FreshBooks Review 2020
If you have only a few users and want plenty of features, FreshBooks—especially its mid-level plan—is a solid choice for your business and budget.
Until around 2017, FreshBooks basically functioned as glorified invoicing software. It was pretty great invoicing software, sure, but FreshBooks was far from a serious competitor in the accounting world.
But with a complete revamp that introduced 250 new features, including general ledger access and automatically generated bookkeeping reports, FreshBooks now has 24 million users worldwide.1 It’s also one of our top five favorite accounting software for small businesses, and for good reason.
Like any other cloud-based accounting software, FreshBooks has its shortcomings, but its features are comprehensive enough that it warrants a top spot next to QuickBooks, Wave, and Xero. Want to find out if FreshBooks could work for you? Keep reading our FreshBooks review to learn more.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, FreshBooks is offering 60% off to all new customers for their first six months. That brings FreshBooks Lite to $8 a month, FreshBooks Plus to $10 a month, and FreshBooks Premium to $20 a month—for an entire half-year. We’ve left the standard pricing in our chart below so you can see the price you’ll be paying six months down the road, but in the meantime, we strongly recommend you take advantage of FreshBooks’ current promotion.
|Plan name||Starting price||Number of billable clients||Features||Learn more|
|Lite||$15/mo.||Up to 5 per month|
Unlimited invoicing, expense payments, time tracking, and estimates
Lite features + unlimited proposals, recurring invoices, and late payment reminders
Plus features + 500-client limit
FreshBooks plans and pricing
With its three plans, running from $15 to $50 a month, FreshBooks’ features can match a variety of business needs. But since additional users cost $10 extra per month, it’s a particularly good fit for solopreneurs who plan to keep the books largely on their own.
FreshBooks Lite can help you handle most of the important accounting tasks:
- Unlimited invoices and estimates
- Time tracking for correct customer billing
- Credit card and ACH payment acceptance
- Invoice customization
- Automatic bank account syncing
- Crucial financial reporting
That’s not bad for just $15 a month. But while the plan doesn’t limit the number of invoices you can send, it does limit the number of clients you can bill to just five a month. Functionally, that’s about the same as Xero’s cheapest plan, which limits you to five bills, five invoices, and five quotes a month . . . but costs just $9.
Even though FreshBooks costs a little more, though, choose FreshBooks Lite over Xero if you work multiple projects for (and send multiple invoices to) the same five clients every month.
Additionally, FreshBooks Lite doesn’t use double-entry accounting. That’s a shame, because the double-entry accounting system is so much more accurate than the single-entry system that it’s hardly worth comparing the two.
If you’re a freelancer working a few projects a month for some spare pocket change, you’ll probably be fine without double-entry accounting. We can’t in good conscience recommend single-entry bookkeeping to anyone else, though—which makes FreshBooks Plus a better fit for most people.
For ten bucks more a month, FreshBooks Plus delivers the same features as FreshBooks Lite with some key add-ons:
- Double-entry accounting
- Automated recurring invoices and late payment reminders
- Unlimited proposals
We’ve called out double-entry accounting a few times; wondering why it matters so much? With this accounting method, you enter each financial transaction twice: once as a credit and once as a debit. It’s basically a fail-safe that ensures your books really are balanced, which makes it a must for businesses
FreshBooks Plus also includes a client retainer option, which means you can let clients pay you in advance for long-term projects. Most importantly, FreshBooks Plus lets you bill up to 50 clients a month, which makes it a much better fit for small businesses than FreshBooks Lite.
Apart from the price, the only difference between FreshBooks Plus and FreshBooks Premium is the number of billable clients—otherwise, the two plans are exactly the same. We wish FreshBooks offered a happy medium, like a plan with 150 or 200 billable clients at a slightly lower price. For now, you’ll have to pay twice as much for the same features if you have 52 clients instead of 49.
How many people need access to your accounting software? If your business is pretty small, only you and your accountant might need access; if you’re juggling lots of numbers, you might want a few more hands on deck. Each accounting software provider approaches multiple users differently: QuickBooks includes a certain number of users with each plan, FreshBooks charges an extra $10 a month for each additional user, and Xero offers unlimited users.
Additional FreshBooks features
We’ve talked about the drawback of FreshBooks’ client limit, but we also want to hit on the perk of FreshBooks’ unlimited features. Unlike other cloud-based accounting software, FreshBooks doesn’t limit the number of invoices and estimates you can send each month. That’s one perk of FreshBooks’ humble beginnings as a invoicing-centric software: you don’t have to wait until next month to bill a client for a second project.
Competitors like QuickBooks limit the number of users you can add by plan, but FreshBooks lets you add as many users as you want for $10 extra per user per month. That’s a little steep, so it works best for businesses that just want to loop in an extra team member and an accountant to help with finances. If you heavily value collaboration, you might want to go with a competitor like Xero, which allows for unlimited users no matter the plan.
FreshBooks customer service is available over the phone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT, which gives you a little leeway if you work on the West Coast—you can still get help on a problem that occurs after 2 p.m. your time. FreshBooks also has a robust online support section and helpful chat feature.
Is FreshBooks better than QuickBooks?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Price-wise, FreshBooks is much less expensive than QuickBooks: QuickBooks’ cheapest plan starts at $25 a month and offers about the same features as FreshBooks Lite, which starts at $15 a month. Worse, you can’t manage bills or track time unless you upgrade to QuickBooks Essentials, which costs $40 a month to FreshBooks Plus’s $25 a month.
On the other hand, all of QuickBooks’ plans come with mileage tracking, which is ideal if, say, the contracted plumbers for your plumbing business spend a lot of time on the road. Meanwhile, FreshBooks integrates with more than 200 apps, including Everlance for mileage tracking, but you’ll pay a little extra each month for the integration. And for app functionality, it’s hard to beat the QuickBooks app’s solid interface, low learning curve, and comprehensive features.
How does FreshBooks work?
Like other cloud-based accounting software, FreshBooks stores all your information in the cloud, meaning you don’t have to download anything to start working. Instead, you log into your FreshBooks account online to securely access your FreshBooks dashboard.
How much does FreshBooks cost?
FreshBooks’ cheapest plan, FreshBooks Lite, starts at $15 a month with five billable clients. FreshBooks Plus starts at $25 a month and FreshBooks Premium costs $50 a month. FreshBooks also offers a more comprehensive plan with custom pricing, called FreshBooks Select. It includes a dedicated account manager and allows for over 500 billable clients.
Does FreshBooks track mileage?
To track mileage with FreshBooks, you’ll need to integrate with Everlance, a mileage tracking app that syncs seamlessly with your FreshBooks account but costs an extra few dollars a month.
What is FreshBooks Classic?
FreshBooks Classic refers to pre-2017 FreshBooks. FreshBooks still offers customer support to customers who stuck with FreshBooks Classic rather than upgrading to the full-featured accounting program, but if you’re a new user, you can’t sign up for the old version of the software.
FreshBooks isn’t the least expensive cloud-based software in the business (that’d be Wave), but it’s more affordable than QuickBooks with just about the same degree of functionality. If you’re looking for a good QuickBooks alternative, we say take FreshBooks out for a spin—but if you can, stick with the Plus plan over the Lite plan. Double-entry accounting is worth it.
Looking for accounting options other than FreshBooks? Check out our article on the best accounting software of 2020 to explore some alternatives.
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. FreshBooks, “The FreshBooks Story“