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Top Choice: Our favorite online-based business accounting apps

Jeffery Battersby | March 11, 2014
With online accounting applications, there is one truism you can hold on to: No one app is perfect, no not one. All offer essentially the same tools for keeping your business finances on track, but none offer what can be considered a complete set of tools. And none can perfectly satisfy every business' needs. The reality is that none of these apps are exceptional, but all are serviceable, which, perhaps, is all you need in any business accounting application.

With online accounting applications, there is one truism you can hold on to: No one app is perfect, no not one. All offer essentially the same tools for keeping your business finances on track, but none offer what can be considered a complete set of tools. And none can perfectly satisfy every business' needs. The reality is that none of these apps are exceptional, but all are serviceable, which, perhaps, is all you need in any business accounting application.

All of these apps do a fine job of the basics: Invoicing, reporting, and automatic import of banking data and reconciliation of accounts. All also offer apps for invoicing and accessing your data with mobile devices and each also offer varying degrees of customization for your invoices and statements.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a QuickBooks Online user for a little over a year. Of the four online apps I've looked at here, none offer anything that make switching from QuickBooks Online compelling. The differences between the apps are not significant. My personal favorite is FreshBooks, based solely on a single feature. I'd likely choose FreshBooks today if I was starting from scratch, but the best app by a hair is Xero.

Top choice: Xero

Xero (3.5 out of 5 rating; $9 to 180 per month depending on plan selected) and QuickBooks Online, are nearly interchangeable accounting apps with Xero leading the pack by a smidgen by virtue of the fact that, unlike any of the other apps I looked at, it allows you to add as many users as you want without any additional fees. All of the other online accounting apps start charging more money once you begin adding users to the system.

You can use Xero to connect to your bank and credit card accounts, automatically downloading transactions nearly as they occur. When reconciling accounts, Xero looks at downloaded transactions and compares those with any invoices or items you've entered in the app's ledgers. Reconciliation takes place in a window with two columns, one containing the downloaded transaction and the other with the matching transaction you've entered into Xero. If the transactions don't match you can easily make changes or select another transaction from a list that Zero provides. Once you're satisfied, clicking an OK button links the two transactions in your ledger.

Xero's Dashboard provides a single glance overview of your business and your current financial status. At the left of the Dashboard is a list of your bank and credit accounts and ther current balances. To the right is a list of your expected income for current invoices and information on any bills you've added.

 

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