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In the battle between FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online, determining the winner comes down to two things: how big your business is now and how big it will get.
Freelancers and independent contractors may find all of the basic accounting functions they need with FreshBooks — and for a lower price point than QuickBooks, to boot.
But QuickBooks goes beyond basic accounting, with hundreds of app integrations, detailed inventory tracking, and advanced and customizable reporting. Plus, it’s easy to scale and share with your accountant — all features you’d expect from the best accounting software for small businesses.
Overall winner: QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online is a feature-filled accounting solution that can easily scale with your business. The cloud-based software has four subscription tiers that layer on reporting and bookkeeping functions to accommodate everyone from freelancers and service-based businesses to midsize companies with complex workflows and inventory management needs.
That scalability alone sets QuickBooks apart from FreshBooks, which is best suited for freelancers, independent contractors and other self-employed professionals, even at the premium level.
While both software solutions offer features like time and mileage tracking, inventory management and job costing, QuickBooks capabilities typically exceed those of FreshBooks.
QuickBooks is the more expensive option at all plan levels, and FreshBooks’ lower price tag may be the deciding factor for business owners looking for a simple, mobile-friendly bookkeeping solution. While QuickBooks does offer a more scaled-back product for freelancers and gig workers — QuickBooks Self-Employed starts at $15 per month — you can’t seamlessly grow into QuickBooks Online from this version.
QuickBooks users can seamlessly transition from Simple Start to Essentials to Plus or Advanced as their business grows. As they do so, they gain access to more advanced functions (job costing, inventory management, batch invoicing and automated task management) and richer reporting.
Upgraded QuickBooks plans also include multiple users, so you can share the workload with or among employees. FreshBooks, on the other hand, charges $10 per month per additional user, even on its top-tier plan.
FreshBooks also lacks some basic accounting features, like bank reconciliation and double-entry accounting reports, in its Lite plan. While you can upgrade to get these features, you shouldn’t have to. These functions are standard on the entry-level plan for QuickBooks and most other accounting software.
If you manage a small amount of inventory and need basic tracking functions, FreshBooks can get the job done. You can add and invoice goods with all plans, and get alerts when an item is out of stock. But FreshBooks isn’t built to handle even modest amounts of inventory and you’ll quickly outgrow it if you expand your product line.
QuickBooks goes well beyond basic inventory tracking, with low-stock warnings and the ability to reorder inventory directly from within the platform. You can also set pricing rules to customize rates, and run inventory reports to find out which products are your best sellers and which carry the highest cost.
QuickBooks’ inventory features are available only on Plus and Advanced plans. FreshBooks, on the other hand, offers basic inventory tracking on all plans.
Time tracking is easy and automatic with FreshBooks, and it's included with all plans. You can log in online to track your time or mark it via the mobile app, a browser extension or a third-party app like Asana. You can also record time by project and bill for tracked hours.
While QuickBooks Online offers those functions, they’re not standard. You need to subscribe to the Plus ($80 per month) or Advanced ($180 per month) plan to track billable time.
A rich reserve of online resources is available for both QuickBooks and FreshBooks users. And both feature extended hours and multiple ways of accessing standard customer support. QuickBooks users can get answers by chat or phone, while FreshBooks customers can reach support through phone or email.
Between the two, QuickBooks gains a slight edge with Saturday support, and 24/7 customer support for Advanced plan subscribers.
» MORE: Best FreshBooks alternatives