In the world of small business accounting software, there are two solutions that reign supreme: FreshBooks and QuickBooks.
These two solutions continually rank top in places like the 2021 Capterra Best Accounting Software Shortlist and have both cultivated devoted followings.
If you’re looking for new accounting software for your small business, it’s worth considering these two solutions. That said, how do you decide between them? There are some key differences between these accounting tools that will help you choose based on your business needs.
The High-level Takeaway for Small Business Owners
FreshBooks is a top-notch solution for solopreneurs looking for a quick set-up, simple start, and hands-on support for small teams. The software’s features make it particularly appealing to those selling service offerings only. It’s extremely user-friendly but lacking in many features larger teams need.
QuickBooks is a well-rounded solution built to support small-to-midsize teams—especially companies that sell inventory. Its feature set is rich and it scales well with growing companies. That said, it’s a bit more expensive and its offerings can be overwhelming for accounting newbies away from Excel sheets.
FreshBooks vs QuickBooks Features
Both QuickBooks and FreshBooks are cloud-based solutions for small business accounting, offering online access, as well as apps on iOS and Android. Beyond that though, they have major differences that ultimately make them well-suited to different business types.
FreshBooks is an accounting solution founded in 2004 with a focus on serving entrepreneurs or small teams selling services, so time-tracking and billing/invoicing emerged as the central feature of the software. Its key billing features include:
- Automatic billing
- Billing portal for online payments and credit card payments
- Deferred billing
- Customizable invoices
- ACH Payment processing
- Double-entry accounting
Freshbooks’ time tracking features include:
- Automatic time capture
- Track time spent in specific activities
- Billable and non-billable hours
Matt Strickland, Real Estate Broker at Modern Realty Guam, says he prefers FreshBooks’ time tracking to QuickBooks. “FreshBooks has a built-in system that can do time tracking accurately and effortlessly. For QuickBooks, you have to add the ‘TSheets time tracking’ feature, which helps to manage employee timesheets, paper timesheets, etc.”
QuickBooks, on the other hand, was developed all the way back in 1983 with a focus on tracking the accounting associated with selling products. As a result, it’s a more complex solution that offers advanced features like detailed reporting:
- Accounts payable and receivable
- Accrual account
- Asset accounting (and asset management and tracking)
- Benefits management, including 401K tracking, vacation tracking, and payroll management
- Budgeting and forecasting features to help project profitability in the future
- Tax management, including tax compliance and sales tax
- Recurring billing
- Expense tracking
QuickBooks has also been developed for a wide variety of business types and has features to serve nonprofits, churches, and schools in addition to for-profit companies.
As Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass, sums up, “QuickBooks is an all-in-one tool that lets you track inventory, run payroll, generate financial reports, and manage your taxes.”
Ultimately, QuickBooks’ depth of offerings makes it incredibly useful for many businesses and teams who have somewhat complex accounting needs. But this same depth can make it difficult to use for new entrepreneurs and teams who are focused on just offering services. FreshBooks takes the edge in ease of use.
Both QuickBooks and FreshBooks integrate with a wide variety of software solutions. FreshBooks offers more than 70 built-in integrations for its users while QuickBooks offers more than 650 connections.
Obviously, QuickBooks has an edge in the integration realm if you use less popular software. But both solutions integrate with the biggest providers in the business and e-commerce software realms right now like:
Despite QuickBooks’ deep library of integrations, FreshBooks tends to offer more integrations for solopreneurs and small teams that sell services. User Lynda Fairly, Co-founder of Numlooker, points out that, “FreshBooks integrates with all the web services I need to use in the business. In QuickBooks, I have to add all these links manually to my Invoices. This can be a problem for a freelancer who needs to add up these invoices manually. It can get very frustrating and time-consuming.”
On the other hand, QuickBooks integrations are ideal for product-oriented businesses, making complex tasks like inventory management and payment processing much easier. In fact, of their 650+ integrations, a full 25 are to payment processors including Stax.
FreshBooks pricing plans are based on your number of billable clients:
- $4.50/month for 5 billable clients
- $7.50/month for 50 billable clients
- $15.00/month for unlimited billable clients
If you need further specialized features after that, they can work with you to build the customization you need
QuickBooks’ offers five pre-determined plans based on your number of team members plus some payroll add-ons:
- $7.50/month lite plan for the self-employed
- $12.50/month for 1 user and basic features
- $25.00/month for up to 3 users, adds time tracking features
- $40.00/month for up to 5 users, adds inventory tracking
- $90/month for up to 25 users with all the features available, including automated workflows
The payroll add-ons cost:
- $22.50/month & $4/employee/month for basic payroll features
- $37.50/month & $8/employee/month for the HR support center
- $62.50/month & $10/employee/month for complete payroll features
While FreshBooks plans certainly have more accessible pricing, QuickBooks’ pricing reflects the depth of their offering.
QuickBooks offers a variety of support options, access to which depends on your plan level:
- Email support
- Forum and knowledge base (the only option available to the self-employed plan)
- Phone support
- 24/7 support from a live representative (only available for the top-level plan)
- Chat support
FreshBooks offers all of its support options to all plan levels:
- Email support
- Forum and knowledge base
- Phone support
- Chat support
Ultimately, users find that FreshBooks has better support in general. Capterra users give FreshBooks’ support an average of 4.4/5 stars while QuickBooks only receives 3.9 stars.
On G2Crowd, a particularly damning review says that QuickBooks has a “complete lack of tech support — it simply doesn’t exist. There’s no number for quick help, and their chat is staffed with people who struggle so badly to understand the most basic explanation of a problem. You’ll waste an hour just helping their chat staff to understand, and by the end of that hour you’re so frustrated you want to quit the service (like me).”
Customer Ratings and Reviews
Due to their popularity, both FreshBooks and QuickBooks have received many thousands of reviews across third-party software reviews sites, both by users and experts who specialize in comparing accounting software. We’ve pulled together a selection of ratings from the top software review sites.
FreshBooks: 4.5/5 stars
Must-see quote: “We struggled to find a solution that would allow us to easily track the time for multiple employees and make billing as simple as a couple of clicks. Most everything we used or tried required multiple systems that either didn’t integrate at all or didn’t integrate well and required a lot of time to prep invoices and collect payments. FreshBooks eliminated all of those issues and paid for itself in the first month.” – Chris E.
QuickBooks: 4.3/5 stars
Must-see quote: “I never imagined I would love QuickBooks Online, but I do. It is so easy to use once you sit and actually take time to learn it! I love that I can invoice with it, keep track of all of my payment accounts, and send out bids. I can accept payments online or mark them off as paid if someone sends a check. I don’t know why I took so long to try it out!”- Faith W.
QuickBooks: 4.5/5 stars
Must-see quote: “Despite its high price and less-than-stellar online help and mobile apps, Intuit QuickBooks Online earns our Editors’ Choice award for offering the most effective, comprehensive, and intuitive tools. Furthermore, its depth, flexibility, and extensibility outclass those of its rivals.”
FreshBooks: 4.5/5 stars
Must-see quote: “While FreshBooks is an exceptional choice for freelancers and independent contractors, it lacks a lot of functionality that larger, more complex businesses need.”
QuickBooks: 4/5 stars
Must-see quote: “QuickBooks is the industry standard when it comes to bookkeeping and payroll. We like using it because it is what accountants and tax members of our team expect. It also offers a full suite of bookkeeping services, and you can upgrade for even more in an a la carte way whenever you need to.” – Danielle S.
FreshBooks: 4.5/5 stars
Must-see quote: “I love the ease of use and the way all my clients are saved in FreshBooks. I’ve used it for over 10 years and have all my client data stored there. I frequently look back at my old billing history to see how I’ve changed my packages and pricing over the years. Saved items are also a huge help — it’s like a menu of services that are saved and can be reused on invoices over and over again, making sending a new proposal/invoice to a new client a cinch.” – Lauren H.
What’s Right for Your Business?
Ultimately, the QuickBooks vs. Freshbooks debate can only be solved by you and what works for your business. But if you’re still stumped, more than a few experts recommend you go with your accountant’s preference.
Bill Mann, founder of Restore Privacy, summed up his choice between the two saying, “It really depends what kind of software your company’s accountant prefers. Our accountant liked the UI of QuickBooks a lot more than FreshBooks and that was a large part of the decision.”
Another key factor is payment integrations. It’s best to choose an accounting solution that connects with your payment processor. This ensures that financial data flows smoothly from one platform to another, which reduces manual entry and human error.
Speaking of which, did you know that Stax integrates with leading accounting software like QuickBooks? If you’re a QBO user looking for a solid payment processor, get in touch with Stax to learn how we can help you stay on top of payment processing and accounting.