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Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks Online (2023): Which is Better?


While QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software programs in the world, it has certain drawbacks, most notably a very high starting price. For that reason, many small business owners seek out more affordable alternatives, such as Zoho Books.

In this guide, we’ll compare Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks Online to help you make the right choice for your company.

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Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks Online: Comparison table

Features Zoho Books QuickBooks Online
Double-entry accounting Yes Yes
Inventory management Yes Yes
Custom invoices Yes Yes
Receipt capture Free for 5 scans, then $10 add-on per month Free for all plans
Free trial 14 days 30 days
Forever free plan Yes No
Pricing Starts at $15 per month Starts at $30 per month

Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks Online: Pricing

Zoho Books pricing

Zoho Books offers six different pricing plans, which are billed per organization instead of per user. The base pricing plans are:

  • Free: $0 for businesses with less than $50K USD per calendar year.
  • Standard: $15 per organization per month billed annually, or $20 per organization per month billed monthly.
  • Professional: $40 per organization per month billed annually, or $50 per organization per month billed monthly.
  • Premium: $60 per organization per month billed annually, or $70 per organization per month billed monthly. A 14-day free trial is available for this plan.
  • Elite: $120 per organization per month billed annually, or $150 per organization per month billed monthly.
  • Ultimate: $240 per organization per month billed annually, or $275 per organization per month billed monthly.

Zoho Books also offers the following add-ons:

  • Additional users: $3 per user per month.
  • Advanced auto scans: $10 per month for 50 scans per month.
  • Snail mails: $2 per credit.

For more information, see our full Zoho Books review.

QuickBooks pricing

QuickBooks Online offers four different pricing tiers to choose from:

  • QuickBooks Simple Start: Costs $30 per month with access for one user.
  • QuickBooks Essentials: Costs $60 per month with access for up to three users.
  • QuickBooks Plus: Costs $90 per month with access for up to five users.
  • QuickBooks Advanced: Costs $200 per month with access for up to 25 users.

First-time QuickBooks customers can choose to explore QuickBooks without committing to a plan by signing up for a 30-day free trial. You can also skip the free trial in favor of locking in 50% off for your first three months — but you can’t choose both.

For more information, see our full QuickBooks Online review and check out our QuickBooks vs. Xero Accounting comparison.

Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks Online: Feature comparison

Accounting

Zoho Books (Figure A) offers double-entry accounting to ensure calculation accuracy and tax compliance. Monitor accounts receivable and accounts payable, maintain a record of tax payments and view 1099 and sales tax reporting on the platform. However, you should know that Zoho Books itself does not automatically calculate sales tax for different states — you’ll need the Avalara integration for that.

Figure A

Image: Zoho Books. Manage your finances easily through Zoho Books’ dashboard.

QuickBooks also follows the double-entry accounting approach. Automatically sync all of your bank and credit card transactions to review your accounts receivable and accounts payable. Unlike Zoho Books, QuickBooks will automatically calculate sales tax for you without an integration with a third-party app. You can also get a picture of the financial health of your business by viewing various reports.

Estimates and invoices

Zoho Books includes numerous fields, so you can customize your invoices on a very granular level. The number of options may be overwhelming to small businesses used to more simplistic invoicing tools, but they will be appreciated by larger companies with more complex invoicing needs. You can also generate a quote and later convert it to an invoice or sales order. Invoices are capped at 1,000 per year on the free plan and 5,000 per year on the Standard plan.

Zoho also offers a separate invoicing product, Zoho Invoices, that is completely free and integrates with Zoho Books. Zoho Invoices includes even more payment and billing features, plus time tracking and project tracking.

QuickBooks lets users send an unlimited number of invoices (Figure B) to an unlimited number of clients for all plans. Invoices, estimates and quotes can easily be created and customized in the website browser or mobile app. You can set up recurring invoices to be sent automatically or send incremental progress invoices through a project. However, you must upgrade to the Essentials plan if you want to enter time and add it to invoices.

Figure B

QuickBooks invoice dashboard screenshot.
Image: QuickBooks. Create and send invoices using QuickBooks.

Expense tracking

Zoho Books offers a simple expense management feature that helps you track expenses and mileage, categorize them and bill them to your customers when necessary. You can also create repeating profiles for recurring expenses or attach bills, receipts and credit notes to associated transactions. Five free receipt scans (Figure C) are available, but after that, you’ll need to opt for the paid add-ons, which provide 50 auto scans per month for either $10 per month billed monthly or $8 per month billed annually.

Figure C

Zoho Books' receipts inbox interface.
Image: Zoho Books. Drag and drop receipt scans for simple recordkeeping Zoho Books.

QuickBooks syncs with your bank accounts, credit cards and payment gateways to automatically import and categorize expense information. Then review your transactions, receipts and trips to get an accurate view of your deductions and cash flow. The mobile app lets you track mileage and snap photos of receipts, then matches them to existing transactions. QuickBooks includes receipt capture for free on all plans, unlike Zoho Books.

Inventory management

Zoho Books includes simple inventory management functionality that lets you capture product details, set customized rates and keep tabs on your stock levels. For more robust inventory management, you’ll need to integrate with Zoho Inventory. Zoho Inventory offers a forever free tier of service, with paid plans starting at $59 per month billed annually.

Inventory management is available on the QuickBooks Plus and Advanced plans (Figure D). With QuickBooks, you can track products and the cost of goods, see what’s popular, create purchase orders and manage vendors. The software helps you get ahead of orders with low inventory alerts and will automatically convert purchase orders into bills to make paying vendors easy.

Figure D

QuickBooks product and services interface screenshot.
Image: QuickBooks. Better manage your finances with QuickBooks’ inventory management.

Payment processing

Zoho Books allows customers to pay you directly using a debit card, credit card or bank account. Zoho Books also connects with multiple payment gateways (Figure E), including Stripe, Authorize.Net, GoCardless, PayPal Payflow Pro, PayPal Payments Pro, CSG Forte, WorldPay and Square. It also offers a client portal so that clients can login to manage their transaction, which sets it apart from QuickBooks.

Figure E

List of payment gateway partners for Zoho.
Image: Zoho Books. Zoho partners with several payment gateways.

QuickBooks Payments (which is included for free) lets your business accept payment from all major credit and debit cards, as well as bank transfers, eChecks, Apple Pay, PayPal or Venmo. You can also use the QuickBooks GoPayment mobile app and card reader to accept credit or debit cards in person by tap, dip or swipe, or via digital wallet on your customer’s device. QuickBooks also integrates with payment gateways such as PayPal, Square and Stripe.

Payroll integration

Neither Zoho Books nor QuickBooks Online include payroll as part of their core plan functionality, but both offer payroll as an add-on. QuickBooks Payroll (Figure F) offers multiple pricing plans that start at $45 a month plus $6 for every employee you pay and go up from there. QuickBooks payroll is available in all 50 states as well as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Figure F

Screenshot of Quickbooks' Workers interface, with Employees option on highlight.
Image: QuickBooks. Add QuickBooks Payroll to combine finance tasks in one place.

Zoho Payroll has a single pricing plan that costs $19 a month plus $3 for every employee you pay billed monthly — or $190 a year plus $30 for every employee you pay billed annually. While this is more affordable than Quickbooks, Zoho Books is offered in only 12 states currently: California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Zoho Books pros and cons

Pros of Zoho Books

  • Forever free plan available for small businesses.
  • 14-day free trial available with no strings attached.
  • Many transparent pricing plans to choose from.
  • Much more affordable than QuickBooks Online.

Cons of Zoho Books

  • Needs an outside integration for automatic sales tax calculations.
  • Must set up free invoicing and inventory add-ons to get full functionality in those areas.
  • Limited to five free receipt scans before you must pay for the add-on.
  • Payroll add-on available in only 12 states currently.

QuickBooks Online pros and cons

Pros of QuickBooks Online

  • Used by nearly all accountants and bookkeepers.
  • Free receipt capture offered for all plans.
  • Payroll add-on available in all 50 states.
  • Sales tax is calculated automatically right in the tool.

Cons of QuickBooks Online

  • Must choose between a free trial and 50% off the first three months.
  • Expensive compared to Zoho Books.
  • Capped at 25 users even on the most expensive plan.
  • Customer support could be improved.

Methodology

To compare Zoho Books vs. QuickBooks online, we took advantage of demo accounts, video demonstrations, product documentation and user reviews. We considered features such as accounting, estimates and invoices, expense tracking, inventory management, payment processing and payroll integrations. We also considered other factors like pricing plans, ease of use, user interface design and more.

Should your organization use Zoho Books or QuickBooks Online?

There’s no denying that Zoho Books is the more affordable option for small businesses on a budget. Not only does it offer a forever plan for businesses that generate less than $50,000 in revenue a year, but it also offers multiple paid pricing plans that are more affordable than the equivalent QuickBooks tier.

However, Zoho Books does require you to set up integrations with both other Zoho products and other outside software to fully match the functionality of QuickBooks. Zoho Books is not as widely used as QuickBooks online, which is the industry standard. Your accountant or bookkeeper might not be as familiar with Zoho Books, which could pose issues.

QuickBooks is more expensive than Zoho Books, but its pricing plans are structured so you don’t have to set up integrations or purchase receipt capture add-ons to get certain features the way you do with Zoho Books. If you are a larger business with higher revenue and more complex accounting needs, then QuickBooks might be worth the extra money.

Still not sure if either software is right for your needs? Check out our list of the best QuickBooks alternatives to see our top picks for other accounting software platforms.

Featured accounting solutions

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QuickBooks

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Acumatica Cloud ERP

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