Intuit is looking to expand its QuickBooks Online offering in the UK market, and is attracting a healthy number of new sign-ups every month, we're told. It's billed as the ‘number one online software service in the US’ by rating and sales.

Designed for use by a small number of users along with the business’ accountant, QuickBooks’ online accounting software service comes in three forms. Read more finance software reviews.

The Online Simple Start solution, priced at £9 per month excluding VAT, is the most basic package: users can track cash flow, expenses and sales, and create professional-looking invoices. 

QuickBooks Online Essentials is the next step up: priced at £19 per month excluding VAT, it has the same features as the Simple Start but also allows users to prepare and file VAT returns, handle multiple currencies and view a company snapshot. 

For full business and financial management, Online Plus includes everything in Online Essentials, along with the ability to create budgets, purchase orders, extra business reports and track the cost of every single job – all for £29 per month excluding VAT.

Most customers use QuickBooks Online Essentials, and for many small and medium-sized businesses, this will be the solution with the functionalities needed to adequately take care of the essential bookkeeping and accounting needs.  

For users setting up their business accounts on QuickBooks Online Essentials for the first time, there is a functionality to import data from, say, Excel but the process is not always easy, making it tricky to set up a business’s information. 

The online help is, fortunately, fairly comprehensive, although surprisingly some things – such as changing a company’s name – have to be carried out in a roundabout and confusing way; while other things – such as setting up customers and suppliers – are quite straightforward to do. 

Journal entries are one way to set up opening balances, although it is recommended that users with no accounting experience enlist the help of an accountant or bookkeeper when setting up business accounts on QuickBooks.

Using QuickBooks Online Essentials

Despite being potentially awkward to set up and use at first, once you navigate your way around the system you should find that QuickBooks contains a lot of solid features that will be appreciated by a variety of small businesses. 

The invoices created by the software look highly professional and are instantly emailed to clients/customers with a similarly professional message (customisation of this is optional).

Tracking income and expenditure is easy, and sales can be recorded in the appropriate categories for businesses offering a variety of products and services. It thus makes it easier for owners to analyse how each product or service is performing – especially with the reports QuickBooks can generate. 

VAT returns can be prepared and filed online through the software, and recording payments both to suppliers and from customers is straightforward.  

One of the best features is that iPhone and iPad users can access the software on the go, and the iPhone mobile web-browser screen views are like a good iPhone app – aesthetically pleasing, colourful and easy to use. 

QuickBooks Online mobile access

Using the service from an iPhone is easy thanks to a mobile-optimised website

The Intuit QuickBook Online services are available in three tiers, with different pricing to match. The Online Essentials version costs £22.80/month. However, you can buy the Online Simple Start software for £10.80 per month if you want a very basic accounting software package, while the more advanced Online Plus software package costs £34.80 per month.

Intuit QuickBooks Online Essentials: Specs

  • Internet-connected PC (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc)
  • iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone
  • Internet-connected PC (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc)
  • iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone


Many users, even experienced accountants, may find Intuit QuickBooks Online Essentials confusing to set up at first, although the online help is fairly comprehensive. It is recommended users without accounts or bookkeeping experience enlist the help of a professional accountant or bookkeeper when using this service. Nonetheless, with a decent line up of features it should work for a variety of small businesses, even if the only business tax supported is VAT. The software does become easier to use over time, and its versatility is impressive.