Best Small-Business Billing and Invoicing Software 2020
Need to get paid? Customers are 30% more likely to pay invoices online,1 and if you send invoices the same day, you’re 1.5 times more likely to get proper compensation.2 So it pays—literally—to invest in an invoicing and billing software in 2020.
Best OverallIntuitive user-friendly interfaceExtensive Accounting features beyond invoicing
Best for Low VolumeMobile-friendly setupSubscription-free options
Best for AccountingFree invoicing, billing, and accounting softwareReasonable transaction fees
Best Transaction FeesRates as low as 2.4% plus $0.25Next-day deposits
Most Payment OptionsTeam accessSupport for more than a dozen payment gateways
Money is money, but how you collect and organize those funds counts. Especially if you’re just starting out, maintaining a positive cash flow can make or break your business. Luckily, in 2020, it’s easier and more cost productive than ever for non-accountants (such as yourself) to manage small-business finances. All you need is the right invoicing and billing software.
But with so many options out there, how can you find the best billing software for you? To help you answer the question, we researched the most popular small-business billing software on the market.
Here are our favorite invoicing and billing software options for small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs in 2020.
|Brand||Starting cost||Credit card transaction fee||ACH bank transfer transaction fee||Learn more|
|FreshBooks||$6/mo.*||2.9% + $0.30||1%||See Plans|
|Square Invoices||$0||2.9% + $0.30||1%||See Plans|
|Wave||$0||2.9% + $0.30||None†||See Plans|
2.4%–3.4% + $0.25
Best overall: FreshBooks
To give its customers a boost this month, FreshBooks is offering 60% off on all its plans for the first six months. That makes FreshBooks Lite $6/month, FreshBooks Plus $10/month, and FreshBooks Premium $20/month for half a year.
FreshBooks’s billing and invoicing software is versatile enough to work for almost everyone, from freelancers to business owners with a dozen employees. With FreshBooks, you can tackle any of these billing-related tasks:
- Create unlimited customizable invoices.
- Set up automatic recurring client billing.
- Automatically add late fees to your clients’ bills.
- Get notified when clients receive and pay their invoices.
- Accept payments, create invoices, and send bills through the mobile app.
- List your time worked and expenses directly on your invoices.
- Use invoices to request deposits.
- Send invoices in whatever language you and your clients prefer.
- Accept payments in multiple currencies.
You can also use FreshBooks to create estimates and proposals, which is particularly useful for contractors, interior designers, and other businesses that need to itemize materials and include contracted workers.
|Plan name||Cost||Billable clients||Learn more|
|Lite||$6/mo.*||Up to 5||See Plans|
|Plus||$10/mo.*||Up to 50||See Plans|
|Premium||$20/mo.*||Up to 500||See Plans|
FreshBooks starts out at an eminently reasonable $15 per month—or if you sign up in April, a super-low $6 a month for six months. Unfortunately, that base plan lets you bill only up to five clients a month. If you enter a new active client that exceeds that limit, FreshBooks automatically charges you for the Plus plan, which lets you bill up to 50 active clients.
Square has taken immediate, hands-on action to support its customers during this current crisis. The company refunded base fees for March and is waiving subscription fees for current Square users during the month of April. Square is also eliminating delivery and curbside pickup fees for local restaurants for the next three months, and it’s added a list of ways Square users can protect the community and save money.
Send invoices infrequently? Use Square Invoices. There’s no monthly subscription fee, so you can send invoices for free. And whether your customers pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or credit or debit cards, Square charges just 2.9% + $0.30 to process the payment. That fee goes to 3.5% + $0.15 if you use Square to keep the customer payment information on file for easier billing.
Square Invoices includes a free mobile app so you can send estimates and invoices on the go or accept any type of payment wherever you are. The product also integrates perfectly with Square Point of Sale—if you’re already using Square’s mobile credit card reader, it just makes sense to go with Square Invoices.
Most electronic transfers are processed through the American Clearing House, or ACH, Network. When you accept a customer’s payment from their bank to yours or pay your employees through direct deposit, you’re processing an ACH payment. Depending on the size of the payments you’re processing, ACH payments can be cheaper than credit card payments, though they can take longer to transfer to your bank.
Most affordable accounting integration: Wave
Wave is suspending its 1% transaction fee for ACH payments (bank transfers) for most customers during the month of April. It’s also eliminated the 1% fee for making immediate cash-outs—you’ll get the full payment amount if you need to immediately transfer an online payment to your account. Wave also compiled a list of financial resources for small-business owners dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
If you want to both send invoices and accept payments with Wave (one of our favorite accounting software providers), you need two separate Wave products: Wave Invoicing and Payments by Wave. Don’t worry, though—like Wave’s accounting software, both products are completely free, apart from Payments by Wave’s standard processing fees.
With the combination of Wave’s two products, you can send out customized invoices and accept payments from all major credit cards (including American Express).
Like Square, Payments by Wave is totally free to download and use, no subscription necessary. At 2.9% plus $0.30 for credit cards and 1% for ACH transactions (a fee eliminated this April for most customers for up to $5,000 of invoiced payments), its fees are the same as FreshBooks’ and Square’s. And from a customer-facing perspective, Payments by Wave is super intuitive and easy to use.
Remember the free accounting software we mentioned above? Wave Accounting really is completely free; you don’t enter any credit card information when creating your free account. The cloud-based accounting software automatically integrates with Wave Invoicing and Payments by Wave, so your books update automatically whenever you process a payment—you’ll never need to enter payment data manually.
Best transaction fees: QuickBooks Payments
New QuickBooks customers who skip the 30-day free trial can sign up for 70% off the base price for their first three months, which makes QuickBooks’ new starting price just $8 a month. Most notably, QuickBooks has changed its self-employed plan to just $1 a month for 12 months, a bargain we hugely recommend you take advantage of if you’re a freelancer looking for a bare-bones accounting plan.
Ready for a sentence you never thought you’d read? QuickBooks Payments is more than just one of the best billing and invoicing services out there: it’s also one of the cheapest.
QuickBooks is one of the world’s most popular accounting software options, but most QuickBooks products and services are a far cry from the cheapest on the block. However, while you can get only QuickBooks Payments with an existing QuickBooks Online subscription, its transaction fees are completely affordable.
Transaction fees are higher for bills paid through invoices. You’re looking at a 2.9% plus $0.25 transaction fee, but that’s still cheaper than FreshBooks, Square, and Wave.
For instance, swiped fees are just 2.4% plus $0.25, which is cheaper than any other provider on our list. There’s a catch, of course (isn’t there always?): the fee climbs depending on the type of payment you’re accepting. Most importantly, transaction fees are higher for bills paid through invoices. You’re looking at a 2.9% plus $0.25 transaction fee, but that’s still cheaper than FreshBooks, Square, and Wave.
Most payment options: Hiveage
Out of all of the software we’ve reviewed, Hiveage accepts the most diverse forms of online payments, which can increase your chances of getting paid. This invoicing software supports a dozen online gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.Net. They even accept Bitcoin via Coinbase, as well as lots of foreign currencies.
Along with supporting multiple payment gateways, Hiveage also offers a feature for setting up teams, which lets you share the invoicing load with your team.
What else is there to love about Hiveage? All of its plans include an unlimited number of bills, invoices, and estimates. Hiveage’s prices are broken down by the number of clients you have and team members you want to use the software. The Starter plan is $16 per month, which includes 50 clients and unlimited recurring billing. Compare that to FreshBooks’ meager five clients for $15 and you can see why else Hiveage stands out.
Not sure you want to sign up for a Hiveage plan? Try out Hiveage’s free invoice generator to start getting paid faster.
Wait, wait, there’s more! Here are a few more plans we think merit your time and attention.
Best accounting alternative: Xero
Xero was planning to up its prices by two dollars this March, but it’s pushed back the price hike to July to give business owners more time to deal with the crisis. Once the changes get implemented in July, Xero’s base plan will cost $11 a month.
Looking for a full-service accounting and invoicing solution that costs just a tad less than FreshBooks and QuickBooks? Xero is an up-and-comer in the accounting software field with comprehensive plans starting at just $9 a month. You can bill only five clients on the cheapest plan—but the same is true of FreshBooks’s most basic plan, and Xero comes in at an even lower monthly cost.
With Xero, you won’t get the same amount of features as you would with QuickBooks, but you can still send invoices, make payments, and reconcile up to 20 bank transactions a month. Any way you slice it, that’s not bad for nine bucks.
Best templates: FreeAgent
A common complaint with invoicing software is its lack of professional-looking, customizable invoicing templates. FreeAgent stands out from competitors by offering eight professional templates that are easy to customize to your business and customers. FreeAgent also includes easy-to-read reports for metrics like sales tax and outstanding invoices.
The only thing keeping FreeAgent out of our top five is its price. FreeAgent starts at $24 a month, though if you sign up as a new client, you’ll pay $12 for the first six months before the price doubles. So if you’re willing to pay a bit more for multi-currency and multi-language options, easy sales tax reporting, and automatic invoicing reminders, FreeAgent could be a good fit.
Best automation: Zoho Invoice
As far as professional invoicing goes, Zoho Invoice is super cost-effective. Its Forever Free Plan includes one user and five clients, but you’ll pay only $9 a month to invoice up to 50 clients. All tiers, including the Forever Free Plan, have unlimited invoices, estimates, expense tracking, and time tracking. Plus, no matter which plan you choose, Zoho includes five to ten automated workflows, which means you can use the software to automate some of your least favorite day-to-day business activities.
Best reports: Sage
Sage takes care of all the most important invoicing and billing features for you, but what really sets it apart is its user-friendly dashboard and handy accounting reports. When you sign in, Sage’s dashboard shows you outstanding and overdue invoices, quotes and estimates, net sales, and a bunch of other handy information—all in a scannable and easy-to-understand format made especially for non-accountants.
We have a few hangups about Sage’s software, though. For one, Sage’s site is confusing (at best); its clunky site design and plan names make it hard for users to find the right monthly plan. And with plans that start at $25 a month, Sage’s accounting software isn’t the cheapest invoicing and billing option.
Best for accounts payable: Tipalti
Tipalti appeals to a mid-market audience, but it can work for small businesses too, especially international B2B operations. Out of all the software we’ve reviewed, Tipalti offers the most technical and extensive accounting solution. In fact, it’s such an extensive solution that it may take an expert to wield successfully. This more comprehensive software includes invoicing and billing features, but it’s specifically known for its accounts payable capabilities. At $299 per month, Tipalti is super pricey, which is another reason it works best for established global businesses.
The right invoicing and billing software makes it much, much easier to track positive cash flow, bill clients exactly what you’re worth, and go home happy at the end of the day. Hopefully, one of the solutions above can help you check all three things off your small-business to-do list.
Looking for more software to keep your business on track? Check out our bookkeeping software recommendations for affordable solutions.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
1. Inc., “7 Tips for Billing Customers That Will Get You Paid Faster”
2. Forbes, “25 Invoicing Mistakes to Avoid in Your Small Business”