Today’s freelancers, work-at-home parents, and small-business owners have more choices than ever when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping services. Gone are the days when you needed to collect receipts in a shoebox and deliver them to a professional bookkeeper each month.
Many available cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping applications are easy to use and inexpensive — perhaps even free — for businesses of all sizes. However, wading through the features of each application in search of the perfect bookkeeping solution can be daunting if you don’t know what you are looking for.
How to Determine Your Bookkeeping Needs
Given the vast array of options, it’s important to determine your needs before attempting to select the best bookkeeping app. So consider these questions before reviewing the available options:
- How many billable clients or customers does my business have, and how many total invoices do I generate each month?
- What is my monthly bookkeeping budget?
- Is a cloud-based bookkeeping app the best option for me, or am I more comfortable with a downloadable option?
- Does my business require other applications or integrations, such as customer relationship management, payroll, scheduling, e-commerce, inventory management, or time tracking?
- Do I need invoicing options in more than one currency?
- Do I need an app that accepts payment by check, PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, direct deposit, and credit card?
- How many users — including my employees and third parties like my tax professional — need access to the software?
- Do I need customizable templates to include my company header, or is a preset template okay?
- How comfortable am I with accounting and bookkeeping terminology?
- What other features do I require in an online bookkeeping app?
When reviewing bookkeeping and accounting apps for your business, note those that most closely meet your requirements. If you can’t find the perfect invoicing or accounting package, look for one with add-on options, such as easy integration with other applications or the option to increase the number of users for an additional charge.
Also, take into consideration your comfort with accounting. Some bookkeeping and accounting apps require familiarity with accounting and bookkeeping terminology, whereas others do not.
Multicurrency Online Bookkeeping Options
In today’s global environment, the demand for multicurrency billing is increasing. These options suit businesses that serve clients worldwide.
Currently used in more than 180 countries, Kashoo allows multicurrency invoicing and immediately shows you the exchange rate impact.
- Integrates with several other applications, including FreshBooks for invoicing, Square for point-of-sale tracking, Stripe for credit card processing, and several payroll apps.
- Automatically pulls transactions from your bank feed and sorts them into the right expense categories. According to Kashoo, they connect to over 5,000 banks and credit unions.
- Supports over 100 global currencies with daily exchange rate downloads and multiple tax jurisdictions.
- Includes a check printing option.
- Supports project cost tracking.
- Allows you to customize the design and layout of invoices.
- Free support via email, phone, and chat. You can also schedule a 30-minute call to get help with setup.
- You should be comfortable inputting financial transactions, reconciling your bank account, and have a basic grasp of bookkeeping terminology.
- Doesn’t allow automatic invoice reminders.
- No dashboard for visualizing key performance indicators (KPIs) and business performance.
- No app for Android users.
- TrulySmall Invoices. If all you need from your bookkeeping application is to create and send invoices, Kashoo offers TrulySmall Invoices. This free version provides customizable invoice templates for PDF, Word, and Excel. Then you can send and track invoices and collect payments via credit card or direct deposit.
- TrulySmall Accounting. This package costs $20 per month, and it’s a good option for very small businesses. With this version, you can send invoices, accept payments, track income and expenses, and create basic reports. However, it doesn’t integrate with payroll applications, so it isn’t a good option for businesses with employees.
- Kashoo. For $30 per month, Kashoo offers all the features of TrulySmall Accounting, plus multicurrency support, check printing, inventory tracking, project cost tracking, and payroll integrations.
Both TrulySmall Accounting and Kashoo offer a free 14-day trial so that you can try the application out for yourself.
Xero is a detailed and comprehensive accounting software program geared to international small businesses and freelancers.
- Bank feeds mean you can import and categorize bank statements, credit card accounts, and PayPal, Stripe, and TransferWise information automatically, which is a huge time saver. Over 100 banks globally connect to Xero.
- Supports more than 160 currencies in its Established plan.
- Updates foreign exchange rates hourly.
- Mobile-friendly interface and apps for Android and iOS.
- Dashboard displays account balances, outstanding invoices, unpaid bills, and total cash in versus total cash out.
- Integrates with more than 800 third-party apps, including Gusto for payroll, HubSpot for customer relationship management, Bill.com for paperless receivables payables, and Harvest for time tracking.
- If you aren’t familiar with accounting and bookkeeping acronyms and phrases, Xero may be overwhelming.
- Support is available over email or DIY via the website’s extensive support articles and videos. There’s no option to get live help for urgent issues over phone or chat.
Xero offers three different monthly plans:
- Early. For $11 per month, you can send up to 20 invoices per month, enter five bills, reconcile bank transactions, and capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc.
- Growing. For $32 per month, you get all of the features of the Early plan, but with unlimited invoices and bills.
- Established. For $62 per month, you get all of the features of the Growing plan, plus multicurrency support, project tracking, and the ability to manage employee expense reports.
No matter which Xero plan you choose, integrating with Gusto for payroll costs an extra $39 per month. All packages offer a free 30-day trial with no credit card required.
See our Xero review for more information.
Based in India, Invoicera is well-suited to small to midsize businesses with global services and customers.
- If one of the packages doesn’t meet your business’s needs, paid add-on services and integrations provide further flexibility to customize your online bookkeeping experience.
- Currently supporting more than 120 different currencies, Invoicera offers invoices in 11 languages and 30+ payment gateways.
- The 30-day free trial and free Starter plan do not require a credit card.
- Additional time tracking features are available.
- All plans let you automate recurring expenses and late payment reminders and customize and schedule invoices.
- Invoicing app available for iOS and Android.
- Help is only available by submitting a support ticket online or via chat. However, the chat feature appears to be offline during business hours in the Western Hemisphere. No customer support is available via phone or email.
- Doesn’t offer live bank feeds, so users have to spend more time entering transactions and classifying expenses.
Invoicera features four different monthly plans:
- Starter. The free option supports up to three clients. The features included in this plan are broad for a free plan. They include automating expenses and late payment reminders, unlimited time tracking, client and vendor portals, multicurrency and language support, and customizable invoice scheduling.
- Pro. The $15-per-month Pro plan offers all of the features of the Starter plan but supports up to 100 clients. You can also add a user profile for one staff member and require invoice approvals.
- Business. The $29-per-month Business plan increases the clients to 1,000 and allows you to add up to 10 additional users.
- Infinite. The $149-per-month Infinite plan includes unlimited clients and staff members. It also allows you to create batch PDF files.
You can save 20% off the price of a Pro, Business, or Infinite plan by opting for an annual subscription.
Full-Service Online Accounting Apps
Full-service cloud accounting apps provide accounting, bookkeeping, time management, and customer relationship management programs in various packages. They suit larger businesses and those requiring more detailed and customized invoicing than most.
4. Quickbooks Online
Quickbooks Online has four different plans to choose from — not including any of its on-premises solutions. With over 7 million customers globally, Quickbooks Online offers pretty much every accounting and bookkeeping option a small business needs.
- Runs on Windows or Mac operating systems.
- Supports hundreds of add-ons and integrations.
- Apps for Android and iOS have built-in mileage tracking and allow you to categorize trips as either business or personal miles easily.
- Users can take a photo of receipts with the app, and QuickBooks will automatically match and categorize the transaction.
- Features a built-in quarterly tax calculator to help small-business owners know how much money they need to set aside for taxes.
- Customers can pay online through their invoice via credit card, debit card, or ACH.
- Built-in payroll features allow you to manage accounting and payroll in one place.
- One of the more expensive options out there.
- Auto-categorization of bank transactions isn’t very accurate, so you may need to take some time to review and categorize expenses.
- Features like payroll, time tracking, credit card payment processing come with an extra monthly fee.
- There are many forum and blog complaints about poor customer service. Phone support is only available Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm Pacific time and Saturday from 6am to 3pm.
Small business owners can choose from Quickbooks Online’s four monthly packages. They all offer free 30-day trials.
- Self-Employed. The $15-per-month Quickbooks Self-Employed plan allows you to track income and expenses, digitally capture and organize receipts, estimate quarterly taxes, send invoices, accept payments, track miles and run basic reports. However, this limited version of Quickbooks Online is only for sole proprietors who file a Schedule C.
- Simple Start. For $25 per month, the Simple Start plan offers all the features of Quickbooks Self-Employed, plus cash flow management features, the ability to send estimates to customers, track sales tax, and manage 1099 contractors.
- Plus. The $70-per-month Plus package offers all the features available in Simple Start, plus time tracking, the ability to add up to five users, project profitability tracking, and inventory tracking.
- Advanced. Running $150 per month, the Advanced package offers all the features of Plus but allows you to add up to 25 users. You can also customize each user’s access according to their role in the company. It also includes business analytics tools, batch invoice and expense processing, and the ability to automate certain workflows. Advanced users also get access to a dedicated support team and on-demand online training.
If you want help setting up your company file from a bookkeeping expert, Quickbooks online charges a $50 fee for a one-time session. Adding payroll processing to your subscription also comes with an additional fee, ranging from $45 to $125 per month, plus $4 to $10 per employee each month, depending on the level of payroll and HR features you choose.
Quickbooks Online often has a promotion offering 50% off your subscription for three months, so you can save some money by signing up during a promotional period.
Canada-based FreshBooks is a comprehensive bookkeeping and time tracking system used by customers in over 160 countries.
- Pleasant and easy-to-use interface.
- Available as a mobile app for Android and iOS.
- Built-in time and mileage tracking
- Includes collaboration and team management tools.
- Fast and helpful customer support is available via phone or email.
- Users can track expenses, time, and billing and accept payments via credit card or bank transfer.
- Eliminated the free version for very small businesses and freelancers.
- Payroll features are only available for an additional monthly fee through Gusto.
- Adding additional users costs $10 per person per month, which can greatly increase the cost of your subscription if you need multiple employees using the software.
- Very little setup or onboarding help.
- Limited options for customizing your dashboard or invoices.
- Lite. The Lite version of FreshBooks costs $15 per month and allows you to send unlimited invoices to up to five clients. You can also track expenses, send client estimates, track sales tax, and accept payments via credit card and bank transfer.
- Plus. The Plus package costs $25 per month and gives users access to 50 clients. It also allows you to set up recurring billing and client retainers and track mileage using the mobile app for iOS and Android. The Plus plan also features double-entry accounting so that you can print a balance sheet and accounts receivable reports. You can also invite your accountant to access your account.
- Premium. The $50-per-month Premium plan includes all the features of the Plus plan but supports an unlimited number of clients, tracking accounts payable, and project profitability. It also offers more customization for email templates and email signatures.
- Select. The Select plan is for businesses with more complex needs. FreshBooks will customize pricing to meet your needs. It includes all the Premium features, plus a dedicated account manager, help migrating your accounting from another software platform, and the ability to remove FreshBooks branding from your client emails. You also get access to lower credit card transaction fees.
FreshBooks often offers promotional pricing for new users. Currently, the FreshBooks pricing page offers 60% off for six months, plus 10% off the annual subscription. Adding additional users will cost you an additional $10 per person per month.
See our FreshBooks review for more information.
Basic Online Invoicing Apps With Time Tracking or CRM Features
Often, home-based business owners or small-business enterprises don’t need all the features of a full accounting application. They require basic invoicing features and just one or two extras, such as time-tracking or customer relationship management features.
Here are a few simple options that won’t overwhelm novice users:
Harvest offers time tracking with online invoicing as an added feature.
- Time tracking app is available for both Android and iOS.
- Allows you to bill clients for time spent working or a flat fee per project, plus bill for mileage, travel expenses, and other costs.
- Includes team management features that allow you to see how people are spending their time.
- Integrates with a variety of other apps, including Asana, PayPal, Salesforce, and Slack.
- Not suited to product-based business.
- Limited reporting capabilities.
- If you need more than a couple of users, the monthly cost is more expensive than many competitors for the services offered.
Harvest offers two monthly plans:
- Free. The free plan has no time limit, but it’s limited to one user (referred to as “seats” in Harvest) and two projects.
- Pro. For $12 per month, you get an unlimited number of projects. However, each additional user costs $12 per month, so if you needed to track time for you and two contractors, the monthly cost would be $36 per month.
Harvest offers a free 30-day trial, and you can get 10% off by paying annually rather than monthly.
7. Square Invoices
Square Invoices offers a great all-in-one invoicing and payment processing solution that provides your customers with several payment options.
- Very easy to use with a well-organized interface.
- Allows customers to pay your invoices via credit or debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, check, cash, ACH bank transfer, or gift card.
- Send unlimited invoices and estimates for free, and only pay for processing when you accept debit or credit card payments.
- Integrates with many other e-commerce apps, including Wix, WooCommerce, WordPress, and BigCommerce.
- Payments can be transferred to your bank account as soon as the next business day or instantly for an additional fee.
- Limited customization of invoices.
- No multicurrency support.
Square Invoices is different from its competitors in that you can send unlimited invoices and estimates for free. You only pay for processing when a client pays by debit, credit, or ACH. There is no fee for accepting payments via check or cash.
Currently, the processing fees are:
- 2.9% + $0.30 per invoice paid online by card
- 1% of the transaction for ACH payments (subject to a $1 minimum per transaction)
Zoho is a great option for small to medium-sized businesses that need to invoice clients in multiple languages.
- Unlimited invoices and estimates.
- Easy to use.
- Supports invoicing in 14 languages.
- You can save a customer’s credit card information in Zoho and charge them automatically.
- Built-in time-tracking features.
- Zoho allows you to bill clients for reimbursable expenses.
- Mobile app for Android and iOS.
- Not a good option for businesses with inventory because it doesn’t integrate with Zoho Inventory.
- Limited integrations with other apps.
- Adding modules like accounting, inventory, customer relationship management, and expense tracking comes with additional fees.
- Free. The free version of Zoho Invoices supports one user and allows you to invoice up to five customers. It also features time tracking, customizable invoice templates, multicurrency support, and a customer portal.
- Basic. The Basic plan costs $9 per month and includes all the Free plan features but supports one user and up to 50 customers.
- Standard. For $19 per month, you can upgrade to the Standard plan, which allows three users and 500 customers. It also integrates with Twilio, a cloud-based communication platform.
- Professional. The $29-per-month Professional plan includes all the Standard plan features but supports 10 users and unlimited customers. You also get a custom domain, which looks more professional when customers pay invoices via the customer portal.
Invoice2go makes it easy for business owners on the go to create and send invoices via their mobile devices.
- Robust mobile app available for Android and iOS.
- Send invoices via email or text.
- Includes time tracking and appointment features.
- Highly customizable invoice templates.
- Offers a basic client portal where clients can go to view and pay invoices.
- Lacks features often included in invoicing apps, included project management tools.
- Limited integrations.
- No bank feeds, meaning you have to enter reimbursable expenses and assign them to invoices manually.
- Expensive for the limited features it includes.
Invoice2go offers four pricing plans:
- Lite. For $5.99 per month, you can send up to 50 invoices to five clients and accept payments via credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
- Standard. The Standard plan costs $9.99 per month. It supports up to 200 invoices to 25 clients. It also includes time and expense tracking.
- Advanced. For $23.99 per month, the Advanced Plan includes all the Standard plan features but supports 400 invoices, 100 clients, and two users.
- Unlimited. For $39.99 per month, you get unlimited invoices, clients, and users. You also get access to phone support, which isn’t available to lower-tier plans.
Invoice2go offers a free 30-day trial for all plans and discounts of up to 50% if you pay annually rather than monthly.
Free Online Bookkeeping
While many online accounting and bookkeeping applications offer a 30-day free trial, or in some cases a basic free monthly option, these apps are completely free.
10. Wave Accounting
A Toronto-based firm, Wave Accounting targets home-based businesses, work-at-home parents, freelancers, real estate agents, and other small businesses with few staff members.
- Double-entry accounting features such as journal entries, balance sheets, a general ledger, and income statements.
- Connects to unlimited bank and credit card accounts so that transactions will appear in your bookkeeping software automatically.
- User-friendly interface and navigation tools.
- Multicurrency support.
- Run multiple businesses in one account.
- Limited invoice customization options.
- No dedicated time-tracking features.
- The mobile app (available for iOS and Android) offers limited functionality.
- Accepting credit, debit card, and ACH payments incurs fees.
- Payroll features aren’t as robust as other solutions and come with a minimum monthly fee of $20, plus $6 per employee and $6 per independent contractor per month.
Another completely free app based in Turkey, Akaunting offers a variety of built-in features for small businesses.
- Easy-to-use interface you can use on a computer, tablet, or phone.
- Available in 48 languages.
- Integrates with various third-party applications for customer relationship management, e-commerce, inventory management, project management, and time tracking.
- No mobile app.
- Support is only available via email — not via phone or chat.
- Many customers have posted online reviews complaining about bugs, poor customer service, and inadequate report writing features.
Life is a lot easier for small-business owners who use cloud-based accounting software. You don’t have to buy expensive software, download it to your computer, and purchase expensive upgrades.
Whether you’re a freelancer or a small-business owner with several employees, you can find anything from basic invoicing to more complex accounting platforms that integrate with other apps you use in your business.
Remember, technology and software change quickly, especially cloud-based software, so be sure to visit the vendor sites directly to get the most current feature and pricing information before choosing the best one for your business.
And don’t feel overwhelmed by the choices. Decide what features you absolutely must have, identify your budget, and spend some time researching your options.