Xero VS QuickBooks Online

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QuickBooks OnlineVSXero
Hardware or Software Requirements
Users and Permissions
 TieEase of UseTie
Mobile Apps
Customer Service and Support
Negative Reviews and Complaints
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
?Final Verdict?
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In cloud accounting software, the two biggest names are QuickBooks and Xero. But when you have two very capable software options, 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, 400+ integrations, and a brand new lending feature, it’s easy to see why the software is so renowned.

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 fully featured mobile apps, amazing customer service, access for unlimited users, and an impressive feature selection.

In this mashup, we’ll put these two great products head to head to see which comes out victorious. Read on to see which software is the winner.

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 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.


Winner: Tie

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.


Winner: Xero

FeaturesQuickBooks OnlineXero
Expense Tracking
Bank Reconciliation
Chart of Accounts
Fixed Asset Management
Contact Management
Accounts Payable
Time Tracking
Project Management
Tracking Categories
Print Checks
Sales Tax
Tax Support
Importing & Exporting

This battle is a doozy. 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. QuickBooks Online offers many great features — project management, budgeting, inventory, 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.


Winner: Tie

QuickBooks Online offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo – $50/mo, with payroll costing an additional $54 a month (plus $2/per employee). Xero offers five scalable pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $180/mo.

For some 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 to large businesses, Xero is the better choice. Xero offers payroll at no additional cost and supports unlimited users for every plan. QuickBooks Online doesn’t even come close in this regard.

This category is a draw. The real winner will depend entirely on your business size and needs.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Xero

As cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online 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 internet-enabled device so long as you are using 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

Winner: Xero

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

Winner: Tie

QuickBooks Online used to be the clear winner here, but the company has recently made changes to the UI, leaving the software difficult to navigate (read more about this in our complete QuickBooks Online review).

That said, 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 offers plenty of support tools to get over this learning curve (which is more than QuickBooks Online can say). Because of QuickBooks Online’s recent downgrade and Xero’s steep learning curve, the programs are tied in this category.

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.

Mobile Apps

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 4.2/5 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

Winner: Xero

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.

While QuickBooks Online has been attempting to remedy their issues with poor customer support, the company still has a long way to go. Response times are slow and representatives are often uninformed. 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). The software is well-loved by most of its users and receives higher ratings across popular customer reviews sites.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Xero

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 4.4/5 stars on GetApp and 4.3/5 stars on G2crowd (on this same site, QuickBooks Online only receives 3.1/5 stars).


Winner: Xero

Xero has over 500 integrations, while QuickBooks Online comes in with over 400 integrations. Xero outnumbers QuickBooks Online here, but let’s be honest: once a company hits the couple hundred integrations mark, 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.


Winner: Xero

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. Of course, QuickBooks has one of the other strongest reputations in the accounting world, so, again, you really can’t go wrong with either option in this regard.

To learn more about cloud security read our posts Is My Accounting Safe In The Cloud? and What Is SSL? A First Look At Online Security.

And The Overall Winner Is…

Xero vs. QuickBooks Online

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, 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 invoicing, QuickBooks Online’s invoicing capabilities are far beyond anything Xero can offer. And if you need a project management feature, QuickBooks Online 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 on offer and feel free to reach out with any questions you have along the way.

Get Started With QuickBooks Online

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Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer
Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. She became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she's not working, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, daydreaming about her newest story, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.
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    As of now, am all paper work, Would anyone of these help me with my Auto Repair Shop? Can I store my customer information on what I did to their car? Like what kind car, engine size and what I have done to it. Beside me, I like to have 3 more employees. I don’t want 3 or 4 software just help run my shop.

      Chelsea Krause


      Thanks for reaching out! Both Xero and QuickBooks online would be able to help you manage your Auto Repair shop. Both programs would allow you to manage expenses, create service-based invoices, record inventory, and manage employees.

      There would be a couple of ways you could store your customer information. Both Xero and QuickBooks Online allow you to record customer contact information and customer notes where you could input details like the make and model of the customer’s car, the engine size, etc.

      You could also record the work you’ve done for that customer using either Xero or QuickBooks Online’s project management feature. When you go to a contact in Xero or QuickBooks, the programs will show you all of the projects and invoices attached to that customer, so you can see all of the past work you’ve done.

      Personally, I prefer Xero over QuickBooks Online because Xero is more developed and has much better customer service. However, the software’s features can definitely be overkill for some small businesses and it has a bit of a learning curve. Xero also only supports payroll is 37 states so you’d want to make sure your state is covered.

      If you’re looking for something more manageable and geared toward small businesses, QuickBooks Online may be the way to go, however, the software can still be a bit difficult to navigate at times. It’s worth noting that to use inventory and the projects feature in QuickBooks Online, you’ll need to purchase the $50/mo Plus plan, and payroll is also an additional cost.

      I hope this gives you a better idea of how each program could work for your business. Be sure to take advantage of the free 30-day trials that Xero and QuickBooks Online offer and check out our complete Xero and QuickBooks Online reviews for more details. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask!

      Best wishes,

      -Chelsea Krause

        Jack Drazen

        Bottomline: It’s not about which cloud accounting software is best, but which one will cause you the least amount of pain.

        When I decided I needed some accounting help, I bought QuickBooks Online Plus. Then I hated them with all my guts and switched to Xero. Now I’m disappointed with Xero and will switch back to QuickBooks Online Simple Start. Does that mean I recommend QuickBooks Online? No, it’s like being asked if you want to be kidnapped by someone who hits you (QuickBooks) or someone who will lock you up in a small room (Xero).

        If you’ve never used an accounting software and need help in that area, then whichever you choose is going to be better than nothing. Just make sure you remind yourself that those first days, weeks or months of loving the software will turn to disgust and hate. It’ll help you to know that both of them will let you down.

        If you’re thinking QuickBooks Online, go with their cheapest option unless you’re 100% positive you need a particular feature. You can upgrade later, but you’re not allowed to downgrade.

        If you’re thinking about switching from QuickBooks Online to Xero, make sure you use Xero for at least a couple of hours BEFORE changing. Ask someone who already has Xero, or take it for a spin with their free trial. Why? You don’t know how painful it’ll be when you try to do something you’re used to doing in QuickBooks Online, only to find out is extremely complicated, or it’s something you can’t even do in Xero.
        It can be a small annoyance that will build up until you curse them, or it can be a deal-breaker. So be sure you try out your usual workflow in Xero before making the switch.

        Both of them are kidnappers that will have you and your data hostage. Both of them will disappoint you. Both of them will make you mad. Although they’ll upset you in different ways.

        My best advice is to set your expectations as if you’ll lose an arm, get beat up and have your fingers broken. It’s that mindset that’ll help you out when you’re cursing their software: “Hey, at least I still have all my fingers. It could be worse.”

          Chelsea Krause

          Hi Jack,

          I’m sorry to hear that you had unpleasant experiences with both Xero and QuickBooks Online. While accounting can be frustrating at times, these programs are designed to make life simpler, and I assure you these companies are not keeping your data hostage. If you are still unsatisfied with QuickBooks Online, there are other easy-to-use cloud options out there like Zoho Books and Wave that might be worth looking at.

          -Chelsea Krause


            Thank you so much for your review! Helpful and detailed. I just wanted to reach out to tell you my partner and I had such a laugh reading it – it was really refreshing to actually read a funny person like you ! Cheers!


              Which software would you suggest to small business owners specializing in e-commerce and have inventory?

                Chelsea Krause

                Hi Anissa,

                Thanks for reaching out! Both Xero and QuickBooks Online offer eCommerce integrations and inventory capabilities.

                Xero offers 7 eCommerce integrations, including Shopify, BigCommerce, eBay, WooCommerce, Magento, OpenCart, and Ecwid. No matter which Xero plan you use, you’ll have access to inventory. Xero records basic inventory information and also shows you your current stock level, average purchase costs, and the number of items committed to quotes. There are no low payment reminders available, but you can add images to your items.

                QuickBooks Online offers 34 eCommerce integrations, including WooCommerce, Shopify, eBay, Magento, and more. QuickBooks Online only offers inventory for their QuickBooks Online Plus plan. QuickBooks Online records basic inventory information and SKU numbers and item images as well. Unlike Xero, QuickBooks Online allows you to set inventory reorder points and create inventory bundles as well.
                Both Xero and QuickBooks also offer a Zapier integration, which connects your software with 40+ eCommerce solutions.

                Ultimately, both are great options and you can’t go wrong with either one. I personally prefer Xero, however, the right choice for your business will ultimately depend on your business’s specific needs and price range. I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any further questions.

                Best wishes,
                Chelsea Krause


                  Thank you for your article.
                  I wonder is it possible to backup data from both xero and qbo to my own drive as a safety measure?

                    Chelsea Krause

                    Hi John,

                    Thanks for reaching out! You won’t be able to create a full company backup (as you would in QuickBooks Desktop Pro), but you can export individual files and backup your data that way.

                    With Xero, you can export your chart of accounts, reports, contacts, invoices, bills, fixed assets, budgets, and your inventory. You can learn more on the Xero community.

                    With QuickBooks Online, you can export your sales, expenses, invoices, bills, customers, inventory, and reports. I hope this helps!

                    Best wishes,
                    -Chelsea Krause

                      Al Balzowski

                      Thank you very much for your thorough review and comparison.
                      We have been using desktop QB for several years, and are now contemplating moving to an online platform (QBO or Xero), especially for the possibility of entering transactions “automatically” via ReceiptBank and HubDoc.
                      During these years I’ve accumulated dozens and dozens of “Memorized Transactions” in QB, which greatly help when posting recurring transactions.
                      Do you know if any of the two (QBO or Xero) would allow me to upload those QB memorized transactions, so I wouldn’t need to recreate them, which would be a tremendous amount of work?
                      Thanks in advance for your kind assistance.

                        Chelsea Krause

                        Hi Al,

                        I’m glad you found the comparison helpful! Unfortunately, neither QuickBooks Online or Xero will allow you to transfer your existing Memorized transactions from QuickBooks desktop into their programs. I did a bit of research to see if anyone has discovered a workaround for this, but my search came up blank. As far as I know, you’ll have to recreate each Memorized Transaction manually.

                        Best wishes,
                        Chelsea Krause

                          Chelsea Krause

                          Hi Al,

                          I still haven’t found a workaround for having to recreate your memorized transactions when switching over to QuickBooks Online or Xero, but I did find a Memorized Transaction report within QuickBooks Pro that might be helpful. The Memorized Transaction Listing report will show all of the memorized transactions you’ve set, so you can have all of the information in one place when (or if) you recreate them in another software. Hope that helps a little!

                          Best wishes,
                          Chelsea Krause


                            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

                                Where do you see that? I see $30 here: https://xero-us.sjv.io/c/205352/384921/5453


                                  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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