Which QuickBooks Product Do You Need?

QuickBooks Online can suit most small businesses. Freelancers or large businesses may want other QuickBooks products.
Mar 23, 2022

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QuickBooks is known for its vast suite of small-business accounting software. It offers six types of products: QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro Plus, QuickBooks Premier Plus, QuickBooks Enterprise and QuickBooks Mac Plus.

Product type

Packages available

QuickBooks Self-Employed

  • Self-Employed

  • Self-Employed Tax Bundle

  • Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle

QuickBooks Online

  • Simple Start

  • Essentials

  • Plus

  • Advanced

QuickBooks Desktop

  • Pro Plus

  • Premier Plus

  • Enterprise (Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond)

QuickBooks Mac Plus

  • Desktop only

One of the four QuickBooks Online plans will likely be the best choice for most small businesses. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based, user-friendly solution that includes the core features needed to manage your business finances. This version of QuickBooks also offers hundreds of integration options and makes it easy to work with an accountant or bookkeeper.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Self-Employed is great for freelancers and independent contractors, and QuickBooks Desktop — which includes Pro Plus, Premier Plus and Enterprise — is ideal for medium to large businesses, especially those with advanced inventory, sales and reporting needs.

QuickBooks products comparison

QuickBooks Self-Employed

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Pro Plus

QuickBooks Premier Plus

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Mac Plus

Price

Starts at $15 per month.

Starts at $25 per month.

Starts at $349.99 per year for one license.

Starts at $549.99 per year for one license.

Starts at $1,340 per year for one license.

Starts at $349.99 per year for one license.

Maximum number of users

1 user and 1 accountant.

Up to 25 users and 3 accounting firms.

3 users.

5 users.

40 users.

3 users.

Accessibility

Cloud-based; mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Cloud-based; mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Locally hosted on PC.

Locally hosted on PC.

Locally hosted on PC. Option to purchase remote access add-on.

Locally hosted on Mac.

Best for

Freelancers and independent contractors.

Small businesses.

Small businesses with advanced accounting needs; businesses that prefer locally installed software.

Medium-sized businesses; businesses looking for industry-specific tools.

Larger businesses with sophisticated inventory, reporting, pricing and accounting needs.

Small to medium-sized businesses that use Macs and prefer locally installed software.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

Best for: Freelancers and independent contractors.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is designed specifically for freelancers and independent contractors to separate their business and personal expenses and prepare their taxes. It includes basic invoicing capabilities and mobile apps for receipt capture and mileage tracking. Top-tier plans also offer direct support for tax filing.

While this QuickBooks product is easy to use, it doesn't offer extended accounting capabilities (e.g., billing, inventory, reporting) or a chart of accounts.

Pricing

From $15 to $35 per month.

Pros

  • Designed specifically for self-employed professionals.

  • Includes free access for your accountant or bookkeeper.

  • Customer support via live chat and email.

  • Option to upgrade for additional tax features and support.

Cons

  • Doesn’t include an accounting menu or chart of accounts.

  • Can have one user only.

  • Not easy to scale; requires transferring data to QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online

Best for: General small businesses.

QuickBooks Online, often considered the industry standard for accounting software, is a powerful cloud-based product. While it’s fairly user-friendly, some basic accounting knowledge will help you get started. And its popularity makes it easy to work with an accountant or bookkeeper.

With four plan options and hundreds of third-party integrations, QuickBooks Online is easily scalable. Some of the more advanced capabilities of the top-tier versions, such as inventory management, reporting and job costing, also make it competitive with QuickBooks Pro Plus.

Quickbooks Online

QuickBooks
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on QuickBooks's website

Pricing

From $25 to $180 per month.

Pros

  • Four QuickBooks Online versions make it easy to scale as your business grows.

  • Strong inventory, job costing and reporting capabilities with Plus and Advanced versions.

  • Multiple users available with Essentials, Plus and Advanced versions.

  • Ability to integrate with hundreds of other business tools.

Cons

  • Monthly costs can be expensive.

  • Some features (e.g., inventory tracking, project profitability) require top-tier plans.

  • Learning curve to get started.

» Read our full QuickBooks Online review

QuickBooks Pro Plus

Best for: Small businesses with advanced accounting needs; businesses that prefer locally installed software.

QuickBooks Desktop offers a suite of software options that you download and install on your computer. QuickBooks Pro Plus, its most basic version, offers a full range of features including invoicing, inventory tracking, reporting, billing, and income and expense tracking. It can be a viable option for small or medium-sized businesses that need more than QuickBooks Online can offer or for those that prefer a locally installed solution.

Pro Plus also offers unlimited customer support, automatic updates, and data backup and recovery. As a QuickBooks Desktop product, however, Pro Plus is limited in terms of accessibility, mobile apps and the number of users.

QuickBooks Desktop Pro

Pricing

Pro Plus starts at $349.99 for an annual subscription for one user.

Pros

  • Features cover accounting, inventory management, invoicing, billing and more.

  • Over 200 third-party integrations.

  • Annual subscription price may be more affordable than QuickBooks Online in some cases.

Cons

  • Software only compatible with PCs.

  • Allows up to three user accounts; pricing increases per user.

  • Process to scale and transfer data to other Desktop versions can be complicated.

QuickBooks Premier Plus

Best for: Medium-sized businesses; industry-specific tools.

Compared with Pro Plus, Premier Plus offers more in-depth capabilities, especially for reporting, job costing, inventory management, sales orders and project profitability. Additionally, Premier Plus includes industry-specific features, making this QuickBooks product a good option for manufacturers, wholesalers, nonprofits and retailers.

The advanced functionality of Premier Plus comes with a hefty price tag. You’ll also likely need some accounting knowledge to make the most of this system.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier

Pricing

Premier Plus starts at $549.99 for an annual subscription for one user.

Pros

  • Advanced inventory management, reporting, job costing and project profitability functionality.

  • Industry-specific features and reporting.

  • Over 200 third-party integrations.

Cons

  • Only allows up to five users; pricing increases per user.

  • Compatible with PCs only.

  • Unnecessarily expensive if you don’t use the advanced features.

  • Complicated process to scale; must transfer data to QuickBooks Enterprise.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Best for: Larger businesses with sophisticated inventory, reporting, pricing and accounting needs.

QuickBooks Enterprise is the most customizable and powerful version of all the QuickBooks products, making it ideal for larger businesses looking to efficiently manage their complex financial processes. It builds on Premier Plus with QuickBooks’ most advanced inventory, reporting and pricing capabilities, as well as VIP membership in Priority Circle, QuickBooks’ premium customer support service.

Unlike the other QuickBooks Desktop products, Enterprise is more easily scalable, offering four plans, as well as the option to add remote access via hosting. There’s also an accountant-specific version of Enterprise, QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise Accountant, which allows accountants to more easily work with their business customers.

When it comes down to it, however, QuickBooks Enterprise is expensive, especially if you opt for a higher-tier plan or need more than one user. The average small business probably doesn’t need the advanced features included in this software and can find a much more affordable alternative.

Pricing

Starts at $1,340 per year for one user. Pricing is based on the plan, number of users and whether you opt for hosting to access your software from any internet-enabled device.

Pros

  • Advanced inventory, pricing, reporting and sales features.

  • Four plans make it easier to scale than other QuickBooks Desktop products.

  • Industry-specific editions available.

  • Up to 40 users.

  • Priority customer service included.

Cons

  • Expensive; pricing increases per user.

  • Compatible with PCs only.

  • Remote access requires additional fees.

  • Detailed features make this the most difficult QuickBooks product to learn.

QuickBooks Mac Plus

Best for: Small to medium-sized businesses that use Macs and want locally installed software.

QuickBooks Mac Plus is the only desktop version of QuickBooks that is compatible with Mac systems. It is similar to QuickBooks Pro Plus in many ways.

  • Solid accounting features, such as invoicing, billing, inventory tracking, reporting, budget creation, and sales and customer management.

  • No third-party app integrations, mobile apps or remote access via hosting.

  • Can be difficult to work with your accountant (if they use a PC) or scale to another version of QuickBooks.

Pricing

Starts at $349.99 for an annual subscription for one user.

Pros

  • Designed specifically for Macs.

  • Add-on services such as payroll, payments and point of sale.

  • Easy to set up and use.

Cons

  • No remote access, mobile apps or third-party integrations.

  • Only offers up to three users.

  • Can be difficult to scale, work with your accountant.

  • Not as widely used as other QuickBooks products.

How to choose the right QuickBooks product

Consider these factors when determining which version of QuickBooks is best for your business:

  • Features. Think about the specific features you want in your software and which are most important to your business’s success. Use a free trial or ask QuickBooks for a software demo if you’re stuck between products.

  • Accessibility. If you want to use your software anywhere you have an internet connection, you’ll likely want to focus on QuickBooks Online or pay more to add remote access via hosting to QuickBooks Enterprise.

  • Ease of use. Consider what the system’s interface looks like, how the navigation works and what setup entails. Your familiarity with accounting concepts and the availability of customer support is also worth weighing.

  • Scalability. Not all versions of QuickBooks offer multiple plans or make it simple to move your business from one product to another. If you think you’ll need more advanced features in the future, it’s important to make sure you choose an option that can accommodate those needs.

  • Users. All QuickBooks products have a maximum user limit, so think about who will need access to your account, especially since the desktop products are priced based on the number of users. Also consider whether you’ll work with an accountant or bookkeeper, now or in the future.

  • Cost. Some QuickBooks products can be much more expensive than others — for example, the higher tiers of QuickBooks Online, as well as QuickBooks Enterprise — so evaluating what your business can afford ahead of time can help as you narrow down the options. NerdWallet's breakdown of how much QuickBooks products cost provides more clarity.