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Free Accounting Software: The 5 Best Options For Your Business

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Being a small business owner has its perks, but as the saying goes, “It takes money to make money.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer or a full-fledged small business owner — expenses for your business can really rack up. Whether you’re an established business owner looking to cut costs, or you’re starting a new business that isn’t yet generating revenue, it’s not uncommon to explore ways to save money.

While you should avoid some money-saving moves, such as reducing the quality of your products, there are a few ways for smart business owners to lower their expenses. One of those ways? Bypassing expensive accounting software and opting for a free solution for your accounting and bookkeeping needs.

What’s the catch? With some free software programs, there isn’t one. But not all software is created equal. If you’re unsure of what free accounting software options are out there, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, you’ll learn more about the features you should look for in accounting software. Then, to make your search easier, we’ve selected five of the best free programs for your business. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext Steps
Best overall software for small businesses that want a forever free plan with loads of great features.

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Best for small business owners and freelancers looking for a simple accounting solution. 

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Best for business owners that want free software for managing multiple businesses.

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Best for businesses of any size that want a customizable, scalable accounting solution.

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Best for freelancers and independent contractors that want an easy way to invoice customers and track expenses.

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

What Does Good Free Accounting Software Include?

All accounting software (both free and paid) is different — each boasting its own user interface, set of features, and limitations. However, there are a few commonalities among good free accounting software. Before signing up, make sure the software you’ve selected has:

  • A Well-Designed User Interface: No one likes to click around a clunky, outdated user interface that’s difficult to use. The free software that you choose should have an updated UI that’s easy to navigate and allows you to perform accounting functions quickly.
  • Solid Security Features: More accounting software is making its way to the cloud. While you won’t slow down your computer by installing software or storing your accounting files, using cloud-based software comes with one potential drawback: security risks. The software you choose should have robust cloud security features, including firewalls and encryption, to keep your sensitive data protected.
  • Useful Features: It’s a no-brainer that you should keep shopping around for options if the software doesn’t have the features that work for your business. While these features vary based on the specific needs of your company, there are a few basic features your software should have. These include time tracking, expense tracking, and invoicing.
  • Good Customer Support: Can’t get the hang of your new software? Ready to upgrade to a paid subscription? When you have an issue, you’ll need to turn to customer support. Look for companies that are known for great customer service by providing different contact methods, fast response times, and resources to help you get the most out of your software.
  • Integrations: Connecting to other apps and software is just one way to simplify your accounting. Look for software that offers multiple integrations, including your payment processor, if you accept electronic payments.

The cost — or lack thereof, in the case of free software — shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when making your choice. Do an online search, and you’ll get inundated with free software options. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Some software isn’t reliable or secure, while others may be filled with ads or lack the features you need for your business. To jumpstart your search, check out our five picks for the best free accounting software.

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1. Wave

Wave



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Wave is the free accounting software choice of over 3.5 million users. It stands out from the competition for its forever-free plan, which doesn’t have the limitations found within other free programs. This cloud-based software is easy to use and has a robust feature set on par with many paid software options. When using Wave, you’ll have access to customizable invoices and estimates, expense tracking, and bank reconciliation. You’ll also have access to journal entries, inventory lists, and a customizable chart of accounts. Wave also partners with OnDeck, a small business lender, to bring you a financing option called Lending by Wave. It’s no wonder that Wave has received overall positive reviews from its users.

On the flip side, Wave does have a lack of integrations and (according to some of its users) mobile apps that leave something to be desired. Customer support is a bit sluggish, but Wave makes up for it with a very comprehensive Help Center. A lack of support for multiple users makes this software a poor choice for large businesses. However, smaller businesses, marketplace sellers, and freelancers can get the features they need when signing up for Wave.

The Free Version Includes

Unlike many other options you’ll find, Wave is truly forever free. You also won’t be held back with limitations on the number of invoices you receive or have to upgrade to access basic features. Wave offers one plan, which doesn’t have any setup fees, monthly fees, or hidden charges. With this free plan, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited, customizable invoices
  • Unlimited estimates
  • Recurring invoices and automatic payments
  • Unlimited bank and credit card connections
  • Expense tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • 12 reports

Although Wave is free to use, some of its paid add-ons may benefit your business. That includes credit card processing, which costs 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. ACH bank payments are 1% per transaction. Wave also offers payroll services and bookkeeping services for those business owners who would like a little extra help with their accounting and bookkeeping.

Pros

Why is Wave one of the top accounting software picks on the market today?

  • Cloud-based software
  • Strong security features
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent feature set
  • Forever-free plans
  • No limitations on features

While Wave does lack strong mobile apps and integrations, it more than makes up for it with great features typically found when using paid software. Large businesses will want to explore other options that allow multiple users. However, smaller businesses can join millions of users in taking advantage of all that Wave has to offer.

Get Started with Wave

Read our in-depth review

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2. ZipBooks

ZipBooks



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Accounting — and accounting software — can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be when you sign up for ZipBooks. ZipBooks is a free accounting software designed by small business owners for other business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Automation is where ZipBooks truly stands out, combining a color-coded design with a strong feature set to simplify the accounting process.

With a free account from ZipBooks, you’ll be able to send invoices to customers, manage your contacts, and access business health scores. If you need additional features, ZipBooks offers several monthly membership plans. ZipBooks also stands out for excellent customer service and strong security features and has an excellent reputation among its users. On the downside, though, ZipBooks offers just five integrations and does limit some of its features to its paid plans. However, small businesses that need basic accounting software that’s easy to use will find that it doesn’t get much better than ZipBooks.

The Free Version Includes

ZipBooks offers several plans, but for those that don’t want to pay a monthly fee, the free Starter plan includes:

  • Unlimited invoices
  • Unlimited customers and vendors
  • Expense tracking
  • Connect to one bank account
  • Digital payments through Square or PayPal
  • Basic reporting
  • Recurring invoices

You can pay a monthly fee to access additional features. The next plan is the Smarter plan, which costs $15 per month. In addition to everything in the Starter plan, you’ll also be able to send recurring invoices, create automated reminders, track time, and connect multiple accounts. The Smarter plan also allows you to add up to five team members to your account.

If you want to add unlimited users, you’ll need to upgrade to the Sophisticated plan. In addition to unlimited users, you’ll get various benefits, including customized charts of accounts, bank reconciliation, and secure document sharing.

Finally, ZipBooks has the Accountant plan, which adds advanced features, such as texting, time tracking, and account migration. This plan has custom pricing, so you have to contact ZipBooks to get a quote.

Pros

Is ZipBooks the right choice for you? This software offers the following benefits:

  • Cloud-based software
  • Strong security features
  • Easy to use
  • Good customer support

ZipBooks is a great option for small business owners who crave simplicity in their accounting software. Whether you have accounting experience or you’re a newbie, ZipBooks makes it easy to perform basic accounting and bookkeeping tasks. However, if you want more advanced features than the free version offers, you’ll need to upgrade to one of ZipBooks’ paid plans.

Read our in-depth review

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3. SlickPie

SlickPie



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Pie is a popular dessert, but do you know what else is sweet? Saving money with free accounting software, such as the solution offered by SlickPie, that’s what. SlickPie offers a no-cost solution for tackling basic bookkeeping and accounting tasks. While SlickPie doesn’t provide the advanced features and integrations found with other programs, it does stand out for its support for multiple businesses and unlimited users.

SlickPie offers two membership plans, but its Starter plan is a very popular free choice. Through this forever-free plan, you can take advantage of various features, including automated receipt entry, unlimited invoices, estimates, and expense tracking. You won’t have to worry about the privacy of your data since SlickPie has multiple security features in place. The lack of mobile apps, only three integrations, and no phone support for the Starter plan might be turn-offs to some. Nonetheless, a decent number of features and support for multiple businesses make SlickPie a top choice among small business owners.

The Free Version Includes

The free version, also known as the Starter plan, comes with many basic accounting features, including:

  • Unlimited invoices
  • Unlimited estimates
  • Automatic receipt entry
  • Contact management
  • Live bank feeds
  • Expense tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Stripe, PayPal, and credit card processing
  • Reports
  • Recurring invoices and payment reminders
  • Support for up to 10 companies

With the free plan, you can manage up to 10 companies. If you need to manage additional companies, you can become a Pro user for $39.95 per month. As a Pro user, you can manage up to 50 companies while receiving access to all the benefits of the Starter plan. Pro users also receive phone and email support, whereas the Starter plan only offers email support.

Pros

Ready to get your piece of the pie? Here’s why you should consider signing up for SlickPie:

  • Cloud-based
  • Easy to use
  • Multiple automations
  • Strong security features
  • Support for unlimited users
  • Support for multiple companies

With most free software limiting the number of users and businesses that are supported, SlickPie stands out from the crowd by supporting unlimited users and numerous companies under one account. This easy-to-use software offers basic accounting and bookkeeping functions for businesses that don’t need advanced options. However, business owners who like to manage their business on the go will want to seek out options that offer mobile apps.

Read our in-depth review

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4. Odoo

Odoo Accounting



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Odoo is unique because it isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill accounting software. Instead, Odoo is enterprise resource planning software that is scalable and customizable to fit all of the needs of your business — not just accounting. Odoo has over 30 small business apps, and one of those options is Odoo Accounting. With Odoo Accounting, you’ll get access to a variety of accounting and bookkeeping tools. These include invoicing, expense tracking through live bank feeds, chart of accounts, bill management, basic inventory, and reports.

There are some areas where Odoo Accounting is lacking (specifically, in its customer service and complicated pricing structure). Still, this free option is one to put on your list. In addition to the accounting features, Odoo Accounting has thousands of apps through its API, Android and iPhone apps, and strong security features.

The Free Version Includes

When you use Odoo Accounting, you’ll have access to these features:

  • Invoicing
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Expense tracking
  • Bill management
  • Recurring invoices
  • Reports

Odoo offers a free cloud-based plan, but there are a few caveats. The first is that users can only sign up for one app. So, while you can use Odoo Accounting for free, you will have to pay to use additional apps. If you add an app, you will be required to pay $30 per user per month in addition to the fees for each app. You also do not get access to customer support as a free user.

If you decide to upgrade, the price of your plan varies based on the apps you select and the number of users needed. The price of the apps vary, but the majority are priced at $12 to $24 per month, while some apps and integrations may cost as much as $96. If you want to add more users to Odoo Accounting, you’ll pay an additional monthly fee.

Pros

Odoo’s unique platform helps simplify many areas of your business. For your accounting and bookkeeping needs, Odoo Accounting has multiple benefits, such as:

  • Scalable
  • Customizable
  • Thousands of integrations and add-ons
  • Intuitive UI
  • Strong security features

Odoo Accounting is a good option for large businesses or businesses that plan to scale in the future. Its numerous apps and integrations allow you to manage multiple aspects of your business with just one program. However, to take full advantage of everything Odoo has to offer, you have to purchase multiple apps, which can get expensive for smaller businesses looking to save money.

Read our in-depth review

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5. AND CO

AND CO



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Many freelancers want to focus more on securing clients, completing jobs, and getting paid — not mundane tasks, such as sending out invoices. Fortunately, there is AND CO. This software was designed with the freelancer in mind. It isn’t full-fledged accounting software, but it offers plenty of basic tools that are beneficial to freelancers, microbusinesses, and independent contractors. AND CO, now owned by the freelance platform Fiver, makes it easy to perform basic tasks, such as tracking expenses, managing contacts, sending invoices, and tracking time. AND CO has also received many positive reviews in terms of its customer support.

AND CO offers a free plan, but unfortunately, limitations on this plan only allow you to bill a single client. If you need to invoice additional clients, you can upgrade to a paid subscription. Other potential dealbreakers include only a handful of integrations and a lack of transparency surrounding security. If you aren’t a freelancer and instead operate a small business, you may need more tools than what AND CO offers. However, for the freelancer, this management software offers several great features with an easy-to-use interface that can simplify accounting and bookkeeping tasks.

The Free Version Includes

With the forever-free version of AND CO software, a single user will have access to:

  • Branded invoicing for one client
  • Expense tracking
  • Time tracking
  • Basic reporting
  • Contracts and proposals
  • Project management tools

If you have more than one client, you must upgrade to the Pro plan. For $24 per month, you’ll be able to invoice unlimited customers. Pro users also get non-branded invoicing and customizable contracts.

Pros

What benefits does AND CO offer to freelancers? Let’s start with these:

  • Easy to use
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Strong mobile apps
  • Cloud-based software

If you aren’t a freelancer or your business needs full accounting software, AND CO won’t be a good match for you. However, freelancers who want access to a few simple tools will find that AND CO is easy to use and could potentially add new features designed for freelancers in the future.

Read our in-depth review

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When Is It Time To Upgrade To Paid Software?

It’s perfectly fine to use free accounting software for as long as possible. However, there comes a time when many businesses need more than even the best free software has to offer. When that happens, it’s time to upgrade to paid software. How do you know when it’s time to make the switch? Consider these reasons:

  • Advanced Features: If you want more advanced features found with full accounting software, you’ll likely have to upgrade your free plan to a paid subscription or shop around for other paid options.
  • Customized Accounting: Whether you want a program specifically designed for your industry or a program that’s scalable with your business, customization typically comes at a cost.
  • Improved Reporting: While most free software offers a handful of reports, a paid subscription is typically needed to access advanced reporting. Having that access could be necessary as your business grows, if you’re making big changes to your company, or when you seek funding from a lender.

If you find that your current free software is slow, outdated, or doesn’t offer the features you need, it’s time to consider your options. If other free programs just don’t fit your needs, it’s time to upgrade to paid software.

Best Paid Alternatives

Here are our top paid small business accounting alternatives.

Business SizePricingEase of UseCustomer Support
QuickBooks OnlineSmall-Large$20-$150/moGoodFair
Zoho BooksSmall$9-$29/moGoodExcellent
XeroMedium-Large$9-$60/moFairFair
FreshBooksSmall$15-$50/moExcellentExcellent
Sage Business CloudSmall-Medium$10-$25/moExcellentFair

Choosing The Best Free Accounting Software

Now that you’re aware of a handful of options, it’s time to make your choice. Fortunately, you have nothing to lose with free software, so don’t worry if you don’t make the right choice the first time. To save time, though, there are a few tips that you can use to weed through the software that misses the mark.

First, know what features you need and which you don’t. For example, if you primarily want software that allows you to send invoices, you can skip over options that come loaded with advanced features. On the flip side, if you have more extensive bookkeeping and accounting needs, pass on basic invoicing software that only has a handful of features.

If you’re prone to doing business on the go, you want to choose a program with strong mobile apps. That allows you to manage your account easily from your smartphone or tablet. If you’re going to accept online payments, look for software with multiple integrations.

You’ll also need to keep in mind relevant factors, such as the number of clients you have and the number of invoices, proposals, or estimates that can be sent out per month on a free plan. You want to find something that works for you without having to upgrade your subscription, at least not at this time.

Overall, though, you can’t go wrong with software that’s easy to use, offers good customer support or resources, and has strong security features. Start from there and then tack on the features that you need to find your perfect match. Good luck!

A Last Look At Our Top Picks

  1. Wave
    Summary - Best overall software for small businesses that want a forever free plan with loads of great features.
  2. ZipBooks
    Summary - Best for small business owners and freelancers looking for a simple accounting solution. 
  3. SlickPie
    Summary - Best for business owners that want free software for managing multiple businesses.
  4. Odoo Accounting
    Summary - Best for businesses of any size that want a customizable, scalable accounting solution.
  5. AND CO
    Summary - Best for freelancers and independent contractors that want an easy way to invoice customers and track expenses.
Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Managing Editor - Accounting
Chelsea Krause is a writer who has specialized in accounting for over three years and is a QuickBooks Certified User. She has a BA in English & Creative Writing from George Fox University and studied at the University of Oxford as well. She has been quoted in Forbes and her work appears in Startup Nation, Small Business Bonfire, and Women on Business.
Chelsea Krause
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Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.