QuickBooks Online is a comprehensive online accounting platform designed for small businesses. It provides all the tools you need to track expenses, conduct bank reconciliation, analyze profit and loss, generate financial reports, and much more.
The service is owned by Intuit, maker of the popular TurboTax software. There are a few different versions of QuickBooks, but QuickBooks Online is the flagship online version. If you hear someone reference “QuickBooks”, chances are they are talking about QuickBooks Online.
Our full QuickBooks Online review will cover the QBO features, pros and cons, functionality, user-friendliness, and much more.
Check out our roundup of the Best Online Bookkeeping Services
Is QuickBooks Online right for my business?
As all small business owners can tell you, keeping accurate books is essential to the long-term success of any operation. QuickBooks Online (QBO) is an accounting solution that gives business owners and accountants the tools they need to keep accurate, detailed books with ease.
The QuickBooks accounting system is cloud-based, meaning it is run online, through a web browser or mobile app. This means that you don’t need to have any software installed, and you can conduct bookkeeping from anywhere in the world, with ease. This also means you can use it on PC, Mac, and really any device that has a web browser.
Note; there is also QuickBooks Desktop, which is a separate product. It offers similar functionality, but it’s a one-time, upfront purchase. The software must be installed on your PC or Mac, rather than working on the cloud, as with QuickBooks Online.
Another huge advantage of QuickBooks Online is that it’s somewhat of a gold standard in the accounting industry. Just about every accountant, CPA, accounting firm, and bookkeeper knows the ins-and-outs of QuickBooks. That means two things: One, it’s easy to hire someone who knows how to use QuickBooks, and two, if you keep your own books, it’s easy to transfer over QuickBooks data to your CPA for year-end tax prep.
Plus, because QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software, it’s updated regularly. Intuit, the owner of QuickBooks, invests substantial resources every year in keeping the QuickBooks programs up-to-date with the latest account practices and tax reporting changes. New features are added regularly, expanding the functionality of this already great accounting platform.
Combine all these perks with clear, predictable pricing, and it’s easy to see why millions of people use QuickBooks Online every day.
Looking for a different option? Check out our guide to help find the best accounting software for you.
What features does QuickBooks Online offer?
- Track income and expenses accurately
- Track sales and collect sales tax
- Capture, organize and record receipts
- Create and send invoices, track receivables, and accept payments directly through QuickBooks
- Create detailed financial reports
- Track business miles for bigger tax deductions
- Manage 1099 contractors
- Track inventory and plan for purchases
- Track time
- Import data from supported applications, banks, and software
- Export data to compatible tax software and Excel spreadsheets
- Manage bill payment
- Manage bookkeeping from anywhere using the user-friendly QuickBooks mobile app for Android and iOS
- Add up to 25 users to your QuickBooks
- Advanced customer support
- Much more
Keep in mind that the specific features you have access to depend on the type of subscription you get (see pricing section below). Features are somewhat customizable, to fit the needs of any size business.
The basic functionality of QuickBooks Online is designed to help you with your bookkeeping efforts. You’ll set up a chart of accounts, expense categories, etc. in the initial setup, which helps your entries to be categorized correctly. You can then hook up bank accounts, credit cards etc. to sync with QuickBooks – although most transactions will still need to be categorized and approved manually.
By proactively using QuickBooks through the year, you’ll have clean, accurate and well-organized records when it comes time to prepare your tax return. The ease of use of QuickBooks makes this simple, particularly once you’re familiar with the platform. Plus, detailed mileage tracking and expense tracking means that you’ll never miss a deduction – helping to save you money on your tax bill every year. If used correctly, QuickBooks can help you save time – and money – while helping you keep track of your books accurately.
More advanced functionality of QuickBooks expands features substantially. Users can prepare and send invoices, and even accept payments, directly through QuickBooks. In some plans, billable time can be tracked, enhancing accuracy. Advanced plans even give you inventory management tools, help you plan for purchases, and even use QuickBooks with up to 25 user accounts.
How much does QuickBooks Online cost?
QuickBooks Online offers three different plans, ranging from $25 to $150 per month. There are two signup promotional offers: 50% off your first 3 months, or a free 30-day trial.
Simple Start – $25/mo ($12.50/mo for the first 3 months)
- All basic QuickBooks features
- Track income, expenses, miles, sales, sales tax, and more
- Manage cash flow, prepare for tax season, send estimates and invoices, and more
- Works on any computer, as well as mobile devices
- Limited to only one user account
Plus – $70/mo ($35/mo for the first 3 months)
- All features of the Simple Start plan, plus more
- Manage & pay bills
- Track time on projects
- Track profitability of projects
- Track inventory
- Allows for up to 5 user accounts
Advanced – $150/mo ($75/mo for the first 3 months)
- All features of the Plus plan, plus more
- Access business analytics and insights
- Batch invoices and expenses
- Access a dedicated support team
- On-demand online training and more
- Allows for up to 25 user accounts
If you plan to keep using QuickBooks Online for the long-term, the 50% off for the first 3 months promotion will save you the most money on monthly fees. If you’d rather try it out before committing, opt for the free 30-day trial offer.
Keep in mind that there are also various add-ons available to expand the functionality of QuickBooks Online.
For a flat $50 fee, you can have a QuickBooks Certified Bookkeeper help with your initial setup, chart of accounts, etc. For those new to QuickBooks, this is well worth the cost as it helps you get everything setup properly from day one. We highly recommend this add-on if you’re new to QuickBooks.
For $200-$600 per month, you can add on QuickBooks Live. This optional service lets you partner virtually with a real QuickBooks bookkeeper, who can help manage your books for you. They will help with initial setup, manage expense records, and more – and, you can video chat them with any questions you may have. See our full QuickBooks Live review for more information.
For $45-125 per month, plus $4-$10 per employee per month, you can also manage payroll for employees. Payroll services, including the ability to print checks and send direct deposit payments, is also available as part of QuickBooks Payroll. See our QuickBooks Payroll review for more information.
Freelancers and one-person companies may wish to opt for QuickBooks Self-Employed, a simplified online version of Quickbooks designed for sole proprietors.
Pros of using QuickBooks
- Easy and intuitive tools for accurate bookkeeping
- Everything you need to keep accurate books
- Integrates with tax software like TurboTax
- QuickBooks is used by the majority of tax and accounting professionals, making it easy to transfer QuickBooks data to CPAs for tax prep
- Automated backup of data
- Time-tracking integrates with invoicing feature for easy and accurate invoicing
- Work on your books anywhere with the QuickBooks app
- Wide variety of reporting options to give you a better picture of your company’s financial health
- Integrates with third-party software
- Predictable and affordable monthly pricing
- Use with up to 25 user accounts, depending on your plan
Cons of using QuickBooks
- Learning curve can be steep for new users
- More advanced features are reserved for the more expensive plans
- The mobile app is not as full-featured as the desktop version