Xero VS QuickBooks Online
In cloud accounting software, the two biggest names are QuickBooks and Xero. But when you have two very capable software options, both of which offer payroll, invoices, transactions, bank feeds, and more, which do you choose? Well, that’s what we’re here to help with.
Developed in 2004, QuickBooks Online (see our review) beat Xero to the accounting scene by two years. With advanced accounting features, beautiful invoicing, 250+ integrations, and a brand new lending feature, it’s easy to see why the software is so renowned by accountants and bookkeepers.
Xero (see our review) is a robust accounting solution that rivals QuickBooks in terms of capability and popularity. It’s been around since 2006 and offers strong accounting, amazing customer service, access for unlimited users, good invoices, the ability to connect a bank account, and an impressive feature selection.
At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll compare QuickBooks Online (QBO) and Xero based on features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.
Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.
Table of Contents
Both Xero and QuickBooks Online offer strong accounting. Each uses double-entry accounting and supports cash-basis and accrual accounting. In addition, each software has strong accounting features including bank reconciliation, fixed asset management, a chart of accounts, and plenty of accounting reports.
|Chart of Accounts||✓||✓|
|Fixed Asset Management||✓||✓|
|Importing & Exporting||✓||✓|
QuickBooks Online and Xero offer very similar features. In some areas, like invoicing, project management, and lending, QuickBooks Online far exceeds Xero (especially since Xero has no project management or lending). In other places, like contact management, Xero provides the better feature. So how do we decide who is better?
In the end, it all comes down to accessibility. QBO offers many great features — project management, budgeting, inventory management, transactions and the ability to connect a bank account, etc. — but there’s a catch. These features are limited to the more expensive plans. Xero doesn’t limit features by plan, making it a more robust and realistic solution for many users, which is why we gave it the win for this section.
QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo, with payroll costing an additional $36 – $99 per month (plus $2/per employee). Xero offers five scalable pricing plans ranging from $9 – $180 per month, with payroll included. You can pay by credit card for either company.
For small businesses, QuickBooks Online is a much more affordable option. Xero’s smallest plan only gives customers 5 invoices and 20 transactions, which renders this plan useless to many small business owners.
For medium-sized businesses to large businesses, Xero pricing is just better. Xero offers payroll at no additional cost and supports unlimited users for every plan. QuickBooks Online doesn’t even come close in this regard.
In terms of pricing, the real winner will depend entirely on your monthly expenses, and your business size and needs.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As cloud-based software, QBO works with nearly any device so long as you have internet access and are using one of the following browsers:
- Google Chrome
- Mozilla Firefox
- Internet Explorer 10+
- Safari 6.1+
Xero is also cloud-based; it’s compatible with nearly any device with internet access and works with any one of these browsers:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer 11
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- Safari 8+
Both QuickBooks Online and Xero offer mobile apps for Android and iPhone.
The only reason Xero takes the cake in this category is that you can use Xero with Linux, a capability QuickBooks Online currently doesn’t offer.
Users & Permissions
Xero offers unlimited users for all five of its pricing plans. The company also provides some of the strongest user permissions in cloud accounting. QuickBooks Online only supports one, three, or five users depending on your pricing plan (you can add up to twenty-five users total, but the cost adds up fast).
In the end, how can you beat unlimited users?
Ease Of Use
QuickBooks Online is the clear winner here. QuickBooks Online offers a well-organized UI. Minus the occasional navigational difficulty, it’s easy to get used to the software and learn how it works.
Xero is only easy to use once you get to know the software. There is a steep learning curve and setup can be quite intensive. Xero does offer plenty of support tools to get over this learning curve, but QuickBooks Online is definitely easier to use.
If you end up choosing Xero, check out our free How To Set Up Your Xero Account guide; it will help you get started and optimize your Xero account.
Winner: QuickBooks Online
While there are a few complaints about QuickBooks Online’s mobile apps, most users find the apps incredibly helpful and easy to use. The apps receive 4.6/5 stars on iTunes and 4.3/5 stars on Google Play Store.
One of the biggest complaints about Xero is that their mobile apps are lacking key features and are ridden with bugs and crashes. It’s easy to see the winner in this section.
Customer Service & Support
Xero has the best customer service by far. In my experience, Xero representatives are well-informed and quick to respond to customers. The company also offers ample online resources, including a comprehensive help center, an in-software help button, a community forum, and lots of business and accounting guides.
In the past, QuickBooks has had notoriously poor customer service with extremely long wait time and holds. While the company has made significant strides to shorten their wait time and offer a better Help Center, Xero still offers more resources to its customers. On the plus side, QuickBooks Online does provide a contact phone number (Xero does not — a fact quite a few users have complained about), but the phone support is not enough to beat out Xero.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Winner: QuickBooks Online
This is one category QuickBooks Online should not want to win, and yet here they are. QuickBooks Online has received many user complaints regarding poor customer service, bugs, limited mobile apps, and even unauthorized charges.
Xero, on the other hand, has received very few customer complaints (although, this could be because it has half as many users as QuickBooks Online and hasn’t been around as long). This small business accounting software is well-loved by most of its users and receives higher ratings across popular customer reviews sites.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
While QuickBooks Online gets more positive reviews in terms of numbers, Xero receives a higher percentage of positive to negative reviews, which is why we’ve given it the victory in this section. Xero has earned 4.3/5 stars on GetApp and 4.4/5 stars on G2crowd (on this same site, QuickBooks Online only receives 3.7/5 stars).
Xero has over 500 integrations, while QuickBooks Online comes in with 250 integrations. QuickBooks Online used to offer upwards of 400 integrations, but since its drop in offerings, Xero is the clear winner.
But let’s be honest: once a company starts to offer more than a hundred, what more could you ask for? Both of these companies are the top accounting software companies when it comes to integrations, so you can’t go wrong with either choice.
Ordinarily, this section results in a tie, but Xero has set itself apart in terms of security.
Both QuickBooks Online and Xero use data encryption, redundancy, and physical security measures at their prospective data centers. However, Xero boasts an unheard-of 99.97% uptime and has one of the strongest security reputations in the cloud accounting world. In addition, QuickBooks Online users have reported downtime and outage issues on several occasions.
And The Overall Winner Is…
QuickBooks Online put up a very good fight, but in the end, Xero edges out the competition in a few key areas. Xero offers accessible features, better customer service, great invoices, free payroll, and more positive reviews. In this comparison, the people truly have spoken, and Xero is the winner.
This software is ideal for mid- to large-sized businesses, or businesses looking for a scalable software that will grow with their company. (That’s why we’ve named Xero the Best Accounting Software For Larger Businesses.) If you are looking for strong accounting capabilities, Xero won’t let you down. It’s important to note that there is a steep learning curve with this software, so if you’re not up for the challenge, QuickBooks Online might be a better choice.
Although QuickBooks Online didn’t win this mash-up, this software is still a contender for many businesses. This software is particularly ideal for small businesses; in fact, we’ve named it the Best Accounting Software For Small Businesses here at Merchant Maverick. If your company relies on invoices, QuickBooks Online’s invoicing capabilities are far beyond anything Xero can offer.QuickBooks Online also offers the unique lending feature, QuickBooks Capital (see our review) And if you need a project management feature, QBO is also the way to go. Who knows? QuickBooks Online’s new lending feature might be calling to you as well.
Or, you may find that neither company meets your needs entirely. In that case, our comprehensive accounting software reviews can help you make an informed decision during your hunt for the perfect accounting software. If you need extra help deciding, read our Complete Guide To Choose Online Accounting Software.
Check out our full Xero and QuickBooks Online reviews for more information. After doing your research, be sure to take advantage of the free trials and please reach out with any questions you have along the way.