Accounting software is essential for more than keeping your books current. It’s also vital for tracking cash flow, invoicing clients and paying vendors. Comprehensive accounting solutions run reports that help business owners make smart financial decisions and offer supplemental tools ranging from inventory management to payroll to keep your operations flowing smoothly.
QuickBooks and Xero are popular accounting software platforms for small businesses. We’ll compare their essential accounting features, pricing, integrations and more to help you choose the right accounting software for your needs.
QuickBooks and Xero are among the best accounting software platforms for small businesses. Here’s an overview of their features and pricing.
$10 per month
$13 per month
Free trial length
30 days, but requires giving up pricing discount to obtain
30 days, with no effect on pricing discount
Yes, including the following:
Yes, including the following:
Bill pay tools
Elementary bill payment, reconciliation and scheduling tools included in all but the lowest pricing tier
Advanced batch bill payment scheduling tools included in all pricing tiers
Automatic expense importing, categorization and reports, including via mobile
Automatic expense importing, categorization and reports, though only for highest pricing tier
Custom invoices, mobile invoicing and one-click payments alongside extensive client network and payment methods
Custom invoices, mobile invoicing and one-click payments
Approximately two dozen prebuilt reports on desktop and mobile, with custom reports for some pricing tiers
Built-in reports with highly customizable layouts
QuickBooks has long been the gold standard among small business accounting platforms. Although it’s not the only accounting software we recommend, it’s a great choice for any small business. Its prices are competitive, especially if you use QuickBooks Self-Employed. Plus, as your business grows, upgrading to the next pricing tier is easy. Every service plan includes all the tools your business needs to oversee its finances from the desktop or via the powerful QuickBooks mobile app.
The solution’s comprehensive and user-friendly invoicing and reporting features impressed us. Along with essential invoicing features, you get access to the vast QuickBooks network — if your clients use QuickBooks, transactions are especially easy. QuickBooks also includes over two dozen prebuilt reports; custom report functionality is available in the highest tier. We like how much power QuickBooks gives you over your monetary data. We also appreciated the platform’s integrations. QuickBooks is an accounting industry leader, so its app integrations are exceptionally diverse and high-quality.
For accounting software that goes beyond the basics at remarkably competitive prices, QuickBooks is a nearly unbeatable option.
QuickBooks helps you easily create and customize invoices. Source: QuickBooks
We recommend Xero for any business that places timely, full vendor payments at the top of its priority list of accounting software features. The platform’s bill pay tools are the best we encountered when reviewing accounting software. We especially like that you can use Xero to schedule batch payments in advance, whether for one vendor or several. Scheduling payments is an excellent way to avoid late fees, keep up with purchase orders, and keep your finances in top shape.
We also recommend Xero if you’re seeking project profitability data alongside superior bill pay and expense management features. We found the platform’s profitability tools to be highly user-friendly. Your team’s tracked time and expenses power your profitability reports and give you all the necessary information to adjust inputs and minimize costs. This frees up the cash you need to make the timely bulk payments that Xero facilitates.
Xero is also ideal if you’re seeking accounting software that grows with you. All Xero accounts allow unlimited users; many other platforms cap user allotments. You can upgrade to a higher tier when the time is right, not when you meet an arbitrary upper limit. Additionally, all tiers are comparatively affordable. With Xero, you get budget-friendly, high-quality accounting software today, tomorrow and long after. To dig deeper into its features, read our detailed Xero review.
With Xero, you can select all your outstanding bills for payment in just one click. Source: Xero
QuickBooks’ pricing plans are as follows, with a 30-day trial available for all tiers. If you forgo this trial, you can halve the below starting prices, other than for Self-Employed. That said, the fact that you can only get lower pricing without a trial really frustrated us.
We like that QuickBooks offers extensive features in each pricing package. We also like that QuickBooks is transparent about features and pricing online. Unlike some other vendors, QuickBooks leaves no questions about what you get for your dollar.
No matter which QuickBooks pricing tier you opt into, the QuickBooks team will always guide you through setup.
Xero’s pricing tiers are as follows. Note that the company occasionally offers limited-time discounts.
We like that Xero never limits user numbers, which makes the platform an excellent choice for teams small enough to need low-cost accounting software but large enough that several people will use the platform. We also like that Xero has an optional Gusto payroll integration for each platform at no extra cost. This is a great way to automate employee payment recording.
All Xero pricing plans include 24/7 online customer support; you can cancel with one month’s notice.
QuickBooks barely edges out Xero in the pricing category. Both platforms ultimately ranked among the most affordable we encountered, and we appreciate how transparent both are in their pricing. However, QuickBooks is our winner because you get much more with its two highest-priced tiers than with Xero’s highest-priced tier. You might pay more for QuickBooks, but the platform’s value per dollar justifies its higher costs.
QuickBooks offers a 30-day free trial, but there’s an unfortunate catch: You give up the lowest possible prices to obtain this trial. (The QuickBooks prices we listed above assume you take advantage of the free trial.) We find it frustrating that QuickBooks encourages new users to seek lower initial monthly prices instead of securing a free trial. This is one of the very few problem areas we’ve identified with QuickBooks.
When you take a closer look at QuickBooks’ pricing table, you’ll see that its most affordable prices only apply when you forgo the free trial. Source: QuickBooks
Xero offers a 30-day free trial with no strings attached. You can cancel anytime, you’ll get 24/7 support during your trial, and your prices don’t change based on whether you pursue the trial. We like this level of accommodation — it’s rare and highly beneficial among the many free trial offers we’ve encountered while reviewing business software.
Xero’s free trial is clearly the winner in this category. Your free trial doesn’t increase your pricing if you commit to the platform, and the around-the-clock support access is remarkable for a free trial.
As the leading business accounting software platform, QuickBooks is unsurprisingly a standout when it comes to integrations. The platform offers high-quality built-in integrations with many leading business software vendors. For example, QuickBooks integrates with Square, Gusto, PayPal, eBay, Shopify and Etsy.
Beyond built-in integrations, QuickBooks offers more than 750 connections with other platforms — a quantity that impressed us. Some of QuickBooks’ most popular app integrations include the payment app BILL, the line of credit solution Fundbox, and the expense management platform Expensify.
We were especially impressed with Xero’s built-in Gusto payroll integration. When we tested Xero, this seamless integration powered the entirely automatic updating of our accounting records when we ran payroll through Gusto. We also liked Xero’s built-in integrations with the payment processor Stripe, the CRM HubSpot, the email marketing platform Mailchimp and the e-commerce platform Shopify.
Approximately 100 additional integrations are available with Xero. We liked that Xero’s app store neatly organizes and categorizes these apps. This makes it easy to find the integrations you need and compare several options side-by-side.
Although both platforms offer robust integrations, QuickBooks is our winner because it offers hundreds more than Xero. Plus, QuickBooks has uniquely powerful built-in integrations with key e-commerce and payment platforms like PayPal, Amazon Business and eBay. These integrations give your accounting software capabilities other platforms can’t match.
You can review and pay outstanding bills in QuickBooks, and the platform will automatically record and match your vendor payments and invoices. We like that paying bills automatically reconciles your expenses.
You can also use QuickBooks to schedule payments in advance, including partial bill payments. We were impressed with this flexibility — you can make appropriate payments for your current cash flow.
Our only QuickBooks bill-paying disappointment was that you can’t access the feature via the Simple Start package. Bill pay is only available for the three highest-priced packages. If the most affordable QuickBooks solution is your priority, you forgo the ability to pay bills through your software.
Xero is an excellent solution for daily accounting activities like tracking and paying bills. The platform makes it extraordinarily easy to review and pay outstanding bills. You can just as easily review expenses and purchase orders.
Perhaps our favorite Xero bill pay feature is that you can use the platform to schedule batch payments for one or many vendors. This is the easiest tool we encountered in any accounting software platform for making timely payments in one click. We were delighted that Xero makes it so simple to keep up on your accounts payable and avoid late payment fees.
We also like that you can use Xero to set recurring bills, generate billing reports, and store and organize all your bills. This makes the tool as great for payment as for understanding your cash outflows. Plus, you get bill pay tools no matter which package you choose, although you can only pay five bills per month with the Early plan.
Xero doesn’t just beat QuickBooks when it comes to bill pay features — it outperforms all other accounting software we reviewed on this front. If you’ve been struggling to pay your vendors in full or on time, Xero is more likely to eliminate this challenge than any other platform.
All QuickBooks pricing packages include automatic expense importing and categorization. You can also take photos of receipts and upload them from the mobile app. QuickBooks will automatically match receipts to recorded expenses or generate new expenses accordingly.
You can also use the QuickBooks mobile app to track mileage and run expense reports and cash flow statements. From the desktop suite, you can set custom rules for categorizing all expenses. You can add billable expenses to the invoices you send clients via mobile or desktop.
Many accounting solutions have expense tracking tools, but we found that QuickBooks makes them especially user-friendly. It takes just a few clicks to run through various accounting functions and get your expenses in order. In our eyes, QuickBooks’ expense-tracking features are among the best around.
As with QuickBooks, you can use Xero to automatically import and categorize expenses. Other mutual features include receipt photo upload, mobile app mileage tracking, expense reporting and adding billable expenses to client invoices.
However, Xero provides the unique ability to reimburse employee expenses, including mileage reimbursement. We like that this is a built-in platform feature you can also use from the mobile app. With QuickBooks, you must reimburse employees outside the platform. However, Xero is missing some of our favorite QuickBooks expense-tracking features, such as cash flow statements.
On top of that, we were disappointed that Xero’s expense-tracking tools are only available with its costliest pricing package. This is the exact opposite of QuickBooks, which makes these tools available to all customers.
QuickBooks wins this round. QuickBooks makes its state-of-the-art expense-tracking features available to all customers. Although Xero’s tools are nearly as high in quality, only users who pay for the vendor’s most expensive plan can access them. Plus, only QuickBooks includes cash flow statements in its expense-tracking suite. Choose QuickBooks if you need exceptionally robust expense management within your accounting software.
QuickBooks includes standard invoicing features and advanced tools. Its standard features include creating invoices from the mobile app and customizing invoices with your company logo and branding. Like most platforms, you can also use QuickBooks to view invoice payment status and remind clients to pay their bills. Other standard features include one-click payments, recurring payment invoices, adding billable hours to invoices and converting estimates into invoices.
QuickBooks also includes impressive unique accounting tools, including adding outstanding balance amounts to client payment reminders. You can also automatically record and match customer payments, accept tips via invoices, and split estimates into several invoices. We like that the latter feature, which isn’t common in accounting software, boosts cash flow for businesses operating on estimates.
The QuickBooks built-in client account network is an especially standout feature. Since QuickBooks is the most widely used accounting software worldwide, it operates a network through which you can find clients that also use the solution. This makes requesting and receiving payments easier. You can take payments via card, Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and ACH.
As with QuickBooks, you can use Xero to generate custom branded invoices, send client payment reminders, and view invoice payment status. Other shared features include recurring invoices, one-click client payments and mobile invoicing. We found all these features to be user-friendly in Xero, and we were happy that they are available to all users.
That said, we found Xero’s invoicing tools a bit limited overall. For example, you can’t use Xero to accept tips via invoices as you can with QuickBooks. On top of that, you can only convert quotes, not estimates, to invoices in Xero. This disappointed us, but not as much as the narrow client payment options available. You can only accept payments via card or direct debit with Xero, boxing out clients who prefer newer technologies.
QuickBooks offers more invoicing tools and client payment options than Xero. While you can certainly use Xero to check most of your invoicing boxes, you get more flexibility and options with QuickBooks.
You can use QuickBooks to run roughly two dozen prebuilt accounting reports, whether using the mobile or desktop QuickBooks version. Additionally, with QuickBooks Plus and Advanced, you can create custom reports. Across all pricing plans, you can also create custom tags for your reports.
We were highly impressed with QuickBooks’ reporting features. The platform’s reporting suite is among the most powerful we encountered while reviewing accounting software.
With Xero, you get access to built-in reports with highly customizable layouts. We liked that these reports are interactive, which makes it easier for us to measure key performance indicators (KPIs). We also found it easy to apply formulas in Xero to compare our budget and actuals side by side.
A standout Xero reporting feature is the ability to mark the reports you run most often as favorites. This way, you can access these reports near-instantly upon logging into Xero. Plus, no matter what, profitability reporting and data are available right from the Xero dashboard. Xero’s reporting tools impressed us overall, even though other platforms include a wider variety of reports.
QuickBooks offers more reports than Xero, plus you can create custom reports and tags. You’ll still be in a good position for reporting if you go with Xero, but QuickBooks is the superior choice if reporting is your priority.
Choose QuickBooks if:
Choose Xero if:
QuickBooks is highly user-friendly, so even if you’re not yet familiar with accounting basics, your learning curve shouldn’t be too steep.
QuickBooks comes with free access to a searchable knowledge base, guides, videos, articles and the QuickBooks Assistant chatbot. You can use these resources to train yourself on QuickBooks. Formal training classes are also available through QuickBooks; these cost $599.95 for your first attendee and $250 for additional participants. QuickBooks Advanced also includes on-demand training at no additional cost.
QuickBooks and Xero include many of the same features, though QuickBooks is more feature-rich overall. That said, Xero’s bill pay tools outperform those in QuickBooks at lower prices than QuickBooks’ two highest-end pricing packages.
Yes, journal entry is included with Xero. The vendor offers a guide to manual journals to help you get started.