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Intuit’s QuickBooks Online Review

Intuit QuickBooks Online is a prominent, popular, and well-reviewed business accounting software that is entirely cloud-based. It’s known for being user-friendly and equipped to serve the needs of a range of users, from sole proprietors to medium-sized businesses.

QuickBooks Online comes in four plans, each with different price points and progressively advanced features. Because it’s based in the cloud, users can access it from anywhere. PC Magazine calls it “the best online accounting application for small businesses, thanks to its depth, flexibility, and extensibility.”

You’re likely to run across this option right away when you start your search for a useful tool for tracking your finances. Read on to learn whether QuickBooks Online might be right for your accounting needs.

Comparison Chart for QuickBooks Online Plans

QuickBooks Online plan type Regular price Number of users Features in addition to basic* Best for
Simple Start $20 1 Send estimates

Track sales & sales tax

Very small businesses or new businesses
Essentials $35 1-3 Send estimates

Track sales & sales tax

Manage bills

Track time

Service-based businesses that invoice for their time
Plus $60 5+ Run advanced reports

Send estimates

Track sales & sales tax

Manage bills

Track time

Track projects

Track inventory

Manage 1099 contractors

Product-based businesses that track inventory
Self-Employed $10 1 Track miles (only available on Self-Employed plan) Independent contractors who file Schedule C

*Basic features include: tracking income and expenses, capturing and organizing receipts, estimating quarterly taxes, invoicing and accepting payments, and running basic reports. Fees accurate as of date of publish.

Intuit QuickBooks Online is likely to meet the accounting needs of all but the largest and most complex of small businesses. The fact that it’s cloud-based means that it is extremely accessible — you can use the software via mobile on the go as well as through a desktop portal. Chances are it will fit flexibly into your workflow.

All QuickBooks Online plans comes with 24/7 chat support and integration with many of the apps you may already use in your business. Additionally, all QuickBooks Online plans give you the ability to:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Capture and organize receipts
  • Estimate quarterly taxes
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run basic reports

More advanced features are available as you upgrade from the most basic plan, which is specifically for self-employed individuals who file a Schedule C. These other plans can give you the option to:

  • Run advanced reports
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Manage bills
  • Include multiple users
  • Track time
  • Track projects
  • Track inventory
  • Manage 1099 contractors

Users who need to run payroll have a couple add-on options to make this possible via QuickBooks Online. Choose between self-service and full-service payroll options, which each carry a base fee plus a small charge per employee per month.

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Who QuickBooks Online is good for

QuickBooks Online is focused on the needs of small businesses, a category that includes everyone from sole-proprietors up to companies with 50 employees. The payroll add-ons limit the number of employees you can pay to 50, which restricts the size of business that can successfully use this software solution.

How to get started

Getting started with QuickBooks Online is easy. Begin by signing up for the plan that fits you best and downloading the app to your desktop and/or phone if you so choose. Next you’ll need to input various information into your profile and link the software to your business bank account, which you can do under the “Banking” tab. You can input your workers’ information under the “Workers” tab and link the software to your accountant under the “My Accountant” tab. The “Invoicing” tab is where you create invoices to send out to clients, whom you can add into your software’s files for repeated use. Just like that, you’re off and running.

The pros

Streamlined and comprehensive

This is a do-it-all solution that can incorporate everything from invoicing to time tracking to payroll. The dashboard is well organized and intuitive to use, though knowing some basic accounting principles will help with keeping records straight. The system links with your bank account, allows access by your accountant and/or bookkeeper, and includes the capability for clients to pay via bank transfer or credit card through a link on your invoices.


Desktop accounting software that only runs locally keeps small business owners chained to their desks, but Intuit QuickBooks Online is accessible from any Internet-connected device. You can easily monitor your invoices and spending from the road, and have all of your information updated when you switch from device to device.

Payroll options

Many business owners will find the integrated payroll add-ons appealing — it allows for managing your business’s banking, invoicing, payroll, taxes, and reporting all from a single portal. The self-service option is more affordable, while the full-service option can bring you peace of mind that your payroll is being handled correctly.

Discounted pricing

Pricing from QuickBooks Online usually includes discounts, which is a great advantage for penny-pinching entrepreneurs. As of this writing, Intuit is offering 50 percent off the first three months of access. This means that the Simple Start plan is currently only $10 per month, the Essentials plan is $17/month, the Plus plan is $30/month, and the Self-Employed plan is a mere $5/month for the first three months.

The cons

No annual discount

Unlike other accounting software options, as well as the desktop version of Intuit QuickBooks, the cloud-based version does not have the option to play an annual fee or flat fee up front. You’ll be paying the monthly rate in perpetuity as long as you use the software, which doesn’t give you the option to save money in exchange for a time commitment.

Limitations on certain features

Tracking projects, a new feature, is only available for the Plus plan, despite it being a useful option for any type of user. Mileage tracking is not yet available for any plan but the Self-Employed plan, despite it being an option that most businesses will want to use.

Best alternatives to QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Desktop

If you aren’t comfortable with accounting entirely in the cloud, you can get a lot of what Intuit QuickBooks Online gives you in a local-only version with QuickBooks Desktop. This software has up-front pricing, so you can give up tracking those monthly bills. However, the lump sum can seem large when you have to pay it all at once instead of over time; the simplest version of the software comes in at $299.95 full price, but a discount is often offered.


Xero is QuickBooks’ main competitor, with functionality that comes close to matching its rival. Up until now it has offered an integrated payroll solution just like QuickBooks Online does, but  will be cancelling its payroll service at the end of 2018. Xero will instead be offering a payroll solution via a partnership with Gusto, which provides user-friendly payroll solutions with options such as health benefits, workers’ comp insurance, FSAs, HSAs, and more.

ZoHo Books

This affordable accounting solution is very user-friendly and has excellent capabilities for automatic report generation, as well as good support services. It is somewhat less comprehensive than QuickBooks — it doesn’t include project tracking, mileage tracking, a payroll option, or integrations outside of ZoHo apps. However, it does have the advantage of annual pricing, which basically amounts to a discount of two months’ cost.


Kashoo is a solid option for small business accounting, excelling in income- and expense-management, user-friendliness, and support. Best for freelancers, sole proprietors, and other micro businesses, Kashoo has good functionality and integrates with various outside apps, including Square. This company also provides an annual pricing solution that allows for substantial savings.


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