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Josh Phillips
June 25, 2018

Quickbooks vs. Xero: the ultimate comparison guide 2018

On the face of it, Quickbooks Online and Xero are pretty similar. They’re both cloud-based accountancy packages that do pretty much everything a small business or sole trader could need. You can use them to run your payroll, view your bank accounts, raise invoices, and much more.


Quickbooks Online and Xero are two of the biggest accounting packages in the world.


In 2017, Quickbooks Online scored their two millionth customer — and Xero got their millionth in the same year. That’s not to be taken lightly.


Freelancers, small businesses, and accountants around the world trust them to run their finances and do their taxes.


But what’s the difference between the two?


They’re similar, but they’re not the same. We’ve compared the two for you…
accounting illustration

Quickbooks vs. Xero in 2018. Who wins?

Quickbooks Online






User Interface






Customer Service

Read on to find out...

The Winner?

Read on to find out...


The best things in life are, of course, free. But where that’s not possible you need to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Both Quickbooks Online and Xero have tiered pricing plans, although Xero gives you access to the same features no matter what price tier you’re on — whereas with Quickbooks you get what you pay for.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — it means you don’t get lumbered with features you don’t use. But what do you get for your money? Let’s find out...


quickbooks logo

Quickbooks Online has three pricing plans:




£6 per month

£15 per month

£25 per month

Each price plan nets you a different feature set.

The self-employed package is aimed at freelancers.  It calculates your personal tax returns for you — and it even submits them to HMRC. But that package doesn’t have the capability to handle VAT or run payroll.

The Essentials and Pro packages are aimed at smaller businesses, and don’t have the capacity to calculate income taxes. But they can calculate and file VAT returns, and run payroll for you — at an additional cost of £1 per employee.

The Pro package has the capability to manage stock and inventory, and to create and track costs on projects. It’s more useful for businesses with something physical to sell than it is for digital-only businesses.

Quickbooks’ pricing plans can be complicated, and the Pro option may be unaffordable for new businesses that need project and client management.


Xero logo

Xero also has three pricing plans:




£10 per month

£22 per month

£27.50 per month

Unlike Quickbooks, Xero’s different pricing plans don’t come with different feature sets. You get access to the same features on the Starter plan as you do on the Premium one.

That said, Xero’s starter plan has a few limits, which might be a dealbreaker. You can only send five invoices and quotes a month, and you can only enter five bills. This isn’t ideal for a full-time freelancer or small business.

Xero’s Standard and Premium plans allow you to send as many invoices as you want — which is pretty much a necessity. The only difference is that Premium allows you to operate in multiple currencies, which might not be worth the extra £5.50 per month for many businesses.

All plans allow you to run payroll at a cost of £5 for the first five employees, and then £1 per employee thereafter. You can also run projects on every plan, but you have to pay to do so.

The winner is: Quickbooks

We like that Xero doesn’t limit their feature set on lower price plans, but ultimately that’s not enough to make up for the limitations on their Starter plan, which makes it pretty much useless for all but the smallest of small businesses.



Xero dashboard


As far as feature-sets are concerned, it’s pretty hard to distinguish between Xero and Quickbooks. Both offer an array of features aimed at helping small businesses to manage their money.

At the heart of both Xero and Quickbooks is the bank feed — a secure connection to your bank account which pulls through all your account balances and transaction data. This lets you see how much you have, what’s coming in and what’s going out.

piggy bank accountancyBoth Xero and Quickbooks feature an invoicing tool which lets users create and send invoices — as well as the ability to take payments. Xero features integrations with Stripe, Paypal, and Apple Pay, while Quickbooks integrates with GoCardless and Paypal. These integrations allow your customers to pay you directly from their invoice.

Xero and Quickbooks can both run payroll from within the app. They can both handle timesheets, variable pay-grades, and they both submit the relevant documentation to HMRC automatically. Quickbooks charges £1 per payslip, while Xero charges £5 for your first five employees, and then £1 for each additional employee.

Quickbooks Self-Employed can automatically calculate income tax returns and submit them to HMRC at the click of a button — but their Essentials and Plus package don’t offer this capability.

That said, the two more expensive Quickbook packages offer capabilities that the Self-Employed one doesn’t. You can’t run payroll from Quickbooks’ cheapest package or manage client information.

The winner is: Xero

We’re giving this round to Xero because they don’t limit their features by price tier, and some of the features that Quickbooks Self-Employed is missing, like the ability to create and manage clients and projects, are pretty vital for freelancers and self-employed workers looking to get an overview of their finances.

Interface and User Experience


quickbooks dashboard


A clear and easy-to-use interface is as important in an accountancy package as its features — a good user interface helps you to understand and interact with your money, and makes running your business that bit easier.

A well-organised interface makes it easy for you to see your income and outgoings, and to quickly categorise spending and send invoices.

The winner is: Quickbooks

While both Quickbooks and Xero have similar interfaces, with easy-to-read graphs showing your transaction, and your profits and expenses. Everything is a few clicks away.

That said, Quickbooks’ interface is far easier to pick up at first. While Xero’s interface is pretty fluid once you get used to it, there’s still a learning curve.

Quickbooks also has a more complete mobile app — while Xero’s gives you a high-level overview of your business, you can’t create and send invoices on the go.



accounting system


When you’ve got your business’s finances lurking on a website, that website had better be secure, right?

You’d hope Xero and Quickbooks take security seriously — and they do. The bank feed, which is at the heart of things, uses the same security as your bank’s website does, using the Open Banking protocol. It's as secure as logging on to your bank via their site.

So the pipeline from your bank to your accountancy package is pretty much watertight.

But what about Quickbooks and Xero themselves?

Well, they’re pretty secure. They both use industry-standard TLS security to communicate between your computer and their servers, and store all your data in secure data centres with multiple backups in locations across the world. A bit overkill?security

Well, it’s this redundancy that makes both Xero and Quickbooks so secure. It means that if one server gets hacked or goes down, they can use another one — and you won’t notice a thing.

And both services give you the option to use two-factor authentication. With 2FA, you get a text or an email with a secure code for you to enter when you try to log in, giving you an extra layer of security.

2FA might seem like a hassle but it makes it all-but impossible for someone else to log in to your account.

All this means you can rest secure with either Xero or Quickbooks.


The winner is: it’s a tie!


No matter which accountancy package you go for, you can sleep tight knowing your business’s financial data is secure.


Customer Service

customer service

There’s a clear winner here — and it’s Xero.

Xero’s got a comprehensive help centre with articles covering pretty much every aspect of the software. There’s also a live chat help service, and a community forum where Xero users can seek advice from one another. They don’t offer phone support, though, which might prove a deal-breaker for some.

Quickbooks also has a help centre, but it’s less exhaustive than Xero’s, and they don’t offer live chat. Instead, they have an email support service. Quickbooks used to be notorious for slow customer service. They’re cleaning up their act, though.

The winner is: Xero

Quickbooks just can’t compete with Xero’s customer service offer. And even though they’re getting better, it’s not enough for them to clinch this round.

The overall winner is: it’s a tie!

This might sound like a bit of a cop-out, but both Xero and Quickbooks are industry-leading apps for a reason, and either one will help make managing your business’s money quicker and easier. Ultimately, it depends what's most important to you. If you're after more bang for your buck and a simple user interface, Quickbook's the one for you. On the other hand, if you'd like a wider range of features and great customer service, Xero might be a better option.