Xero VS QuickBooks Desktop: How Do These Two Accounting Software Giants Compare?
|✓||Hardware & Software Requirements|
|✓||Users & Permissions|
|✓||Ease of Use|
|Tie||Customer Service & Support||Tie|
|Negative Reviews & Complaints||✓|
|✓||Positive Review & Testimonials|
For years, QuickBooks has been the go-to accounting software for businesses. But with the rise of technology, several cloud-based accounting programs like Xero are putting this long-time favorite to the test.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro was created in 1992 and has grown more powerful over the years. With traditional accounting tools and an incredible number of features, it’s no wonder this software is used by accountants worldwide.
Xero is a robust, cloud-based accounting solution that rivals QuickBooks in terms of capability and popularity. It’s been around since 2006 and offers strong accounting, access for unlimited users, and an impressive feature selection.
But who comes out on top, QuickBooks Pro or Xero? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to select the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put QuickBooks Pro and Xero head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.
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Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our comparison chart of top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.
Table of Contents
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
There’s a reason QuickBooks Pro has such an excellent reputation. When it comes to accounting, you can’t beat the capabilities of QuickBooks Pro. This software offers a strong chart of accounts, journal entries, fixed asset management, 130 reports, and more.
This doesn’t mean you should throw out the competition, though. Xero also has strong accounting capabilities and offers almost all of the same accounting features, just on a slightly less developed scale.
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
|Chart of Accounts||✓||✓|
|Fixed Asset Management||✓||✓|
|Calendar & To-Do List||✘||✓|
Xero and QuickBooks both have an incredible number of features. While QuickBooks Pro and Xero offer many of the same functions, QuickBooks Pro has more developed features, plus a few extra touches like lead management. For example, both Xero and QB offer invoicing, but QuickBooks offers more invoice templates. Both also have time tracking, but Xero only lets you attach time to projects while QB lets you track employee hours and unbillable hours as well.
QuickBooks Pro and Xero offer two very different pricing structures.
QuickBooks Pro is a locally-installed software that costs $399.99 for a single user. When you purchase QuickBooks Pro, you download the software onto your computer. The license is good for three years (after which Intuit discontinues support for the software). Or, you can choose to purchase an annual subscription of QB for $299.99/year which comes with phone support and automatic data backups. Payroll starts at an additional $29/mo plus $2/employee, phone support is $89.95/3-mo, and live bank feeds are $10-$15/mo.
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As cloud-based software, Xero offers a monthly subscription structure with three pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $60/mo. Xero integrates with Gusto for Payroll, and plans start at $39/mo plus an additional $6/mo per user.
It’s hard to say which software is cheaper because there are a lot of variables. For example, the QuickBooks Pro license should last you three years. If you use the software for three years and don’t need additional users, this route could save you some money. However, the extra costs of QuickBooks Pro add up quickly. If you have multiple users, Xero will likely be cheaper. Additional users for QB cost $299.95, whereas Xero has unlimited users no matter which plan you use.
This is why this section remains a tie. We recommend crunching some numbers to see which software is the more cost-effective option for your specific business.
Note: Both of these options are best suited for mid- to large-sized businesses or small businesses that have complex accounting needs. Small businesses that don’t have such developed accounting procedures might want to take a look at our other accounting reviews for a more suitable option.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Xero is compatible with nearly any device, so long as you have an internet connection and are using one of the following browsers:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer 11 (support will end in December 2020)
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- Safari 8+
As locally-installed software, QuickBooks Pro has very specific hardware requirements. QuickBooks Pro is only compatible with the following programs:
- Windows 8.1 and 10
- Windows Small Business Server 2011, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019
Xero wins this category because it is a viable solution for most users, whereas QuickBooks Pro is available for Windows.
Users & Permissions
Xero offers unlimited users for all three of its pricing plans. The company also offers strong user permissions. QuickBooks Pro only grants one user per license and additional users cost $299.95 each, so it’s easy to see which solution is best for multiple users.
Ease Of Use
While both QuickBooks Pro and Xero have steep learning curves, Xero is much simpler to wrap your head around — especially for users who don’t know much about accounting. Additionally, Xero has better support resources, including a comprehensive help center that walks you through nearly every feature and function in the software.
If you choose to go with Xero, check out our free How To Set Up Your Xero Account guide to learn how to optimize your account.
As QuickBooks Pro doesn’t offer mobile apps, Xero is the clear winner here. Xero offers a mobile app for iPhones (iOS 12.0+) and Androids. There are quite a few user complaints that the mobile apps are limited and buggy, but anything is better than nothing, right?
Customer Service & Support
Xero used to offer great customer service, but a recent downgrade in customer support puts it on the same level as QuickBooks Pro (which is somewhere Xero does not want to be). Xero has no phone support and email responses often take a day. There are a lot of other helpful support resources and learning materials, but it can be difficult to get a quick answer to questions about Xero.
QuickBooks is known for poor customer support. The company does offer phone support which is a step up from Xero, but wait times are often long and representatives vary in degree of helpfulness. What’s more, if you don’t have an annual QuickBooks Pro Plus subscription, you have to pay extra for support.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
This is one category QB didn’t want to win. QuickBooks Pro has far more negative complaints than Xero. Granted, the software has been around a lot longer than Xero and has more users, so there is a bigger pool of reviews. Still, 1/5 stars on Consumer Affairs doesn’t look good (even if the rating is for all QuickBooks products, not just QuickBooks Pro). The most common complaints revolve around QuickBooks Pro’s steep learning curve, poor customer service, and forced upgrades.
While most Xero reviews are positive, there are some complaints about Xero’s mobile app, recent price increase, and steep learning curve.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
On the whole, Xero users are happy with their experiences. The software receives 4.3/5 stars on GetApp and 4.3/5 stars on G2 (on the same site, QuickBooks Pro receives 4.3/5 stars), so Xero must be still doing something right in terms of customer experience.
Xero offers over 800 integrations and QuickBooks Pro offers 200+ integrations. If integrations are important to you, Xero is the way to go.
This category is a little unfair. With locally-installed software, you are in charge of your own security. This means there is no built-in security. However, locally-installed software has the potential to be more secure than cloud-based software if you know how to maximize your data security (see our article How to Keep You Locally Installed Accounting Software Secure for more information).
As cloud-based software, Xero has built-in security from the beginning. Xero also provides some of the strongest security precautions out there. For most users, we figure that the convenience of security that is taken care of for you outweighs the extra security steps locally-installed software requires.
And The Overall Winner Is…
Despite the fact that Xero wins the majority of the categories, QuickBooks Pro takes the categories that matter most — accounting capability and features. When it comes to accounting software, you just can’t beat QuickBooks Desktop Pro.
QuickBooks Pro has some of the most developed accounting tools on the market. It offers an unbelievable number of features and each feature is highly developed. Although there is a steep learning curve, the UI is well-organized and becomes easier to navigate with time. The customer support services could use improvement and extra users can come at a hefty price, but QB still has a lot to offer. QuickBooks Pro is an ideal solution for small to large businesses with only a few users and big needs for complex accounting.
While Xero didn’t win this match, the software put up an incredible fight. Xero is a robust accounting solution with complex features, unlimited users, and positive customer reviews. Xero is ideal for mid- to large-sized businesses, or businesses looking for scalable software that will grow with their company. It’s also ideal for users who want the accounting capabilities and features of QuickBooks but need the mobility of cloud accounting. The software is easier to learn than QuickBooks Pro and has all of the advantages of cloud-based software, including mobile apps and ample integrations.
Just because QuickBooks Pro is the winner here does not mean that it’s the best choice for your company. Maybe you need the mobility of Xero, or maybe you want to check out a different program entirely. Whatever the case, our comprehensive reviews can help you make an informed decision during your hunt for the perfect accounting software. If you need extra help deciding, read our post 20 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software.
Check out our full QuickBooks Pro and Xero reviews for more information. After doing your research, be sure to take advantage of the free trials on offer and reach out with any questions you have along the way.