Get to know Wave

Wave's a unique tool. Unlike most accounting apps where you'll buy the software or pay per month, Wave does almost everything for free. Accounting, invoicing, receipt scanning—all free. It pays for that with a few add-on services. Depending on where your business is based, Wave includes a payment processing service with leading rates, a lending tool to get business loans right inside your accounting app, and a payroll app that can automatically deposit your team's paychecks into their bank accounts for a monthly fee for both full-time and contract employees. If you need it all, those extra services are a great way to keep every financial part of your work together. Otherwise you can use Wave's free apps as much as you need.

The core accounting tools work great together. Connect Wave to your bank and credit accounts—and Wave works with most, with popular bank listings for a variety of countries we checked—and it can import your transactions automatically. Then, whenever your team spends money, have them scan the receipts with Wave's mobile app or email the receipt to Wave. It'll recognize as much of the text as possible—pulling in dates and prices most reliably in our test—and uses machine learning to tag the transaction type automatically. And it works with multiple currencies, automatically converting the sale price to your core currency to easily manage, say, foreign travel expenses.

Wave can watch your bank, PayPal, and Etsy accounts for income to keep tabs on your revenue. Or, if your business typically invoices customers for your work and products, Wave includes tools for that too. Start out with a quote of your service prices, then build an invoice when the work is done. You can customize the basics of the invoice design, and accept payments however you want—including using Wave's built-in payment processing. Wave will remind customers to pay you—or let you regularly charge their card automatically for your repeat customers. Once they've paid, you'll be able to track of those payments in your accounting tab along with the rest of your financial data.

With that much data in one place, Wave's reports help you keep tabs on your financials. You can see everything from your total paid sales tax to the gain or losses you maid on foreign currency transactions—pulled in automatically from your invoice payments and scanned receipts. And, you can take your data with you, with CSV and PDF exports available in Wave's reports and most of its core data pages.

By the time you've calculated all of your team's expenses from receipts, you won't want another bill to add to your outflows. So don't. Wave lets you do accounting for free—and only pay for features that keep your team happy and help you get paid.

Originally published July 4, 2017; updated August 25, 2018 with new pricing, screenshots, and features.

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