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Xero Vs Quickbooks Online Vs Sage

Xero vs Quickbooks Online vs Sage

How do these leading cloud accounting platforms stack up?

No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, it’s vitally important that you have the right systems and processes in place as you pursue growth. And perhaps the most important is a cloud accounting platform that can scale as your business scales, while allowing you to track income and expenditure in real-time.

There are a range of packages available for small and medium-sized businesses that do just that, and with offices around the globe, we’ve seen firsthand the popularity of two of them: QuickBooks Online and Sage Business Cloud Accounting.

But Xero, which reached 1.4 million subscribers worldwide in March 2018, has also staked its claim as a major contender.

In this blog post, we take a look at the features and the numbers behind the three leading cloud accounting platforms available today.

Meet the Contenders

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

Sage Business Cloud Accounting (formerly Sage One) is currently available in two tiers. The first is primarily for sole traders, with a pared back set of features and simple interface, making it a great budget option for someone starting out.

For more established businesses, the second tier of Sage Business Cloud Accounting boasts a wider feature set, allowing you to generate and send invoices, manage and submit tax returns, track quotes and projects, manage expenses, and much more.

  • Does it have a smartphone app? – YES
  • Third Party Integrations? – 100+

Sage Business Cloud Accounting Key Features:

  • Give your accountant access to your numbers
  • Information at-a-glance with clean and clear dashboards
  • Manage suppliers, customers, and items
  • Generate recurring invoices
  • Drill down into detailed reports with a click
  • Import bank statements and save time with reconciliations
  • Cloud-based – access your data anywhere, anytime
  • Smartphone applications on Android and iOS
  • Multiple reporting options, including designing your own formats
  • Unlimited support

Available On: Web / Android / iOS

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks is a huge cloud accounting brand in the US, and it’s currently making waves in the UK too thanks to a big marketing push (you’ve probably seen the ads if you live in the UK).

It currently offers three tiers, covering a range of business types and sizes:

First, its Self-employed package has been tailor made for freelancers and independent contractors. It offers a basic feature set, allowing users to send invoices, track mileage, and complete tax returns.

The next tier up is Essentials. Designed for small businesses and VAT/GST registered companies, it offers a wider feature set including payroll, VAT/GST calculation and filing, and multi-currency support.

Finally, QuickBooks Online Plus takes things to the next level with its employee and subcontractor time tracking, cost tracking, and stock management features.

  • Does it have a smartphone app? – YES
  • Third Party Integrations? – 400+

QuickBooks Online Key Features:

  • Online banking synchronisation
  • Create and manage custom invoices and estimates
  • Online payment link for invoices
  • Easy-to-navigate interface; clean and clear dashboards
  • Multiple reporting options
  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Smartphone receipt capture for better recordkeeping
  • Smartphone apps available on Android & iOS
  • Track sales and expenses

Available On: Web / Android / iOS


Like QuickBooks Online, Xero offers three tiers to meet the needs of small to medium-sized businesses. All three packages offer invoicing, billing, reporting, and payroll functionality.

The Starter package is aimed at sole traders and early startups with a limited number of quotes, bills, invoices, and bank transactions. As your business grows, you’ll naturally graduate to the Standard package which offers unlimited invoices, bills, and transactions, while the Premium package brings multiple currencies to the table.

Payroll can be added to any package for an additional cost for the first five employees, with a further monthly cost for any additional employees.

  • Does it have a smartphone app? – YES
  • Third Party Integrations? – 500+

Xero Key Features:

  • Online banking reconciliation
  • Cloud-based – access your business data anywhere, anytime
  • Invite your accountant to access your numbers
  • Create and send automatic invoices
  • Multiple reporting options
  • Raise Purchase Orders
  • Manage expenses and inventory
  • Run payroll
  • Support multi-currency
  • Smart segmentation of customers and suppliers
  • Smartphone apps available on iOS & Android
  • Unlimited support

Available On: Web / Android / iOS

Feature Comparison

Feature Xero QuickBooks Online Sage Business Cloud Accounting 
Expense Tracking
Online Banking Reconciliation
Chart of Accounts
Contact Management
Multi-currency Support
Data Import / Export
Access Control
Depreciation Tracking
Document Approvals

The Numbers at a Glance

Worldwide Subscribers*

  • Xero – 1,400,000 (March 2018)
  • QuickBooks Online – 2,800,000 (2018)
  • Sage – Global numbers unavailable at time of publishing.

UK Subscribers*

  • Xero – 253,000 (2017)
  • QuickBooks Online – 160,000 (2018)
  • Sage – 100,000 (2015)

Xero Subscriber Breakdown*

  • Australia & New Zealand – 692,000 (2017)
  • South East Asia & South Africa – 39,000 (2017)
  • North America – 92,000 (2017)

*Based on most recent publicly available numbers.


99.7% (2017) – Xero has an almost unheard of uptime of 99.7%, marking it out as one of the most reliable and secure cloud software platforms on the market today.

Our Verdict

The recent growth of Xero in the UK points to a real sea change where cloud accounting is concerned.

While QuickBooks might have the upper hand in the US with 2.2 million subscribers, Xero continues to make inroads in a number of other countries worldwide. It has now positioned itself as the number one cloud accounting solution in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, while enjoying steady growth in North America, South East Asia, and South Africa.

Users and accountants alike are opting to implement and support it over its rivals, with its only real competitor appearing to be QuickBooks Online. Sage, it seems, has been left to play catch up with its delayed decision to switch focus to the cloud.

In short, it’s our opinion that Xero threatens to leave both in the dust with its impressive suite of features, robust security, and a tiered pricing option tailored towards small and growing businesses.

Take the Leap with Xero and Stepping Stone

As Xero Gold Partners, we know the platform like the backs of our hands. We can show you why it’s the most popular cloud accounting solution around, and how it will make a major difference to the way you run your business.


Contact us today to speak with one of our friendly Xero experts.

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