QuickBooks Online Pricing: What does it really cost?


Posted 7 months ago in Product ReviewsSmall Business Tips
by Rachel Cottam

Disclaimer:  We are a QuickBooks competitor whose primary goal is to make accounting simpler, smarter and more affordable for the small business owner.  Because we believe in the software we’ve built, we’d love for you to give ZipBooks a try! But we also want to be transparent in our product reviews.

The following information is taken directly from Intuit resources and customer reviews.  We hope this article will be helpful in your evaluation of accounting software, whether you choose to try our product or not.

QuickBooks is by far the most recognizable name in the accounting software space.  QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a cloud-based alternative to QuickBooks Desktop.  The mobility of the platform is appealing to many users, despite frequent complaints of bugs and poor customer support.  

At a glance, QuickBooks Online pricing seems more reasonable than the Desktop version (starting at $299).  We’d like to take a closer look at their pricing structure as well as the additional costs accumulated by QuickBooks Online users.

QuickBooks Online Pricing Breakdown

 

Self-Employed

$10/month

Simple Start

$20/month

Essentials

$35/month

Plus

$60/month

Advanced

$150/month

Track income & expenses

x

x

x

x

x

Capture & organize receipts

x

x

x

x

x

Invoice & accept payments

x

x

x

x

x

Chat Support

x

x

x

x

x

Run basic reports

x

x

x

x

x

Run advanced reports

 

 

 

x

x

Maximize tax deductions

 

x

x

x

x

Send estimates

 

x

x

x

x

Track sales & sales tax

 

x

x

x

x

Phone support

 

x

x

x

x

Manage bills

  

x

x

x

Track Time

  

x

x

x

Track Project profitability

  

 

x

x

Track inventory

   

x

x

Manage 1099 contractors

   

x

x

Multiple users

  

Up to 3

Up to 5

Up to 25

Other

Track miles

  

 

Customer service manager

QuickBooks training

Add-ons

 

Self Service Payroll $35/month

Full Service Payroll $80/month

(+$4/employee/month)

Tiered Pricing

QBO offers four tiers of pricing as well as a Self-Employed plan, which is separate from the other plans. (In fact, if you want to upgrade from “Self-Employed” to “Starter” you have to create a new account).  

As expected, each upgrade includes more and better features, for a higher cost.  If users choose to integrate with Payroll, the monthly subscription rate increases by either $39 or $84.

Accountant Bundles

If you are registered for a QBO Accountant plan, you can purchase client bundles at a wholesale price. Firms are billed at 50% off the current list price, but can resell QBO to small business owners at a much higher markup.

Currently, the only plans offered to accountants at the wholesale discount are Self-Employed, Essentials and Plus. The discount is not available for current subscribers, only new clients who accountants register for QBO. 

Monthly Subscription

Customers are charged a monthly rate for using QBO.  There is no contract—users can switch plans or cancel service at any time.  In some cases, users are offered the option to pay for an entire year for a less expensive overall price.  

However, one customer said that he was initially quoted an annual rate, but then ended up getting charged the more expensive monthly price instead.  

Short-lived Discounts

QBO often offers promotional “Buy Now” pricing to offset the high monthly cost.  Discounts can be up to 50% off for the first three to six months only, after which, the short-term pricing stops and customers are billed for the full amount.  

QuickBooks also offers a free 30-day trial, which includes Payroll and Payments integrations.  However, “Buy Now” promotions are invalid if customers use the free 30-day trial before purchasing.  

Limited Users

Each plan comes with a limited number of users plus two accountants who can access the account. While you used to be able to purchase additional user seats, since they’ve released the software update for QBO Advanced, this is no longer a possibility.

The only way to increase the number of users on your account is to upgrade to a more expensive plan.  

Note: This is one of the more confusing issues on their website. Many of the “Help” articles I looked up provided contradicting information. I finally had to jump into a chat with a Sales rep who told me that it was impossible to add users and pushed me to upgrade.

Price Changes

QuickBooks did raise their prices last year and many customers commented that they feel like price changes happen often.  This is a frustration for many, because the learning curve, time and information they’ve put into QuickBooks make it unlikely for them to switch, despite price increases.

Add-On Features

QBO boasts of many add-ons, integrations and payment processors.  However, each product comes with an additional fee.

Payroll

The most popular QBO add-on is payroll.  Customers can choose between Self-service feature for $35/month or Full-service Payroll for $80/month.  

The cheaper payroll option provides the framework for processing payroll through your QBO account, but requires you to run it and file your own payroll taxes.  With the full-service pay subscription, QuickBooks does everything for you, but you are also paying an extra $80 a month.

On top of your monthly payroll subscription, you are required to pay an extra $4 per month per employee, whether you are on the DIY or full-service payroll plan.  These prices can add up quickly, depending on how many employees are on your team.

Many QBO customers love having their payroll processor immediately integrated with their accounting software, but there are other services that offer payroll integration at a much more affordable price.  

Tax Forms

If you do choose to complete your payroll through QuickBooks, you can also order your tax forms through them.  They offer W-2, 1099, W-3 and 1096 forms for purchase. Blank forms start at $17.99 for 10 forms. If you want to pre-print tax forms using information from your Payroll account, prices start at $57.99 for 10 forms.

Integrations

Services like Shopify, TSheets and MailChimp have integrated with QBO.  However, each service comes with its own monthly subscription fee, separate from QBO’s price.

Here are just a few of the fees for QuickBooks integrations.  

QBO Integration

Price

TSheets

$5 per user per month + $20 base fee

Shopify

$29/month for basic plan

MailChimp

$10/month for basic plan

 

Please note: there are many other integrations available and some may offer a free plan.  These numbers are intended to give perspective of what users might pay in conjunction with their QBO monthly fee.

Payment Gateways

QuickBooks has partnered with payment processors like PayPal, Stripe and Square.  Each product has its own fees. However, if you link your QBO account with QuickBooks Payments, (formerly Intuit Merchant Services), the fees are standardized.  There is no monthly subscription price for QBO users, rather, each transaction incurs a processing fee.  

QuickBooks Payment Type

Processing Fee

Bank Transfer (ACH)

Free

Card – Swiped

2.4% + $0.25

Card – Invoiced

2.9% + $0.25

Card – Keyed

3.4% + $0.25

So, is QBO worth the cost?

We are big supporters of cloud-based software—check out our post on Xero vs QuickBooks to  see why.  However, we also believe that one of the best advantages of cloud-based products is the freedom to offer great prices.

Cloud accounting gives you real-time updates without charging you for every desktop update.  Your information is securely stored, accessible from everywhere and constantly improving. Because of this, cloud-based software products should be pristine, free from bugs and user-friendly.  Unfortunately, the biggest complaints about QBO are about the lack of customer service and the buggy software.

If you are going to charge such exorbitant prices for your product, it better be perfect.  And QBO seems far from perfect. Then, consider all the add-ons you get nickeled and dimed for and it’s hard to say it’s worth the cost.

What about ZipBooks?

We’re not about to call ourselves perfect, but we do believe we’ve created something pretty cool.  We formed ZipBooks with small business owners in mind, not just accountants. Our interface is simple, intelligent and affordable.  Consider our price structure compared to QBO’s most popular plan.     

 

QBO

“Plus”

$60/month

ZipBooks

“Starter”

$0/month

ZipBooks

“Smarter”

$15/month

ZipBooks

“Sophisticated”

$35/month

Track income & expenses

x

x

x

x

Unlimited invoicing

x

x

x

x

Accept online payments

x

x

x

x

Connect bank accounts

x

x

x

x

Sales and tax reports

x

x

x

x

Single interface

 

x

x

x

Gather customer reviews

 

x

x

x

Business Health & invoice Quality Score

 

x

x

x

Time tracking

x

 

x

x

Automated recurring billing

x

 

x

x

Multiple Users

Up to 5

 

x

Unlimited

Machine learning auto-categorization

  

x

x

Advanced reporting

   

x

Advanced Intelligence

   

x

 

We’re not going to nickel and dime you for every service.  We too are small business owners, and we want you to succeed!  

Our free starter plan includes everything you need—invoicing, accounting, contact management, simple reports, review gathering and publishing.  For businesses looking to take the next step, we offer paid accounting and growth plans starting at $15/month.

We know we’re not the only QuickBooks alternative out there, but we invite you to try ZipBooks for free and see for yourself why it’s better!


About Rachel

Rachel Cottam is a content writer at ZipBooks and a former high school English teacher. Her writing and editing have been featured in academic journals and tech websites alike.

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