QuickBooks Online Review 2019
Cloud accounting software that works well for everyone; great for people just starting out as well as those with more bookkeeping experience.
QuickBooks Online is one of the most well-known, and oldest, online accounting software programs. Its robust set of accounting options, from basic functions to payroll, inventorying and reporting, meets the needs of complex small businesses and freelancers.
Your data is hosted in the cloud, so the software can be accessed by multiple users from many devices and transactions update in real-time. QuickBooks Online syncs with your bank accounts for live feeds. You can snap a picture and organize receipts with their app, as well, linking them to transactions ahead of tax season.
In addition to employees, businesses can grant an accountant access and share files with them (an easier solution than using our best cloud storage providers). If staff lack the know-how, your accountant can set up, maintain and update the chart of accounts.
- Wide variety of decision-making tools
- Customers can easily pay online
- Payroll & inventory management
- Time-tracking function feeds into invoicing
- Automated backup & simultaneous access to data
- Steep learning curve
- Payroll & credit card processing fees add up quickly
- Advanced features only available at highest price tier
- Most expensive cloud-based accounting software
- Limited number of users
QuickBooks Online offers many of the features bookkeepers and accountants have come to demand from cloud-based accounting software. In this article, we’re going to review its merits and occasionally compare it to FreshBooks and Xero.
Included in QuickBooks Online’s cheapest monthly plan are billing and invoicing services, expense tracking, basic reporting and more. Its Simple Start plan gives a business owner everything they need to track their cash inflows and outflows.
You can apply a logo, customize your invoice and schedule automatic payment reminders. QuickBooks Online lets users set up recurring billing and manage sales tax and the bank reconciliation function is useful for businesses that still pay expenses by check.
Basic reports, such as profit and loss, cash flow and expenses, and budgeting add value for users who don’t want to assemble those reports manually. Competitor Xero also generates a cash flow statement and budget, as you can read in our QuickBooks Online vs Xero piece, but FreshBooks doesn’t offer either.
QuickBooks Online’s comprehensive list of basic features beats its competitors.
QuickBooks Online Extra Features
The most expensive plan, QuickBooks Online Plus, tracks inventory by prices, image and categories. Quantities on hand update automatically with invoicing and it’ll calculate each product’s cost using the FIFO method.
If you don’t want to deal with a payroll processing provider, such as ADP, QuickBooks Online manages payroll for additional monthly and per-employee fees. Its full-service option even sets up, files and pays payroll taxes for your business.
QuickBooks Online serves the core accounting needs of small businesses and freelancers, as well as offering many additional functions. The tiered pricing structure, discussed below, allows users to choose a plan that meets their needs. For more information on QuickBooks’ features and how it compares to its competitors, check out our accounting software reviews.
QuickBooks Online has a three-tiered pricing structure that gives smaller businesses the flexibility to choose only the services they need.
For $20 per month, Simple Start users can send unlimited invoices and estimates, track their expenses and generate 27 different reports. Invoices calculate sales tax, send payment reminders and, for additional fees, accept credit card payments.
For comparison, Xero’s monthly fees start at $9 a month (read our Xero review) and its lowest tier limits the number of invoices, quotes and bills users can process. FreshBooks starts at $15 per month with unlimited invoices and estimates; details can be found in our FreshBooks review.
The Essentials plan adds bill management, up to three users and a time tracking function that’s useful for freelancers and businesses that bill on an hourly basis. FreshBooks’s cheapest plan includes time tracking, though, and its mid-tier option is $10 less per month.
Only some businesses will need everything offered at the top tier. For $60 per month, Plus users can track inventory, manage projects and contractors and grant access to five or more users.
QuickBooks Online for Freelancers
Recently, QuickBooks Online introduced a new plan for freelancers. For $10 a month, it enables them to estimate their quarterly taxes and track mileage, in addition to the basic features available at the Simple Start level, excluding estimates and tracking for sales and sales tax. If you start with this option, though, you can’t upgrade if your business grows.
While FreshBooks’ premium tier is less expensive at $50 per month, it doesn’t include inventory management. If its users need that, they have to pay a separate service that integrates with FreshBooks to get it. Xero’s inventory management functions are included at every price level, with up to 4,000 tracked inventory items and unlimited untracked items.
QuickBooks Online charges additional fees for payroll processing on every plan. Xero’s middle and top tiers include payroll for up to five or 10 people, but the price gets higher as you add employees. FreshBooks partners with another app that charges a monthly fee to provide payroll services.
Keep QuickBooks Online’s fees in mind when choosing how you want to get paid. Bank ACH transfers are free, which is nice, but QuickBooks Online charges a percentage of the sale plus 25 cents for each credit card transaction it processes. If the customers pays by card through an invoice, it charges 2.9 percent. If the card is keyed in manually, its cut increases to 3.4 percent.
While its the most expensive, QuickBooks Online offers more features in its plans. It doesn’t require users to sign up for other applications to get extras like FreshBooks, nor does it restrict the number of common transactions like Xero. Users may end up paying for features that they don’t use, though, and small businesses might be just as happy with a cheaper alternative.
QuickBooks Online’s dashboard summarizes your business’s financial position in a glance. Users navigate through the left-hand menu. Once you’re deeper in the program, though, it’s not as user-friendly. QuickBooks Online often forces users to follow specific steps to access its functions.
It has a “D” grade on consumeraffairs.com. Common complaints relate to user-friendliness, the several steps needed to complete simple tasks, and issues with support. That said, if you’re just planning to use it for simpler tasks, it could meet your needs.
Below is an overview of typical things business owners need their accounting software to do:
You can get to QuickBooks Online’s invoicing screen through the menu options to the left of the dashboard. Drop-down options include invoices, customers, all sales and products and services. Or clicking on invoices takes you to a screen with those options displayed along the top, as well.
When setting up an invoice, choose one of the five default templates or upload your own. Customization options include logo position and size, headers and footers, column size and more.
Once you’re ready to send an invoice, tab through the customer name, payment options, terms and other fields. QuickBooks Online’s standard invoice has two boxes where you can type a message for the invoice or statement. If the customer requires documentation, attaching files takes one click.
During the process of filling out an invoice, QuickBooks Online asks you to select information about the product or service you’re billing for. If you’re paying for the integrated inventory function, it syncs with it to keep inventory current.
If it’s a new product or service, a box pops up on the right side of the screen so you can enter additional information, such as a SKU code.
After finishing an invoice, you can select how often you want payment reminders to be sent to your customers. If you offer a service that’s billed monthly, you can set up recurring billing and count on QuickBooks Online to send your invoices. If you’re a Plus subscriber tracking billable hours, the software automatically adds them to invoices.
QuickBooks Online knows that staying on top of receivables matters to small business owners. Invoices appear on the main dashboard, with overdue amounts listed above paid invoices.
The invoice screen also tracks the status of invoices, with an orange bar summing up all overdue invoices and a green bar on the left telling you what’s been paid. Under that is a running list of invoices, out of which you can select a batch to send or print.
As a nice bonus, if you enable QuickBooks Online to send push notifications through the app, it’ll alert you when a customer views and pays an invoice. The app’s dashboard displays open and overdue invoices when you pull it up, too.
QuickBooks Online keeps it simple: the drop-down options on the dashboard are “expenses” and “vendors.” Similar to invoicing, these options also appear across the top of the main expenses screen.
Unlike the main invoicing screen, which has a handy “new invoice” button to add one, it’s harder to find where to enter expenses. On the screen’s right, under the green button that says “new transaction,” select “expense,” “check” or “vendor credit.”
The FreshBooks expense interface is easier to navigate and has more options in one place. It has a “new expense” button and options to select taxes, whether the expense is recurring and if it should be billed back to the client. QuickBooks Online forces you to go through additional steps to get to those.
As with invoicing, tab through the fields to fill out an expense form, except this time you will select the bank or credit card account from which to pay.
Once you have several expenses on the main screen, you can take advantage of batch options, such as paying bills online, printing transactions and categorizing them. QuickBooks Online doesn’t have a search function to find a specific expense, though. Instead, you have to filter by date range, payee, status or category.
On the Plus plan, QuickBooks Online lets you set up auto-payments for recurring monthly bills..
Go to banking, use register, then find and click on the last payment to that vendor. Double-click on it and select “memorize.” Quickbooks Online asks how often you want to pay the vendor, how many payments remain and the next date to pay. You can choose auto-pay, e-payment or “print later” to pay with a paper check. Then, click save and close.
The dashboard tracks expenses right next to invoices, with the option to select dates ranging from one day to the last year. Your net income calculation is beneath it.
QuickBooks Online’s expense entering process is clunky. It’s more difficult than FreshBooks’s if you want to use its more sophisticated features, such as recurring billing. While it’ll get the job done, it won’t do so elegantly.
Data-driven decisions guide businesses to increased profitability and cost savings. QuickBooks Online’s reporting features make it possible to delve deeper into your business’s day-to-day operations and performance.
Accessible through the main screen, the application divides reports into several sections.
Under “business overview,” you’ll find profit and loss by customer, by month or quarter and as a percent of income. Those reports help you decide if you want to stop doing business with a difficult customer, identify trends in profit and make necessary changes.
“Who owes you,” as its names suggests, contains the accounts receivable aging summary, collections report, customer balance list and open invoices. A comparison between the customer balance list and profit and loss by customer could solidify a decision to cut ties.
“Sales and customers” rounds up reports that, when compared, could cut time chasing unprofitable business. For example, if you run the estimates by customer report and compare it to sales by customers, you may find that you’re spending hours preparing estimates for a customer who doesn’t generate much business.
That time could be better spent elsewhere.
“What you owe” and “expenses and vendors” track everything related to accounts payable. On the contact list, you’ll find your vendors and transaction list by vendor gives you what you’ve paid them during a selected date range.
QuickBooks Online has reports related to inventory, too. They track total sales and taxes, as well as best selling items. Another section segregates reports that your accountant might need to reconcile the books or prepare your taxes.
They include major financial statements, a trial balance, journal and general ledger.
If you add QuickBooks Online’s payroll to your services, reports include wage and tax summaries, workers’ compensation, total payroll cost and employee details.
If you want your accounting software to give you the data needed to drive business decisions, QuickBooks Online many reports a real asset.
For comparison, FreshBooks offers nine reports that only cover the basics. They are: accountant reports, general ledger, trial balance, chart of accounts, sales tax summary, expense and invoice reports, receivables aging and the profit and loss statement.
That’s sufficient for a smaller business, but unlikely to grow with you.
Xero’s report selection allows you to customize reports by dragging and dropping accounts, adding columns and changing formulas. In terms of selection, it offers more standard reports than FreshBooks and roughly the same number as QuickBooks Online.
Among the reports, you’ll find the major financial statements. If you’re applying for a business loan, banks will often request them, as they paint the high-level picture of your business.
QuickBooks Online generates a balance sheet, profit and loss report and cash flow statement for your business with a few clicks.
Because the software includes charting, unlike FreshBooks, when you share your files with your accountant, they’re able to customize and select where accounts appear on the statements. If your business engages in unusual or complicated transactions, your accountant will thank you.
In the balance sheet and profit and loss, you can select cash versus accrual basis, date range, and whether or not you want to display the totals alone. QuickBooks Online allows you to save those customizations, so you don’t have to change them every time.
FreshBooks restricts customization options on their financial statements to date range, billed and collected income and currency. It’s worth noting that QuickBooks Online doesn’t support foreign currencies. In Xero, you can change text, add a row or column and revise account groupings.
Of the three, QuickBooks Online has the most customizable financial statements.
Because it’s been around the longest, there’s a robust library of YouTube videos and support for users on the web. If you want to chat with a person online, support staff is online 24/7. QuickBooks Online offers phone support, but it isn’t always based in the U.S.
DIY support on QuickBooks Online’s website includes a library of the most common questions for new and advanced users. Articles feature videos and step-by-step instructions and the library’s search function returns multiple articles based upon keywords. There’s also a community of business owners where users can ask for help and advice.
IMAGE – Quickbooks Online Community Support
Whether QuickBooks Online is the best choice for your business depends on its complexity. If you’re the sole employee and just need to track inputs and outputs, all those extra features could be overkill. Its best for small- to mid-sized businesses who have the staff to manage bookkeeping tasks.
If your business pays the same bills monthly, QuickBooks Online’s overly involved process for setting up recurring billing could cause more frustration than it’s worth. A service-based, rather than product-based, business won’t need the inventory options that QuickBooks Online has built-in, but could wind up paying for them anyway.
On the other hand, if your business has been growing and you need more analytical tools, QuickBooks Online reports guide you. Given the breadth of their features, you’re unlikely to outgrow them for quite a while.
QuickBooks Online offsets its comparatively high price tag with a wider variety of tools at each pricing level. It goes beyond simple, cloud-based accounting software, providing business owners’ decision-making tools for growing and improving their business.
Do you use QuickBooks Online? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.