Xero VS QuickBooks
In Monopoly, there’s always that one smug player who snatches up Boardwalk and Park Place first and proceeds to put three houses on each space even though we all know they’re going to win anyway. For years, QuickBooks was basically that guy. But now Xero, a relatively new contender, has placed a piece on the board.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro (see our review) was created in 1992 and offers incredible accounting tools, positive customer reviews, good integrations, and the most extensive feature selection I’ve seen in an accounting program. It’s no wonder this software is used by accountants worldwide.
For its part, Xero (see our review) is a robust, cloud-based accounting solution that rivals QuickBooks in terms of capability and popularity. It’s been around since 2006 and offers full-featured mobile apps, amazing customer service, access for unlimited users, and an impressive feature selection.
But who comes out on top, QuickBooks Pro or Xero? (Who will pass Go? Who will collect $200?) Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to select the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put QuickBooks Pro and Xero head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.
Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our comparison chart of top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.
Table of Contents
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
There’s a reason QuickBooks Pro has such an excellent reputation. When it comes to accounting, you can’t beat the capabilities of QuickBooks Pro. This software offers a strong chart of accounts, journal entries, fixed asset management, hundreds of reports, and more.
This doesn’t mean you should discount the competition, though. Xero also has strong accounting capabilities and offers almost all of the same accounting features, just on a slightly less developed scale.
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
|Chart of Accounts||✓||✓|
|Fixed Asset Management||✓||✓|
|Importing & Exporting||✓||✓|
While QuickBooks Pro and Xero offer many of the same features, QuickBooks Pro has far more developed features. In addition, QuickBooks Pro offers key functions like project management.
When it comes down to it, QuickBooks Pro is almost unbeatable in terms of accounting features, unless you upgrade to a complete ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution.
QuickBooks Pro and Xero offer two very different pricing structures.
QuickBooks Pro is a locally-installed software that costs $299.95 for a single user. When you purchase QuickBooks Pro, you download the software onto your computer. The license is good for three years (after which Intuit discontinues support for the software). Payroll is an additional $39/mo, phone support is $89/3-mo, and live bank feeds are $10-$15/mo.
As cloud-based software, Xero offers a monthly subscription structure with five pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $180/mo.
It’s hard to say which software is cheaper because there are a lot of variables. For example, the QuickBooks Pro license should last you three years. If you use the software for three years and don’t need additional users, this route could save you some money. However, the extra costs of QuickBooks Pro add up quickly.
If you want unlimited users, payroll, live bank feeds, and strong customer support, then Xero will probably be a better bet. This is why this section remains a tie. We recommend crunching some numbers to see which software is the more cost-effective option for your specific business.
Note: Both of these options are best suited for mid- to large-sized businesses or small businesses which have complex accounting needs. Small businesses that don’t have such developed accounting procedures might want to take a look at our other accounting reviews for a more suitable option.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Xero is compatible with nearly any device, so long as you have an internet connection and are using one of the following browsers:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer 11
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla Firefox
- Safari 8+
As locally-installed software, QuickBooks Pro has very specific hardware requirements. QuickBooks Pro is only compatible with the following programs:
- Windows 7, 8.1, and 10
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2003 (SP2), 2008, 2008 (R2), 2011, and 2012
Xero wins this category because it is a viable solution for most users, whereas QuickBooks Pro is much more limited.
Users & Permissions
Xero offers unlimited users in all five of its pricing plans. The company also offers some of the strongest user permissions available in cloud accounting. QuickBooks Pro only grants one user per license and additional users cost $250 each. It’s easy to see which solution is best for multiple users.
Ease Of Use
While both QuickBooks Pro and Xero have steep learning curves, Xero is much simpler to wrap your head around—especially for users who don’t know much about accounting. Additionally, Xero has much better support resources, including a comprehensive help center that walks you through nearly every feature and function in the software.
If you choose to go with Xero, check out our free How To Set Up Your Xero Account guide to learn how to optimize your account.
As QuickBooks Pro doesn’t offer mobile apps, Xero is the clear winner here. Xero offers a mobile app for iPhones (iOS 9+) and Androids. There are quite a few user complaints that the mobile apps are limited and buggy, but anything is better than nothing, right?
Customer Service & Support
Xero is hands down the winner here, offering incredible customer support. Representatives are prompt and well-informed. The company also provides strong support resources including a comprehensive help center, software training, and small business guides.
QuickBooks, on the other hand, offers poor customer support in general. What’s more, the support you do receive is incredibly overpriced. If good customer service is important to you, there’s no question about which software is best in this regard.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Winner: QuickBooks Pro
In this category, the ‘winner’ is more like the loser. QuickBooks Pro has far more negative complaints than Xero. Granted, the software has been around a lot longer than Xero and has more users, so there is a bigger pool of reviews. Still, 1/5 stars on Consumer affairs doesn’t look good (even if the rating is for all QuickBooks products, not just QuickBooks Pro). The most common complaints revolve around QuickBooks Pro’s steep learning curve, poor customer service, and forced upgrades.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
On the whole, Xero users are incredibly happy with their experiences. The software receives 4.4/5 stars on GetApp and 4.3/5 stars on G2Crowd. On the same site, QuickBooks Pro receives 4.1/5 stars, so the company is still doing something right in terms of customer experience.
Xero offers over 500 integrations compared to QuickBooks Pro’s 115 integrations. In addition to ample add-ons, Xero also offers built-in live bank feeds (QuickBooks Pro charges an extra $10-$15/mo for this depending on your banking institution). If integrations are important to you, Xero is the way to go.
This category is a little unfair. With locally-installed software, you are in charge of your own security. This means there is no built-in security. However, locally-installed software has the potential to be more secure than cloud-based software if you know how to maximize your data security (see our article How to Keep You Locally Installed Accounting Software Secure for more information).
As cloud-based software, Xero has built-in security from the beginning. Xero also provides some of the strongest security precautions out there. For most users, we figure that the convenience of security that is taken care of for you outweighs the extra security steps locally-installed software requires.
And The Overall Winner Is…
Going back to our earlier metaphor, the holder of Boardwalk and Park Place wins again. Despite the fact that Xero wins the majority of the categories, QuickBooks Pro takes the categories that matter most—accounting capability and features. When it comes to accounting software, you just can’t beat QuickBooks Desktop Pro.
QuickBooks Pro has some of the most developed accounting tools on the market. It offers an unbelievable number of features and each feature is highly developed. Although there is a steep learning curve, the UI is attractive and incredibly easy to navigate. The customer support services could use improvement and extra users can come at a hefty price, which makes the software an ideal solution for small to large businesses with only a few users and big needs for complex accounting.
While Xero didn’t win this match, the software put up an incredible fight. Xero is a robust accounting solution with complex features, unlimited users, positive customer reviews, and great customer support. This software is ideal for mid- to large-sized businesses, or businesses looking for a scalable software that will grow with their company, which is exactly why we’ve named it the Best Accounting Software for Larger Businesses. The software is also easier to learn than QuickBooks Pro and has all of the advantages of a cloud-based software, including mobile apps and ample integrations.
Just because QuickBooks Pro is the winner here does not mean that it’s the best choice for your company. Maybe you need the mobility of Xero, or maybe you want to check out a different program entirely. Whatever the case, our comprehensive reviews can help you make an informed decision during your hunt for the perfect accounting software. If you need extra help deciding, read 10 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Accounting Software.
Check out our full QuickBooks Pro and Xero reviews for more information. After doing your research, be sure to take advantage of the free trials on offer and reach out with any questions you have along the way.