QuickBooks Desktop Premier Review 2021

QuickBooks Desktop Premier offers helpful industry-specific features. But soon, users may need to move to the cloud.

Rosalie MurphyJul 1, 2021
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QuickBooks Desktop Premier is accounting software that users install locally on their own PCs. In addition to standard accounting features, Desktop Premier allows users to generate industry-specific reports and fulfill needs specific to certain industries, e.g., nonprofits, general contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers, retailers and professional services businesses.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier

If you don’t need industry-specific reports, however, QuickBooks Desktop Premier may not offer as much value. QuickBooks Desktop Pro has many of the same features for a lower price. And if you’re considering moving from desktop software to the cloud, QuickBooks Online is a very popular alternative.

Nerdy tip: There are two different QuickBooks Desktop Premier products with very similar names: Desktop Premier and Desktop Premier Plus. Premier is a one-time purchase that users install locally on their PCs. Premier Plus charges an annual subscription fee and includes some connected features like data backup and unlimited customer support. 

Deciding factors

Price

$649.99 for one license, which is supported for three years.

Maximum number of users

Five. Note that the cost increases with each additional user, reaching $2,099.99 for five users.

Maximum number of financial accounts

Unlimited.

Easy sharing with accountants?

Yes, for desktop software. Because files aren’t stored in the cloud, accountants can’t access them in real time. Users download an “accountant’s copy” and share it with their accountant using email, a USB drive or file transfer service.

Easy to scale?

Yes, for desktop software. Users can buy up to five licenses for QuickBooks Desktop Premier. When it’s time for a software upgrade, users can migrate their data from within Desktop Premier.

Easy to use?

Yes, with an 8.4 usability rating from TrustRadius. In general, however, QuickBooks software requires some basic accounting knowledge.

How does QuickBooks Desktop Premier work?

QuickBooks Desktop Premier is accounting software with lots of features, including the ability to track inventory levels, schedule automatic reports and create forecasts based on historical data.

Premier also offers industry-specific editions for nonprofits, general contractors and other highly specialized businesses, that can generate reports relevant to those industries (such as a list of a nonprofit’s biggest donors or a list of unpaid bills related to a specific job).

QuickBooks Desktop Premier is locally installed software for PCs. (Mac users will need QuickBooks for Mac.) Typically, that means you purchase it once, install it on your PC and then use it until the software license expires, and you can still find that version of Desktop Premier on Amazon and at office supply stores. But on its website, QuickBooks is now marketing a subscription product called Premier Plus.

Premier Plus offers the same user interface as Desktop Premier, but users receive ongoing product updates, data backups and customer support. Premier Plus users also can use the QuickBooks Desktop mobile app to capture and upload receipts.

The company says it will keep adding additional features to the Desktop Plus product line going forward.

How much does QuickBooks Desktop Premier cost?

QuickBooks Desktop Premier pricing can be confusing at first glance since the Desktop Premier Plus product is surfaced in conjunction with or in place of it throughout the QuickBooks website.

The one-time PC download version of QuickBooks Desktop Premier costs:

  • $649.99 for one user.

  • $999.99 for two users.

  • $1,399.99 for three users.

  • $1,749.99 for four users.

  • $2,099.99 for five users.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier is available through the Quickbooks website or a sales representative, on Amazon, or at office supply stores.

If you choose to make a one-time purchase rather than pay the annual subscription fee, note that QuickBooks software licenses expire after three years. After the three-year mark, products will still work, but QuickBooks will no longer provide live technical support and some integrations may stop working. QuickBooks encourages users to upgrade at that time.

Desktop Premier Plus, on the other hand, charges an annual subscription fee. It costs $299.99 for the first year, then $499.99 per year for one user. Each additional user costs $150 for the first year, then $300 per year in subsequent years. For an additional fee, users can bundle QuickBooks Payroll with their Premier Plus subscription.

Premier Plus includes some other features that add value. One is Intuit Data Protect, which backs up users’ QuickBooks data daily. Another is unlimited customer support. For Desktop Premier users, one session of tech support costs $74.99, and one year of tech support costs $299.99.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier

Benefits of QuickBooks Desktop Premier 

Industry-specific options. If you’re a general contractor, you can use QuickBooks Desktop Premier to generate reports that organize job costs by vendor and that help you understand each job’s profitability. If you run a nonprofit, you can use the software to create tax forms and donation records. Other supported industries include retail, professional services, manufacturing and wholesale.

QuickBooks is widely used. QuickBooks software has been the industry standard in accounting software for several decades, so most accountants are familiar with it. With QuickBooks Desktop Premier, you can export a QuickBooks file and share it with your accountant. Remote access, which stores your data in the cloud so your accountant can access it in real time, is available as part of Desktop Premier Plus, but not Desktop Premier.

Drawbacks of QuickBooks Desktop Premier

Not cloud-based. QuickBooks Desktop Premier can only be accessed on licensed PCs. While this was once the norm for accounting software and can still be helpful for people who have limited internet access, QuickBooks appears to be encouraging users to move into the cloud by investing in upgrades of its Desktop Plus product lines.

Also, relying on locally installed software means that if your computer crashes and you don’t have a backup, you could lose your data. Users can combat this data-loss risk with Intuit Data Protect (which is included with Premier Plus but not Premier) or by scheduling backups manually.

Required software upgrades. If you purchase and install QuickBooks Desktop Premier on your PC, the license will expire three years later and you will have to upgrade at that time.

Alternatives to QuickBooks Desktop Premier

QuickBooks Online: Cloud-based accounting

For a cloud-based QuickBooks experience, consider QuickBooks Online. This software program runs in a browser, so you (and your accountant) can access it from anywhere, and it includes a mobile app that you can also use to track mileage and upload receipts.

Whether it is more expensive depends on how many users need to access your QuickBooks account. QuickBooks Online Plus, which includes five users, costs $840 per year (or $735 for the first year including the discount available as of this writing). Desktop Premier Plus for five users costs $899.99 per year.

QuickBooks Online

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on QuickBooks's website

QuickBooks Desktop Pro: Better value for users who aren't industry-specific

QuickBooks Desktop Pro, the QuickBooks product one step down from Premier, offers many of the features that QuickBooks Desktop Premier does, for a lower price.

Premier includes industry-specific features and financial forecasting and allows for two additional users. But for one user, the one-time install version of Pro costs $399.99, compared to Premier’s $649.99. With current discounts for one user, Pro Plus costs $199.99 for the first year, compared to Premier Plus’s $299.99.

If you’re not certain whether you need every feature Premier offers, it’s worth looking closely at both product lines to see whether Pro might be a better fit.

QuickBooks Desktop Pro