Accounting software can vastly boost any business's efficiency, while significantly reducing a manager's least favorite activity – filing paperwork. QuickBooks and FreshBooks are two of the best accounting solutions around. But which is best for you?
In this article, we take a deep look at all the features the two services have to offer, highlighting each one's benefits and downsides.
Depending on your needs, either one might be your favorite. Here's why…
In this guide:
QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Features
Both accounting software services offer a lot of features, covering the basics of invoicing, expensing, and time-tracking, with plenty of third-party integrations to handle everything else.
All features offer in-depth functionality as well, letting users tweak templates to get just the right setup. Here's an overview of what to expect from each service.
- Customizable templates
- Mobile app tracks miles driven
- 30-day free trial
- Customer support isn't the best
- A little pricey for small operations
- Detailed profit and loss comparisons
- Simple data import and export
- Automated invoice generator
- 30-day free trial
- The $10/user upcharge adds up fast
- Third-party integration needed for payroll processing
FreshBooks has a “Double-Entry Accounting” feature, which tracks revenue items against their related expenses, in order to give users a mini snapshot of their profits and losses at a granular level. It'll also automatically check that debit and credit amounts are equal to each other, pinpointing errors in the moment, and not leaving them for users to sort out during tax season.
Financial transactions are imported and categorized into FreshBooks, with categories for equity, transfers or refunds, and a summary report can be exported to Excel too. Your own accountant can be added to a FreshBooks account with a few clicks, giving them the ease of exclusive access.
QuickBooks is similarly built around tracking all your expenses: It sorts transactions into tax categories, and links photos of receipts to the transactions they represent, generating a variety of reports from the raw data. One extra perk QuickBooks offers? Its mobile app uses smartphone GPS to automatically track miles driven, creating a report that logs accurate business trip deductions.
Invoicing and Payments
When invoicing, any automated processes are a huge boon: They help businesses establish regular billing periods or send follow-up reminders with as little effort as possible, saving employees time to do their real work.
QuickBooks offers personalizable invoice templates (including recurring ones), automatically added billable hours (with integrations available for Google Calendar and QuickBooks' own TSheets), automated reminders, alerts to let users know when their customers have viewed or have paid an invoice, and automatic matching, which pairs payments to invoices to leave a paper trail of who's paid what.
FreshBooks also offers an invoice generator, which not only lets users create a custom template complete with a logo, but also includes a thank you email to accompany it. Tracked time and expenses can be quickly added as well, and taxes can be added automatically if needed.
Follow-up reminders can also be automated to be sent at any set intervals, while late fees can be charged, either as a percentage or a flat rate. FreshBooks' software lets businesses accept payment through Automated Clearing House (ACH) bank transfers, major credit cards including Mastercard, Visa, and American Express, and Apple Pay.
Quickbooks' business expense tracking features can integrate with users' accounts across platforms, including bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, Square, and more. Users can create custom categories to automatically shunt expenses into, and can run reports for added visibility.
The mobile app can snap photos of receipts, and then automatically process the information, adding it fluidly – this feature also cross-applies to invoicing, letting users add receipt images to their invoices when needed. There's also a built-in cash flow statement feature, which keep users updated on their profits and losses at any given time.
FreshBooks has many of the same expensing abilities: Bank accounts and credit cards can be connected, multiple currencies are supported, receipts can be photographed and logged, expenses can be categorized to make tax filings easier, and it's all backed up on the cloud. Client-specific expenses can be marked as billable to the right client, marked up, and automatically included with the invoice.
FreshBooks includes time tracking features in its core plans. It offers a timer, available across mobile and browsers, that users can clock in and out through, with fields for noting which client to bill and how each time period was spent. Integrations allow for time to be tracked from within Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Teamwork, among others. Entire teams' times are visible in a calendar view, allowing for a full birds-eye view of an operation in real time.
QuickBooks, however, offers a more feature-rich time tracking function at an additional cost. Called “TSheets by QuickBooks,” the service is designed for assigning employees tasks in addition to allowing employees to track their time. The base plan is called Premium and costs $8 per user per month, on top of a base fee of $20 per month. It includes job and shift scheduling, real-time reports, time-off management, alerts, and even a time clock kiosk with facial recognition.
The other plan, Elite, costs $10 per user per month after a base $40 per month fee. It includes everything in Premium, plus project estimates that can be compared to actuals, a project activity feed, timesheet signatures, and geofencing.
If you're a small business comfortable with letting your employees manage their own time, FreshBooks offers the best time tracking. If your projects require more top-down oversight (and you have the money to pay for it), QuickBooks' TSheets add-on is for you.
FreshBooks does not have a native feature for processing employee payrolls, but it does offer two integrations: Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll), which costs between $6 and $12 per user per month after a base $39 per month fee, and PaymentEvolution, a Canada-only payroll service that has a limited free tier as well as a $22 per month tier.
All of QuickBooks' plans offer a full-service payroll ability, including unlimited payroll runs, auto-calculated taxes and end-of-year forms, an online portal to let employees view pay stubs and tax data, support for garnishments and deductions, and downloadable historical data reports. The Premium plan also adds support for same-day direct deposit and workers’ comp administration, as well as a HR support center.
Integration with other software
Both QuickBooks and FreshBooks offer plenty of integrations with commonly used services for payments, payroll, ecommerce, bookkeeping, CRM, file storage, and marketing, among others.
We've included a partial list of the most popular options for each accounting service below. The full, searchable databases for both QuickBooks integrations and FreshBooks integrations are available online.
FreshBooks offers more integrations overall, and even makes its API available to developers interested in creating their own.
- Housecall Pro
- G Suite
Reporting and Dashboards
Both accounting services offer plenty of reporting. FreshBooks has reports for profit and loss, sales tax summaries, client accounts, payments collected, and expenses. The dashboard is populated with the most relevant graphs and charts, covering outstanding revenue, monthly recurring revenue, total profit, revenue streams, spending, and unbilled time.
QuickBooks users can find the Reports Center on their navigation menu, for a quick way to locate the software's standard preset report templates or to customize new ones. A ‘management reports' section lets users create professional versions complete with a cover page, table of contents, preliminary pages, and end notes. The preset templates include audit logs, balance sheets, statements of cash flow, open invoices, customer reports, sales tax reports, and budget overviews, as well as profit and loss reports compiled by month, class, customer, and year-to-date.
QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Pricing
At first glance, FreshBooks appears much more cost effective than QuickBooks – its range of base plan prices varies from $4.50 to $15 per month, compared to QuickBooks' base pricing range of $15 to $150 per month.
But Freshbooks also charges $10 per month per user for every team member added to any plan after the first. QuickBooks, meanwhile, includes a user cap within each plan, with no extra charge. Which plan and service is the cheapest will vary depending on a company's needs.
Both services offer a 30-day free trial. Here's the in-depth breakdown of their plan pricing.
FreshBooks offers three main plans, plus one additional custom-priced version for enterprise businesses. The three main plans are Lite, starting at $4.50 per month; Plus, at $7.50 per month; and Premium, at $15 per month. Each team member added costs an additional $10 per month.
The Lite Plan includes features for invoicing, payments, time tracking, estimates, reporting, and budgeting, all delivered through a secured dashboard. It's capped at 5 billable clients, however, making it unappealing for any of the self-employed pros it's aimed at who don't have a narrow client list.
The Plus Plan expands this cap to 50 billable clients, as well as including some particularly attractive streamlining features: It supports automated recurring invoices, late fees, and late payment reminders, client retainers, and an unlimited number of proposals. The automation abilities are a big part of why accounting software is so useful, so FreshBooks' Plus tier is likely to be best for the average company.
The Premium Plan doesn't add new features, although it does extend the billable client cap to a hefty 500. The lack of features makes this plan tier less exciting, and it's tough to picture anyone opting for it unless they have a large enough client base to justify it.
FreshBooks also offers an add-on, the $20/month Advanced Payments, which is available to those using the Plus and Premium plans, but not the Lite one. This gives users a PCI-compliant virtual terminal to streamline payments, which operates with a 3.5% + $0.3 transaction fee. Even without this add-on, all plans allow users to process credit cards and ACH bank transfers online.
For more, including detail on extra costs and add-ons, see our full Guide to FreshBooks Pricing
QuickBooks comes in five plans, with a base pricing range that goes well beyond Freshbooks'.
Here are the prices to expect: The Self-Employed plan costs $15 per month; Simple Start costs $25 per month; Essentials costs $40 per month; Plus costs $70 per month; and Advanced costs $150 per month.
The Self-Employed Plan is specifically aimed at freelancers and independent contractors. It's relatively limited, but offers strong base support for tracking expenses and receipts, invoicing, tracking miles driven, basic reporting, and estimating quarterly taxes.
The Simple Start Plan is for small businesses, from sole proprietors to LLCs and simple partnerships. It offers more complex versions of the self-employed plan's perks, including wider reporting abilities, sales and sales tax tracking, and the ability to both send estimates and manage 1099 contractors.
The Essentials Plan is built for mid-sized operations that need a little more functionality – including better reporting, bill management, and time tracking – and supports 3 users. The Plus Plan lets businesses track inventory, making it a good option for vendors and ecommerce stores, as well as offering even more comprehensive reporting and support for 5 users.
Finally, the pricey Advanced Plan brings a host of enterprise-level bonuses, including batch importing, role-based access, a dedicated account manager, and on-demand online training.
Understand the extra costs of QuickBooks' add-ons and integrations with our QuickBooks Pricing Guide
QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Ease of Use
Both services offer a graph-filled main dashboard, with a vertical sidebar on the left, from which users can jump to a variety of categories that cover the main features they'll use. Both services are also easy to pick up, with a relatively intuitive structure that should turn up the needed feature with just a few clicks, even via the mobile app version.
At the same time, neither service is perfect. Functionality for certain features may be too inflexible for some: FreshBooks' ticketing system is a little stripped-down, for instance. However, there are no large-scale failures to point towards, and the basic user will likely be just as well off with either.
And, when it comes to adding third-party integrations and add-on services, both FreshBooks and QuickBooks make it easy. However, some reviewers maintain that QuickBooks doesn't make it quite as easy to unsubscribe from these extra services – an issue that FreshBooks does not face.
QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Customer Service and Support
QuickBooks offers a searchable online portal, with articles and video tutorials to guide users through common issues. It's divided into categories like ‘Reports,' ‘Payroll and Workers,' and ‘Advanced Accounting,' among many others. There's also an additional resource center, video training courses, a blog, and a community forum where users can interact with their peers.
If logged in, users will also have access to live support, either through a live chat function available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or via phone call.
Similarly, FreshBooks has its own online support portal, with categories including ‘Dashboard & Settings,' ‘Invoices & Payments,' and ‘My Team'. It also offers phone support (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET).
FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks Online: Which Accounting Software Is Right For You?
Both services offer a fairly comprehensive range of accounting features. Overall, QuickBooks has more features, although FreshBooks offers more third-party integrations to compensate. Furthermore, they're both easy to navigate, and both will vastly improve your business's accounting.
So which is best? It likely depends on how many employees at your company will be regularly using the service.
When it comes to pricing, FreshBooks has lower rates, provided a business only needs one or two team members to be able to access their FreshBooks account. Since adding any FreshBooks team member after the first one costs $10/month/user, pricing can add up fast, compared to QuickBooks' set number of users (their $70/month Plus plan supports up to five, for example).
In other words, FreshBooks is most cost effective for a small handful of accountants, while QuickBooks is most cost effective for five or more accountants. Provided FreshBooks' cap on billable clients isn't a major concern, FreshBooks is the best option for smaller businesses, while QuickBooks is the best option for larger ones.
We'd further recommend the respective ‘Plus' plans, since both services offer the best combination of low pricing and quantity of features included.
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