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Updated Apr 22, 2024

Intuit QuickBooks Online Review

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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Editors Score:9.5/10
QuickBooks Online from Intuit is our choice as the best business accounting software for small businesses because of its affordable pricing and array of features that make managing accounts and sending invoices easy.
Plus Sign Pros
  • QuickBooks is easy to set up and use.
  • The pricing plans start at $30 per month, and each tier serves different needs.
  • There are customizable invoices and forms.
Minus Sign Cons
  • Each plan has a limited number of users.
  • Bill pay is not available with the lowest-priced QuickBooks plan.
  • To obtain the lowest possible prices, you’ll need to sacrifice your free trial.
Quickbooks logo
Editor's Rating9.5/10

Small businesses need cost-effective accounting software that’s easy to use but still has the features they need to get the job done. Widely regarded as the top accounting software for small businesses, QuickBooks offers it all. With affordable pricing and various plans that suit businesses of different sizes, QuickBooks has elite features in packages that will suit a variety of businesses.

QuickBooks Online Editor's Rating:

9.5 / 10

Affordable pricing
10/10
Free trial
10/10
Robust integrations
10/10
Invoicing and bill pay
10/10
Mobile app
7.5/10

Why QuickBooks Online Is Best for Small Businesses 

We found QuickBooks Online to be the best accounting software for small businesses. It provides four plans for small businesses ranging from $30 to $200 per month, as well as a separate Solopreneur plan that starts at $20 per month. At the time of this review, a 50 percent discount was available for the first three months if you skip the 30-day free trial.

Each QuickBooks Online plan offers features that are suitable for a range of small businesses, from startups to established companies. They give you access to all the tools and reports you’ll need for accounting purposes, and you can upgrade your plans seamlessly as your business scales.

We like that the platform is easy to set up and use, allowing you to get your accounting software up and running yourself. However, if you want extra assistance, Intuit’s professional bookkeepers can help you configure the software in a way that makes sense for your business. This is a different service from QuickBooks Live Tax, an add-on through which you get hands-on tax assistance via another Intuit property, TurboTax. Additionally, QuickBooks Online allows you to create custom invoices and forms so your company’s branding is always at the forefront of client-facing communications. 

Originally, QuickBooks was intended for personal financial management, especially for self-employed individuals and small business owners. The software has since grown to also accommodate established businesses with multiple employees, providing payroll management, e-commerce integrations, invoice tracking and more. For the features and services you get, this software is a bargain.

Did You Know?Did you know
Although QuickBooks is a low-cost accounting software platform, it’s not the least expensive option. Zoho Books is free for microbusinesses and roughly as comprehensive as QuickBooks. Wave Financial, although less feature-rich than QuickBooks, is entirely free to use. Read our Zoho Books review and Wave Financial review to learn more.

Usability

QuickBooks Online has an easy setup that begins with making sure you are directed to the appropriate plan. To get started, you answer questions about your business to help Intuit determine which plan is best for you. In our experience, the process took only a few minutes.

When you’ve decided on a plan, you will be able to access the QuickBooks dashboard, where you can connect and manage your accounts. The process is seamless, and question prompts guide you while you enter your financial information. You also have the choice to import any saved data from previous accounting software or enter the information manually. Plus, there are drag-and-drop dashboard modules for customization, and you can hide or bookmark your favorite modules or tools.

Once you input the data, you can review your account balances and access your workflows and reports from the dashboard. The Business Overview tab is especially helpful, as it offers a breakdown of your company’s cash flow, profitability, expenses, income and sales.

QuickBooks Online Features

Workflow automation

The software automates tasks to reduce manual inputs, double entry and the chance for human error.

Expense and profitability tracking

QuickBooks allows you to track expenses and profitability and manage inventory to help you stay on top of cash flow.

Reporting

QuickBooks includes at least 20 types of prebuilt reports as well as custom reports in certain plans.

Tax deductions

Tax deduction tools help ensure you take all available deductions and maximize the allowed amount to reduce your tax liability.

Invoicing

The software allows you to invoice clients, view accounts receivable and accept payments with automatic updates to your business’s ledger.

1099 forms

Send and receive 1099 forms from independent contractors and track their payroll separately from that of full-time staff.Send and receive 1099 forms from independent contractors and track their payroll separately from that of full-time staff.

Mobile application

Use all the core tools QuickBooks Online offers through a mobile application that’s available for both iOS and Android devices.

Business banking

QuickBooks is the rare accounting program that also offers its own business bank accounts.

Small business owners need accounting software that will save them time while ensuring their financial records are accurate and up to date. We found that QuickBooks Online easily lives up to this expectation by providing the following features:

Workflow Automation 

QuickBooks Online automates tasks, making accounting less time-consuming and less stressful for small business owners. Using the software, you can send recurring invoices and payment reminders, sync data from bank and credit card transactions, and reconcile expenses, all of which eliminate the need to do so manually. Manual data entry is not only tedious and time-consuming, but it also opens the door to human error, which creates inaccuracies or redundancies in your books. For a platform dedicated exclusively to automating accounts payable and receivable, consider our Plooto review.

Expense and Profitability Tracking 

With QuickBooks Online, you will never have to wonder where your transactions are. The program tracks your income and expenses automatically and then sorts them into categories. Everything is organized automatically. Although this automatic organizing is increasingly becoming standard among accounting software platforms, we were impressed with this feature. QuickBooks makes it feel especially hassle-free.

QuickBooks’ personalized models for expense reporting is one big reason it’s so easy to use. The program recommends categories for a few of your expenses and uses your answers to automate how it classifies future transactions. We were highly impressed with this feature, as it made for more organized, accurate categorization. We were similarly impressed that QuickBooks identifies suggested payees for your expenses. If it chooses the wrong payee, you can choose from five machine-learning-generated suggestions instead.

You can also create custom rules so expenses are sorted in the system properly. For example, you can create custom rules to categorize tax-deductible expenses separately from nondeductible expenses, thus making it even easier to review your deductions at tax time. We liked that QuickBooks makes this tax-lowering aspect of accounting so straightforward.

Reporting

QuickBooks Online spares you from the laborious task of creating financial reports from scratch thanks to the software’s built-in reports, which include the trial balance, general ledger and 1099 transaction detail reports you’ll need come tax time. We like that you can mark the reports you use most as favorites so you can quickly find them at the top of the Reports page. You can also set up the software to run reports and email them to you automatically as well as schedule them for a specific time of day and frequency, such as daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. 

QuickBooks offers some of the best reporting functions of any company we reviewed. We particularly liked the program’s tools for building custom reports with visualizations and adding them to manager reports. As financial reports go, we also found it simple to create custom forecast reports and turn them into budgets in just one click. You just need historical data and actuals from a previous year to forecast your finances. When you enter a budget line item for the current year, you’ll see its amount divided over 12 months. This also makes it easy to compare your projections against previous actuals, another major reporting win.

TipTip
Do you want to get a better understanding of accounting jargon? Check out our glossary for helpful definitions of common accounting terms.

Tax Deductions 

Maximizing your tax deductions is key to increasing profits, and QuickBooks Online helps you get the most out of them. Your receipts are inputted automatically with the “snap-and-store” function, and the program tracks your miles for business trip expense deductions. Your expenses are categorized automatically, so you will know what to deduct on your taxes when you are ready to file. 

Another QuickBooks tax-deduction tool we were really happy with is the guided Q&A experience in the bank transactions module. You’ll see questions about whom you paid and what type of payment the transactions covered. This comes into play for taxes if you indicate that a transaction was a loan payment. QuickBooks will ask you how much of this payment was interest and then tell you whether this portion of the payment is deductible. We found that this made some of our most important tax deductions substantially easier to identify.

We love that, come tax time, all of your documents will be organized and ready for you. The program also includes automatic tax calculations for quarterly payments. This especially impressed us, as certain QuickBooks competitors, such as Zoho Books, lack tax features entirely.

Invoicing

Without the right software, invoicing is laborious. With QuickBooks Online, it’s painless. Customer information is populated on each invoice automatically. You can also personalize the invoices with your company’s brand images and color schemes, thereby keeping your brand at the forefront of all communications. Invoices can be sent manually or scheduled to be sent automatically on a recurring basis, which we found especially useful. 

QuickBooks also allows you to add a button to accept payments directly from the invoicing tool with credit cards and debit cards or automated clearing house e-checks. Both this feature and the invoice customization tools are now expected of accounting software platforms, but we felt that QuickBooks’ tools were especially strong.

1099 Forms

With QuickBooks Online, you can send, track and file 1099 forms for independent contractors. In fact, we found QuickBooks’ workflow for preparing 1099 forms to be exceptionally straightforward – it takes just three steps.

You can also generate reports in QuickBooks to see which transactions you should and shouldn’t include in 1099 forms. Furthermore, QuickBooks’ automatic updating of 1099 forms ensures your company remains compliant with IRS requirements and provides your freelancers with the documentation they need to pay their taxes. Not every accounting software platform we reviewed offers this functionality, and we saw its benefit for any business that hires freelancers immediately.

Mobile App

Both iOS and Android apps for phones and tablets are included with your QuickBooks Online account. Here’s what you can do with the app:

  • Create, customize, send and track invoices
  • Take photos of receipts and attach them to expenses
  • Reconcile transactions
  • View customer information, add new customers and message customers directly from the app
  • View dashboard data, such as your account balance and profit and loss report, as well as open current and past-due invoices
  • Accept payments on the go and online (after activating QuickBooks Payments)
Did You Know?Did you know
If you also use QuickBooks for payroll, your employees can use the QuickBooks Payroll mobile app to view pay stubs and tracked time. Payroll is a separate service from accounting in QuickBooks, though these top-notch platforms fully integrate. Read our QuickBooks Payroll review to learn more.

Business Banking

QuickBooks is the only accounting program we’ve encountered that offers its own business banking accounts. We were especially drawn to this feature because it’s a major benefit for your cash storage and transactions to be part of your finance management software. We also loved the lack of monthly fees, overdraft fees and monthly minimums. The 5 percent APY on savings accounts – 70 times the U.S. average – is the cherry on top.

QuickBooks Cost

When comparing it to other accounting software, we found that QuickBooks Online is competitively priced, with four service tiers designed to accommodate the needs of different business types. Here is a breakdown of each plan. Note that, according to a QuickBooks representative we spoke with, each plan’s user caps do not include third-party accountants. 

  • Simple Start: This plan is designed for small businesses with one user. It costs $30 per month. Users can track income and expenses, capture and organize receipts, maximize tax deductions, track mileage, and manage cash flow. It includes general accounting reports as well as the ability to create and send estimates, track sales and sales tax, and manage 1099 contractors.
  • Essentials: This plan is for small businesses with three users and is priced at $60 per month. In addition to the features included in the Simple Start plan, it includes time tracking, the ability to manage and pay bills, and enhanced accounting reports.
  • Plus: For $90 per month, in addition to the features included with Simple Start and Essentials, users can track project profitability as well as inventory. The accounting reports are more comprehensive, and the plan supports up to five users.
  • Advanced: At a cost of $200 per month, this plan allows 25 users alongside unlimited reports-only users. It combines the benefits of the lower-cost plans with the most powerful accounting reports. Other notable features are batch invoice and expense creation, Excel business analytics, employee expense management tools, data restoration, exclusive app integrations, a dedicated account team, on-demand online training, and automated processes and tasks. Users can also restore company data and specify who can and can’t access data.

QuickBooks also offers a separate product called QuickBooks Solopreneur. This tier is priced at $20 per month. If you’re an independent contractor who wants to use QuickBooks to manage your accounting, QuickBooks Solopreneur includes the basic tools you’ll need, such as income and expense tracking, quarterly estimated taxes, receipt management, and basic reporting. Each version of QuickBooks includes a 30-day free trial, unless you opt in to the half-priced first three months.

QuickBooks Online Setup

We went through the QuickBooks online setup process to understand how to get started. With QuickBooks Online, you first enter your company’s information and the fiscal year. After that, you choose between two accounting methods – cash or accrual accounting – and select your primary currency. 

Next, you’re ready to select your company logo and your default “net payment” invoice terms. For example, if you expect clients to pay invoices within one month of receipt, you would select Net 30. 

If you sell products, you also will need to set up the sales tax function in the Tax tab. You can decide how you want to track your inventory by choosing between inventory management techniques, such as first-in, first-out and last-in, first-out

Once you’ve chosen each of the above, it’s time to create an invoice in QuickBooks to test-drive the software and see how it works. We recommend sending a sample invoice to yourself or a staff member. If all goes according to plan and the invoice is received properly, you’re ready to use the software. 

QuickBooks Customer Service

QuickBooks Online provides several support channels to its customers. The company offers phone and chat support, which you can access from the QuickBooks website. We were pleased with the support we got when we tested the phone and chat lines. We also preferred the ease of phone access to Xero’s setup, which requires you to file a support ticket to set up a call. [Read our Xero review and Xero vs. QuickBooks comparison to learn why this platform is our top pick for tracking and paying bills.]

If you prefer to troubleshoot problems yourself, you can use the support page, which has a searchable knowledge base as well as articles, guides and videos. We also like that the QuickBooks Online app has a chatbot feature called QuickBooks Assistant that can answer a variety of questions about your account and connect you to live support. [Read related article: Guide to QuickBooks Alternatives]

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
QuickBooks Online offers several ways to reach a QuickBooks support representative, including phone and chat. Furthermore, users can access a searchable knowledge base of articles, videos and guides, as well as a user community and online training classes.

QuickBooks Online Drawbacks  

QuickBooks Online is an impressive accounting system that’s easy to use and includes all the features most small businesses need to efficiently accomplish their accounting tasks. However, there are some points to consider before you choose your software plan:

  • The plans limit the number of users who can access the system. However, accountants aren’t counted in this limit, and Plus and Advanced users can grant access to an unlimited number of reports-only users.
  • To obtain the lowest possible pricing for your first three months, you’ll need to forgo a free trial. 
  • State filing of 1099 contractor forms is not supported.

While there are a few limitations, there’s no denying the value QuickBooks can add to your business operation. The wide assortment of features and the affordable price make QuickBooks a great option for any small business.

Methodology

To determine our best picks for accounting software, we reviewed a slate of popular platforms. For each, including QuickBooks Online, we dedicated a minimum of five hours to research, including attending software demonstrations, participating in free trials, reading customer reviews and conducting Q&As with company representatives. To select the best accounting software for small businesses, we considered a combination of cost, features and ease of use, and chose the platform we thought would save business owners the most time while meeting their needs at a competitive cost.

QuickBooks Online FAQ

Yes. Via the QuickBooks live assisted bookkeeping add-on, you can get this support for an additional $50 per month.
QuickBooks Online automatically backs up your data, so you never have to worry about whether your books are safe and up to date.
QuickBooks Online integrates with hundreds of third-party applications, including the best email marketing, e-commerce, best customer relationship management software, payment processing, best payroll services, and best time and attendance platforms. These integrations can save you time by connecting the software to the business programs you already use, thus allowing you to automatically import, export and sync data in real time.
Yes. The iOS and Android apps for phones and tablets are available and included with your QuickBooks Online account. The app gives you access to all features of the service on your mobile device.

Overall Value

We recommend QuickBooks Online for … 

  • Small businesses that are looking for basic to complicated accounting software plans. 
  • Anyone who needs access to hundreds of third-party app integrations.
  • Busy small business owners who want streamlined, trackable recordkeeping and reporting. 

We don’t recommend QuickBooks Online for …

  • Businesses with many accounting users. 
  • Businesses looking for automatic state filing of their contractors’ 1099 forms.
  • Businesses unwilling to sacrifice a free trial for short-term cost savings.
author image
Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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Editor's Rating9.5/10
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