doesn't offer accounting, bookkeeping, or tax services, which many alternatives have

3: Wave

Wave is the best entry-level accounting software for small businesses and freelancers. Millions of customers use the freemium tool for the best value. Wave and QuickBooks Online are ideal for very different customers. If you’re a freelancer or very small business that would like to start in just a few hours with a modern accounting software, pick Wave. If you’re a more established business that’s product-based, you should pick QuickBooks Online for something that’s much more nuanced.

For a full-length one-to-one comparison between the two, check out our QuickBooks Online vs. Wave article.

You'll prefer QuickBooks Online if:

  • Your business sells products or services, or both
  • You want access to more than 70 financial reports
  • You’re interested in a software tool that’s overall more advanced
You'll prefer Wave if:

  • You’re a freelancer and need to start invoicing in just minutes
  • You don’t need advanced reports
  • You’re interested in adding paid features onto a freemium option
Wave
Rating: 86
Starting Price: Free

Wave is an accounting tool for invoicing, expense tracking, and payroll functionality. Wave is the best freemium tool on the market, and we recommend it for those who want accounting features for free.

Pros:
  • Wave offers features for free that most alternatives charge for
  • Extremely well-built and user-friendly interface
  • Wave offers bookkeeping services for those without a dedicated bookkeeper
Cons:
  • It's very difficult to get in touch with the Wave support team
  • Payroll comes at an additional monthly cost
  • Lacking inventory management features that many businesses require

4: FreshBooks

FreshBooks, like Wave, is very different from QuickBooks Online in that it’s best for freelancers and very small service-based businesses. It does not include in-house payroll, services, or inventory management. However, FreshBooks is an amazingly user-friendly, budget-friendly choice.

You'll prefer QuickBooks Online if:

  • You have advanced accounting and financial requirements
  • You’d like 70 reports in comparison with 20 in FreshBooks
  • You need to track and manage inventory
You'll prefer FreshBooks if:

  • You have a service-based company
  • You’re in the market for something that won’t break the bank
  • You have a small client base
FreshBooks
Rating: 86
Starting Price: $15 per month

FreshBooks is the most user-friendly accounting software for beginners and freelancers. With features like invoicing, receipt capture, and expense tracking, it's a great first accounting tool to use when you're starting your business.

Pros:
  • One of the easiest accounting software tools to use
  • Very quick to set up and implement
  • Receipt capture feature is notably easy to use
Cons:
  • Plans have user limits and additional users cost extra
  • Lacking advanced inventory management features
  • Limited templates and customization options

5: Sage Business Cloud

Sage Business Cloud is a cost-effective accounting software solution. At just $10 or $25 per month, this is a tool businesses should choose if their ultimate goal is unlimited features capped at $25. Sage Business Cloud’s best feature is the reporting section, which nearly rivals QuickBooks Online’s. This article provides a full comparison of QuickBooks Online and Sage Business Cloud.

You'll prefer QuickBooks Online if:

  • You want a built-in receipt capture feature
  • You’re interested in time tracking or services
  • You want a more progressive software that enables you to do more
You'll prefer Sage Business Cloud if:

  • You want advanced and varied reporting options with Sage Intelligence
  • You’d like to have unlimited users for $25 per month
  • You’ll need to facilitate foreign currency transactions
Sage Business Cloud
Rating: 83
Starting Price: $10 per month

Sage Business Cloud is a mid-tier accounting software designed for small businesses. Its main features include invoicing, expense tracking, and accounting reports. Overall, Sage Business Cloud is a very user-friendly tool, but is not as nuanced or cost-effective as other accounting software products.

Pros:
  • Pricing is capped at $25 per month, making the software very affordable
  • Sage allows customers to create advanced, customized reports
  • Cash flow forecast graph provides 30-day visibility into expected cash balance
Cons:
  • Features like payroll and time tracking must be purchased through third-party applications
  • Sage offers fewer payment gateway options than other accounting tools, which limits payment options for customer invoices
  • Application can sometimes take a long time to load

Bottom Line

QuickBooks Online is an advanced accounting software that provides its customers with the ultimate precision and functionality. While customers have reported that the platform is not intuitive to use, QuickBooks Online can’t be beat when it comes to its features and level of detail. If a difficult tool doesn’t intimidate you, QuickBooks Online is the best choice for most small businesses.

Here’s a quick recap of who we recommend each accounting software for:

  • If you’re a freelancer or very small service-based business, consider Wave or FreshBooks
  • If you’re searching for advanced functionality and power at a lower price than QuickBooks Online, check out Xero and Zoho Books
  • If you’d like unlimited users for just $25 per month, look at Sage Business Cloud
Katelyn Anderson

Katelyn is a Junior Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where she conducts in-depth analyses of technology markets & products and writes software-related content. She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in English and Psychology. Her main areas of interest are content creation, user experience, and search engine optimization. You can connect with Katelyn on LinkedIn.

Katelyn is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Accounting software
  • Live chat software
  • Vacation rental software

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