Debitoor is built on the interesting premise that offering a good basic version of its service for free is a better use of marketing dollars than advertising. Consequently, you probably won’t see Debitoor banner ads flashing across your screen; instead (the company hopes), you’re more likely to hear about it from someone who’s already using it. The freemium model also gives you a chance to check out the software in detail before you decide whether any of its premium features are worth the price to you … and if they’re not, you get to keep using the basic version for free.
Launched in April 2012, Debitoor is a relative newcomer to the field of online invoicing software, but it comes from a company that’s been around for 13 years. e-conomic, founded in Denmark and currently headed by CEO Torben Frigaard Rasmussen, provides online accounting for over 70,000 companies, primarily in Europe. With Debitoor, the company is looking to provide an invoicing solution for micro businesses and freelancers who don’t need all the bells and whistles of a full accounting system. A team of 28 is devoted to Debitoor’s development, and the software is currently available in 6 languages and 34 countries. While it hasn’t made it to North America yet, a US version is in the works for this coming year.
Debitoor is very simple software, and, being relatively new, it has some catching up to do before its paid offerings can really compete with what’s currently on the market. The free version is attractive, however; there aren’t a whole lot of free invoicing programs which provide for unlimited invoices, estimates, expenses, and clients. A reports feature is in beta, and there’s a cash payments area marked “Coming Soon,” which will allow you to record cash transactions.
I really enjoyed my survey of Debitoor. It’s very basic software, but it’s generally well laid-out and good at what it does. I was particularly impressed with the level of customer service offered on the free plan; most free plans I’ve tested fall short in that area. While I had a few complaints, on the whole I was very impressed. For the details, read on.
You can try either paid version of Debitoor free for 30 days, no credit card required. Debitoor offers 3 pricing tiers. There are no contracts; you pay monthly and you can cancel the service at any time. If you’ve signed up for a paid plan, the service will continue to automatically renew (and bill your card on file) every month until you downgrade to the free plan or cancel.
- Free: €0/month – Create unlimited quotes and invoices, and record unlimited expenses. Debitoor branding will display on quotes and invoices.
- Premium: €5/month – Eliminates Debitoor branding and adds payment reminders, late fees, and the ability to convert quotes to invoices. You also get limited customization for your invoice template.
- Premium Plus: €10/month – The features of the Premium Plan, plus bank statement reconciliation, P/L reports (beta), and VAT reports (beta). You can also attach receipts to expenses.
Web-Hosted or Locally Installed:
Web-hosted. No downloads or installation required.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
Since Debitoor is cloud-based software, it is compatible with any OS (Mac, Windows, or Linux), so long as you have internet access. For browsers, Debitoor recommends using either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome; depending on your OS, the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Safari may work, but they’re not optimal. Debitoor uses responsive design, so you can use the browser-based version on a tablet or a phone; there is also an iPhone app (iOS7+).
Specific Size of Business:
Debitoor is tailored to independent contractors and small businesses. There is a limit of 1 user per account.
Ease of Use:
Debitoor is a very simple program, and it’s easy to find your way around.
- Setup – Provide an e-mail address, password, and your country, and you’re ready to go. You’ll be deposited on a welcome page which gives you the option to create a new invoice, create a quote, or record an expense. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll see a “Getting Started” box with links to news, help articles, a blurb about the program, customization options, and the iPhone app. Where you go from there is up to you. I’d recommend starting with Settings, then setting up your products and customers lists before you move on to invoices and estimates.
- Organization – Debitoor is very well laid out, and finding your way around should be a breeze. There’s a navigation sidebar at the left of the screen with links to Invoices, Quotes, Expenses, Payments, Reports, Customers, Products, Settings, and Sign Out. These lead exactly where you’d expect. You can also get back to the welcome page by clicking Debitoor’s logo at the upper left side of the screen.
- Instructions and Guidance – You’ll likely be able to find your way around Debitoor with no instructions or guidance whatsoever. The program is both simple and intuitive. Should you need a little help, consult the Knowledge Base; searches will return both articles and posts from the suggestions forum, and they’re labeled well enough that it’s easy to see which is which. I found the articles to be well written and to the point.
- Problems – I had very few criticisms of Debitoor, and the only one which bothered me significantly is the first on this list.
- Pushy Sales Attitude – After reading Debitoor’s take on offering a free product, I was impressed. Unfortunately, the way they choose to tempt users into their premium plans strikes me as a bit obnoxious. Log in to the free version and you’ll see all the functions you would in the paid version. For instance, you can customize the appearance of an invoice or estimate. Once you’re finished adjusting your settings, click “Save” and then – and only then – you’ll be directed to a page asking you to upgrade, as the customization feature isn’t available with the free plan.
Really, Debitoor? I have no problem with having different features at different price levels. But for pity’s sake, gray out the functions users can’t use on the plan they’re currently on. Give them a mouseover “Available on the Premium Plan” message or something. But don’t leave features scattered all over the place which just redirect to your sales pitch. It’s tacky, and it forces users on the free plan to memorize which features are actually available to them and which aren’t. Yeesh.
- No Dashboard – Personally, I like having an overview of invoices and expenses (preferably highlighting overdue invoices and newly accepted estimates if there are any). Most programs at least provide something. You’ll find the closest thing under Reports, but I would have liked to see an actual dashboard.
- Adding New Customers From Invoice – This is a minor gripe. I love the ability to add new customer records directly from an invoice; it saves time and it’s very convenient. Unfortunately, for some reason, you can’t save an e-mail address with that record. Seems like a bit of an oversight.
Debitoor is a new program, and it doesn’t have the wealth of features you’ll find in some more established software. Nonetheless, it covers all the basics and has a few perks thrown in as well. Here are some of Debitoor’s key features (for the full list, click here):
- Estimates – You’ll see estimates organized into three categories: Drafts, Sent, and Accepted. You can create estimates for clients, which you can then e-mail or print. With the paid versions, you can also convert estimates to invoices upon acceptance. The feature is well-organized; you can easily save new customers and products for future use. Line items can be displayed with or without VAT included, and you can include a percentage discount on the total invoice if you wish (though you cannot offer different discounts on individual items). Oddly, there’s no way to duplicate an estimate.
There’s a space at the bottom of the estimate for notes; you can customize this field and save it as a default for all future estimates if you wish. As an added bonus, you can enter your banking information (for wire transfers) and this will display nicely at the bottom of all estimates and invoices. There’s only one invoice/estimate template, but it does look nice and has a professional feel. If you’re on one of the paid plans, a few customization options are available to you.
- Invoicing – The layout is similar to the Estimates page, with invoices sorted into Drafts, Unpaid, and Done. In the Unpaid list, the due dates of overdue invoice are marked in red. In addition to the features for estimates, Debitoor allows you to duplicate an invoice (paid versions only), and you can set default payment terms by client. One unusual feature: invoices are locked after being finalized; that means you cannot edit an invoice after it is sent.
The paid subscriptions include 4 default payment reminders (friendly, first, second, and third) with increasingly forceful language. While you can modify these, there’s no way to save a new default, and you’ll need to send the reminders manually. Paid subscriptions also allow you to apply late fees.
- Expenses – You can enter expenses and categorize them into categories suitable for tax purposes (e.g. “Food and Meals” and “Rent”). You can select one or more months and view total expenses as well as subtotals for each category. The Premium Plus plan allows you to upload and attach receipt images to each expense.
- Bank Reconciliation (Premium Plus Only) – This is a hybrid accounting/invoicing feature. You can upload your bank statements and match up the entries with your entered invoices and expenses. As an added bonus, if there’s an expense on your statement which you haven’t entered in Debitoor, you can create a new expense based on the statement entry. There is also a cash payments area marked “Coming Soon.”
- Reports – In the free version of Debitoor, you can view your total sales, expenses, and VAT/tax collected/paid by month or quarter. In the Premium Plus version, you can also view profit and loss reports and file your VAT report with HMRC.
- Inventory – You can create a product list, saving descriptions, selling price, and even cost. However, there is no tracking of inventory levels.
- Contacts – You can create a client list with basic contact information (e-mail, phone number, and address).
- Sales Tax/VAT – As I evaluated the UK version of this software, I’ll confine myself to that version. VAT settings were easy to handle; you could toggle VAT on or off for your business, and you could assign a VAT rate of 0%, 5%, or 20% to each item. Invoices to customers outside the UK would default to a 0% value for VAT, but this was adjustable. For the EU, you’ll have the option of differentiating between product and service tax, and of course, you can file your VAT report online in the Reports section.
- API – Developers can use the API to create their own integrated apps.
- Import/Export Capabilities – You can’t import files into Debitoor, with the exception of csv account statements (Premium Plus only). You can export your invoices, expenses, customers, and products in csv format.
Customer Service and Support:
Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm GMT. My experience with them was quite good on the whole (and when compared to other free programs, it was stellar). Their response times typically varied between 6-17 hours. One inquiry took about 3 business days to resolve. Representatives were very good about directly and completely answering my questions. Here are the support resources Debitoor offers:
- Phone – Debitoor can be reached at +44 203 630 0145, Monday – Friday, 10AM – 3PM GMT. They also have support numbers in Germany and Spain.
- E-mail – Contact Debitoor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Online Feedback Form – Use the online form to submit suggestions and requests.
- Social Media – Debitoor is quite attentive to their Facebook page, posting information on the program and usually responding to inquiries within 8 hours (and sometimes within minutes). They also respond to customers’ posts on Twitter (within a day) and invite customers to drop them a line on Google+.
- Online Help Center – The Knowledge Base has over 100 articles covering pretty much every aspect of the software.
- Blog – Check out tips for invoicing and general advice for small businesses on Debitoor’s blog.
- YouTube – You can find instructional videos on the Debitoor YouTube channel.
- Feedback Forum – Propose ideas for new features and vote on your favorites here.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
- Needs More Features – Users would like to see more options for invoice customization (such as the ability to upload a background image) and subcategories for products.
- Not Enough Countries – There are several posts from people anxious to see Debitoor launch in their country. Also, current users complain about the lack of multi-currency support. (You can invoice in your home country’s currency only.)
- More Mobile Options – Some users say Debitoor doesn’t perform ideally on a tablet. There’s also demand for an Android app.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Debitoor gets 3/5 stars from users on the Chrome Web Store (though the software is ranked 4/5 stars on the German site). It doesn’t yet have enough reviews on iTunes to generate a rating. Some positive points of the software are:
- Easy to Use – By far the most common comment I found on the software. Users find the interface intuitive and navigation straightforward.
- Looks Nice – Several users like the look of the UI and invoices.
- Free – The price really can’t be beat.
Integrations and Add-ons:
Debitoor offers no integrations or add-ons, though you can use the API to create your own.
Debitoor uses 256-bit SSL encryption, and their servers are hosted by Amazon Web Services. Security measures include 24/7 monitoring, daily security scans, and firewalls. User data is backed up continuously onsite and is periodically backed up to offsite facilities as well.
For more details on Debitoor’s security, click here.
Debitoor and e-conomic are unlikely siblings, at opposite ends of the accounting and invoicing spectrum. While e-conomic is primarily aimed at accountants, Debitoor is for anyone. The software is incredibly simple; spend an hour with it and you’ll probably know all there is to know about it. It’s not laden with all the latest features, but it provides everything you’ll need for basic invoicing and estimates, and it’s free!
Now the bad news: it doesn’t offer any kind of option for online payment (which is fast becoming standard in the world of invoicing software), and it lacks some other features which Invoiceable (also free) provides, such as support for partial payments and recurring invoices. On the other hand, Invoiceable doesn’t support estimates or expense tracking.
Debitoor’s availability is still limited, and a US version hasn’t yet been released. The company says this is because it takes time to develop the support needed for US sales tax (an extremely complex business, with tax rates varying not only state to state, but between counties and cities as well). That raises the question: is Debitoor going to have sales tax support beyond what we see in most free US invoicing programs? If so, and if you’re based in the US, this is definitely going to be software to watch. For users in the UK and other supported countries, if you’re looking for an invoicing solution that will go easy on your wallet, I’d definitely recommend giving Debitoor a try.