The best accounting software of 2020

David Harrington
David Harrington / Last updated January 8, 2020

Accounting has a reputation for being a tedious and confusing part of running a business. But times have changed, and the days of managing finances with paper ledgers and clunky spreadsheets are all but gone.

Accounting software simplifies the whole process. By linking directly to your business or bank accounts, it can automate tedious tasks like invoice generation and payment tracking. Here are the 10 best accounting apps on the market for growing businesses. Click on any app to learn more about why we chose it, or keep reading for more context on accounting software.

The best accounting software

What makes great accounting software?

Accounting software ranges from basic invoice creation and expense tracking to full-on tax preparation, advanced financial reporting, and inventory management. Which software you choose will depend on your business needs, but there are certain criteria you should always keep your eye out for.

The best accounting apps offer, at the bare minimum, basic accounting and bookkeeping functions: invoice creation, expense tracking, a record of banking transactions, and financial report generation. They also provide accurate, in-depth, and easy-to-use dashboards. And they are tied together with an intuitive user interface that allows you to complete actions efficiently.

Some accounting software offers extended functionality that can add value to many businesses—things like inventory management, native customer relationship management (CRM), and eCommerce management. We took those above-and-beyond features into consideration as we selected the best.


Best accounting software for tax management

QuickBooks Online (Web, iOS, Android)

QuickBooks dashboard

For businesses that already use Intuit tax products like TurboTax, QuickBooks Online's small business plans are a logical choice for accounting and bookkeeping. QuickBooks Online's small business plans are equipped for business entities that handle payroll and employees, such as Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) and S-Corporations—at a much lower cost than the QuickBooks Enterprise edition.

QuickBooks covers all the basics: You can easily connect your bank accounts to the system, invoice customers, track expenses, and perform other basic bookkeeping functions. You can also easily pay workers, manage 1099s (contractor tax forms), and track payroll. And because it integrates with Zapier, you can automate all these processes.

QuickBooks also lets you know how much sales tax you owe at any given time, automatically calculating it based on sales and invoicing data. The stand-out feature is how QuickBooks automatically sorts and categorizes expenses based on potential tax deductions, like office overhead, travel expenses, and equipment maintenance. The software also estimates your quarterly and annual tax payments in real-time, has mobile technology for automated mileage tracking, and offers either phone or live chat support 24/7.

Come tax time, financial and company data can be imported into TurboTax from QuickBooks. This effectively creates a one-stop-shop for accounting and taxation solutions. Plus, you can add your independent tax preparer or accountant for collaboration purposes.

QuickBooks Online price:
From $25/month for the Simple Start package. From $70/month for the Plus package that includes all the features we listed above. Add-ons are available a la carte.

Automate QuickBooks Online with QuickBooks Online's Zapier integrations.

Best accounting software for creating and managing invoices

FreshBooks (Web, iOS, Android)

FreshBooks interface

FreshBooks is one of the leading finance applications for small and mid-sized businesses largely due to its simplicity and easy-to-navigate user interface. For businesses with basic invoicing and expense tracking needs, FreshBooks offers a complete solution, and adds functions like estimating, time-tracking, and project management.

Reporting functionality is relatively new to FreshBooks, and it's divided into four categories: Invoice & Expense, Payments, Accounting, and Time Tracking. Within these categories are more granular reports such as Expenses, Aged Accounts, Profit & Loss Statement, and Balance Sheet. FreshBooks reports stack up quite well with similarly priced competitors in terms of visual presentation, ease of date range customization, and ability to export through CSV or share with team members. FreshBooks can also help automatically reconcile any bank accounts you connect, and you (or your accountant) can easily access, view, and sort through your chart of accounts.

But where FreshBooks really stands out is invoice management. Simply click the clearly marked, green New Invoice button, and you'll be taken to the invoice composition screen where you can do things like drag and drop your company logo onto the header, select an existing customer from a dropdown menu, or set the invoice to be recurring with just a few clicks. You can also toggle various payment methods—such as credit/debit card, direct deposit, or PayPal—on and off with a single click from the invoice composition screen. When the invoice is ready, click Send, confirm the email of the customer (or enter a different one), and the process is complete.

FreshBooks' Zapier integration includes a number of automatic workflows for invoice management—among other things—so you can streamline your accounting even further. FreshBooks has also recently added features like Plaid payments integration, monthly profit and loss reporting, and an in-app message center.

FreshBooks price:
From $15/month for the Lite plan that includes up to five clients. The Plus plan is $25/month, offers a richer set of features and includes up to 50 clients.

Automate FreshBooks with FreshBooks’ Zapier integrations.

Best free accounting software

Wave (Web, iOS, Android)

Wave interface

For the most robust free plan of any accounting software on the market, try Wave. Unlike most other apps on this list, the free version of Wave provides basic features for invoicing, expense tracking, reporting, and basic payroll. And there's no sacrifice on user experience: It's sleek and easy to navigate, and the dashboard provides a handy cash flow snapshot, as well as real-time banking balance for the main account you have connected to Wave.

Other functions you'd have to pay for in other apps but get for free with Wave: accepting credit card payments, account reconciliation, and a fairly robust suite of reporting. You can create essential accounting reports like the cash flow statement, balance sheet, and profit and loss, and you can get more granular with reports like income by client and expense per vendor. Plus, you can use your mobile device to scan receipts that are automatically recorded as expenses. Wave also categorizes your transactions for tax and tracking purposes, and recently added cash basis accounting functionality.

You'll need to upgrade if you want to include payroll, but it's still relatively inexpensive compared to most other solutions.

Wave's integration with Zapier will let you automatically record sales, create new invoices, and create new customers based on trigger events in the other apps you use most.

Wave price:
Free for basic accounting, invoicing, and reporting. From $20/month plus $4 per employee for payroll functionality.

Automate Wave with Wave’s Zapier integrations.

Best accounting software for advanced insights and reporting

Xero (Web, iOS, Android)

Xero interface

The slogan for Xero's accounting software is "beautiful business," and their no-nonsense approach to user experience and functionality is a clear reflection of this philosophy. Xero has one of the most simplistic and modern designs yet still provides a robust suite of accounting and financial management capabilities.

Where Xero separates itself from the pack is in its reporting capabilities. Users can generate up to 14 pre-built financial reports, including everything from a standard income statement to a statement of shareholder's equity. And that's on top of the more than 50 other reports that Xero provides in the following areas: sales, purchasing, inventory, taxation, payroll, asset management, and accounting.

Xero's accounting-specific reports include 16 pre-built options, including a list of bank account transactions and the general ledger. Each report is also easily filtered by standard time periods (monthly, quarterly, yearly) or custom date ranges. Xero provides everything you'd expect from accounting software, and it's perfect for those who want detailed financial insights without a cluttered user interface.

Xero's Zapier integration allows you to automatically create sales invoices, contacts, bills, payments, purchase orders, and credit notes based on activity in the other apps in your tech stack.

Xero price:
From $9/month for the Early plan that has limits on number of invoices, bills, and bank transactions.

Automate Xero with Xero's Zapier integrations.

Best accounting software for tech stack integration

Zoho Books (Web, iOS, Android)

Zoho Books interface

As a standalone accounting and financial management app, Zoho Books covers the basics. You can connect a bank account, send invoices, create estimates, and manage expenses. Under the Accounting tab, you can create/edit transactional journals manually, adjust currencies, and access your chart of accounts. Plus, Zoho Books takes a global approach to payment processing, offering a wider array of payment gateways than most other accounting apps.

But Zoho Books isn't just a standalone app—it's part of the Zoho suite. The company takes a unique a la carte approach to apps, allowing users to pay only for the features they need. So if your business only needs accounting and project management, you won’t be forced to pay for a feature like payroll, too.

The Zoho family of apps includes everything from email and form creation to a full-fledged CRM. So if you want a one-and-done solution, you'll only need to log into Zoho for everything: lead generation, sales, project management, accounting, and everything in between. Of course, for those who are set on using Zoho Books as a standalone app, the Zapier integration still helps you automate most of your accounting tasks, connecting Zoho Books to your email marketing, CRM, and eCommerce platforms.

Zoho Books price:
From $9/month for the Basic plan that allows for one user, one accountant and basic accounting features.

Automate Zoho Books with Zoho Books’ Zapier integrations.

Best accounting software for visually-oriented users

ZipBooks (Web, iOS)

ZipBooks interface

ZipBooks was one of the easiest apps for us to set up: You can create your company, upload your branding assets, and connect your bank account in a matter of minutes. Plus, you can start using ZipBooks with a free plan that allows for unlimited invoicing, customers, and bookkeeping.

The colorful user interface is both natural and intuitive, even for accounting novices. You'll navigate ZipBooks through side and top menus, and each click makes sense. Click on Transactions, for example, and you'll be taken to a chronological list, color-coded green for income and red for expenses. Clicking on Reports will bring you to an overview, where categories such as sales, financial reports, and expenses are clearly displayed and color-coded.

While there are fewer reports and dashboard options than some other apps, they are generated simply by clicking Go next to the report name and description. The reports themselves feature color-coded line items. ZipBooks has also added time-tracking functionality for those who bill by the hour.

Of course, it's not all about looks. ZipBooks offers some unique features, like the option to connect to business review sites, such as Facebook and Yelp, and monitor them from within the application.

Finally, ZipBooks comes equipped with an automated Invoice Quality Score that rates each invoice from 1-100 as it's being drafted. You'll be alerted to things like missing addresses, lack of line item descriptions, and other factors that might keep your customers from paying on time. The score is clearly displayed, with colors corresponding to its quality. Users can instantly see if their invoice is missing information or needs improvement, preventing errors from slipping through the cracks.

ZipBooks price:
Free for unlimited invoicing, bookkeeping, and customers. From $15/month for the Smarter package that enables unlimited bank account connections, advanced bookkeeping, and the ability to add team members.

Best accounting software for businesses that bill for their time

FreeAgent (Web, iOS, Android)

FreeAgent interface

FreeAgent is an accounting app designed specifically for freelancers, sole proprietors, and very small businesses. FreeAgent provides the basic necessities for accounting and financial management, including invoicing, expensing, and project time-tracking. While FreeAgent doesn't offer a complex suite of advanced functions, it performs very well for businesses that bill for their time. And because it integrates with Zapier, you can use it with all the other tools in your tech stack. It’s newly redesigned—and free—iOS app supports those entrepreneurs who are on the go.

A graphic design business, for example, can create a website redesign project in FreeAgent and set hourly rates for various tasks, such as initial consulting, mockup proposals, or HTML. You also have the option to create a weekly timeslip that you'll invoice the customer for, or even set a timer that can be started, stopped, or paused as you work on any given task. When it comes time to invoice, simply select the client and project, and FreeAgent will automatically import each timeslip as a line item on the invoice.

Project estimates and recurring invoices are also possible in FreeAgent. And unlike most other apps, there's a separate section dedicated to the 1040-C part of your tax returns to help you itemize income, expenses, and deductions. The tax timeline on the FreeAgent dashboard also lets you quickly see what tax filing deadlines are on the horizon.

FreeAgent price:
$12/month for the first six months and $24/month for every month after that.

Automate FreeAgent with FreeAgent’s Zapier integrations.

Best accounting software for eCommerce businesses that sell from multiple sites

GoDaddy Bookkeeping (Web, iOS, Android)

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping interface

When you think of accounting software, web hosting giant GoDaddy probably isn't the first name that comes to mind. But for companies that conduct large volumes of eCommerce business on multiple sites, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, GoDaddy Bookkeeping is a pleasant surprise.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping does well for eCommerce businesses looking for a cost-effective solution. Alongside core accounting and bookkeeping functionality, the app automatically imports sales data from eCommerce platforms, as well as payment processing apps like PayPal.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping categorizes income and expenses the way the government itemizes them on the Schedule C portion of tax returns. It also displays a real-time eCommerce sales feed so the value of merchandise being moved is visible at all times.

While the accounting reports are fairly basic (only profit and loss is readily available), GoDaddy Bookkeeping provides more robust sales and eCommerce reports, with details such as sales by state, sales by top customers, and most invoiced items.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping price:
From $4.99/month for the Get Paid plan and from $9.99/month for the Essentials plan.

Best all-in-one accounting software

OneUp Accounting (Web, iOS, Windows)

OneUp Accounting interface

OneUp is a self-professed accounting app, but unlike its peers, it provides customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and inventory management tools at no extra cost.

Its integrated CRM enables you to follow the bulk of your customers' sales journey on one platform, from lead generation and quoting to invoicing and inventory management. Transactions can be automatically imported through connected bank accounts or manually entered. On the ERP and inventory management end, you'll be able to automate inventory ordering, track shipping, and even email delivery drivers directly from the platform.

For businesses that focus on inventory management and sales processes, OneUp might not be the ideal solution, but it's certainly a great value and one of the few all-in-one ERP, CRM, and accounting platforms.

OneUp Accounting price:
From $9/month for the Self plan for one user.

Best open source accounting software

Akuanting (Web, On-Premise)

Akaunting interface

Akaunting is free, open-source accounting software designed to help small- to medium-sized businesses manage finances, track cash flow, and perform bookkeeping functions. Like other open-source solutions, Akaunting was built and is continuously upgraded from the input of software developers around the world. And for something you'll never pay a nickel for, Akaunting covers all the core accounting functions.

You have the option of downloading the software to run on your own machine or accessing a cloud-based version. A dedicated open source app exchange allows you to download and connect apps to extend Akaunting’s functionality. Some apps are free, while others, like WooCommerce, Stripe, and Slack, are available for an annual fee.

There are six basic pre-built reports available through Akaunting: Profit and Loss, Income Summary, Expense Summary, Income vs. Expense, and Tax Summary. Overall, Akaunting is the best-of-breed in open source, compared with other options like Xtuple and GnuCash. It's great for businesses that want to conserve financial capital, but are willing, and able, to invest the internal IT resources and manpower configuring the app to their specifications.

Akaunting price:
Free. App extensions range from free to $70/year.

Originally published in January 2019, this post was most recently updated with each app's latest features and pricing.

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