OVERALL RATING: Best for businesses with product sales
We’ve tested Xero’s features to see how they match up against other accounting software. We have all the information you need to decide for yourself whether Xero is right for you and your business.
Who is Xero best suited for? Perfect if you like Quickbooks and are looking for a slightly cheaper accounting software alternative.
+ Great 30 day free trial
+ Great inventory accounting
- No phone support on Customer Services
- No annual billing option
Founded in New Zealand in 2006, Xero’s cloud-based accounting software caters to over 2 million users, including 16,000 accounting businesses for which Xero acts as the main accounting solution.
Though Xero’s accounting solution is one of the newer solutions on the market, Xero is widely praised for its ease of use, attractive, customisable dashboard and intuitive UX.
Is Xero right for your startup or small business? Read our impartial, honest review to find out.
Xero is accounting software made for your small business. From invoicing on the run to helping keep you Single Touch Payroll (STP) compliant, Xero’s accounting software has all the features you need to manage your numbers effortlessly.
Across the board, Xero’s testimonials cite its ease of use and customisability as its greatest selling points, and the platform’s intuitive dashboard is the perfect example of this.
Some of the features shown on the dashboard include the income and expense account you want to track; your own bank account and transactions; graphs such as ‘invoices owed’ – to view what funds you expect to receive from past, present and future projects – and graphs to show what you’ve paid/owe to suppliers.
You can view cash flows, transactions, account details, and manage personal expenses, which you can review and approve upon receiving each submitted receipt.
As well as being easy to navigate, Xero’s dashboard is customisable, allowing you to move these features around according to priority, and add features that are most relevant to you and your business.
In addition to having an intuitive design, Xero has numerous help articles or video guides – including a video tutorial to aid with your setup – displayed at the top of each web page, including a video tour of the dashboard, which outlines each of its components and how you can use each. Xero also has a help centre to provide any other assistance you might need.
Everything you need to set up your account can be found and configured easily within your ‘settings’, including inputting your organisation details and financial settings, a chart of accounts, your bank account feed, invoices with terms of payment and setting up payroll.
While Xero doesn’t offer phone support if you have any questions, they do offer round the clock email support, although they’re known to take a while to answer queries, which appears to be a service that’s degraded over time.
Xero has a comprehensive range of accounting features, great for small to medium and growing businesses. Xero is quite unique in the fact that, across all plans, it allows an unlimited number of users to access the account.
You can assign ‘roles’ to each user according to who they are, if they’re an accountant, bookkeeper, manager etc, allowing them access to the functionalities that are relevant to their role within the business.
If you’re not 100% sure what role you should assign someone, not to worry, Xero has a video tutorial that explains each assignable role, to ensure you make the right choice.
One of the winning ingredients of cloud-based accounting software is their ability to integrate with businesses’ bank accounts, and with Xero, you can easily reconcile your transactions to ensure all your data and reports are kept up to date, in fact, reconciling with Xero is quite enjoyable.
Xero is compatible with many major banks internationally, including Barclays, HSBC, RBS, MetroBank and more for users operating in the UK.
Xero only offers a single invoice template, however, like the software’s dashboard, they are highly customisable and can be imbued with all the necessary branding features you need to allow you to produce a sleek, professional-looking invoice.
As one of the many features that benefit from Xero’s automation capabilities, you can set up recurring invoices, default payment settings, bulk invoicing, and you’re also able to replicate previous invoices that you’ve created, all of which can save you time and hassle.
You can also automate invoice reminders to be sent automatically when your customers/clients are due to make a payment.
However, you should only do this if you’re reconciling your transactions every day so that the automated invoice reminders aren’t sent to people who have already paid, but who haven’t had their payments reconciled in the Xero accounting software yet, as this can cause distrust in your business and annoyance to your customers.
Additionally, through Xero’s client portal, users’ customers can also directly view and pay invoices online, and prospective customers can choose whether to accept, decline or comment on quotes.
One of Xero’s best and most unique features is its project tracking. Xero’s users can create projects and set up tracking fields that track expenses, costing and time.
It can track the billable time assigned to each project as well as monitor budgets. Invoices can easily be created on Xero for each specific project.
Xero provides users with a huge range of different financial, accounting and budgeting reports, whenever you need them and are always kept up to date.
You can also customise your reports to prioritise the metrics which are most important and relevant to your business, allowing you to measure specific KPIs. You’ll be provided with quick access to reports that you’ve marked as your favourites, from over 50 potential reports that Xero creates for its users.
Lastly, Xero’s budgeting manager report allows you to create 3, 6, 12 and even 24-month budgets, and request a budget summary any time to make sure you’re staying on budget.
Xero has countless integration possibilities with both free and paid apps, all of which can be browsed through in the Xero app marketplace. With possible CRM integration, integration with inventory apps, payroll/HR, invoicing and more specialised apps such as cash flow forecasting and document management.
Xero also integrates with payment apps including Stripe, GoCardless, Pay with Wise and PayPal, and more, giving your clients or customers several payment options to choose from, to pick the payment vehicle that best suits them, while still being documented and accounted for in the Xero accounting software.
Xero’s software can also be integrated with any e-commerce platforms you might be using, such as WooCommerce, Amazon and eBay.
Xero offers 3 types of plans to users of their accounting software, with a free 30-day trial that allows users to test out all of Xero’s features to gauge which plan is best for them.
Xero’s starter plan allows users to send quotes and up to twenty invoices, enter up to five bills, submit VAT returns to HMRC, reconcile bank transactions, capture bills and receipts and benefit from automatic CIS calculations and reports.
Though this plan is inexpensive and might be adequate for sole traders or the self-employed, those with small and growing businesses should consider a more advanced plan, as the cap on invoices allowed per month is too restrictive for most businesses.
Xero’s standard plan is cited by the site as the business's most popular choice, allowing users to benefit from all the features offered with the starter plan, plus no cap on the number of invoices and bills you can enter into the system.
Xero’s premium plan allows users to benefit from all the features offered in the starter/standard plan, plus the ability to use multiple currencies within the software – great for established businesses who want to sell to the international market.
Xero is a great choice for small businesses and startups looking for a less expensive option than QuickBooks.
Its inventory features are excellent for product-based businesses that need small- to medium-volume inventory tracking. Service-based businesses will benefit from its outstanding project accounting as well.
If you are a small business owner you need to keep your finger on the pulse. Xero allows you to do just that with an overview of accounts payable and easy to understand bank reconciliation which is easy to follow.
The 30-day free trial is a great feature as it allows you to test the software and find the right plan for you and your needs.
There is sadly no annual billing option, only the monthly plans and some of the best features are hidden behind the top paywalls - not so great if you are on a tight budget.
Xero’s accounting software is one of the easiest to use (best for those who have no prior accounting knowledge) has a comprehensive range of features and integration opportunities, and an attractive intuitive, customisable UX, able to be used by an unlimited number of players in your business, such as managers, accountants, bookkeepers and directors, for no extra cost.
Although some features are hidden behind a higher paywall, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate with apps or purchase add-ons if you need more niche functionalities.
Be mindful that costs can rack up if you find yourself needing to supplement the accounting service with more advanced app-provided features.
In conclusion, we feel as though Xero’s accounting software would be a great option for businesses of most sizes – thanks to its unlimited user policy – which means your business can grow and still be accommodated by Xero’s cloud-based accounting solution.
For those who don’t require all the advanced features offered in the premium plan but who really need the multi-currency functionality, there’s probably a more affordable option for you.
Like many software solutions, Xero pricing is based on a monthly subscription fee. We have detailed this in the above article however, you can enjoy a free 30-day trial to allow you to test out all of Xero’s features to gauge which plan is best.
Yes, the Xero Accounting mobile app (for iOS and Android) provides on-the-go access to invoices, contacts, bank account balances, spending, cash flow, and more.
Yeah, they are all organised into each organisation folder. Simply click on the organisation name, select Subscription and billing, then click Manage Subscription. Click the Subscriptions & Billing tab then View invoices. Click on an invoice number to open the online invoice.
Xero has a basic cash flow forecasting tool, but if you want to create a forecast that's going to empower you to make business decisions, you need to go with a tool like a Float to get a more detailed picture.
Yes, you can change your pricing plan to get access to more Xero features, or alternatively, if you need to you can downgrade your plan.
Yes! Xero is designed so you can collaborate with an accountant or bookkeeper to help you grow your small business. Under settings you can invite a user, if they already have an existing Xero profile, they'll use that to access the file, otherwise, they go through the process of entering a new login.
If you want to reconcile a manual payout from Stripe use ‘Find & Match’ to reconcile the payment. Select the checkbox for each payment transaction and fee transaction that you want to match with the bank statement line then simply click ‘Reconcile’.