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best free QuickBooks alternatives

8 best free QuickBooks alternatives

Accounting software such as QuickBooks has revolutionized the game in the domain of accounting automation. It’s intuitive and easy to use, has an unbeatable AppStore full of great add-ons to optimize the automation even further (such as Synder, that allows you to forget about manual data entry for online transactions, and makes reconciliation a one-click process), and can be used by small business owners without feeling overwhelmed. 

But a great functionality also comes with its own costs, and we mean it – it’s not free. It’s not a bad thing, as many of us are happy to pay for a service that will eventually pay for itself in all the billable hours saved on paying somebody else to do the job, but the thing is that many small businesses that are just starting out might not need the full QuickBooks functionality. At least not in the beginning.

That’s why I wanted to analyze the best free alternatives to QuickBooks for small businesses.

quickbooks alternatives

Wave

What is it?

Wave is an exceptionally good free software that will perfectly suit freelancers and new small businesses with little to no inventory. It’s one of the best QuickBooks alternatives for small businesses. 

What are some of its best features?

  • Recurring invoices.
  • Bank, credit card, and PayPal synchronization.
  • Auto-categorization with AI in place to remember your categorization edits. If you change a category for a transaction that was automatically placed somewhere else, the next time Wave will put it into the right category. 
  • Wave App for receipt scanning.

Pros

  • Easy dashboard and overall great user experience.
  • Minimum company information required to start.
  • Large number of functions available for free.

Cons

  • No real-time inventory tracking.
  • No purchase orders and printable vendor checks.
  • Expenses cannot be automatically converted into invoices.

ZipBooks

What is it?

ZipBooks is a great software that has a free plan that will suit many small businesses that don’t have many employees and don’t require reconciliation of several bank accounts. These features are only available in the paid version. 

What are some of its best features?

  • Income and Expense tracking.
  • Sales Tax tracking.
  • Unlimited invoicing with an interactive overview of how much of the invoice has been paid by your clients.
  • The U.S. and Canadian bank account synchronization available.
  • Many reports are available.

Pros

  • Rich features.
  • Great reporting.
  • Intuitive interface.

Cons

  • Limited free plan.
  • An app is only available on iOS.
  • Only 1 bank account available to connect for free.

SlickPie

What is it?

Slickpie is an accounting software that has a free version that will fit many solopreneurs, microbusinesses, freelancers, and nonprofits. 

What are some of its best features?

  • Bank account reconciliation.
  • MagicBot to assist with receipt recording.
  • Online invoicing.
  • Bill management.

Pros

  • Clear user interface.
  • Good support.
  • Unlimited automated receipt entries.

Cons

  • Only 10 accounts are available in a free version.
  • Not many integrations are available.
  • Not as graph-oriented, as some competitors.

GnuCash

What is it?

GnuCash is a downloadable small business accounting software, available for Windows, Mac, and other operating systems, providing a double-entry accounting platform. 

What are some of its best features?

  • Professional layout.
  • Detailed financial reports.
  • Helpful multi-ledger structure.
  • P&L, portfolio valuation, balance sheets.
  • Pie charts, bar charts, scatter plots. 

Pros

  • Great graphs and charts.
  • Double-entry bookkeeping.
  • Open-source software.

Cons

  • Reviewers note that the support hasn’t been very responsive, as of July 2020.
  • Stocks and budgeting features aren’t very intuitive.
  • The interface isn’t as intuitive as those of its competitors.

Zoho Invoice

What is it?

Zoho Invoice is a cloud-based invoicing software that has a free plan that will suit microbusinesses with no more than 5 clients to invoice. More features are available in the paid version. It contains tools to create professional invoices, track time and expenses, and create up to 5 automated workflows.

What are some of its best features?

  • Time tracking and timesheets in the free version.
  • Customizable great looking invoice templates.
  • Expense tracking tools.
  • Automated workflows feature.

Pros

  • Clear and comprehensive reporting.
  • A great option for small businesses wanting a great user experience at no charge.
  • SSL encryption.

Cons

  • After crossing a threshold of 5 customers you will be asked to purchase a plan.
  • Additional users need to be purchased.
  • Auto-scans need to be purchased.

Sunrise

What is it?

Sunrise is a great accounting software with a free Self-Service plan perfect for solopreneurs and small businesses in service-based industries. With a free plan, you can send invoices with no limit, customize them, and create cash flow reports. Accepting payments will cost the standard rate of 2.9% + .30¢ processing free – typical for all such platforms. 

What are some of its best features?

  • Unlimited bank account, credit card, and online payment platform synchronization.
  • Unlimited number of users.
  • Great cash flow reports.
  • Recurring invoices.
  • User-friendly layout.

Pros

  • Unlike some of its competitors, it will allow you to connect an unlimited number of bank accounts for auto-synchronization.
  • Free plan allows you to add other users to your account.
  • Quotes and estimates are available, unlike in many competitor options.

Cons

  • Reviewers sometimes cite security concerns (the main website is marked “Not-secure”).
  • Bill payment and tracking isn’t available and must be entered into a spreadsheet.
  • According to reviewers, auto-categorization isn’t available, so you will need to auto-categorize, or at least edit transactions that come through your connected bank accounts.

Akaunting

What is it?

Akaunting is a securely-built, open-source free accounting software for small businesses, allowing creating invoices and tracking expenses for free, as well as managing your financials online, from any device. 

What are some of its best features?

  • This is one of the only truly free options on the market. This means that no features will be locked away.
  • Open-source software accessible from any device.
  • Clear dashboard with powerful reporting features. 

Pros

  • Billable expenses, rare for this category of software.
  • High level of security.
  • Ease of use. 

Cons

  • Little information available about the company.
  • Minimal to no support.
  • Might not suit businesses with professional, advanced accounting requirements.

Manager

What is it?

Manager is a desktop-based, free accounting software for those preferring to work offline. You only might be asked to pay in case you would like to create a cloud backup (which is easily avoidable by saving your files on something like Google Drive). It will fit many small businesses who are more comfortable working offline and don’t run inventory-based businesses.

What are some of its best features?

  • It’s one of the most respectable completely free options for desktop users.
  • Very easy to use, simple, albeit somewhat spartan interface.
  • Modules that you can enable and disable to create your own interface.
  • Preconfigured reporting.

Pros

  • Easy-to-process reporting.
  • Good support community.
  • Flexibility in setting up the chart of accounts.

Cons

  • Bank importing can be time-consuming and isn’t as automated as many cloud-based options.
  • Reporting is limited.
  • Reviewers note that many interface features could be done better in the future.

Final thoughts

I hope that some of these pros and cons will be helpful to you, especially when choosing your first accounting software. Most of these options while great when you are just starting out will eventually lack an important feature that you need (inventory tracking, more automation, less manual data entry, a greater variety of reports available – just to cite a few), so it’s good to keep them in mind as a way to learn more about business bookkeeping, to save money on more complex options that in the beginning will have many features you won’t need, to eventually either sign up for one of the paid options in the same app or switch to software like QuickBooks Online for maximum automation.


Fanya Becker

Fanya Becker

Fanya is passionate about smart automation solutions and is always looking for the next big thing. In her spare time she enjoys playing tennis and making delicious smoothies.

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