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The Best Accounting and Invoice-Generating Software for 2022

By
Mike Berner
,
business.com Staff
| Updated
Aug 01, 2022

Our team has compared the best accounting software for 2022. See up-to-date comparisons, reviews and costs for the top-rated accounting programs.
Best for Small Businesses
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Plans starting at $25 per month
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Online bookkeeper available
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Robust app integration
Best for Invoicing
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Plans starting at $15 per month
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Instant invoices
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Automated business processes
Best ERP Tools
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Custom pricing
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Built-in ERP features
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Automated accounts payable
Best for Process Automation
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Plans starting at $15 per month
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Quick invoicing
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Support for online payments
Best for Accounts Payable
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Unlimited users
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Tracked payments
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QuickBooks integration
Our team has compared the best accounting software for 2022. See up-to-date comparisons, reviews and costs for the top-rated accounting programs.
 

The Best Accounting Software Providers

Accounting software plays a critical role in keeping your business financially sound. The best accounting software fits within your budget, is easy to use, and integrates with other programs and applications you are already using. To help you sift through hundreds of options, we checked out more than 300 accounting software solutions. We pored over their features, prices, fees and reputations to come up with our list of the 12 best picks for various types of businesses.

How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
306
Considered
31
Researched
11
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

Accounting software Best use case Editor’s score Base price Invoicing and payments? Number of clients supported on base plan Free trial Mobile app? Third-party integrations? Reporting? Automated accounting tools?
QuickBooks Online Small businesses 9.4/10 $15 per month Yes Unlimited 30 days Yes Yes Yes Yes
FreshBooks Invoicing 9.1/10 $15 per month Yes 5 30 days Yes Yes Yes Yes
Zoho Books Process automation 9.2/10 $9 per month Yes 10 30 days Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oracle NetSuite ERP tools 9.2/10 Custom quote Yes N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes Yes
ZarMoney Report generation 9/10 $15 per month Yes Unlimited 2 weeks Yes Yes Yes No
GoDaddy Online merchants 8.4/10 $4.99 per month Yes Unlimited No Yes Yes No No
Wave Financial Free software 8.6/10 Free Yes Unlimited Free version Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sage Business Cloud Accounting Customization 9/10 $10 per month Invoicing Unlimited 30 days Yes Yes Yes Yes
Xero Growing businesses 9.1/10 $12 per month Yes Unlimited (monthly limit of 20 invoices) 30 days Yes Yes Yes Yes
Melio Accounts payable software 8/10 Free Payments to your vendors N/A Free version No QuickBooks No No
Plooto Scaling up 8.5/10 $25 per month Yes 10 30 days No QuickBooks and Xero Yes Yes
Neat Document scanning 8.2/10 $24 per month Yes N/A 14 days Yes QuickBooks Yes Yes

Our Reviews

Intuit QuickBooks Online: Best for Small Businesses

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QuickBooks Online has valuable accounting software features, including professional invoicing, expense tracking and cash flow management.
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QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper connects you to accountants when you need expert help.
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You can't upgrade from the Self-Employed plan. If you think your business will grow, you may want to choose the Simple Start, Plus or Advanced plan.

With its feature-rich cloud software, wide variety of integrations, affordable pricing and reputation, Intuit’s QuickBooks Online is our choice for the best accounting software for small businesses. QuickBooks has served small businesses for more than 20 years, and for good reason: When you choose this accounting software, you get all the tools you need to support your operations now and in the future.

Editor’s score: 9.4/10

Even QuickBooks’ basic plan includes lots of features that other vendors charge extra for, including professional invoicing and the ability to accept payments, track expenses and manage your business’s cash flow. Higher-priced plans also include batch invoices, business analytics, a dedicated support team, on-demand online training, and integrations with Bill.com, Salesforce and HubSpot. With all of QuickBooks’ plans, you can snap photos of receipts and link expenses from your mobile device, integrate with several apps and access customer support.

Another key feature of QuickBooks that makes it ideal for small businesses is the ability to connect with a live accountant. Cloud accounting software automates many tasks, but sometimes you need an accounting professional. With QuickBooks’ Live Bookkeeper, you get access to a bookkeeper who sets up the software for you, categorizes transactions, reconciles accounts, closes books monthly and runs detailed reports.

Cleanup is a pay-per-use feature that you can use to reconcile historical accounts and categorize historical transactions. Pricing for the live bookkeeping service depends on your needs and requires an initial consultation (which is free) with a QuickBooks representative.

For small business owners who already have a trusted accountant, QuickBooks makes it easy (and free) for them to collaborate with you. All the accountant needs to do is accept an invitation; meanwhile, you totally control who can access your business records.

QuickBooks Online also offers a spreadsheet sync tool designed to reduce manual data entry and reduce complications that may arise from CSV imports. Users can connect their QuickBooks data directly to Microsoft Excel. This allows them to create customized reports and analyses, as well as perform bulk uploads and edits. Conversely, this lets users bulk upload and edit transactions from Excel back to QuickBooks.

QuickBooks offers a full suite of features and functionality at affordable price points, but that’s not the only reason we selected it as the best accounting software for small businesses. We also like its reputation and adoption rate. If you work with an accountant or accounting consultant, they are likely already familiar with QuickBooks. The same can’t always be said of other accounting software programs that we reviewed.

Read Intuit QuickBooks Online Review

FreshBooks Accounting Software: Best Accounting Software for Invoicing

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You can create professional invoices, allow customers to pay invoices online, and send automatic reminders about bills.
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Accounting features include time and expense tracking as well as automated bank and credit card entries.
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It can get pricey if you want to add several team members to your account.

FreshBooks makes it quick and easy to create professional invoices, get paid quickly, and track down past-due payments, but that just scratches the surface of what it can do. With competitive pricing, robust invoicing capabilities and other accounting features, FreshBooks is the best accounting software for invoicing.

Editor’s score: 9.1/10

Getting paid on time is a big pain point for small businesses. Remembering to bill clients, let alone chase down past-due bills, can quickly fall by the wayside as you focus on running your business. FreshBooks accounting software removes a lot of those challenges with its feature-rich invoicing capabilities.

Take the creation of invoices, for example. With FreshBooks, you can create professional invoices customized with your logo and message. Your clients can opt to pay their bills through the invoice, reducing the time it takes to get paid.

Do you have clients who tend to pay late? FreshBooks lets you create reminders and send alerts to customers when bills are due or past due. It also monitors the status of invoices after you send them, alerting you when customers receive and view them. With FreshBooks’ invoice generator, you can add tracked time and expenses to invoices.

Invoicing features aside, FreshBooks includes many other features that small business owners will appreciate. One of the best additional tools is its time tracking. Small business owners can track the time they spend working on a project, connect a bank account and credit card to eliminate the need for manual entries, and benefit from automatic updates. We found that FreshBooks’ time-tracking feature sets the service apart from competitors that require manual entry.

FreshBooks also stands out on the reporting front. You can run profit and loss reports, sales tax summaries, accounts aging and expense reports, invoice details, payment collected details, and time-entry details. After running reports, you can email them, print them or export them to Excel.

FreshBooks supports more than 80 apps and integrations, allowing you to connect this accounting software to other business services and systems that you already use. If you have a larger business and want several users to access your account, FreshBooks may get pricey. However, for most small businesses that send a lot of invoices, FreshBooks is a standout.

Read FreshBooks Accounting Software Review

Oracle NetSuite Accounting Software: Best ERP Tools

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Oracle NetSuite's feature-rich accounting software also offers ERP functionality.
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The accounts receivable system automates the delivery and collection of invoices, while the accounts payable solutions automate payments.
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You must contact a sales representative to learn how much the software will cost for your company.

NetSuite is a full-featured accounting and ERP program that enables you to manage all aspects of your small business – billing, reporting, manufacturing – from one dashboard. NetSuite offers a full accounts receivable service that automates the delivery and collection of invoices, as well as an accounts payable solution that automates payments. Another attractive aspect of NetSuite is its tax tools, which provide business owners with domestic and global tax management. Taxes can be processed easily according to local laws, removing a lot of the guesswork. The engine supports all currencies and exchange rates.

Editor’s score: 9.2/10

NetSuite also makes it easy to manage cash flow via its cash management feature, which provides you with insight and visibility to optimize cash flow and stay up to date on your company’s bank accounts. Business owners will appreciate NetSuite’s payment management system, which centralizes and simplifies payments. The planning and budgeting feature automates, processes and unifies the data, making it easier to create budgets and forecasts, model what-if scenarios, and generate reports on different aspects of your business. You can set access permissions to ensure you’re in control of your business’s finances at all times.

In addition to all of the accounting features, NetSuite offers a bevy of ERP tools to manage finances, handle orders, manage production and supply chains, and plan for the future.

While NetSuite may have too many features for microbusinesses or self-employed individuals, the software’s capabilities can help larger small businesses with lots of moving parts and complex business functions. That is why it’s our pick for best accounting software with ERP functionality.

Read Oracle NetSuite Accounting Software Review

Zoho Books: Best Accounting Software for Process Automation

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Zoho Books is available on iOS and Android devices, allowing you to accomplish accounting tasks from anywhere.
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You can track bills, manage vendor credits and add reporting tags to transactions.
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The highest tier limits you to 25,000 transactions per month.

Small business owners with few employees don’t need a complicated accounting program. They need to send invoices, automate payments and reminders, and track expenses and projects – and they need to do it on the cheap. Zoho Books checks all of those boxes and then some, making it our best pick for automating processes.

Editor’s score: 9.2/10

Zoho Books is an intuitive accounting software program that has a ton of features at an affordable price. It has mobile apps for phones, tablets and smartwatches, allowing you to accomplish accounting tasks from almost anywhere. We like that you can create and send invoices directly from the mobile app. Additionally, Zoho’s client portal allows customers to view and pay invoices online.

Zoho offers three pricing plans that range between $15 per month for three users and $60 per month for 10 users. There is also a free version available for a single user, albeit with reduced technical support and a limit of 1,000 invoices per year.

Zoho Books stands out beyond its pricing, thanks to its ability to automate lots of accounting tasks. Estimates and sales orders can quickly be converted into a retainer or recurring invoices. You can schedule when your customers are billed and send payment reminders. Linking your account with your payment processor enables you to accept invoice payments directly through Zoho Books.

Ultimately, we found that Zoho’s built-in automation tools stood out the most among the accounting software that we reviewed. The ability to eliminate tedious, error-prone tasks makes Zoho our best pick for automating processes.

Read Zoho Books Review

Melio: Best for Accounts Payable

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Melio doesn't charge any fees for bank transfers.
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You can pay over 7,000 vendors directly with Melio.
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Melio integrates with QuickBooks only.

Sometimes, all you want is a simple way to manage your accounts payable and receivables. You don’t want an overly complicated or costly system, just one that can send and track invoices and ensure you get paid. That’s where Melio and its free accounts payable software comes in. It’s a free, cloud-based software program that lets you schedule payments and manage your bills, making it our best pick for free accounts payable software.

Editor’s score: 8/10

With Melio, it’s free to make payments via bank transfer, while credit card payments cost 2.9%. You can also accept customer payments via card or bank transfer at no cost to you. What sets Melio apart from other free accounts payable software is its ease of use. We found that adding vendors and scheduling payments from Melio’s network of 7,000 vendors can be done within minutes. 

You first enter a vendor’s details manually, upload a file or take a photo of an invoice to get the payee in your account. Then you can schedule payments for the date and amount you want, with vendors receiving either a check or bank transfer. Melio integrates directly with a large network of prominent utility, telecom and other billers, making it easy to schedule automatic payments. This is a key feature that sets Melio apart from other software programs that we reviewed.

We also like Melio’s integration with QuickBooks. QuickBooks is powerful alone, but when combined with Melio’s payment data, it can provide deeper insights into cash flow and automation of accounts payable.

Melio may not be well suited for large companies, but it’s ideal for small businesses in many industries looking for a free solution to manage payments. Add integration with QuickBooks to the mix, and it’s easy to see why Melio is our best pick for free accounts payable software.

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GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping: Best for Online Merchants

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GoDaddy integrates sales data from Amazon, Etsy, PayPal and other platforms. You can generate reports based on real-time information.
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GoDaddy's pricing is very affordable for small online businesses.
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Created with sole proprietors and LLCs in mind, GoDaddy doesn't include all of the bells and whistles.

E-commerce is exploding across the globe, requiring many businesses to manage both online and offline sales. Having an accounting program that brings it all together is important, and that’s where GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping stands out. Not only can you integrate this accounting software with your sales data from Amazon, Etsy and PayPal, but you can also send and track invoices, accept online payments, and run reports – all at an affordable price point. In our judgment, GoDaddy is the best pick for online merchants.

Editor’s score: 8.4/10

Online merchants need more than basic accounting software; they also must track their sales from multiple channels and view them in one central location. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping offers that ability and more. With this easy-to-use accounting software, you can import your data from Amazon, eBay, Etsy, PayPal and other platforms, and generate reports on income, expenses, profits and losses using real-time data. That gives you an accurate picture of your online sales. We also selected GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping because there is nothing to download or update; you can sign in from any device to access the accounting software in the cloud.

Another reason GoDaddy is the software we picked for online merchants is that the plans (there are three tiers) start at $4.99 per month. That enables even the smallest online merchant to benefit from the accounting software.

Small business owners need an accounting software solution that is easy to install, use and manage. It needs to speed up accounting processes and help them stay on top of their tax obligations. GoDaddy delivers on that front too. Designed with sole proprietors and LLCs in mind, GoDaddy created its accounting software to automatically categorize transactions and track estimated tax payments due and sales tax collected. You can send reminders and create tax sheets as well. These features, however, are only available with the Essentials and Premium plans.

Compared to other alternatives that we reviewed, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is rather light on features. In some respects, that could be a strength because you won’t get overwhelmed with needless tools. If you operate a larger business with multiple employees, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping may not be for you. But for online merchants who want to send invoices, track expenses and sales, and get paid quickly, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is a standout, which is why it’s our best pick for online merchants.

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Xero: Best for Growing Businesses

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Xero offers more than 1,000 app integrations.
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Email and live chat support are available 24/7.
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Not all accountants are familiar with Xero.

Every business starts small. But as a company grows, its financial needs change. Often you want an accounting program that you can stick with over the long haul, and that’s where Xero comes in. Xero’s pricing and plans are based on size, making it the best accounting software for growing businesses.

Editor’s score: 9.1/10

Xero offers more than 1,000 integrations with existing business software applications. You may require more apps as your business grows, so this point of differentiation is important to keep in mind. Xero’s software can also run more than 50 reports, including profit and loss statements, aged receivables, and a general ledger. Xero recently added a slew of new reporting options that offer greater customization and flexibility. These tools let business users and bookkeepers tailor their reporting experience to the needs of their organization. You can print and archive reports, as well as export them as PDF, Excel or Google Sheets files. We also like that you can manage both customers and suppliers with this accounting software and organize them into groups.

Xero is easy to use, which is another reason we chose it as best for growing businesses. You don’t want to start your business with complex and cumbersome accounting software that takes forever to learn. Xero’s interactive dashboard displays graphs and charts for key information, such as invoices due, bills you need to pay and a history of your bank account balance. There’s also a button that tells you how many items you need to reconcile. The information is displayed on movable cards that you can arrange to your liking. The cards also have quick buttons for tasks like creating an invoice or a new bill.

Whether your business is in the early stages or growing, Xero has a plan and features that will meet your needs. Compared with other alternatives that we reviewed, Xero is perhaps the best-known and most widely used software outside of QuickBooks (although more so internationally than in the U.S.). The software is easy to use and adapts alongside your business, making it our best pick for growing businesses.

Read Xero Review

ZarMoney: Best Accounting Software for Report Generation

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ZarMoney offers over 40 built-in reports.
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The software connects with more than 9,600 banks in the U.S. and Canada.
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Some cash-basis reports are not available.

Small business owners need access to reports and data on their operations, which is exactly what ZarMoney provides. The software includes over 40 built-in reports and many more customizable options, which is why it’s our pick for best accounting software for report generation. The number of insights provided by Zarmoney exceeds even those of popular software packages such as QuickBooks.

Editor’s score: 9/10

ZarMoney is an accounting software program that offers plans for entrepreneurs, small businesses and enterprises. It sticks to a simple pricing structure, charging a flat rate depending on the number of users. It offers three plans that range from $15 per month for one user to $350 per month for 30 or more users. 

With the accounts receivable tool, you can also manage estimates and sales orders, offer customers payment terms and early payment discounts, text or email customers order alerts, and automatically enforce credit limits at order entry and invoicing. ZarMoney supports credit card payments online and provides an array of payment management and tracking services.

The software connects with more than 9,600 financial institutions in the U.S. and Canada. ZarMoney automatically imports bank transactions daily for you to approve or edit. The accounting software also supports batch deposits of checks, cash and credit card sales; calculates sales tax; and transfers funds between banks.

We selected ZarMoney as the best for report generation, but there’s so much more to like about this accounting software. With this cloud-based provider, you also get robust accounting, inventory and productivity features at a competitive rate.

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Plooto: Best Accounting Software for Scaling Up

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Plooto unifies payments, approvals, reconciliation, and reporting, and you can automate your accounts payable and receivable.
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You can add a vendor or supplier payee in seconds via the Plooto Network.
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It syncs with QuickBooks and Xero only.
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As the old saying goes, time is money. In order to scale up your business, you will need to spend less time on tedious tasks such as accounts payable and receivable. Plooto addresses these needs at an affordable price point, which is why it’s our best pick for scaling up your business. 

Editor’s score: 8.5/10

Plooto is an all-in-one payment platform that provides greater financial control and simplicity by unifying payments, approvals, reconciliation and reporting. Plooto’s smart approval workflows and secure electronic payments reduce errors, expedite your accounts payable process and improve how vendors get paid. It also provides end-to-end accounts payable and accounts receivable automation. The software is designed for small and midsize businesses, as well as accountants and bookkeepers.

Plooto lets you use the same system to pay anyone, even if that company or individual is outside the U.S. Adding vendors as a payee takes seconds with the Plooto Network of 120,000 suppliers and vendors. Search for your payee in the Plooto Network, and then add them to your account with one click. If you can’t find a particular vendor, you can add them as a payee in minutes, saving you countless hours of performing repetitive accounts payable tasks. 

Plooto also speeds up accounts receivable. You can set up the software to automatically send clients invoices with instructions on how to make a payment. When the payment is received, it’s automatically reconciled. Through its Credit Card Acceptance feature, customers can pay invoices via credit cards, enabling you to get paid in as little as two business days. Plooto charges a flat rate of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for credit card payments.

We like that Plooto is more transparent with its pricing compared to some other alternatives that we reviewed. Plooto charges a flat rate of $25 per month for 10 free domestic payments. After 10 payments, you’re charged 50 cents per domestic transaction. International transactions cost $9.99 per transaction, while check payments are $1.99 each. Plooto charges $3 for CRA payments. Plooto doesn’t cap the number of users, approvers, customers or vendors. It offers unlimited bank connections and free accountant/bookkeeper collaboration.

Plooto isn’t a traditional accounting software program, but if you want to optimize your accounts payable and accounts receivable and maximize cash flow, Plooto is worth a deep dive. It automates many accounting processes, integrates with QuickBooks and Xero, and is priced competitively, making it our best pick for scaling up. 

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Wave Financial: Best Free Accounting Software

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Wave can link to your bank and credit card accounts to track your transactions automatically.
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It offers standard bookkeeping services.
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Compared to other accounting software's selections, Wave's app integrations are limited.

If you’re a freelancer or the owner of a small business that doesn’t store much inventory, Wave’s accounting solution is ideal for you. It offers ample features and is easy to use, even for those who are new to accounting software, making it our best pick for a free option. 

Editor’s score: 8.6/10

With Wave, there are no monthly or annual fees or software license, although add-on services do cost extra. This gives you the flexibility to start off with no upfront cost and add features only as you need them. 

Wave’s free accounting software does not cap the number of transactions, invoices you generate or users who have account access. If you want to accept invoice payments online, Wave charges a flat 2.9% plus 30 cents per credit card transaction, or 1% (with a $1 minimum fee) for ACH bank transfers.

For $129 per month, you can get Wave’s Bookkeeping service, where you get a dedicated bookkeeper who keeps your financials up to date. If you need hands-on training, Wave offers Accounting Coaching, which costs $249 for a 120-minute session.

Just because Wave is a free service doesn’t mean it skimps on features. It holds its own compared to many paid software applications, automating many billing aspects and saving small business owners’ precious time. For example, you can create and schedule recurring invoices and track payments. There are automatic payment reminders and automatic syncing with your bank and credit card accounts. Wave also supports PayPal, enabling you to sync that transaction data. 

Wave isn’t shabby on the reporting side either. You can run dozens of different reports, track expenses, upload receipt images, and manage vendors and bills. Wave integrates with Etsy, PayPal, Shoeboxed and Zapier, which is fewer than other alternatives that we reviewed. However, you can connect with hundreds of third-party apps through Zapier.

Even though it’s a free program, Wave offers the standard bookkeeping services of many paid alternatives on the market. Small businesses strapped for cash should take a look at Wave, as it may be a great solution to save money without hurting your accounting practices.

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Sage Business Cloud Accounting: Best Accounting Software for Customization

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Sage doesn't limit the number of users who can access the software.
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It has 24/7 support, including live chat with Sage accounting experts and one-on-one sessions.
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You can accept payments via invoices only through Sage's integration with Stripe.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting is a low-cost, cloud-based program that lets you create and send invoices, track what you’re owed, and automate bank reconciliations. At $10 per month, it’s an affordable accounting tool that helps you stay on top of all of your accounting tasks. For those with developer skills, Sage offers extensive options for tailoring the software to your needs, making it our best pick for customization.

Editor’s score: 9/10

Freelancers and self-employed individuals don’t need a lot from their accounting software. They want to bill their customers and get paid quickly. Sage Business Cloud Accounting makes that possible for only $10 per month.

With the Sage Accounting Start plan, you can create, track and send invoices as well as automatically reconcile bank entries. If you need more than that, the Sage Accounting plan enables business owners to send quotes, estimates and invoices; forecast cash flow; and manage purchase invoices. For the first three months, you can use Sage to snap and post receipts to your account. The Sage Accounting plan supports unlimited users and costs $25 per month. Sage also has a free trial (30 days), so you can test-drive it before committing. We also like that you can cancel at any time. You aren’t stuck in a long-term contract, but you must give notice to avoid any issues.

Sage’s program is cloud-based and easy to set up; the learning curve isn’t steep. Sage integrates with Stripe, enabling users to add a “Pay Now” button on invoices. Freelancers can automate many accounting and invoicing tasks, including the auto-posting of expenses and payments, sending and tracking invoices, and setting reminders and alerts.

Sage offers 24/7 support via chat and live Q&A sessions with Sage Success Coaches Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. You can also schedule one-on-one sessions with a Sage Accounting expert online. Additionally, it’s easy to extend Sage’s capabilities, thanks to its app marketplace. Sage integrates with several apps, including AutoEntry, Draycir, Avalara and Credit Hound.

With accounting software, one size doesn’t fit all, which is where Sage really outclasses competitors. If you hire a software developer, you can tailor a Sage solution that better meets your individual requirements. That makes Sage our best pick for customization.

Read Sage Business Cloud Accounting Review

Neat Accounting Software: Best Accounting Software for Document Scanning

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Neat offers extensive text-parsing and document-scanning features.
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It includes standard bookkeeping and invoicing abilities.
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Neat is more expensive than some alternatives.

Neat is accounting software that provides all the bookkeeping and invoicing basics. Originally, though, Neat was best known for its text-parsing technology. The company deftly incorporates financial document management into its accounting offerings, making it our best pick for document scanning. 

Editor’s score: 8.2/10

Despite the rise of electronic recordkeeping, some business owners – either by habit or necessity – may still deal with large amounts of physical paper. Neat can help declutter your financial records with the ability to scan files, capture images on a smartphone and upload files from a computer. The software’s text parsing technology then matches up data from your bank records to the physical paper records, saving huge amounts of time and hassle from errors. 

Additionally, Neat can generate a slew of profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and transaction reports. You can also create custom reports for expenses, sales tax and tax categories. Neat further simplifies workflow through suggested receipt-matching and tracking which tasks are still open. As for invoicing, Neat offers customizable templates and online payment through WePay. Credit card processing fees are 2.9% to 3.4% plus 30 cents per transaction, and bank transfers cost 1%. 

Neat offers robust customer support, including an app FAQ help center as well as email, chat and phone support with a Neat Expert. There is a 14-day free trial, and pricing comes in at $24 per month, a bit on the higher end for the software that we reviewed. But for that price, you can access a set of bookkeeping, invoicing and document management features that can’t be found elsewhere in one software package. 

Business owners who deal with large amounts of paper will find a lot of value in Neat’s unlimited file storage, high-level encryption, mobile access and in-person support. For that, we rate Neat as the best accounting and invoicing software for document scanning. 

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Accounting Software Pricing

Most accounting software programs have an array of plans to fit your business’s needs and budget. The plans typically differ in price, features and number of users who can access the software.

A subscription pricing model, which has become the industry standard, bills you monthly or annually for services. With this model, you have access to all the software’s updates as soon as they are released. Depending on the service plan you choose, subscription prices range from $5 to $60 per month.

Be wary of hidden fees, though. They lurk in things such as accepting payments online, software integrations and technical support services. To avoid overpaying for features you don’t need, make a list of what you’re looking for in an accounting system. As with grocery shopping, creating a list will prevent you from overspending.

Some accounting programs are free, such as Wave. When searching for accounting software, take advantage of free trials and demos. This will help you see how easy the software is to use and how well suited it is for your company.

Buying Guide

Types of Accounting Software for Business

Accounting software comes in different flavors, from spreadsheets to cloud software. What makes the most sense for your business depends on how big it is, the complexity of your accounting and what you are hoping to achieve.

Spreadsheets

Made popular by Microsoft and Google, spreadsheets are digital documents that are used to arrange data in rows and columns. You can apply calculations and move around data with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are a cheap option, popular with many microbusinesses and sole proprietors. However, if you want to do more than keep data organized and categorized logically, you may want to consider accounting software.

TipTip: Learn more about the best spreadsheet software in our 2022 guide.

Commercial Accounting Software

Designed with small and midsize businesses in mind, commercial accounting software enables you to manage your books, send invoices, accept payments and perform other business functions. Examples of commercial accounting software include QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Xero. The vendors typically charge monthly fees to access their accounting software in the cloud.

Enterprise Accounting Software

Large companies have more complex needs. Enterprise accounting software is designed for large businesses and typically integrates different aspects of a business in one central location.

Custom Accounting Software

Although it isn’t very common, some vendors create custom accounting software for their clients. Alternatively, a company can create its own custom accounting program if it can’t find something suitable on the market. This can be costly and isn’t the best option for many small businesses.

Key Features of Accounting Software

There are many aspects of accounting software that make it a useful tool. Most online accounting programs offer accounts receivable, accounts payable, banking and reporting features. Some even include tools for inventory management, project management, time tracking and payroll. Here are some core elements of accounting software you should look for.

Bank Feed

This feature allows you to connect to your business bank and credit card accounts to receive a daily update of your transactions. This saves you the time it would take to manually upload statements into the system, and it gives you a daily overview of your accounts. This feature also assists with reconciliation, making it a small daily task rather than a monthly ordeal.

Dashboard

When you log in to your account, you’ll be greeted by a dashboard with an overview of your account activity and key metrics, such as cash flow, profit and loss, account balances, expenses, accounts payable and receivable, and sales. Some software lets you customize what you see first by rearranging the information.

Online Invoicing

If your business sends invoices, the ability to email them and accept online payments can help you get paid faster. Some accounting programs integrate with third-party payment processors, while other vendors require you to use their in-house processing services.

Recurring Invoices

With this feature, you can schedule the software to automatically generate and send invoices for recurring charges, such as subscriptions. You can choose how frequently invoices are sent – daily, weekly, monthly or annually – and indicate whether there’s an end date to the billing. Many accounting software providers don’t have recurring invoice functionality (we’ve noted in our reviews which ones do).

Automatic Payment Reminders

This feature reminds your customers about upcoming and past-due payments. Some have sample email text you can use as is or customize. You can then choose when you want the reminders to be sent. Some programs also give you the option of sending thank-you emails to customers after you receive their payments. 

Bank Reconciliation

Smart reconciliation tools identify potential matches between your bank transactions and the bills and invoices you’ve entered into the software, saving you the hours it would take to sift through records. You can then approve or deny the suggested matches. The best products we reviewed suggest potential matches as you reconcile your accounts, and a few also include a reconciliation feature on their mobile apps.

Financial Reporting

Every accounting program generates financial reports; some are more basic than others, and some require you to subscribe to a higher plan for advanced reporting. If you need specific types of financial reports, make sure they’re included in the program and plan you choose. Detailed reports can help you interpret your financial data to make informed business decisions.

Mobile Apps

Not every accounting and invoicing program has mobile apps, but the best ones do. There is, however, quite a bit of variance in app capabilities. Some can capture receipts for expense tracking only, several allow you to create and send invoices, and others have almost every feature the web-based software does. As mobile work becomes increasingly convenient, it’s worth verifying that a company offers a mobile app with its software.

Integrations

The ability to connect your accounting software to the other business programs you use saves you the time of manually transferring data from one system to another. Highly rated payroll services, payment processing platforms, top POS systems and customer relationship management software are some popular types of integrations you may want to look for. Integration with systems you already use also cuts down on training time for employees. 

Tracking for Billable Hours

If you’re a consultant or your business is an agency that bills clients by the hour, you want accounting software that allows you to track and bill your time or integrates with the time-tracking program you already use. This is an especially important feature for freelancers.

Inventory Management

If you have a retail or distribution business, you’ll want accounting software that tracks inventory and helps with purchase ordering. You may need to subscribe to a top-tier plan to get this feature. If you need more advanced inventory features, the best inventory software options feature a dedicated inventory management system.

Project-Based Billing

Firms, freelancers and consultants who work with clients on projects or jobs should look for accounting software that helps them track tasks and budgets. The software should allow you to invoice customers for tracked time and rebill them for project expenses.

Support for Multiple Businesses

Several programs we reviewed allow you to add more than one business to your account, though some of them charge extra for this convenience.

Benefits of Accounting Software for Business

Properly managing your business’s finances is no small task. The right accounting software can take a lot of pain out of the process. Here are several key advantages to using accounting software.

Organized Finances 

An individual may be able to manage their personal finances on the fly, but haphazardly recording transactions and relying on bank statements won’t cut it for a business owner. But small businesses need to keep all their finances organized to prevent any negative surprises. Accounting software can help achieve that. It organizes and stores your financial data in one central location. Many time-consuming accounting processes can be automated, eliminating the likelihood of mistakes.

TipTip: Create an accounting schedule to avoid missed payments. Check out our article for more tips to manage your small business’s finances.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Accounting software doesn’t have to be one of your biggest expenses; there are several price points that meet the needs and budgets of small businesses. We’ve highlighted free solutions too. Many are easy to set up and don’t have a steep learning curve, which means you can quickly learn the software and start managing your business’s finances.

Compliance With Tax Laws

Trying to configure business taxes can be extremely overwhelming for small business owners. Accounting software takes the guesswork out of filing taxes. Many of these programs calculate sales tax and prepare and file a variety of tax forms. That frees you up to concentrate on running your business.

Did you know?Did you know? The Section 179 deduction allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying assets they financed during the tax year. Learn more ways small businesses can save on taxes.

Accounting Software FAQs

What is accounting software?

Accounting software is a digital system that helps you manage your money. Overseeing your business finances is very different from managing your personal finances and requires different actions. Accounting software records and analyzes your company’s financial data. It also tracks transactions, generates reports, manages customer and vendor contacts, creates purchase orders, tracks inventory levels, bills customers, and monitors account balances. Accounting software helps you put your financial data into a structured system and understand how your company is doing.  

Why should you use accounting software?

Accounting software is an efficient system that saves time and reduces human error. It automates accounting software functions, which eliminates the problem of inefficient and inaccurate data entry. You can also connect the software to your business bank or credit card accounts. 

Important reports and financial statements, like profit and loss statements and balance sheets, can be created from accounting programs. This is helpful when you’re seeking funding from an investor. Not only does accounting software help you manage your cash flow, but it also streamlines financial tasks and puts everything you need to do in one place. This reduces confusion and keeps you abreast of how your company is doing.

Who can benefit from using accounting software?

Any company looking for help managing its finances should use an accounting tool. Especially for small business owners, it makes managing your finances easier by automating tasks and reduces human error in your data entry. Accounting software also helps you comply with local, state and federal tax laws.

This software is useful for businesses looking to save time or set up a bookkeeping or accounting system. Accounting software lays the groundwork for that. It also helps manage your tax filing and business taxes. 

Do you need online bookkeeping software instead of accounting software?

The term “online bookkeeping software” is frequently used interchangeably with “online accounting software” in the small business market. The best online accounting software applications have features for keeping the books and analyzing your business’s financial health. There is a difference, however, between a bookkeeper and an accountant. For our reviews, we focused on solutions that offer the ability to analyze financial data rather than solutions with basic bookkeeping options.

Is online accounting software secure?

The best online accounting software uses bank-grade data encryption to protect your account. Further, it should either require or allow you to opt in to two-factor authentication, giving you another layer of security. Because the software is in the cloud, your data is safe, even if your computer is stolen or destroyed. 

If you have employees or an accountant accessing your accounting program, you can control the information they see by setting user permissions. The best accounting programs include a detailed history or audit log that shows which changes were made to your records, on what date and at what time by which user, giving you additional insight and control over any changes or entries made in your accounting program.

Is there free accounting software?

Yes. Some accounting software providers offer their services for free. Wave offers free accounting software and provides an array of key features to manage your financial data. Wave has no hidden fees, and you can access its invoicing, accounting and receipt-scanning functions for as long as you want at no charge. Instead of simply offering free trials, companies like Wave provide all the essentials for free.

While free accounting software is available, it’s important to find a program that gives you what you’re looking for at the standard your company requires. Free doesn’t always mean faulty, but some free services and software lack sophistication or efficiency. Cloud-based software can grow your business at an affordable price point as well. 

What is the easiest accounting software to learn?

Our best picks – which include QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks, Zoho Books and Wave – are easy to use and have tips and hints within the software, plus online support resources designed for new business owners who don’t necessarily have accounting experience, such as getting-started guides, video tutorials, webinars and how-to articles with step-by-step instructions.

Many of these companies offer free trials. You shouldn’t buy an accounting solution without first testing it to see how it works. Some companies even include hypothetical data for testing, which makes it easier to play with the program and see all the different features. We recommend exploring each platform you’re considering to get a feel for how it works before paying.

Should I get accounting and payroll software?

Integrating payroll with your accounting software can save you time, but you don’t necessarily have to get both systems from the same company. Many accounting software applications offer integrations with a variety of payroll services. If you prefer to use the same company for both, check out QuickBooks Online and Wave, which offer payroll as an add-on service to their accounting software. If you need more sophisticated solutions, it might be a good idea to check out the best payroll software for small businesses

Should accounting software also serve as invoice generator software?

It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if your accounting software doesn’t generate invoices. You can even learn how to create and send invoices with PayPal. However, for some companies, it is a necessity. If you’re a freelancer or a small business that expects to regularly send invoices to clients, it’s a good idea to look for accounting software that includes an invoice generator. The ability to quickly create invoices and automatically send them to clients can save your business important time.

How do you know which invoice generator software is right for your business?

The right invoice generator depends on your business structure and how much time and money you’re trying to save. An invoice generator makes your invoice look more branded and professional. You can also use invoice software to accept online payments, which makes it easier for clients to pay you with a credit or debit card. Invoice software allows you to track your payments and reuse templates. Invoice- generator software does the outline for you, which preserves resources and structures information so you can keep track of unpaid invoices. If you don’t have an invoice template, an invoice generator can help you out.

When is the best time to switch accounting software?

The ideal time to switch your accounting software is as your company’s fiscal year is ending. (This can correspond with the calendar year if that’s what works best for your business.) Making a change at the start of the new fiscal year allows you to wrap up the reports from that time period and start the year reporting on new financial information, which makes the transition seamless and less complicated.

If you can’t wait until the start of the next fiscal year to make a change, the next best time is at the end of a fiscal quarter.

How much does small business accounting software cost?

The cost of accounting software runs the gamut from free to as much as $25 per month depending on the features and functionality. Accounting software that supports more users, real-time payments and other features such as e-commerce, advanced reporting, and inventory management will cost more. The complexity of your business and how many users you want connected will determine how much it ultimately costs you.

What should accounting software for small businesses include?

The whole idea behind accounting software is to make it easier for you to manage your operations. If it is too complex or requires a lot of manual entries, it may be a waste of time. Good accounting software should be easy to use, integrate with your bank and other apps, and enable collaboration with your accountant. The best options also include invoicing, reporting and a mobile app.

What are the reasons to reconsider your existing accounting software? 

You may want to change your accounting software for several main reasons:

  • As your business grows, your needs may change and require you to consider a different accounting vendor that offers more features and functionality.
  • Complaints among employees who use the software could also prompt a change. If your employees find it difficult to navigate, it could reduce productivity. 
  • Outdated software or a platform that doesn’t integrate with other business applications is yet another reason to consider new accounting software. 

How is automation being implemented in accounting software? 

The trend toward automation in accounting software has been going on for several years. Today, it is used for a myriad of processes, including extracting information from tax documents, creating journal entries and freeing up bookkeepers by eliminating manual entries. Also, automation can help accountants streamline data entry and analysis. 

What to Expect from Accounting Software in 2022

The accounting software market is poised to continue growing as more businesses adopt cloud-based accounting programs in 2022. With more and more businesses adopting a hybrid work arrangement that was set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for cloud-based services is on the rise. 

Business owners are considering accounting software to reduce accounting headaches as working at home becomes the norm. According to market research from Fortune Business Insights, the accounting software market is poised to reach $20.4 billion in 2026, up from $11 billion in 2018.

Like many other areas of financial technology, the accounting software space has many players that cater to small business owners, making competition fierce. That should continue in 2022, which is good news for small business owners, who will gain access to more tools and functionality. Expect additional features to speed up processes, save time and boost productivity.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning gained popularity, with many accounting applications implementing these advanced technologies to reduce manual data entry and automate redundant tasks. Analysis from Vantage Market Research found a growing demand for many accounting functions to be automated, fueling the need for more AI capabilities to be built into accounting software. For example, the accounting automation software company BlackLine spent $150 million in recent years to acquire Rimilia, a U.K. software-as-a-service startup that uses AI and machine learning to simplify cash flow and cash collection.

Understanding Accounting Services Infographic

Understanding Accounting Software
Credit: Grant Reinero
Mike Berner
Mike Berner
business.com Staff
Mike Berner is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily specializing in finance. Mike has a deep background in the financial world, having written hundreds of articles and blog posts on financial markets, business and investing. He holds a B.A. in economics and a B.B.A. in finance, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to his writing career, he performed quantitative analysis and research as an economic analyst.
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