Quote vs Invoice – What’s the Difference?

Quote vs Invoice – What’s the Difference
Anoosh Kotak1 February 2024

A quote and an invoice are necessary for any transaction, yet they serve distinctly different purposes. 

A quote is a preliminary offer extended to potential clients, allowing them to weigh their options before committing to a service. If the client accepts the quoted price and terms, you can issue the final invoice, formally requesting payment.

These documents are pivotal in keeping your endeavours organised, maintaining a steady cash flow, and serving as a testament to your reliability as a freelance professional. 

The blog includes an overview of Quote vs Invoice, best practices for quoting and invoicing, and the key differences.

What is a Quote?

A quote, often known as a quotation, is a formal document that sellers or service providers give to potential customers. Its primary purpose is to convey the rendered services, payment terms, and available payment options. It enables customers to make informed decisions about purchasing your services. 

The types of quotes include the following.

Types of Quotes
  • Open-Price Quote
    They offer flexibility, adjusting costs based on project changes or material shifts. An open-price quote is ideal for open-ended projects or when customers seek negotiation.
  • Fixed-Price Quote
    These quotes set costs, which benefits projects with defined scopes. It includes an itemised list of tasks, reducing post-quote disputes. Fixed-price quotes are best suited for projects where customers prefer a predetermined, unchanging cost.

Let's break down the key elements of a quote.

the key elements of a quote
  • Description of Services/Products
    A quote begins with a clear description of the products or services offered. It outlines what the customer can expect to receive.
  • Breakdown of Estimated Costs
    This includes materials, labour, and other relevant expenses. A detailed cost breakdown helps the customer understand where their money is going.
  • Payment Terms and Deadlines
    A quote specifies the terms and conditions for payment. It includes details like the total amount due, instalment plans (if any), and deadlines for payment. Clarity on payment terms ensures a smooth transaction process.
  • Validity Period of the Quote
    Every quote has an expiration date. It signifies the period during which the quoted prices and terms are valid. Both parties must be aware of this timeframe to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Optional - Disclaimer on Cost Fluctuations
    Some quotes may include a disclaimer regarding potential cost fluctuations. It is particularly relevant when factors beyond the service provider's control, such as market changes, influence the final cost.

These elements ensure professionalism, build trust and contribute to a successful quoting process.

What is an Invoice?

An invoice is a formal and legally binding document created after a sale detailing products, costs, and payment terms. This document requests payment from the customer and serves as recorded proof of the transaction.

Its key components include the following.

key components Invoice
  • Date of Issue
    The date the invoice is issued helps track the transaction's timeline and sets a reference point for payment. It also aids in accounting for the parties involved. 
  • Client Information
    An invoice must include the client's name, address, and contact details, ensuring accurate identification and communication. It may also include any outstanding balance or credits.
  • Description of Services/Products Delivered
    It provides a clear breakdown of the services or products delivered, outlining the scope of the transaction. A reference to any additions or customisation provides further clarity.
  • Total Cost
    It specifies the amount owed, calculated based on the work done or materials supplied. Including the line-by-line bifurcation of cost, taxes, and discounts (if any) is helpful. 
  • Payment Terms and Deadlines
    An invoice clearly outlines the delivery date, terms and conditions for payment, the due dates, and any applicable late fees.
  • Tax Information (If Applicable)
    If taxes apply to the transaction, the invoice includes relevant tax details to ensure compliance with tax regulations. For example, the invoice must include the client's and service provider's GSTIN for tax benefits
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