Advertiser Disclosure

Wave VS QuickBooks Online

  • 25 comments
  • Updated on:
Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Wave-vs-Quickbooks

WaveVSQuickBooks Online

Accounting

Features

Pricing

Tie

Hardware & Software Requirements

Tie

Users & Permissions

Ease of Use

Mobile Apps

Tie

Customer Service & Support

Tie

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Integrations

Tie

Security

Tie

?

Final Verdict

?

Review

Review

How do you choose between two great options? That’s the question when it comes to QuickBooks Online (QBO) 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 550+ integrations. These features, combined with QuickBooks’ overall reputation, are hard to beat. But that hasn’t kept other companies, like Wave, from trying.

BannerDescriptionNext Step

QuickBooks Online - Now 50% off!Get Promo

Wave is 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. Read on to see which software is right for your business.

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.

See Our #1 Rated Accounting Software Pick

Accounting

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 more reports.

Features

Winner: QuickBooks Online

WaveFeaturesQuickBooks Online

Invoicing

Estimates

Client Portal

Contact Management

Expense Tracking

Bank Reconciliation

Separate Personal & Business Expenses

Chart of Accounts

Accounts Payable

Inventory

Time Tracking

Project Management

Reports

Class Tracking

Budgeting

Tax Support

Sales Tax

Multi-Currency

Lending

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, QBO offers up to 80 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 autoschedule invoices and have more customization options, like adding photos to your invoice items.

QuickBooks Online also offers several features that Wave doesn’t, including budgeting, inventory, class tracking, packing slips, and the ability to print checks. Unlike QuickBooks, Wave does offer a light ecommerce feature called Checkouts, which could be particularly helpful for businesses with online stores or which attend home shows.

Pricing

Winner: Wave

QuickBooks Online offers pricing plans ranging from $20-$150/month. 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 with Wave. The software makes its money off of payment processing, payroll, and professional bookkeeping. 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/month. Depending on your business needs, Wave’s pricing may outweigh QuickBooks Online’s depth of features.

BannerDescriptionNext Step

QuickBooks Online - Now 50% off!Get Promo

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Tie

As cloud-based software, both Wave and QuickBooks Online are compatible with nearly any device, so long as you have an internet connection.

Users & Permissions

Winner: QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online supports 1-10 users depending on your pricing plan. QBO also has strong user permissions. Wave is designed for the business owner, meaning there are no extra users. You can grant account access to “collaborators,” but that’s about it.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Wave

Wave is much more intuitive and has less of a learning curve than QuickBooks Online. 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 weaker customer support and takes a little longer to get used to.

Mobile Apps

Winner: QuickBooks Online

Wave offers two apps for iOS and Android — Receipts by Wave, Invoices by Wave. While the apps work well, users complain that these apps are not fully featured and call out for one universal Wave app instead. QuickBooks Online, by contrast, has all-encompassing apps for both iOS and Android. Users complain that the apps are buggy at times and slightly limited, but not nearly as limited as Wave’s separate apps.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Tie

If you’ve read any of our QuickBooks reviews, you know that the company is notorious for poor customer service. QBO has made some strides toward repairing their reputation by cutting wait and hold times and offering a stronger help center, but there is no email support.

With Wave, phone and chat support is only available for payroll and payment processing users. Regular users have to rely on email, the help center, or the Wave blog. Email response times are fairly slow, so in this case, neither software is perfect. You can either opt for potentially long phone wait time and no email support or no phone support and long email response times.

Negative Reviews & 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 complaints regard 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 & Testimonials

Winner: Wave

While QuickBooks Online does have many happy users, Wave receives higher praise overall and fewer complaints. Wave boasts 4/5 stars on Software Advice, 4.3/5 stars on G2Crowd, 9/10 on TrustRadius, 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.

Integrations

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, QBO offers 590 additional integrations, whereas Wave has only three.

Security

Winner: Tie

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.

To learn more about cloud security read our article, Is My Accounting Safe in the Cloud? and What is SSL? A First Look at Online Security.

And the Overall Winner Is…

Wave vs. QuickBooks Online

Wave put up an incredibly good fight along the way with a tempting free pricing plan, a large number of features, and positive customer reviews. However, this battle ultimately comes down to the variety and functionality of the features on offer, which leaves Wave outmatched by QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online offers ample features — including beautiful invoicing, class tracking, inventory, and more — and each of these features is incredibly thorough. The mobility of the app, along with strong accounting and nigh unbeatable integrations, puts QBO at the top of this match-up and has also earned it the title Best Accounting Software for Small Business here at Merchant Maverick.

Review

Visit Site

One of the best accounting software options out there for small businesses

But just because QuickBooks Online is the overall winner here doesn’t mean Wave isn’t a better software for your company. Wave offers unbelievable features at an even more unbelievable price. For companies that are looking to save money, or that 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. There’s also a unique new ecommerce tool available.

Whichever software 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.

See Our #1 Rated Accounting Software Pick

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Managing Editor - Accounting
Chelsea Krause is a writer who has specialized in accounting for two 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
Leave a comment

25 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Catherine Slade

    hello – We are a Canadian upscale dog kennel business using a kennel mgmt software called “PROPET” which integrates with QB (only choice at this time but they hope to integrate with WAVE in future). Our customer database, bookings (sales) and invoicing are all done thru the kennel software. Our book keeping needs are simple: we have no retail so no inventory to track but we do have expenses and income to track and sort and approx 20 employees so want a payroll service. We are currently still using dinosaur shoe box paper receipt book keeping and manually doing payroll but looking to change immediately and go back to start of 2019 before it gets any later in the year. I have no background in this area – no idea where to start. Have cooked a crazy idea where I sign on with QB on-line and link up my kennel software. From there will dump in 2019 data and get those 3 months all done up properly. Could then use Zapier to take the QB data over to WAVE. Would mean having to run all 3 programs till PROPET gets integrated direct to WAVE. Not sure if this would work – any point trying?? Other option is just run QB for now and switch in future years to WAVE without worrying about bringing over the history… sorry I know this is a large topic – any advice would be appreciated.
    thank you.

      Chelsea Krause

      Hi Catherine,

      Good question! Personally, I’d just use QBO until ProPet works with Wave to save yourself a lot of time and trouble. You can still bring over some of your history if you switch down the road. Here’s some information about how switching from QuickBooks Online to Wave would work. Hope this helps!

      -Chelsea Krause

        eri

        Hello,
        I am a lawyer. I need my accounting software that can do the following:
        -produce reconciliations between my general and trust bank accounts
        -maintain separate files/accounts for clients who have multiple cases (eg clt 1 case1, clt 1 case2 etc)

        I use old school spreadsheets (Numbers- on Mac). I cannot use legal accounting software because it is pc-based. I am nervous about using the Cloud — worried all my data will disappear. I also suck at arithmetic, so I’d like my accountant to be able to see where I made any errors, easily (PC Law is poor for this because it uses algorithms and hides errors in your raw data entry).

        I am a sole practitioner, no employees, and also do HST

        I am considering Wave or Clio. What do you recommend?

          Chelsea Krause

          Hi there!

          Thanks for reaching out! I am not incredibly familiar with Clio, but its features sound like they might be a better fit than Wave as the software is designed specifically for lawyers. That being said, Clio isn’t accounting software, so I’d recommend using Clio as well as one of its accounting integrations. Clio integrates with Xero and QuickBooks Online. Of the two, the only program I know of that includes HST support is QuickBooks Online Canada. The software will allow you to perform reconciliations, and you can use the class tracking feature to manage multiple cases.

          To address your concern about using the cloud, here’s a post on explaining how the cloud works and another on how to keep your data safe in the cloud. Hope this helps!

          Best wishes,

          -Chelsea Krause

            Sandra L.

            I use QuickBooks Online everyday on a computer with a Linux operating system. The only slight limitation for any user is that you must use the newest version of Chrome. The operating system doesn’t matter. Your browser matters for best functionality.

              Chelsea Krause

              Hi Sandra,

              Thank you for sharing this with me! I’ll be sure to update our reviews and posts accordingly to include Linux.

              -Chelsea Krause

                MANUEL

                Can I switch from wave to quikbooks?

                What is the best accounting/invoicing software for flipping houses?

                Thanks

                  Chelsea Krause

                  Hi Manual,

                  Thanks for reaching out! You can switch from Wave to QuickBooks Online by exporting your data from Wave and importing it into QuickBooks Online.

                  In regards to your other question, I don’t know of any accounting software that is specific to flipping houses, but QuickBooks Online will have a lot of features that could benefit your house flipping business like classes and locations, progressive invoicing, project management, time tracking, and expense tracking.

                  I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions!

                  If any of our readers are also in the house flipping market, we’d love to hear how you handle your accounting.

                  Best wishes,

                  -Chelsea Krause

                    Linda

                    Thanks for this article! I am a long time QB Desktop user on a MAC using Parallels. But I need to update both QB and Parallels, so have been looking around. I really like a lot about Wave. Wondering about inventory. I only do a physical count of inventory at the end of each year…so if I switch to WAVE what will happen? My tax preparer/accountant will want some kind of report to compare to previous year. Is there a work around with WAVE at all that you know of? Also does wave allow for making General Ledger entries like QB Desktop does. I only use it for inputting Inventory results. Hope you can shed some light to go forward. I still want to do my business even though now semi-retired. Thanks!

                      Chelsea Krause

                      Hi Linda,

                      Great question! Unfortunately, Wave does offer an inventory feature and doesn’t have the capabilities that your business needs. I’d recommend taking a look at QBO or Xero. Or if you want a more affordable software, Zoho Books may be a viable option depending on your business’s needs.

                      Best wishes,

                      -Chelsea Krause

                        Elizabeth Maglione

                        I currently run a 2015 version of machine based Quickbooks. Recently the software crashed and Quickbooks no longer supports this version of their product. If I were to switch to WAVE is it possible to import my existing .QBB files into WAVE?

                        Thanks

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

                          Chelsea Krause

                          Hi Elizabeth,

                          I’m so sorry to hear that QuickBooks crashed on you! While Wave is a great, affordable software, it doesn’t have the best importing capabilities. If you switched over to Wave, you can’t import your full QB company file, but you can import your contacts, past invoices, and bank statements (the contacts need to be in a .csv file while the bank statements can be a .ofs, .qbo, .qfx, .aso, and .csv). Here is an article with more details about how to switch from QuickBooks to Wave. If you have any further questions or end up wanting to look at a different QuickBooks alternative, feel free to reach out!

                          Best of luck,

                          -Chelsea Krause

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

                            Bo j.

                            Hello Chelsea,

                            Thanks for the post!
                            which one is integrates with touch bistro?

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

                              Chelsea Krause

                              Hi Bo,

                              I’m glad you liked the post! Currently, only QuickBooks Online integrates with Touch Bistro. Hope this helps!

                              Best wishes,

                              -Chelsea Krause

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

                                Leda Miller

                                Does Wave have a feature that tracks multiple jobs under one customer name? What about 1099’s?

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

                                  Chelsea Krause

                                  Hi Leda,

                                  Unfortunately, Wave does not have a project management feature and does not support 1099’s at this time. If these are important for your business, I’d consider QuickBooks Online or Zoho Books instead (Xero could also work depending on how large your business is). Please let me know if you have any other questions!

                                  Best wishes,

                                  -Chelsea Krause

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

                                    Lay S.

                                    Hi Chelsea,
                                    I stumble to your post. Are you talking about Canadian QB? I just start a construction company. I only have 2 employees and very little inventory ( mainly iron bar). I am wondering if I can use Wave. I need payroll and want to pay tax and GST online. I don’t care about invoice or POS.
                                    Thank in advance for your help.
                                    Lay

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

                                      Chelsea Krause

                                      Hi Lay,

                                      I’m happy to help! This post is focused on the US version of QuickBooks Online. With Wave, you will not be able to pay your taxes directly online. However, the software will track your taxes. You will just be responsible for filing and paying these taxes on your own. The only exception is that Wave does handle payroll taxes for Canadian users (except for those in Quebec) when you purchase Payroll by Wave.

                                      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

                                      Best wishes,

                                      -Chelsea Krause

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

                                        Jenifer

                                        Hi Chelsea, I am a consulting teacher starting up my own business. I have no employees, no inventory and am only “selling” my services to schools. It seems like Wave might work for me, and be at the right price point for a new business. Do you feel that accountants will be familiar with it and able to work with it?? I’d hate to go for it only to find out down the line that it wouldn’t work for them.

                                        Thanks!

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

                                          Chelsea Krause

                                          Hi Jenifer,

                                          Thanks for reaching out and congrats on starting your own business! To answer your question, it’s really going to depend on the accountant. In my experience, accountants are most often familiar with software like Xero and QuickBooks; however, Wave is incredibly easy to use and learn so if they aren’t familiar with it, I doubt it will take them long to learn. Some accountants may also just ask for your accounting reports, like the balance sheet and income statement, which Wave provides.

                                          Other readers may be able to share their experience with this, but I imagine it won’t be an issue, although I’d verify with your accountant to be 100% certain.

                                          I hope that helps!

                                          Best wishes,

                                          -Chelsea Krause

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

                                            Jenna Hunter-Blore

                                            Totally appreciate you writing this Chelsea, I have QB online and have been using it for a year, they keep hiking the pricing every quarter and I’ve already been annoyed with the online software (unlike the store bought software), so when I just got the letter ‘your price is going up again’…. I started hunting and stumbled on your site. Very informative! We have 2 businesses but zero employees, so WAVE might be the better route. 🙂

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

                                              Chelsea Krause

                                              Hi Jenna,

                                              You’re very welcome! I’m glad you found this post helpful. I highly recommend Wave, so long as you don’t need an inventory feature (though you could use an integration from Zapier to manage inventory). Here’s some information on how to switch from QuickBooks Online to Wave.

                                              Best of luck! As always, let us know if you have any questions along the way.

                                              -Chelsea Krause

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

                                                Deborah Tews

                                                Thanks for the info! Chelsea, I appreciate the reading choices listed in your bio!
                                                Questions:
                                                Does WAVE have a payroll feature?
                                                Does WAVE sync with SQUARE POS?

                                                I own a coffee shop and am in my first year, so $50 per month for QB plus another $50 for payroll when I don’t really need invoicing or the in-depth reports QB supports is a lot of money for me.

                                                Thanks!

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

                                                  Chelsea Krause

                                                  Hi Deborah,

                                                  Thanks for reaching out!

                                                  Wave does offer a payroll feature, called Payroll by Wave, which costs an extra $15/mo + $4/mo per employee (if you have more than 10 employees, the price drops to $2/mo per employee). However, Wave does not integrate with Square POS.

                                                  If the Square POS integration is a deal breaker, you could take a look at Xero. Xero offers built-in tax support and integrates directly with Square POS.

                                                  I hope this helps!

                                                  Best wishes,

                                                  -Chelsea Krause

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

                                                    Desiree Israel

                                                    Thank you so much. This helped a lot!!!

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

                                                    Leave a Reply

                                                    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                                                    Your Review

                                                    Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.
                                                    Please read the "User Review and Comment Policy" before posting.

                                                    Share