4 Best Accounting Software 2019: Pricing & Buyer’s Guide
Accounting software helps small businesses track profitability by organizing income and expenses, making it an essential bookkeeping tool to navigate through tax season. We researched, tested and compared dozens of accounting software products so that we could provide you with the best of the best.
Top 4 Small Business Accounting Software
Starts at $17/month
|Solopreneurs and small businesses with staff QBO will scale as your business grows|
+Connect bank/credit card accounts
+Accept online payments from customers
+Live customer support included
Starts at $15/month
|Solopreneurs and freelancers who want to simplify their billing and collection process|
+Customizable invoice templates
+Automatic payment reminders
-No accounts payable tracking
Starts at $9/month
|SMB’s looking for an alternative to QuickBooks Online|
+Give unlimited users access to data
+Low and mid tier plans cost less than QuickBooks Online
-No live customer support
|Small businesses that need a free option with a lot of features.|
+No charge to use the software
+Packed with features to track income and expenses
-Manual accounts payable tracking
Solopreneurs and small businesses with staff QBO will scale as your business grows
+ Connect bank/credit card accounts
+ Accept online payments from customers
+ Live customer support included
Solopreneurs and freelancers who want to simplify their billing and collection process
+ Customizable invoice templates
+ Automatic payment reminders
- No accounts payable tracking
SMB’s looking for an alternative to QuickBooks Online
+ Give unlimited users access to data
+ Low and mid tier plans cost less than QuickBooks Online
- No live customer support
Small businesses that need a free option with a lot of features.
+ No charge to use the software
+ Packed with features to track income and expenses
- Manual accounts payable tracking
How to Choose the Right Accounting Software for Your Business
Choosing the right accounting software for your business includes considering the cost, features included and any custom features your business may require. While QuickBooks will be a good option for many small businesses, some use cases and industries require an alternative to QuickBooks. Read on to learn more about the accounting software products we have evaluated.
How We Determined Which Accounting Software are the Best
The best accounting software is affordable, easy to use and can perform basic bookkeeping tasks. At a minimum, you should be able to invoice customers, pay bills, reconcile bank/credit card accounts and generate detailed financial reports in an accounting software.
We picked the top four accounting software based on the following criteria:
- Access to data 24/7/365
- Ability to create invoices and track payments
- Ability to track bills and make bill payments
- Connect bank and credit card accounts
- Give other users access
- Detailed financial statements
The best accounting software overall is QuickBooks Online because it is ideal for any size business. If you are an independent contractor, QuickBooks Self Employed (QBSE) is ideal for you and if you have more than five users and multiple store locations QuickBooks Online Plus will work best for you. QBO goes beyond basic bookkeeping to include inventory tracking, budgeting/forecasting tools and a library of detailed financial reports.
Bookkeeping Software Pricing Guide: What You Should Expect to Pay
Like any software, there are affordable options and more pricier bookkeeping software products. The majority of cloud based accounting software includes three pricing tiers (low, mid and high). In most cases, the low tier plan will have the fewest features and the high priced plan will include all of the “bells and whistles”.
Accounting Software Average Pricing & Features Table
|Manage Accounts Receivable|
|Manage Accounts Payable|
|Connect Bank/Credit Card Accounts|
|Accept Online Payments|
Additional fees apply
Additional fees apply
When Free Bookkeeping Software is Worth Considering
When it comes to free accounting software, most of the free options on the market are very limited in features – Wave is the exception. Wave is packed with a lot of features such as giving unlimited users access to your data, at no cost. However, you cannot track and pay unpaid bills through Wave.
Wave accounting software is ideal if you pay most of your expenses with a credit card or via online banking. You can connect bank and credit card accounts, invoice customers, add payroll and credit card processing for an additional fee and run detailed financial reports. Sign up for your free Wave account to get your business up and running on Wave.
Accounting Software Features Small Businesses Need
As discussed, accounting software should include all of the basic accounting and bookkeeping requirements of a small business. The ability to invoice customers, pay bills, connect your bank and credit card accounts and run detailed reports are what I would call the minimum requirements. Depending on your business, inventory tracking and payroll processing might also be required if you sell products and have employees to pay.
The features that should be included in an accounting software are:
Manage Accounts Receivable
Every business needs the ability to track sales. An accounting software should allow you to keep track of sales by creating a sales receipt or an invoice. The software should also have an accounts receivable aging report so that you can stay on top of unpaid invoices. This will ensure that your cash flow remains positive and help you avoid sending a collection letter to your customer.
Manage Accounts Payable
The second most important aspect of running a business is keeping track of what you owe suppliers and vendors. However, if you pay most of your bills using online banking at your financial institution or with a credit card, you can use an accounting software like FreshBooks and Wave that do not have accounts payable functionality.
Connect Bank/Credit Card Accounts
Having the ability to connect your bank and credit card accounts to your bookkeeping software is imperative. You can save a ton of time by allowing transactions to automatically download into your accounting software so that you don’t have to manually enter them. Most bookkeeping software will sync with your financial institution on a daily basis so that you always have access to the most up-to-date information.
Give Other Users Access to Data
Nowadays, many small businesses hire remote employees. If you have a bookkeeper or employee that needs to access your data remotely, then you must purchase a software that allows you to give other users access. However, if you are a solopreneur with no employees then you can get away with just one user access and provide your CPA or tax preparer with the reports they need to file your tax return.
If you sell products, you need to be able to keep track of products that you buy and sell to customers. While you won’t find this feature in FreshBooks and Wave accounting software, most robust accounting software products like QuickBooks Online and Xero do allow you to track inventory.
Most small businesses that are just starting out don’t have employees. However, it’s important for you to purchase an accounting software that includes an option to add payroll processing when are ready. QuickBooks accounting software and Wave accounting software have an integrated payroll service that you can add on by simply clicking a button. If you use Xero or FreshBooks you will sign up for Gusto payroll which integrates seamlessly with Xero, FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online.
Accept Online Payments
It’s not uncommon for a customer to forget to pay their invoice. The easier you can make it for your customers to pay you, the better. Similar to payroll processing, both QuickBooks Payments and Wave Payments are integrated into the software so you can easily turn on this feature when you are ready. FreshBooks and Xero accounting software also integrates with several credit card processors which you can select from their app marketplace.
Produce Financial Statements
Any accounting software worth its salt will have detailed reports that will give you insight into various aspects of your business such as overall profit/loss and details on what your customers owe you (A/R) and what you owe to your vendor suppliers (A/P). Both QBO and Xero accounting software have all five reports, Wave accounting software has all but the A/P Aging report and FreshBooks is missing the Cash Flow Statement and A/P Aging report.
Your accounting software should include the following five key financial reports:
- Profit and Loss (Income Statement): summary of income, expenses and bottom line net profit (loss) for a specific period of time (e.g. Jan 1 to Jan 31, 2019).
- Balance Sheet Report: summary of assets, liabilities and equity as of a point in time (e.g. January 31, 2019).
- Cash Flow Statement: summary of cash inflows and outflows categorized into three categories: operating, investing and financing activities.
- Accounts Receivable Aging Report: detailed list of unpaid invoices broken down by the number of days outstanding (e.g 1-30 days, 31-60 days, 61-90 days).
- Accounts Payable Aging Report: detailed list of unpaid bills broken down by the number of days past due (e.g. 1-30 days, 31-60 days, 61-90 days).
Integrate with Other Software
One of the benefits of using cloud accounting software is the software will integrate with your bank/credit card accounts as well as hundreds of other apps. If you are using another program as your CRM and something else to keep track of your inventory, it’s a possibility that you can connect your accounting software to these apps and share information across programs. Integrations is necessary if you have software that you would like to integrate with the bookkeeping software that you choose.
Include Product Support
Having access to support when you need it is an important factor to consider when purchasing an accounting software. In my opinion, the option to speak to a live person should be available if you need it. QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks offer live customer support, Xero and Wave do not. All of the products on our list have an extensive help database and email support.
Consider Industry Specific Bookkeeping Software
While several companies that started out with accounting desktop software still offer it, like QuickBooks desktop, there are a number of desktop and cloud accounting software products that are customized to meet the needs of a specific industry. We recommend that you purchase a cloud accounting software so that you can access your data 24/7/365 from any mobile device or laptop with an internet connection.
If you’re looking for specific types of accounting software that is customized for your industry niche, there are several products that you can choose from. If you are a contractor, real estate investor, own a restaurant or food truck business, run a nonprofit org, have a law firm or run a trucking company, we’ve created a guide that compares/contrasts the top software products for your industry!
A few industry specific types of accounting software that you should consider are:
When it comes to doing the bookkeeping for a contractor business, there are a few unique items that you need to stay on top of. Job costing, estimating and subcontractor compliance are just a few of the features required. You can check out our best contractor accounting software guide to see price, features and small business accounting software user reviews of our top picks.
Real Estate Pros & Investors
An accounting software that allows a real estate investor or broker to separate their business and personal income and expenses is key. In addition, allocating income and expenses by property is another important feature for real estate companies. Head over to our best real estate accounting software guide to see price, features and small business accounting software reviews of our top real estate accounting software products.
Access to up-to-date financial information is key in the restaurant business. With the ever changing costs of food and beverages, this information is critical when it comes to making decisions regarding what ingredients to order and which supplier to order them from. In our best restaurant accounting software guide, we break down the cost, features and small business accounting software reviews of our top picks.
Nonprofit organizations need an accounting software that allows them to keep track of their income and expenses like any for profit business. However, they do have specific reporting requirements when it comes to the allocation of donor contributions, the way expenses are classified and more. In our best nonprofit accounting software guide, we breakdown cost, features and small business accounting software reviews of the nonprofit accounting software products at the top of their game.
If you have a law firm, you need an accounting software that is going to help you keep track of client expenses and billing and that can do Trust (IOLTA) accounting so that you can stay compliant with the state bar. Our best law firm accounting software guide will help you to to select the right software for your law firm. It includes price, features and small business accounting software reviews of our top picks.
If you are an independent owner and operator of a trucking company, you need the ability to track income and expenses for each load. In addition, you need to generate reports for each trip and provide information to be in compliance with IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement). In our best trucking accounting software guide, we break down cost, features and small business accounting software reviews of the best trucking accounting software on the market.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Choose Accounting Software
Is My Accountant/Tax Professional Familiar With the Software?
Unless you plan to do your own taxes, you should check with your tax preparer to see if they are familiar with the accounting software you plan to choose. It’s important to get this person on-board with your decision because it could save you time in the long run.
If your tax professional is familiar with the software, you can give them access to your data so that they can get the information they need without bothering you.
How Many Users Do I Need to Give Access To?
It’s important to have a good idea of the number of users you need to give access to your data. This will have an impact on the cost of the accounting software that you choose. In general, the more users you need, the higher the cost. The two exceptions to this rule are Xero accounting software and Wave accounting software. Both Xero and Wave include unlimited users at no additional cost. Check out our Xero vs Wave guide to see how these products match-up.
How Easy or Difficult Is It To Get Live Tech Support?
One of the downsides to cloud accounting software is that it’s so easy to setup that many companies do not offer live customer support. In my opinion, this is a mistake. The option to speak with a human being should be available during normal business hours. Both QuickBook Online and FreshBooks include free live technical support in all of their pricing plans.
How Easy or Difficult Is It To Upgrade?
Switching accounting software is like changing doctors, you don’t want to do it often. That’s why it’s important for you to think about where your business will be in the next three to five years. If you expect rapid growth, you need to select an accounting software that can scale easily and quickly. Upgrading should be as simple as a click of a button to a mid or top tier plan and all of your data remains intact.
List of All Accounting Software Options
After reading this guide, you should have your decision narrowed down to one or two products. Get an idea of how other small business owners like yourself feel about the software products we have discussed by checking out our accounting software user reviews.
FreshBooks is a software that helps track time and projects, send invoices, automate payment collection, and more. Prices start at $15/month. View Profile
QuickBooks Online helps you create and send invoices, track cash flow, generate reports, and more. Prices range from $25 to $150 per month. View Profile
ZipBooks is a software that helps users track work hours, manage invoices, generate customer insights, and more. Prices range from $0 to $35+/month. View Profile
Bench is a software that helps you keep your books accurate, monitor your financials, and speed up tax refunds. Prices start at $159/month. View Profile
QuickBooks Desktop Pro helps track sales tax, manage bills and accounts payable, organize finances, and more. Annual subscriptions start at $299.95. View Profile
Microsoft Dynamics GP offers solutions for managing accounting, HR, payroll, and other business processes. Its price starts at $214/user/month. View Profile
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers solutions for accounting, inventory, and more. Pricing ranges from $8 to $100+/user/month. View Profile
QuickBooks Enterprise helps you track inventory, manage sales orders, and more. Fees start at $145/month (with hosting) or $1,213/year (local only). View Profile
Netsuite ERP allows businesses to streamline processes in finance, supply chain, procurement, & other areas. Its base license fee costs $999/mo... View Profile
Accounting software makes it easy for you to stay on top of your income and expenses so that you are better prepared for tax time. We chose QuickBooks Online as the best accounting software because it is easy to use, has a pricing plan most small businesses can afford and offers live customer support when you need it.
QuickBooks Online can also scale with your business so when you hire that first employee you can add payroll processing with the push of a button. In addition, if you decide to expand your business to selling products you can upgrade to QuickBooks Online Plus in just a matter of minutes and all of your data will remain intact, no complicated conversion plan required.
Top Accounting Influencers of 2019
We’ve scouted the web for accounting influencers with a robust social media presence and put together the list below of the top accounting influencers of 2019.
Our goal for this list is to present helpful accounting tips to small business owners right from the accounting experts themselves. We found that the accounting influencers listed have outstanding credentials, expertise, and skills pertaining to the accounting industry, as well as an impressive quantity of social media followers.
2019 Top Accounting Consultants in the U.S.
Searching for a new accounting firm? Seeking out a top accounting consultant for your small business? If so, you’re in luck! We’ve scoured the web for quality accounting consultants located in various regions, and put together the list below of the top accounting consultants in the U.S.
Our goal for this list is to inform small business owners about helpful accounting consultants that they can work with to strengthen their business. We found that the consultants listed have outstanding expertise, services, and credentials in the accounting industry.