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Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses of March 2024

Consider free accounting products just as carefully as you would paid ones to ensure your business doesn’t grow out of them.
By Hillary Crawford, Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on January 2, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner
Fact checked and reviewed

⏰ Estimated read time: 11 minutes

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.

Free accounting software helps small businesses keep track of where their money is coming from and going to. The best options cover the basics in some combination of features, including double-entry accounting, income and expense tracking, invoicing, online bank connections and third-party integrations.
While free accounting software can be sufficient for some microbusinesses, self-employed people and freelancers, don’t think of it as only a temporary solution. Consider your business’s growth trajectory before making a decision. Would more robust small-business accounting software better fit your needs down the road? It’s important to choose a product that your business won’t grow out of, as this will help you avoid tedious data transfers and learning curves.
NerdWallet independently reviewed 12 free accounting software products before determining the top contenders. Here are our picks for the best free accounting software for small businesses.

Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Product
Promotion
Learn more

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Scalability

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

Wave Accounting

3.5/5

Best for Overall free accounting software

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A

ZipBooks

Best for Free accounting software for Macs

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $15, $35, custom.

30-day free trial

Odoo

3.5/5

Best for Business software integrations

$0

For use of a single app. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $38.90, $58.40.

Monthly discount

for the first 12 months.

Brightbook

Best for Freelancers and self-employed professionals

$0

N/A

ProfitBooks

Best for Inventory management

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $15.

N/A

Manager

Best for Desktop-based free accounting software

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $59 for cloud edition.

14-day free trial

of cloud edition.

GnuCash

Best for Open-source free accounting software

$0

N/A

Our pick for

Scalability

With six accounting plan options to choose from — including a robust free plan that allows you to send up to 1,000 invoices per year — Zoho Books offers some of the most scalable accounting products on the market. Start strong with all of the standard accounting features in the free plan, then upgrade as you require additional users, more invoices or advanced features like billing, purchase orders, custom reporting and more.

Zoho Books

Learn more

on Zoho Books' secure website

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

Promotion
14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

Our pick for

Overall free accounting software

Wave is our top pick for free accounting software because it delivers all the expected accounting functions, allows an unlimited number of users, and offers its complementary and robust invoicing software also free of charge. If you’re a freelancer or small business owner with simple accounting and accounts receivable needs, then Wave can likely serve you well.

Wave Accounting

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Free accounting software for Macs

ZipBooks is easy-to-use and intuitive accounting software with a clean interface and a few plan options, including a free accounting plan. The free plan allows you unlimited invoices and clients plus the ability to integrate with Square or PayPal to accept online payments.

ZipBooks

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $15, $35, custom.

Promotion
30-day free trial

Our pick for

Business software integrations

Odoo’s collection of nearly 50 open-source business applications is designed from the ground up to work seamlessly together. Start with one app for free, then build the right network of apps for your business needs with Odoo’s own integrations.

Odoo

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at
$0

For use of a single app. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $38.90, $58.40.

Promotion
Monthly discount

for the first 12 months.

Our pick for

Freelancers and self-employed professionals

Low-cost, high-quality accounting software for freelancers exists, but if you’re looking for completely free software with a full suite of accounting features and you run a business of one, then Brightbook may be a fit for you.

Brightbook

Starting at
$0
Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Inventory management

It’s rare to find inventory management capabilities within free accounting software, so this is where ProfitBooks stands out among its free accounting software competition. The software includes tools for managing suppliers, warehouse and manufacturing inventory and purchase orders.

ProfitBooks

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $15.

Promotion
N/A

Our pick for

Desktop-based free accounting software

Business owners who don’t require mobile access to their accounting software and tend to do most or all of their work on a single desktop machine may prefer a desktop-based accounting solution. Manager offers its desktop accounting software for free with the option to upgrade to a paid plan to access the cloud version of its software.

Manager

Starting at
$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $59 for cloud edition.

Promotion
14-day free trial

of cloud edition.

Our pick for

Open-source free accounting software

GnuCash, like Odoo, is another open-source accounting software option. Open-source accounting software may be most appealing to those who are more tech savvy (or have a team that’s comfortable with some coding) and who prefer to own their own data.

GnuCash

Starting at
$0
Promotion
N/A

Our picks for the best free accounting software

Wave Accounting: Best overall free accounting software

Price: $0.
Why we like it: Wave tops the list for hitting the mark in multiple categories. The free accounting software lets you add unlimited collaborators and import transactions from an unlimited number of bank and credit card accounts. From there, it automatically categorizes transactions and matches them to paid bills or invoices. Wave can also generate the most important financial statements (profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statement) along with reports on sales tax, payroll, aged receivables and aged payables.
Its invoicing feature, in particular, is hard to beat and competes with those of more expensive products. You can create and send unlimited invoices (if you use one of Wave’s paid offerings, like payments or payroll), send automated reminders to clients, set up recurring invoices, and track client communication and payment history. On top of that, the software offers different invoice templates depending on the type of business you run: consulting, freelance, legal services, marketing or professional services.
Wave offers its own payroll software and payment processing, but you can’t integrate with third-party options. Read our complete Wave Accounting review.

Zoho Books: Best for scalability

Price:
  • $0 per month for the Free plan.
  • $20 per month for the Standard plan.
  • $50 per month for the Professional plan.
  • $70 per month for the Premium plan.
  • $150 per month for the Elite plan.
  • $275 per month for the Ultimate plan.
Why we like it: Zoho Books’ free plan puts a limit on invoices and users, but unlike other options, it has the capacity to grow with your business. The lowest-tier paid plan, for example, gives you access to reporting tags, customized reporting and phone and chat support (whereas the free plan offers support only by email). Higher-tier plans include more advanced features, like workflow rules, purchase orders, cash flow forecasting and custom roles. And you can integrate with a wide range of other Zoho suite products, like Zoho CRM, Expense and Inventory (additional subscription fees may apply).
The free plan covers a lot of ground in its own right, though. You can send up to 1,000 invoices per year (as long as your business makes less than $50,000 in annual revenue), accept online payments through Stripe and PayPal, send estimates and recurring invoices, manage 1099 contractors and create bank rules for categorizing transactions. There’s also a mobile app that lets you send invoices through iMessage or add widgets to your iPhone’s home screen so that you can easily access overdue invoices. Read our full Zoho Books review.

ZipBooks: Best free accounting software for Macs

Price:
  • $0 per month for the free plan.
  • $15 per month for the Smarter plan.
  • $35 per month for the Sophisticated plan.
Why we like it: If you’re a Mac user in search of free accounting software for Macs, then ZipBooks can fill that need. ZipBooks’ free plan stands out for its Square and PayPal payment integrations, a feature some companies only provide in paid plans or as an add-on. This is especially nice for small-business owners who use a Square card reader to accept in-person payments.
Aside from payment options, free plan subscribers can also integrate with business apps like Gusto and Slack. Some competitors, like Wave, offer in-house payroll software, but it’s hard to find a free product that integrates with a popular third-party alternative like Gusto. In addition to offering these integrations, ZipBooks lets you snap photos of your expense receipts, track customer and vendor details, and send custom quotes and invoices. But you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan to schedule recurring invoices and send automated payment reminders.

Odoo: Best for customization

Price:
  • $0 per month for use of a single app.
  • $38.90 per user per month for access to all apps.
  • $58.40 per user per month for access to all apps across multiple companies plus Odoo’s external API.
Why we like it: Odoo is an ecosystem of business software that promises to integrate seamlessly. Because the software is developed through the open-source model, thousands of business professionals and coders work together to ensure all of the apps that Odoo offers play together smoothly.
Odoo’s accounting software syncs with your bank to easily track transactions, enables automated payment reminders and recurring invoicing, offers a variety of reports and ways to access them and displays all your key financial information in a single clear dashboard. With Odoo, an unlimited number of users can manage invoices, accounts receivable and payable, bills and cash. And because Odoo’s library of apps includes dozens of apps for business functions such as website building, CRM, point of sale, inventory, HR and marketing, you can custom build the complete business software solution you need — without the headache of connecting multiple third-party apps.

Brightbook: Best for freelancers and self-employed professionals

Price: $0.
Why we like it: Brightbook’s free accounting software is best suited for businesses of one to five employees, so either very small businesses or those who do freelance or contract work and essentially operate as a sole proprietorship. You can use the software to send quotes to clients, convert them to invoices, bill for time, add discounts or taxes and accept payments through PayPal.
The dashboard gives you quick insights, like money owed to you and cash flow. It’s a plus whenever free products come with reporting capabilities, but Brightbook offers fewer reports than some competitors. Because it’s a single-entry system, for example, you won’t find a balance sheet. However, you can view basic reports on profit and loss, taxes, sales, bills and expenses.
Although you won’t find a formal account for liabilities in Brightbook, you can still upload your bills to the software so you can keep track of what you owe vendors and suppliers. And once you’ve paid a bill, just check it off as “paid.”

ProfitBooks: Best for inventory management

Price:
  • $0 per month for the Startup plan.
  • $15 per month for the SMB plan.
Why we like it: ProfitBooks stands out among its competitors with robust inventory management capabilities that let you generate purchase orders and email them to vendors from within the software, transfer stock between warehouses, group items into batches and assign expiration dates to perishable goods.
Inventory aside, you can choose from a variety of invoice templates, add custom fields and automatically calculate taxes. The platform also lets you accept online invoice payments via card or PayPal, but note that you can’t exceed 25 invoices per month with the free plan. While you can manually import bank statements into ProfitBooks and reconcile accounts from there, the process isn’t as seamless compared with products with online bank feeds that automatically pull in transactions.
As your small business grows, you can upgrade to ProfitBooks’ SMB plan, which includes unlimited users, lets you send unlimited invoices and allows you to track unlimited customers, products and services.

Manager: Best for desktop-based free accounting software

Price:
  • $0 per month for the desktop version.
  • $49 per month for the cloud edition.
Why we like it: Manager is another free accounting option, and it offers software both for desktop and cloud access. For instance, it supports cash and accrual accounting and lets you manage purchase orders, track accounts receivable and payable, send invoices, and run an array of reports. In addition to the basic reports — like an income statement and balance sheet — you can generate reports on inventory, fixed assets, suppliers, customers and changes in equity. Other more advanced features include the ability to create separate tax codes for different line items in invoices, track inventory and assign production stages to items.
If you’d like to access the software remotely and allow other users to collaborate, you might consider upgrading to Manager’s cloud edition.

GnuCash: Best for open-source free accounting software

Price: $0.
Why we like it: GnuCash is appealing for its fully free software and benefits that come with open-source technology, like faster iteration and improvement due to its crowdsourced development and testing. However, GnuCash will also require some familiarity with coding as well as some comfort with using a checkbook-style register and entering transactions manually. Among other capabilities, you can split transactions and customize how the register is displayed.
GnuCash is desktop-based, meaning it must be locally installed on your computer. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, but it cannot be accessed remotely like cloud-based accounting software can.

What is free accounting software?

Small businesses need to keep track of every financial transaction, whether it’s an invoice payment, travel expense or utility bill. Free accounting software can be a hub for all of this data, though it often has fewer features and less automation than paid accounting software products. When you keep your financial records updated and follow basic accounting principles, you gain a better understanding of how your business is performing financially and what it can or cannot afford going forward.
Most free accounting software makes it easy to generate basic reports — like a balance sheet — and some products automate bookkeeping tasks, like transaction categorizing and matching. Just as importantly, these products help ensure you’ll have all the records you need come tax time.

How to choose free accounting software for a small business

Even though you’re not investing money when picking a free accounting software platform, you are investing your time. Plus, changing apps may mean inputting your financial data each time.
Consider these factors when deciding which free accounting software is best for your business.

Free accounting software features

Free accounting software should have some combination of the following features:
  • Income and expense tracking. 
  • The ability to automatically import your bank transactions so that you can categorize them.
  • Third-party integrations or in-house software options for payments, payroll, etc. 
However, it often lacks features you’d find in more robust small-business accounting software — think inventory management, advanced reporting and live support. If a free system doesn’t have everything you require, you’ll need to consider add-ons, upgraded versions or a different product altogether.

Mobile app and cloud access

Most accounting software is cloud-based, meaning it's accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection. If this level of access is important to you, be sure to look for platforms that have robust mobile websites or accounting apps to help you manage your money from wherever you are. If you plan on only using your accounting software from a single computer, though, a desktop-based option may work as well.

Scalability

Your accounting needs might be modest today, but they may not stay that way forever. If you think your business will grow in the future, make sure your accounting software offers higher-tier plans or add-ons that can scale with your company.

Ease of sharing with your bookkeeper or accountant

Your team of financial professionals will need to be able to access your books easily and with minimal risk of error. Check with your bookkeeper or accountant before choosing software. While accountants typically work with paid products like QuickBooks Online or Xero, they may be familiar with some of the free ones listed here, too.

Is free accounting software right for your small business?

Free accounting software can be the right choice if it covers your business’s financial needs. The best choice will depend on your specific industry, budget and growth trajectory. But if a free accounting product doesn’t make it easy to manage your money, a paid option will likely be the better choice to save your business time and help ensure you’re tracking your finances accurately. You can usually opt for free trials of paid versions before committing to get a better idea of how user-friendly and capable it is.
If you’re interested in paid accounting software, NerdWallet has put together picks for the best accounting software in a range of categories, including the following:
Last updated on January 2, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s accounting software ratings favor products that are easy to use, reasonably priced, have a robust feature set and can grow with your business. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including range of features, cost, ease of use, accounting standards compliance, scalability, ease of sharing with accountants, integrations, customer support, pricing transparency and availability of a free trial period. 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. We encourage you to research and compare multiple accounting software products before choosing one.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

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