QuickBooks Online and Sage Accounting are two of the most popular accounting software products in the world — but which one is right for you?

Based on our in-depth research, we recommend QuickBooks Online for small and midsize business owners who want an accessible, straightforward accounting solution with easy access to an expansive network of accountants and bookkeepers.

In contrast, we recommend Sage’s accounting products for midsize and large businesses with more complex finances. Specifically, consider Sage 50 if you need in-depth reporting and inventory management for your growing business. Choose the more expensive, more complex Sage Intacct for completely comprehensive accounting features that will help your business determine, track and meet high financial goals.

Sage vs. QuickBooks Online: Comparison table

Sage 50QuickBooks Online
Starting price$595/yr.$30/mo.
Free trialNo30 days
Our star rating4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
User limitsUp to 40Up to 25
Unlimited invoicingYesYes
Inventory managementYesWith some plans
Main payroll add-onSage PayrollQuickBooks Payroll
Third-party integrations20+750+
Learn moreVisit Sage AccountingVisit QuickBooks Online

Sage vs. QuickBooks Online: Pricing

Sage icon.
Image: Sage

Sage 50 Accounting

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

Sage 50 Accounting has three separate plans that support different business sizes:

  • Sage Pro Accounting: $595 per year (billed annually) or $58.92 per month (billed monthly).
  • Sage Premium Accounting: $970 per year (billed annually) or $96.58 per month (billed monthly).
  • Sage Quantum Accounting: $1,610 per year (billed annually) or $160 per month (billed monthly).

While the Sage Pro plan limits you to one user only, the Premium plan includes access for up to five users. The Quantum plan includes access for up to 40 users. However, each additional user increases the base cost of the plan. For instance, Premium Accounting costs $1,226 per year (billed annually) or $121.33 per month (billed monthly) for two users.

If you pay employees, you can bundle your Sage Accounting plan with a Sage Payroll plan that supports payroll for up to 30 payees per month.

Automatic invoice, receipt and bank statement capture costs an additional fee, as does enabling invoice-based payments through Stripe and PayPal.

QuickBooks icon.
Image: QuickBooks

Intuit QuickBooks Online

Our star rating: 4.6 out of 5

While QuickBooks Online is pricier than most of its small-business accounting software competitors, its starting price is much lower than Sage Accounting’s entry-level plan:

  • QuickBooks Simple Start: $30 per month. Includes access for one user.
  • QuickBooks Essentials: $60 per month. Includes access for three users.
  • QuickBooks Plus: $90 per month. Includes access for five users.
  • QuickBooks Advanced: $200 per month. Includes access for 25 users.

New customers can opt for either a 30-day free trial or 50% off the base price for three months, which lowers QuickBooks Online’s starting price to just $15. Note that QuickBooks Online will autobill you for your fourth month of service at full price unless you cancel your plan before your three-month discount expires.

Businesses can also choose to bundle QuickBooks Online with a QuickBooks Payroll plan, though no additional discount is available for customers who bundle both services. QuickBooks Payroll starts at $45 per month plus $6 per employee paid per month.

Sage Accounting vs. QuickBooks Online: Feature comparison

Unlimited invoicing

Winner: Tie

Both QuickBooks Online and Sage 50 Accounting include unlimited customizable invoices. Both products offer useful automations, including automatic recurring invoices. Sage also offers batch invoicing.

QuickBooks' invoices interface.
Figure A. Image: QuickBooks. QuickBooks’ invoices are easy to generate, customize, track and send. Advanced plans include options like progress invoicing, which lets you take invoice payments over time instead of all at once.

However, with Sage 50, invoice-based payments are only available at an additional fee. Sage 50 syncs with Stripe and PayPal so you can accept payments within the invoice using your preferred payment provider. In contrast, QuickBooks Online includes built-in invoice-based payment options without charging an additional fee.

Inventory management

Winner: Sage Accounting

While QuickBooks Online includes inventory management with its two most expensive plans only, Sage Accounting offers inventory management with all three Sage 50 plans. Basic features include stock management, assembly creation and the option to choose between last in, first out (LIFO) and first in, first out (FIFO) inventory methods.

Sage’s two more expensive plans let you generate serialized inventory items that you can track via in-depth reports. In contrast, QuickBooks Plus and Advanced come with basic inventory tracking only.

Advanced accounting features

Winner: Sage Accounting

Sage and QuickBooks share most of the same basic accounting features. For instance, both providers include expense management, invoicing, automatic bank reconciliation and financial reporting with their cheapest plans.

But while QuickBooks offers more comprehensive features than most of its small-business accounting competitors, it simply isn’t as advanced or feature-rich as Sage Accounting.

Unlike QuickBooks’ cheapest plan, Sage 50’s entry-level plan comes with inventory management, job costing, cash flow reporting, bill tracking and basic cash flow reporting. Its higher-tier plans offer advanced reporting, budgeting, job costing, inventory tracking and auditing — plus industry-specific accounting tools for construction and manufacturing businesses.

And if your business outgrows Sage 50, you can scale up to Sage Intacct. As a top accounting program for midsize and large businesses, Sage Intacct is an excellent all-in-one solution for growing companies with complex finances. While advanced QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise plans can keep up with Sage Intacct, QuickBooks Online’s more limited features simply can’t compare.

Third-party integrations

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Sage Accounting has its fair share of third-party integrations, including built-in connections with Stripe, PayPal, Avalara and Fortis. But while Sage 50 syncs natively with, at most, dozens of third-party providers, QuickBooks Online currently integrates with more than 750 third-party business apps.

If you love Sage but need access to more third-party apps, consider upgrading to Sage Intacct, which syncs with 350+ external apps.

Mobile accounting app

Winner: QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online’s mobile accounting app includes on-the-go invoicing, receipt scanning, expense tracking and mileage tracking. It’s also well reviewed by both iOS users and Android users alike.

By contrast, Sage 50 doesn’t have a solid mobile accounting solution. Sage Intacct does include a relatively well-reviewed iOS app, but it doesn’t have an Android app listed on Google Play, and the iOS app has fewer than 50 reviews compared to QuickBooks’ 100,000+ reviews.

QuickBooks' app interface.
Figure B. Image: QuickBooks. QuickBooks’ fully functional app gives users easy on-the-go access to crucial accounting features, including cash flow tracking and invoicing.

Customer service

Winner: Sage Accounting

Intuit, QuickBooks’ parent company, earns notoriously poor customer service reviews. Customers struggle to reach a live agent and note long wait times while navigating QuickBooks’ phone tree.

In contrast, Sage prides itself on its solid customer service reputation. Each Sage product has its own in-depth resource center, which includes access to a large community hub, detailed knowledge base, live Q&As, phone-based customer service, online requests for service and comprehensive courses, both live and pre-recorded.

Sage pros and cons

Pros of Sage

  • Inventory management included with each plan.
  • Access for up to 40 users.
  • Excellent customer service and customer educational tools.
  • Multi-business management.

Cons of Sage

  • Fewer third-party integrations than competitors like Xero and QuickBooks.
  • Payroll integration limited to Sage Payroll.
  • Potentially steep learning curve for first-time business owners.
  • Poorly reviewed mobile app.

QuickBooks Online pros and cons

Pros of QuickBooks Online

  • Free, one-on-one guided setup for all new users.
  • Relatively low software learning curve for non-accountant business owners.
  • Well-reviewed mobile accounting app.
  • Convenient live bookkeeping add-on.
  • Thorough third-party integrations.

Cons of QuickBooks Online

  • Higher starting price than competitors like Xero, FreshBooks and Zoho Books.
  • Comparatively limited payroll add-ons.
  • Notoriously poor customer service reputation.

Should your organization use Sage or QuickBooks Online?

Choose Sage if . . .

  • You’re part of a growing or midsize business with complex finances.
  • You want to manage multiple businesses on the same accounting platform.
  • You need access to industry-specific software.
  • You manage inventory and prefer accounting software that bundles bookkeeping and inventory tracking in the same package.

SEE: Best Practices for Choosing the Right Accounting Software (TechRepublic)

Choose QuickBooks Online if . . .

  • You’re a solopreneur or freelancer who needs basic bookkeeping and accounting tools.
  • You haven’t used accounting software before and want accessible software with easy setup.
  • You want to take advantage of QuickBooks’ broad network of QuickBooks-certified accountants and live bookkeepers.
  • You rely on multiple apps to run your business and prefer accounting software that can easily integrate with each one.


To write this in-depth comparison of Sage Accounting and QuickBooks Online, we signed up for free trials and free online product tours. Whenever possible, we tested software and features first-hand to bring you a reliable review. To ensure our review captured multiple perspectives, we also read verified user reviews on trustworthy third-party sites like the Better Business Bureau and Gartner Peer Insights.

We rely on an in-house algorithm to calculate our star ratings. We pay the most attention to brands’ strengths and weaknesses in the following categories:

  • Pricing (weighted to 25% of our total star rating).
  • Features (weighted to 35% of our total star rating).
  • Ease of use (weighted to 15% of our total star rating).
  • Customer service and reputation (weighted to 15% of our total star rating).

Our accounting expert’s experience reviewing, testing and researching the software account for the final 10% of our score. Read our software review methodology page for more insights into how we calculate star ratings.

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Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays