Sage Accounting Software Review: Cost, Pros, Cons

Sage Accounting is affordable, but competitors can offer a more modern user experience and greater product transparency.
Randa KrissJul 29, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Sage Accounting is a cloud-based . With two affordable plans to choose from, Sage Accounting offers essential bookkeeping and accounting features, comprehensive reporting and inventory tracking. Despite its affordability, however, competitors like and may provide a more modern user experience and greater product transparency.

After you sign up for Sage Accounting, you’ll be able to log in to your account and access your dashboard. Your main dashboard view will be the summary tab, which provides an overview of key financial information, such as sales, expenses and cash flow. You’ll be able to navigate to different sections of your account using the navigation bar across the top of your dashboard.

When you sign in for the first time, you’ll see the Getting Started wizard, which can walk you through the steps needed to get your account set up. You’ll be able to enter basic information about your business, like your company name and address, as well as create and link your bank accounts.

Once your bank accounts are linked, your transactions will download to Sage automatically, helping to streamline the reconciliation process when balancing your books.

Next, you’ll be able to enter customer and vendor information. If you have existing contact data in a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to import it directly into Sage Accounting. You’ll also be able to set up your , enter opening account balances and review your trial balance report.

At any time, you can visit the online help center for additional information on setting up your account, or chat with Sage customer service by clicking the chat button in the upper right corner of your screen.

With the Sage Accounting plan, you can invite multiple users to your account and assign them one of five user roles. If you are working with a professional , they can sign up for Sage Accounting Accountants Edition and send you an email invite from their account. Once you accept the invitation, your accountant will have full access rights to the data within your Sage account.

Sage Accounting Start users must go through this process in order to work with an accountant. However, although Sage Accounting offers unlimited users, Sage recommends linking accounts through this process for a better user experience.

Promotional discounts may apply. Sage offers a 30-day free trial for the Accounting Start and Accounting plan. You can also schedule a one-on-one session with a Sage Accounting expert to address questions you may have, or call its sales phone line for additional product information.

Between Sage Accounting Start and Sage Accounting, this software offers solid reporting features, extending beyond the basic financial statements (profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, general ledger). With the entry-level plan, you can create a chart of accounts, sales tax reports, 1099 vendor reports and .

The Accounting plan takes reporting to the next level with cash flow forecasts, profit analysis, accounts payable aging reports and stock movements. For comparison, accounts payable and receivable reporting requires the Essentials version of QuickBooks Online ($50 per month). FreshBooks doesn’t even offer basic accounting reports, like the chart of accounts or general ledger, until its second-tier plan ($25 per month), and accounts payable features require the Premium plan ($50 per month).

Inventory tracking can be a particularly useful feature of accounting software for product-based businesses. Not all accounting software solutions offer inventory management, however, and some that do offer it only with their top-tier plans.

Sage does not include inventory tracking with the Accounting Start plan, but it is included with the Accounting plan — at $25 per month. QuickBooks Online is well-known for its inventory features, but you must opt for the Plus plan (at a minimum) for $80 per month to access them. Similarly, doesn’t offer inventory tracking until its Professional plan ($50), and the free Wave accounting software doesn’t provide these capabilities at all.

With Sage Accounting, you can add products, organize them into categories and customize their prices. You can track quantities, set stock reorder levels, receive out-of-stock notifications and generate reports on your best-selling products. Moreover, you can also add services or actions that you buy and sell to customers, like software upgrades or computer repairs.

» MORE:

If you want to be able to create several user accounts — without paying additional fees — the Sage Accounting plan could be a particularly good option for your business. This plan offers unlimited users, with five user role options. In fact, one of the five options allows you to customize your user’s access levels, designating the permissions you want them to have based on the different sections of your account (sales, expenses, contacts, etc.)

Although and offer unlimited users with their software, other competitors require that you upgrade your plan or pay separate fees for user access. Even with QuickBooks Online Advanced, the highest-level plan ($180 per month), you can only add up to 25 users; Zoho Books Premium ($70 per month) only accommodates up to 10 users. FreshBooks, on the other hand, requires that you pay $10 per user per month for the team member add-on — and doesn’t offer accountant access until the second-tier Plus plan (something that is offered with Sage Accounting Start).

» MORE:

Neither the Accounting Start nor the Accounting plans include any time tracking features. This is particularly unusual considering the Sage website states that the Accounting Start plan is best suited for the self-employed and microbusinesses, some of which benefit from time tracking capabilities, especially if they’re in a service-related industry.

Although some competitors are also lacking in this area — Wave doesn’t offer time tracking, Xero includes it only with the highest-level plan and Zoho requires the third-tier plan ($50 per month) — this is a significant differentiator with alternatives like FreshBooks and QuickBooks.

QuickBooks Online includes mileage tracking with all plans, and although you have to opt for the Essentials plan to access time tracking, you also have the option to purchase QuickBooks Time for additional features, or integrate with one of the many third-party in the marketplace.

FreshBooks is an even better option, offering unlimited time tracking and mileage tracking with all plans.

Compared to competitors, the Sage Accounting dashboard is reminiscent of an older desktop-based software. The color scheme is monotone, the font is small and although it isn’t particularly difficult to use, it doesn’t have the same approachability as some alternatives.

You’ll find that competitors like Wave, FreshBooks and Zoho, among others, have a more modern design. The dashboards are often colorful, with navigation menus on the side of the screen as opposed to laid out across the top. The fonts are larger and easier to read.

The look and feel of your dashboard is a matter of personal preference, however, so you may find that you prefer the Sage dashboard to other options.

The Sage website is not easy to navigate and could be more clear when it comes to product details and information. Sage has many software products, including Sage Accounting, but the website is not always consistent with terminology — for example, using Sage Accounting and Sage Business Cloud Accounting to refer to the same product, and calling one of two Sage Accounting plans “Sage Accounting.”

These inconsistencies can make it difficult to determine which product is being discussed on a particular page, in addition to causing general confusion. Moreover, Sage is relatively brief on the differences between the Accounting Start and Accounting plans on the main part of the website, but if you dig deep into the support site, you can find a thorough list comparing their features.

Overall, you may find more upfront information about Sage Accounting than some of the other Sage software products (like ), and yet, it’s still much simpler to browse the sites of competitors and find exactly what they have to offer with their plan options.

Although Sage Accounting is perhaps the most suitable Sage software product for small businesses, it’s only one of many solutions the company offers.

Here’s a brief summary of the most popular Sage financial products:

If you’re interested in any of the other software options, we’d recommend contacting Sage directly for a demo and additional product information.

» MORE:

On a similar note...
Dive even deeper in Small Business