QuickBooks Online Plan Comparison:
Essentials Plan

Learn about the QuickBooks Online Essentials Plan

As your business grows and you have credit with your suppliers and contractors and pay them after the goods and services have been delivered to your small business the QuickBooks Online Essentials Plan is a good option.

It also allows you to track and bill time, further customize your invoices, and automate more functions. This is the most popular plan, it has more functionality than the Simple Start Plan, and is great value.

Cost of QuickBooks Essentials Plan

The QuickBooks Online Essentials Plan costs:

  • $60 per month in the US
  • $54 per month in Canada,
  • $37 per month in Australia, and
  • £22 pounds per month in the UK.

The QuickBooks Online Essentials Plan allows access for up to 3 users.

QuickBooks Essentials Plan Features

To compare the features available in the different QuickBooks Online plans, the following are the additional options available if you upgrade to an Essentials Plan. You can also read about what’s also available to this plan through the Simple Start and Easy Start Plans, and what’s available if you upgrade to the Plus Plan.

Enter and Pay Bills

When you are purchasing goods and services and will be paying for them later you enter the amount you will be paying as a “Bill” in QuickBooks.

By doing this you capture the expense – the cost of what you are purchasing – at the time you buy it, and record an amount owing at the same time. At any point in time you are able to see what your total expenses are in order to manage your profitability, and how much you owe, so you can manage your cash.

Here’s a video that walks through how to use the enter and pay bills in QuickBooks Online:

When your business has grown from paying for everything as you incur it, to having credit from your suppliers and service providers using the bills and pay bills feature is a good option to keep your results accurate and help you to manage your cash flow.

Record Time Activity as Billable to a Customer

The ability to capture time activities, and mark some as billable to a customer enables you to manage your time, and the time of your workers, and ensures that you don’t miss charging for your valuable time when you invoice your customer.

If you record your time as you are carrying out the task there is less chance that you will forget to record it at the end of the day, or the end of the week. By tagging it billable you will be alerted when you prepare an invoice that there is time to add to that invoice, and you have the option to then add it to the invoice you are sending, or keep it until the next invoice you send. Either way, you are much less likely to forget to bill for time your customer should be paying for.

Here’s a video that walks through how to record a time activity as billable to a customer:

You can run reports to show unbilled time to ensure you recover all of the time you have recorded as billable to your client. There are also reports you can customize to show the breakdown between billable and unbillable time for each of your workers. This is a fantastic tool for managing employee time, and setting targets for utilization rates and recoverable time.

Weekly Timesheet

In addition to entering single time activities you can use the weekly timesheet feature.

Editing a timesheet with three rows

All of the individual time activities feed into the weekly timesheet, and entries can be made directly to the timesheet as well.

If you have employees working on a particular customer more than once in a week, this is a great alternative to recording individual activities.

The customer being worked on can be entered, the service carried out, and whether or not it is billable.

You can also enter the details that will copy across to the invoice, when it comes time to bill the client. 

The service item could also be an administrative item that does not relate to a customer, and the weekly timesheet totals used to pay employees who are on an hourly contract. 

You can provide time tracking access only to employees, and this does not count towards your user limit.

Recurring Transactions

Recurring transactions are a wonderful time saving feature.  I use them in my business, and combined with automated payment processing I receive and record monthly subscriptions without having to do anything!

Recurring transactions are found under the gear icon on the top right.

Pointing out the recurring transactions in the menu under the lists heading.

You can set up a recurring transaction for bills you pay regularly – especially if they have multiple lines and would not be quick or easy to categorize from the bank feed.

Listing recurring transactions in the bank feed.

Recurring transactions can be used for large entries you make on a regular basis, to save you having to enter all of the categories or rows each time.  An excellent example of this would be daily sales.  By setting up a transaction, you can save it as “unscheduled” and use it whenever you need it.  Not all recurring transactions need to be automatically recorded!

Most transactions have the option to “Make recurring” on the bottom black bar.

Pointing out the make recurring options at the bottom of the screen.

To see recurring transactions in action you can watch this video:

Delayed Credits and Charges

Delayed credits and delayed charges are referred to as “non posting” transactions – which means that they are not immediately posted to your records, they are waiting – delayed- for you to use them.

An example of a delayed charge would be if you have a monthly subscription to your customers – you don’t want to create an invoice, or a sales receipt yet, however, when you do invoice them, you want to add it to that invoice.

Viewing the delayed charges.

A delayed credit is an amount you would like to deduct from your customer’s invoice. I use delayed credits when someone pays a deposit in advance. I want to be sure to record the amount deposited to the bank, and don’t want to forget to deduct the deposit when I send an invoice to my client. By creating a delayed credit I am reminded when I prepare the invoice, and avoid the embarrassment of sending an invoice without the prepaid amount deducted!

Inserting the amount for a delayed charge.

To learn more about using delayed charges and delayed credits you can watch this video:

You can set up a delayed charge, or a delayed credit up as a recurring transaction to ensure you don’t miss charging for those regular amounts you are not paid for immediately!


If you buy or sell items in a different currency being able to properly track those items in the relevant currency will give you much more accurate results, and when you have it set up, save a lot of time and confusion!

You can turn on multicurrency from the gear icon under accounts and settings. You will receive a warning that this cannot be undone – the only downside of having multi currency turned on, is having extra columns appear in your reports. These can easily be removed.

The setting for multicurrency toggled on.

QuickBooks Online automatically calculates any exchange differences, and it does a great job of it! If you don’t use other currencies, or have only a few charges on your credit card, for example, I wouldn’t bother using this feature. If you have customers you bill in other currencies, or bills you record now, and pay later in other currencies, I would recommend using the multi currency feature.

If you would like to know more about using multicurrency, watch these videos:

Pay Down Credit Card

A great new feature that makes it easy to enter a credit card payment without double recording payments, or messing it up from the bank feed.

Screen to add payment on the pay down credit card screen.

Super fast and simple, as you will see if you watch this video:

A much easier way to record credit card payments!

Custom Fields on Invoices

This feature gives you the option to add up to three different fields to your invoices.

You have the option to use each field internally, or share it with your customer.

The custom fields area to add custom fields with three fields added.

The fields then appear on your invoice.

Highlighting additional custom fields on an example invoice.

To see how to set up custom fields, and use them on your invoices you can watch here:

You can also filter reports to include custom fields, this could be useful for determining sales by employee for commission purposes, or managing a region without having to upgrade to the plus plan for location tracking.

Tips and Gratuities

A relatively new feature enables you to track tips collected from your customers, and then pay them out to your employees or workers.

This feature needs to be turned on in Accounts and Settings.

Showing the tops option is off.

When the tips feature has been turned on you can then include a tips field on your sales receipts:

Highlighting the tips box in the sales receipt.

Any tips received are then recorded in a new “Tips” account set up in the chart of accounts, and can be tracked, and paid out to your employees and workers.

To see how this works you can watch here:

Any unpaid tips will be easy to track, and you can check at any point in time the value of undistributed tips. A great new feature!

Shipping Account

Another new field you can add to your invoices is the shipping charge. If you charge to ship goods to your customers, and would like to easily track them separately you can turn on this feature in the Accounts and Settings.

Categories display settings
Showing the shipping options is off.

Once turned on a new field appears in your invoice:

Highlighting the shipping box in the example invoice.

Any amounts entered in the shipping field will be tracked separately, ensuring that you can easily see what you have collected for shipping. You can then be sure to either recoup your shipping costs, or clearly track them in order to manage your business decisions around shipping and shipping charges to your customers.

If you would like to see how to turn on and use this field, and how the income appears in your reports you can watch this video:

With accurate information about how much you have charged for shipping you either recoup your shipping costs, or clearly track them in order to manage your business decisions around shipping and shipping charges to your customers.

Finishing Up

Once again, as your business grows and you have credit with your suppliers and contractors and pay them after the goods and services have been delivered to your small business the QuickBooks Online Essentials Plan is a good option.

Check out the QuickBooks Online offers available today!

Ready for More Comparison?

Continue on to learn about the specifics of the QuickBooks Online Plus Plan.

If you would like assistance to select or set up your QuickBooks Online file you can book a session here.

If you have QuickBooks, and have connected the bank, check out my bank feed training course before you get started.

About the Author

Kerry Smithies smiling at the camera with a blurred background.

Kerry Smithies is a top ranked QuickBooks Pro Advisor and CPA.

Be sure to subscribe to Kerry’s YouTube channel with lots of QuickBooks Online how to videos and tips for managing your business finances.

With extensive experience working with small businesses and entrepreneurs in Australia, Canada, and the US. Kerry now focuses her attention entirely on helping business owners manage their finances and grow their businesses by automating their accounting function utilizing QuickBooks Online and related cloud applications to streamline their bookkeeping functions giving them more time to focus on what they do well, run their own business, and enjoy hard earned down time!

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