Best Free Accounting Software Shortlist
Based on my research and analysis of the free accounting software programs on the market, here’s who made my top 12:
- Striven - Best for a range of features
- Express Accounts - Best for financial reporting
- Zoho Books - Best for businesses using other Zoho services
- ZipBooks - Best for invoicing
- Lendio - Best for sole proprietors
- GnuCash - Best for small teams
- Wave - Best for automations
- Akaunting - Best for payroll
- BrightBook - Best for remote and virtual teams
- TurboCASH - Best for power users
- TrulySmall Invoices - Best for very small businesses/freelancers
- Money Manager EX - Best for simple projects
What Can I Expect in Free Accounting Software?
Accounting software is a type of computer program that is designed to help a company manage its accounting and bookkeeping processes. Most accounting software also allows companies to produce financial reports and track their overall financial performance.
Some software providers offer accounting software that’s completely free to use. Most free accounting software providers usually charge a fee for more advanced features or add-ons, like payment processing.
Generally, free accounting software will have a limit for the total number of transactions, total annual revenues, or a maximum number of users that can use the software. If you go over those limits, they’ll usually make you upgrade to a paid plan or higher tier of service.
Overviews of the 12 Best Free Accounting Software Options
Based on my selection criteria described below, here are the 12 best free accounting software options on the market right now.
1. Striven - Best for a range of features
Striven can handle everything from standard accounting and bookkeeping tasks to communicating with suppliers and monitoring cash flows.
Why I picked Striven: Striven offers an accounting dashboard alongside other valuable business services, letting it serve as a one-stop shop for your company’s software needs.
Striven Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include Striven’s ability to support many kinds of organizations, from businesses to nonprofits to government entities. It also does a good job of generating reports quickly and giving you tools to communicate with customers and vendors from your accounting portal.
Integrations include Gmail, Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar.
- User friendly
- Lots of features
- Strong customer support
- Limited features for free service
- Long setup process
2. Express Accounts - Best for financial reporting
Express Accounts’ reporting capabilities can help you quickly generate dozens of different financial reports and analyze your company’s revenues and expenses on a customer-by-customer basis.
Why I picked Express Accounts: Express Accounts is easy to use and generates a huge variety of financial reports that you can use to analyze your company’s situation.
Express Accounts Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include more than 20 essential financial reports that let you quickly get a view of your company’s financial situation. The tool also tracks your sales and accounts receivable, automatically recording orders and invoices to limit the amount of manual bookkeeping you have to do.
In terms of working with customers and suppliers, Express Accounts can generate professional quotes, invoices, and sales orders as well as manage bill payments.
Integrations include other NCH software, such as Inventoria inventory management.
- Completely free for small companies
- Upgrade price is cheap if your business grows
- One lifetime price
- No free option for larger companies
- Limited integrations
3. Zoho Books - Best for businesses using other Zoho services
If you’re already a Zoho customer, I’d definitely recommend looking into adding their accounting software to your current setup. Zoho Books can handle everything from expense reporting to automated follow-up on customer accounts.
Why I picked Zoho Books: Zoho Books is a great tool on its own, offering all the essential tools you’d expect from accounting software. It stands out when you combine it with Zoho’s other business services.
Zoho Books Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include integrations with other Zoho business services and third-party payment apps. It also offers easy-to-use invoicing tools that pair with automated follow-up and collections processes. Mileage and expense tracking also help you monitor spending.
Integrations include other Zoho tools, PayPal, Stripe, WePay, and other payment tools.
- Test account lets you check out the service before signing up
- Easy to use
- Most important features available with free service
- Limited support
- Works best if you pay for additional services
4. ZipBooks - Best for invoicing
ZipBooks is designed with invoicing at the forefront–it wants to do whatever it takes to help you get paid. The dashboard shows you all of your latest invoice payment stats, and ZipBooks makes it easy to customize your dashboard to display any other financial information you want to see.
Why I picked ZipBooks: ZipBooks is easy to use and lets you send an unlimited number of invoices with its free plan.
ZipBooks Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include the ability to send an unlimited number of invoices without having to pay a fee. You can accept invoice payments using most major payment methods with no additional effort. It also comes with basic reporting tools.
Integrations include Google Drive, Square, PayPal, and major banks.
- Free service with no limit on business size
- Easily accept payments
- Unlimited invoices with free service
- Limited support
- Most useful features require a paid subscription
5. Lendio (formerly Sunrise) - Best for sole proprietors
Lendio’s accounting tool, formerly known as Sunrise, is great for invoice automations. For sole proprietors and those who don’t have a dedicated accounting department, Lendio can save you a lot of time and money.
Why I picked Lendio: Lendio offers easy invoicing, includes automations, and has reasonably-priced payment acceptance. Lendio does charge a fee for payment processing (from 2.55% + $0.30 to 3.55% + $0.30 for credit card payments, 0.5% + $0.30 - 1.5% + $0.30 for ACH transactions).
Lendio Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include Lendio’s ability to help automate your invoicing and collection processes, making it easier to get paid for your work. You can also use the tool to make quotes and estimates, track expenses, and generate financial reports.
Integrations: Integrates with Gusto for payroll automation.
- Free service that offers invoice automation
- Reporting tools
- Easy expense tracking
- Website and support availability are not detailed
- Provides little help with signing up
6. GnuCash - Best for small teams
You’ve surely heard you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, fans of GnuCash would probably tell you not to judge accounting software by its UI.
This one isn’t winning any beauty contests, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. GnuCash won’t disappoint when it comes to features–everything from the most basic to the most advanced ones are completely free. But, fair warning: be ready for a bit of a learning curve.
Why I picked GnuCash: GnuCash is open source and available entirely for free, making it one of the only accounting tools offering all of its available features for free.
GnuCash Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include a checkbook-style transaction register and statement reconciliation tools. You can also use the app to automate some processes by scheduling transactions.
Integrations are limited.
- Open-source software that offers all features for free
- Extensive user guides and how-to documentation
- Great reporting capability
- Steep learning curve
- No professional support
7. Wave - Best for automation
Wave is a great option for anyone who has multiple businesses or those that want to automate processes but don’t have hours to spend setting up accounting software.
Unlike many free software tools on the market, Wave doesn’t impose limits on the number of company bank accounts or credit cards you can add.
Why I picked Wave: Wave is one of the easiest-to-use tools. You can get up and running within a few minutes of making an account.
Wave Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include unlimited connections with bank and credit card accounts make Wave a great way to track revenue and expenses automatically. Once you’ve imported your data, it can quickly build financial reports. It also lets you manage multiple businesses using one account, which makes it easier to keep track of all your companies.
Payment processing, payroll, and personalized bookkeeping services are available through Wave for an additional cost.
Integrations include Google Drive, Stripe, PayPal, and more.
- Easy to use
- Truly free for accounting
- Additional services such as payroll and automated billing available
- Free customers can only get chatbot or self-service support
- High fees for some credit card processing
8. Akaunting - Best for payroll
Akaunting has an appealing dashboard that shows you key details about your company’s payables, receivables, and recent profits.
Why I picked Akaunting: Akaunting offers free and paid services. The free service offers all the key tools you need, but you can buy additional features a la carte to avoid a full-priced subscription.
Akaunting Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include reporting tools that offer key insight into your company’s financial performance. The app also has a billing calendar that helps you track billing and payments and the ability to send unlimited numbers of invoices. Multinational companies will benefit from its multi-currency support.
Integrations include WooCommerce, bank accounts, and Klarna.
- Unlimited invoices, bills, and reports at the free tier
- Variety of integrations
- Multi-currency support
- Free customers only get forum support
- Top tiers of service are very expensive if you ever choose to upgrade
9. BrightBook - Best for remote and virtual teams
The beauty of web-based tools is they can be used anywhere, so it doesn’t matter where you or the rest of your team work from. And with Brightbook’s intuitive design and functionality, you don’t need accounting experience or hours of training to be able to use it.
Why I picked Brightbook: Brightbook is easy to use and operates entirely through the web, letting you access it from any device.
Brightbook Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include a simple interface designed to guide people with no accounting experience through the app. It supports services like invoicing, generating instant reports, connecting with your bank account, and working in multiple currencies.
- Incredibly simple interface
- Quick sign up
- No user cap
- Unlimited invoices
- Limited support
- No integrations
10. TurboCASH - Best for power users
TurboCASH is an open-source, no-frills option that has all the tools you need for free. If you’re tech-savvy, you can accomplish a lot with this software. However, like most open-source solutions, be ready for a learning curve.
Why I picked TurboCASH: TurboCash may not look as sleek or as simple as other accounting tools, but it offers surprisingly powerful features once you learn to work with it.
TurboCASH Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include its support for multiple accounting standards. You can also use the tool for invoicing and customer tracking. With multi-language support, TurboCASH is an option for almost any company.
- Truly free if you use version 4
- Multi-language support
- Powerful customer tracking and reporting tools
- Steep learning curve
- Limited support
11. TrulySmall Invoices - Best for very small businesses/freelancers
While it technically isn’t a full-fledged accounting software, TrulySmall Invoices is a great free budgeting tool that makes it easy to create all of your company’s invoices.
Why I picked TrulySmall Invoices: True to its name, TrulySmall Invoices offers basic services that are ideal for a small company that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.
TrulySmall Invoices Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include the ability to quickly build and track business budgets with receipt scanning tools. The tool also lets you create invoices, generate spending reports, and connect with bank accounts to import data and handle reimbursements for client expenses.
Integrations include the option to connect with external bank accounts.
- Easy to use
- Start sending invoices without an account
- Multiple invoice templates
- Limited customization options in the free tier
- More invoicing software than accounting software
12. Money Manager EX - Best for simple projects
Money Manager EX is aimed more at helping people manage their finances rather than large companies. But nevertheless, it’s a sharp little tool that can handle most of the essential accounting tasks for anyone running a solo construction operation.
Why I picked Money Manager EX: The program is open source and requires more manual data entry, which is good for people who want to take a hands-on approach.
Money Manager Ex Standout Features and Integrations:
Standout Features include Money Manager EX’s strong cash flow tracking, making this tool a great choice for monitoring your company’s performance. Its open-source nature means it’s highly customizable and you can make tweaks to it if you have the expertise to do so.
- Truly free open-source software
- Limited support
- Local installation required, no cloud-based option
Though I’ve given you a list of my favorite free accounting software, everyone’s situation is different.
If you’re not certain that one of the above options is right for you, or if you aren’t looking for a full-fledged accounting software package, here are a few other free tools you might want to consider.
- Fiverr Workspace - Best free accounting tool for freelancers
- Odoo - Best free business management software
- Google Sheets - Best free spreadsheet software for financial analysis and forecasting
Selection Criteria for the Best Free Accounting Software
I looked at all of the top free accounting software programs and compared their key features to find the best options for your company.
When comparing software, I focused on the following criteria.
I began by looking at a number of free accounting tools to find the best ones on the market. To make it on my list, the tools needed to include a few basic functions, including:
- Basic accounting and bookkeeping
- Monitoring and analyzing financial data
- Financial reporting
- Account reconciliation tools
- Tracking revenues and expenses
In order to make sure each tool could perform the core tasks described above, I looked for the following capabilities and key features:
- General ledger. This is a place to record all of your company’s financial transactions, including income and expenses.
- Chart of accounts. This lets you monitor each of your company’s different financial accounts.
- Reporting. You want to be able to generate reports that let you see important financial data, such as income and spending over a period, revenue from different clients or activities, or other information.
- Automation & syncing: Accounting software should help you speed up your accounting workflow and synchronize your financial data so it's accessible from anywhere.
Software is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. While there is, inevitably, a learning curve with any new tool that you adopt, the shallower the learning curve, the better.
Accounting is a very complex subject and many of the people looking for free accounting software are solopreneurs or small business owners who may not have the expertise to do it themselves or the funds to hire a dedicated accountant.
Accounting programs that are intuitive and easier to pick up have an advantage over the competition. Having an extensive knowledge base or how-to articles that introduce the tool and explain how to effectively use it is also important.
Obviously, free accounting software shouldn’t have an upfront or ongoing cost. So I made sure there weren’t any hidden charges or key features locked behind a paywall.
Many accounting tools integrate with other popular business programs and tools, like Stripe or PayPal. These integrations can provide huge value. If you can integrate your accounting software with your POS system or the payment processor on your website, you can save a lot of time and effort.
Other services are available from the same provider
If you’re looking for free accounting software, aside from finding an accounting software program that works well, your biggest concern is how much it’s going to cost. However, choosing a software provider that can also help with other aspects of your business (like payroll or HR management) can make things a lot easier.
Many of the companies that offer accounting tools can also help with other aspects of your business. For example, payment acceptance, payroll, and even financial reporting and analysis tools are commonly bundled with or offered alongside bookkeeping software.
I kept these things in mind with my selection, so if you do need other tools for your business, you won’t necessarily need to go very far to find something that works with your accounting software.
Even the best-designed programs can run into issues, and you might need help setting up the program or figuring out the best way to use it. That makes support important.
I considered not only the availability of support but also how you can reach them. For example, being able to email someone to get help is nice, but if you have a complicated issue and need immediate help, being able to get on the phone with someone and have them talk you through an issue is better.
The longer a company’s support hours and the more methods of contact available, the better.
Why would any software company give their product away for free?
What are the must-haves for accounting software?
What other services should I look for?
Is free accounting software secure?
How much does accounting software cost?
How do I go about finding the right free accounting software for me?
Accounting software is an important tool for every business, but it’s easy to overspend when you don’t really need to.
The free accounting tools listed above can handle the essentials for your business, and if your company outgrows the free option you choose, you can consider a paid service at that point.
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