As a small business, accounting software can transform your working life. It's the easiest way to monitor money flowing in and out, bill customers, and simply process your finances at the end of the year.
If you're a freelancer or an agency, there are other benefits to using accounting software: you know exactly how much time you've spent on each client and project, and can easily process invoices when it's billing time.
Two of the most popular accounting tools for small businesses are FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online. While they are both powerful tools and popular for good reasons, they work best in different use cases and for different types of businesses.
Read on for our summary of FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks and work out which accounting tool is best for you.
P.S. Also considering Xero? Read our comparison of Xero vs. QuickBooks Online here.
- Introducing FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online
- When to choose QuickBooks Online
- When to choose FreshBooks
- Comparing pricing
- Summary: when to choose QuickBooks Online vs. FreshBooks
Introducing FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online
Founded in 2003, FreshBooks has evolved to be the "all-in-one small business invoice and accounting solution" to help entrepreneurs and small teams spend less time on accounting and more time doing the work they love.
FreshBooks offers a highly user-friendly feature set for invoicing, expenses, time tracking, projects, estimates, and more.
QuickBooks is one of the most well-known accounting platforms on the market and part of the Intuit product family founded in 1983.
When we talk about QuickBooks in this post, we're focusing on QuickBooks Online (QBO), the cloud-based accounting tool from Intuit, rather than their traditional desktop version. Cloud-based SaaS solutions are always our top recommendation, since you can keep all your business apps synced and updated with much less manual work.
When to choose QuickBooks Online
When should you choose QuickBooks Online over FreshBooks? Here are five scenarios when the accounting software giant can make the most sense for your business.
1. If your business sells products
QuickBooks is a stand-out accounting choice if you're selling products or retail goods, while FreshBooks is our top pick for managing clients and billing as a freelancer.
With QuickBooks, you can record your daily sales from every channel and sync sales systems like PayPal, Square and Shopify. QuickBooks also offers inventory management to easily see what you have in stock and on order from your vendors.
If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, take a look at QuickBooks Point of Sale to simplify your in-person transactions. As you'd expect, it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Online, so you can see your POS purchases alongside all your other accounting data.
2. If you need a scalable accounting solution
QuickBooks offers fully-fledged accounting software that's built to scale. It's designed for a wider array of business types and sizes than FreshBooks – and has a very comprehensive set of features. One Capterra review from a long-term QuickBooks user says: "The proverbial 800-pound gorilla still works!"
3. If you want just one financial tool in your stack
QuickBooks is a great all-in-one solution for your accounting and invoicing needs. There are no major gaps – and if there are, other QuickBooks products like QuickBooks Point of Sale will fill many of these. This means you can get away with a smaller app stack.
On the other hand, FreshBooks is focused on a narrower audience: freelancers, small businesses and solopreneurs looking for simple and hassle-free software. Since it avoids complexity, you're more likely to need to sync FreshBooks with other tools to achieve some custom outcomes, but this is simple to do.
4. If your accountant prefers QuickBooks
While your accountant's preferences aren't the most important factor, being aligned on the tools you're using can make both your lives easier.
QuickBooks tends to be the top choice for accountants in the US, but it's also quickly grown in popularity worldwide in the last few years and now offers many country-specific bank feeds, integrations and tax compliance features.
FreshBooks is still quite focused on North America, so if you're based outside of it your tax return might be faster with QuickBooks than FreshBooks.
5. If you have a mid-sized or fast-growing business
If your business is currently mid-sized or fast-growing, QuickBooks Online will likely be a better fit for you. FreshBooks has a fantastic feature set for small businesses, but when your business grows, you may need to switch tools.
If you try out QuickBooks and love it now, you'll likely still love it when your business doubles or triples in size.
When to choose FreshBooks
What about FreshBooks? Here's how to know if FreshBooks is a good QuickBooks alternative for your business.
1. If you're a freelancer
FreshBooks is designed with small business owners in mind, especially freelancers. If you listen to entrepreneurship podcasts, you might have heard their ads and recognize their brand.
Of businesses that reviewed FreshBooks on G2, 20.6% are in marketing and advertising – many of which will be self-employed consultants. Most QuickBooks Online reviewers, by contrast, are accountants (what did we say earlier about accountants loving QB?)
FreshBooks makes it easy to track time spent per client or project, so you can check your productivity in any time period. And when it comes to invoicing, you can quickly turn the hours into an invoice or mark hours as already billed without creating an invoice from them.
Other FreshBooks advantages include simple project management, integration with Stripe to get paid online, and automated and manual invoice reminders for unpaid bills.
2. If you're just getting started with your business
If you're working on a side hustle or just getting started with a small business idea, you may not want to go all-in with a fancy accounting software just yet.
FreshBooks is a better choice than QuickBooks Online for simplicity, although QBO's complexity has its own advantages – you can do much more with the system.
3. If you want user-friendly software that's quick to set up
FreshBooks' main benefit is that it's extremely easy to use. On G2, it has a rating of 9.2/10 for ease of use, compared to QuickBook's 8.1/10.
FreshBooks also receives consistently high feedback for ease of setup and ease of admin. If you want to reduce as much complexity as possible with your accounting processes, FreshBooks is a great pick.
4. If you prioritize quick responses from support
FreshBooks' support team gets a whole lot of love. One long-term user writes that for the relatively few times it may be needed, FreshBooks support is extremely responsive. They offer a website contact form, an actual email address managed by humans and toll-free phone numbers.
With your personal support key, you can easily give the FreshBooks team secure access to your account to make any fixes or help you set things up. FreshBooks is also known for having a great refund policy, which makes upgrades and downgrades more straightforward.
5. If you want native integrations with your other tools
FreshBooks has a remarkably easy-to-navigate integrations library with the most popular tools for small business owners. When it comes to CRM integrations in particular, FreshBooks offers accessible out-the-box syncs, including tested connections with HubSpot, Capsule and AgileCRM.
Both FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online also offer two-way syncs with hundreds of apps via PieSync, which makes it a breeze to connect your accounting app with the rest of your app stack no matter which tool you choose.
Comparing QuickBooks pricing vs. FreshBooks pricing
Both FreshBooks and QuickBooks are affordable accounting tools for small businesses and solopreneurs, but their pricing depends on your business size and the features you need.
QuickBooks' basic plan, Essentials, starts at $25/month and ticks all of the boxes for small business accounting needs, offering core features for tracking income and expenses, capturing and organizing receipts, invoicing, accepting payments, and checking key reports and metrics. The main limitation of QBO’s Essentials is its access for only one user.
If you want to track time and inventory and access more reporting, including for project profitability, you'll need to opt for the Plus plan, available at $70/month.
The highest QBO plan, Advanced, is offered for $150/month. This gives you access to features such as batch invoices and expenses, automated approvals and reminders, management reports and fields, and custom reporting fields.
You can also add payroll to any plan as an add-on, which costs between $45 + $4/employee/month to $125 + $10/employee/month depending on the functionality you need.
FreshBooks' entry-level plan, Lite, is offered at $15/month, making it more affordable than QuickBooks Essentials. This plan has so many advantages for freelancers and very small teams - especially the unlimited customized invoices, expenses, time tracking and estimates. If you need time tracking on a budget, FreshBooks is the perfect choice.
A disadvantage of FreshBooks is the maximum number of billable clients per plan. With the Lite plan you can only manage and invoice 5 clients, which is very limited for most businesses.
However, this jumps up to 50 clients with the Plus plan, which is offered at an affordable $25/month, the same cost as QuickBooks's basic plan, and includes unlimited proposals and recurring invoices. FreshBooks Premium supports 500 clients.
If managing and invoicing many clients is important for your business, QuickBooks might be your better choice. QBO also offers the better solution for retail businesses that need to track inventory.
Alternatively, if you need to track time, FreshBooks offers this at a much lower price point.
Summary: when to choose QuickBooks Online vs. FreshBooks
While QuickBooks is the stronger all-round accounting tool for businesses of all sizes, FreshBooks tends to be the better choice for small and one-person businesses.
|When QuickBooks is best||When FreshBooks is best|
|Your business sells products||You're a freelancer or solopreneur|
|You need a scalable solution and aren't scared of complexity||You're just getting started with your business|
|You want just one financial tool in your stack||You want user-friendly software that's quick to set up|
|Your accountant prefers QuickBooks||You prioritize quick responses from support|
|You have a mid-sized or fast-growing business||You want native integrations with your other tools|
Looking for other accounting systems to compare with FreshBooks and QuickBooks?
- Wave vs. QuickBooks: which is the best accounting tool?
- Xero vs. QuickBooks Online: what’s the best cloud accounting tool for your business?
Whichever accounting tool you choose, make sure to integrate it with the rest of your app stack. Use PieSync to sync your contacts two ways between your CRM and accounting software and know exactly which contacts have changed their contact information, subscription plan, or other data in all apps.