Most small business owners hunting for cloud accounting software will find themselves trying to choose between the two most popular names: Xero and QuickBooks Online. These two giants in the small business accounting software space are equally adored in the business community.
Examining reviews of Xero vs QuickBooks Online can often lead to more confusion. Both are comprehensive tools that tick all the foundational boxes. So how do you know which accounting solution is actually better?
Xero and Quickbooks are two of the most popular cloud-based accounting platforms. Both solutions offer a variety of features that small businesses need to run accounting, but notable differences are:
- Xero’s plans generally provide unlimited users while Quickbooks’ does not
- Quickbooks enterprise offer is noticeably more robust
- Quickbooks customer service is reachable via more channels
- Xero‘s interface is designed for users with limited accounting experience
Online Accounting Software Basics
Accounting software is a must for businesses large and small. At its most basic level, these tools help you to track your earnings and expenses so that you can monitor cash flow, make accurate reports, analyze your financial data and optimize your efforts.
All of the accounting tools out there will meet that outline. It’s what they offer beyond that that helps you spot which is better for you.
If you’re a small mom-and-pop shop, your needs are going to differ significantly from a law office. The former will deal with purchase orders and ringing up sales at the register, while the latter will need capabilities related to invoicing and managing client records.
In reality, neither platform is necessarily better than the other. The stand-out platform will reveal itself only when assessed against your business needs. So let’s look at the platforms’ similarities and differences, what business needs they meet, and deduce which solution has the functionality you’ve been looking for.
Xero vs Quickbooks: Side by side comparison
|QuickBooks Online (QBO)
|User-friendly, designed for limited accounting experience
|User-friendly, though may appeal more to accounting professionals
|Unlimited users on all plans
|User limit on most plans (up to 25 users on the highest plan)
|Early ($15/mo), Growing ($42/mo), Established ($78/mo)
|Simple Start ($30/mo), Essentials ($60/mo), Plus ($90/mo), Advanced ($200/mo)
|Over 1,000 third-party platforms
|750+ pre-built integrations and well-established API for custom integrations
|Partnership with Gusto
|In-built features in QBO
|Limited tax tools
|More advanced tax tools
|Only in Established plan
|Available at every plan level
|Available on standard plan
|Some features available on standard plan
|Online support 24/7, extensive resource portal
|Phone and chat support, but with limited hours
|Consistently strong reviews, high ratings for ease of use and setup.
|Generally good, average rating 4 stars.
Xero vs Quickbooks: The Overlaps
Both QuickBooks Online and Xero are cloud accounting platforms. This means that you can access either from anywhere you have internet, including your phone. If you’re in a cab and remember you need to track time, this can be done via an Android or iOS mobile app. Both solutions have this feature.
They also both boast a huge range of integration options via third-party tools, monthly subscription plans, and add-ons for customization to fit a wide range of business needs.
These similarities are what make them both front runners for flexibility and ease of use. Let’s look at their differences.
Xero Features, Pricing, Pros, and Cons
Xero is a business out of New Zealand that established itself in the accounting software space with the goal to make accounting tasks more user-friendly and even enjoyable.
Xero’s user-friendly interface has set the standard in the accounting software sphere. This ease of use makes the learning curve low for customers and adoption of the platform extremely high.
At any level, Xero offers a full range of accounting features, including:
- Dashboard and reporting
- Invoicing and quotes
- Tracking receivables and payables
- Purchase orders
- Bank feeds
- Bank reconciliation
- Sales tax management
- Inventory tracking and management
- Fixed asset management
- Contacts, smart lists, and file storage
- Payment processor integration
- Payroll via Gusto.
Xero can integrate with over 1,000 third-party platforms. There are far too many to mention here, but some of the most beneficial integrations include:
- CRM systems
- Time tracking tools
- Reporting tools
- Ecommerce platforms
- Email marketing tools
- Point-of-sale systems
- Inventory management
- Debtor tracking.
Xero offers three pricing plans: Early, Growing, and Established.
With Xero Early, you have access to all of the features above for only $15 per month. However, there are some usage limits:
- Send 20 invoices and quotes
- Enter five bills
- Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc
- View a snapshot of short term cash flow and business health
The Xero Growing plan will set you back $42 per month but gives you access to all the basics, plus unlimited invoices, quotes, bills, and you can reconcile bank transactions.
The Xero Established plan comes in at $78 per month and combines all of the Growing features plus:
- Project management
- Advanced analytics
- Expense claiming
Xero’s Projects feature gives businesses the ability to track and bill for projects through the platform with features like time tracking, expense capture, and recording deposits against each project so that you can monitor the project’s performance. Billing is done directly from the project to keep project management and finance tightly connected.
Xero Expenses lets users—from mobile or desktop—track, assign, and manage business expenses, including capturing receipts, labeling expenses, and controlling permissions on who can view, submit, and approve them.
Unlimited users – One of the main ways Xero stands out against QuickBooks Online is in offering unlimited users. No matter which pricing plan you have on Xero, you can add an unlimited number of users to the account. That means your bookkeeper, accountant, tax advisor, and staff can all have access at no additional cost.
Integrations – Xero’s integration options are also superior to QuickBooks Online. Both offer a pretty significant number of integration options, but no accounting software comes close to Xero’s 1,000+ integration options.
Payroll – Companies in need of payroll will also find Xero the winner through its partnership with Gusto to give you full-service payroll integrations. The first two months with Gusto are free for Xero customers.
Customer support – Xero’s customer service is first class. Not only does it have an extensive resource portal online where customers can find answers to most questions, but it also offers free online support 24/7, regardless of plan level and timezone. All customer service employees are also Xero employees — no outsourced support.
Limited tax tools – Although Xero offers sales tax software, it doesn’t match QBO with the level of its tax tools. If you need tools to maximize tax deductions, manage 1099 payments, and create tax categories that can be auto-added to expenses, QBO may be a better option.
Limited time tracking – Xero only offers this feature on its highest plan, the Established tier. Comparatively, QBO offers time tracking at every plan level.
Customer ratings and reviews
“Xero is the best!” – 18th August 2021
Xero’s reviews are consistently strong, and it gets high customer ratings, such as:
- 8.7 for ease of use
- 8.1 for ease of setup.
Which Businesses Benefit from Xero Accounting Software?
Because of its interface, which is clean and easy to use, Xero has attracted a young market, particularly in the startup world. If you want a solution that has an extremely low learning curve, Xero is a great option.
Xero’s unlimited user offering is also a huge selling point for the platform. This feature makes it a strong solution for large and small businesses alike.
If you’re self-employed and don’t need to send more than 20 invoices a year, $9 per month is a great value. Similarly, if you’re a big business that requires 25 users or more, you’re going to save significantly with Xero.
Quickbooks Online Features, Pricing, Pros, and Cons
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a platform from Intuit that was designed to help businesses streamline repetitive tasks and processes, particularly when it comes to managing bills, invoices, time, and projects.
In the market for longer than Xero, QBO got picked up by accountants early and has established itself as the platform of choice for the industry. When your accountant is using the tool, it’s extremely convenient to have the same software.
On any of the QBO plans, you can get access to:
- Basic reporting
- Income and expense tracking
- Invoicing and estimates
- Bank account connection and reconciliation
- Tax organization tools
- Accepting payments
- Receipt capture and organization
- Integration with QuickBooks apps and third-party platforms
- Phone-based customer support.
The number of QBO integrations are too many to list here, but they cover the most beneficial, such as:
- CRM systems
- Time tracking tools
- Reporting tools
- Ecommerce platforms like Shopify
- Email marketing tools
- Point-of-sale tools
- Inventory management
- Debtor tracking.
QBO offers four different monthly subscription plans: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced.
QBO Simple Start
Simple Start costs $30 per month and covers all of the standard features above, as well as:
- Importing transactions (from bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal Square, Stripe, and more)
- Automatically sorts transactions into tax categories
- Manual organization of income and expenses into tax categories
- Accepting credit cards and bank transfers from invoices
- Tracking invoice status
- Send payment reminders
- Automatically matching payments to invoices
- Sales and sales tax tracking automatically on invoices
- 1099 management and tracking
- Track miles using your phone’s GPS
- Run basic reporting, like profit and loss reports
The Essentials plan will set you back $60 per month and covers all of the above, as well as allowing you to:
- Up to three users
- Manage bills, track status, and record payments
- Create recurring payments
- Pay multiple vendors and bills simultaneously
- Create checks from anywhere
- Track employee time and billable hours
- Automatically add time to invoices
- Let employees enter their own time
- Integrate with TSheets by QuickBooks
- Detailed reporting available on a dashboard
- Send estimates to your clients
The Plus plan comes in at $90 per month, offering all the features we’ve discussed so far, plus:
- Up to five users
- Advanced reporting
- Project profitability tracking
- Purchase order creation
- Vendor management
- Job Costing to track labor costs, payroll, and expenses
- Track inventory, goods costs, and low-stock notifications
- Import inventory from Excel
- Sync inventory with e-commerce tools
- Create custom user permissions and assignments.
Finally, the Advanced plan, with a $200 per month price tag, offers all of the previously mentioned features and then some:
- Up to 25 users
- Accelerated invoicing
- Smart reporting via Fathom
- Enhanced custom fields for reports
- QuickBooks priority care for premium customer support
- Bookkeeping automation
- Revenue recognition that allows you to automatically track deferred revenue
- Financial planning tools that allow you to create and manage budgets
- Automation of your common workflows
Plan Options – While QBO is more expensive for businesses that don’t need lots of functionality, it actually works out in providing better value for those who do. The QBO plans give businesses more options, and the structure of these plans considers the scale of businesses at each plan level.
Tax Tools – QBO trumps Xero with the power of its tax tools. While Xero has sales tax software, QBO has tools to maximize tax deductions, manage 1099 payments, and create tax categories that can be auto-added to expenses.
Time Tracking – QBO offers time tracking at every plan level, while Xero only offers it for the Established plan, the most costly pricing plan.
Limited Users – Even at the highest plan, QBO limits the number of users to 25. If you need to share access with many staff and outside financial support in bookkeeping and accounting, this is going to be a frustrating limitation.
Limited Customer Support – QBO does have phone support, but the hours are limited, so it’s actually not as flexible as Xero.
Customer Ratings and Reviews
“Solid platform for easy bookkeeping” – 24th August 2021
For the 2,600+ reviews QBO has, its average rating is 4 stars (out of 5) is still pretty good, with these ratings averaging:
- 8.1 for ease of use
- 7.9 for ease of setup.
Which Businesses Benefit from QBO Accounting Software?
QBO is really the more robust of the two accounting platforms, but it’s also the most costly. This means that it’s particularly suited to businesses that want to gain deeper insight into the logistics of their business as it grows.
The way the QBO plans scale up reporting capabilities at each level tends to match business needs at each growth stage, making it great for businesses that plan to scale.
QuickBooks vs Xero: Feature Comparison
Let’s take a look at how the two solutions stack up in a side-by-side feature comparison.
Ease of Use
Both solutions are known for their user-friendly interfaces. One crucial difference is that Xero is specifically designed for users who have limited accounting expertise.
Number of users is where there is a crucial difference between Quickbooks and Xero. Xero allows for unlimited users on all plans. Quickbooks caps users on most, if not all, plans.
For small businesses, Quickbooks and Xero offer similar analytics capabilities. However, because Quickbooks doesn’t devote itself solely to supporting small businesses, its reporting for large companies allows for a more in-depth financial analysis.
When it comes to invoicing, there is very little difference in the solutions’ offerings. Both Xero and Quickbooks provide invoicing templates, recurring invoices, online payments, automatic invoice reminders and more.
Overall, Xero and Quickbooks have similar offerings when it comes to payroll, offering automatic payroll calculations, direct deposit, leave management, employee self-service, and more.
Neither Xero nor Quickbooks is an inventory management solution, so if you’re looking for a robust system, you should look for something specialized. That said, they both do offer basic inventory management features that enable a business to track inventory, make adjustments, and even place purchase orders for new inventory.
While both solutions have project management offerings that are quite similar at the advanced tier, Xero offers these features on their standard plan while Quickbooks only offers some of its project management features on its standard plan.
Both solutions have robust ecosystems of third-party integrations. That said, Quickbooks has an edge here. They have 750+ pre-built integrations compared to Xero’s 500+. They also have a well-established API for custom integrations, while Xero is continuing to expand its capabilities.
It’s worth noting that Xero provides help through email and an online help center, while Quickbooks also offers phone and chat support.
Ultimately, for small businesses, there isn’t a huge amount of difference in the key features between these cloud-based solutions. They’re both popular accounting software tools for good reasons.
QuickBooks vs Xero: Both Solid Solutions When it Comes to Accounting Software
QuickBooks and Xero are both strong contenders in the realm of small business accounting. The right solution depends on your (or your accountant’s) preferences and specific needs.
Regardless of which software you choose, know that Stax can easily connect with both. Our direct integration with QuickBooks enables you to connect your accounting software with Stax’s payments platform. If you’re using Xero, you can connect Stax through Zapier with just a few clicks.
If you need help sorting out your payments and accounting integrations, get in touch with the Stax team and we’ll help you figure out the right setup for your business.
FAQs about Xero vs QuickBooks
Q: What is the difference between Xero and QuickBooks?
The primary differences between Xero and QuickBooks are:
- User Interface: Xero is designed for users with limited accounting experience, whereas QuickBooks has a user-friendly interface but is also well-suited for those with more accounting knowledge.
- User Limit: Xero offers unlimited users across all its plans, while QuickBooks has a user cap on most plans, going up to 25 users on its highest plan.
- Pricing and Plans: Xero’s plans are Early, Growing, and Established, with prices ranging from $15 to $78 per month. QuickBooks offers Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced plans, ranging from $30 to $200 per month.
- Tax Tools and Time Tracking: QuickBooks provides more comprehensive tax tools and time tracking on all plan levels, whereas Xero has limited tax tools and offers time tracking only on its highest plan.
- Integrations: Xero integrates with over 1,000 third-party platforms, while QuickBooks also offers a wide range of integrations but with a focus on deeper financial analysis for larger companies.
Q: Why do accountants use Xero?
Accountants use Xero because of its user-friendly interface, making it accessible to clients with varying levels of accounting expertise. Its ease of use, comprehensive feature set, and extensive integration options make it a versatile tool for accountants managing the accounts of diverse clients.
Q: Do accountants prefer QuickBooks?
Many accountants prefer QuickBooks, especially in the U.S., due to its advanced features, robust tax tools, and scalability. QuickBooks has been a long-standing favorite in the accounting industry, and its detailed reporting and analytical tools make it suitable for more complex accounting needs.
Q: Do I still need an accountant if I use Xero?
Yes, using Xero doesn’t eliminate the need for an accountant. While Xero simplifies many accounting processes and is user-friendly, an accountant’s expertise is invaluable for complex financial decisions, tax planning, compliance, and optimizing your financial strategy.
Q: Do I need a CPA if I use QuickBooks?
Yes, even if you use QuickBooks, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be crucial. A CPA can provide expert advice, ensure compliance with financial regulations, help with tax filings, and offer strategic financial planning, which goes beyond the scope of what QuickBooks can automate.
Q: What is easier to use, Xero or QuickBooks?
Ease of use can be subjective and depends on the user’s background. Xero is often cited as easier for individuals with limited accounting experience due to its intuitive interface and straightforward design. QuickBooks, while user-friendly, is known to have a steeper learning curve but offers more advanced features, making it a preferred choice for users with more accounting knowledge.