The Complete QuickBooks Product Comparison Guide
Not sure which version of QuickBooks you should choose? Can’t decide if QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, or some other version of QuickBooks is right for your business?
With five different products to choose from, deciding on the best QuickBooks software can be intimidating. Not to mention the fact that QuickBooks isn’t always the most forthcoming with information about their products!
In this complete QuickBooks Comparison, we’ll explain what each program is capable of, what type of business is best for each version of QuickBooks, and the main differences between each product. We’ll also walk you through what questions to ask so you can pinpoint the perfect QuickBooks software for your business and choose the right QuickBooks accounting solution with confidence.
Don’t have time to read our full comparison post? The following chart breaks down the main differences between QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise, and QuickBooks Self-Employed.
|QuickBooks Online||QuickBooks Pro||QuickBooks Premier||QuickBooks Enterprise||QuickBooks Self-Employed|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Compare||Visit Site|
|Pricing||$20 – $150/mo||$299.95||$499.95||$1,100+||$10 – $17/mo|
|Ease of Use||Moderate||Difficult||Difficult||Difficult||Very Easy|
|Size of Business||Small||Small – Medium||Medium||Large||Freelancers|
|Number of Users||1 – 10||1 – 3||1 – 5||1 – 30||1|
|Web-Based or Installed||Web-Based||Installed||Installed||Installed||Web-Based|
Table of Contents
Overview of QuickBooks Products
Launched in 2004, QuickBooks Online is cloud-based accounting software used by over 2 million people. With strong accounting capabilities, impressive features, and fully-featured mobile apps, it’s no wonder this is one of our top 5/5 star accounting recommendations.
Small businesses with no more than 25 users looking for easy to use, cloud-based accounting software and strong mobile apps.
QuickBooks Online (QBO) offers three pricing plans ranging from $20 – $150/month. The larger the plan, the more features you have access to and the more users are allowed. The largest plan includes ten users (although you can have up to 25 users until 7/31/2019).
Payroll costs an additional $35/mo-$80/month +plus $4/month per employee). Luckily, Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion. Read our complete QuickBooks Online review for all the pricing details.
|QuickBooks Online - Now 50% off!||Get Promo|
QuickBooks Online offers an incredible number of features and automations. The software covers all the accounting bases as well as invoicing, expense tracking, accounts payable, contact management, project management, and more. Though there are occasional navigation difficulties, QBO is incredibly easy to use overall.
One of the things that really sets QuickBooks apart from other accounting products is its new lending feature — QuickBooks Capital. QuickBooks Capital uses the information already in QuickBooks Online to determine whether a small business owner is eligible for a loan.
Some of our other favorite features include:
- Invoice scheduling
- Class tracking
- Time tracking
- Print checks
QBO offers over 550 integrations, which is the most of any QuickBooks product.
QuickBooks is generally known for poor customer support, but QuickBooks Online has is working lately to revive its reputation by shortening long wait times and redesigning their help center.
If integrations, ease of use, and mobility are important to you, QuickBooks Online is your best bet. If you want to see how QuickBooks Online stacks up against other QuickBooks products, continue reading.
View our comprehensive QuickBooks Online review for more information about this small business accounting software or sign up for a free trial if you think this version of QuickBooks is right for you.
Launched back in 1992, QuickBooks Desktop Pro is the software that put QuickBooks on the map. This 5/5 star software is locally-installed and offers highly developed features.
Small to medium-sized business with three users or fewer looking for strong accounting or locally-installed software.
There are two pricing options for Quickbooks Desktop Pro. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Pro license for $299.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of Quickbooks Pro Plus for $299.95/yr.
|Save up to $100 off Quickbooks Pro||Save Now|
If you go with the QuickBooks Pro license, it will stay current for three years, after which Intuit drops support for the software. (You can still use the software after the three-year mark, but you won’t receive any assistance if something goes wrong.) Phone support costs extra. If you go with QuickBooks Pro Plus, updates and phone support are included. Additional users cost extra. For the full scoop on pricing, check out our review of QuickBooks Desktop Pro.
As we mentioned earlier, QuickBooks Pro has an unbelievable number of features. In terms of accounting, QuickBooks Pro is one of the most developed solutions available, boasting a chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, 130 reports, and more. These highly developed features do have a steep learning curve, but for accountants, those with accounting experience, or the business owner who just wants to get their accounting right, taking the time to learn the software can pay off.
The best part is that QuickBooks Pro not only offers a lot of features, but each feature is highly developed. Intuit truly thought of everything with this one — even spell check.
Some of our other favorite QuickBooks Desktop Pro features include:
- Project management
- Job costing
- Calendar & to-do lists
- Accounts payable
- Tax support
QuickBooks Pro offers almost 200 integrations, which is an impressive number for a locally-installed software. Unlike QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro still suffers from poor customer support.
QuickBooks Pro can be a great option for businesses looking for strong accounting or in need of locally-installed software. The learning curve makes this software ideal for people who have previous accounting experience or who are willing to put in the time to learn the software.
If you want to learn more about how QuickBooks Pro stacks up to other desktop selections keep reading. You can also read our complete QuickBooks Pro review for more details on this software option.
QuickBooks Desktop Premier is the next step for medium-sized businesses looking for the same strong accounting as QuickBooks Pro, but with more users and industry-specific features (and a lower cost than QuickBooks Enterprise). Desktop Premier is robust, locally-installed software with plenty of features and a good number of integrations.
Small to medium-sized businesses with five users or fewer in need of strong accounting and industry-specific accounting features.
QuickBooks Desktop Premier is more costly, but its pricing structure is nigh-identical to QuickBooks Pro’s. There are two options: you can either purchase a QuickBooks Premier license for $499.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of Quickbooks Premier Plus for $499.95/yr.
If you go with the QuickBooks Premier license, phone support costs extra. If you go with QuickBooks Pro Plus, updates and phone support are included. For the full scoop, visit our Complete Guide To QuickBooks Desktop Pricing.
QuickBooks Premier is optimized for strong accounting. Like QuickBooks Pro, there is a steep learning curve here, but the software includes certain features Pro lacks, including business plans, inventory assemblies, and sales forecasting.
The real thing that sets QuickBooks Premier apart from QuickBooks Pro is the industry-specific features. You can choose the standard edition of QuickBooks Premier or you can choose one of five specialized editions: Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Professional Services, or Retail.
Here are some other features to expect with QuickBooks Desktop Premier:
- Industry-specific reports
- Sales orders
- Print shipping labels
QuickBooks Premier offers 190 integrations, and customer support is similar to that of QuickBooks Pro.
Before deciding on QuickBooks Premier, continue reading for more information. You don’t want to spend extra money if the features aren’t worth it.
If you want to learn more about QuickBooks Premier or are certain that your business does need industry-specific features, check out QuickBooks Premier’s website. QuickBooks doesn’t readily advertise a QuickBooks Premier free trial, but there is one available in the QuickBooks Community.
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise has the same great accounting capabilities of Pro and Premier but allows access for up to 30 users and much more storage space. With six industry-specific versions, QuickBooks Enterprise has highly developed features to meet the needs of nearly any large business.
Large businesses with 30 users or fewer looking for industry-specific accounting and advanced accounting.
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise features three annual subscriptions: Silver (starts at $1,100/yr), Gold (starts at $1430/yr), and Platinum (starts at $1,760).
Price is determined by the plan you select and the number of users you have. With QuickBooks Enterprise you get Intuit Field Management with access for one user. For the full scoop on pricing, read our complete QuickBooks Enterprise review.
In terms of features, QuickBooks Enterprise is about as close as you can get to an ERP without making the switch to full-on business management software. In addition to the strong accounting you’d expect with a QuickBooks desktop product, QuickBooks Enterprise provides invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, project management, job costing, and more.
You can opt for the normal version of QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, or you can choose one of the six industry-specific editions for added features: Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Retail, Professional Services, and Accountant. Read A Quick Guide To The 6 Industry Specific Editions Of QuickBooks Enterprise for a breakdown of what each edition has to offer.
Some other notable features include:
- Lead management
- Accounts payable
- Business plans
- Loan manager
- Tax support
Like QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Enterprise also integrates with nearly 200 third-party apps.
QuickBooks support puts its best foot forward for QuickBooks Enterprise customers. Representatives are responsive and friendly, and there are tons of support resources to choose from.
That being said, QuickBooks Enterprise does have its drawbacks. The software is incredibly expensive, and for the price you’re paying, certain features — like invoicing, project management, time tracking, and importing — are fairly limited. Additionally, the software is more suited for large businesses than enterprises, making its name slightly misleading.
If this software still sounds like it might be the right choice for your business, read on to see how it compares to other QuickBooks products or check out our complete QuickBooks Enterprise review. You can also sign up for a free demo of any edition of QuickBooks Enterprise on Intuit’s website.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is different from the other QuickBooks Products in that it isn’t quite accounting software. QuickBooks Self-Employed is tax software created to help freelancers manage their finances, handle estimated quarterly taxes, and calculate deductions.
Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed individuals in need of basic bookkeeping and tax support.
There are two pricing options for QuickBooks Self-Employed. You can either pay $10/mo for all of the features QuickBooks Self-Employed has to offer, or you can pay $17/mo, which will add a Turbo Tax integration to your plan.
Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion, so be sure to check any possible discounts before purchasing. To learn more, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review.
|Quickbooks Self-Employed - now up to 50% off||Get Promo|
Like QuickBooks Online, Quickbooks Self-Employed is an easy to use, cloud-based software with strong mobile apps. The features are designed specifically for freelancers to address needs like tax support and deductions. You can easily separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have separate business bank accounts.
Not only does Quickbooks Self-Employed help freelancers navigate the scary waters of estimated quarterly taxes, it also gives them basic bookkeeping tools to track income and expenses.
Here are some other features you can expect with QuickBooks Self-Employed:
- Fixed asset depreciation
- Schedule Cs
- Tax checklist
Quickbooks Self-Employed has very limited integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is one the greatest parts of the software. When you’re ready to file taxes, you can pull all of your QuickBooks Self-Employed data directly into Turbo Tax to make filing easy.
Unfortunately, QuickBooks Self-Employed’s customer support is even worse than QuickBooks Pro’s. There is no phone support and additional support resources are limited. There is a live chat feature and help center if you need assistance.
There is one other drawback users should be aware of: QuickBooks Self-Employed only offers federal tax support, so you’ll have to handle your state taxes another way.
That being said, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a great option for freelancers, contractors, or other self-employed individuals. If that’s you, you won’t find any other QuickBooks product that is more tailored to your specific tax needs.
How To Choose The Right Version Of QuickBooks For Your Business
If you read the overview of each QuickBooks product, you may already have an idea of which version of QuickBooks is best for your small business. If not, don’t worry. These five questions will help you narrow down your search and find what you’re looking for.
Do You Want Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed Software?
The first major deciding factor is whether or not you want cloud-based or locally-installed software.
Cloud-based software operates entirely in the cloud (on the internet). Some perks of cloud-based software include:
- Access for multiple users in different locations
- SaaS subscription-based pricing model
- Security is handled by the software provider
- Usually comes with mobile apps
Locally-installed software is downloaded and installed on a single, on-premise computer. Some perks of locally-installed software include:
- No internet access required
- More complex and feature-rich
- Potentially more secure (you are responsible for security)
Most small businesses prefer cloud-based software as it is more affordable, easier to use, and keeps up with our society’s mobile lifestyle. However, locally-installed software can be more secure and offers a level of feature-depth that the cloud often can’t touch.
Deciding which type of software works best for your business model can make your QuickBooks choice a whole lot easier. If you want cloud-based software, there’s QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed. If you want locally-installed software, you can take your pick from QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Enterprise.
Are You A Mac Or Windows User?
QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise are all designed for Windows. So if you’re a Mac user, you’re down to two options: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise.
What Type Of Business Do You Run?
The type of business you run has a huge influence on which QuickBooks product is right for you. If you’re a freelancer, QuickBooks Self-Employed is the obvious choice. If you’re running a small business, you’ll be comparing QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Pro.
Larger businesses will be looking at QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise, depending on the number of users they need.
How Many Users Do You Need?
The number of users you need will also help determine which software is best for your business. Take a look at this chart to see which product suits your business’s size.
|QuickBooks Self-Employed:||1 user|
|QuickBooks Pro:||1 – 3 users|
|QuickBooks Premier:||1 – 5 users|
|QuickBooks Online:||1 – 25 users|
|QuickBooks Enterprise:||1 – 30 users|
Note: This chart shows the maximum number of users available with each version of QuickBooks, which may cost extra.
How Much Accounting Experience Do You Have?
If you don’t know much about accounting, you’ll want to shy away from QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise, unless you’re willing to put in the time to learn.
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed are much easier options to grasp if you don’t have much experience or just want to keep balancing the books simple.
On the other hand, if you’re an accountant or someone with a great deal of accounting experience, you may like the complexity of the QuickBooks desktop options as they stick to more traditional accounting practices.
QuickBooks Product Comparison
Here is a more detailed QuickBooks comparison so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with each program and can easily tell the differences between each version of QuickBooks.
|QuickBooks Premier||QuickBooks Enterprise|
|Extra Cost for Phone Support||None||$249.95/yr or $89.95/three months||$89/three months||None||None|
|Web-hosted or Locally-installed||Web-hosted||Locally-installed||Locally-installed||Locally-installed||Web-hosted|
|Number of Users||1-25||1-3||1-5||1-30||1|
|Support for Multiple Companies||✘||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Size of Business||Small||Small to medium||Medium||Large||Freelancers|
|Ease of Use||Easy||Difficult||Difficult||Difficult||Very easy|
|Learning Curve||Small learning curve||Steep learning curve||Steep learning curve||Steep learning curve||No learning curve|
|Numbers of Integrations||250||199||195||199||4|
|Number of Payments Gateways||16||13||13||13||1|
|Number of Templates||5||9||8||5||1|
|Snail Mail Option||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Default Email Messages||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Default Invoice Notes||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Convert Estimates to Invoices||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Accept Quotes Online||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Customer Credit Memo||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Map & Directions||✘||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Chart of Accounts||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Automatic Bill Reminders||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Custom Bank Rules||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Live Bank Feeds||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Manual Bank Statement Import||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Assign Tasks to Employees||✘||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Manually Enter Time||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Bill Time to Customer as Invoice||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Low Stock Reminders||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Number of Reports||27-75||120||135||140||3|
|Thank You Notes||✘||✔||✔||✔||✘|
|Home Office Deduction||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔|
|E-file Tax Forms||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Upload and Save Documents||✘||✔||✔||✔||✘|
Now you know exactly what to expect from each version of QuickBooks in terms of features, pricing, and usability. While the numerous options seem intimidating at first, each version of QuickBooks is designed to reach a certain business size and type.
If a specific version of QuickBooks stood out to you, we recommend taking the software for a test run to make sure you love using it.
If after reading this post you aren’t convinced that any version of QuickBooks is right for you, or if you just want to consider all of your options, our comprehensive accounting reviews can help you find the perfect accounting software for your business. Take a look at these additional resources for more QuickBooks alternatives.