QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Which Accounting Software Is Best?

Trying to decide whether QuickBooks or FreshBooks is the best fit for your small business? We break down both of their pricing, features, design and support options to give you the answer.

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QuickBooks and FreshBooks are two big names in the world of accounting software. Both are used by loads of UK small businesses, both have a strong track record, and both offer the same basic features at a similar price.

Splitting them is tough, but overall, we think QuickBooks is the better choice for most UK small businesses. It has a great 30-day free trial, so you see for yourself how it could help your business.

However, FreshBooks does lead the way in certain key categories, and its own free trial period gives you a handy taster of what it has to offer.

Here’s how the two measure up:

  • Quickbooks is a better fit if you’re self-employed
  • FreshBooks has the edge on QuickBooks in terms of invoice/estimate creation
  • QuickBooks has better tax planning tools than FreshBooks
  • FreshBooks boasts superior expenses and time tracking features
  • QuickBooks is better value than FreshBooks, and is also ahead when it comes to customer support

Using our small business expertise, we’ve done the hard work in pitting QuickBooks and FreshBooks head-to-head.

Read on to discover exactly how they compare in terms of pricing, features, design and support.

We’ll cover:

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Pricing

  • QuickBooks is much better than FreshBooks if you’re self-employed – as Freshbooks doesn't have a dedicated self-employed plan to compete with QuickBooks’ £8 per month offering
  • While two of FreshBooks’ plans are slightly cheaper per month than the competing QuickBooks plans, we think that QuickBooks’ plans are better value overall than FreshBooks
  • QuickBooks is also better value than FreshBooks for managing your bills (accounts payable) as it offers this feature on its £20 per month plan, while FreshBooks only includes it on its £30 per month plan

(All prices listed exclude VAT)

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks self-employed plan

As mentioned above, QuickBooks’ £8 per month self-employed plan is superb value for freelancers and sole traders. For this modest fee, you get loads of features – including easy income tax estimates, tools for preparing your self-assessment tax return, and tools that help you separate personal and business expenses. Unlike QuickBooks, FreshBooks has no low-cost self-employed plan.

Another major difference is that FreshBooks’ plans impose client limits, while QuickBooks’ plans don’t. These limits are quite complicated (for a proper explanation, check out our in-depth FreshBooks review), and how much they affect you will depend on the size of your business. However, unless you’re on the most expensive FreshBooks plan, they’re something you will have to worry about – and a stress you really don’t need when you’re running a small business. Go with QuickBooks, and you’ll be freed from those worries.

QuickBooks pricing  

There are four QuickBooks plans: Self-Employed, Simple Start, Essentials and Plus.

Here’s how they compare:

Self-Employed

  • Cost: £8 per month (excl. VAT)
  • Features: Prepare your self-assessment tax return and access income tax estimates, separate personal and business transactions, automatically import bank transactions

Self-Employed is a great option for freelancers and sole traders, but if you want VAT filing or phone support, then you’ll need to go for one of the three other plans on offer.

0 out of 0
Plan
Cost
Features

Simple Start

Essentials

Plus

£12 per month (excl. VAT)

£20 per month (excl. VAT)

£30 per month (excl. VAT)

  • SmartScan VAT checker
  • Mileage tracking
  • Estimate creation
  • Manage bills
  • Accept and make payments in over 145 currencies
  • 3 users
  • Manage stock
  • Track employee time
  • 5 users

Distinguishing between these plans is pretty straightforward:

  • Self-Employed is a fantastic option for freelancers and sole traders, because it has a great range of useful features at one of the cheapest prices around.
  • Simple Start adds the ability to submit VAT returns and create pay-enabled invoices, making it a great fit for most SMEs.
  • The Essentials and Plus plans add features like bill management (Essentials) and stock management (Plus), meaning these plans are most suitable for larger businesses or businesses with specialised requirements.

Another factor to consider is that the Essentials and Plus plans allow you to have multiple users:

  • Self-Employed: One user
  • Simple Start: One user
  • Essentials: Three users
  • Plus: Five users

This contrasts sharply with FreshBooks, which charges an extra £7 per month per additional user on all its plans.

FreshBooks pricing

FreshBooks offers three plans – Lite, Plus and Premium.

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Plan
Cost
Features

Lite

Plus

Premium

£11 per month (excl. VAT)

£19 per month (excl. VAT)

£30 per month (excl. VAT)

  • Send unlimited invoices to up to 5 clients
  • MTD VAT return filing
  • Unlimited expenses
  • Send unlimited invoices to up to 50 clients
  • Invite your accountant
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Send unlimited invoices to up to 500 clients
  • Track project profitability
  • Accounts payable

The key points are:

  • Unlike QuickBooks’ equivalent offering, FreshBooks’ Lite plan comes with a strict limit of five billable clients. This means it only really meets the needs of very small businesses.
  • The Plus plan increases this limit to 50 clients (as well as adding double-entry accounting reports and bank reconciliation), and so the Plus plan is the best FreshBooks plan for most small businesses.
  • Because it removes the client limit altogether, the Premium plan is clearly the most suitable FreshBooks plan for large businesses. It also adds project profitability and accounts payable functionality.

Unlike QuickBooks, FreshBooks allows you to save money by paying annually. If you go this route, the equivalent monthly costs would be:

  • Lite – £9.90 per month
  • Plus – £17.10 per month
  • Premium – £27.00 per month

We’re now going to take a look at how QuickBooks and FreshBooks compare when it comes to key features like invoice creation, tax planning and expenses management.

FreshBooks is better for invoice creation

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - FreshBooks create invoice

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks preview invoice

Put simply, FreshBooks has the best invoice creation tools we’ve come across. The process is remarkably intuitive – you can edit a preview of an invoice directly, without having to enter information into menus. You can also easily add images, like a team photo or your company logo, and select from a wide range of customisation options. This lets you effortlessly produce invoices that have a real impact, and reflect the personality of your business.

By contrast, QuickBooks’ invoice creation tools feel a bit clunky and basic, with an input process that’s pretty standard for accounting software. The customisation options feel a bit limited and, while you can add your own logo, this just appears in the corner rather than really commanding attention. The bigger problem is that the process feels fiddly and disjointed, with information needing to be entered in rather uninspiring sub-menus. You can also only view the finished invoice through a needlessly complicated process – you’ll have to click through to a print preview, and then view it as a PDF.

FreshBooks is the clear winner in this area.

QuickBooks is better for tax planning

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks Income tax

One of the things that really sets QuickBooks apart (and gave it high marks in our rundown of the best self-employed accounting software) is its support for freelancers and sole traders. Not only does it offer a dedicated low-cost Self-Employed plan, but QuickBooks also offers an income tax estimate tool that is massively useful for anyone who needs to submit a self-assessment tax return. Using data you have entered into the platform, this tool estimates how much income tax and National Insurance you will have to pay at the end of the tax year. Obviously, the calculation won’t be perfectly accurate, but it should really help small businesses with their budgeting – and it does a very good job of breaking down what can be a rather complicated process. QuickBooks also includes support for filing MTD VAT returns, and produces a report that makes it easy to submit your self-assessment tax return via the GOV.UK portal.

Unfortunately, FreshBooks only offers MTD VAT return filing, and it’s still not a particularly easy-to-use feature. You have to download your data as an Excel file, then enter it into the FreshBooks MTD portal. QuickBooks, on the other hand, prepares your return for you and lets you submit it with a few clicks. For the most part, FreshBooks is well-designed and user-friendly, so this sub-par feature is particularly disappointing.

When it comes to tax planning, QuickBooks definitely has the upper hand.

FreshBooks is better for expenses

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - FreshBooks expenses

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks expenses

Just as with invoice creation, FreshBooks’ approach to expenses stands out for being exceptionally user-friendly, intuitive and attractive. As shown above (left), FreshBooks’ expenses summary screen is designed to be visually appealing, with coloured bars to highlight and categorise recently updated expenses. Adding expenses is also easy – the process closely resembles invoice creation, and doesn’t force you to deal with clunky sub-menus.

In comparison, QuickBooks’ expenses process is nowhere near as slick. The expenses summary screen shown above (right) is not very visually appealing, and adding an expense requires dealing with some very grey and uninspiring sub-menus. Of course, both QuickBooks and FreshBooks allow you to connect your bank account and import transactions – meaning you might not spend much time adding expenses manually – but it’s still jarring how little attention has been paid to this area. One key plus, though, is that QuickBooks offers mobile receipt scanning on all its plans, something FreshBooks doesn’t offer at all.

Still, we give FreshBooks the victory when it comes to expenses.

QuickBooks is better for payroll

QuickBooks offers payroll as an optional extra on all its relevant plans. The pricing is a bit complicated – standard payroll, for example, is an extra £4 per month plus £1 per paid employee per month (excluding VAT) – but adding payroll to your QuickBooks plan can effectively remove one of the biggest stresses you face as an employer. Like the rest of QuickBooks, payroll is a cloud-based solution, meaning it’s easy to make changes or check vital info on the go. And it boasts an impressive range of capabilities, from handling statutory maternity/paternity pay to automatic pension contributions.

FreshBooks doesn’t offer any sort of payroll feature, meaning anyone using it will have to look elsewhere for payroll assistance.

While it does cost extra, this feature is another powerful argument in favour of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Ease of Use

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks ease of use

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - FreshBooks ease of use

While both QuickBooks and FreshBooks are intuitive and easy to use, FreshBooks is slicker and more user-friendly than QuickBooks in certain key areas like invoice creation and expenses management (as discussed above).

One of the big differences between the two is the way they look. From the blue menu bar on the left to the centred charts and tables, FreshBooks uses a lot of colour, while QuickBooks has a slightly more sober approach, using muted shades in a more restrained way. While the better option partly comes down to personal preference, there’s no doubt that FreshBooks’ more colourful visual style often makes things stand out more and is therefore better suited to the needs of busy small business owners.

However, there are some areas where QuickBooks excels – its income tax estimates and MTD VAT filing processes stand out for being well designed and focused on the needs of anyone running their own business.

Neither QuickBooks nor FreshBooks has an overwhelming advantage when it comes to ease of use. FreshBooks probably edges it overall due to its exceptionally fluid approach to invoices and expenses, but it’s really important to try both (each offers a 30-day free trial) to see which one suits the way you work.

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks: Customer Service and Support

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - QuickBooks support

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks - FreshBooks support

When it comes to support, there are lots of similarities – but also key differences – between QuickBooks and FreshBooks.

Both offer help via:

  • A virtual centre that acts as one giant instruction manual, full of articles explaining how to use certain features
  • Webinars that can either be watched live (allowing people to ask questions) or  viewed on-demand
  • Phone (this is included on all FreshBooks plans, and all QuickBooks plans apart from Self-Employed)

However, QuickBooks also provides live chat support (with screen sharing), while FreshBooks offers support via email – a rather old-fashioned solution now the likes of Zoom have firmly made their mark in the business world.

Support hours

This is another important distinction:

  • QuickBooks offers live chat support between 8am and midnight Monday to Friday, and 8am to 8pm on weekends. And it offers UK-based phone support from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday.
  • FreshBooks’ support team works North American business hours. This means support is offered from 1pm to 1am GMT Monday to Friday.

Overall, QuickBooks offers better support than FreshBooks, due to its live chat option and more practical support hours.

Based on our in-depth research, we think that QuickBooks is better than FreshBooks for most UK small businesses.

While FreshBooks shines in certain areas (such as invoice creation, expenses management and time tracking), QuickBooks surges ahead by providing clear pricing with no client limits, superb tax planning tools, and more useful customer support, and for being the only provider to offer a dedicated self-employed plan.

Of course, the only way to really know which suits your needs is to try them for yourself.

QuickBooks vs. FreshBooks: FAQs

Which one is better – QuickBooks or FreshBooks?

Our research found that QuickBooks is a better fit for the needs of most UK small businesses, but you should try both to see which meets your specific requirements.

Is FreshBooks cheaper than QuickBooks?

FreshBooks is slightly cheaper than QuickBooks, but its plans come with client limits. QuickBooks has no client limits and a wider range of features, and is the better value option in our view.

Is there a free version of QuickBooks?

While there is no free version of QuickBooks, there is a 30-day free trial to help you get a proper sense of how it works.

Is there a free version of FreshBooks?

Similarly, there is no free version of FreshBooks. But again, signing up for a 30-day free trial lets you see exactly what FreshBooks has to offer.

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