FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks vs. Sage: Which Is Best in 2021?

freshbooks vs quickbooks vs sage

123rf.com (Andriy Popov)

Choosing the right accounting software for your business is an important but complex issue. It is not just about picking software that suits you, but one that solves all your problems in an efficient manner. What makes the issue complicated is that there are numerous accounting software options on the market, but not enough quality information on them. 

Sure, there are articles that explain what each software does, but few have a comprehensive comparison of the different software available. Below, we compare and contrast three of the best accounting software options on the market. Here is our look at FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks vs. Sage and which one is the right option for your business’s accounting needs:

Note: Prices displayed in current price per year.

What's the Best Accounting Software For Your Business?

freshbooks
  • Affordability
  • Highly-Rated Customer Support
  • Integrates With Many Other Business Tools
Price: $108.00 Sign-Up For a Trial at FreshBooks Sign-Up For a Trial Read our review
Sage accounting
  • Great Desktop Platform w/ Cloud Backup
  • Workflow Automation
  • Super Scalable and Customizable
Price: $340.00 Sign-Up Here at Sage Sign-Up Here Read our review
quickbooks
  • Extensive Integration and Add-Ons Support
  • Strong Basics
  • High Number of Customization Options
Price: $150.00 Sign-Up Here at QuickBooks Sign-Up Here Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. FreshBooks

    Pros:
    • Affordability
    • Highly-Rated Customer Support
    • Integrates With Many Other Business Tools
    Cons:
    • Lack of Customization Options
    • Still Missing Features From FreshBooks Classic
    • Mobile App UI Missing Some Desktop Features

    FreshBooks is one of the leading cloud-based accounting software available in the market. It provides a comprehensive list of features to manage accounting needs for small to mid-size businesses. Its features include invoicing, time tracking, record keeping, salary evaluations, projects, and team collaborations, among others.

    FreshBooks has been a popular choice for millions of clients across different countries ever since its inception. That is mostly due to the features provided by the site that cover just about everything an entrepreneur would need for their accounting. However, knowing that it offers many features doesn’t qualify FreshBooks as the best accounting software for your business. Therefore, we’ll take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of FreshBooks to provide you with all the information you need before you make a choice on the best accounting software for your business.

    One of the reasons FreshBooks is so popular is its affordable pricing plans. The price depends on the number of customers you register on the platform. You get Lite at $15 a month for up to 5 clients. Plus lets you bill up to 50 clients for $25 per month, and the Premium plan allows for up to 500 clients at $50 per month. Additionally, you can get a custom pricing plan if your clients exceed 500. 

    FreshBooks is known for its customer support. In fact, a significant number of the reviews you will find online about FreshBooks praise its customer support. The quality of the service, the timing of the response, and the solutions offered are some of the highlighted strong points of FreshBooks’ customer support service. Having timely customer service is one of the things you should consider when choosing your accounting software because it could save you significant time and money when you encounter problems with the software.

    Running a business requires the support of different tools. Therefore, it is important to consider whether these tools can integrate with each other. Integration makes all the difference. It is not just about how much time is saved, it is also about a seamless transfer of information from one service to another without risk of information loss. FreshBooks is known for its integration with different business tools including QuickBooks, GSuite, Xero, and HubSpot, among others. Additionally, FreshBooks is supported across multiple platforms including Linux, Windows, Android, MAC OS, and Unix, among others.

    In a bid to revamp FreshBooks, the website introduced a new version of FreshBooks a few years ago. However, most of the features in FreshBooks Classic, which is what we call the old version, have yet to be imported into the new version. The major selling point of FreshBooks is its features, but there is dissatisfaction with the huge number of features missing from the new version.

    Although the UI for the website is a strong selling point for FreshBooks, the same cannot be said for the UI in the mobile apps. Some of the features on the site are missing in the mobile apps.

    Overall, FreshBooks is one of the most affordable accounting software options, and it’s easy to use.

  2. 2. Sage

    Pros:
    • Great Desktop Platform w/ Cloud Backup
    • Workflow Automation
    • Super Scalable and Customizable
    Cons:
    • Most Expensive On This List
    • Not The Best Option For Small Businesses
    • Lacks Integration with Most Add-Ons/Third Party Tools

    Sage is yet another strong contender for the best accounting software on the market. It allows you to store and access your accounting data online. Sage is a purely on-premise accounting software. One of the most important things to note is that Sage only functions on Windows and is quite resource-heavy. Therefore, you need a Windows-enabled device that is outfitted for heavy-duty functionality to run this software.

    Accounting on Sage is carried out online, which, while limiting on location, provides a measure of security and assurance to clients and users. Additionally, you get to avoid mishaps that may arise due to poor internet connectivity and accessibility, which are some of the issues that affect cloud-based accounting. More importantly, Sage comes with cloud backup capabilities so that you can store your data in a secure cloud account and download it when necessary.

    Sage comes with a comprehensive list of features that covers all your accounting needs including serialized inventory, reporting, audit trails, workflow automation, and invoicing, among others. If you are looking for accounting software with advanced accounting features then Sage is your best bet. However, Sage is best for users with some understanding of accounting. The features offered on Sage are too comprehensive and may take some time to get used to for first-time users. That is even more so considering the poor UI. The interface may appear too cluttered for users because it offers too many features without a dashboard for better navigation.

    It is possible to upgrade or downgrade Sage depends on your business and accounting needs. Of course, the more advanced versions of Sage offer more comprehensive features but even the most basic version comes with quite a comprehensive set of financial tools. Additionally, it is possible to customize the features on Sage. In fact, it offers even better customization as compared to QuickBooks.

    Of the three accounting software discussed here, Sage is definitely the most expensive. It comes with three pricing packages, each offering different features. Pro Accounting costs $567 per year per user, Premium Accounting costs $850 per year per user, and Quantum Accounting costs $1404 per year per user (although you it is on sale for 40% off at the time of writing this). There are monthly subscriptions, but they cost more overall than the annual subscriptions.

  3. 3. QuickBooks

    Pros:
    • Extensive Integration and Add-Ons Support
    • Strong Basics
    • High Number of Customization Options
    Cons:
    • Can Get Expensive
    • Poor Customer Support
    • Poor Mobile Support

    QuickBooks is yet another leading accounting software in the market and a very close competitor to FreshBooks. QuickBooks offers both an online service and an on-premise software package, which is the best of both worlds. However, note that there are subtle differences between both services, with the on-premise package being more comprehensive but also more expensive. QuickBooks comes with all the features you might need for your accounting and is catered to serve small and mid-size businesses. So, what are the pros and cons of QuickBooks?

    One of the best features of QuickBooks is how extensively it integrates with other apps. QuickBooks is designed in such a way that if there’s something that can’t be done on the platform, then there is a high likelihood that there’s an add-on for it. Most accounting software out there don’t provide that kind of reach, which limits how well they can be used in business. 

    One of the challenges faced by small and mid-size businesses is the lack of profound financial knowledge. Without overcoming that challenge, there are high chances that the business could fail. Although there are excellent accounting software providers in the market, very few cover the basics as well as QuickBooks. It offers all the basic accounting services and allows the user to get started even without all the complicated knowledge of accounting. In fact, it is well known that QuickBooks offers the best record-keeping features in the industry. If you wish to build a strong financial foundation, QuickBooks is your best option.

    Customization is important for most entrepreneurs out there because it allows you to set yourself apart from the rest. QuickBooks allows you to customize almost all aspects from invoicing to record keeping. Without rigid templates, the user is free to model their accounting operations in an intuitive and flexible manner of their choosing. Additionally, customization can be used to promote your brand. The design of your own templates can be seen as part of your brand. Of course, the customization offered is within certain limits but it still beats most accounting software, including FreshBooks.

    QuickBooks can get quite expensive, especially in comparison to FreshBooks. The basic on-premise package goes for $199.95 and can be upgraded for an additional $399.95. The online service is divided into packages: The Simple Start goes for $25 per month, Essentials goes for $40 per month, Plus goes for $70 per month, and Advanced costs $150 per month. The features available and the number of clients depends on the package plan. The best pricing plan in terms of clients and features is designed to support mid-sized businesses, with the most limited designed to support microbusinesses. There’s also a free 30-day trial you can sign-up for here.

The Takeaway

The choice of accounting software depends on your accounting and business needs. In general, FreshBooks is great for businesses that need a purely cloud-based accounting solution. QuickBooks works for businesses that need flexibility and is great for both desktop and cloud accounting. Sage, on the other hand, works for businesses that only need desktop accounting solutions.

Additionally, the nature of the business also affects the choice of accounting software. For instance, it is impractical for a small business to use Sage and similarly, mid-size businesses wouldn't work well with FreshBooks, even with its custom-based accounting due to the limitations on the number of clients. Hopefully, this article settles some of the issues you might encounter when choosing accounting software and offers you a clear directive, or at least, provides you with a path to follow. 

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