Free accounting software isn’t for everyone. If you have more than five employees and need comprehensive accounting help, paid accounting software can help you get the job done faster and more effectively. But if you manage fewer than five people or work alone as a freelancer or solopreneur, free accounting software could be a good fit. To give you a head start on comprehensive financial management, we’ve picked out our 10 favorite free accounting software providers.
The 10 Best Free Accounting Software Options of 2021
2021's best free accounting software
- : Best overall
- : Best invoicing
- : Best for multiple businesses
- : Best bookkeeping
- : Best expense tracking
- : Best for one-client freelancers
- : Best community support
- : Best multi-language
- : Best add-ons
- : Best international
Best free accounting software for small businesses 2021
Automatic bank account syncing, expense tracking, invoicing
Unlimited invoicing, chart of accounts, cash and accrual accounting
Email and phone support
Sales tax tracking, recurring invoices, late payment reminders
NCH Software (Express Accounts)
Accounts receivable, accounts payable, financial reports
Expense reporting, 24-hour reimbursement, receipt scanning
Email and chat support
Data effective 11/24/20. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
Best overall: Wave
Even if Wave weren’t completely free, we’d still be blown away by how much it offers. It’s one of our top accounting software picks for small-business owners, and for good reason. With Wave, you get perks like these:
- Automatic bank account and credit card syncing for accurate, up-to-date financial records
- Unlimited bank account and credit card connections
- Easy, customizable income and expense tracking
- Crucial accounting reports and general ledger
- Invoicing and billing reminders
- Automatically generated journal entries
- Customer support (email only)
Wave’s easy-to-read dashboard shows you your most important financial info at a glance. Its billing, invoicing, and expense tracking features make it perfect for freelancers, but the software can work for larger businesses too, especially since Wave doesn’t limit the amount of users you can add (unlike, say, QuickBooks Online). You and the rest of your financial team can jump on your account to check numbers and enter information, free of charge.
To make the most of your Wave Accounting plan, try its other free apps on for size:
- Wave Receipts, a receipt-scanning app that syncs automatically with the accounting software for easy bank reconciliation
- Wave Invoicing, which lets you create invoices on the go
- Wave Payments, which lets you accept payments online (note that the app is free, but you’ll pay a small transactional fee for each payment processed)
Wave Payroll isn’t free, but it is affordable; it starts at $20 a month in self-service states and $35 a month in full-service states.
Best invoicing: ZipBooks
ZipBooks is relatively new to the accounting software world, but its unlimited invoicing, vendor tracking, and thorough expense recording have already made it a top competitor to industry stalwarts like Wave, Xero, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks. Even ZipBooks’ free Start plan comes without the limits of paid competitors like Xero, which ties you to just five invoices and bills for $9 a month.
On top of its unlimited invoicing, the Starter plan includes all of the following at no cost:
- Multi-currency payment acceptance
- Separate records for 1099 expenses and payments
- Receipt tracking
- Chart of accounts
Most notably, ZipBooks lets you toggle back and forth between cash accounting and accrual accounting—most accounting software providers let you choose only one or the other. Unfortunately, ZipBooks doesn’t have a mobile accounting app. It’s also noticeably lacking in reports: ZipBooks’ free plan generates only a profit and loss statement and balance sheet.
Best for multiple businesses: SlickPie
Do you run multiple small businesses, such as Etsy shops, nonprofits, or eateries? If you want to separate each business’s finances, SlickPie is a good choice; it gives you these free features for up to 10 different companies:
- Sales tax, expense, and income tracking
- Automatic late payment reminders and recurring invoices
- Bank transaction reconciliation
- Online payment processing (with PayPal, Stripe, or credit cards only)
- Quotes, estimates, and invoice creation
SlickPie’s dashboard isn’t as slick as Wave’s, but it’s pretty legible and user-friendly, especially as far as free software is concerned. And while SlickPie doesn’t offer up-front inventory tracking, it does include a basic item tracklist where you can record sales tax, one of the most important things for sellers to track.
Unlike most other providers on our list (apart from Wave), SlickPie includes email-based customer service—and multiple contact options make it easier and more convenient for users to get help. However, SlickPie’s invoicing feature doesn’t offer much customization, so if custom professional invoices are high on your list of needs, ZipBooks or Wave might work better for you.
Best bookkeeping: NCH Software (Express Accounts)
Express Accounts, owned and operated by NCH software, has a pretty dated website. While multiple users can log on to your account, the software requires an initial desktop download, which makes it a little less flexible than the cloud-based providers on our list. But if you don’t mind the dated look, Express Accounts can simplify your basic bookkeeping in a big way.
For starters, it offers 20 financial reports (much better than ZipBooks’ two) that help you get a clear picture of your fiscal health. Express Accounts also easily tracks accounts payable and accounts receivable. You can even print checks using the software to streamline bill payments.
Express Accounts’ customer service is much less robust than our other top five picks. You can reach out to technical support over email if you have an issue with your download, but that’s the extent of your support. On the other hand, most customers use Express Accounts solely to track their business’s figures—so you shouldn’t need the kind of support you would with more complex accounting or payroll software.
Best expense tracking: Expensify
With Expensify, your only task is to scan receipts (or, honestly, any other piece of paper with a number on it)—the software automatically generates an expense report, and once it’s approved, you can reimburse the right employee within 24 hours. Expensify also generates expense-specific reports that simplify tax time for you and your employees.
Expensify isn’t an all-in-one online accounting solution—it’s a targeted expense-tracking app. If you’re looking for more thorough accounting and bookkeeping software, try Wave or QuickBooks. But if you could use some help keeping your expenses in order, Expensify’s free plan is a good option.
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
Best for one-client freelancers: CloudBooks
Do you freelance for one client only? CloudBooks was built for you. Its time-tracking feature makes it easy to bill your client exactly what you're worth, and its simple project management means you can see how much time and money you’re spending on each part of your process (which makes it easy to find ways to save time and money).
Of course, if you have more than one client or need to send more than five invoices a month, look elsewhere—CloudBooks isn’t comprehensive enough for you. Plus, CloudBooks’ site is less professional and harder to read than a lot of our other picks. Its users tend to review CloudBooks highly, but we'd say to take the site’s claims with a grain of salt.
Best community support: GnuCash
GnuCash is open-source accounting software, which means the software’s code is readily available online for anyone who wants to use and improve it. You and your developers can tweak GnuCash's code to make the app fit your industry, like construction or marketing. It also means GnuCash is a community project, so there isn’t any customer support—but there is a robust wiki full of advice that you can both learn from and contribute to.
And even though its site looks outdated, GnuCash offers some tech-friendly features most other providers on our list don’t, including recurring transactions, transaction reminders, and an Android accounting app.
Best multi-language: Money Manager Ex
Money Manager Ex is geared toward personal finances, not business finances, but it can work for business accounting as long as your business is pretty simple (e.g., you freelance for a handful of clients a month). The software offers most of the basics, like cash flow tracking, but its most notable feature is its 24-language availability.
Best add-ons: Odoo
Odoo is another open-source software that anyone can customize, improve on, and share with other users. Its community version is pretty basic, but Odoo offers a slew of paid apps for everything from inventory management to ecommerce. If you want to start with a free bookkeeping software base and add features as needed, Odoo is a good option.
Best international: TurboCASH
TurboCASH comes in two editions: TurboCASH 4, which is free, and TurboCASH 5, which costs $60 or more a year. The software is available in 80 countries, but the free version doesn’t pack much of a punch. Still, if you’re working overseas and want to save a little money on expensive software, TurboCASH will let you track your cash using the reliable double-entry bookkeeping system.
Free accounting software FAQ
Is there a free alternative to QuickBooks?
Wave, ZipBooks, and Express Accounts are particularly solid alternatives to QuickBooks. Of all the free software reviewed here, these three match many of QuickBooks’ selling points, like sales tax tracking, financial reports, integrations with other cloud accounting software, and charts of accounts.
What is the best accounting software for small businesses?
The best free accounting software for your small business honestly depends on your business’s industry, aims, and size. If you freelance, work for yourself, or have just a few employees, free accounting software like Wave’s can help you track your finances, make wise financial decisions, and feel prepared for tax season. But if you have 10 or more employees and want help with heavy financial lifting, paid accounting software like Zoho Books or Xero (both of which start at $9 a month) could be a better fit for your midsize business.
With the notable exception of Wave, free accounting software isn’t as comprehensive as most paid software. But it can definitely get the job done when you’re on a strict budget and aren’t managing too many employees.
Want affordable payroll to match your free cloud-based accounting solution? Check out our piece on the best free payroll software for small-business owners.
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.