BEST OF

Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Consider free accounting products just as carefully as you would paid ones to ensure your business doesn’t grow out of them.

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Small-business accounting software helps entrepreneurs keep track of where their money is coming from and going to. While free accounting programs often lack features like inventory management, advanced reporting and live support, they can be sufficient for some micro businesses, self-employed people and freelancers.

Before browsing free accounting software options, consider your business’s growth trajectory. It’s important to choose a product that can scale up with your business to avoid tedious data transfers and learning curves. You’ll also want to check in with your accountant or bookkeeper to make sure they can work with the program you choose.

Here are our top picks for free small-business accounting software.

Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Our pick for

Overall best free option

Unlike some paid accounting software plans, Wave doesn’t put limits on the number of collaborators, accountants, invoices, expenses or bank connections you can add. There are also in-house payroll and bookkeeping assistance options available to businesses that need them.

Wave
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Wave Accounting

Wave

Starting at

$0

Free (Wave makes money via paid money management products).

Promotion

N/A
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Why we like it

Unlike some “freemium” software products, Wave doesn’t put out a bare-bones free product as bait, then load it down with costly upgrades. The free accounting software lets you add unlimited collaborators, along with unlimited bank and credit card connections.

Pros

  • Free.

  • Unlimited partners, collaborators and accountants.

  • Intuitive, customizable invoicing capabilities compete with those of more robust accounting solutions.

  • Simple solution for small service-based businesses.

Cons

  • Limited scalability; lacks features that quickly growing companies need, like audit trails and a more automated reconciliation process.

  • Free plan doesn’t include customer support with a human.

  • Offers fewer reports than some competitors.

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Our pick for

Scalability

Zoho Books is a good choice for small businesses that know they’ll grow out of free accounting software down the road. It includes a handful of higher-tier plans with reporting tags, project tracking and workflow rules, among other features for more complex businesses.

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Zoho Books

Zoho

Starting at

$0

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

Promotion

14-day free trial

14-day free trial of the Premium plan.

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Why we like it

Zoho Books packs an impressive collection of features and capabilities for an affordable price, and higher-tier plans let users automate workflows and track project profitability. It’s an especially good choice for users that already use the company’s other in-house apps.

Pros

  • Less expensive than some competitors; free plan available for businesses with less than $50k in annual revenue.

  • Easy sharing with accountants or bookkeepers.

  • Reconciliation features help automate transaction matching and categorization.

  • Email support in free plan; 24/5 phone and chat support in paid plans.

Cons

  • Third-party app integrations are more limited than other choices.

  • No plan includes more than 15 users.

  • Offers fewer reports than some competitors.

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Our pick for

Customization

Akaunting’s free plan is intended for freelancers and self-employed entrepreneurs who don’t need features like expense tracking or a general ledger. Users can pick and choose from add-ons for inventory, double-entry accounting, payroll and expense tracking — for a fee.

Akaunting
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Akaunting

Akaunting

Starting at

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $36.

Promotion

N/A
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Why we like it

Akaunting users can customize the open-source software so that it only includes what they need.

Pros

  • Free plan available.

  • Ability to manage multiple businesses.

  • Send unlimited invoices and bills.

  • Unlimited customer and vendor management.

Cons

  • Free plan doesn’t include live customer support.

  • Key features like a chart of accounts, general ledger and expense tracking cost extra.

  • Limited to one user and one accountant in the free plan.

Our pick for

Free third-party payment integrations

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. Aside from payments, free plan subscribers can also integrate with business apps like Gusto and Slack.

ZipBooks
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ZipBooks

ZipBooks

Starting at

$0

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

Promotion

30-day free trial

30-day free trial of Smarter and Sophisticated plans.

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Why we like it

ZipBooks’ free plan covers the basics, including double-entry accounting features, and lets users accept digital payments via Square or PayPal.

Pros

  • Free plan available.

  • Send unlimited invoices and add expenses.

  • Unlimited customer and vendor management.

  • Free plan includes direct integration with Square and PayPal for payment processing.

Cons

  • Free plan lets users connect to only one bank account.

  • Limited to one user in the free plan.

  • Free plan doesn’t include live customer support.

How to choose free small-business accounting software

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 questions when deciding which accounting software is best for your business.

How accessible is it?

You won’t always be in front of a computer, which means that on-the-go accessibility is a must. Look for platforms that have robust mobile websites or apps, when possible, to help you manage your money from wherever you are.

Can it scale?

Your accounting needs may be modest today, but they may not stay that way forever. That’s why it’s important to pick a platform that accommodates your changing needs.

Is it compatible with your bookkeeper or accountant’s software?

Your financial professionals need to be able to access your books easily and with minimal risk of error. Check with your bookkeeper or accountant before choosing software.

Does it include must-have features?

If you have specific needs for your business’s financial management, you may find that some of these free options don’t have everything you’re looking for. That means you’ll need to consider add-ons or upgraded, paid versions of these apps.

Is there a paid option that better fits your needs?

Free accounting tools are great when they cover your requirements. However, if a tool doesn’t make it easy for you to manage your money, then it may save you time and headaches to go with a paid option instead. You can usually opt for free trials before committing to a platform, too.

If a free option isn’t right for you, consider NerdWallet’s top picks for small-business accounting software.

Last updated on August 2, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses

  • Wave Accounting: Best for Overall best free option
  • Zoho Books: Best for Scalability
  • Akaunting: Best for Customization
  • ZipBooks: Best for Free third-party payment integrations