Wave VS QuickBooks Online
How do you choose between two great options? That’s the question when it comes to QuickBooks Online and Wave.
QuickBooks Online has been one of the biggest names in the accounting world since 2004. The software offers a robust feature set, strong accounting, attractive invoices, and 400+ integrations. These features, combined with QuickBooks’ overall reputation, are hard to beat. But that hasn’t kept other companies, like Wave, from trying.
Wave is a cloud-based accounting software that focuses on providing a complete small business solution to business owners. The ace up this company’s sleeve is that their software is completely free—and you’re not sacrificing savings for quality either. Wave is giving QuickBooks a run for their money in the small business accounting world with features like expense tracking, contact management, invoicing, and even lending.
So which software will come out on top? Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.
At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. So to make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put Wave and QuickBooks Online head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.
Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.
Table of Contents
Winner: QuickBooks Online
Both companies offer a detailed chart of accounts, a bank reconciliation feature, and the basic accounting reports needed to run a company. However, QuickBooks takes the lead by offering both accrual and cash basis accounting (Wave only offers accrual based accounting, which is surprising given its small business audience). QuickBooks Online also offers more reports, a more complex chart of accounts, and more automations in the bank reconciliation realm.
Winner: QuickBooks Online
|Separate Personal and Business Expenses||✓||✘|
|Chart of Accounts||✓||✓|
|Importing & Exporting||✓||✓|
As you can see from the chart above, Wave and QuickBooks Online are similar in a lot of the features they offer. But what that chart won’t show you is the quality and depth of the features available. While Wave offers a robust feature set and has added several new features to their software, QuickBooks Online’s features have more depth and breadth, making it the winner of this section.
For example, QuickBooks Online offers 46-101 reports (depending on the pricing plan) to Wave’s 12 reports. Both software options support invoicing, but QuickBooks Online offers five invoice templates (as opposed to Wave’s three). You can also autoschedule invoices and have more customization options, like adding photos to your invoice items.
QuickBooks Online also offers several features that Wave doesn’t have, including budgeting, inventory, class tracking, packing slips, tax support, and the ability to print checks.
QuickBooks Online offers pricing plans ranging from $15-$40/mo. Wave offers a single pricing plan: free. And you can’t beat free.
So Wave wins, hands down.
There are no catches, no gimmicks, and no artificial limits on features. If you are tight on money or are looking to save, Wave is the way to go. This price point is particularly appealing if you look back at the features chart and realize how many of the same features you are getting for $0/mo. Depending on your business needs, Wave’s pricing may outweigh QuickBooks Online’s depth of features.
Hardware or Software Requirements
As cloud-based software, both Wave and QuickBooks Online are compatible with nearly any device, so long as you have an internet connection.
Users and Permissions
At first, this one was a bit of a tossup. Wave offers unlimited users, while QuickBooks Online offers much better user permissions. But what good are strong user permissions if you can only have 1-5 users? (You can purchase up to 20 users with QuickBooks Online, but only on the largest plan and at a cost of $10/mo per extra user.) For this reason, Wave takes the cake.
Ease of Use
Both Wave and QuickBooks Online are very easy to use; Wave, however, is much more intuitive and has less of a learning curve. The software is fast to set up, quick to learn, and if you have any struggles along the way, there are plenty of resources and support services to help. QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, has poor customer support and takes a little longer to get used to, although the software is still fairly easy to use.
Wave’s iOS and Android apps–Receipts by Wave, Invoices by Wave, and Payroll by Wave (just for iOS)–have received high praise from customers. The recent redesign of the Invoices by Wave app has been received well and offers strong invoicing features on the go.
Some users still complain about how Wave breaks their apps up by features rather than offering a general, comprehensive app, but considering that QuickBooks Online apps are buggy and limited, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Customer Service and Support
If you’ve read any of our QuickBooks reviews, you know that the company is notorious for poor customer service. Wave, on the other hand, has worked hard to improve their customer service in the last few years by doing away with a paid premium support structure and adding more customer service “heroes” to their team. Response times are generally quick, and other resources like the Wave Help Center, YouTube channel, and social media pages are also helpful.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
Winner: QuickBooks Online
This is one category I’m sure QuickBooks Online did not want to win. QuickBooks Online has received many complaints. Some of the most common are about limited mobile apps, slow run time, bugs, and poor customer service.
Wave, on the other hand, has generally high ratings and fewer complaints than QuickBooks Online.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
While QuickBooks Online does have many happy users, Wave receives higher praise overall and far fewer complaints. Wave boasts 4/5 stars on Software advice, 4.1/5 stars on G2Crowd, and an A+ accredited rating on the BBB website.
Users praise the software because it is easy to use and has a good feature selection, including personal accounting. And, unsurprisingly, the free pricing is also a fan favorite.
Winner: Quickbooks Online
Both QuickBooks Online and Wave have integrations with Zapier, an add-on that connects your software with 750+ applications. However, in addition to Zapier, QuickBooks Online offers 400+ other integrations (Wave has only three), so QuickBooks Online takes the lead here.
As cloud-based software programs, both Wave and QuickBooks Online work hard to provide strong security measures, including data encryption, redundant backups, and physical security measures at their prospective data centers.
And the Winner Is…
Wave put up an incredibly good fight along the way with a tempting free pricing plan, excellent customer service, and positive customer reviews. However, this battle ultimately came down to the variety and functionality of the accounting features on offer, which left Wave outmatched by QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online is an easy to use, well-developed software. Not only does it offer ample features–including beautiful invoicing, class tracking, inventory, and more–but each of these features is incredibly thorough. The mobility of the app, along with strong accounting and unbeatable integrations, puts QuickBooks Online at the top of this match-up and has also earned it the title “Best Accounting Software for Small Business” here at Merchant Maverick.
But just because QuickBooks Online is the overall winner here, that doesn’t mean Wave isn’t a better software for your company. Wave offers unbelievable features at an even more unbelievable price. For companies who are looking to save money, or who are not quite ready for the in-depth features of QuickBooks Online, Wave is a brilliant choice. Wave is also ideal for Etsy sellers since the software offers a strong Etsy integration and allows you to separate personal and business expenses. Whichever you choose, our comprehensive reviews can help you make an informed decision during your hunt for the perfect accounting software.
Read our full QuickBooks Online and Wave reviews for more information. After doing your research, be sure to take each software for a test run, and feel free to reach out with any questions you have along the way.