FreshBooks Review 2021

We assessed FreshBooks' accounting features, user limits, ease of use, pricing, plan information, customer service, and overall user reputation to write our in-depth review.
Best invoicing
Fresh Books
FreshBooks
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
  • Check
    Starting at $15.00/mo.
  • Check
    Unlimited customizable invoices
  • Check
    Time and expense tracking with every plan
  • X
    Client number limited by plan
Plan name
Starting price
Get started
Lite$15.00/mo.
Plus$25.00/mo.

Data as of 11/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The bottom line: FreshBooks is one of the best accounting solutions for freelancers and small-business owners who rely heavily on estimates, quotes, and invoicing. Its user-friendly interface, thorough mobile app, and excellent invoices make it a good fit for on-the-go freelancers, and its third-party integrations sell it for business owners with employees.

FreshBooks has a few key limitations—most notably, each plan limits the number of clients you can bill per month. For that reason alone, it won't work for freelancers who work with dozens of clients each month. But its unlimited user numbers makes for easy collaboration, and its low starting price beats out QuickBooks Online and rivals Xero

Pros
Pro Bullet Unlimited customizable invoices
Pro Bullet Unlimited users (addt'l fee)
Pro Bullet Highly rated mobile accounting app
Pro Bullet Expense and sales tax tracking with every plan
Cons
Con Bullet Number of billable clients limited by plan
Con Bullet No bank reconciliation with cheapest plan
Con Bullet No accountant access with cheapest plan

FreshBooks review: Table of contents

Money
FreshBooks discounts and savings

FreshBooks usually offers new customers up to 60% for the first six months. If you pay annually instead of month to month, you'll save an additional 10% for the whole year. 

FreshBooks plans and pricing 2021

Plan name
Starting price
Number of billable clients
Standout features
Get started
Lite

$15.00/mo.

Up to 5 per month

Unlimited invoicing, expense payments, time tracking, and estimates

Plus

$25.00/mo.

Up to 50 per month

Lite features + unlimited proposals, recurring invoices, and late payment reminders

Premium

$50.00/mo.

Up to 500 per month

Plus features + 500-client limit

Data as of 11/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

FreshBooks' key features

With 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

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 $11. (All of Xero's plans come with free unlimited users, too.)

Still, even though FreshBooks costs a little more, choose FreshBooks Lite over Xero if you work multiple projects for (and send multiple invoices to) the same five clients every month. And if expense tracking is one of your top requirements, FreshBooks' cheapest plan could suit you better than Xero's, which doesn't have built-in expense categorization.

Crucially, FreshBooks Lite does not include automatic bank reconciliation. That's odd, to say the least, since bank reconciliation is foundational to small-business accounting. Honestly, everyone can benefit from account reconciliation, no matter how much they make each month—it's a bizarre feature for FreshBooks to leave off. 

Best Small Business Accounting Software
Xero
Best overall
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
FreshBooks
Best invoicing
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Quickbooks
Most user-friendly
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Wave
Most affordable
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Zoho Books
Best automation
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
Learn more about our top brands.

FreshBooks Plus

For $10 more a month, FreshBooks Plus delivers the same features as FreshBooks Lite with some key add-ons:

  • Double-entry accounting and automatic bank reconciliation
  • Automated recurring invoices and late payment reminders
  • Unlimited proposals

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 better fit for most small businesses (and some freelancers) than FreshBooks Lite.

Pin
Price check: FreshBooks' additional users

FreshBooks doesn't limit the number of users who can access your FreshBooks account, but it does charge you an extra $10 per month per extra user. And unlike most major accounting software providers, FreshBooks doesn't include free accountant access with its cheapest plan..

FreshBooks Premium

Apart from the price, the main difference between FreshBooks Plus and FreshBooks Premium is the number of billable clients—Plus limits you to 50 clients, and Premium bumps you up to unlimited clients. It also adds bookkeeping features that make life easier for midsize to large businesses, such as project profitability tracking. 

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

FreshBooks vs. top competitors

Brand name
Starting price
Automatic bank reconciliation (with cheapest plan)
User limit (with cheapest plan)
Get started
Fresh Books

FreshBooks

$15.00/mo.
Icon No  DarkNo
Unlimited (addt'l fee)
Xero

Xero

$12.00/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Unlimited users
Quickbooks

QuickBooks Online

$25.00/mo.
Icon Yes  DarkYes
1 user + accountant access
Zoho

Zoho Books

$15.00/mo.*
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Unlimited (addt'l fee)
Wave

Wave Accounting

Fress for life
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Unlimited

Data as of 11/24/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*When billed annually

FreshBooks' key drawbacks

We've already covered this, but it's hard to move past FreshBooks' lack of bank reconciliation with its cheapest plan. Almost every other accounting software option includes bank reconciliation by default, including Wave Accounting, which is entirely free. 

Speaking of typical accounting software features, FreshBooks' lack of double-entry accounting with every plan gives us cause for concern. FreshBooks argues that freelancers don't need to use the more meticulous double-entry bookkeeping system, since it's most useful for businesses with complex finances. But we don't agree—and neither do most providers, like Xero and QuickBooks Online, both of which offer double-entry accounting with every plan.

Honestly, the double-entry system is more accurate regardless of your annual income. Using it can save you loads of stress come tax time and help you avoid costly mistakes. We're glad FreshBooks includes it with its Plus plan, but if you end up using FreshBooks Lite, you'll want to check (and double check) your bookkeeping entries by hand.

And while we like that FreshBooks doesn't limit the number of users you can add, we don't love that each user costs $10 extra. If you only work with a few other people, your pricing won't spiral too far out of hand—but add more than three or four and FreshBooks' cost increases exponentially. In contrast, Zoho Books charges $2.50 per additional user (much more reasonable), while providers like Wave and Xero don't impose user limits at all.

Additional FreshBooks features

Unlimited invoicing

We’ve talked about the drawback of FreshBooks’ client limit, but we also want to hit on the perk of FreshBooks’ unlimited features. Unlike some other cloud-based accounting software (most notably Xero), FreshBooks doesn’t limit the number of invoices and estimates you can send each month. That’s one perk of the company's’ humble beginnings as an invoicing-centric software: you don’t have to wait until next month to bill a client for a second project.

Customer service

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.

Generally, users also like FreshBooks' customer service and support. That's quite a big deal in a world where QuickBooks Online—part of Intuit, a company with a mediocre customer service reputation—remains one of the most popular accounting software worldwide. For instance, on the consumer review site Trustradius, FreshBooks users give it an average of 8.2 out of 10.1

And while FreshBooks isn't accredited with the Better Business Bureau, the BBB still gives it an A+ rating, and it's only had to resolve four FreshBooks complaints in the last three years.2 Admittedly, fewer people use FreshBooks than QuickBooks. Still, FreshBooks' user numbers are in the hundreds of thousands, and the company's still brooked just four complaints to QuickBooks' 2,000+.3

The takeaway

FreshBooks isn’t the least expensive cloud-based software in the business, especially if you want to add more than one user, but it’s more affordable than QuickBooks with 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 and bank reconciliation are worth it.

Looking for accounting options other than FreshBooks? Check out our article on the best accounting software of 2021 to explore alternatives.

FreshBooks FAQ

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.

Methodology

To review FreshBooks and calculate a star rating, we evaluated it in the following key areas: 

  • Accounting features
  • Ease of use, including mobile app access
  • Plans and pricing, including number of plans and additional costs
  • Customer service hours and reputation
  • Overall functionality

We also took our accounting expert's opinion under consideration when calculating our star rating. Star ratings are reevaluated frequently and subject to change.

Sources
1. Trustradius, "FreshBooks Reviews." Accessed November 24, 2021.
2. Better Business Bureau, "FreshBooks." Accessed November 24, 2021.
3. Better Business Bureau, "Intuit, Inc." Accessed November 24, 2021.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Prior to writing full-time, she worked with a variety of small-business owners (from freelance writers to real-estate solopreneurs), which gave her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes. Currently, she’s Business.org’s accounting and payroll staff writer. Her work has been featured on SCORE.org, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others.
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