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The Best Free Accounting Software Options For Small Businesses

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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 quickly 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 four 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.ย 

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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

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

How To Tell The Good Free Options From The Scams

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. While you may want to save money, you don’t want to do so at the expense of your business’s security.

So how can you tell the difference between good free accounting software and scams?

Ask yourself:

  • Does the company offer robust security features, such as firewalls and data encryption?
  • Is the company transparent about its security policies?
  • Is there a history of data breaches or fraud?
  • Does the UI look like any random Joe pieced it together, or does it have a professional, modern appearance?
  • What do other customers say about the software on review sites, such as Trustpilot and Capterra?
  • What does the BBB say about the company?
  • Is the software updated regularly?
  • Has the software been reviewed by Merchant Maverick? (If so, we’ll take the guesswork out and let you know the full scoop on the software you’re looking into.)

If the software passes those questions, then odds are the software is not a scam. However, even if a software isn’t a “scam,” that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time.

The cost — or lack thereof, in the case of free software — shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when making your choice. There are many free accounting options out there that are good for the bank but not for the books. You want to make sure that the software is still worth your while as a business owner.

Here are the characteristics a good free accounting program will have:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Integrations:ย 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.

All of our free accounting software recommendations meet these standards. Keep reading to see which options made the cut.

Best Free Accounting Software

Free accounting software can be an affordable solution for small businesses. The best free accounting software options offer an enticing $0 price tag but should still be reliable, secure, and feature-rich. Here are our top choices, including Wave, ZipBooks, Odoo, and AND CO.

1. Wave

Wave



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

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 that’s 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

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2. ZipBooks

ZipBooks



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

Accounting — and accounting software — can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be when you sign up for ZipBooks. ZipBooks is 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. Odoo

Odoo Accounting



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

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 Fiverr, 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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4. 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

Jump back to comparison chart

Looking For One Of These Names?

There are many free accounting software options out there, but not all of them pass muster.

To be one of the best, we expect free accounting software to be secure and reliable — that means no spam and no excessive ads that make using the software near impossible. We also expect the software to have basic accounting features and a modern, easy-to-navigate UI.

The programs below didn’t meet these standards.

SlickPie

SlickPie is an accounting solution for small business owners. Unlike some other programs that didn’t make the cut, we actually love SlickPie. The software offers great features, a nice UI, and is 100% free — however, SlickPie is not currently accepting new customers, which is why we’ve moved it off the list. Hopefully, the company will be taking on new users soon!

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping offers very inexpensive bookkeeping plans, so it’s easy to see how some people might think of this vendor when looking for free accounting software. However, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping isn’t free — its smallest plan costs $4.99/month. Additionally, we do not recommend GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. The software is incredibly limited, and the security is highly doubtful at best, with numerous data breaches reported in the past.

GnuCash

GnuCash is a free, open-source personal and business accounting software platform. While GnuCash offers decent accounting features and receives fairly positive reviews from customers, the UI is very outdated. Because the software is open-source, you also lose the benefits of the cloud, and the main form of customer support is just forums with other users.

TurboCASH

Slightly more modern in design than GnuCash, TurboCASH is another free open-source accounting solution. Unlike GnuCash, TurboCASH has very few user reviews to legitimize this software. The fact that the software’s webpage shows up as “not secure” on my browser is also not very reassuring.

CloudBooks

CloudBooks is an up-and-coming free invoicing software that often gets lumped into the list of “best free accounting software.” However, CloudBooks is not an accounting solution. The software offers some bookkeeping features, but it is actually a free invoicing program. To learn more about invoicing options, check out our top invoice software recommendations.

Akaunting

Akaunting is another up-and-coming free accounting software program. The software looks promising and has a much more modern and user-friendly design than Gnu Cash and Turbo Cash. However, there is still a very small number of reviews from actual users about this startup. As Akaunting grows, this software may become a real contender — only time will tell.

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 Online:Small-Large$20-$150/monthGoodFair
Zoho Books:Small$9-$29/monthGoodExcellent
Xero:Medium-Large$9-$60/monthFairFair
FreshBooks:Small$15-$50/monthExcellentExcellent
Sage Business Cloud:Small-Medium$10-$25/monthExcellentFair

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, you can 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.ย 
  3. Odoo Accounting
    Summary - Best for businesses of any size that want a customizable, scalable accounting solution.
  4. 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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1 Comment

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    Monica Gupta

    Nice Article, and very helpful I will recommend this to my clients.

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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