FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks: Which is best? [2024]

FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks: Which is best? [2024]


Choosing the right accounting software isn’t as easy as a shopping spree in Downtown Disney—it takes a lot of care to ensure your business is set up for financial success; you can’t just put things in your cart without thinking twice about it. I took FreshBooks for a spin when comparing FreshBooks and Xero, but there’s another popular software that should be on your radar as you hunt for the best accounting solution: QuickBooks Online.

FreshBooks and QuickBooks both offer a lot of tools to help you manage your business’s finances. I’ve been testing these apps for a couple years now for this article, and I created a fake company for both and experimented with their features to determine which platform is the best fit for various types of businesses. Read on for my analysis of FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks.

FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks at a glance

FreshBooks and QuickBooks, while both powerful and user-friendly, each have unique strengths that make them a good fit for different audiences.

  • FreshBooks is best for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small businesses that offer services and don’t intend to grow much. It offers time tracking, unlimited invoicing, basic project management, and basic reporting at a low price.

  • QuickBooks is best for medium to large businesses and businesses that have plans to grow. It offers more comprehensive accounting and reporting features than FreshBooks, while also providing unique inventory management for those with physical products—as well as lots of automation opportunities.

This should shed some light on why FreshBooks topped our list of the best accounting software for self-employed individuals, while QuickBooks topped our list of the best accounting software for bigger businesses.

FreshBooks

QuickBooks

Price

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plan pricing is significantly lower than QuickBooks

Lite: $17/month

Plus: $30/month

Premium: $55/month

⭐⭐⭐ Plan pricing is significantly higher than FreshBooks due to its more extensive capabilities

Simple start: $30/month

Essentials: $60/month

Plus: $90/month

Advanced: $200/month

Accountant access

⭐⭐⭐ Can only invite one accountant after upgrading to Plus plan

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Can invite two accountants with any plan and three with the Advanced plan

User-friendliness

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Simple and intuitive interface with callout tips describing features

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Large number of options poses a slight learning curve to those less familiar with accounting, but videos and walkthroughs assist the user

Time tracking

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Available with all plans

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Requires a separate account with QuickBooks Time ($20/month); manual time entry available with Essentials plan and up

Automation

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Integrates with Zapier; has several automated task features but no in-app workflow automation functionality

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Integrates with Zapier; enables automation through its workflow feature (with Advanced plan)

Reporting

⭐⭐⭐ Templates provided; one report style with minimal customization options; Lite plan only includes tax reporting

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Templates provided; the user can customize and save their own reports; reporting capabilities scale with plans

Inventory management

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Basic features like automatic stock updates based on invoicing

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ More advanced features like low stock alerts, pricing rule setting, and reports of best-selling products available with Plus and above

Mileage tracking

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Mobile mileage tracking available with Plus plan and up

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Available with all plans

Bank reconciliation

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Available with Plus plan and up

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Available with Simple Start plan

AI

N/A

Intuit Assist AI assistant is forthcoming

FreshBooks is friendly to freelancers, whereas QuickBooks caters to scaling organizations

FreshBooks is a solopreneur’s dream, providing inexpensive access to some great freelancer and small business tools. QuickBooks is more equipped to meet the accounting needs of larger businesses.

Time tracking

Every FreshBooks plan allows you to track time both live and retroactively and bill clients for accrued time. The FreshBooks app is also really convenient for on-the-move freelancers by offering mobile time tracking, invoicing, and expense management.

Meanwhile, QuickBooks only offers manual time tracking for Essentials and above and real-time time tracking with an upgrade to QuickBooks Time (priced at $20 per month for the Premium plan, plus an extra $8 for every additional user). That said, the bonus features that come with QuickBooks Time, such as geofencing and shift scheduling, are more advanced.

Client and accountant access

QuickBooks one-ups FreshBooks in a lot of features that matter to large and growing businesses. While FreshBooks places limitations on how many billable clients you can include in its first two plans (five clients with Lite and 50 with Plus), QuickBooks doesn’t stipulate any client limits for any of its plans but notes that its systems limit individual firms to 2,000 clients. For users with more than 2,000 clients, they recommend adding a firm to your account or consolidating clients.

It’s a similar story for user and accountant access. QuickBooks offers multi-user access in its higher-level plans, while FreshBooks charges an additional $11 per month for every additional user, regardless of your plan. QuickBooks also allows you to invite two accountants, whereas FreshBooks only allows you to invite one (starting at the Plus plan).

Accounting features

QuickBooks is also more geared toward helping big businesses with accounting, offering bank reconciliation with all of its plans, while FreshBooks requires that you upgrade to its Plus plan to access this feature. It also helps you keep your expenses organized, offering additional tabs for expense claims, bills, and vendors—a great feature for larger companies that sell a lot of products and work with third parties.

Screenshot of the bills tab on the QuickBooks' expenses dashboard

Payroll

If you’re looking for integrated payroll features, you’ll have to look past FreshBooks—at least for now. FreshBooks has no native payroll feature as of this writing, but it offers a separate Gusto integration that allows you to track FreshBooks transactions, update reports, and categorize payroll as expenses. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ll have to jump through some hoops by talking with an account specialist to set it up. However, it’s worth noting that there’s a forthcoming FreshBooks Payroll feature powered by Gusto that’s currently in beta testing.

Meanwhile, QuickBooks has an optional native payroll service add-on for all account levels. Divided into three tiers corresponding to your account tier—Payroll Core + Simple Start ($75 per month), Payroll Core + Essentials ($105 per month), and Payroll Core + Plus ($170 per month)—this is a predictably robust offering with tons of features. You can set up autopay, handle 1099 e-filing, set up an employee portal, and much more, directly through your existing QuickBooks account.

Pricing

If nothing else indicates that QuickBooks’ main audience is larger companies, its price certainly does. The most basic plan costs almost double that of FreshBooks, and its most advanced plan costs nearly quadruple that of FreshBooks. Who’s most likely to spend big bucks on accounting software with highly scalable features? Established businesses.

FreshBooks is best for businesses offering services, whereas QuickBooks is best for those offering products

Your choice of accounting solution might just come down to what your business offers.

Invoicing

If your business provides services, there’s a good chance you’ll be regularly invoicing your clients. Both QuickBooks and FreshBooks allow you to send unlimited customized invoices, but FreshBooks does so for much cheaper—$17 per month compared to QuickBooks’ $30 per month. Simply put, FreshBooks is the way to go if invoicing clients for services is the main reason you need an accounting solution.

Sales channel syncing and POS

If you offer a lot of products, QuickBooks can make your life easier. The platform allows you to record daily sales from your channels (imported from Amazon, eBay, or Shopify) and sync data from your sales systems (Square, PayPal, etc). QuickBooks even offers its own POS system—QuickBooks Point of Sale—doubling down on its product focus.

That’s not to say FreshBooks can’t do any of the above—similar to its payroll features, it may just be a little trickier to set up. Square, for example, offers a FreshBooks integration in its app marketplace. And while FreshBooks doesn’t sync directly with Amazon, you can use Zapier to create a custom automated workflow between FreshBooks and Amazon Seller Central.

Inventory

QuickBooks also caters to big businesses that sell a lot of products with its inventory features. Starting at the Plus tier, it sends restock notifications when stock is low, enables you to set pricing rules, provides reports presenting your best-selling items, and now even allows you to categorize products. FreshBooks’ inventory features are more limited, though it does automatically update your stock using data from invoices.

FreshBooks is straightforward and limited, whereas QuickBooks is complex and flexible

If simplicity is your cup of tea, you may not need to pay big bucks for a platform that includes every accounting feature under the sun.

Interface and menu items

FreshBooks’ simplicity is evident as soon as you enter the platform. When I logged in, I was greeted by an interface that a toddler would enjoy playing around with (no offense): bright colors, clear breakdowns of tools, and relatively few navigational options.

Screenshot of FreshBooks' dashboard showing places for total profit and revenue streams

Opening QuickBooks was another story: I encountered over 20 menu items, several widgets with charts and graphs summarizing business metrics, and an overall “business professional” interface.

Despite all of QuickBooks’ advanced features, the platform does a good job with user-friendliness. On most of the platform’s pages, I had the option to “take a tour” through the interface and its options. Some pages even included walkthrough videos explaining how to use its features. Overall, it’s a platform that any office manager should be able to learn relatively quickly.

Reporting

Both platforms allow you to generate reports, but the FreshBooks reports all have the same simple and non-customizable format. These rigid reports can only auto-populate from existing data and can only be altered by a few basic filters.

Screenshot of a FreshBooks profit and loss report

Meanwhile, QuickBooks offers a long list of customization options for its pre-saved reports and even allows you to build your own custom reports from scratch.

AI

While neither option has AI just yet, it’s worth noting that FreshBooks has yet to make any claims about forthcoming AI features, while Intuit has announced that QuickBooks users will soon get access to Intuit Assist, an AI-powered accounting assistant.

Automation

Another area where QuickBooks shines is its workflows feature, enabling you to schedule reminders and automate tasks. For example, you can tell QuickBooks to automatically generate and send reports to people via email on a specific schedule. You can either choose from several templated workflows or create your own from scratch. Granted, this feature is only included with the Advanced plan, so you have to spend quite a bit to access it.

Whichever platform you choose, FreshBooks and QuickBooks both integrate with Zapier, so you can keep all of your business’s tools communicating seamlessly. Get started with one of these pre-made workflows, or build your own to connect to any app in your tech stack.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Alternatives to FreshBooks and QuickBooks

Still not sure whether FreshBooks or QuickBooks is right for you? We’ve already rounded up and analyzed popular alternatives like Xero and Wave so you can see how all the top accounting software options stack up:

FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks: Which is right for you?

Like most things in life, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks debate. Each solution has different features offered at different price points, so you should ultimately choose the option that meets all of your business’s needs.

If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, or very small business that primarily offers services and needs an easy tool for invoicing clients, FreshBooks likely offers everything you need at a relatively low price point. If you run or work in accounting at a medium, large, or growing business that sells inventory and needs a comprehensive and customizable accounting solution, QuickBooks has you covered.

FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks FAQ

Is FreshBooks a good alternative to QuickBooks?

FreshBooks is a great alternative to QuickBooks if you’re a solopreneur, freelancer, or small business owner looking mainly for accounting software that caters to services rather than products.

What are the cons of FreshBooks?

FreshBooks isn’t as strong as QuickBooks when it comes to reporting, advanced accounting features, inventory management, and integrating with third-party sales channels.

Are QuickBooks and FreshBooks the same?

QuickBooks and FreshBooks are competing accounting software. QuickBooks is owned by Intuit, which also owns software like TurboTax and Mailchimp, while FreshBooks is an independent company.

How much is FreshBooks per month?

FreshBooks plans are $175 per month (Lite), $30 per month (Plus), and $55 per month (Premium). These prices are discounted if you commit to a yearly contract. You can also add on services like payroll, extra team member access, and advanced payments for additional fees.

Related reading:

This article was originally published in December 2022. The most recent update, with contributions from Bryce Emley, was in December 2023.

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