NerdWallet’s Best Business Software for 2022

Choose accounting, payroll, POS and payment processing solutions that your business won’t outgrow. The right software might not be free.
Mar 24, 2022

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The right business software for your company can minimize manual data entry, generate more insightful reports and ensure your books stay up to date. Before choosing a product, verify that it integrates with the rest of your system.

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Here are NerdWallet’s top picks for the best small-business software.

QuickBooks Online: Overall best accounting software

Quickbooks Online

QuickBooks
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on QuickBooks's website

Cost: $25 per month and up. Promotions are available.

Pros:

  • Strong reporting capabilities.

  • Transaction tracking tools for analyzing how money is being spent.

  • Reputation as an industry standard means accountants should be familiar with it.

  • Unlimited invoices.

  • In-house payroll, time tracking and payment solutions available.

Cons:

  • Inventory tracking isn’t included in all plans.

  • Limited users allowed.

  • Higher-tier plans are expensive.

Why we like it: With over 5 million users globally, QuickBooks Online is an accounting industry leader with scalable plans and hundreds of available integrations. The Plus and Advanced plans include job costing capabilities, inventory management, and class and location tracking for monitoring different segments of a business.

Wave Accounting: Best free accounting software

Cost: Free.

Pros:

  • No monthly fees.

  • Unlimited users.

  • Unlimited invoices.

  • In-house payroll and payment solutions available.

Cons:

  • No in-house inventory tracking.

  • No job costing features.

  • No in-house time tracking.

Why we like it: Wave Accounting is a reliable solution for small businesses and freelancers who don’t require job costing features or advanced reporting. The web-based software is easy to use and includes a mobile app for invoicing. Businesses that are looking for a scalable solution, however, should opt for a product like QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Payroll: Best payroll software integration

QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks
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on QuickBooks's website

Cost: $45 per month plus $4 per employee per month and up. Promotions are available.

Pros:

  • Strong QuickBooks Online integration.

  • Next-day or same-day direct deposit.

  • Extra tax penalty protection with the Elite plan.

Cons:

  • Multiple state filing fees in Core and Premium plans.

  • Limited integrations without QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks demo. (Screenshot by NerdWallet)

Why we like it: QuickBooks Payroll is hands-down the most convenient option for business owners who already use QuickBooks Online for accounting. The software is best for companies with up to 50 employees. It lets clients add 401(k) options and employee health benefits to any plan.

Gusto: Best HR and payroll platform

Gusto Payroll

Gusto
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on Gusto's website

Cost: $39 per month plus $6 per person per month and up.

Pros:

  • No multiple-state filing fees.

  • Wide selection of employee perks, such as commuter benefits and college savings accounts.

  • Hiring, onboarding and team management tools, like employee surveys and customizable onboarding checklists.

Cons:

  • No same-day direct deposit.

  • No app for employers.

(Screenshot courtesy of Gusto)

Why we like it: Unlike QuickBooks Payroll, Gusto integrates with other accounting software products outside of the QuickBooks suite. While it doesn’t have an app that lets employers run payroll on the go, its Gusto Wallet app for employees lets them set savings goals, open a spending account, transfer money to a savings account and access funds in between paychecks.

Square: Best all-around point-of-sale system

Square Payments

Square
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on Square's website

Software cost: Free and up.

Hardware cost: Free card reader; Square Stand Kit starts at $639 and includes an iPad stand, cash drawer, receipt printer and receipt paper. (iPad can be bought separately or through Square.)

Payment processing cost: 2.6% plus 10 cents per tapped, dipped or swiped transaction; 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Pros:

  • Free plan available.

  • Offers separate plans for retail stores and restaurants.

  • In-house payroll and payment solutions available.

  • Can pay for hardware in installments.

  • Free online store, unlimited invoicing and time tracking.

Cons:

  • Loyalty program costs extra in all plans.

  • May not have tools that are advanced enough for larger businesses.

Square Stand. (Photo courtesy of Square)

Why we like it: With free POS software and affordable hardware, newer businesses strapped for cash should add the Square all-in-one POS system to their list of options. As they grow, retail stores and restaurants can upgrade to the Plus plan, giving them access to more reports and team management features.

Helcim: Best stand-alone payment solution

Helcim

Helcim
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on Helcim's website

Cost: Interchange plus 0.3% and 8 cents per in-person transaction; interchange plus 0.5% and 25 cents per keyed or online transaction (for businesses with a monthly credit card volume of $25,000 or less).

Pros:

  • Offers volume discounts.

  • Interchange-plus pricing structure is transparent.

  • No monthly subscription costs, contracts, PCI fees or setup fees.

Cons:

  • No 24/7 support.

  • Will not work with high-risk merchants.

Why we like it: Businesses looking for a merchant account provider instead of a payment service provider should consider Helcim for its transparency and volume discounts. Payment solutions aside, merchants can use its e-commerce platform to build an online store and access POS capabilities through its app.

Toast: Best POS system for restaurants

Software cost: Free and up.

Hardware cost: $799 for the Starter Kit, which includes a Toast Flex POS terminal, Toast tap payment device and router.

Payment processing cost: 2.99% plus 15 cents per transaction if you don’t pay for the Starter Kit upfront; 2.49% plus 15 cents per card-present transaction and 3.5% plus 15 cents per card-not-present transaction if you pay for the Starter Kit upfront.

Pros:

  • Offers in-house payroll and payments solutions.

  • Free plan available.

  • Can pay for the Starter Kit as a percentage of sales instead of upfront.

  • Built solely for restaurants.

  • Offers in-house delivery services.

Cons:

  • Two-year software contract required.

Toast hardware lineup. (Image courtesy of Toast)

Why we like it: Made specifically for restaurants, Toast sells hardware that’s built to resist heat, spills and grease. In addition to having an offline mode for placing orders and taking payments during an outage, the POS system also offers 24/7 customer support. Separately, Toast’s delivery service could be a huge asset for restaurants trying to expand their sales channels beyond in-house dining.