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FreshBooks is a small-business accounting software product that's well-suited for freelancers and independent contractors. It stands out with its solid phone support and customizable invoicing features. However, it's not ideal for fast-growing businesses because of user and client limits on some of its plans.
The software started out primarily as a solution for managing invoices and grew to become an accounting product. The Toronto-based company's software is now used in more than 160 countries.
FreshBooks at a glance
Has a strong invoicing feature; app lets users send invoices on the go, scan receipts and track mileage; basic inventory tracking for billable items; least expensive plan lacks double-entry accounting reports.
Ease of use
Auto-categorizes transactions for you, but you can’t set up your own bank rules; no global search function; least expensive plan lacks bank reconciliation tools.
Highest-tier plan includes two users (additional users can be added for a fee); ideal for freelancers and contractors; not ideal for businesses with more than a handful of employees.
Ease of sharing with accountants
Least expensive plan doesn’t allow accountant access; lacks complete audit trail.
Integrates with more than 100 third-party apps; limited choices for direct payroll and point-of-sale integrations.
Includes phone support in all plans 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time from Monday to Friday; offers email support, but not live chat support with a human.
Plans start at $17 per month.
Project tracking tools in higher-tier plans; lacks industry-specific reports and transaction tracking tags; users with multiple businesses must pay for separate subscriptions.
How does FreshBooks work?
After testing out a free 30-day trial, you can choose from one of four FreshBooks plans; the best option depends on the size and complexity of your business. A support page can help with account setup, and video webinars explain how to use the software and its bookkeeping features.
On the main dashboard, you can see charts that summarize invoices, profit and loss, revenue streams and spending. FreshBooks also has a mobile app for iOS and Android.
Pricing and features
$17 per month or $204 annually.
Designed for self-employed professionals.
$30 per month or $360 annually.
Designed for small businesses. It includes all Lite features, plus:
$55 per month or $660 annually.
Designed for growing businesses. It includes all Plus features, plus:
Designed for businesses that need dedicated support. It includes all Premium features, plus:
Phone support availability
As opposed to limiting phone support to normal working hours, FreshBooks offers phone support from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays. This is convenient for people who work on their books towards the end of the day or own a business, like a restaurant, that operates on a later schedule. Phone calls are typically answered within three rings by a customer support representative.
Instead of live chat support with a human, FreshBooks lets you create online support tickets. Emails are normally answered within 90 minutes.
Robust invoicing services
FreshBooks' suite of invoicing features is one of the product’s strong suits. You can choose from various customizable designs, set up recurring digital invoices, easily include discounts, and get instant updates when invoices have been viewed or paid online. Invoicing features are available on the mobile app, too.
» MORE: Best invoicing software
Time and mileage tracking included in all plans
All FreshBooks plans include mileage tracking and time tracking features, which are also built into the mobile app. That way, small businesses with multiple employees don’t have to pay for a third-party time tracking app. QuickBooks Online subscribers, by comparison, must pay separately for automatic time tracking. Xero users track mileage and time through project tracking and expense claiming tools that are only found in the highest-tier Established plan.
Limits on users and clients
FreshBooks’ biggest drawbacks are its limits on users and billable clients. It includes one user in all plans but the Select tier (which allows two users); each additional user costs $11 per month. The lower-tier Lite and Plus plans allow up to five and 50 clients respectively. These limitations may not matter for very small businesses, but they can make it more expensive to scale up.
Other accounting platforms offer more flexibility. QuickBooks Online has a limit of five users in its most popular Plus plan and 25 users in its Advanced plan. Wave, a free accounting software product, doesn't place limits on the number of users or clients. Xero doesn't cap the number of users or clients you can have, but it limits the number of invoices you can send in its lowest-tier Early plan.
Lite plan lacks double-entry accounting basics
The lowest-tier Lite plan doesn’t include basics like bank reconciliation tools or double-entry accounting fundamentals (i.e., a general ledger, chart of accounts and trial balance). It also doesn't allow accountant or bookkeeper access. Most accounting software companies provide these basic services even in their cheapest plans.
In the same vein, FreshBooks might be limiting for growing businesses that have multiple people working in the software. Regardless of which plan you choose, your accountant will not have access to a full audit trail.
Bookkeeping and accounting software
$30 per month and up.
As the industry standard, QuickBooks Online is ideal if you have a growing business with specific accounting needs — as long as you don't mind taking the time to learn the program's ins and outs. Like Xero, it can easily scale with your business.
$10 per month and up.
Sage Accounting is a simple, affordable accounting software product with basic invoicing features.
Free (add-ons available).
Wave is a solid choice for small businesses looking for free accounting software.
Free and up.
Zoho Books' paid plans all come with free live chat and phone support. The free plan comes with email support only.
NerdWallet’s accounting software ratings favor products that are easy to use, have a robust feature set and can grow with your business. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including scope of features and integrations, customer support and cost, among others. Learn more about how we rate small-business accounting software.
These ratings are meant to provide clarity in the decision-making process, but what’s best for your business will depend on its size, growth trajectory and which features you need most. Simplicity doesn't always translate into ease of use. Less scalable products are typically simpler, but diminished functionality can cause headaches down the road for growing businesses. We encourage you to research and compare multiple accounting software products before choosing one.
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