The Best Accounting Software For 2018
If you’re reading this, it’s because this year, you’re done messing around. You’re looking for the best accounting software program. Maybe you’re finally trying to organize that oversized box of receipts that’s been hiding under your desk for months. Or maybe you are trying to recover a lost Excel document with all of your sales records from January.
For any growing business, there’s always a straw that breaks the camel’s back, that moment that makes you say: “There has to be a better way to manage my finances.”
If this is you, it might be time to invest in an accounting software program.
Every business should have accounting software. Accounting software allows businesses to balance the books, reconcile their accounts, and actually understand where their money is going. Not only is this important for making informed business decisions, but it’s also key for filing taxes correctly at the end of each year.
Good accounting software will provide a chart of accounts, double-entry accounting, bank reconciliation, and reporting so you can balance the books and manage your finances correctly. Most software also offers business management tools like invoicing, time tracking, and project management. And the best of the best throw in good customer resources that teach you how to understand accounting and successfully manage your finances.
But with so many accounting programs out there, which do you choose? How do you know if you even need full-blown accounting software or if you’d be better off with an invoicing software app?
That’s what we’re here to help with.
We’ve tested dozens of accounting and invoicing solutions and examined each software in terms of features, pricing, ease of use, and customer support to bring you the best of the best. In this post, you’ll find the top accounting solutions, invoicing solutions, and billing solutions for 2018. We’ll cover the features and pricing of each app, as well as the business types each is best suited for, so that you can find the perfect finance management option for your company.
Table of Contents
Best Accounting Solutions For 2018
1. QuickBooks Online (QBO)
QuickBooks Online (see our review) is one of the biggest names in accounting — and for good reason. QuickBooks Online is an easy to use cloud-based software with tons of features geared specifically toward small businesses. It’s one of our favorite options for small business owners, especially since QuickBooks has recently improved their customer support.
Small businesses looking fully featured cloud accounting that’s easy to use. Ideal for five users or fewer (though you can add up to 25 users for an additional cost).
QBO offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo-$50/mo. The larger the plan, the more features you have access to and the more users are allowed.
Payroll costs an additional $39/mo-$99/mo (plus $2/mo per employee). Luckily, Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion. Read our complete QuickBooks Online review for all the pricing details.
QuickBooks Online is easy to use, especially considering all of the time-saving automations built into the software. As we mentioned earlier, QuickBooks Online offers an impressive number of features including invoicing, contact management, time tracking, project management, inventory, and more.
In terms of invoicing, QuickBooks offers some of the best options out there. Not only can you easily customize five different invoice templates, you can also set recurring invoices and autoschedule invoices to be sent out at a later time. Like Xero, QuickBooks Online shines in terms of true accounting, featuring a strong chart of accounts, bank reconciliation, and reporting.
One of the things that really sets QuickBooks apart is its new lending feature: QuickBooks Capital (see our review). QuickBooks Capital uses the information already in QuickBooks Online to determine if a small business owner is eligible for a loan.
Here are some of the other features you can expect with QuickBooks Online:
- Expense tracking
- Accounts payable
- Class tracking
- Tax Support
In addition, QuickBooks Online offers 250+ integrations, including 15 payment processing options. They also have great mobile apps available.
In the past, QuickBooks has been notorious for slow response times and weak customer support. However, Intuit has recently improved response times and rehauled the QuickBooks Online Help Center, so help is much more accessible.
QuickBooks is a great option for small business owners looking for a software that is easy to use while still offering strong accounting and good features. The software is ideal for businesses with fewer than five users. While the price of extra users and payroll can definitely add up, the tradeoff may be worth it considering the number of features you get.
With 5/5 stars, Xero (see our review) is one of our top accounting software choices for a reason. Xero offers strong cloud accounting and an impressive number of well-developed features. Best of all, Xero allows for unlimited users and has good customer support options.
Medium to large businesses in need of strong accounting. Ideal for businesses with multiple users in need of payroll and scalable pricing.
Xero offers five scalable pricing plans ranging from $9/mo – $180/mo. Most features are available across all plans, so each step up in pricing mainly adds payroll support for more employees.
The smallest plan is fairly limited with only five invoices and 20 bank transactions a month. Each plan comes with unlimited users, strong user permissions, and built-in payroll. Read more about Xero’s pricing in our complete Xero review.
As we mentioned earlier, Xero is chock full of features. With such in-depth features, the software does take awhile to learn. Xero offers invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, and some of the best contact management out there.
We especially love that users have access to these features no matter which plan they are on. Xero’s feature set includes all of the accounting features you’d expect and more. The software has a strong chart of accounts, bank reconciliation, 65 reports, and true double-entry accounting.
Here are a few more of our favorite Xero features:
- Accounts payable
- Tax support
- Tracking categories
- Print checks
In addition, Xero works with over 500 integrations, including 27 payment processing apps.
Xero doesn’t offer phone support, but they are quick to respond to emails and have a comprehensive help center with hundreds of how-to articles.
There’s only one potential issue with Xero: there is no project management or job costing. If this is important to your business, I recommend taking a look at QuickBooks Online instead.
If you’re willing to put in the time to learn this software, Xero won’t let you down. With strong accounting, highly developed features, unlimited users, and built-in payroll, the software is a great choice for medium to large businesses. Some small business may find the sheer depth of features to be more than they need and might want to consider a simpler software.
If Xero sounds like a good choice for your business, read our full review or take the software for a spin with a free 30-day trial. If you do end up choosing Xero, don’t forget to check out our free How To Set Up Your Xero Account ebook.
3. QuickBooks Desktop Pro
This 5/5 star accounting option has been one of the staples in accounting since 1992. Over the years, QuickBooks Pro (see our review) has continued to offer fully developed accounting software, strong business management features, and an impressive number of integrations for a locally-installed program.
Small to medium-sized businesses with three users or fewer in search of a locally-installed accounting option or highly developed accounting capabilities.
There are two pricing options for Quickbooks Desktop Pro. You can either purchase a QuickBooks Pro license for $299.95 or purchase a yearly subscription of Quickbooks Pro Plus for $299.95/yr.
If you go with the QuickBooks Pro license, you should be good for three years, after which Intuit drops support for the software. You will have to pay extra for phone support. If you go with QuickBooks Pro Plus, updates and support are included. Additional users cost extra. For the full scoop on QuickBooks Pro’s pricing, check out our review.
When it comes to features, you can’t beat QuickBooks Desktop Pro (unless you’re ready to go with a full ERP system). These features do come with a steep learning curve, but for accountants, those with an accounting background, or the business owner who just wants to get their accounting right, taking the time to learn the software pays off.
QuickBooks Pro supports expense tracking, invoicing, contact management, inventory, accounts payable, and more. Not only do we love how many features the software has, we also love how developed each feature is. In terms of accounting, QuickBooks Pro offers a depth that most software programs simply aren’t capable of.
Some of our other favorite QuickBooks Pro features include:
- Built-in calendar and to-do lists
- Tax Support
- Print checks
- Mileage deductions
If you are looking for true accounting and highly developed features, QuickBooks Desktop Pro could be a good fit for you. As a locally-installed software, QuickBooks Pro does lack the mobility of the other options in this post, but it does have the potential to be more secure. And the learning curve might be enough to scare away smaller businesses, especially if you are in the market for easy accounting software.
But if you aren’t afraid of investing some time into the software, Quickbooks Pro might be a good choice for your small business. Check out our full QuickBooks Desktop Pro review to learn more, or utilize Intuit’s 60-day money back guarantee to test the software.
With an easy to use interface, plenty of features, and a compelling price, Wave (see our review) is one of our top choices for small businesses. Wave is a free accounting software that doesn’t sacrifice quality for affordability. Add lending and great customer service to the mix and it’s easy to see why this software gets 4.5/5 stars.
Small businesses on a tight budget who still want strong accounting features. Ideal for Etsy sellers and micro businesses as well.
As we mentioned earlier, Wave is free. With a Wave account, you get access to all Wave features and unlimited users. The only additional costs to be aware of are payroll and credit card processing. Check out our complete Wave review for more details.
Wave offers an incredible number of features that compete with even some paid programs. The software is one of the easiest to use and navigate and takes very little time to get used to. It covers all the basics including invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, and more.
Wave also has several features that make it unique. Wave allows users to separate personal and business expenses — which is ideal for freelancers or side hustlers who don’t yet have a business bank account. Wave also offers Lending by Wave, which partners with OnDeck (see our review) to give you access to short-term loans and lines of credit. Read Lending by Wave: Everything Small Business Need to Know to learn more.
Here are a few other features you can expect with Wave:
- Item management
- Tax support
Wave doesn’t offer as many integrations as some of the other programs on this list, but they do support a Zapier integration, which connects Wave with nearly 750 third-party apps. Wave only offers three integrations. The Etsy integration is particularly helpful for Etsy sellers in need of an accounting software to run their business and separate personal and business expenses.
Wave also boasts great customer service. Phone and chat support are only available for payroll and credit card processing, but Wave’s customer service team responds to email messages very quickly. There’s a great help center and thorough how-to videos.
The only caveat with Wave is that there is no project management feature and time tracking is limited to payroll. There is no real inventory feature either. If this is important to your business, you can look for a Wave integration or keep searching for a different software.
Wave’s features and pricing make it a compelling option for many small businesses. If you’re looking for a free accounting software, it doesn’t get better than Wave. If you’re interested in Wave, read our full Wave review to learn more or sign up for an account today — after all, it’s free.
5. Zoho Books
Zoho Books (see our review) is an affordable accounting software option with the best invoicing features on the market. The software has an easy-to-use UI as well as great customer support and fully-featured mobile apps.
Small businesses with fewer than nine users who are looking for strong accounting and good invoicing at an affordable price. Ideal for international small businesses.
Zoho Books offers three scalable pricing plans ranging from $9/mo-$29/mo. Every plan comes with unlimited invoices and basic features like expense tracking and reporting. With each step up in the plan, you’ll have access to more contacts, users, and advanced features.
Read our full Zoho Books review for the details on each pricing plan.
In terms of features, Zoho Books rivals QuickBooks Online while still maintaining a lower pricing and offering a user interface that is easier to use. Zoho Books is well organized and takes little time to understand. Zoho Books doesn’t skimp on accounting either, supporting journal entries, a chart of accounts, accounts payable, fixed asset management, bank reconciliation, and reporting.
As we mentioned earlier, our favorite part about Zoho Books is its invoicing. It offers 15 incredibly customizable invoice templates, recurring invoices, a nice client portal where customers can pay invoices online, and the unique ability to encrypt invoices. You can also send invoices in 11 different languages.
But there’s more to love with this software than just invoicing. Here are some other Zoho Books features:
- Contact management
- Mileage deductions
- Project management
- Time tracking
- Print checks
Zoho Books offers almost 30 integrations, including 12 payment gateways and a Zapier integration.
In addition, Zoho Books has a great customer service team that is kind and responsive. Zoho Books offers phone support as well as an impressive number of other help options.
The only downside of Zoho Books is that there are no payroll or budgeting features. For larger businesses in need of payroll or more complex accounting, Zoho Books might not cut it. The software also caps out at nine users.
Zoho Books is a great solution for small businesses looking for strong accounting and QuickBooks-quality features without having to pay big name pricing. The software is scalable, affordable and offers some great invoicing and international business capabilities.
6. QuickBooks Self-Employed
Freelancers have a very specific set of accounting needs (calculating estimated quarterly taxes, tracking deductions, and separating personal and business expenses, for starters). QuickBooks Self-Employed (see our review) has been helping freelancers navigate these waters since 2014. While this software isn’t quite accounting software, it offers great tax support and basic bookkeeping tools for the self-employed.
Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed business owners in need of bookkeeping. Ideal for managing estimated quarterly taxes and maximizing deductions.
There are a few pricing options for QuickBooks Self-Employed. You can pay $10/mo for all of the features QuickBooks Self-Employed has to offer. Going with the $17/mo option will add a Turbo Tax integration to your plan, so you can file taxes with ease.
Intuit is almost always running a sales promotion, so be sure to check any possible discounts before purchasing. To learn more, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employed review.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is incredibly easy to use and is well-organized. The features are designed specifically with freelancers in mind and address needs like tax support, deductions, and expense tracking. You can easily separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have a separate business bank account.
Many freelancers don’t know where to start when it comes to estimated quarterly taxes, so this tool ends up being a huge help.
Here are some of the other features you can expect from QuickBooks Self-Employed:
- Fixed asset depreciation
- Schedule Cs
- Tax checklist
This program offers only a few integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is by far the best part about QuickBooks Self-Employed. Come tax season you can use all of the data from your QuickBooks Self-Employed account and file taxes directly with Turbo Tax.
Unfortunately, the customer service leaves one wanting — there’s no phone support and limited additional resources. There is a live chat feature and help center when you have questions.
While QuickBooks Self-Employed can be a great solution for freelancers, we have one major concern with the software. QuickBooks Self-Employed only offers federal tax support. You will have to handle your state taxes via other means.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is a great option for freelancers and contractors who are looking to manage their expenses and handle their federal taxes. An easy to use UI and strong mobile apps are icing on the cake.
If this software sounds like something you’re interested in, read our complete QuickBooks Self-Employe review. You can also take this tax software for a test drive with a free 30-day trial (note: using the free 30-day disqualifies you from discounts).
Like QuickBooks Pro, Sage 50cloud (see our review) is a locally-installed software with complex accounting and in-depth features; however, unlike QuickBooks, Sage 50cloud gives you the option to add more users and has a web-based component that provides mobile access to your data. The software is designed with accountants and experienced accounting experts in mind.
Small to medium-sized businesses with accounting experience and a generous budget who are looking for comprehensive, locally-installed accounting software.
A Sage50c subscription costs $447.78/yr-$1,763.58/yr depending on how many users and features you need. Customer support often costs extra and additional users are extra as well. Contact Sage 50cloud directly to understand all of the pricing details.
Sage 50cloud offers a ton of features, including invoicing, contact management, time tracking, accounts payable, inventory, and more. These features do come with a very steep learning curve and some aren’t as developed as they could be (like the invoicing feature).
Some of the highlights of Sage 50cloud include:
- Job costing
- Event management
In addition, Sage 50cloud offers around 80 integrations.
Sage’s customer support could stand improvement. Another major concern is Sage 50cloud’s extreme pricing. Considering the hefty price, I find myself expecting more in terms of feature selection and feature depth. Not to say that this software can’t still be a good option, but Sage 50cloud will have to step up its game in the future to keep up with the other best accounting software apps.
For most businesses, Sage 50cloud is going to break the budget. But if the software’s complex accounting and feature selection sound appealing to you, we highly recommend reading our complete Sage 50cloud review and contacting Sage 50cloud directly to see if they’ll provide you a demo before you buy.
Best Invoicing Solutions For 2018
1. Zoho Invoice
Like Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice (see our review) offers incredibly invoicing and international invoicing capabilities. The software is easy to use and offers an attractive, customizable UI. With great mobile apps and affordable pricing to boot, it’s no wonder Zoho Invoice is our only 5/5 invoicing software.
Small businesses in need of strong invoicing, basic bookkeeping, and business management features. Ideal for international small businesses with no more than 10 users.
Zoho Invoice offers four scalable pricing plans ranging from $0/mo-$30/mo. Every plan, including the free plan, has unlimited invoices. Most features are available across all plans, so each step in pricing mainly adds more billable clients and more users.
To learn more about Zoho Invoice’s pricing, check out our complete review.
Zoho Invoice offers one of the most developed feature sets in the invoicing software market. In addition to invoicing, you get access to advanced features like project management, time tracking, and more. To top it off, each feature is incredibly easy to use and the UI is appealing and well-organized.
Zoho Invoicing offers my favorite invoicing features with 15 customizable invoice templates, invoice tracking, and recurring invoices. You can even schedule invoices to be sent at a later time and can also send invoices in 12 different languages.
Here are some of our other favorite Zoho Invoice features:
- Contact management
- Expense tracking
- Request customer reviews
- 30+ reports
- Client portal
One drawback of Zoho Invoice is that the integrations selection is pretty limited. Zoho Invoice integrates with five third-party add-ons, eleven payment gateways, and seven other Zoho products.
On the plus side, Zoho Invoice offers incredible customer support.
Zoho Invoice is one of our top invoicing software recommendations for a reason. With advanced invoicing, an impressive features set, and great mobile apps, Zoho Invoice is a great choice for anyone looking for invoicing software or an international invoicing solution.
It’s worth noting that if you want to go with the largest Zoho Invoice plan, you may as well pay for Zoho Books instead and get full accounting package for the same price.
While FreshBooks isn’t full accounting software, it is a great invoicing tool with several bookkeeping tools tossed into the mix. For many businesses, the lack of double-entry accounting is made up for in invoicing features, excellent customer service, and good mobile apps. The software is incredibly easy to use and free of accounting jargon.
Small businesses that are looking for strong invoicing and basic bookkeeping, but not a full accounting package.
FreshBooks offers three pricing plans ranging from $15/mo-$50/mo. Most features are available across all plans, so each step in pricing mainly adds more billable clients.
Each plan only supports one user (additional users cost an extra $10/mo per user). For more details about pricing, read our full FreshBooks review.
As we mentioned earlier, FreshBooks is one of the easiest programs to understand and use. Setup is simple and features are laid out nicely. In terms of features, FreshBooks offers invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, project management, and more.
FreshBooks offers two invoice templates and basic customizations. One of the coolest features is the ability to chat with your customers directly on their invoices.
Here are some other features found in FreshBooks:
- Time tracking
- Client portal
FreshBooks offers around 60 integrations, which is incredibly impressive for an invoicing software.
In addition, FreshBooks always has excellent customer support. There is phone support, email support, a help center, and several other great resources for businesses. Representatives are always helpful and quick to respond to customers.
There are a couple of potential drawbacks to consider before purchasing FreshBooks. In addition to not being full accounting software, FreshBooks offers only a single user. Pricing is already expensive and if you’re going to add extra users, you may as well get more bang for your buck and go with a full accounting software (or go with a cheaper invoicing software). There are also no item management or inventory features at all.
In the past, FreshBooks has been a no-brainer for many small businesses. This software can be a good solution for small businesses looking for invoicing and basic bookkeeping, but it’s worth noting that FreshBooks still has room to grow.
Founded in 2006, Invoicera has become a great invoicing solution with advanced features and strong automations. A recent drop in price makes this software more accessible than ever for small businesses looking for a reliable invoicing and business management solution.
Small businesses with two users or fewer looking for strong invoicing, project management, and billing automations at an affordable cost.
Invoicera has two pricing plans: a $0/mo plan and a $15/mo plan. Both plans include unlimited invoices and almost the same features. The main difference is that the free plan is limited to three clients and one user, while the paid plan lets you bill 100 clients and have two users.
More clients can be purchased at an additional cost. Read our complete Invoicera review for the full pricing details.
Invoicera offers advanced features like project management, time tracking, and inventory management. The software isn’t as intuitive as it could be and set up can be a bit complicated, but once you invest some time into Invoicera, the trade-off is highly developed features.
In addition to a great number of features, one of our favorite aspects of Invoicera is how automated the software is. Invoicera offers recurring invoices, recurring billings, and even recurring expenses. In terms of invoicing, there are seven customizable invoices, and you can autoschedule them to be sent at a later time.
Here are other features you can expect to find with Invoicera:
- Contact management
- Expense tracking
- Client portal
- To-do list
To top it off, Invoicera offers 30 payment gateways and five additional third-party apps. Most invoicing programs offer only a handful of payment options, so if you’re looking for multiple payment options for your customers or a specific gateway, Invoicera is a good bet.
There are only two major drawbacks to the software: Invoicera has poor customer support, and there are no live bank feeds.
Invoicera is an affordable invoicing option, ideal for small businesses with two users or less that want strong invoicing and plenty of payment processing options. If this software sounds like a good fit for your business, check out our complete Invoicera review or sign up for their free 31-day trial.
Best Billing Solutions For 2018
Bill.com is incredibly unique and has a lot to offer businesses of every size. This accounts payable software helps business owners save time by automating their billing process. Bill.com uses the cloud to make paying bills quick and easy.
Any size business looking to automate their accounts payable and simplify their bill paying process.
Bill.com offers two different products: accounts payable software and accounts receivable software. The first includes features specific to bill paying and the latter includes invoicing features.
Their pricing is a bit complicated. The first two plans range from $29/mo-$39/mo and you must choose between either accounts receivable or accounts payable. The main difference between the two plans is the number of users, though the more expensive plan adds key accounting integrations.
There’s a $59/mo plan that includes both accounts payable and accounts receivable. There is also an enterprise plan (contact Bill.com for pricing). There may be some extra fees as well. For more details about Bill.com’s pricing structure, read our complete Bill.com review.
Bill.com’s accounts payable features include the ability to pay bills, set recurring bills, send bills for approval, and manage vendors. The software is well-organized, though it can take a bit of getting used to.
If you go with the accounts receivable package, you’ll have access to invoicing, client portal, contact management, and item management.
Some of our other favorite billing features include:
- Cashflow forecasting
- User permissions
- Class tracking
- Document storage
Bill.com is a great way to supplement accounting software and make paying bills easier, so it’s fitting that the software offers several accounting integrations. If you opt for the $39/mo plan or higher, you can connect your Bill.com account directly with popular accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks Online, Quickbooks Pro, Intacct, and Netsuite. Bill.com offers a few additional CRM, payment gateway, and tax support integrations as well.
Bill.com drops the ball when it comes to customer service, but that is one of the only hesitations we have regarding the software.
Bill.com is a great tool for simplifying a business’s bill paying process. The accounts receivable features aren’t anything special compared to what you get with other invoicing software, but the accounts receivable package is unique and can save businesses tons of time.
If you’re looking to pay your bills with ease, Bill.com could be a great solution for your business. Check out our complete Bill.com review to learn more about the software or take Bill.com for a test run using a free trial.
Whether you’re in the market for accounting software, invoicing software, or billing software, it’s never too late to get your business’s finances under control. Your business bank account and accountant will thank you.
There are many affordable options out there to meet all levels of accounting experience. Click on one of the buttons above to get started with a free trial, or search for more quality accounting reviews or invoicing reviews.
If you need more help, check out these resources to decide which software is best for your business.