Wave Accounting Review 2023

Wave Accounting remains the best free accounting solution for freelancers and other cost-conscious small-business owners.
Best budget accounting solution
Wave
Wave Accounting
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
  • pro
    Free for life
  • pro
    Free invoicing, accounting, and receipt scanning
  • pro
    Unlimited expense and income tracking
  • con
    Limited scalability for growing businesses

Data as of 1/9/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure.

Wave Accounting is the best free accounting software solution for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike. While it doesn’t have as many features as paid competitors like QuickBooks Online, Wave’s unlimited expense tracking, free invoicing, and basic reporting make it an ideal solution for many freelancers.

Since Wave only has one accounting plan, though, it’s not perfect for business owners who want to add accounting features as they grow. And its email-only customer support means users are largely on their own if they encounter an immediate problem. 

Pros
pro Entirely free accounting software
pro Unlimited users
pro Unlimited businesses manageable on the same account
pro Solid features, including expense and income tracking and basic reporting
Cons
con One plan only (limited scalability)
con No accounting or receipt-scanning apps (invoicing only)
con Email-only customer service

Wave Accounting plans and pricing

Brand
Pricing
Number of users
Invoicing
Payment acceptance
Mobile app
Get started
Free for lifeUnlimited
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Icon No  DarkNo

Data as of 1/9/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Expert Advice, Straight to Your Inbox
Gain confidence in your business future with our weekly simple solutions newsletter.

By signing up I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Wave’s key accounting features

When you’re working for yourself, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month on fancy accounting software with every possible bell and whistle. Instead, you need software that crunches numbers and an app that easily accepts payments—and that's exactly what you get with Wave Accounting, and then some: 

Honestly, these features outpace those included with some paid accounting software. For instance, Xero only includes expense tracking with its priciest plan, which starts at $65 a month. QuickBooks Online limits user numbers by plan (its cheapest plan, QuickBooks Simple Start, includes just three users). And FreshBooks doesn’t limit your user number, but it does charge an extra $10 a month per user—which adds up fast. 

Wave also lets you manage multiple businesses under the same Wave account. If you have multiple Etsy, eBay, or Amazon shops or work a few different freelance gigs, you can keep each business’s income and expenses separate.

Compare Wave with top competitors

Brand
Starting price
Free trial
User limit (with basic plan)
Mobile accounting app
Get started
Free for lifeN/AUnlimited
Icon No  DarkNo
$15.00/mo.*30 days (or 50% off for 3 mos.)1 user + accountant access
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$13.00/mo.30 daysUnlimited
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$0.00/mo.**N/AUnlimited (addt'l per-user fee)
Icon Yes  DarkYes
$1.50/mo.***30 days (or 90% off for 3 mos.)Unlimited (addt'l per-user fee)
Icon Yes  DarkYes

Data as of 1/9/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Current sale price: 50% off for three months or 30-day free trial
**Free for businesses with an annual revenue below $50K USD
***Current sale price: 90% off for three months. Available to new customers only.

Key drawbacks

Wave Accounting does a lot for the price—but it can’t do everything. For instance, it doesn’t offer the same built-in time-tracking and project-tracking features you get with most other basic accounting software plans. Unlike with QuickBooks, you can’t manage 1099 contractors with Wave (which is one reason Wave’s better suited to 1099 contractors rather than those who employ them).

And in contrast to just about every accounting software provider at this point, Wave doesn’t have a mobile accounting app. It also recently got rid of its receipt-scanning app: now, the only Wave app is its invoicing app—which is fine and functional, but nothing to write home about (unlike, say, FreshBooks’ stellar invoicing app).

Wave also doesn’t have quite as many integrations as other paid (and more popular) accounting software options. Most importantly, it doesn’t sync with any third-party payroll providers.

If you want to integrate your Wave Accounting software with payroll, you have to choose Wave’s own product: Wave Payroll. It’s a fine payroll product, both in terms of features and price, but it’s definitely not the best payroll bargain out there (that’d be Gusto, OnPay, or QuickBooks Payroll). 

Of course, if you freelance, you don’t need to worry about running payroll either now or in the future. But for small-business owners who want to eventually expand their businesses and hire an employee or two (or more), just know that Wave doesn't make it easy to add payroll software beyond its own.

Best Bookkeeping Software
Xero
Best for collaboration
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
Zoho Books
Best automation
3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6
GoDaddy
Best bookkeeping only
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Learn more about our top brands.

And speaking of growing businesses, Wave Accounting has just one accounting plan. That’s far from a bad thing—the straightforward single plan is one reason Wave works so well for freelancers and contractors. Plus, any additional plans would likely be paid plans, and we like that Wave sticks to what it does best: providing well-rounded, free accounting software. The solo plan just means Wave isn't as scalable as multi-plan accounting brands, so small-business owners who hope to grow might want to consider scalable providers like Xero or FreshBooks instead.

Compare your accounting software options

Not sure if Wave is right for you? Enter some basic information about your business's accounting software needs and we'll send you up to five personalized quotes for absolutely free.

Additional Wave features

We’ve already hit on a few accounting features that set Wave apart, but there are a few more perks to cover.

First, Wave is remarkably customizable—especially considering that it’s, you know, free. For instance, its unlimited invoices are much more customizable (and, in our opinion, more professional-looking) than QuickBooks’ comparatively expensive invoices. You can also customize your chart of accounts (CoA) to include only the accounts you need—useful for freelancers, who tend to have fewer expense and income categories on their books than bigger businesses. 

Wave Accounting also uses double-entry accounting, which is much more accurate than basic single-entry accounting. Most accounting software use the double-entry system, though FreshBooks’ cheapest plan is a notable exception. We love that even though Wave is free and freelance-focused, it doesn’t assume freelancers can afford to skimp on financial accuracy.

Finally, Wave’s billing, payment acceptance, and invoicing features all work together to ensure you get paid on time. Clients can pay you directly through their invoice. You can also send bill and invoice payment reminders. In other words, Wave has many of the invoicing perks you get with invoice-heavy software like FreshBooks, but at no cost. 

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

The takeaway

Wave Accounting proves that comprehensive accounting software doesn’t need a huge price tag. It’s a great pick for freelancers and entrepreneurs who want the most important bookkeeping features—invoicing, receipt-scanning, and expense and income tracking—at no cost. If you don’t mind trading a high cost for minimal receipt-scanning features and limited scalability, we recommend checking it out. 

If Wave isn’t a good fit for you, read through our article on the year’s best free accounting software. The article kicks off with Wave, but it includes reviews for nine other free bookkeeping programs that you might prefer. 

Related reading

Wave Accounting FAQ

Is Wave Accounting free?

Yes, Wave Accounting is really free. Wave Accounting gives you free unlimited invoices, users, expense and income tracking, credit and bank account connections, and more. It also offers multi-business management for no  additional fee. You don’t have to enter a credit card number when you sign up. Just type in your business information, and you’re all set. 

Does Wave do accrual-basis or cash-basis accounting?

Wave offers accrual-basis accounting only, not cash-basis accounting. 

Does Wave use double-entry or single-entry bookkeeping?

Yes, Wave’s accounting software does automatic double-entry bookkeeping. This accounting process generates two entries for every financial transaction. (One entry appears on the credit side of your ledger and one on the debit side.) The goal of double-entry bookkeeping is to minimize errors and ensure your account balances, which should reassure users who worry about the high cost of potential financial mistakes.

Methodology

To compare Wave Accounting to other accounting software products and assign it a star rating, we considered several key aspects of Wave's overall service: 

  • Accounting features
  • Third-party integrations
  • Customer service availability
  • Current customer reviews on third-party consumer review sites, including app ratings and reviews
  • Usability, including mobile access
  • User limits
  • Plan and pricing information

We also took our expert’s view into accounting when calculating our star ratings. Our star ratings are reviewed and updated frequently.

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 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.
Recent Articles
Paychex Review 2023
Paychex’s fantastic starting price and HR add-ons make it a solid choice for most small...
A woman with long black hair and glasses flips through financial records with a calculator
OnPay Review 2023
We looked at OnPay’s pricing, HR features, tax administration, customer service, interface, and reputation to...
Close-up image of a table where two people sit across from each other typing on laptops
Wave Payroll Review 2023
Wave Payroll is a good choice for budget-conscious businesses that use Wave’s free accounting solution....
A white woman with blonde hair wearing a grey jacket sits at a desk typing on a white laptop
Square Payroll Review 2023
Our Square Payroll review covers Square’s payroll features, plans, pricing, HR add-ons, customer service reputation,...