Best Billing and Invoicing Software for Small Businesses 2021

We weighed top invoicing softwares’ payment options, customization, and pricing—plus customer service reputation and ease of use—to find the best billing and invoicing software for small-business owners.
Best overall
Fresh Books
FreshBooks
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
Starting from
$15.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Intuitive user-friendly interface
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Extensive Accounting features beyond invoicing
Best automation
Zoho
Zoho Invoice
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
Starting from
$0.00
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Unlimited clients
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Multiple payment gateways
Best for accounting
Wave
Wave
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Starting from
$0.00
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Free invoicing, billing, and accounting software
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Reasonable transaction fees
Best for low volume
Square
Square Invoices
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
Starting from
$0.00
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Mobile-friendly setup
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Subscription-free options
Best reporting
Sage
Sage Business Cloud Accounting
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
Starting from
$10.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Plans starting at $10/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Thorough reporting

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend giving FreshBooks a try: its invoices are clear, customizable, and highly professional. But there’s also Zoho Invoice, Wave, and Square Invoices for invoicing without a base price, or you can level up to Sage Business Cloud Accounting for $10 invoicing and basic bookkeeping.

The best billing and invoicing software of 2021

Compare the best billing & invoicing software for small businesses

Brand
Starting cost
Credit card transaction fee
ACH bank transfer transaction fee
Learn more
Fresh Books

FreshBooks

$15.00/mo.

2.9% + $0.30

1%

Zoho

Zoho Invoice

$0.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted
Wave

Wave

Free

2.9% + $0.30

1%

Square

Square

$0.00/mo.

2.9% + $0.30 (2.6% + $0.10 for in-person card transactions)

1%

Sage

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

$10.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

FreshBooks: Best overall invoice software

Best overall
Fresh Books
FreshBooks
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
  • Starting price: $15.00/mo.
  • Check
    Unlimited customizable invoices
  • Check
    Automatic recurring billing
  • Check
    Mobile app

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

FreshBooks’s 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 recurring invoices in whatever language you and your clients prefer.
  • Accept payments in multiple currencies.
  • Send invoices using FreshBooks' accounting and invoice app.

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.

FreshBooks starts out at a reasonable $15.00 per month, but that base plan limits you to billing only five clients a month (though you can send those five clients unlimited invoices). Businesses with more than five clients a month will need the $25 a month Plus plan—or you can try a provider like Wave or QuickBooks, neither of which limit your billable monthly clients.

Zoho Invoice: Best automation

Best automation
Zoho
Zoho Invoice
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
  • X
    Free
  • Check
    Automatic recurring invoicing
  • Check
    Customer portal
  • Check
    Free for up to five clients

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Like all Zoho products (including Zoho Books, Zoho’s small-business accounting product), Zoho Invoice does a lot more than what its name suggests. Along with automatic recurring invoicing, each Zoho Invoice plan includes time tracking, expense tracking, multi-currency support, and automatic payment reminders. You can also set up a customer portal where your clients can view and pay invoices and collaborate with you on projects.

In the past, Zoho Invoice’s free plan limited you to invoicing just a few customers a month. Now, though, Zoho Invoice is completely free—which is great news for Zoho Books users, since Zoho’s accounting software recently increased in price. With Zoho Invoice’s new free-for-life pricing structure, Zoho Books and Invoice are more affordable in spite of the price change.

Wave Accounting: Most affordable

Most affordable accounting and invoicing software
Wave
Wave
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • X
    Free
  • Check
    Free invoicing
  • Check
    Free accounting software
  • Check
    Mobile invoicing app

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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).

At 2.9% plus $0.30 for credit cards and 1% for ACH transactions, its fees are the same as FreshBooks’ and Square’s. (As with many other billing and invoicing solutions, Wave charges 3.4% + $0.30 for American Express transactions.) And from a customer-facing perspective, Payments by Wave is super intuitive and easy to use.

Square Invoices: Best for low volume

Best for few invoices
Square
Square
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
  • X
    Free
  • Check
    Stand-alone invoicing and billing platform
  • Check
    No monthly fee
  • Check
    Square Point of Sale app integration

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Send invoices infrequently? Use Square Invoices. There’s no monthly subscription fee, so you can send invoices for free. Square charges the standard 2.9% + $0.30 to process invoiced and online payments, but if you use a Square Terminal or the Square Point of Sale app for in-person payments, the processing fee is just 2.6% + $0.10. Square Invoices also lets you send free estimates that you can instantly convert to invoices, plus free contract templates that you can easily pass along with your invoices.

Square Invoices includes a free mobile invoice 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. Square also recently started letting customers accept ACH transactions, which brings it up to speed with other billing and invoicing products on the market.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting: Best reports

Most thorough reporting
Sage
Sage
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
  • Starting price: $10.00/mo.
  • Check
    Thorough reporting
  • Check
    User-friendly dashboard
  • Check
    Easy estimates

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting 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.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting plans start at $10 a month, but to get the full Sage accounting experience, you’ll want to sign up for the pricier $25 a month plan. While the cheaper plan, Accounting Start, helps you track overdue invoices, the more expensive plan has more thorough cash flow tracking with better reports. In other words, if you want to grow your business, not just send invoices, you’ll need the more expensive Accounting plan.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Not sure which is best?

Honorable mentions

Wait, wait, there’s more! If you didn’t find your software match above, these five billing and invoicing software choices merit your time and attention.

Compare top billing and invoice features: Runners-up

Brand
Starting cost
Credit card transaction fee
ACH bank transfer transaction fee
Learn more
Xero

Xero

$11.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted
Quickbooks

QuickBooks

$25.00/mo.2.4% + $0.25 (swiped)1%
Hiveage

Hiveage

$0.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted
FreeAgent

FreeAgent

$12.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted
Tipalti

Tipalti

$149.00/mo.UnlistedUnlisted

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Xero: Best for collaboration

Best for unlimited users
Xero
Xero
  • Starting price: $11.00/mo.
  • Check
    Up to 20 invoices per month
  • Check
    Scalable plans
  • Check
    Comprehensive accounting software

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Looking for a full-service accounting and invoicing solution that costs less than FreshBooks and QuickBooks? Xero’s fully featured accounting plans start at just $11 a month. And while Xero’s plans used to limit you to just five billable clients a month, you can now send up to 20 invoices with the cheapest plan. Xero’s software also grows with you—its three affordable plans are super scalable, so if you’ve just opened your doors, Xero’s cheapest plan is a great place to start.

QuickBooks Online: Best transaction and processing fees

Most affordable transaction fees
Quickbooks
QuickBooks Online
  • Starting price: $25.00/mo.
  • Check
    Low swiped transaction fees
  • Check
    Comprehensive accounting software
  • Check
    Unlimited invoices

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

QuickBooks Online is one of the world’s most popular accounting software options, but most QuickBooks products are far 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: swiped fees are just 2.4% plus $0.25, 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.

Hiveage: Most payment gateways

Most payment options
Hiveage
Hiveage
  • Starting price: $0.00/mo.
  • Check
    Stand-alone invoicing software
  • Check
    Multiple international payment gateways
  • Check
    No client cap

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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. Hiveage even accepts 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. If you have just five clients, you can use Hiveage’s free plan. Otherwise, pricing starts at $16 a month and includes expense tracking, time tracking, and limited financial reporting.

FreeAgent: Best invoice templates

Most professional invoice templates
FreeAgent
FreeAgent
  • Starting price: $12.00/mo.
  • Check
    Eight customizable invoice templates
  • Check
    Multi-currency features
  • Check
    Automatic customer billing reminders

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

A common complaint with invoicing software is its lack of professional-looking invoice templates. FreeAgent stands out from competitors by offering eight professional invoice 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 payment reminders, FreeAgent could be a good fit.

Tipalti: Best for high earners

Best for high-earning global companies
Tipalti
Tipalti
  • Starting price: $149.00/mo.
  • Check
    Extensive international invoicing
  • Check
    Thorough accounting solution
  • Check
    Accounts payable

Data as of 7/20/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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 $149 per month, Tipalti is fairly pricey, which is another reason it works best for established global businesses.

Best billing and invoicing software FAQ

What is the best invoicing software for small businesses?

The best invoicing software for your small business depends on your company’s size, budget, and needs. For instance, FreshBooks is a well-rounded fully featured invoicing and billing solution—it’s certainly one of the best picks. However, if you’re looking for billing and invoicing software that doesn’t limit the number of clients you can bill each month, Wave or Square could be a better fit for you.

Can you make invoices with Microsoft Office?

Yes. You can find invoice templates for Microsoft Office on Microsoft’s site. If you’re looking for a truly free invoice solution, you can use a Google Docs template instead.

What is the best free invoice software?

The best free invoice software depends on what your business needs. If you need unlimited invoices and unlimited clients, Wave Invoice is a good pick. If you have a smaller invoice volume or a limited number of clients, Square or Zoho could work well for you too.

What is an ACH payment?

When you accept a customer’s payment from their bank to yours, or when you pay your employees through direct deposit, you’re processing an ACH payment. (The name comes from the American Clearing House, or ACH Network, which processes most electronic transfers in the US.) 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.

The takeaway

The right invoicing and billing software can help you 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 online invoicing 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.

Related reading

Disclaimer

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.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie is an accounting writer for Business.org. Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
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