Pilot vs. QuickBooks Live: Which should you use?

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When you have the right bookkeeping software to support your business, it streamlines operations, saves valuable time, and gives you crucial insights into your company’s financial health.

In our Pilot vs. QuickBooks Live comparison guide, you’ll get all the information you need to determine which is best for your needs.

Starts at $499/mo
Best For:
Startups looking for help with bookkeeping and accounting until they can hire their own in-house team.
Best For:
Small to medium-sized businesses needing comprehensive, real-time financial management with professional assistance.
Starts at $499/mo
Best For:
Startups looking for help with bookkeeping and accounting until they can hire their own in-house team.
Best For:
Small to medium-sized businesses needing comprehensive, real-time financial management with professional assistance.

Both tools have established a unique market position with distinct features and advantages.

Pilot offers a comprehensive suite of bookkeeping services, ranging from basic bookkeeping to more advanced options like tax help and fractional CFO services.

Where Pilot is focused on helping startups and eventually off-boarding your bookkeeping to an in-house team, QuickBooks Live is designed to scale with you from a one-person business all the way to the enterprise level.

That said, each platform has its limitations, so understanding the differences between them can help you decide which best aligns with your business needs.

Why is this so important? Because the right choice could transform your bookkeeping procedures, directly influencing your profitability.

Let’s get into the specifics of each platform.

Pilot vs. QuickBooks Live at a glance

FeaturePilotQuicksBook LiveWinner
SMB Guide’s Rating7/109/10QuickBooks Live
General Ledger and Chart of AccountsBased on what’s in QuickBooks because they use itEasy to see and customize accordinglyTie
Bank Integration and ReconciliationTie
Financial ReportingLimited to basic reports unless you upgrade to the Plus PlanMore advanced reporting options with each planQuickBooks Live
AP and AR ManagementAdd-on service requiredPart of QuickBooks, but not QuickBooks LiveTie
Payroll ProcessingThird-party integration requiredOptional plan add-onQuickBooks Live
Customization OptionsCustom reporting only available on plus planCustomize reports, and dashboards, and add more users based on planQuickBooks Live
UX and UIEasy to navigate and understandClear and concise, even though there are a lot of optionsTie
Integrations & API CapabilitiesLimited integration optionsIntegrates with 750+ appsQuickBooks Live
Supported PlatformsWeb-based application, iOS and Android appWeb-based application, iOS and Android appTie
Customer SupportEmail, live chat, phone, and messaging in your accountEmail, live chat, phone, and messaging in your accountTie
Pricing$499/mo – $699/mo$200 – $400 per monthQuickBooks Live

How we evaluate and test softwares

When testing softwares/apps, SMB Guide employs a dual approach based on free trial availability and demos. For platforms offering free trials, we test their functionalities, usability, navigation, and ease of use. In the case of tools lacking a free version or trial, we rely on in-depth research and user testimonials through software review platforms like G2, Capterra, TrustRadius, Software Advice, and GetApp to gauge their performance and capabilities. Learn more about our ratings criteria for bookkeeping software & services here.

Pilot: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Pilot is known for its comprehensive suite of financial services, designed specifically for startups.

They offer dedicated bookkeeping services, including standard reporting and special transactions.

Pilot users can connect unlimited credit card and bank accounts for a comprehensive view of their finances in one place. 

Pilot also offers catchup and cleanup bookkeeping services to help businesses organize their financial records.

Advanced services, such as fractional CFO services, are also available. Pilot uses QuickBooks Online (if you don’t already have an account, that’s okay!) and cleans up the data you provide with their platform before loading it into QuickBooks for you.

Pros & Cons


Supports accrual basis accounting

Add-ons for taxes and CFO services

Dedicated bookkeeper

Discount for pre-revenue companies


Expensive for many startups

Additional services require Plus plan


Pricing is based on your company’s monthly expense volume. Additional services, such as taxes and CFO support services, bill separately on top of your Plus subscription.

  • Core: Ranges from $499/month to $839/month depending on expenses and includes a $200/month discount for pre-revenue companies.
  • Plus: Custom pricing starting at $1,500 per month, billed annually, for revenue-generating companies.

Tax plans are as follows, and cannot be purchased without Pilot Bookkeeping:

  • Essentials: Starts $2,450/year for unprofitable C corps with no foreign subsidiaries.
  • Standard: Starts at $4,950/year for profitable C corps, LLCs, S Corps, or businesses with foreign subsidiaries.

CFO services are as follows:

  • Basic: $2,250/month billed annually + $8,100 Budget and Forecast Model charge.
  • Essential: $4,050/month billed annually + $8,100 Budget and Forecast Model charge.
  • High-Touch: $6,750/month billed annually but the Budget and Forecast Model charge is waived.

QuickBooks Live: Key Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Quickbooks Live homepage

QuickBooks is a renowned name in the accounting software industry. The Live service is an add-on for your account that gives you access to a team of human accountants to help you take care of your books.

The service allows you to call, video chat, or live chat with your team, who work to keep your books clean, clear, and concise every month.

Pros & Cons


Professional bookkeeping assistance

Real-time data access

Customizable business reports

Integrates with other apps


One-time clean-up fee

Not available for all QuickBooks products


QuickBooks Live pricing is in addition to the cost of whatever QuickBooks Online subscription you choose.

Pricing is based on your company’s monthly expenses. To get started, you must pay a $500 one-time clean-up fee.

  • $200/month for businesses with up to $10,000 a month in monthly expenses
  • $300/month for businesses with between $10,001 and $50,000 a month in monthly expenses
  • $400/month for businesses with more than $50,001a month in monthly expenses
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping

QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is an online bookkeeping service that connects small businesses with trusted, QuickBooks-certified virtual bookkeepers

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General Ledger and Chart of Accounts

The GL and Chart of Accounts are about the same here – because Pilot uses QuickBooks Online to handle your accounting.

quickbooks chart of accounts

The difference is you’ll have a separate dashboard where you submit the information, then the Pilot team looks at and cleans up the data before importing it to your account.

You can login to your QBO account at any time.

✅ Winner: Tie

Bank Integration and Reconciliation

Both platforms use Plaid to connect your bank accounts and credit cards. It will take a bit of time to load the transactions in.

The more accounts you connect, the longer it will take. You may have to spend a few minutes checking that all the transactions imported correctly and were categorized appropriately.

That’s the case with both tools.

quickbooks linking bank

If your accounting team has any questions or you think something has been miscategorized, you can make changes.

The team will ask for clarification when they need it.

✅ Winner: Tie

Financial Reporting

When it comes to reports, Pilot offers fairly basic ones, such as profit and loss, cash flow statements, and balance sheets.

pilot reporting

The level of reporting you get with QuickBooks Live depends on your QuickBooks Online subscription.

The Advanced plan unlocks all reporting options, plus the option to build custom reports.

quickbooks financial reporting

✅ Winner: QuickBooks Live

AP and AR Management

This one is a bit tricky to rate, because Pilot considers AP and AR management an add-on service.

It’s part of QuickBooks Online, but not included as part of the QuickBooks Live service.

quickbooks sales reports

So, you can do it with both platforms, but you’re on your own with it if you use QuickBooks Online.

✅ Winner: Tie

Payroll Processing

Pilot doesn’t handle payroll processing, but if you add it to the QBO plan you use with Pilot, you can keep Pilot up-to-date with what’s going on in your business with payroll.

quickbooks payroll

Payroll processing is an optional add-on in QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks wins because it’s built-in.

✅ Winner: QuickBooks Live

Customization Options

Since I wasn’t able to do a hands-on demo with Pilot, and had to base my experience on a 20-minute pre-recorded demo, I can’t speak to its customization options that well.

It appears to be fairly limited, at least on the basic plan they showed in the demo.

Customization options are also limited within QuickBooks Online unless you’re on the Advanced Plan where you can create custom reports and dashboards.

I’m calling QuickBooks the winner for that, and the fact that you can have custom access controls.

✅ Winner: QuickBooks Live

User Experience and User Interface

Both platforms have a simple and intuitive interface, making it easy to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Pilot breaks it down for you, giving each task/question from your accountant a thread for you to reply to, so things can stay separate and organized.

pilot dashboard

QuickBooks Online has a lot more features, at least the Advanced Plan demo I was able to test, so at first glance, it can be a little overwhelming.

But, once you really start paying attention to the labels on the navigation bar, it’s super easy to figure out where to find what you’re looking for, so that’s why I made this one a tie.

QuickBooks dashboard

✅ Winner: Tie

Integrations & API Capabilities

Pilot integrates with a few apps like QuickBooks and Gusto. QuickBooks, on the other hand, integrates with more than 750 apps and services.

quickbooks apps

If you work with a lot of outside apps, QuickBooks is the way to go.

✅ Winner: QuickBooks Live

Supported Platforms

QuickBooks Live and Pilot are both cloud-based web applications you can access from any device with an internet connection.

Both platforms have mobile apps for Android and iOS. However, the user experience is reported to be better on Pilot’s web app compared to mobile.

I wasn’t able to personally test to confirm, however.

✅ Winner: Tie

Customer Support

Pilot and QuickBooks Live offer customer support via email, live chat, phone, and messaging within your account dashboard.

The only drawback for Pilot is that support is limited to email unless you upgrade to the Plus plan.

QuickBooks support

Both platforms also have extensive resources to help their customers learn more about using the platform, business accounting, and managing a business in general.

When I spoke with customer service via live chat with QuickBooks Online, and via email with Pilot, I had a pleasant experience with both.

I found the teams to be highly responsive and professional, answering all of my questions quickly.

✅ Winner: Tie


Pilot is expensive compared to competitors. Pricing for the basic plan ranges from $499/month to $839/month based on your monthly expense volume.

Upgrading to the Plus plan starts at $1500/month and is customized to your business.

Pilot pricing

expense. Pilot will buy your QBO account for you, but doesn’t tell you which plan you’ll be on.

quickbooks live bookkeeping pricing

You’ll pay for QuickBooks Live in addition to whatever your QuickBooks Online subscription fee is. 

  • Simple Start: $30/month
  • Essentials: $55/month
  • Plus: $85/month
  • Advanced: $200/month

Adding Payroll services will also increase your subscription fee. Plans for that are optional, but as follows:

  • Core: $45/month +$5/month/employee
  • Premium: $75/month+$8/month/employee
  • Elite: $125/month/employee

The Live fee is based on your monthly revenue.

  • Monthly revenue between $0-$10,000: $200/month
  • Monthly revenue between $10,001-$50,000: $300/month
  • Monthly revenue $50,001+: $400/month

While QuickBooks does charge a one-time cleanup fee, it’s still cheaper than Pilot overall.

And when you consider that Pilot uses QuickBooks Online just like QuickBooks Live does, it seems a little silly.

✅ Winner: QuickBooks Live


Both Pilot and QuickBooks Live charge more based on your monthly expenses, which is fairly common with this type of service.

The good news is that as your business grows, so can your services. With Pilot, the end goal is to get you off the platform and move your accounting in-house, still using QuickBooks.

✅ Winner: Tie

Standout Features of Pilot

What makes Pilot stand out from the competition is the fact that they offer additional advanced features, such as fraction CFO support and stock administration.

While these can be a bit pricey, they’re not for super-small businesses that have no plans to become a corporation.

Standout Features of QuickBooks Live

Quickbooks Live lets you add Payroll directly to your subscription, whereas Pilot doesn’t do that at all.

However, since Pilot manages your QuickBooks Online account for you, you can include it in your QBO plan so that you can manage it yourself.

Many other services require third-party integrations with others like Gusto to manage payroll.

Pilot vs. QuickBooks Live: SMB Guide’s Verdict

Both tools are great but serve different audiences. Quickbooks Live is the overall winner here since it scored a bit higher on its review than Pilot.

Pilot wins in terms of additional services offered but definitely takes a hit where pricing is concerned.

Since Pilot uses QuickBooks Online, you get live bookkeeping support from the Pilot team, rather than the QuickBooks Online certified accountants you’d get with QuickBooks Live.

That’s why I scored “Tie” on so many of the factors I reviewed. If you’re a growing company needing fractional CFO support, go with Pilot.

If you’re starting out and on a budget, go with QuickBooks Live. It has more flexible pricing and scalability.

QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping

QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is an online bookkeeping service that connects small businesses with trusted, QuickBooks-certified virtual bookkeepers

Get a free consultation
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Lucinda has spent the last 15 years working from home as a freelance writer and WordPress designer, and throughout her career, she has worked directly with several digital marketing agencies with clients in the SaaS space, ranging from e-commerce platforms to procurement software.