Top 5 Alternatives to Xero

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Headquartered in New Zealand, Xero appeared on the accounting software scene in 2006. Having proven its accounting power against competing software throughout the years, it now vies for a place with QuickBooks at the top of the proverbial food chain. It is known for having a clean interface, good customer service, great ease of use, and a plethora of features and integrations.

Despite a few drawbacks (no integrated payroll in 26 US states, for instance), Xero is an excellent, high-value accounting system. But what if you are really looking to shake things up? Maybe you are looking to reduce spending on accounting software. Maybe your business needs have changed, or perhaps Xero doesn’t offer a key feature or integration that you need. Maybe you just don’t like the Xero interface. Whatever the reason, you have come to the right place! We will examine four paid accounting programs and one free accounting program that are all viable alternatives to Xero.

1. QuickBooks (Pro) and (Online) – Xero’s Biggest Competition

QuickBooks Pro:

Alternatives to Xero

QuickBooks has long dominated the accounting market with its locally installed program QuickBooks Pro. Historically, QB Pro has a product lifespan of about three years, and can be downloaded for a one-time payment of $299.95 (which comes out to about $10/month). Though QB Pro isn’t a cloud-based system, it offers the largest feature set on the market, and it may be a better option for bookkeepers and accounting-savvy business owners for that reason. Customers praise the feature selection, the efficiency of the interface, and the software’s reporting capabilities.

QuickBooks Pro vs Xero

In addition, QuickBooks Pro beats out Xero in the following areas:

  • Integrated payroll in all 50 states
  • Better reporting, including customizable reports
  • Better job costing/project accounting capabilities
  • Better batch processing options
  • Late fees on invoices
  • More options for most features

Interested in learning more about QuickBooks Pro? Read our review.

QuickBooks Online:
Alternatives to XeroTo keep up with the large migration to cloud-based systems (read more about that here), Intuit released QuickBooks Online in 2004. QBO has subscriptions ranging from $12.95 a month to $39.95 a month, depending on the size of your company and the features you need. Just like Xero, the software was designed for small to medium-sized businesses. Some customers seem to really enjoy QBO’s new look, as well as the increased ease of use that has come with the recent updates to the program’s interface. On top of that, many customers are extremely pleased with the quantity of features that QBO has to offer.

QuickBooks Online vs Xero

Xero and QBO each have their strong points, and each program offers some features the other does not. For a detailed comparison, read our article here. These are some advantages of QBO:

  • Integrated payroll in all 50 states
  • Auto-billing
  • Telephone customer support (but no chat or email)
  • More efficient timesheet data entry

Interested in learning more? Check out our review of QuickBooks Online.

2. Zoho Books – A Great Stand-Alone System

Alternatives to Xero

Zoho Books launched in 2011; since then the company has implemented many improvements. The program is designed for small businesses and offers subscriptions ranging from $9 to $29 a month. Zoho Books provides a clean, intuitive interface and will cover the needs of many small businesses, but it still lacks certain capabilities such as full job costing and integrated payroll. Another potential downside to Zoho Books is that while it integrates well with other Zoho products, it doesn’t amalgamate well with much outside of the Zoho suite. Despite this, Zoho Books has automated invoicing features that outshine almost all of its competitors, and many Zoho customers speak highly of the level and speed of customer service they receive.

Zoho vs Xero

As with QBO, Zoho and Xero each have their own strengths. Here are a few advantages to Zoho Books:

  • Auto-billing
  • Support for retainer invoices
  • A mobile app for Windows Phone
  • More efficient timesheet data entry

Has Zoho Books piqued your interest? Check out our full review here.

3. FreeAgent – For Freelancers and Independent Contractors

Alternatives to Xero

FreeAgent was created in 2006. It was designed by freelancers with freelancers in mind, but can also accommodate the needs of many small businesses. FreeAgent offers a single subscription plan, $24/month, and is a cloud-based system. The program really strives to leave the heavy-handed accounting lingo behind, making life easier for those who are not bookkeepers or accountants. Like Zoho Books, FreeAgent also offers a great variety of automated invoicing options. Common points of praise are an impressively large feature selection, great customer service, and the fact that it is easy for non-accountants to navigate. One aspect of this software you should be aware of is that though FreeAgent does have users in the US, it caters primarily to a market in the UK.

FreeAgent vs Xero

On the whole, Xero has a larger feature set than FreeAgent. However, features offered by FreeAgent that Xero lacks include:

  • Auto-billing
  • Schedule C Worksheet
  • Better job costing/project accounting capabilities
  • More efficient timesheet data entry

Check out our review of FreeAgent to get the full scoop.

4. Saasu – Amazing Inventory Features

Alternatives to Xero

As one of the first cloud-based services to come onto the accounting market roughly 15 years ago, Saasu has been slowly but surely growing. Saasu offers subscriptions ranging from $15 a month to $180 a month depending on the number of features and users needed. Though Saasu can accommodate the needs of a wide range of business sizes, it really caters to small and micro businesses. It’s geared towards Australian companies, and although US-based companies do use Saasu, it might not be right for everyone. For example, Saasu’s payroll and multi-state tax functions are not very US-friendly, and the program does not accept quotes online. However, there are many Saasu clients who really enjoy the ease of use, the excellent customer service support, and the mobile apps that Saasu has recently rolled out.

Saasu vs Xero

Like FreeAgent, Saasu can’t quite match Xero’s feature set, but it does offer a few perks Xero omits:

  • More advanced inventory options
  • Better reporting, including customizable reports
  • Consolidated P/L reports across multiple businesses (Large & X-Large subscriptions)
  • Packing slips

Learn more about Saasu by reading our review.

5. Wave – The Free Alternative

Alternatives to Xero

Do you have a small business with fewer than 10 employees? Or are you an independent contractor or a sole proprietor looking for free cloud-based accounting software? If so, you might want to check out Wave. Wave is offered at no cost and implements only minimal advertising. While some customers don’t like the “Powered by Wave” branding that appears on invoices and emails, or the advertising that covers a fraction of users’ screens, Wave offers an interface that is straightforward and easy to navigate, and it provides all the features that many micro-businesses need. Many users enjoy using the software to handle both their personal and business accounts, and they love the fact that the service is free.

Though the feature list isn’t as expansive as that of top-notch paid software, Wave offers solid double-entry bookkeeping with an impressive number of handy time-savers like automated late payment reminders. The program might be just what you need, especially if you are running a small, service-based business.

To learn more about Wave, read our full review here.

Wave vs Xero

Xero clearly beats out Wave’s feature selection, but Wave does offer a few advantages:

  • Use the same software for managing personal and business accounts
  • No subscription cost, even for multiple businesses
  • Some people find it easier to understand and use
  • Take photos of receipts, and Wave will use text-recognition software to import your data (~70% accuracy)

For more information about how these two programs stack up against one another, check out our Xero VS Wave Accounting article.

Final Thoughts

Xero is one of the top players in the accounting software market and is an ideal option for many. It is not right for everyone, however, and if you are thinking about trying out some other options, Wave, Saasu, Zoho Books, and QuickBooks (Pro and Online versions) are a good place to start. Each program has its own unique set of perks and drawbacks which may make it a better fit for you and your business. And each offers a free trial, so you have nothing to lose by at least giving one – or even all – of them a test run!

Just make sure, if you are moving to the cloud-based sector for the first time, that you do your research. You may even want to start with this helpful article: How to Choose Accounting Software.

Elizabeth Cranston

Elizabeth Cranston

Writer and Reviewer of Point of Sale Software at Merchant Maverick
Elizabeth Cranston is a writer and native Oregonian who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys researching and getting to the bottom of questions relating to the Point of Sale industry.When not writing about and researching Point of Sale software, she can usually be found overindulging in Dutch Bro's coffee, making others laugh, or listening to music.
Elizabeth Cranston
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