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QuickBooks Online Essentials vs Plus: The Differences

Want to use QuickBooks Online but not sure which version you need? Here’s what you need to know.

Intuit has always been good at acknowledging how different small businesses can be. The company provides multiple levels of its applications, each containing a common set of features and progressing in complexity as you move up the product hierarchy.

So it is with QuickBooks Online. There is a very simple entry-level option called Simple Start ($12.95/month; single-user), but its tools are very limited. You can manage customers, track income and expenses, create and send invoices and estimates, download transaction data from your bank and share your file with up to two accountants. Simple Start truly is a very basic, easy-to-use online solution; QuickBooks training wouldn’t likely be necessary.

Your small business would be more likely to use one of QBO’s two other versions: QuickBooks Online Essentials or QuickBooks Online Plus. They look and work very similarly in terms of the user interface, navigation, etc., and they share a common set of features, including everything in Simple Start plus:

  • Customer management and automated invoicing
  • Vendor and bill management, scheduling and payment
  • Employee management and payroll processing ($31.20 plus $1.50 per employee/month)
  • Customizable user permissions, and
  • The ability to compare sales and profitability with industry trends.

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No matter which version of QuickBooks Online you use, you’ll be able to manage customers and create/send invoices and estimates.

QuickBooks Essentials supports up to three simultaneous users and costs $26.95/month. Compared to Simple Start’s 20+ reports, it offers 40+.

QuickBooks Online Plus is the real workhorse. If you’re used to thinking in terms of desktop QuickBooks, it’s most comparable feature-wise to QuickBooks Pro. You can have up to five users working in the application at once, and the monthly fee is $39.95.

Beyond the features it shares with Essentials, Online Plus includes features like:

  • Inventory tracking
  • Budgeting
  • Purchase orders
  • 1099 support
  • Billable time-tracking by customer
  • Class tracking
  • Limited access for employees and contractors to record hours worked
  • Sales/profitability tracking, and
  • 65+ reports.

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Both QuickBooks Essentials and Plus let you manage vendor records and pay bills. Your home page maintains a list of transactions that need attention, and your overdue bills would appear there.

If you’ve never used a cloud-based financial solution – or any accounting application at all – it would be wise to invest some time and money in a credible QuickBooks course Ease-of-use has always been one of QuickBooks distinguishing features, and the new user interface launched recently for the online version simplifies it even more. Still, the process of accounting can be complex.

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QuickBooks Online’s simple, understandable user interface makes it easy to create records for customers and vendors and track transactions.

Not sure whether QuickBooks Online is for you? Take advantage of a free trial to see if it’s a good fit for your business.


Hector Garcia

Accountant and Enrolled Agent

Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Member of Intuit Trainer/Writer Network & Accountant-VIP

Use our link to get 30% off for a year, valid through 07/31/2022

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