Best Small Business Accounting Software: Xero vs FreshBooks vs QuickBooks vs Wave

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As a small business owner, accounting can be a dreaded task, but it doesn’t have to be. Investing in the right small business accounting software will save you a ton of time and money in the long run, and the best solution is likely more affordable than you think.

Article Overview

What’s The Best Small Business Accounting Software?

All of the software reviewed here is cloud-based, so no downloading or installation is necessary — and you can tackle your accounting tasks from almost anywhere, including your smartphone. See our top three picks, from pros and cons and available features to pricing and customer support.

FreshBooks Review


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FreshBooks takes our top spot for this small business accounting software comparison. FreshBooks is just what its name implies — a fresh take on a tedious task, with an easy, intuitive interface, tons of great features, and excellent mobile apps.

FreshBooks has grown to more than 10 million users since being created in 2003 out of a small business owner’s sheer frustration with his billing options. The major downsides for some potential users? It’s geared toward service-based small businesses, so if you need inventory support, look elsewhere.

FreshBooks also lacks some of the more advanced accounting features other software services provide (including payroll). Think of FreshBooks as more of a small business bookkeeping software. FreshBooks offers a wide array of add-ons and integrations, so it’s easy to make up for most of those shortcomings.

Key Features

  • Best for independent contractors, agencies, firms, and consultancies
  • Robust API for developers
  • 75+ add-ons/integrations, including Paypal, Zapier, Gusto, wufoo, Live Chat, Mailchimp, and more
  • Project budgets
  • Credit card processing, even with mobile app

FreshBooks screenshot



  • Converts estimates to invoices
  • Can see when customers view their invoices
  • Great time tracking feature shows overages on projects
  • Multi-currency support
  • Award-winning customer support team
  • Phone, email, blog, FAQ, tutorials support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No full-service accounting version option to upgrade
  • Payroll function only through app integration with Gusto
  • No inventory tracking
  • No weekend customer service hours


Try them for free with their 30-day free trial (no credit card required). All plans include free customer service, import and export data, credit card processing, and data backup. You can save 10% off the following pricing if you pay annually.

  • Lite: $15/month for five clients
  • Plus: $25/month for 50 clients
  • Premium: $50/month for 500 clients
  • Select: Contact FreshBooks
  • $10/month/person for additional users


Save 60% off your first three months. No FreshBooks coupon code needed, use this link to get started.

Read Our Full Review of FreshBooks

Xero Review


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Who knew accounting could be enjoyable? Xero, our number two pick for best accounting software, is (dare we say it?) fun. Its easy-to-use interface takes a lot of the headache out of having to do your books.

Cloud-based Xero is one of the fastest-growing small business accounting solutions on the market and an excellent QuickBooks alternative. A New Zealand team launched Xero in 2006. Xero is anything but stale — one of its most outstanding features is a feature request in their community forum. Long-time Xero customers say they act on feedback by continually improving their software and frequently adding new features.

Key Features

  • Best for small to mid-sized businesses
  • Full-accounting features and tools
  • Supports multiple currencies and tax rates
  • 700+ add-ons/integrations, including Salesforce, PayPal, Fathom, Square, and Stripe
  • Payroll tool with Premium Plans allows for ten employees, direct deposit, and e-file payroll taxes (Standard Plan allows for five employees)

**Xero Payroll is unavailable in the U.S. as of December 31, 2018. (At that time, their payroll services moved to Gusto).

Xero screenshot on computer and phone



  • Unlimited users with every plan and all plans include direct deposit and e-file payroll taxes
  • Very intuitive interface that brings items needing attention to the forefront
  • Manages basic inventory
  • Excellent 24/7 customer support via responsive email, live chat, and site support
  • Blog, community forums, webinars, social media
  • Time and job tracking only available through integrated apps
  • No automated invoice reminders or overdue notices
  • Reporting tools have room for improvement
  • No phone support


Try out Xero with their 30-day free trial.

  • Starter plan: $9 per month (limited to five invoices and five bills per month)
  • Standard plan: $30 per month
  • Premium plan: $60 per month


Looking for a Xero promo code? Click here for the best deal we could find.

Read Our Full Review of Xero

QuickBooks Online Review


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Intuit QuickBooks rounds out our top three picks for the best small business accounting software. QuickBooks has all the features a small to medium-sized business would want and more, with both an online small business accounting version and downloadable software.

You don’t have to be a financial wiz to use its wealth of accounting features. QuickBooks’ interface is relatively easy to navigate and organized well. The issues keeping QuickBooks out of the top two?

They dropped many features and lost some of their functionality when they revamped their online software in 2013. And their customer support needs improvement no email support, long call-in wait times, and minimal online support tools.

Key Features

  • Best for small to mid-size businesses
  • Online version supports PC, Mac, and Mobile
  • More than 200 add-ons/integrations, including TSheets Time Tracker, PayPal, Method CRM, Zapier, and more
  • Easy-order products: printable checks, W-2 and 1099 tax kits, custom printed envelopes, labels, and forms
  • Searchable “Find a QuickBooks Expert” near you
  • Self-employed plan calculates and pays quarterly taxes and puts deductions into Schedule C format

QuickBooks screenshot



  • Can upgrade to QuickBooks Enterprise when your business grows
  • Inventory, time, and project tracking with higher-paid versions
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android devices
  • You can photograph your receipts and incorporate into expenses
  • Plus plan is integrated with G Suite
  • Payroll plans are a significant added fee per month
  • Interface not as user-friendly as other accounting software products
  • No email customer support
  • A number of customer complaints about support staff’s lack of knowledge about software


Comprehensive 30-day free trial that includes all features, Online Payroll, and QuickBooks Payments. If you opt to purchase without using the free trial, you get the first three months at 50% off.

 FreelancerSimple StartPlusAdvanced
Price Per Month$15$25$70$150
Number of Users11525


Get up to 50% off of Intuit Quickbooks for your first three months by using this link.

Comparison Table

See our side-by-side table to help you compare small business accounting software features, pricing, and more.

 1st Place: FreshBooksXero3rd Place: QuickBooks OnlineIONOSBenchKashooSageWaveZoho Books
Free Trial30 Days30 Days30 DaysNone30 Days14 Days30 DaysFree Plan14 Days
Lowest Price Per Month$15.00$9.00$25.00$5$115$29.95$10Free Plan$9.00
Highest Price Per Month$50.00+$70.00$150.00$25$295$29.95$25Free Plan$29.00
Number of Clients5-unlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedN/AUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited50-Unlimited
Number of Users1 ($10/additional user/month)Unlimited1-51-10UnlistedUnlisted1-UnlimitedUnlisted2-10
Accountant AccessCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkUnlistedCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Multiple CurrencyCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkUnlistedCheckmark
Number of InvoicesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedN/AUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Customizable InvoicesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkN/ACheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Print & Mail InvoicesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkN/ACheckmark
Credit Card ProcessingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkN/ACheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
CRM IntegrationCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Supports PayrollIntegration OnlyCheckmarkAdditional ChargeIntegration OnlyIntegration OnlyAdditional Charge
Supports Contract PaymentsIntegration OnlyCheckmarkAdditional ChargeIntegration OnlyIntegration Only
Payroll TaxIntegration OnlyCheckmarkAdditional ChargeIntegration OnlyIntegration OnlyAdditional ChargeCheckmark
Prints ChecksIntegration OnlyCheckmarkAdditional ChargeCheckmarkIntegration OnlyAdditional ChargeAdditional Charge
Prepares 1099sIntegration OnlyCheckmarkAdditional ChargeIntegration OnlyIntegration OnlyCheckmark
Recurring Bill PayerCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Sync with Bank AccountsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Number of Reports20+40+65+2Financial Statements Each Month723930+
Budget ManagerCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Auto BackupCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Mobile AppsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkiPhone OnlyCheckmark
Community ForumsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Customer SupportM-F: 8am-8pm ET phone & email ticket24/7 email24/7 chat support24/7 phone & emailVia phone & emailM-F: 6am-5pm PT phone, email, live chatPhone, email, live chatEmail; live chat for paying customersM-F: 24 hours phone & email
1st Place: FreshBooksXero3rd Place: QuickBooks OnlineIONOSBenchKashooSageWaveZoho Zoho Books

Other Best Small Business Accounting Software Reviews

On average, only half of small businesses survive after five years and one-third after ten years, according to an article from The Washington Post. Of course, there are many reasons for a small business’s longevity, but having sound accounting practices is a major key to survival.

The companies below didn’t make our top three, but you might find that one of them perfectly suits your needs. Click on one of the links below to see the other accounting software for small businesses.

IONOS | BenchKashoo | Sage Accounting | Wave Accounting | Zoho Books

IONOS Review

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IONOS (previously 1&1) is best known for its web hosting and domain name services but has recently added a cloud-based set of bookkeeping packages. The software is a breeze to use and navigate, and you get 24/7 customer support. However, all pricing plans lack several features you’ll get with alternative software (and often at a lower price).

Plans start with Invoice, a bare-bones package that only prepares quotes and invoices. Their middle-tier plan adds cashbook management, scan and capture apps, document filing, an overview of cost centers, and separate access for employees and tax advisors. IONOS’s highest plan adds warehouse and stock management tools.

If you’re looking for simplicity, IONOS Accounting is a good choice, but we think it’s overpriced for what you get.



  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Converts estimates to invoices
  • Manage cash book online
  • Cost overview management
  • Good inventory management tools
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricey for its lack of features
  • Lacks integrations with payroll, CRM, and other third-party apps
  • Very limited reporting and online knowledge base
  • Lacks time tracking
  • Doesn’t support multiple currencies


IONOS Accounting offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

 InvoiceAccountingInventory Manager
IncludesQuote & InvoicesQuotes & Invoices
+ Online Accounting
Quotes & Invoices
+ Online Accounting
+ Inventory Manager
Price Per Month$5$15$25
Number of Users1310

Bench Accounting Review

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Bench differs from the other software services we include in these reviews, but we think they’re worth including (although they’re expensive). A Canada-based company, Bench offers a team of bookkeepers to do your books and intuitive software to monitor your financials. They do all the legwork for you.

Each month, your Bench team reconciles your accounts, categorizes your transactions, and produces your financial statements. They also ensure everything is tax-compliant. The cost is high, which will be a deal-breaker for small businesses, but if you are behind in your bookkeeping, you can sign up for a month or two to catch up.



  • Dedicated bookkeepers to handle your financials for you
  • 256-bit security to share your accounting information
  • Syncs with all major banks
  • High customer support ratings
  • Expensive
  • No payroll, time tracking, invoicing, or other features (only bookkeeping)
  • Lacks any integrations with other software


Bench offers a 30-day free trial (no credit card required). The following prices are if you pay annually.

  • Micro Plan: $115/month
  • Boutique: $165/month
  • Venture: $215/month
  • Corporate: $295/month

Kashoo Review

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Why weed through a bunch of advanced features you won’t ever use if you can quickly get down to business? Kashoo may be perfect for you if simplicity is what you seek in accounting software.

Based in Canada, Kashoo has kept its approach to accounting simple and streamlined since launching in 2008. Not feature-rich by any means (on purpose), Kashoo does offer most of the basics an independent contractor or micro or small business would want.

However, Kashoo won’t be enough for many small business owners. You can take advantage of the 14-day free trial to decide for yourself – and they offer a money-back guarantee with each plan.



  • Real-time dashboard view of business’ financial health
  • Easy-to-use
  • Supports multiple users at no added fee
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • You can manage up to five businesses from the same account
  • Customer support via live chat, phone, and email (M-F)
  • Payroll only through Paychex integration in the U.S.
  • No CRM integration
  • Very limited add-ons or integrations
  • Can’t manage inventory
  • Doesn’t support multiple currencies
  • No weekend customer support


Each plan offers unlimited transactions, invoicing and expense management, automatic bank transaction sync, reporting, and more. Kashoo also offers a 14-day free trial and a money-back guarantee with each plan.

  • $29.95 per month (no contract required)
  • $199.95 per year

Sage Accounting Review

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Sage offers several accounting platforms and other business software, but its Business Cloud Accounting is best for small business owners. This cloud-based software has good bookkeeping and basic accounting features and is a steal at $25 per month for its highest plan.

What’s Sage Business Cloud Accounting missing? There’s no time tracking, no project management, and no payroll, but if you don’t need these features and are looking for easy-to-use software, this software could be right for you.



  • Sleek, easy-to-use interface
  • Advanced inventory tools
  • 30+ integrations and three payment processors
  • Solid reporting tools
  • Supports multi-currency
  • Good online knowledge base
  • Limited features compared to big names
  • Payroll only available with Sage Payroll for hefty added fees
  • No time tracking or project management


Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers a 30-day free trial for either package (no credit card required).

Accounting Start

  • $10/month for one user


  • $25/month for unlimited users

Wave Accounting Review

Wave Accounting logo

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Self-employed or own a mom-and-pop shop and can’t afford accounting software? Cloud-based Wave could be your solution. Wave’s essential accounting and invoicing functions are entirely free, and they have an impressive number of features for free software — and a lot of usability with their iPhone app.

There are some limitations, and the system can be buggy at times. Customer support is only available via email (and it can be slow), but hey, it’s free. You do get live chat if you pay for add-ons. Overall, Wave is worth looking into if your needs are basic — and you can use it for free for as long as you like!



  • Integrate personal and business accounts
  • Credit card processing (on iPhone and iPad as well)
  • A handful of integrations/add-ons – Paypal, Stripe, Etsy, Shoeboxed
  • Community forums, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Great site resources, Help Center, webinars, article, tutorials
  • No cash-based accounting (only accrual)
  • Long wait times (2-7 days) for free email support
  • Can’t set up recurring bill payments
  • No comprehensive Android app
  • Doesn’t support 1099 contractor payments
  • No API for developers
  • Reporting features need improvement


Wave accounting offers a free plan plus several add-on services.


  • Payroll tools: $20-$35/month + $4 per employee per month
  • Credit card processing: 2.9%+30¢ per transaction
  • Bank payment processing: 0.1% per transaction

Zoho Books Review

Zoho Books logoVisit Website

Zoho Books has demonstrated a great deal of promise since its rocky launch in 2011 by software powerhouse Zoho. This cloud-based program offers some great features, including excellent invoicing and one of the most functional mobile apps we’ve seen in this industry.

What’s missing? Zoho Books has no payroll features or add-ons (other than with other Zoho software), unlike most other small business accounting software products. This omission could be a deal-breaker and makes Zoho Books best suited for micro- to smaller-sized businesses who does not require payroll as part of their bookkeeping.



  • Streamlined dashboard lets you view a lot at once without seeming cluttered
  • Excellent invoicing features and tools
  • You can access your dashboard with mobile apps (iOS, Android)
  • Powerful API
  • Customer support via phone, email 24/5 (M-F)
  • Community forums, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Good site resources – webinars, blogs, how-to-guides
  • Only payroll function is tracking subcontractor expenses and preparing 1099s
  • No payroll add-ons/integrations
  • Check printing is an added fee
  • Phone support can have long wait times
  • Lacks advanced project management tools, like document management


They offer a 14-day free trial. You can also get two months free if you pay annually.

  • Basic plan: $9/month/organization
  • Standard plan: $19/month/organization
  • Professional plan: $29/month/organization

Video: What Are Some Common Accounting Mistakes To Avoid?

Most small business owners don’t have an accounting background. There are a lot of things to learn about managing your business’ finances. Watch this video to avoid some common mistakes small business owners make when doing their accounting.

Other Financial Tools For Your Small Business

Another thing to consider is how you want your business to handle payroll. Companies like QuickBooks offer accounting and payroll needs, so you can do two things with one program. Take a look at this payroll software comparison to see if your business could benefit.

We also have reviews of many other small business financial tools, including inventory management software, point of sale software, online lending services, online time clocks, receipt organization, and a guide to self-employment tax deductions.

What do you like (or dislike) most about your accounting software?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations in the late 1990s, Sally began a long career researching and writing about business, technical and scientific topics.

Her decades of experience as well as a passion to stay on top of the latest online tools and resources combine to help small businesses (and freelancers like herself) flourish. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.