Best-Rated Accounting Software

Canstar Blue’s 2021 Accounting Software review has seen Xero, Intuit QuickBooks, MYOB and Reckon rated on ease of use, value for money, ease of integration, reporting, functionality, customer service and customer satisfaction.

See Our Ratings Methodology and our Terms of Use.

cns-msc-accounting-software-2021

Most Satisfied Customers | Xero

Xero is back in the black, claiming top spot in Canstar Blue’s Accounting Software ratings, scoring five stars across multiple categories, including overall satisfaction.

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Xero accounts for the competition in accounting software ratings

When it comes to balancing the books, many of us simply leave it to the professionals, with percentages, decimal points and formulas likely to end in mistakes and a headache. While many business owners and managers prefer to keep on top of every aspect of their business, the financial side can quickly get away from us, especially if your business grows quicker than expected.

While accountants and bookkeepers are useful for those pressed for time, or those who just prefer not to think about numbers, many small businesses are turning to accounting software to keep a closer eye on their operations and spending habits, as well as to find ways to bump up their profits. With numerous platforms available, finding one that’s both easy to use, and affordable, almost requires an economics degree in itself. To offer a guide, Canstar Blue has crunched the numbers on Australia’s big accounting software providers, surveying more than 600 business owners and decision-makers to get the lowdown on their software of choice.

The idea is to give you as much information as possible about the compared providers, to help you make a better-informed decision about which service will best meet your needs and preferences. So, what did we find this year? Xero is back in the black, coming out on top of our ratings, after receiving top marks in almost every category.

Best Accounting Software

Accounting Software

Here are the best accounting software providers in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:

  1. Xero
  2. Intuit QuickBooks
  3. MYOB
  4. Reckon

It’s been a few years between drinks, but Xero is back on top of our 2021 ratings, after being rated five stars for ease of use, value for money, ease of integration, reporting, functionality and overall satisfaction.

Intuit QuickBooks also scored highly in multiple categories, including ease of use, value for money, ease of integration and customer service, while MYOB was also rated five stars for functionality. Reckon finished the ratings with predominantly three stars across most categories.

Accounting software platforms compared

Xero

Xero logo

Founded across the ditch in New Zealand, Xero has grown to be a globally recognised accounting software provider, with the cloud-based system available in a range of subscriptions to suit all business sizes and industries.

Starting at $27 a month for the Starter pack, Xero also offers the Standard pack for $52 a month, and the Premium line beginning at $67 a month, with each price point increase unlocking additional features for businesses to utilise. The larger packs will suit larger businesses, allowing more employees to be added to the software (at an additional cost), while the Starter pack should suit owner-operated businesses.

Depending on which pack you purchase, features such as invoicing (including reminder emails for those forgetful clients), inventory and payroll are available for all packages, with additional features such as automatic bank transactions and bank reconciliations also available. If you’re looking to make the most of your accounting software, it’s best to research Xero’s website for a full comparison of capabilities and extras, or sign up for a free 30-day trial to get a feel for how the software works. And if you really want to see what’s available with Xero, you can add optional extras – such as claim expenses, track projects and analytics plus – to your plan on a free trial basis, although terms and conditions apply on sign-up.

  • Back on top, Xero was rated five stars for almost every category, including ease of use, value for money, ease of integration, reporting, functionality and overall satisfaction, with four stars for customer service.
MYOB Logo

Starter

Good for freelancers, sole traders and new businesses.

  • Send 20 invoices and quotes
  • Enter 5 bills
  • Reconcile bank transactions
  • Payroll for 1 person
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $13.50/month
min. cost $27.00 $13.50 over 1 month
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MYOB Logo

Standard

Most Popular Plan – Good for growing small businesses.

  • Send invoices and quotes
  • Enter bills
  • Reconcile bank transactions
  • Payroll for 2 people
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $26.00/month
min. cost $52.00 $26.00 over 1 month
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MYOB Logo

Premium 5

Good for established businesses of all sizes.

  • Send invoices and quotes
  • Enter bills
  • Reconcile bank transactions
  • Payroll for 2 people
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc
  • Automate superannuation
  • Use multiple currencies
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $33.50/month
min. cost $67.00 $33.50 over 1 month
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Intuit QuickBooks

Intuit-Quickbooks_logo

When it comes to accounting software, QuickBooks has been a household name for many years, offering businesses a wide range of software options and features to suit their specific industry, size and financial goals.

QuickBooks offers two different small business accounting products – QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software suite targeted towards small businesses, while QuickBooks Self-Employed is a cloud-based accounting software for self-employed individuals.

QuickBooks Self-Employed features include customer invoicing, payment alerts, payroll capacities and automatic BAS generation, in addition to recording receipts for expenses and building reports to track how your business is really performing financially over select periods of time. QuickBooks Self-Employed is accessible on mobile and desktop but unfortunately your data cannot be transferred into a QuickBooks Online account.

QuickBooks Online features custom invoicing, expense tracking and sorting for when tax time comes around, Single Touch Payroll, GST and BAS generation, insights and reporting, as well as a cashflow manager and mobile app compatibility to help you run your business while on the move.

Providing a 30-day free trial, QuickBooks has some of the cheapest monthly deals around, with prices starting at $15 a month for the Self-Employed package. Other packages include the Simple Start, which will set you back $22 per month, the Essentials package which costs $37 a month, while the Plus package will cost $52 a month. Each package comes with a start-up offer of 30% off for the first three months. With each price jump, businesses will gain access to additional features, with the Plus version containing functions such as inventory and project tracking, while also offering budgeting tools to help you stay on track towards your financial goals.

  • Intuit QuickBooks scored five-star reviews for ease of use, value for money, ease of integration and customer service, with four stars for all other categories, including overall satisfaction.
MYOB Logo

Simple Start

Online accounting software for small businesses with up to 4 employees

  • Track GST & E-Lodge BAS
  • Send quotes & invoices
  • Track income & expenses
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 30% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $15.40/month
min. cost $22.00 $15.40 over 1 month
Go to site
MYOB Logo

Essentials

Accounting Software for Small Businesses to manage suppliers and multiple users

  • Track GST & E-Lodge BAS
  • Send quotes & invoices
  • Track income & expenses
  • Manage suppliers & bills
  • Manager users (up to 3)
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 30% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $25.90/month
min. cost $37.00 $25.90 over 1 month
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MYOB Logo

Plus

Accounting Software with project and inventory tracking for Small Businesses

  • Track GST & E-Lodge BAS
  • Send quotes & invoices
  • Track income & expenses
  • Manage suppliers & bills
  • Manager users (up to 3)
  • Track inventory, projects & budgets
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 30% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $36.40/month
min. cost $52.00 $36.40 over 1 month
Go to site

MYOB

myob_logo

Founded in Australia, MYOB has been a staple in the accounting industry, with the company offering a variety of products to assist businesses with keeping on top of their finances. In addition to the basics of accounting software, MYOB has plenty of additional extras through partnerships with other companies, helping to make the software more personalised to your business.

Features include payroll for employees, invoicing for clients, reports and budgets for team meetings, as well as a variety of functions that help with tax time, inventory, bank reconciliations and even cash flow management, making it worthwhile regardless of your financial needs. You’ll also receive phone support on all MYOB plans.

Revamping its suite of plans, MYOB now offers the Lite, Pro, AccountRight Plus and AccountRight Premier plans for businesses, along with a Payroll Only option for those who simply need help with the pay run. The Lite plan costs $24 per month, with the Pro priced at $50 per month, while the AccountRight range costs between $120 and $150 depending on which plan you opt for. Payroll Only is priced at $10 per month, with MYOB also offering some financial services as add-ons, which also come at an additional cost.

In addition to accounting software, MYOB has software for all areas of your business, including business management and partnered software to suit specialised areas, such as eCommerce, with packaged deals available for those after multiple services.

  • Sharing the top spot for functionality with Xero, MYOB was consistently rated four stars across all other categories, including ease of integration, functionality and overall customer satisfaction.
MYOB Logo

Business Lite

For businesses getting started with accounting software

  • Track income and expenses
  • Create and send invoices and quotes
  • Manage tax and basic reports
  • Connect up to 2 bank accounts
  • Optional Payroll: $1.50/mth per employee. Pay up to 2 employees
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $12.00/month
min. cost $24.00 $12.00 over 1 month
Go to site
MYOB Logo

Business Pro

For growing business taking the next step and employing more people

  • Track income and expenses
  • Create and send invoices and quotes
  • Manage tax and advanced reports
  • Connect unlimited bank accounts
  • Optional Payroll: $1.50/mth per employee. Pay unlimited employees
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $25.00/month
min. cost $50.00 $25.00 over 1 month
Go to site
MYOB Logo

Business AccountRight Plus

Online or offline accounting software with job tracking and inventory

  • Track income and expenses
  • Create and send invoices and quotes
  • Manage tax and advanced reports
  • Connect unlimited bank accounts
  • Track jobs with budgets
  • Manage inventory and bill by time*
  • Included Payroll: No additional cost. Pay unlimited employees
  • 30-day free trial available
  • 50% off for first 3 months. New customers only. T&Cs Apply.
from $60.00/month
min. cost $120.00 $60.00 over 1 month
Go to site

Reckon

Reckon logo

Originally operating under the QuickBooks brand, Reckon is now a separate entity, offering a number of accounting software features for small businesses outside of the financial industry, as well as specialised products suitable for accountants and bookkeepers.

With the Reckon One software, businesses can choose between the Basics, Essentials and Premium packages, priced between $8 and $42 a month, with the more expensive package allowing you to create invoices and bills, reconcile bank transactions and track expenses. Reckon additionally offers the Reckon One Payroll to help with paying wages, leave and super, which is available for $8 a month.

In addition to accounting software, Reckon also provides Point of Sale (POS) software, ideal for bricks and mortar businesses, meaning you’ll be able to take care of money coming into the business, plus money going out.

  • Reckon rounded up our ratings with three stars across most categories, including reporting, ease of use and overall satisfaction, with just two stars for value for money.

Other Accounting Software Platforms

In addition to the four brands in our ratings, it may prove a worthwhile business decision to look into the other options available, including those listed below.

Sage

Sage Logo

Founded in the UK, Sage is another well-known brand within the accounting software industry, offering a number of plans for businesses and individuals to check out to help with the pluses and minuses. Sage is a cloud-based accounting software service which offers a variety of traditional features, such as cash flow forecasting, personalised invoices, the ability to accept online payments through PayPal, payroll for multiple employees, inventory stock management, email support as well as a number of business solutions to help with your specific business. Sage only has one plan available, which costs $20 per month, along with a 35-day free trial if you’re on the fence. You can also download the Sage app for when you’re on the go, with the app available on both iOS and Android operating systems.

What do businesses use an accounting software for?

 result of business operation on computer screen

With accounting software doing much more than just keeping an eye on the dollars and cents, what are Australian businesses using their software for? Survey respondents were asked what features they used most, answering with the following:

  • Payroll: 65%
  • Tax management (including receipt management): 61%
  • General overall cash management: 58%
  • Time tracking and billing: 39%
  • Point of Sale (POS): 34%
  • Inventory: 32%

While each accounting software will offer plenty of features and options to help with the day-to-day running of your business, you’ll often have to pay extra if you’re looking for something more than just a Profit & Loss Statement. Each accounting software provider will generally offer a number of price tiers to choose from, with the most expensive options filled with additional features to cover every area of your business, allowing you to find the best fit for your specific needs. And with 19% of respondents wishing they had purchased accounting software sooner, regardless of what you need it for, it may prove worthwhile both in the short term, as well as the long run.


Related: Which accounting software programs are free?


How often should you be backing up your accounting software?

Backup is making extra copies of data

While we generally like to think our computer won’t fail us, they often have different ideas, particularly when we need them most. Thankfully, the introduction of cloud-based platforms and app compatibility has helped cut down on the heartbreak that comes with dealing with lost files, although it still pays to regularly save and to back-up your work. When asked about their back-up process in regards to their accounting programs and software, those surveyed replied with:

  • Daily: 29%
  • Weekly: 33%
  • Fortnightly: 10%
  • Monthly: 15%
  • Less than monthly: 5%
  • Never: 8%

While the majority seem to be in the habit of backing up their work regularly, a few seem to like living dangerously by backing up either once in a while, or not at all. To ensure you’re not left doing the same work again, it’s best to get in the habit of saving and backing up your work on a regular basis, even if it’s just for your own sanity.

Which accounting software is best for my business?

They may all appear the same to some people, but each accounting software platform is different, with all offering specific functions and features, as well as different levels of customer service. You could be tempted to jump into the cheapest package you find, but you may be sacrificing additional features that could streamline technical and difficult processes, which could ultimately save you time and money over time.

With plenty of options available for businesses to choose from, selecting the platform that best suits your day-to-day operation can prove a big decision. Ultimately the decision will come down to your individual requirements and budget, in addition to how you’d like to run your operation. With each brand offering additional features to help you reach your financial goals, setting aside some time to research what each has to offer will help you save both time, and frustration, down the line.

About the author of this page

Megan Birot

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Home & Lifestyle Content Lead, Megan Birot. She’s an expert on household appliances, health & beauty products, as well as all things grocery and shopping. When she’s not writing up our research-based ratings reports, Megan spends her time helping consumers make better purchase decisions, whether it’s at the supermarket, other retailers, or online, highlighting the best deals and flagging anything you need to be aware of.

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Photo credit: Create jobs 51/Shutterstock.com, Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed more than 2,000 Australian small business owners and key decision makers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group whose business pays for an accounting software license that they have used for business purposes in the last two years (Note: this does not include spreadsheets created in Excel or Google Sheets) – in this case, 623 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

Below are the previous winners of Canstar Blue’s Accounting Software for Business reviews:

  • 2020: Intuit QuickBooks
  • 2019: MYOB
  • 2018: Xero
  • 2017: Xero
  • 2016: Xero
  • 2015: Xero
  • 2014: MYOB

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