FreshBooks vs. Zoho Books 2022: Cost, Features, Alternatives

FreshBooks is mobile-friendly with more integrations, but Zoho Books supports more users at a lower cost.

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FreshBooks and Zoho Books are both robust accounting software options for small and medium-sized businesses. Deciding between the two depends on how many people will need access to your bookkeeping and how much you want to spend per year.

Overall, FreshBooks is the most mobile-friendly choice with more third-party integration options, but Zoho Books supports more users and billable clients at a lower cost.

Deciding factors

FreshBooks

Zoho Books

Price

$15 per month and up. Promotions available.

Free and up.

Better for

Freelancers, contractors and service-based businesses.

Most small, medium and growing businesses; users of other Zoho products.

Maximum number of users

One, except in Select plan; additional users cost $10 per person per month.

10 on highest-priced plan; additional users cost $2.50 per person per month.

Maximum number of clients

500 at $50 per month; unlimited with custom pricing.

Unlimited on all plans.

Ease of sharing with accountants

Good. Accountant access included except on lowest-priced plan.

Excellent. Accountant access included on all plans.

Scalability

Poor. All plans except Select only allow one user; account access not included on lowest-priced plan; all plans limit billable clients.

Good. Plans limit invoices, not clients; all plans include accountant access or multiple users.

Ease of use

Good. Earns high usability scores across review sites.

Good. Gets high marks on usability from different review sites.

Customer service

Available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time through email or phone.

Available Monday through Friday, 24 hours a day through email or phone. Free plan only offers email support.

Overall winner: Zoho Books

Though both FreshBooks and Zoho Books are functional and highly-rated accounting software options, Zoho Books pulls ahead for its scalability and pricing. For businesses looking for a mobile-friendly option with more third-party integrations, FreshBooks is a better choice.

Scalability

Winner: Zoho Books

All FreshBooks plans except the Select plan only permit one user, so if you need to share your account with a co-owner or accountant, you’ll end up paying extra (accountant access starts with the Plus plan at $25 per month). The way FreshBooks breaks down its plans by clients may also be a drawback, since its Lite plan, while affordable, only allows for five clients — meaning many businesses will have to upgrade to the Plus plan.

Zoho Books, on the other hand, limits plans by invoices and revenue volume, not number of clients. Zoho’s Standard plan, at $20 per month, permits up to 5,000 invoices per year. The software also permits accountant access even on its free plan. And paid plans include three, five, and 10 users respectively.

Cost

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books pricing

Free

Standard

Professional

Premium

Price

$0.

$20 per month or $15 billed annually.

$50 per month or $40 billed annually.

$70 per month or $60 billed annually.

Users

One plus an accountant.

3.

5.

10.

Invoices

1,000 per year.

5,000 per year.

10,000 per year.

25,000 per year.

Top features

  • Supports up to 50,000 in revenue per year.

  • Client management.

  • Automated payment reminders.

  • Bank and credit card statement imports.

  • Integrated payment gateways Stripe and PayPal.

Everything in the Free plan, plus:

  • Recurring expenses.

  • Sales tax tracking.

  • Bulk updates.

  • Phone and chat support.

  • 10 integrated payment gateways.

Everything in the Standard plan, plus:

  • Recurring bills.

  • Purchase orders.

  • Multi-currency handling.

  • Stock trading.

  • Up to 10 workflow rules.

Everything in the Professional plan, plus:

  • Custom domain.

  • Vendor portal.

  • Custom reports.

  • Budgeting.

  • Up to 200 workflow rules.

  • Twilio and Zoho Sign integrations.

Additional users on all paid plans cost $2.50 per month billed annually. Snail mail credits to mail paper invoices are $2 per invoice. You can also add on 50 autoscans for $8 per month billed annually, which allows you to scan your documents and automatically import the information to your account.

FreshBooks pricing

Lite

Plus

Premium.

Pricing

$15 per month.

$25 per month.

$50 per month.

Users

One.

One.

One.

Clients

5.

50.

500.

Top features

  • Unlimited invoices.

  • Unlimited expense entries, time tracking and estimates.

  • Ability to accept credit card payments and ACH bank transfers.

  • Automated bank import.

  • Tax reports.

  • Scheduled late fees and automated payment reminders.

  • 200-plus integrations.

All features in Lite, plus:

  • Unlimited proposals.

  • Automated recurring invoices.

  • Double-entry accounting reports.

  • Client retainers.

  • Option to buy Advanced Payments add-on for an additional $20 per month.

All features in Plus, and:

  • Customized email templates and signatures.

  • Additional information about project profitability.

For businesses with over 500 billable clients, FreshBooks also offers a quote-based Select plan. This includes all Premium features plus a personal account manager, custom team training, lower credit card transaction rates and access for two users. Additional users cost $10 per person per month on all plans.

Integrations

Winner: FreshBooks

Zoho Books is part of the larger Zoho One suite, so if you already use Zoho for other aspects of your business (such as customer relationship management, information technology or human resources), you can sync all your business management systems on one platform. But while Zoho’s integrations with its own tools may be a positive, its lack of integrations with third-party tools can be a significant downside.

For example, Zoho only integrates with SurePayroll for payroll, so if you use a different service, you won’t be able to integrate it with Zoho, leaving you with a lot of manual data entry.

Compared with Zoho Books, FreshBooks offers greater options for integrations and workflows, as well as time-tracking. The software includes over 200 potential integrations even on its lowest-priced plan.

Ease of use

Winner: Tie

FreshBooks and Zoho Books both receive high marks across review sites for usability. FreshBooks syncs across different platforms so you can have real-time numbers on your phone, computer or tablet. Its mobile app is also user-friendly. Though Zoho Books’ mobile interface is lacking, users rave about the design and usability of the desktop version.

Alternatives

If neither Zoho Books nor FreshBooks is sounding like the right option for your business, there are some alternatives for you to consider.

QuickBooks Online

Cost: $25 per month and up.

If you’re looking for more established software from a widely recognized and trusted brand, then check out QuickBooks Online. It’s a cloud-based option from Intuit, and while its plans are a bit more expensive, it has fewer restrictions than Zoho or FreshBooks.

With any QuickBooks Online plan, you get income and expense tracking, receipt capture, invoice tracking, check printing, reports, data backups and access for at least two users. Its least expensive plan comes with many of the features you’d expect to get from a mid-level plan from another provider. You’ll also get the option to sign up for add-ons like expert setup or payroll.

Wave

Cost: Free.

Wave is one of the few free accounting software options for businesses. It allows unlimited bank and credit card connections, unlimited income and expense tracking and unlimited guest collaborators. The software also helps you implement bill and invoice reminders when necessary.

Wave’s feature set isn’t the most robust, and its customer service is limited to online methods. However, it is still a comprehensive solution, and the price can make it an excellent choice for newer businesses or those on a strict budget.

Nina Godlewski, a former Fundera writer, contributed to this article. A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.