Quickbooks Desktop, Quickbooks Online, or Xero – Which accounting software should you use?

We’ll give you a rundown on these three programs.

Not sure which accounting software you should use for your business? Many business owners struggle to select finance software due to the complexity of these programs. Whether you’re new to business finance or are interested in exploring other accounting options, choosing the right software can be daunting.

However, we have some recommendations: QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online, and Xero. Below, we’ll give you a rundown on these three programs.

QuickBooks Desktop

When it’s time to decide which accounting software to use, the first decision to make is whether you prefer a downloadable program or a cloud-based option. For the price, QuickBooks Desktop is the best option for those who prefer to go the downloadable route. This software typically only needs to be repurchased (due to updated features) every three years or so. Additionally, it’s user-friendly and accountant friendly.

As with most software, the downloadable version of QuickBooks (versus other cloud-based options) has better functionality, more capabilities, and better resources, such as instruction manuals. Keep in mind is that the price of this software increases with functionality.

QuickBooks options include:

  • Pro ($299)
  • Premier ($499)
  • Enterprise ($1100)

In general, the limitations with QuickBooks Desktop include its customer support, as well as some difficulty with accountant review of the books. In other words, you’ll need to send copies of your books to your accountant or use a QuickBooks hosting option. On the other hand, cloud-based software makes it easier for accountants to access the books without having to send copies back and forth.

QuickBooks Online (QBO)

QBO is currently the most popular cloud-based accounting software in the U.S. and is improving each year. QBO offers a 30-day free trial so you can decide if it’s a good fit for your company. The prices range from $10 to $50/month, with the more expensive Plus version capable of inventory tracking, managing bills, and processing 1099s. While payroll isn’t included in these versions, you will be able to seamlessly integrate Intuit’s other payroll solutions. Also, QBO has more integration with third-party applications than Xero does. However, QBO is a little behind when it comes to mobile capabilities on both the iPhone and iPad.


Xero’s cloud-based software is currently growing in popularity in the U.S. Xero boasts very loyal customers who enjoy the program’s user-friendliness, price, and excellent customer service.  The most basic plan is $9/month, while the Premium 10 plan is $70/month. The main differences between the two are payroll processing, unlimited invoices/reconciliations, and currency conversion capability. If you have more than 10 employees to process payroll for, the monthly cost is significantly more. Another concern is the use of third-party tools to perform functions such as downloading banking transactions.

Thankfully, by working with us, you won’t need to worry about the main concern most people have with Xero – most accountants are unfamiliar with it.

Still unsure which accounting software to use?

At Pine & Company, we pride ourselves in offering outstanding service. We are happy to help clients optimize their use of both Quickbooks and Xero. Learn more about our accounting services here or contact us today to learn how we can help you manage your business finances.

Do you have more questions?

Schedule a consultation with Mike and his team today.

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