QuickBooks Online Editions Compared

Which QuickBooks Online Version is Right for You? 

Now that you’ve decided on QuickBooks Online, your next step is determining which edition of Intuit’s cloud-based software is the best fit for your business. QuickBooks Online has four editions:

  • QuickBooks Online Self-Employed
  • QuickBooks Online Simple Start
  • QuickBooks Online Essentials
  • QuickBooks Online Plus

The primary differences between the versions are price and features; the more money you pay, the more features your software comes with. Below we will explain the key differences between each, as well as what types of businesses are best served by each version.

QuickBooks Online Features Included In All Editions

The following features are consistent amongst the Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus plans:

  • Payroll for up to 10 employees
  • Available on PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone devices
  • BAS completion
  • Unlimited downloads of transactions from bank and credit card accounts
  • Quotes and invoices emailed directly
  • Reporting (the level you purchase determines how many types of reports are available to you)
  • Two accountant users available in each file

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

The cheapest option of the four, the Self-Employed version of QuickBooks offers the least amount of features. This basic plan is designed for sole proprietors who file a Schedule C.

Features Of QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

The following features come standard in this version of QuickBooks Online:

  • Track miles
  • Track income and expenses
  • Estimate quarterly taxes
  • Run reports
  • Invoice and accept payments

This level is more for freelancers; with the other three levels being designed for small to medium-sized businesses.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start

Simple Start is the cheapest option that Intuit categorizes as ‘small business.’ This edition is great for business owners who have one single user are currently using manual methods to track income and expenses.

Compared to Essentials and Plus, Simple Start is true to its name: it’s the easiest and most simple version of QuickBooks Online. Simple Start is great for new businesses with basic bookkeeping needs. You have the ability to create an unlimited number of customers, quotes and invoices. Simple Start is also a great way to transition from manual methods to an online software.

Features of QuickBooks Online Simple Start

The following features are included in QuickBooks Online Simple Start:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Maximize tax deductions
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run more than 20 reports
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax

In addition to these features, you do have the ability to add additional payroll options and an online payments service (for an additional cost).

QuickBooks Simple Start Vs. QuickBooks Essentials

If the above features are all that you need, then Simple Start is the right edition for you. However, if you need features like multiple users, the ability to manage and pay bills from vendors, and track time, you may want to think about upgrading to Essentials. The chart below explains the key differences between Simple Start and Essentials:

Feature QuickBooks Simple Start QuickBooks Essentials
Manage Accounts Payable No Yes
Number of Users 1 3
Number of Reports 20+ 40+

QuickBooks Online Essentials

QuickBooks Essentials is ideal for growing businesses that may need more than the standard features. It’s also a great option for those who may be making the switch from desktop to online. This edition allows three users to access the file simultaneously.

QuickBooks Essentials includes all the features of Simple Start, with added abilities such as accounts payable, tracking, multiple currencies, remittance advices and expense receipts. In addition, Essentials allows business owners to set up invoices on a recurring schedule and with automated emails.

Features of QuickBooks Online Essentials

QuickBooks Essentials comes with the following features:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Maximize tax deductions
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run more than 40 reports
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Manage bills
  • Allow multiple users
  • Track time

Like Simple Start, you have the option to add additional payroll and online payments services at an extra cost.

QuickBooks Essentials vs. QuickBooks Plus

There are some features that the Essentials plan is missing. For example, you cannot prepare and issue 1099s, track billable hours by customer, or manage budgets. If your business is in need of these features, you may want to think about QuickBooks Plus. Below highlights the main differences between the two editions:

Feature QuickBooks Essentials QuickBooks Plus
Number of Users 3 5
Number of Reports 40+ 65+
Track Inventory (FIFO Method) No Yes
Prepare and Issue 1099s No Yes
Track Billable Hours (by Customer) No Yes
Create/Manage Budgets No Yes
Track Profitability for Multiple Locations No Yes

QuickBooks Online Plus

With the most features of all four editions, Plus is the most expensive option Intuit offers for its online software. It contains all of the features from the Simple Start and Essentials models, plus lots more. It’s a great option for business owners who are already somewhat familiar with the platform, whether it is the desktop version or a different online edition. Plus allows five users and the option to run 65+ types of reports. In addition, you get features like purchase order tracking, inventory tracking (great for manufacturers), budgets, time tracking for employees (great for hotels) and contractors, and billable hours by customers. If your business consists of multiple departments, QuickBooks Online Plus allows each one to be tracked individually through locations or classes.

Features of QuickBooks Online Plus

Below is a full list of features included in the Plus edition of QuickBooks Online:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Maximize tax deductions
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run more than 40 reports
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Manage bills
  • Allow multiple users
  • Track time
  • Track inventory
  • Track projects
  • Manage 1099 contractors

As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide if your needs are best met with the Simple Start, Essentials, or Plus edition of QuickBooks. It is important to note that you can upgrade any time if your business outgrows your current plan, but you cannot downgrade to a lower version. There are also many pieces of software that support all versions of Quickbooks Online to help further enhance your business’ financials.