August 24, 2021

Xero vs QuickBooks

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It’s the debate that rages through the halls of the accounting and HR departments of organizations across the country. Which payroll software is best for me – Xero or QuickBooks? There is no universal answer, as each brings a different set of advantages (and a few limitations) to the table. The answer, in true ambiguity, is, “it depends.”

The good news is, you just stumbled upon a guide that will help you unpack these two popular payroll softwares and decide for yourself – armed with the facts, of course. So, let’s drill down on the ins and outs of Xero and QuickBooks so you can apply the details to your needs and gain the clarity you need to make the best decision for your business needs.

What is Xero Payroll?

Xero US payroll dashboard.

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software that tous fast, simple, all-in-one functionality. This web-based payroll software is a top choice for businesses around the globe.

The reasons that Xero Payroll has risen to the top of the payroll software marketplace include:

  • Affordability
  • Ease of use
  • Lots of out of the box features

Xero caters to small businesses with a simple and affordable three-tier pricing model that allows the small organization to scale up and scale down easily and as needed.

What is QuickBooks Payroll?

Quickbooks payroll dashboard.

QuickBooks is a product of the larger corporation Intuit that produces other accounting and business-related softwares like TurboTax and Mint. QuickBooks Payroll is one of the most widely used payroll software products. With all that brand cache, it’s easy to see that QuickBooks has satisfied its customers with features such as:

  • Ease of use
  • Strong customer support
  • Robust functionality

QuickBooks with the power of Intuit behind it is able to capitalize on its brand prowess and market share to remain the leader in the space. It caters to small- and mid-size businesses and offers “big business benefits on a small business budget.”

Pricing for Xero vs. QuickBooks

Xero pricing plans

Xero’s pricing structure starts with a very low monthly cost for solopreneurs. This may not be enough for most businesses who will soon grow into the more advanced options, that are equally as affordable. It’s key to note here that the payroll module for Xero requires an additional investment for all three tiers.


For the solopreneur or small startup, an affordable per month is an attractive monthly cost. This tier includes the bare bones functions include like the ability to send quotes and 20 invoices as well as enter five bills per month and reconcile banking transactions. This option also allows you to capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc and view a snapshot of short-term cash flow.


For a business poised to scale, more functionality and more users are allowed at a still affordable monthly fee of $16. With this option you get additional unlimited quotes and invoices as well as the ability to perform bulk reconciliations.


For the larger and more established business, this option might fit the bill with functions like project tracking, multiple currencies and claim expenses

Also Read: Xero vs. FreshBooks: 2021 Review

Quickbooks pricing plans

Quickbooks starts out at a higher price per month, but the core tool includes many features that you don’t get in the lowest Xero tier, including payroll.


Payroll features include automated tax and forms, automated payroll, health benefits for your team, expert product support, next-day direct deposit and QuickBooks Accounting.


You get the core features as well as same-day direct deposit, an HR support center, an expert review of key financials and the ability to track time on the go.


In the top tier of the QuickBooks payroll offering you get all of the above and project tracking on the go, tax penalty protection and a personal HR advisor.

Also Read: QuickBooks vs. FreshBooks

Comparing Features – QuickBooks vs. Xero

QuickBooks and Xero have several commonalities. They’re both easy to set up and use, and many users report a low learning curve to get started. They also include the ability to create professional invoices quickly and easily, without employing a standalone invoicing software. Finally, the two also include dynamic mobile applications that allow on-the-go accounting.

Differences between QuickBooks and Xero payroll software

Companies will want to choose QuickBooks as their payroll software when they’re looking for more features for the price and if they need advanced reporting. QuickBooks is slightly more expensive than Xero, however, with that comes more value. Unlimited users and more bells and whistles can make QuickBooks a better choice for a company that needs more features.

QuickBooks offers more robust and advanced reporting functionality as opposed to Xero. If keeping track of financials and creating customized reports is on the agenda, QuickBooks is your better option.

Companies will want to choose Xero if they’re looking for just the basics from their payroll software or if they’re freelance or very small businesses looking for their first payroll software.If you don’t need bells and whistles, Xero can be a perfect option for you.

At an extremely low price and with solid functionality, it might be simply everything you need for your bare bones payroll processing needs.Xero is a favorite for businesses in startup mode. Why? Because it works, it offers the basic functions you need, accountants know it and like it and it has the ability to scale with you as you ramp up your business.

Leading payroll solutions to consider

1 UZIO Payroll

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UZIO is amongst the top payroll software solutions for small and medium-sized businesses in the US. The super easy-to-use features coupled with excellent customer service make UZIO the ideal choice for small or medium companies.
It integrates with HRIS & Benefits solution & has essential features such as direct deposits, automatic tax filing, multiple payroll periods, unlimited payrolls, automatic salary cumulative tax computations, employee self-service portal, reporting, and more.

Learn more about UZIO Payroll

2 GoCo

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GoCo’s Embedded Payroll, powered by Execupay, is a fresh approach to all-in-one HR, benefits, and payroll software for small businesses. GoCo adds the ability to directly run payroll, seamlessly capture paystubs and automatically manage reconciliations. Plus the convenience of only having a single system to learn and manage. The HRIS digitally stores and organizes all essential documents and information for the entire team. Benefits and payroll - accurate, compliant, and stress-free.

Learn more about GoCo

3 Rippling - Payroll

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Rippling is The #1 Rated Payroll & HR Software. You can onboard new hires in 90 seconds, run payroll with a click, and pay employees or contractors, anywhere. And with Rippling, you can also manage your people's offer letters, I-9's, health insurance, time off, and more -- 100% online and paperless. All in one, modern platform.

Learn more about Rippling - Payroll

4 Remote

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Remote empowers companies of all sizes to pay and manage full-time and contract workers around the world. Our people are on the ground on every continent, building culturally aware employment packages that help you build trust with your global team. We take care of international payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance to provide a great experience for your employees. Our ironclad intellectual property protections and industry-leading security guarantee give you peace of mind across the globe.

Learn more about Remote

5 Paycor

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Paycor empowers leaders to modernize every aspect of people management so they can focus on what really matters: building winning teams. The unified HCM solution ensures employee data is in one place, so you’ll never have to switch platforms, access multiple systems or re-key information. Automate tedious work, mitigate compliance risk, drive efficiencies, empower employees to control their own financial health and gain a deeper understanding of your business with robust analytics and insights.

Learn more about Paycor

6 ADP Workforce Now

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ADP Workforce Now serves clients who are looking to manage their human capital management needs across payroll, HR, benefits, talent, and time and labor, among others. ADP Workforce Now provides clients with custom-tailored solutions that fit their organization, so they can save time and money while getting expert support and accuracy. ADP has developed scalable payroll solutions that can accommodate organizations of various sizes, from 50, 1,000, to 100,000 employees across the globe.

Learn more about ADP Workforce Now

7 Paylocity

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Use Paylocity to simplify payroll, automate processes, and stay tax compliant, all in one spot. Pull expense reimbursements into paychecks and run custom reports to get the data you need. And provide the flexibility for employees to access a portion of their earned wages when they need it. Ensure accuracy and get time back in your day. Eliminate spreadsheets, calculators, and signatures along the way with a tool built directly into your payroll software.

Learn more about Paylocity

8 Paychex

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Paychex is a cloud-based payroll management system offering payroll, HR, and benefits management systems for small to large businesses. Paychex covers payroll and taxes, employee 401(k) retirement services, benefits, insurance, HR, accounting, and finance. The software also offers accounting and finance solutions including payment processing services and expense management, while also taking care that federal state laws and local regulations are observed.

Learn more about Paychex

9 Quickbooks

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Intuit’s QuickBooks provides in-depth accounting paired with an intuitive interface that helps businesses manage their accounting and finances. There are three main versions of QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online has become one of the most widely used accounting suites on the market today, and QuickBooks Desktop is the legacy accounting software. The Enterprise Solutions Suite offers the same as Online or Desktop, but with the capacity to handle accounting and finance for the large businesses.

Learn more about Quickbooks

10 Patriot Software

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Patriot Accounting Software is the ideal accounting software solution to track expenses, income, and money, to invoice customers, and to pay bills and 1099 contractors. You can import up to two years worth of bank transactions. Easily view and download essential reports so you can keep track of money going in and out of your business. Patriot generates accounting reports that help you track where your money is coming and going.

Learn more about Patriot Software

11 APS (Automatic Payroll Systems)

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APS is a cloud-based HR solution provider and online payroll company delivering value through flexible cloud technology and individualized support. The cloud-based HR solution provides online payroll services, core HR, time & attendance, self-service, ACA reporting and compliance, and mobile access in a single platform which can adapt to meet changing needs of companies in a wide range of industries.

Learn more about APS (Automatic Payroll Systems)

Choosing the right payroll software

Making the decision of payroll softwares can seem daunting but there are many videos and frequently asked questions (with answers) on both brands’ websites to help you perform your due diligence. Be sure to take into account your current needs as well as your needs as your business grows when making your decision.

If you need help choosing between QuickBooks and Xero, or if you want some more clarity in choosing the right payroll software for your business, visit our payroll software Product Selection Tool. Enter your requirements and one of our unbiased Technology Advisors will contact you with up to five options that meet your needs.