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Xero VS Wave: Which Accounting Software Is Better?

Wave's free price tag is great for small businesses, while Xero's more robust feature set is well suited for medium to large businesses.

    Erica Seppala
  • 13 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.
Erica Seppala

Erica Seppala

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in accounting, finance, and point of sale, Erica has been researching and writing about all things small-business since 2018. Erica's insights into personal and business finance have been cited in numerous publications, including MSN, Real Simple, and Reader's Digest. She is a graduate of Limestone College.
Erica Seppala
View Erica Seppala's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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13 Comments

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    Ed Crowley

    I’m confused. Your feature comparison shows that Wave’s supports inventory – however, it does not. Is this just an oversight or am I missing something?

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Ed,

      Great question. Wave does have an inventory feature but it’s more or less an items list. It doesn’t let you set stock levels and doesn’t have reminders or other advanced features like that, but there is a (very) basic inventory function there. Hope that helps, and thanks for asking!

        joe kim

        Hi Chelsea,

        great article. I am TERRIBLe at bookkeeping. I’m looking to hire someone right now.

        but I’m trying to decide.

        #1 keep using quickbooks desktop 2015 version – I used it for 2017
        #2 upgrade to quickbooks desktop 2018 version
        #3 change to quickbooks online (easier for new bookkeeper to use? and no need to hassle with files being transfered back and forth) but very expensive
        #4 Use Xero- same as quickbooks online in pricing
        #5 Use Wave

        I have a Airbnb rental business. although there are buy/sell transactions, there are plenty of activity.

        thank you for your advice,

        Joe

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Chelsea Krause

          Hi Joe,

          Thanks for reaching out! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

          In your case, I would rule the first option out (as QuickBooks discontinues support for programs after three years).

          Beyond that, I would recommend waiting until you finish hiring an accountant and ask their advice. Each accountant has different preferences about which software they like to work with. Some like QuickBooks Online best, others only work with QuickBooks Desktop. It all depends. I would have this conversation with your accountant before making any final decisions.

          I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, please let me know.

          Best wishes,

          -Chelsea Krause

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

            Alexander

            Use Wave

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

              Imogen

              Hi there,

              Thanks so much for this article! It was really helpful. I had actually already looked at both apps and decided to go with wave. It’s incredibly user friendly, and glad to hear that you recommend it for small businesses like myself! Definitely the better choice for now =)

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

                Chelsea Krause

                Hi Imogen,

                I’m glad you found this helpful, and I’m happy to hear that you’ve found a great solution for your business!

                Best wishes,

                -Chelsea Krause

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

                  Laura

                  Great article, thanks! If I started out with Wave, could I export the data to import into Xero at a later date?

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

                    Chelsea Krause

                    Hi Laura,

                    I’m glad to hear you found this post helpful! You absolutely can start with Wave and export the data when you’re ready to switch over to Xero.

                    You can export your company data from Wave via .csv or .xls. You’ll want to use .csv in order to import the information into Xero. With Xero, you can import a chart of accounts, contacts, items, invoices, credit notes, bills, bank statements, and more via .csv.

                    Xero has fairly strict .csv templates that you have to follow, so you most likely will need to edit your company information from Wave before you can import it successfully. The process will take some time, but it is definitely doable, and Xero offers great customer service if you need any help along the way.

                    I hope this helps and feel free to reach out if you have any further questions!

                    – Chelsea Krause

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

                      Jonathan Ephraim

                      Which software do you prefer as a writer?

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

                        Chelsea Krause

                        Hi Jonathon,

                        Honestly, I’m really fond of both programs. I like both Wave and Xero’s feature set and customer support. For me, the main kicker on which software is best depends on how much prior accounting knowledge you have and what size business you run. While I love the in-depth features of Xero (and while it has more features than Wave), the software can be pretty hard to learn if you aren’t experienced in accounting or business. Wave is much easier to use, but not quite as developed (though it does still have most everything I look for in a software as a writer).

                        When it comes down to it, I would choose to use Wave personally if I were running a small business and Xero if I were running a large business.

                        I hope this helps!

                        -Chelsea Krause

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

                          David

                          I’ve been using Xero and it works perfectly but I am a small business and not paying $30/month would be great! Is it possible to transfer all the data from Xero to Wave?

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

                            Chelsea Krause

                            Hi David,

                            Thanks for reaching out! Switching from Xero to Wave can be done, but it will take a bit of time. Xero lets you nearly all of your business data; however, Wave has limited importing capabilities (see our Xero and Wave reviews for more details). You can import your contacts and bank statements, but the rest of your data will have to be entered manually. Here is an article from Wave with instructions on how to transfer your data from an existing accounting software.

                            I hope this helps!

                            Best wishes,

                            -Chelsea Krause

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

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