Airtable vs Excel Comparison: Is Excel or Airtable Better?

Last Updated:Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Excel has reigned for quite a while as the go-to spreadsheet solution for individuals and businesses. However, this might no longer be the case, as the functions required of a spreadsheet are expanding, and newer database managers are rising to the task. 

In our Airtable vs Excel comparison, we try to look at a newer spreadsheet-like program with a more extensive feature set, challenging the generational MS Excel in the spreadsheet category.

If you’ve been looking for the best between Excel and Airtable, sit back as we pit both software together in this epic comparison. 


What is the difference between Airtable and Excel?

The main difference between Excel and Airtable is that while Excel is a spreadsheet like google sheets and Apple Numbers that can handle large data sets and use formulas to make calculations and manipulate data, Airtable is a database with more options and functions than a simple spreadsheet.

Microsoft Excel vs Airtable

Excel is amongst the top spreadsheet apps on the market, making calculations and data organization easier for users. Excel has been around for quite a while, going as far back as 1985, and it has gradually evolved, increasing its functionality and capabilities as a spreadsheet platform. 

The version of Excel available today is quite better than its initial iteration, although it still retains a large part of its original functions. We have a comprehensive Excel review that details Excel’s pricing, feature list, and other vital details. 

Airtable is a popular relational database program that seeks to combine spreadsheet flexibility with database functionality. It is a multi-functional application that allows users to create, share, and manage databases in a graphically pleasing manner. Airtable is cloud-based and is often considered by many users as Excel on steroids. 

Beyond representing data in a table like Excel, those who use Airtable get the feature that allows users to build drag-and-drop apps with little or no coding knowledge. We have a well-detailed Airtable review that gives an in-depth insight into what you need to know before using Airtable. 


Airtable vs Excel comparison chart

We have selected some categories to give a bird’s eye view of which is better between both spreadsheet apps. 

While there will still be a breakdown of some of these categories below, this table just highlights each category and who wins in that category.




Winner (add links/buttons below)


Available for free

$6 per user per month.


Free version

It has a robust free version

Has a month free trial


Customer support

Support over mail

Varies based on the purchased Microsoft plan


Knowledgebase & learning

Self-service educational resources, help center with product and support documentation, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and feature overviews.

Microsoft Excel help, live instructors, blog content, how-to articles, guides, and community forums.  


Functions and Formulas

Has limited functions and formulas option 

Has a more robust and flexible option.


View Options

Multiple view options

Single view option



Templates available

Templates Available



Built-in integration options

Versatile add-ins for integration. 



Multiple automation options are available. 

Automation is available through the use of a Macro Recorder



Top-notch collaboration feature

Great collaboration feature


Mobile App

Functional mobile app

Solid mobile app


Data Types

Accepts a wide range of data types, including text, numbers, dates, checkboxes, attachments, etc

Accepts a wide range of data types, including numbers, text, etc


Document Sharing

Comprehensive document-sharing capabilities.

Great document-sharing capabilities.


Overall winner





Airtable vs Excel pricing

The pricing system of any software product could be the make-it-or-break-it feature of that product. In the case of Airtable and EXcel, they both have affordable plans that get more expensive with more features. 

It is difficult to imagine that a database like Airtable would have free first-tier access. While this does not open up users to the entirety of the suite, this free version gives users access to the basic tools, including 1,200 records per base (database). You will have to go for an upgraded plan for additional tools, like an increase in records per base. 

Airtables Plus plan costs $12 per seat per month, and its pro plan costs $24 per seat per month. Each upgraded plan comes with additional features such as increased records per base by thousands of records, more view options, expanded color options, and more.

Excel, on the other hand, starts with a low fee of $6 per month. Because Excel is a part of the much larger Microsoft family, its prices increase with the suite, and it can get as high as $22 per user per month for the Microsoft 365 Business Premium.  


This category would have been a tie, but due to the base price of Airtable being free, it takes this category. 

Excel vs Airtable free versions

Airtable vs Excel

Another question when making this type of purchase is, “Is there a free version to ease me into this software?” 

Airtable does this easily, allowing users to use some of its core features in its free plan to get into the system. With its free version, you can try Airtable’s core features, and as your business expands, you are more willing to upgrade your plan to accommodate more features. 

While there is no outright free version for Excel, Excel offers a month free trial for any of its offerings. 


Airtable takes this round too. 

Customer support

Customer support is vital to any SAAS platform, as it becomes the first point of call when users hit a snag.

Airtable offers one primary customer support option, and that is reaching out to the customer support team via email. These emails are often responded to within two business days.

Excel has many customer support options, including emails and phone calls, although this depends on what version of Excel you are using or what plan you fall under.  


Excel takes this round as it has more options for users to reach for support. 

Knowledgebase & learning

Knowledge base and learning often refer to the resources available to help users better grasp the workings of the software.

Excel has a full learning suite, including live classes, a blog, how-to articles, community forums, and other helpful options.

Airtable is not behind in this regard, too, as Airtable also offers helpful learning resources like self-education resources, help documentation, and FAQs, amongst others.


This round goes to Excel, which has more extensive resources because of its longevity and contributions from various quarters. 


Microsoft Excel vs Airtable features & functionality

Now that we have examined some of the key factors that form choice criteria for many users, we will focus on some features and functionality that are pretty important when making that decisive choice. 

Airtable or Excel for ease of use?

How easy an app is to use sets it apart from its contemporaries. 

Excel has been around for a while and has become a household name as a spreadsheet solution; as a result, most users are familiar with its interface. And while its grid view option is a standard, it‘s not always the most visually appealing interface. 

While there’s the provision for you to hide some ui features, the fact that you can’t fully customize its interface could be a drawback to its ease of use.

Airtable vs Microsoft Excel

This is one place where Airtable shines. Airtable lets you use the grid view typically associated with traditional spreadsheets, but it also gives you the option of presenting data in other forms. The fact that you can customize your interface with Airtable also helps to improve its user experience exponentially.  


Airtable wins this round because its customization feature gives it an edge over the more stable Excel. 

Microsoft Excel vs Airtable online versions

Excel Online is an online version that allows users to view, edit, and collaborate on spreadsheets straight from a web browser. 

Excel Online has a familiar interface and supports many functions in Excel's desktop edition. It supports real-time collaboration, allowing numerous team members to work simultaneously on the same spreadsheet.

Airtable is primarily cloud-based, offering all its features as a web-based application accessible to users from anywhere across the globe. 


Airtable narrowly takes this category. It’s primarily a web-based app, and Excel Online is just an iteration of Excel Desktop, albeit a capable iteration. 

Airtable vs Excel desktop versions

Excel started as desktop software and has gone on to improve its features over time. It has a full set of spreadsheet tools, such as complex formulas, graphing capabilities, data analysis features, and automation via VBA macros. 

Excel's desktop version has many features and is commonly used for advanced data analysis and modeling.  

Airtable does not have a desktop version and relies solely on its online version.


This category goes to Excel without any hassle. 

Mobile apps

For mobile apps, Airtable and Excel have quite functional mobile apps that correctly translate the functions of their desktop and online versions to mobile. 


Airtable claims this category. Although Excel mobile functions well, its spreadsheet could hamper user experience and productivity. 

Data Visualization

Excel vs Airtable

Excel excels at two functions. It thrives at handling massive volumes of numerical data and showing it in various ways. Excel doesn’t limit the number of visualization tools you may use. In these terms, you can handle enormous data and display it however you see fit. 

Airtable is inflexible since it lacks a built-in data visualization on the base app. To exhibit visualizations, Airtable requires extensions and extra tools. In other words, if you need to add a pivot, table, chart, graph, or anything else, you must manually use the database's extensions folder.

Regarding data visualization tools, both platforms employ the same ones and allow for an excellent level of customization. The type of visualizations you run will determine whether your business benefits from utilizing Airtable versus Excel. Airtable, a relational database platform, also excels in presenting relational data visualizations, including org charts and flowcharts. 


They both have similar visualization features at their best. This category ends in a tie.


MS Excel Airtable integration is only possible either through a third-party app like Zapier or if you can export the document from Airtable as an Excel file that Excel can read. 

On their own, Excel and Airtable have competent integration capabilities. Airtable comes with a couple of built-in integrations. On the other hand, Excel has add-ins to integrate workbooks and different online services and databases. 


This category has no conclusive winner and ends in a tie.

A note on Airtable Excel integration

Excel does not have a direct native integration with Airtable. However, third-party integration systems such as Zapier, Integromat, or can be used to connect Excel and Airtable. These integration tools enable data transmission and updates between Excel and Airtable by automating procedures and synchronizing data.

Product limitations

Excel has certain limits, especially when working with massive amounts of information. Excel's performance may suffer as a spreadsheet's size and complexity rise. 

When working with highly huge datasets, it could face longer computation times, enlarged file sizes, and potential compatibility problems. Using formulae and macros in Excel might increase the chance of mistakes and version control issues.

Despite its flexibility, Airtable may be constrained by Excel's broad formula capabilities and ability to do advanced data analysis. 

For extensive modeling and intricate computations, it could not offer the same amount of processing capacity and sophisticated data manipulation tools. Because of its emphasis on simplicity and usability, Airtable may offer less complex features for power users.


This category also ends in a draw.


Templates often make working on specific tasks easier and more straightforward. It is important to note that both Airtable and Excel come with premade templates to give users an idea of what they can achieve with either software. 

Airtable has hundreds of helpful workflow templates that are meant to be simple to use. Furthermore, most Airtable templates are micro-apps that are pre-configured with automation, relations, and processes so that you can add data and follow progress. 

Excel has thousands of prepared templates, many of which are available for free on the Internet. You may also locate great Excel templates on your computer and on the Microsoft Internet library. 


This category ends in a tie. 

Collaboration Options

Through Excel Online and its interface with Microsoft 365 and OneDrive, Excel provides alternatives for collaboration. 

Multiple users can work on the same spreadsheet at the same time, making real-time changes and posting comments. Excel Online also has capabilities for sharing and co-authoring, allowing for effective cooperation and collaboration on spreadsheet projects.

Airtable was created with teamwork in mind. It enables real-time collaboration on bases (databases) by granting granular control over access rights for individual users or teams. Users can leave comments on records, mention collaborators, and get updates. Airtable allows you to share data views with other parties for collaborative evaluation.


Airtable wins this category as it provides robust and flexible collaboration options specifically designed for collaborative data management and team coordination.

View Options

Excel primarily has one view option, grid view. Newer versions allow for limited customization of this grid view, including hiding some UI elements, but nothing so radical as to change the entire outlook. This is not bad; it works best as a spreadsheet in this form, but it limits its view options. 

On the other hand, Airtable seems to be the master of transformation. Besides the regular grid view, there is the Kanban View, which resembles Trello in its stacked card form. There is also the Gallery view, Timeline view, Calendar view, and Gantt view.


Airtable takes this category with its multiple-view option.


Is Airtable better than Excel? Final points

Using a spreadsheet to try to carry out the tasks of a relations database like Airtable might be counterintuitive and might end up being a frustrating venture. But Airtable has a small edge over Excel as it can do part of what Excel can do, plus more.

Sometimes, your choice is not limited to choosing either Airtable or Excel. Depending on the business you run and what you intend to achieve, you might require both services. 

You can use a spreadsheet app like Excel to carry out complex calculations and a relational database like Airtable to build apps, properly manage data stored in a backend database, and effect overarching changes across both the backend and front end of your database. 

Nevertheless, Excel stands out as one of the best spreadsheet programs, and Airtable is proving to be a sturdy database manager, especially if you compare project management software platforms across the board.