Xero VS QuickBooks Online

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Quickbooks OnlineVSXero
Users and Permissions
Ease of Use
Product Features
Customer Service
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Intuit has dominated the accounting software market for years. Depending where you get your numbers, estimates put the company at 80-90% market share for small business accounting in North America. QuickBooks (see our review) is a household name, with a reputation for reliability. It’s only within the past few years that the competition has begun to heat up – and it’s happening in the rapidly expanding field of cloud accounting software. Specifically, it’s happening with Xero (see our review).

Developed in New Zealand and initially geared toward the Australasian market, Xero now serves over 717,000 businesses in more than 100 countries. The company claims it provides “Beautiful Accounting,” focusing on ease of use, solid functionality, and an ambitious development schedule – product updates come out every 3-6 weeks. While QuickBooks Online remains a more popular program (serving over 1,397,000 businesses), Xero has managed to gain a toehold as a serious competitor … especially as it ventures into areas in which QuickBooks once had a near-monopoly.

As of June 2016, both programs continue to rapidly expand their customer bases; in the last six months, they’ve been neck-and-neck, growing at a rate of about 21%. The pace of development for both programs has likewise sped up in recent years. Intuit responded to Xero’s frequent update schedule by implementing a similar schedule for its own program, and Xero created the TaxTouch app as competition for QuickBooks Self-Employed. This is good news for all you customers out there: so long as both companies are facing solid competition, we can probably expect to continue to see some remarkable improvements in both pieces of software.

So how do the two programs line up? Let’s take a look.

Web-hosted or Locally Installed:

Both Xero and QuickBooks Online are cloud-based. Both include free mobile apps for iPhone/iPad and Android devices, and both offer mobile-friendly versions of their sites. QuickBooks Online also offers apps for Windows and Mac computers.

Users and Permissions:

Winner: Xero

Xero allows for unlimited users, no matter what your subscription plan. QuickBooks Online allows for one, three, or five users, depending on the size of your plan. (You can also grant access to up to two accountants, who do not count toward your user limit.)


Winner: Tie

Long story short: QuickBooks wins on the low end of the spectrum, the programs are neck-and-neck in the middle, and Xero wins on the high end. If you want to allow clients to pay invoices online, QuickBooks charges higher credit card processing fees across the board.

While it can be hard to determine comparable pricing due to different plan offerings, the following chart should provide a rough idea of how the plans line up:

Plan TypeXeroQuickBooks Online
BasicStarter ($9)Simple Start ($13)
Mid-levelStandard ($30)Essentials ($27)
Plus ($40)
With payroll, 5 employeesStandard ($30)Essentials & Payroll ($89)
Plus & Payroll ($102)
With payroll, 10 employeesPremium ($70)Essentials & Payroll ($99)
Plus & Payroll ($112)

*Note: For payroll services comparison, I am using QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll, which is the most similar to Xero’s integrated payroll offering.

If you need the bare minimum, the QuickBooks Online Simple Start option beats out anything Xero has to offer unless you have very low transaction volume (five or fewer invoices/month), in which case, Xero’s Starter package is the better deal. However, above that level, Xero tends to offer more bang for the buck. Nearly all its features are included in its Standard Plan, whereas with QuickBooks you’ll need to upgrade to Plus for job costing, purchase orders, or 1099s.

If you plan to use integrated payroll, Xero offers a much lower price … but only if you’re in a country and/or state where the company offers payroll – and it’s important to note that in most of those states, full electronic filing is not supported. Currently Xero offers payroll in 24 U.S. states.

Both programs offer you an opportunity to let your clients pay invoices online. Xero does this through payment processors such as PayPal and Stripe; you can choose whichever you wish. QuickBooks restricts its users to its own service: QuickBooks Payments, which has higher credit card processing fees than most other services (3.4% + $0.25 vs. PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30).

Ease of Use:

Winner: Xero

Xero is remarkably easy to use. It’s so well designed that I actually find myself smiling when using it … and that’s praise I don’t readily give to accounting software, especially after I’ve been testing it for a few hours. The layout makes sense, navigation is generally efficient, and the knowledge base is comprehensive and well-organized.

QuickBooks Online is laid out quite intuitively, but since the redesign in 2013, the program has suffered from a lack of efficiency, along with some minor bugs. Navigation sometimes includes unnecessary steps and there is no comprehensive knowledge base.

Product Features:

Winner: Xero

Xero and QuickBooks Online are at the front of the pack when it comes to cloud-based accounting for small businesses and start-ups. While neither of them is a perfect solution, in the area of feature selection, Xero has pulled ahead.

Many features which come standard with any version of Xero are only available in the Plus version of QuickBooks (i.e. the expensive one). And some Xero features (such as allowing clients to accept quotes online, expense reporting, and multiple currencies) aren’t supported in QBO at all.

Here’s a breakdown of the key feature differences between the products:

FeaturesXeroQuickBooks Online
Accept Quotes OnlineAll VersionsN/A
Basic Stock ListAll VersionsPlus Only
Inventory AccountingAll VersionsPlus Only
BudgetingAll VersionsPlus Only
Purchase OrdersAll VersionsPlus Only
Job Costing/Tracking CategoriesAll VersionsPlus Only
Recurring InvoicesAll VersionsEssentials and Plus
Time TrackingStandard and PremiumPlus Only
1099sAll VersionsPlus Only
Payment Reminders for InvoicesAll VersionsN/A
BillsAll VersionsEssentials and Plus
Expense ReportsAll VersionsN/A


Winner: Tie

Xero offers over 400 add-ons, while QuickBooks Online offers roughly 360 add-ons. The quality of integrations varies by program; some will work best with QuickBooks Online, others with Xero.

Customer Service and Support:

Winner: Xero

If you’d asked me a year ago whether I thought QBO would ever be able to match or beat Xero’s customer service, I probably would have replied with a quip about the Cubs and the World Series. But Intuit seems to be trying to turn over a new leaf here. In my most recent tests of both companies’ customer service, Intuit is at least beginning to look like a serious competitor. On minor issues (e.g. “Where do I find this function?” or “How do I . . . ?”) the companies are tied. However, when it comes to actual problems (e.g. bugs in the software), Xero’s response times were much quicker, and their reps understood my issues better and fixed them faster.

This matches up with what I read from users of both programs; comments about Xero’s customer service are about half positive and half negative, while the vast majority of comments about QBO’s customer service remain negative.

Xero does seem to have struggled to maintain its stellar customer service as it expands. Based on my experience, it’s still not as good as it was back in 2013, when I first started testing the software. Xero’s 24/7/365 service is also a major advantage; if you’re working late on a Saturday and run into a problem with QBO, you’re stuck.

However, that’s not to discount Intuit’s improvements over the last year. First, and most importantly, the company appears to be switching to US-based call centers, and they’ve cut hold times to less than half of what I experienced in my early tests. Sometimes I still get the dreadful, 40+-minute conversations with reps who have no idea what their software does. But other times, I get to speak with informed representatives who answer questions promptly and accurately.

Xero offers live support 24/7/365; QBO’s hours are Monday-Friday from 6am–6pm PST and Saturday from 6am–3pm PST.

Xero offers email support (no chat, no phone number). If you email with an issue that will warrant discussion over the phone (something that can’t be addressed in a simple email), you can provide a phone number and a rep will call you. QuickBooks offers phone support (no chat, no email).

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Xero

Xero has only half as many users as QuickBooks Online, so one would naturally expect the raw number of complaints for QBO to be higher. Even accounting for this, the discrepancy is striking. Xero has far less negative feedback (in percentage terms) than QBO.

Complaints about Xero include limited mobile functionality and the lack of phone support. Some people also note problems with slow responses to emails, and others complain that the program doesn’t include the full range of features offered by locally installed software such as QuickBooks Pro (this is a complaint I’ve seen about both Xero and QBO, as well as other cloud-based software).

For its part, QuickBooks gets complaints about problems with conversion from the locally installed versions, lost data and reduced functionality being the primary issues. A number of people are very unhappy about the fact that you can’t downgrade your subscription (e.g. convert from QuickBooks Plus to QuickBooks Essentials), and Canadian users also note that they can’t download their company files. Users also complain about poor customer service, outages and downtime, and the program running slowly.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Xero

It’s not hard to find positive reviews on either Xero or QuickBooks Online. Both are popular programs. But Xero edges ahead, mainly because of the sheer level of user enthusiasm and devotion. The one point where QBO wins is in the rating of its mobile apps (4.5/5 for iPhone and 4.3/5 for Android versus Xero’s 3/5 and 3.7/5).

Xero gets praise for its ease of use, appearance, and layout. Many users go so far as to say it makes accounting fun. Customer support gets reasonably good marks, as does the company’s frequent update schedule and responsiveness to user requests.

As for QuickBooks, the most common point of praise is the core of the program: that it provides good, solid cloud-based accounting, adhering to proper accounting principles. Accountants know Intuit to be reliable based on the company’s long history. Many users feel that QuickBooks Online, while imperfect, is nonetheless the most comprehensive cloud-based accounting program out there. Some users like the design of the new interface and feel it increases ease of use.


Winner: Tie
Both companies provide top-level security. They house their servers in multiple secure Tier 4 datacenters, employ SSL encryption for data transfer, offer two-factor identification for logins, conduct routine penetrative testing, undergo external security audits, and back up user data to multiple locations. You’re not likely to find anything more secure.

Uptime is also excellent for both programs. Unfortunately, neither company has released recent figures. The latest figures I’ve seen indicate 99.95% uptime for QBO in 2014 and 99.998% for Xero in 2013.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Xero

There’s a reason that Xero and QuickBooks Online both get 4.5 stars on this site. It’s very hard to pick a winner. That was the case when I initially evaluated the software, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. While Xero has improved its feature offerings dramatically, the overall decline in customer service is a significant development – and the fact that it coincides with some real progress from QBO in that area means that the companies remain neck and neck.

That said, at this point, Xero is still leading by a hair. The program is more pleasant to use, the value for the money tends to be better, and the company is very responsive to its users. The real deciding factor is what the users are saying. I look at the feedback on Xero and I see a lot of people who love the program. I look at QuickBooks Online and I frequently see users who are satisfied, but not enthusiastic.

Want to compare for yourself? Both programs offer free trials; take Xero for a spin, try out QuickBooks Online, and see which program is the best match for your business.

Katherine Miller

Katherine Miller

An itinerant wanderer, Katherine spent the past year in Colorado, Chicago, and New Zealand. Several years as an independent contractor have familiarized her with the headaches that often accompany small business accounting, and she’s made it her mission to find the best tools to make things a little easier for new entrepreneurs. When she’s not busy investigating the ins and outs of the latest accounting software, she can be found working on a novel, trekking up mountains, and training in Krav Maga. (Though usually not all at once.)
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    LOL @ your comment about the likelyhood of the Cubs winning the world series


    it looks like xero is charging $60 per month for 5 employee

    Amad Ebrahimi

    Whilst I find Xero great on the whole, it misses a basic accounting function in not offering the ability to create RCTI’s without a seriously painful and messy workaround. Sadly the support area has refused to take this basic request seriously (people have been asking for this for over FIVE years) and are more focused on trying to make the program look pretty and have ‘wow’ factor. It is missing basic in house features, and is sadly lacking.


    We sell tea via a WordPress site with Woocommerce as the back end. QBO does not handle our fraction units of inventory at all (1/4,1/2 & 1lb). How well does the inventory piece work with Xero and how tight is the integration with Woocommerce?

    Chelsea Krause

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for reaching out! Xero does have an integration with Woocommerce, however, Xero doesn’t have the inventory capabilities you need either. The software’s inventory feature is incredibly similar to QuickBooks Online’s and you won’t be able to manage the fraction inventory units.

    Honestly, I don’t currently know of a software that does support fraction inventory units. You might be able to find an inventory integration through QBO or Xero that solves this. You might possibly be able to make Zoho Books work for your needs (as you can choose your item unit type), but even if you are able to select pounds as your unit type, I’m not whether or not the software will support fraction units. (Zoho Books also has a WooCommerce integration.)

    Another option is to create separate items for each amount of tea, ex. 1/4 lb black tea – $5, 1 lb black tea – $10, etc.

    I hope you find the solution you’re looking for. If anyone else has any experience using fraction inventory units with their own small business software, we would love to hear about them.

    Best wishes,
    -Chelsea Krause


    Fishbowl Inventory integrates with both QB and Xero and it handles various units of measure, including fractions.


    fyi, I just checked the quickbooks website and it looks like the simple start and essentials plans have increased in price.

    Chloe Bahal


    Thank you for the heads up, we will look into the pricing and update the review accordingly.

    Scott Johnson

    I am excited about Xero as recommended by a financial friend. I am about to subscribe to Ricochet POS software. Any experience with integration?

    Chloe Bahal

    Hi Scott,

    Unfortunately I don’t have much information on Ricochet POS so I can’t speak confidently on the integration. If you have further questions please contact us.

    Simon Woodhams

    re: this review

    if this review was updated on the 4 June 2016 – i would like to know what was updated as a lot of the feature information is completely wrong!

    Julie Van Blarcom

    Reading this on August 30, 2016 –


    Thank you for your review of June 4 2016. It was so helpful. Is there an even newer update?

    I am going to set up a system for a very small company. User ease is critical for me even though I know some basic accounting ( in the early days of computerized accounting! Lol). I am leaning toward Zero and your review has convinced me to use their product.

    Looking forward to more reviews.


    Katherine Miller

    Hi Julie,

    No new updates; we typically update reviews every four to six months. I’m not aware of any major changes in either program which would substantially alter the comparison. Customer service is a bit of an unknown until we re-test it, but that aspect of the comparison is based on years’ worth of experiences, and I doubt it would change substantially overnight. Xero has added a couple of states to its payroll offering, and there have probably some minor improvements to both pieces of software over the past three months–but again, nothing earth-shattering. 🙂

    Best of luck as you try out Xero! I’d recommend starting with the free trial to test out the interface and see if the program is a good match for your company’s needs.


    Art Rothafel

    Great article.

    I also would love an update whenever appropriate.

    I’ve been using QB standalone for 20 years and am in the process of researching an online solution that supports both my online store (Volusion) with QB online. It’s a HUGE obstacle.

    So far, I’ve only found that Xero will integrate through a 3rd party (Vextras) with Volusion.

    Not being able to integrate seamlessly Volusion to QB online is a deal breaker for QB online and perhaps a deal maker for Xero.

    Am I missing a 3rd party software that integrates Volusion with QB online? I would love to compare.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Art,

    OneSaas and Unify both offer a Volusion integration for QBO; you can read the details here.

    As for an update, it’s in the works. You should be seeing one within the next month or so. 🙂


    Faris Shahin

    Hello Kathrine

    This has definately put me on the right track; i am starting my own bookeeping company and was going to buy Intacct; but i decided to start simple with either Xero or QBO but i still have some questions before i decide and i hope you can help;
    – which one allows to have multiple companies under one subscription since i will have many clients and each will have their own company.
    – can you explain more what does the payroll function do generally..
    – which one is better equipped to handle branches, since some of my clients are restaurants and they do have multiple locations under one company and one bank account.
    – which one have dimensions or tags; and how many does each have.
    – can those tags be used on all of the TB accounts including the BS and bank..
    – can dimensions be preset on the AR and AP subledgers as well..

    Hope you can help


    Faris Shahin

    Also another concern i had; does any accouting software has the ability to send automatic notifications to clients once a certain job is completed; for example if i am finished with the AP of company X and i want to let the owner know; is there a functuonaluity other than an email which is directly can be sent from the system to the mobile or email of the client.


    Thanks for the review Katherine! My question relates to project-based accounting and whether either of these options are capable for that setup. I have a consulting/recruitment firm for which I have multiple jobs with each client that I’d like to track revenue and expenses for. Also, we will have multi-state payroll to manage in the next couple months. It sounds like Xero may not be able to fully support that need at this time (depending on which states we’re filing in)?

    I’ve worked with QBO in the past and I’ve never liked it in comparison the QB Pro desktop version. I feel it loses a lot of its functionality and reporting features. Are either or both of these well-suited to handle a job costing system?

    My second question relates to cash flow forecasting. I think QB built in tool is worthless, at least in the desktop version. So I end up creating sales orders for all closed deals that I’ll invoice in the future and run an open sales order report for incoming cash flow projections. Is that something that can be done with either of these two online options.

    I plan to test drive Xero over the weekend to see if it performs how I’d like, but thought you might have some good insights. I’d like to not go online at all, but we have three key people who want access to the data without creating and sending backups all the time. I don’t know another way to go without paying for QB Enterprise w/ their cloud-hosting service. Any suggestions? Maybe have one central computer with a Pro license that we can each VPN to as needed?


    Chris Huebner

    I have the exact same questions at Ian, please advise

    Grace Choong

    Hi Ian

    I do have similar questions to you especially when it comes to multiple projects. Are you able to advise on whether xero could resolve your problems?



    Thank you for your great review. I still have a few questions:

    1) Obviously most of the professional accountants for small businesses know QuickBooks and accepted it as a standard de facto. How easy is to find a professional who agrees to deal with the Xero as a repository and source of accounting data?

    2) If a small business needs to have only software for bookkeeping will it change you recommendations on choosing between only two major players QBO and Xero? Or there is software that does this bookkeeping job better than QBO or Xero?

    3) Is it easy (or possible at all) to switch between QBO and Xero? For example, to work with QBO for a while and then to export all the collected accounting data from QBO and import to Xero? Or from Xero to QBO?

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Ted,

    1) This is pretty easy. You can find a list of Xero-certified accountants here, with an option to search by region.

    2) Depends what you mean by “only software for bookkeeping.” There are a lot of factors that go into the equation, and the best software for any given company will be dependent on those variables. For instance, how many employees does the company have? Does it sell products, services, or both? Does it require job costing? Etc. Any accounting software I’ve rated 3.5 stars or above will likely be the best option for some companies – and none of them will be the best for all companies. While Xero is often my first recommendation, followed by QB Pro and QBO, there are also companies I think will be better served by other software: Zoho Books, Wave, FreeAgent, etc.

    You can find an article on choosing accounting software here which details a step-by-step process for choosing accounting software to match your company’s needs. For any small business owner new to the world of cloud-based accounting, I’d recommend starting there.

    3) Yes, switching between the two is possible. However, it’s far easier to switch from QBO to Xero than the other way round. Xero provides instructions on making the switch here. For QBO, you’ll need to export all your Xero files as csv or xls files. It’s doable, but a bit of a pain.

    As I recall, you commented on the site before; at the time, you were looking at Wave or Xero. Did you end up trying either?



    Hi Katherine,
    thank you very much for the answers.

    Yes, to find Xero-aware companies as you recommended was easy, but there is not a lot of them around Seattle. On the other hand, a lot of work these days is done online, so the distance probably is not a key factor.

    2. My specifics is: single-person start-up (LLC), 6 months now in stealth mode and getting ready to start operation. So currently there are no revenues, just expenses. No expansion and therefore no company payroll is anticipated. This is the reason I just need “simple bookkeeping” for expenses so far. A few months ago I was aiming at Wave (yes, you have great memory!) , primarily because simple bookkeeping in Wave was free. But I was not persistent enough with Wave, and so far I still keep my expense records on a couple of spreadsheets. But pretty soon I’ll simply have to get serious and start using some professional accounting tool and yes, primitive expense tracking should be replaced asap by solid “double-entry” approach. It should be easy to export data in CSV format from Excel and to import it into some accounting software – QB, Xero or Wave. So I am really at decision point now. QB has so awful reputation that it is scary. Reviews on Amazon for the last several years show how enormously people suffer, and not only from the buggy software and poor tech support, but also from extremely greedy behavior of Intuit. Maybe something started to change at Intuit with the appearance of Xero as a real competitor. We will see.
    Seasoned programmers have a rule: “Design for the future, code for the immediate needs”. The same rule that I am trying to apply also to my accounting – to anticipate my future needs, but not to jump immediately for the services that will start charging me for something that I currently do not use.
    And yes, I’ve read the article that you recommended. Very useful.

    Thank you again for your kind response and advises.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Ted,

    There are also accountants familiar with Xero who are not Xero partners and aren’t listed on Xero’s site. Though of course, it requires a little more legwork to find them.

    Without knowing all the details of your situation, I can’t make a definite recommendation, but from what you’ve said, if you like Xero, I’d suggest starting out with their free trial, followed by the $9 plan, if that will cover you for the time being. Then upgrade to the $30 plan if/when you have enough activity on your account to warrant that. Since all your data will transfer freely between plans, that gives you some “design for the future, code for the immediate needs” flexibility. Or you could always try Wave again; it’s pretty impressive for a free program – but if the problems ever start costing you an hour or more per month, it’s time to think about what your time is worth and whether paying for a program will save you money and hassles in the long run.

    QB Pro is also a good option, though it has a lot steeper learning curve than most cloud-based software. But it’s also more features for less money (the program cost comes to roughly $100/year, spread over 2-3 years).

    Best of luck as you consider your options and make a decision!

    Joe Faris

    We are CPAs and work with all cloud-based accounting systems.

    Several years ago, QBO was an awful product, but the only one available. Then, Xero, Wave and other cloud-based systems were introduced. QBO then picked up their game incredibly. In our rankings, they went from a 3 to an 8.5 on a scale of 10. So, in this regard, Xero was the best thing that happened to QBO users.

    But, there is no comparison between the two products. QBO has tons more functionality than Xero. The problem is that unless you are a very experienced user (not someone just downloading the trial versions to review the products), it is impossible to adequately evaluate the products.

    The author does an excellent job scratching the surface with this comparison and it is very valid for a small, stagnant business. For a growing business, though, Xero is a terrible product because these businesses will eventually need the functionality that QBO offers and is not available in Xero. Some of this functionality is the ability to add on the fly, match open invoices to downloaded bank transactions, reclassify transactions in bulk, etc.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your comment, and my apologies for the slow response; I’ve been out of town.

    I found your examples of feature discrepancies puzzling, as Xero has offered the ability to reclassify transactions in bulk since April 2015 (“Find and Recode”), and it’s been able to match open invoices to downloaded bank transactions since at least October 2013, when I first evaluated it. I wasn’t quite certain what you meant by “add on the fly,” but if you’d like to clarify, I’d be happy to check into that.

    In checking out your website, I noticed that you only advertise services using QBO – in fact, your Outsourcing package includes the phrase, “We do 100% of the accounting using QuickBooks Online.” Do you currently offer any services using Xero?

    Regarding our review process, the editions of accounting software we evaluate at Merchant Maverick are the full versions of the software, not separate trial versions. While in the case of cloud-based software we may use free trials rather than an ongoing subscription, the functionality is exactly the same. If it isn’t, we’ll buy the full product to test it thoroughly. Nor do we do a cursory evaluation of the program and then forget it; we routinely re-examine programs to explore added features, changes in customer service quality, new bugs, etc. While the purpose of this comparison article is to give an overview, you’ll find the nitty-gritty details in our individual evaluations of Xero, QBO, and for that matter QB Pro.

    If you see a significant disparity in features between Xero and QBO, I’d love to hear some specifics. I’m always open to revising my opinion based on new information.



    A great side by side review, i’d like to note that value for money seems to be on the side of QB in Australia, as our Xero prices are much higher… $50 for Standard vs QB’s $35 for Plus, and Xero fails to tick alot of the boxes due to poor design decisions for inventory management.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Mike,

    Yes; the review deals with the US versions of both pieces of software, but it’s good for readers from other parts of the world to be aware that both pricing and features vary significantly by region. At a glance, I’d agree with you that the value-for-money is definitely on QB’s side in Australia. If I had to guess, I’d say that Xero and QB are both offering extremely competitive pricing in markets where they’re not as established, and less competitive pricing where they have a well-established customer base.


    Kevin Mathes

    Hi Katherine,

    I really appreciate this side-by-side comparison as I am currently choosing between these two accounting software options. I use NeatDesk to electronically scan and file things like receipts. I know NeatDesk can export to Quickbooks, but do you know if this is an option with Xero? If so what have you heard with regards to ease of compatibility? I want to minimize bugs, glitches, and future headaches.


    Katherine Miller

    Hi Grant,

    You should be able to export from NeatDesk to Xero, no problem. However, the info’s a little iffier as to whether NeatDesk offers a full integration with Xero as it does with QB. According to this blog post, they were working on it back in February, and the integration is listed for both their Windows and Mac versions. However, when you try to click the link to the integration, you get a 404 error. The information I’ve gotten from Neat customer service suggests the integration is not yet available.


    ElectriTech, Inc.

    Thanks for the comparison data.
    I have been a QB desktop user for 12 years.
    I tried QB On-line and had mixed feelings about it.
    Some aspects were very user friendly and some were so frustrating I wanted to throw my computer across the room, particularly payroll and check printing/alignment.
    Due to the current Denver market we are so slammed I don’t have time to deal with software that isn’t user friendly.


    Will you update this article? It has been almost a year and I am sure many things have change for both companies. For example, Xero now has a chat whereas you write it doesn’..

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Yana,

    The article was updated on 6/13/2015. I’m not sure why that date isn’t showing up, but I will look into it. All information should be accurate as of that date.

    As for Xero’s chat function, I am not aware of a Xero support chat feature. (Both Xero and QBO have sales chat features, but those are not used for support.) Can you tell me where you’re seeing this?



    Has Xero just put up their price since you published this article last week? The standard plan I can see on their website says it’s $50 per month and the starter is $25 per month, a lot more than the table above. https://www.xero.com/au/pricing/

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Linda,

    The pricing I list (for both Xero and QBO) is for the U.S. version, since most of our readers are from the U.S. The Australia version of Xero is significantly more expensive for the lower 2 plans and less expensive for the highest. Also, plan features may vary slightly depending on your country.



    I do not understand how anyone could possibly consider Xero a “clear winner”. I have some clients who use Xero and others who use QBO. Hands down, I would rather work with QBO any day, any time over Xero. Where the author smiles, I find myself gaining frown lines, cursing, and getting ready to throw my monitor across the room…all due to the “ease of use”. I would NEVER suggest Xero to ANYONE.


    This is a solid, well written high-level comparison Katherine. Though I’ve only been exploring Zero for a short time, I find your comparison is quite thorough and accurate to my experience as well. A long-time QB desktop user, there have been a few things that have frustrated me with Xero, namely the seeming inability to make certain changes to transactions after the fact – especially in payroll but this could be due to my lack of product knowledge to date. I do think the QBO still offers more comprehensive reporting capabilities and at least for now (and I suspect it will continue), Intuit has been running a sale that (perpetually ends Friday) for 50% off of the QBO product. Users may need to Google it to find it, but I will bet the increased competition will keep prices in line like that for the foreseeable future. Of course, that’s only a guess. Thanks for your excellent work.

    Katherine Miller

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks! You make a good point: it’s always a good idea to shop for sales, because Intuit especially tends to run them. It’s worth noting, however, that such sales only cover a limited number of months–after that, the subscription reverts to full price. The sale Intuit’s running now (at least the last one I saw posted) is 30% off Essentials, 40% off Plus, or 50% off Essentials or Plus with Payroll. Xero also has one running, for that matter: 30% off all products. All of these cover the first 6 months of the subscription.

    Also, all potential buyers should be aware that if you buy either software through the sales, you don’t get the free trial period. I generally recommend trying out the software first (using a demo company if you like) before committing to the purchase. (Another thing to consider: getting 1 month free is equal to getting 3 months at 33.33% off. So while the sales can save you a bit, they often aren’t as impressive as they look at first.)


    Michael hardy

    forgot to ask for follow up email!

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