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Best Online Accounting Software Provider Shortlist

I researched over a hundred online accounting software providers and, using a set of strict criteria, condensed the list down to the 12 best tools. Here's my list (in no particular order):

  1. QuickBooks Online - Best comprehensive small business solution
  2. Xero - Best for a range of integrations
  3. FreshBooks - Best for service businesses
  4. BlackLine - Best for internal control features
  5. TallyPrime - Best for global operations
  6. Zoho Books - Best for budgeting
  7. Wave - Best free accounting software
  8. FreeAgent - Best for automation
  9. Aplos - Best for nonprofits
  10. TrulySmall - Best for small businesses needing simple financial management
  11. BQE CORE - Best for service firms
  12. Veryfi - Best for managing time & expenses

Online accounting software saves time and effort and provides valuable insights for better decision-making.

In this article, I'll provide an up-to-date overview of the best online accounting software options. It'll help you compare them and make an informed decision about which one will work best for your business online accounting software

What is Online Accounting Software?

Online accounting software is a web-based solution that has become increasingly popular due to its five unique features: accessibility, real-time financial data, automation of key accounting processes like invoicing, expense tracking and reconciliation, scalability, and integration with other business tools.

Online accounting software is best for small to medium-sized businesses, freelancers, and startups.

Overviews of the Best Online Accounting Software for 2023

Here, I'll expand on each of the online accounting tools that made my top 12 shortlist. I have purposely kept each section brief and followed a structure allowing you to compare their key features easily.

1. QuickBooks Online - Best comprehensive small business solution

QuickBooks online dashboard
QuickBooks Online users can gain real-time insight into their business finances using the reporting dashboard.

QuickBooks Online is easy to use, even for people with no accounting experience, and is especially suited to the needs of small business owners and solopreneurs. All plans include a mobile app, user support, and app integration.

QuickBooks Online is an excellent choice for small business owners and freelancers needing basic accounting and bookkeeping.

Why I picked QuickBooks Online

I selected QuickBooks Online as an excellent online accounting software option because of its comprehensive features, ease of use, and popularity among small businesses and professionals.

With its intuitive interface and user-friendly design, QuickBooks Online is easy to navigate. The platform offers helpful tutorials and resources to help users make the most of its features.

QuickBooks Online Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, inventory management, payroll processing, automated sales tax calculations and scalability (it grows with your business). It also offers reporting and analytics tools, enabling businesses to gain real-time financial insights.

Integrations include over 700 business apps and services, including many CRM, payment processing, and time-tracking tools.

Pricing: From $15 per month

Free trial: 30-day free trial

Pros
  • Breadth and quality of features
  • Integrations
  • Security
Cons
  • Issues with transition from QuickBooks Desktop
  • Occasional customer support issues

2. Xero - Best for a range of integrations

Xero accounting dashboard
Xero users can use the software’s comprehensive accounting features and dashboard from where they are.

Xero is a global small business platform that offers comprehensive accounting features and is easy to use, even for people without accounting experience. Zero's mobile app allows users to access their financial information from anywhere.

Overall, Xero is an excellent choice for small and micro business owners and freelancers.

Why I picked Xero

I included Xero among the top online accounting software options because of its comprehensive features, user-friendly interface, and strong support for small businesses. Xero offers various accounting features, including invoicing, expenses, payroll, inventory, bank connections, third-party integrations and analytics and reporting tools. It also helps automate data entry and payment reminders.

Xero users have access to its versatile dashboards and excellent mobile app.

Xero Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include comprehensive accounting and bookkeeping features, real-time financial analytics and reporting, access to compliance tools, automation features and versatile business dashboards. It also offers users excellent support and education resources, including courses, guides, webinars, video tutorials and the help of a dedicated advisor to get you started.

Integrations include CRM systems (Salesforce and HubSpot); e-commerce platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce); payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, and Square; HR solutions like Gusto, Zenefits, and BambooHR; project management and time tracking tools such as Trello, Asana, and Toggl Track and many others.

Pricing: From $13 per month

Free trial: 30-day free trial

Pros
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Custom integrations and add-ons
  • Real-time reporting
  • Security
Cons
  • Issues with inventory management
  • No phone call support

3. FreshBooks - Best for service businesses

Freshbooks outstanding revenue dashboard
FreshBooks users can manage projects efficiently, invite people to their account and estimate costs.

FreshBooks is an online accounting platform designed for small service businesses. Its invoicing capabilities are a standout feature, allowing users to create professional invoices, track payments, and set up automatic payment reminders.

FreshBooks is an excellent choice for small business owners needing simple yet comprehensive accounting software.

Why I picked FreshBooks

I included FreshBooks in the shortlist of the best online accounting software options because of its user-friendly interface, time-saving features, and strong support for small businesses and freelancers. Its customization options, cloud-based accessibility, seamless integration with third-party apps, and reliable security measures make it an ideal choice for service businesses.

FreshBooks Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include customized and branded invoices and cost estimates, time and expense tracking, payment processing, financial reporting, and collaboration tools. FreshBooks also has time-saving features like recurrent invoicing and late payment reminders.

Integrations include CRM systems (Salesforce, HubSpot, and Capsule), e-commerce platforms (Shopify and WooCommerce), Payment processing (PayPal, Stripe, and Square), time tracking tools (Trello, Basecamp, and Toggl Track), and marketing tools (Mailchimp and Zapier).

Pricing: from $6.80 per month

Free trial: 30-day free trial

Pros
  • Branded and recurrent invoicing features
  • Reporting and dashboards
  • Reliability and adaptability
Cons
  • Occasional lag in automatic payments
  • Mobile app needs improvements

4. BlackLine - Best for internal control features

Blackline dashboard screenshot
BlackLine users benefit from integrations with ERP and financial systems to meet their complex accounting needs.

BlackLine is a cloud-based financial accounting software providing account reconciliation, journal entry management, and financial reporting. BlackLine's user-friendly platform offers helpful automation features, reducing manual data entry and minimizing errors.

A standout feature of BlackLine is its ability to integrate with many ERP and financial systems, making it a flexible solution for businesses with complex accounting needs.

BlackLine is an excellent tool for process standardization and internal control.

Why I picked BlackLine

I picked BlackLine for its automation features, intercompany accounting, and improved accuracy and transparency of financial operations. It is user-friendly and intuitive to use.

BlackLine Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include automated account reconciliations, intercompany accounting, real-time reporting, journal entry management, compliance and control features and real-time, flexible, personalizable dashboards.

Integrations include a range of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and other financial applications such as: SAP ERP systems, Oracle ERP systems, Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions, Workday Financial Management and many more.

Pricing: Contact Blackline for customized pricing.

Free trial: None

Pros
  • Reconciliation dashboard
  • Real-time detailed reporting
  • Automation
Cons
  • Some integrations are very technical

5. TallyPrime - Best for global operations

TallyPrime owner dashboard
TallyPrime offers accounting features and inventory management tools to global small businesses.

TallyPrime is designed for global small and medium companies and prides itself on its simplicity. It offers a suite of accounting features and inventory management tools.

Its standout feature is the ability to handle multiple currencies and languages, making it an excellent choice for enterprises with global operations.

Overall, TallyPrime is a comprehensive and easy-to-use online accounting software solution for global small and medium-sized businesses.

Why I picked TallyPrime

I selected TallyPrime for its easy-to-use interface, efficient inventory management, multi-currency transactions, and tax compliance tools. It is a versatile solution that simplifies complex accounting tasks, offers real-time reporting and analysis, and caters to diverse industry requirements.

TallyPrime Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include efficient inventory management, multi-currency support, financial reporting, real-time business dashboards, and ease of use.

Integrations can be developed to include e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, CRM systems such as Salesforce, Zoho CRM, and HubSpot, and tax management tools and government portals to simplify tax filing and ensure regulatory compliance. TallyPrime offers limited direct integration capabilities with third-party applications compared to other accounting software.

Pricing: From $81 for 3 months

Free trial: 7-day free trial

Pros
  • User-friendly interface
  • Customizable reporting
  • Superb customer support
Cons
  • Limited invoicing template options

6. Zoho Books - Best for budgeting

Zoho books dashboard
Zoho Books dashboard provides an overview of your business finances.

Zoho Books is the online accounting platform for growing businesses today, offering invoicing, expense tracking, inventory management, and financial reporting. Zoho Books' user-friendly interface and automation features make it easy to use.

A standout feature of Zoho Books is that it integrates with other Zoho apps, making it a part of an extensive suite of business applications.

Zoho Books is an excellent project management accounting software for managing budgets, billing, timeline tracking, and forecasting.

Why I picked Zoho Books

I chose Zoho Books for its comprehensive features, including customizable invoicing, automated expense tracking, inventory management, multi-currency support, and tax compliance tools. Zoho Books integrates with other Zoho applications making it an especially appropriate option for entrepreneurs.

Zoho Books Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include customizable invoicing, tracking invoice and expense status, recurrent invoices and automated payment reminders, inventory management, multi-currency transactions, automatic tax calculations and tax report generation, and mobile access. The real-time dashboard visualizes cash flow, income and expenses, your top expenses, and project status.

Integrations include other Zoho applications, payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and 2Checkout, CRM systems such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pipedrive, expense management solutions like Expensify, Receipt Bank, and Pleo, workflow tools such as Zapier, Automate.io, and Microsoft Flow and others.

Pricing: Contact Zoho for custom pricing.

Free trial: 14-day free trial

Pros
  • Clean and clear layout
  • Simple external banking feeds
  • Integration with other Zoho products
  • Customer support
Cons
  • Can't customize automated reports
  • Inventory feature needs improvement

7. Wave - Best free accounting software

Wave dashboard screenshot
Track your business cash flow effortlessly with Wave.

Wave is a popular accounting software for small businesses and freelancers. It provides features including invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting.

Wave's standout feature is that it is free, making it an attractive option for small businesses with limited budgets. Despite being free, Wave offers helpful automation features like bank connections, payment reminders, and automatic report generation.

Overall, Wave is an excellent choice for businesses and freelancers with no payroll needing a reliable accounting software solution that won’t break the bank.

Why I picked Wave

I selected Wave for its user-friendly, feature-rich, and cost-effective online accounting solution geared towards small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Wave offers free invoicing, expense tracking, and basic bookkeeping functionalities.

Wave Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include customizable invoices with unlimited invoicing capabilities at no cost, double-entry accounting, account reconciliation, financial reports, receipts scanning, user-friendly interface.

Integrations include a limited but essential set of third-party tools and services such as Wave payments, Wave payroll and receipts, Zapier and Etsy.

Pricing: Free

Free trial: N/A

Pros
  • Basics are easy and quick
  • Helpful tech support
  • Simple to use
  • Free
Cons
  • Website occasionally freezes
  • Limited data entry automation

8. FreeAgent - Best for automation

Free Agent dashboard and mobile app
FreeAgent has an excellent mobile app allowing you to manage your day-to-day administration and accounting from anywhere.

FreeAgent is an award-winning accounting software option for small businesses, freelancers, and contractors. It helps manage day-to-day administrative and accounting processes and offers features like invoicing, expense tracking, project management, and financial reporting.

FreeAgent's standout feature is its automation capabilities, saving your business time by reducing manual data entry. It also offers integrations with other business applications, such as PayPal, Stripe, and Dropbox, so you can manage your business operations from a single platform.

FreeAgent is a good fit for businesses looking for a comprehensive accounting software solution with automation capabilities and integrations.

Why I picked FreeAgent

I selected FreeAgent for its automation capabilities and the opportunities it offers small businesses and freelancers to manage day-to-day administration and accounting painlessly. It is a comprehensive and user-friendly online accounting solution.

FreeAgent Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include customizable invoicing features, including branding and recurrent invoices, multi-currency support, tax compliance and forecasting, time tracking and project management, intuitive dashboard and reporting.

Integrations include payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and GoCardless, CRM systems like Capsule CRM and Tactile CRM; e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, time tracking tools like Toggl, Harvest, and TimeCamp, expense management solutions like Receipt Bank and Expensify, workflow tools such as Zapier and Integromat and others.

Pricing: From $24 per month, free if you have a business account with NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, or Mettle.

Free trial: 30-day free trial

Pros
  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Sends reminders
  • One-stop solution for all accounting needs
Cons
  • Mobile app is slightly buggy
  • Doesn't scale—strictly for small and micro-businesses

9. Aplos - Best for nonprofits

Donation dashboard
Aplos is a top-rated online accounting software for nonprofits and churches. (Image Source)

Aplos is a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for nonprofit organizations. It offers fund accounting, donation tracking, and financial reporting. Aplos is easy to use and has a user-friendly interface.

Additionally, Aplos offers a range of integrations with other nonprofit software. For example, it links with donor management and fundraising systems, making it easy to manage operations from a single platform.

Overall, Aplos is an excellent choice for nonprofits seeking a comprehensive and easy-to-use online accounting software solution.

Why I picked Aplos

I chose Aplos for its specialized focus on non-profit organizations and churches, providing a tailored and user-friendly online accounting solution to address their unique financial management needs.

Aplos Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include fund accounting allowing users to track and report on individual funds and donations, donor management tools, customizable online giving forms, event registration and ticketing features designed to comply with FASB accounting standards for non-profit organizations.

Integrations include QuickBooks Online, Gusto, a payroll and HR management platform, Church Community Builder, Kindful, a donor management and fundraising platform, DonorSearch, Txt2Give and Zapier.

Pricing: From $79 per month

Free trial: 15-day free trial

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Scales for larger churches and nonprofits
  • Relevant integrations
Cons
  • Could do with user interface improvements
  • Reporting is limited and not customizable

10. TrulySmall Accounting - Best for small businesses needing simple financial management

Income and expense dashboard
TrullySmall Accounting’s dashboard offers real-time data overview of your business’s health.

TrulySmall Accounting automates bookkeeping tasks for small business owners. It uses machine learning to reconcile expenses and bank statements, provide real-time reports with one click, and match receipts to transactions.

This online accounting tool is known for its affordability and user-friendly interface. TrulySmall also offers integrations with other business applications, making it easy to manage your operations from a single platform.

TrulySmall Accounting is an excellent choice for small businesses looking to automate their bookkeeping using an affordable and easy-to-use accounting software solution.

Why I picked TrulySmall Accounting

I picked TrulySmall Accounting for its simplified approach to accounting, expense tracking and scanning, which specifically caters to the needs of small businesses, solopreneurs, and freelancers.

TrulySmall Accounting Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include easily customizable invoicing, simplified expense management, essential bookkeeping features, allowing users to invite team members or external accountants to collaborate on their financial data, receipt scanning, bank-level security measures to protect users' financial data, real-time dashboard and mobile app.

Integrations: Truly small Accounting does not offer direct integrations with third-party applications.

Pricing: From $20 per month

Free trial: 14-day free trial

Pros
  • Bank connections
  • Automated reconciliation
  • Receipt scanning
Cons
  • Pricey for what it is

11. BQE CORE - Best for service firms

BQE Staff dashboard
BQE CORE is specifically designed to meet the accounting and project management needs of service firms.

BQE CORE is a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for professional service firms. It offers time and expense tracking, invoicing, project management, and financial reporting.

BQE CORE is known for its flexible reporting capabilities. It also offers a range of integrations with other business applications, making it easy to manage operations from a single platform.

BQE CORE is a reliable accounting software solution ideal for professional service firms.

Why I picked BQE CORE

I included BQE CORE in the top online accounting software solutions for its comprehensive project management and accounting features designed to cater to the unique needs of professional service firms, such as architects, engineers, consultants, and legal professionals.

BQE CORE Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include time and expense tracking, project management, resource scheduling and forecasting capabilities, customizable real-time reports and dashboards, tools tailored for various professional service industries, a user-friendly interface, and mobile app.

Integrations include popular accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, payment gateways like Stripe, Authorize.Net, and PayPal, CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot, cloud storage solutions like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive, email clients like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, and Zapier.

Pricing: Contact BQE CORE for customized pricing.

Free trial: 15-day free trial

Pros
  • Easy to track processes in one place
  • Ability to customize invoicing and reporting
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • Time-consuming to learn
  • Invoice editing not user friendly

12. Veryfi - Best for managing time & expenses

Veryfi Receipt Scanning screenshot
Veryfi uses AI to manage your receipts and expenses.

Veryfi Receipts OCR & Expenses is an artificial intelligence-powered receipt and expense tracking software for businesses of all sizes. It uses advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to extract data from receipts, invoices, and other financial documents, making it easy to track expenses.

Veryfi Receipts OCR & Expenses offers automatic categorization, real-time expense tracking, and integrations with popular online accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero.

Overall, Veryfi Receipts OCR & Expenses is a user-friendly solution for businesses looking to make their expense tracking more efficient.

Why I picked Veryfi

I picked Veryfi for its innovative approach to automating bookkeeping and expense management, utilizing AI and machine learning to cater to the needs of small businesses, freelancers, and contractors.

Veryfi Standout Features and Integrations

Standout features include using AI and machine learning to extract data from receipts and invoices in real-time, automatic categorization of transactions, mileage tracking using GPS, document management, encryption and secure data storage, modern and intuitive interface and mobile app.

Integrations include popular accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks, Expensify, a leading expense management software; payment gateways such as Stripe, and cloud storage solutions like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Zapier.

Pricing: From $15 for up to 300 scans per month, free for up to 30 scans per month

Free trial: None

Pros
  • Retailer identification
  • Duplicate receipts verification (and deletion)
  • Ease of integrations
Cons
  • Disrupted services on occasion
  • Tier prices jump steeply

Other Online Accounting Software Options

The market for online accounting software has grown significantly in recent years, and there are estimates that it now accounts for a substantial proportion of the overall accounting software market. This growth can be attributed to the increased demand for user-friendly, cost-effective, and scalable solutions that cater to the unique needs of today’s businesses.

Here are a few more worthwhile options that didn't make the best online accounting software providers list:

  1. Sage 50Cloud Accounting - Best for automation and security
  2. NetSuite - Best for resource planning
  3. Sage Intacct - Best for using AI
  4. SAP Business One - Best for financial forecasting
  5. Acumatica - Best for managing financial data
  6. Odoo ERP - Best open-source accounting software
  7. ZarMoney - Best for flexibility

Selection Criteria

I researched and compared dozens of online accounting software tools to create a long list of options. Next, I considered specific software features and condensed the list further by looking at how easy the software is to use and the technical support available for onboarding, training, and maintenance, narrowing the initial list of close to 100 to the best 12 options.

Here's an overview of the primary selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best online accounting software for this article:

Core Functionality

Online accounting software typically shares core functionality features, including:

  • Invoicing features and automation
  • Expense tracking and scanning
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Financial reporting and visualization
  • Tax compliance
  • Real-time data
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Mobile apps
  • Bank-level data security

Key Features

Apart from the core functionality, different online accounting software solutions have features that make them stand out. For instance, some offer solutions for a specific industry, others are especially good for automation and integrations, and yet others offer unique features like resource tracking.

Usability

Advanced functionality and standout features are not good if the software takes months to learn and is challenging to use. Online accounting solutions benefit from intuitive and user-friendly interfaces and easy-to-use mobile apps.

Integrations

Online accounting software core functionality is magnified and enhanced by integrating easily with CRM systems, other accounting software, payroll software, payment gateways, e-commerce platforms, HR systems, document management tools and others.

Integrations mustn't be overly technical.

Customer Support

Customer support is an essential feature of online accounting software. This includes education and learning resources, dedicated support during onboarding, and technical support in case of problems during use.

Online accounting software providers usually claim to have excellent customer support. The truth is, some do, and some don’t—it is important to dig deep and even test the level of support.

Price and Value

Online accounting software is generally cheaper than offline accounting options (and costs are distributed since you usually will pay a subscription). Still, higher-end online accounting solutions can cost between &50 and &500 per month, with some offering custom pricing that can be higher.

Assessing and matching your needs to the available software options is essential. You may find that a basic plan, or even a free option, is more than adequate to accommodate your business’s accounting and bookkeeping needs.

People Also Ask

Here are some common questions and answers about buying online accounting software.

Conclusion

Selecting the right online accounting software will help to ensure your company’s financial processes are efficient, accurate, secure, and scalable.

Now it is up to you.

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By Simon Litt

Simon Litt is the Editor of The CFO Club, where he shares his passion for all things money-related. Performing research, talking to experts, and calling on his own professional background, he'll be working hard to ensure that The CFO Club is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to stay informed on the latest financial trends and topics in the world of tech.

Prior to editing this publication, Simon spent years working in, and running his own, investor relations agency, servicing public companies that wanted to reach and connect deeper with their shareholder base. Simon's experience includes constructing comprehensive budgets for IR activities, consulting CEOs & executive teams on best practices for the public markets, and facilitating compliant communications training.