While it’s not a clear-cut decision for most service businesses, there are a few things to consider when choosing the right level of QuickBooks Online. This article covers the different pricing plans and helps guide you as to which one might fit your business best.
QuickBooks Online Pricing Options
There are four levels of QuickBooks Online to choose from, depending on your needs. The most basic option, QuickBooks Online Self-Employed handles a lot of the day-to-day functions at only $10 per month. On the other end of the price list is the Plus level that starts at $50 per month. In between there are two other options that have different features at either $15 or $35 per month. The nice thing is that each level comes with a free trial to test out the software and get you started.
What drives each pricing level is the feature set. The Self-Employed version is designed to be the simplest version with the fewest options. As you move up the price list you start to get more features designed for more complex business operations. This means that as your financial savviness grows, QuickBooks Online is there to grow with you. You can upgrade your account at any time with the small business versions (Self-Employed is the exclusion as discussed below).
One more thing to consider is that their most advanced, specialized features are only available on the desktop version. Make sure to review our in-depth guide on QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop if you think this might impact you.
QuickBooks Online Self-Employed
The lowest cost option at $10 per month is the Self-Employed version, primarily designed for freelancers. It allows you to add bank accounts for automatic transaction tracking, keep track of income and expenses, track mileage for tax reporting, and it has a series of canned reports available.
It has some great built-in features for a self-employed business owner, like the ability to mark transactions as business or personal. While it’s not a best practice to use the same account for both, it’s a reality that Intuit has addressed to make life easier. Then there’s the constant reminder of your estimated quarterly taxes. It’s on your dashboard so it’s harder to forget this important tax payment every three months. With this pricing level, you can also send basic invoices and collect payments through their web processing service (for an additional fee it should be noted).
At this price, don’t expect to find detailed reporting or the ability to customize much. It is a limited version of the application. If you’re a solopreneur and just need to be ready come tax time, the Self-Employed version might be perfect for your needs. One important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t upgrade from Self-Employed to any of the other versions. Instead, you’ll have to create a new account if you expand your operations.
QuickBooks Online Simple Start
The next step up is the Simple Start tier, which starts adding more features and customizations for $15 per month. Unless you’re the only employee or contractor in your business, this is likely the place to start. This is partly because it’s designed to be a more professional edition of the software and allows more flexibility. At this level you also get access to the power of integrated apps.
With apps, you can expand the functionality of QuickBooks and better integrate your data. One examples is with FieldPulse business management software. By integrating FieldPulse, service contractors can add features like CRM, scheduling, enhanced estimates/invoices, team GPS tracking, and much more. This allows business operations to be tightly integrated with your accounting system, and it allows you to keep all of your customer data within reach.
Simple Start provides the basic features you need to keep track of your finances. It’s a great option if you’re just getting started in business and need to keep track of your numbers. As you grow, it’s easy to upgrade to the next levels of the product.
QuickBooks Online Essentials
With Essentials, for $35 per month, now you’re able to expand your team’s access to QuickBooks, manage bills, and keep track of employee timesheets. On this last point, while QuickBooks may offer this feature, there are apps that can do a much better job of managing time collection. Software like FieldPulse allows your team to more easily track their time in the field. The advantage of combining apps is improved time tracking combined with QuickBooks process payroll processing. QuickBooks also makes it possible to include hours information in your financial reporting.
The biggest advantage of Essentials over Simple Start is the ability to add more users to your account. This means being able to hand over day-to-day financial responsibilities to some else, like an office manager. While they keep track of the accounts and transactions, you’ll be free to look at financial reports and check in on numbers as you need to. It’s important to note that you’re able to invite an accountant to work on your account starting with Simple Start, so this is more for someone who needs another employee working with them in QuickBooks.
Another great feature with Essentials is the ability to track bills (or payables). This is something missing from Simple Start and a feature that can make this version worthwhile, even if you don’t have a team. This step up also doubles the number of reports from 20 to 40+.
Essentials adds in new features and provides access to multiple users. Consider this option if your team is growing. It’s the right fit if you need to manage timesheets or it’s time to bring in someone to work on finances with you.
QuickBooks Online Plus
The top tier of QuickBooks Online is the Plus version, which adds a lot of additional features to help you plan and manage your business. There’s more reporting, the ability to track multiple locations, inventory management, the introduction of purchase orders, better tracking of 1099 contractors, and more. This is the kind of functionality that’s needed to run a larger business.
One thing that this plan offers that seems like it should be available in the other tiers is budgeting. While it’s possible to manage budgets outside of Quickbooks, this is a really nice feature to have. The important thing to consider is that any one of the features introduced might be reason alone to pick this price level over the others. It’s possible that you need to upgrade from one version to the next to better support the way you do business.
The Plus version of QuickBooks Online offers the most features, customization, and reporting options. At $50 per month, it can be a big investment for a smaller company. However, to get access to the more powerful tools it offers can be worth it if it helps you run your business more effectively.
Add-On Options for Payroll Processing
Starting with Simple Start, QuickBooks Online offers the ability to manage payroll right from the application. There are two add-on payroll options available – Enhanced Payroll and Full-Service Payroll. Enhanced Payroll costs $39 per month, while Full-Service Payroll costs $99 per month. Then you’ll pay $2 per employee per month for each service.
Enhanced Payroll manages tax deductions, direct deposit, allows you to prepare and pay state and federal tax filings, and prepares employee W2’s at the end of the year. Full-Service Payrolls does all of the above, but it adds professional setup assistance and manages all of your tax filings for you. For more information on the difference, see the detailed Academy article on QuickBooks Online Payroll Options.
Making the Choice
As you can see, there are a number of options available when choosing the right version of QuickBooks Online for your company. Each has different pricing and different features. If you’re a freelancer or single-person company, then Self-Employed is a great place to start. If you plan on growing the team, then start with Simple Start as it gives you more of an upgrade path over time. For more complex businesses, Essentials and Plus might be the right fit, depending on how you need to use your accounting program.
Make sure to review the features comparison chart to ensure the choice you make will support your business. If in doubt, it’s always best to start small and have a plan to grow. When looking at QuickBooks Online pricing, it’s best to consider the value of what you’re buying and how it will help your business. Once you’ve made your choice, give it time and re-evaluate if you find you’re needing more. And if you’ve maxed out the functionality of QuickBooks Online, maybe it’s time to consider hiring a CPA.