QuickBooks Online Multi-Company Discount

Written by Charlie Russell

Businesses that need to run multiple company files with QuickBooks Desktop are hesitant to move up to QuickBooks Online because they have to pay for a full subscription for each company file. Intuit is addressing this with their new QuickBooks Online Multi-Company discount pricing structure that they have introduced this week.

There are many reasons why some QuickBooks Desktop users don’t want to move up to QuickBooks Online. Pricing for multiple companies has been a big issue for some. If you purchase a copy of QuickBooks Premier, for example, there is no limit to the number of company files that you can create. There is a surprising number of small businesses that operate this way, with multiple files.

If you move up to QuickBooks Online you find that you have to pay full price for each separate company that you create. That can add up quickly for some businesses!

What Intuit is introducing this week is a QuickBooks Online Multi-Company discount, where you pay full price for your first QuickBooks Online subscription but then a significant discount for additional subscriptions, up to a maximum of 15.

Available Through Accounting Professionals Only

This special offer works through the “bill my firm” (wholesale) invoicing option in QuickBooks Online Accountant. You have to be an accounting professional registered to use QuickBooks Online Accountant to take advantage of this pricing.

The accounting professional will be billed the full wholesale price for the first company file for a client, and then only $5.00 per QuickBooks Online subscription for the second through 15th added subscription for this client. This is a significant discount.

If you aren’t familiar with the wholesale program, if you log in to QuickBooks Online Accountant and click the Create icon to create a new client, you have the option to have the client billed directly, or to have the bill sent to you so that you can bill the client yourself.

QuickBooks Online Multi-Company Discount

If you choose the wholesale discount option you get a discount on the subscription. Currently you pay $20/month for a subscription (that goes up to $25/month on October 15 this year). If you choose this option then it is up to you how much to charge your client.

A few notes about the new pricing program:

  • This is only available through QuickBooks Online Accountant. It is not available directly to end users.
  • This is only available to USA-based accounting professionals. I believe that the main focus here is in converting QuickBooks Desktop users, and the majority of those are using the US versions.
  • This only applies to QuickBooks Online Plus subscriptions. The lower-priced subscriptions are not included.
  • All of the subscriptions have to be made for the same client. You can’t use any of the reduced-price subscriptions for another client.
  • There are no limits to how many clients you can sign up this way.
  • You can add from 2 to 15 additional subscriptions per client. You must choose the number of additional subscriptions at the time that you make the initial subscription.
  • It is very important to note that the additional subscriptions must be activated within 30 days of the activation of the initial subscription.
  • This price is locked in for five years. After that, the subscriptions revert to the full wholesale price.
  • As far as I understand it, the client only gets this price if they remain associated with the original accountant.
  • This is probably a limited time offer, but Intuit doesn’t have an official end date set at this time.

Which Clients Are Eligible?

There are restrictions on which clients are eligible for QuickBooks Online Multi-Company discount:

  • This must be a new client. This offer is not available to businesses that already have a QuickBooks Online subscription.
  • Clients that have QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Mac are eligible.
  • QuickBooks Enterprise users are not eligible.
  • Companies that have a “strategic partnership” with Intuit most likely will not be eligible.
  • Clients that are using a “competitive product” are eligible. This could be another desktop product or another online product.

This offer is available right now through QuickBooks Online Accountant. Note that some accounting professionals have already had access to it, as Intuit has been testing the concept for a few months. I expect that Intuit will be sending out notices to registered accounting professionals in the near future. You can see their announcement at the Multi-Company Switch and Save Offer page, and in the near future you will see a “card” for this on your QuickBooks Online Accountant dashboard.

Does the QuickBooks Online Multi-Company Discount Make Sense?

This is a very interesting program, I’ll be very interested to see if it gains wide acceptance or if it fades away quickly.

Certainly, the prior pricing structure for QuickBooks Online was one of the issues that prevented businesses from moving up to QuickBooks Online. If you run multiple companies (and a lot of people do), this new pricing structure will help considerably. But I don’t know if this is enough to get people to convert! There are a lot of reasons why existing QuickBooks Desktop users won’t change to QuickBooks Online.

I guess if you are a QuickBooks Mac Desktop user this could really help, since QuickBooks Mac is being discontinued in a couple of years.

Intuit did test this, and since they are continuing the program past the test it must have been successful. I’m concerned, though, that there is a five-year limit to the discount for clients. If I need multiple companies now, what makes Intuit think that I won’t need multiple companies five years from now? And since the accountant is billing the client, the accountant is faced with either having to charge that client the higher price later on or just having to absorb the additional cost. An interesting conundrum.

What do you think of this new pricing structure?

About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • I was told by my Intuit Account Manager that the QuickBooks Online Multi-Company discount was for the life of the QBO subscription. Do you have any specific resource to point to saying that it is only a 5-year discount?

    • Sure, lots of support for what I said, as far as the limit.

      First, the Product Manager for this offer said that to me, on multiple occasions.

      Second, if you go to the Intuit page that I linked to (https://quickbooks.intuit.com/aag/accountants/multi-company/), near the bottom it says “Enjoy significant savings for the next five years.”

      Third, on that same page, click the link at the bottom that says “important offers, pricing details, & disclaimers”. Clicking that expands the text at the bottom of the page. Under that you will see “Frequently Asked Questions”. Clicking that takes you to another page, the third paragraph says “After five years, the monthly pricing for each multi-company subscription will revert to the then current monthly wholesale billing price.”.

      So, to clarify, what expires after five years is the $5.00 per extra company discount. The wholesale discount that the accountant gets will still be in place, but that is what we’ve had all along.

      Does that convince you?

      • Thanks Charlie! The information that you provided is definitely conclusive.
        I’m going to send this to my Account Manager because I asked him multiple times directly about the length of this offer for the multi-companies signed up and he said multiple times that it was for the lifetime of the QBO subscription. He didn’t send me any of this information.

  • I think the new pricing is great! Although I agree that the limit of savings to 5 years will create an issue later. Maybe Intuit thought kicking the can down the road 5 years was good enough. I wish they had this in place previously, as we do have one client that already has 5 companies on QRO–they were less than thrilled about paying full QBO price for each of them, but due to other issues had to go to QBO anyway.

  • One other quirky issue: the fact that the additional subscriptions must be selected within 30 days of the initial subscription. In the example client in my comment above, they just added a new company a few months ago which, based on this rule, would not be eligible for the $5/month pricing option. So it seems their main objective for this is getting businesses to make the initial switch, not for permanent savings…

    • You are exactly right, Curtis, this is a promotion to get people to change over. If you go to the Intuit website for this, it is titled the “multi-company switch and save offer”. It is aimed at converting those people who didn’t want to convert because the cost of multiple companies was too high. Intuit doesn’t hide this, there are multiple statements about “switching”, and it is mainly aimed at current desktop users.

  • Regarding two of my clients who each have 5 micro businesses on QBDT and another set up for tracking personal income and expenses, this cost is still far greater than their current practice of upgrading QBDT every 3 years. Converting to QBO for them does not make sense financially.

    • Personally, I don’t usually find that price is the major factor in deciding to convert or not. Features are the big issue for my clients (and there are other issues). Then again, most of my clients are running Premier or Enterprise and need comprehensive inventory features.

  • I agree, Charlie, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. It does seem focused on the initial switch. What I find most intriguing is that it is only available through an accounting professional’s wholesale billing, yet with wholesale billing, the client company never had to know exactly what the software costs were anyway. I would view it as a benefit to me, the accountant, rather than an incentive for the end user. Maybe Intuit’s intent is to motivate more accounting professionals to make the switch to QBO.

    • We could get into a whole long discussion on pricing over this, although I don’t really want to go into that in comments. If the accountant is practicing “value pricing” then the user does’t usually see individual prices. If the accountant is listing QBO as a separate billed item, I’m finding that a lot of users are aware of the wholesale pricing schemes and are asking for discounts. Personally, I don’t “sell” QuickBooks (desktop or online) to clients, so it doesn’t affect me directly.

  • Great for new folks that have to be convinced. But Wow, NO loyalty or “thank you” to the customers that, despite the price, have moved ALL of their businesses to QBO. The fact that this is for new Clients only really bothers me. My employer and my clients ALL have 5 or MORE Plus files already (holding companies and serial entrepreneurs). It would be great if there was a discount program designed for them as well.

    • Hey, Reesa, great to hear from you!

      Again, their purpose is to bring in new people, so I’m not surprised that they won’t offer something for existing users. But I agree with you, it would be nice if there was a way to handle this for those people who already jumped in…

  • This 5-year sunset is a real disincentive. Your point about still needing multiple company files in the future is spot on. I’m an end-user who has a few buildings (on the small side) in their own llcs, and a couple of small businesses that I run separate books for. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. If anything, i’d see adding more company files down the line. If I make this migration, Im basically agreeing today to get locked into paying for about 5 full-price licenses down the line.

    The fact that there is no sensible long-term upgrade path to multiple company files is kind of absurd. Especially when you consider that a full online Plus license is $600 a year. For the cost of two those, you can get the Enterprise desktop, with as many company files as you want AND consolidated reporting, and a bunch of other useful features.

    I don’t get why they don’t simply have a tiered licensing model, where you pay a bit more when you need multiple company files. And then have it top out at something close to what Enterprise costs now.