Sage vs QuickBooks: Which Is the Best for Your Business

Sage and QuickBooks are both excellent payroll software solutions, though they’re designed with different businesses in mind. In this guide, we’ll go over the two platforms’ core features and functionalities, pricing plans, integration capabilities, customer reviews, and advantages and drawbacks, to help you determine which one is a better fit for your company.

Sage vs QuickBooks At a Glance

Payroll Software Sage QuickBooks
Starting Price £10/month From $22.50/month for the first three months (renews at $45/month) + $6/month per employee
Free Plan First three months free 30-day free trial
Tax Filing Automated HMRC tax calculation and filing, electronic RTI information filing Automatic tax calculation and filing, tax penalty protection
Employee Benefits Management Automatic pension enrollment Health insurance, 401(k) plans, workers’ comp administration
Employee Portal Employee self-service payslips and P60s on every plan Employee self-service portal available on all plans
Integrations No external integration capabilities Loft47, BILL, Gusto, Connecteam, Paychex, Homebase, Syft Analytics, etc.
General HR Timesheet management, shift scheduling, leave tracking, approval workflow automation Income and expense tracking, invoicing, receipt capture, mileage tracking, comprehensive reports
Customer Support Live chat, Phone Live chat, Phone
Read Review Sage Payroll review QuickBooks Payroll Review

Sage vs QuickBooks Pricing Compared

Sage is geared toward small UK-based businesses that need a simple payroll solution, so it makes sense that it’s super-affordable. On the other hand, QuickBooks is a comprehensive, feature-rich solution for businesses of all sizes, so it’s a bit on the expensive side, especially if you want full access to all of its features and functionalities.

Pricing Plans Sage QuickBooks
Free Version Free for the first three months 30-day free trial
Starter £10/month, up to 5 employees $45/month + $6/month per employee
Advanced £20/month, up to 5 employees $80/month + $8/month per employee
Premium £30/month, up to 5 employees $125/month + $10/month per employee

Sage is one of the most affordable payroll solutions for small businesses, especially if you have a small team. As your business grows and expands, you can add new user seats (on top of the 5 included with the platform) for £2 — £6 per employee, depending on the plan you chose.

QuickBooks is the complete opposite, and it’s one of the most expensive options you’ll find. It does offer a 30-day free trial and the first three months at 50% off, so you’ll be able to test it in practice and see first-hand if its advanced functionalities are worth the premium price.

Sage vs QuickBooks Ease of Use

Winner: Sage

Sage is super simple and easy to use, and it automates the bulk of your payroll-related activities. The software layout is well-designed, and the navigation is very intuitive, making it easy to run payroll in just four simple steps. It’s also an HMRC (His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) recognized solution, so it ensures complete compliance with UK laws and regulations.

QuickBooks is also well-designed, with side menu shortcuts that allow you to quickly access each functionality. However, it can be a bit overwhelming due to the sheer number of features and functionalities it provides, so it might take some time before you learn how to fully utilize the platform’s potential.

Sage vs QuickBooks Key Features

Winner: QuickBooks

QuickBooks offers a ton of advanced features and functionalities, and it can be used by businesses of all sizes, in virtually any industry. Sage is a bit more limited, given the fact that it’s almost exclusively geared towards small businesses in the UK. So, while Sage can be a perfect fit for businesses that meet that criteria, QuickBooks is a much more versatile solution.

Payroll

Sage lets you process weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly payroll for all your staff in just a few easy steps. You can view historical pay runs, review individual payslips, calculate absences, and pay all your employees in bulk.

QuickBooks supports unlimited payroll runs, lets you review, edit, and approve payroll before the pay date, and even lets you set payroll on autopilot for all salaried employees. This means payroll is automatically processed for all team members on a fixed monthly salary, saving you a ton of valuable time and ensuring complete accuracy. For contractors, you’ll be able to quickly create and submit 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC forms and pay them based on their hourly or fixed rates.

Tax Filing

When it comes to tax filing, Sage automatically calculates the payroll amount and submits your RTI (Real-Time Information) each time you pay your employees. The platform automates tax filing and, since it’s an HMRC-recognized solution, it ensures compliance with the latest UK legislation.

QuickBooks also calculates, files, and pays your payroll taxes for you. It also allows you to set up garnishments and deductions and automatically calculate them during each payroll run. Moreover, the company offers an accuracy guarantee, taking full liability for any errors and offering to pay penalties and fines up to $25,000 that result from tax filing errors.

Employee Benefits

Sage only offers automatic pension enrollment as an employee benefit with the core platform. However, there’s a standalone module called Employee Benefits that you can purchase alongside the Sage payroll software. It allows you to introduce employee rewards and recognition, on-demand GP (General Practitioner) appointments, and savings with hundreds of popular retailers.

QuickBooks is a bit more robust in this area, including a slew of health benefits for your team, 401(k) retirement plans, and workers’ comp administration with the base platform. It does not have rewards programs, but the main advantage is that QuickBooks partners with SimplyInsured, so you can offer affordable health insurance packages to your team directly through the platform.

Time Tracking

This is another functionality that Sage sells as a standalone module. With the core platform, you can only track time off, so you’ll have to pay extra for Sage time management to track attendance and performance, and boost employee productivity.

With QuickBooks, you’ll have access to built-in time tracking and shift scheduling functionalities, provided you opt for the Premium or Elite plan. Your employees will be able to clock in from virtually anywhere, using their mobile devices, and you’ll be able to review and approve timesheets in seconds.

One thing to keep in mind is that, even with all the standalone modules (i.e., paid add-ons), Sage still ends up being a more cost-effective solution, but we prefer QuickBooks overall here especially as these features are included in the plans.

Sage vs QuickBooks Integrations

Winner: QuickBooks

Sage Payroll doesn’t offer any external integrations. While you can connect it to Sage Accounting to handle all your bookkeeping tasks in addition to payroll, you won’t be able to integrate it with the third-party apps and tools you’re already using.

This makes QuickBooks a much more appealing option, given that it natively integrates with hundreds of accounting, scheduling, project management, general HR, CRM, and marketing tools and apps.

Neither platform offers an API (Application Programming Interface), so there’s no option for building custom integrations.

Sage vs QuickBooks Scalability

Winner: Tied

Both platforms are easily scalable in that they allow you to add new users to your account and upgrade to a more feature-rich pricing plan at any point in time. As we’ve mentioned, Sage also offers a ton of add-ons, such as time tracking and employee benefits, and you can also connect it with Sage Accounting if you want to use Sage for bookkeeping as well.

QuickBooks has a ton of products as well in its library, so apart from adding new users, you can also upgrade the platform to add a wide variety of functionalities like invoicing, expense tracking, project management, and e-commerce management, to name a few.

Sage vs QuickBooks Customer Reviews

Sage has overwhelmingly positive user reviews across all major, trusted third-party review sites. Users often praise the quality and response time of customer support, the platform’s ease of use, and Sage’s payroll and accounting functionalities.

A customer's review of Sage

The same is true for QuickBooks, with most users praising the platform’s payroll processing functionality, benefits administration, and integration capabilities.

A customer's review of Quickbooks

Conclusion — Sage vs QuickBooks: Which One Wins?

Although both Sage and QuickBooks are payroll solutions, they’re two fundamentally different platforms. Sage is designed for small businesses based in the UK, whereas QuickBooks can be used by companies of all sizes in the U.S. and Europe.

As a small business solution, Sage is more affordable, but it’s also limited in its functionality. The core platform can be enhanced with a variety of paid add-ons, so you could also use it to offer enticing employee benefits, track your team’s hours worked, and handle your accounting.

That said, Sage lacks integration capabilities, meaning that you won’t be able to sync the data from other tools and apps you’re using with the payroll platform.

The advanced functionalities and incredible integration capabilities make QuickBooks a better choice in most cases, provided you can afford to pay a premium price for this robust payroll software.

In the end, it all comes down to the size of your business and your unique needs. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand what the two platforms offer, so you can make an informed decision.

How We Test Payroll Software

Many different aspects need to be taken into consideration when reviewing and comparing payroll software. Here are the main ones that we focus on during our review process:

  • Pricing — We carefully go over all the pricing plans, the features included on each, and all available paid add-ons to ascertain the overall value for money each platform provides.
  • Features — We test out all the key payroll features of each platform, testing their functionalities, accuracy, and reliability.
  • Integrations — Our experts closely look at each platform’s integration capabilities, taking note of the most valuable ones.
  • Automation — We test all of the payroll, tax filing, and general HR automations for speed and accuracy, noting how much time they save compared to doing these tasks manually.
  • Ease of use — We take a look at the platforms’ UI and navigation and gauge how intuitive they are and how long it would take new users to learn all the ins and outs of each individual solution.
  • Third-Party Reviews — Our team combs through the user reviews on popular review sites like TrustPilot, TrustRadius, G2, Capterra, and more to see the overall user sentiment regarding each product we review.

How to Choose the Best Payroll Software

If you’re still unsure which payroll software best aligns with your business needs, here are a few tips that will help you make the right decision:

  • Budget — Set a monthly budget for the payroll software and consider how the different pricing plans available align with it. Keep in mind that most solutions charge you for each employee on your account, in addition to the monthly fee for the software.
  • Core Features — Ensure that the software provides all the key payroll, tax filing, benefits administration, and other features and functionalities you need, on a plan you can afford.
  • Scalability — Always choose a platform that’s easy to scale. As your business grows and expands, you might need to upgrade to an advanced tier and add new users to your account.
  • Ease of use — Consider how much time it would take for your team to learn how to fully utilize the software in day-to-day business. The easier the software is to navigate and learn, the better. Additionally, with an easy-to-use solution, there’s less of a chance of making a costly error when processing payroll or filing taxes.
  • Integrations — Make sure the payroll software you opt for can easily be integrated with the other apps and tools you’re already using.
  • Customer support — Check the available options for contacting customer support and their working hours. Also, take into consideration what other users say about the response times and the level of technical knowledge of the customer support agents.

FAQs

What is the difference between Sage and QuickBooks?

When is Sage 50 better than QuickBooks Online?

When is QuickBooks Online better than Sage 50?

Aleksandar Stevanovic
Software Reviews Expert

Aleksandar Stevanovic spent 10 years honing his craft as a freelance content writer. He has a degree in Economics, and extensive experience in software, crypto, and cybersecurity industries. He covers a multitude of topics, writing factual and informative articles, helping individuals better understand the intricacies of the online world. Over the last two years, his research focus shifted more towards tech and software content, as evidenced by his publications on CEX.IO, Business2Community, and Techopedia. He believes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them closer to like-minded individuals. His work is as detail-oriented as it is creative, and is designed to…