QuickBooks accounting software review: pros, cons & pricing

QuickBooks is one of the big players when it comes to small business accounting software, with some great features and superb tax planning support. Find out if it’s right for you here.

Our Research

To recommend the best accounting software, our writers and researchers focused on the factors that matter most to small business owners – ease of use, features, design, scalability, and suitability for the UK taxation system.
Written and reviewed by:

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QuickBooks is the winner when it comes to the best overall accounting software for small businesses, according to our product research and testing. We’d also pick it out as the best self-employed accounting software, as its single-user tiers are great value, while offering a tremendous depth of features.

It’s relied upon by small businesses across the UK who love its features, customer support, straightforward pricing and generous regular deals and discounts; in fact, they’re currently offering 75% off for 6 months.

In fact, it’s the only major accounting software with a low-cost plan that’s designed for sole traders, freelancers and anyone else running a small business.

But what else makes it so great, and is it right for you? Read on to find out.

What is QuickBooks? An overview

4.7 out of 5
  • Bookkeeping
    5
  • Advanced Features
    4.5
  • Financial Reporting
    5

QuickBooks was one of the first pieces of accounting software to move to the cloud – with QuickBooks online launched way back in 2001.

This means you can keep track of your business finances anywhere with an internet connection, on whichever device you have to hand. On PC/Mac you’ll access QuickBooks through your web browser, while your phone/tablet has a dedicated mobile app that makes it easy to create invoices and snap expenses receipts on the go.

QuickBooks Pros
  • Great self-employed plan
  • Clear pricing. No usage limits
  • First-class tax planning support
  • An intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface, making it accessible for users with varying levels of accounting knowledge
  • Seamlessly integrates with a wide range of third-party apps and financial institutions, streamlining data import and export
  • Provides a robust set of financial reporting tools, allowing users to generate detailed financial statements and custom reports
QuickBooks Cons
  • Support options depend on plan
  • Invoices functional, not stylish
  • Invoice creation can be fiddly
  • QuickBooks may become less efficient for larger enterprises with complex accounting needs
  • Some users have reported challenges with QuickBooks' customer support, including long response times and difficulty in reaching knowledgeable representatives
  • QuickBooks higher-tiered pricing can be relatively expensive for small businesses or startups on tight budgets.

QuickBooks: Key Features

QuickBooks’ key features include:

  • A dedicated self-employed package, which lets you easily separate business and personal expenses
  • Superb tax planning support, including real-time income tax estimates and being able to file VAT returns directly to HMRC without leaving QuickBooks
  • Snap expense receipts and have the important info automatically extracted
  • Easily create customisable, pay-enabled invoices – and track when they’ve been opened and paid
  • Get insight into your business with 150 easy-to-use dashboards and reports
  • Connect your bank accounts to effortlessly keep track of the money coming in and going out of your business
  • Use the mobile app to automatically track your mileage, and assign it to business or personal use with a tap
  • A cloud-based payroll solution that handles payslips, pensions, statutory payments and more with ease (for an extra fee)

Get your deal from QuickBooks today to discover more about how it can help you run your business

QuickBooks Features: Deep Dive

Now that we’ve covered the fundamental aspects of what make QuickBooks, it’s time for a deep dive into the features, why and how they can help you, and whether or not Quickbooks has succeeded in designing them for optimal business efficiency.

Tax planning ✔️

Quickbooks review income tax

QuickBooks’ Tax Review Dashboard

One of QuickBooks’ best features is its tax planning. If you submit VAT returns, then you can prepare and file without ever leaving QuickBooks, while anyone grappling with the intricacies of a self-assessment tax return can access combined income tax/National Insurance estimates that clearly break down all the vital info.

Of course, these aren’t 100% accurate, but should give you a decent idea of how much you should be setting aside to pay the taxman.

Here’s what that estimate looks like:

Quickbooks review income tax estimate

QuickBooks’ tax estimate breakdown

Obviously, the headline figure is pretty clear – this is a combination of the total income tax and National Insurance you owe in that tax year. Scroll down this page, and your estimate is broken down in more detail. For even more detail, select any heading.

Quickbooks review NI classes

Your QuickBooks tax estimate in further detail

Click “export” and you can download an Excel file with the same information, saving you loads of time when you need to submit your self-assessment tax return.

This income tax estimates feature, coupled with the ability to e-file VAT returns, gives QuickBooks some of the best tax planning support we’ve seen in any accounting software – and sets it apart from many of its rivals.

It’s a powerful, easy to use, and easy to understand solution that is massive plus for anyone running a small business.

Invoices ✔️

Quickbooks review customise invoiceQuickbooks review customise invoice

Nowadays, invoice creation is a key part of the appeal for any accounting software. Time-pressed business owners want a quick and easy process that produces professional results, and a decent range of customisation options.

On the whole, QuickBooks’ invoice creation is solid rather than spectacular – it does everything you want it to do but the process isn’t as seamless as Freshbooks, our favourite in this particular area. Here’s our comparison review of QuickBooks vs Freshbooks for more information.

One issue is the fact that everything is handled in separate menus, which feels a bit fiddly. The screen above shows the menu you use for customising invoices but, when you create a new invoice, you’ll see this screen.

Quickbooks review create invoice

QuickBooks’ invoice screen

It’s fine, and does everything you’d want it to do – but feels a bit clunky compared to the rest of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks does at least remember what you’ve entered in previous invoices, so you won’t need to repeatedly type the names of customers or products/services.

Once you’ve entered your data, to see your invoice, you’ll have to use the “Print or preview option”. Again, this feels clunky and needlessly complicated.

Quickbooks review preview invoice

QuickBooks’ invoice print preview – first screen

Once you’ve downloaded the finished invoice as a PDF, you get something along these lines.

Quickbooks PDF invoice

QuickBooks’ invoice print preview – second screen

You track invoices via this screen – which is effective but a bit basic.

Quickbooks review track invoices

QuickBooks invoice tracker

Compared to some of its rivals, invoice creation is not one of QuickBooks’ strengths. It does what it says on the tin but the process feels a bit fragmented, and the finished result is functional rather than stylish.

For most people, this won’t be a significant issue but it’s definitely an area where QuickBooks could do better.

Like most accounting software, QuickBooks lets you create “pay-enabled” invoices. This means that your customers/clients can pay you what they owe with just a few clicks.

QuickBooks offers two different payment methods: PayPal for credit and debit card transactions, and GoCardless for Direct Debit payments.

These providers charge fees on a per transaction basis as shown below:

Quickbooks review PayPal feesQuickbooks review GoCardless fees

That’s a bit complicated, so let’s use an example: Let’s say you had a £100 payment.

  • For a PayPal credit and debit card transaction, the total fee would be £1.75 (1.45% of £100 = £1.45 + £0.30)
  • For a Paypal Wallet transaction, the total fee would be £3.20 (2.9% of £100 =£2.90+ £0.30)
  • For a PayPal American Express transaction, the total fee would be £3.50 (3.5% of £100)
  • And for a GoCardless Direct Debit transaction, the total fee would be £1.40 (1% of £100 + £0.20 + £0.20 (20% VAT on £100)

This is definitely a useful service, although it’s worth noting that most of QuickBooks’ rivals offer something similar, with Freshbooks for example offering the choice of PayPal and Stripe.

Expenses ✔️

A key part of running any small business is handling expenses, and this makes expense tracking a vital part of any accounting software.

When you create a new expense, you get this screen:

Quickbooks review create expense

QuickBooks’ expenses screen

This is a lot like the invoice creation screen – it does what it needs to but isn’t particularly attractive or intuitive.

However, you’re unlikely to have to use it much, as most expenses will either be imported from your connected bank account or snapped and scanned using the QuickBooks mobile app.

Thanks to open banking, the days of having to spend hours typing in details of your sales and expenses are over. Instead, you just connect your bank account and your incomings and outgoings automatically appear in your accounting software.

The video above explains how the process operates in QuickBooks (it’s for the US version but the UK version works in the same way). You’ll select your bank, sign in and then choose which accounts you want to connect (i.e., only the ones used by your business), and when you want to import transactions from.

Once you’ve done this, you can then set up rules, so transactions that meet certain criteria are automatically put into particular categories.

Being able to connect your bank account is a must-have feature for any serious accounting software, and QuickBooks more than ticks that box.

Quickbooks review receipt scanning 3

QuickBooks’ scanning expense receipts screen

Of course, the world hasn’t gone entirely cashless yet and sometimes you will have expenses that aren’t automatically connected to your bank account.

Thankfully, if you’ve got a receipt, you’re in luck – just whip out your phone, open the QuickBooks mobile app and scan the receipt.

Using some very clever tech, the app then reads the vital info, takes a photo and creates an expense for you to review.

The speed this all happens at is seriously impressive, it only takes a few seconds for the receipt to scan and for the expense to be created.

The only slightly annoying thing is you have to go into the full browser version on PC/Mac to review the expense. You do this via the “Transactions” menu on the left hand side bar, hovering over and then clicking “Receipts”. Once you’ve reviewed and approved the expense, then it appears in the expenses menu.

This feels more complicated than it needs to be but it works very well, and the receipt scanning tech is a great time saver for anyone running a small business.

Aside from receipt scanning, the QuickBooks mobile app feels slick and well-designed. You can create invoices/estimates, check your cash flow situation, see your recent transactions, and track mileage using your phone’s GPS.

And the customer ratings back this up – the QuickBooks accounting app on the Apple App Store has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 from 18,000 ratings.

QuickBooks: User Experience

There’s an elegant minimalism to the way QuickBooks works. As you can see below, when you log in (and you’ve completed the setup steps), you’ll be presented with six shortcuts to frequent and recurring tasks.

Quickbooks review shortcuts

QuickBooks’ review shortcuts

You’ll also instantly see the balance of any bank accounts you’ve connected to QuickBooks.

For more info on your finances, you can hit business overview.

Quickbooks review cash flow

QuickBooks’ business overview page

The first thing you’ll see in this section is QuickBooks’ cash flow view – this is based on your connected bank accounts and shows the money coming in and going out of your business.

Far more importantly, it also gives you an idea of your future cash flow, letting you see if there are any big bumps on the road ahead. Obviously, this isn’t 100% accurate as it’s based on recurring invoices and bills, but it’s still a very useful guide.

Scroll down further and you get charts showing your profit/loss and expenses, plus the balance in your connected bank accounts.

Quickbooks review profit and loss, expenses

QuickBooks’ profit, loss and expenses view

The default view for these charts is the last 30 days, but they can be easily changed to show a variety of time periods.

This cool grey sidebar on the left is the gateway to everything that QuickBooks has to offer – hovering over any of the entries with arrows brings up the options within that category.

So, “Taxes” gives you a choice of VAT and income tax for example.

Clicking the “+ New” button at the top lets you easily create everything from a new invoice to a fresh time tracking entry (depending on what’s included in your plan).

Finally, unlike a lot of accounting software, QuickBooks includes a powerful search function.

Quickbooks review search

QuickBooks’ search function

It’s accessed via the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner and, as you can see, lets you search for entries using name, address, transaction value, date and others. This is a great timesaver, meaning you can easily find what you’re looking for without trawling your accounts.

This search function also gives you easy access to your most recent transactions, another handy little time saver.

Overall, QuickBooks just works. There are some areas where it could be a bit slicker, but it’s generally extremely intuitive and easy to use – with everything located where you expect it to be. The design is restrained without being dull, and the colours that are used really stand out because of this. It’s often said that good design fades into the background and this sums up QuickBooks perfectly.

QuickBooks: Help & Support

Quickbooks review support

QuickBooks’ help and support centre

The support available on QuickBooks depends on your plan. Everyone gets access to online live chat with screen sharing, while users of the Simple Start, Essentials and Plus plans (everything apart from Self-Employed) can also get assistance through phone support.

If you are having problems though, your first port of call should be the support centre. This has, according to QuickBooks, “thousands” of articles that should help you resolve your issue. There are loads of “getting started” videos that show you the basics, as well as webinars (which you can either watch on demand or register to watch live and ask questions).

Another neat feature is the QuickBooks assistant, a built-in chatbot that can be found by clicking “help” in the top right corner.

You then simply type what you need help with and the chatbot either gives you the answer or directs you to a help article on that topic.

It’s a clever way of integrating help within the accounting interface and works really well.

Sometimes though, you really need to speak to an actual person.

As mentioned above, all QuickBooks plans come with live chat support (that includes screen sharing). This is offered between 8am and midnight Monday to Friday, and 8am to 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Simple Start, Essentials and Plus plans also include UK-based phone support. This runs from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday.

These are generous hours, and should meet the needs of most small businesses. However, they aren’t 24/7 and, if you think that you might need round-the-clock help, then Sage Accounting might be a better fit.

Most importantly though, QuickBooks has a hard-earned reputation for excellent customer service. This is backed up by an impressive 4.5 out of 5 from over 7,000 customer reviews on Trustpilot – with many praising the patience and knowledge of the people that helped them.

QuickBooks: Pricing

You’ve come this far, and at this point there’s one important thing to uncover: how much does QuickBooks cost?

QuickBooks are one of the few providers to offer a dedicated Self Employed plan, full of all the simple but necessary functions for an individual just starting out.

Small businesses will want to go for Simple Start – which adds income tax estimates, phone support, and pay-enabled invoices. Essentials adds multi-currency support, bill and payment management, and increases the cap to three users.

Plus offers more control over your budget, employee time, stock management, and project productivity, and has a five user limit. And finally, they have Advanced, and up to 25 users can use this corporate plan – and it works well for businesses who need in-depth reporting, user permissions and batch actions.

Unlike some of its competitors, a great bonus about QuickBooks is that it has no usage limits on any of its plans.

All four plans offer a 30-day free trial, and prices are often discounted. At the time of writing for example, you can actually get 75% off for 6 months.

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*Pricing correct as of September 2023

QuickBooks: Add-Ons

Payroll

As your business grows, you’ll have to tackle choosing an online payroll software at some point, and it can be very complicated. You might have some employees who are paid weekly and some who are paid monthly – and then there’s the headache of working out National Insurance/tax deductions, and submitting all that data to HMRC.

Luckily, for an extra monthly fee, QuickBooks will handle all of it for you. And, because it’s powered by the same cloud-based software as QuickBooks Online, you can run payroll anywhere and, of course, QuickBooks Payroll seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks’ accounting software.

QuickBooks offers two payroll plans – Standard and Advanced – and here’s how they stack up:

Standard

Key features:

  • HMRC recognised payroll that automatically updates, and lets you submit your data with just a few clicks
  • Easily pay different employees either weekly or monthly
  • Automatically generate payslips, and share them via a self-serve employee portal, email or print
  • Calculates statutory maternity, paternity and sick pay
  • Make automatic pension contributions to Nest

Advanced

This includes everything in the Standard plan plus:

  • Manage timesheets, rotas, leave, expenses and even keep track of employee satisfaction
  • Pay employees on any frequency (weekly, monthly, fortnightly, 4 weekly, quarterly or annually)
  • Make automatic pension contributions to one of five different pension schemes (Nest, Smart Pension, The People’s Pension, NOW and Aviva)
  • Handle other deductions like salary sacrifice, court order payments and attachment of earnings

Unless you have particularly complex payroll needs, the standard plan should be ideal for most small businesses.

QuickBooks: Verdict

For most people, QuickBooks is the perfect self-employed accounting software, with a very strong base package elevated by specialised tax planning support for sole traders and freelancers. It’s reasonably priced, and has a strong track record, having been available in the UK since 2011. The only thing we’re less keen on is the slightly limited support on offer, but even this shouldn’t be much of a problem for most users.

When it comes to accounting software, QuickBooks is a great fit for most small businesses.

It boasts a great range of plans with no usage limits (including a dedicated self-employed plan), a stylish interface, and superb tax planning tools. It’s this last feature that really sets QuickBooks apart – not only can you prepare and submit VAT returns, but also quickly get a detailed estimate of your self-assessment income tax bill. In short, it’s easy to see why Quickbooks is used by countless small businesses across the UK.

The criticisms are minor. The interface and expense process could be a bit slicker, the support options might not suit every business, and the invoices QuickBooks creates feel functional rather than distinctive.

Overall, it’s accounting software that handles everything you throw at it, is packed with features, and is available at a price to suit your businesses needs.

To see how it could help your business, get your QuickBooks deal today.

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Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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