Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses of 2024

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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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.

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.

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.

250+ small-business products reviewed and rated by our team of experts.

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Objective and comprehensive business accounting software ratings rubric. (Learn more about our star ratings.)

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Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses
ProductStarting atPromotionLearn more
Wave

Wave Accounting

NerdWallet Rating 
3.5
$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A 
Zoho Books

Zoho Books

NerdWallet Rating 
4.5
Learn more

on Zoho Books' website

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

14-day free trial 

of the Premium plan.

Learn more

on Zoho Books' website

ZipBooks

ZipBooks

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

30-day free trial 
Odoo

Odoo

NerdWallet Rating 
4.0
$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

Monthly discount 

for the first 12 months.

Brightbook

Brightbook

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A 
ProfitBooks

ProfitBooks

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A 
Manager

Manager

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

14-day free trial 

of the Premium plan.

GnuCash

GnuCash

$0 

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16

N/A 

A closer look at our top software picks

Wave Accounting

Best overall free accounting software
Wave
Wave

Wave Accounting

NerdWallet Rating 
3.5
Starting At 

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $16 

Consider it if you’re a small business with simple accounting needs that are generally concentrated in sending invoices and collecting payment. You’ll need to choose the paid plan if you want to enable clients to pay online directly through your invoice.

  • $0 for the Starter plan.

  • $16 per month for the Pro plan.

Wave tops the list for hitting the mark in multiple categories. Its invoicing feature, in particular, is hard to beat. The free software lets you generate an unlimited number of estimates and invoices and customize them with your business logo. And with Wave’s mobile app, you can do your invoicing from anywhere. 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.

Wave has recently added a paid plan option that allows you to send automated payment reminders to clients, link a bank account for automated transaction import and reconciliation, and add users to your account for easy collaboration and sharing with your accountant. 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.

Pros

Free plan available.

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

Cons

Lacks features that quickly growing companies need, like audit trails.

Must subscribe to Wave’s Pro plan or other paid services (payroll, payments, advisor, etc.) to receive customer support from a human

No third-party integrations, mileage tracking feature or ability to accept in-person card payments.

Zoho Books

Best for scalability
Zoho Books
Zoho Books

Zoho Books

NerdWallet Rating 
4.5
Starting At 

$0

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

Consider it if you’re just starting out on your small-business journey but anticipate substantial growth over time. (It's our top pick for startup accounting software.) If you’re tech savvy and tend to work on the go, you may benefit from Zoho’s mobile app and unique features.

  • $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.

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 revenue annually), 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.

Pros

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

Email support in free plan; phone and chat support in paid plans.

Rich feature set includes excellent invoicing, inventory management, workflow rules and a capable mobile app.

Add accounting widgets to your phone’s home screen; track time using your Apple Watch.

Cons

Fewer third-party integrations and reports than some competitors.

No plan includes more than 15 users (can add additional users for a fee).

ZipBooks

Best free accounting software for Macs
ZipBooks
ZipBooks

ZipBooks

Starting At 

$0

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

Consider it if you prefer to do your work on a Mac and/or if you already use Square or PayPal to accept payments, since ZipBooks can seamlessly connect with those platforms to enable online payments with your invoicing.

  • $0 per month for the Starter plan.

  • $15 per month for the Smarter plan.

  • $35 per month for the Sophisticated plan.

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 accept payment in person with a Square card reader.

Aside from payment options, free plan subscribers can also integrate with business apps like Gusto and Slack. Some competitors, like Wave, offer their own 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.

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.

Odoo

Best for customization
Odoo
Odoo

Odoo

NerdWallet Rating 
4.0
Starting At 

$0

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

Consider it if your business needs multiple software services, such as CRM, HR, point of sale (POS) or others. Try Odoo’s accounting app on its own for free, and then upgrade to a paid plan for access to Odoo’s full library of apps that smoothly integrate with one another.

  • $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.

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, 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 accounts 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.

Pros

Unlimited users.

Vast library of directly integrated apps means the software can grow with your business.

Open-source model encourages regular testing and improvement of the software.

Cons

Paid plan is required to access the full list of features for most apps and any additional apps.

Phone support is only available for database emergencies.

Brightbook

Best for freelancers and self-employed professionals
Brightbook
Brightbook

Brightbook

Starting At 

$0

Consider it if you run your own business and don’t pay employees. 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.

$0.

You can use Brightbook’s free accounting 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.”

Pros

Send unlimited invoices.

Add unlimited users.

Run basic reports, like a profit and loss statement and tax report.

Cons

Does not use double-entry accounting.

Must manually import bank statements.

ProfitBooks

Best for inventory management
ProfitBooks
ProfitBooks

ProfitBooks

Starting At 

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20. 

Consider it if you’re a startup retail business on a budget with the need to carefully track and manage inventory.

  • $0 per month for the Startup plan.

  • $20 per month for the SMB plan.

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 to products with online bank feeds that automatically pull in transactions. This is where the company’s paid remote bookkeeping service may come in handy, as the bookkeeper will handle this tedious manual work for you.

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.

Pros

Run more than 40 financial reports.

Manage inventory.

In-app chat and email support available.

Cons

Free plan capped at 25 invoices per month and can track no more than 25 products or services.

Free plan accommodates just one user.

Must manually import bank statements.

Manager

Best for desktop-based free accounting software
Manager
Manager

Manager

Starting At 

$0

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

Consider it if you prefer to locally install your accounting software on a single machine and don’t need to share access with colleagues or your accountant. If your access preferences change down the line, you can upgrade to Manager’s cloud edition.

  • $0 per month for the desktop version.

  • $59 per month for the cloud edition.

Manager is another free accounting option, and it offers software both for desktop and cloud access. 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.

Pros

Send unlimited invoices.

Run reports, including a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, aged payables, aged receivables, cash flow statement.

Email support available.

Cons

Must upgrade to cloud edition to support multiple users.

Must manually import bank statements.

GnuCash

Best for open-source free accounting software
GnuCash
GnuCash

GnuCash

Starting At 

$0

Consider it if you’re well-versed in coding (or have a team that is) and prefer to work on a desktop.

$0.

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 software can.

Pros

Open-source software is customizable, according to your business’s needs.

Run reports — like a balance sheet and profit and loss statement — and display results as a bar chart, pie chart or scatter plot.

Supports double-entry accounting.

Cons

Less automated than some competitors. Checkbook-style register can make entering transactions tedious.

Outdated user interface.

Not capable of multiuser access.

Support is only available via chat and email forums and user guides; no dedicated customer support team.

How we determined the best free accounting software

NerdWallet independently reviews accounting software products before determining our top picks. We collect the data for our software ratings from products’ public-facing websites and from company representatives. Information is gathered on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy.

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. The best accounting software received top marks when evaluated across 10 categories and more than 30 subcategories. 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.

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. 

  • Invoicing. 

  • 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 software right for your small business?

Free business software can be the right choice if it covers your financial, payroll, inventory, sales or other needs. The best choice will depend on your specific industry, budget and growth trajectory. But if a free product doesn’t make it easier to run your business, a paid option will likely be the better choice to save you time and help ensure accuracy. You can usually opt for free trials of paid versions before committing to get a better idea of how user-friendly and capable the software is.

If you’re interested in exploring other free business software options, NerdWallet has put together picks for the best free software across a range of business needs, including the following:

Frequently asked questions

Accounting software makes it easier to categorize transactions and keep your books organized for tax season. Since it tracks your income and expenses, it also helps you stay on top of your business’s financial health. Free accounting software generally comes with basic reports, invoicing features and other tools like online bank connections, which help you record money coming into and out of your business.

Free accounting software companies often make their money from additional paid services that generate income. Wave, for example, has free accounting software, but it charges fees for online payments, bookkeeping support, payroll software and coaching.

In most cases, small businesses benefit greatly from accounting software — free or not. It can take manual bookkeeping tasks off your hands and simplify how you record transactions. Accounting software is also less susceptible to human error than spreadsheets. If there is a discrepancy, you can use audit trails to track down the source. Just know that some free accounting software, like Wave, does not have an audit trail feature.

Free accounting software should come with most of the features you’re looking for, and if it doesn’t, it’s probably worth subscribing to a paid product instead. While you’re unlikely to find features like advanced reporting, job costing or mileage tracking, a handful of products still generate basic double-entry accounting reports and support unlimited invoicing.

Other common tools, like online bank connections, help speed up the reconciliation process. And make sure to consider integrations — free accounting software should be compatible with how you choose to accept payments.

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