Sign up
  • Home
  • App picks

The best free invoice software of 2021

Best apps

12 min read

The best free invoice software of 2021

By Jessica Greene · April 21, 2021
best-free-invoice-software-00-hero

Why is it that sending an invoice can feel like the toughest part of any project? Itemizing charges, adding taxes, making it look professional, and chasing down a payment—all busywork that takes away from time that could be better spent on billable tasks. 

Which is exactly why invoicing software exists. 

With a couple clicks of the mouse, your billable hours, products, and taxes are all added up in a snazzy invoice. Another couple clicks and the invoice is delivered via email to your client, complete with a link to pay in full online. And there are plenty of free invoicing apps available, which means you don't need deep pockets to get the most out of it.

We dove in and did our own research to find out which free invoicing software options really stand out—and why.

The best free invoicing software

  • PayPal for creating invoices on mobile devices

  • Square for accepting POS (point of sale) and online payments

  • Wave for all-in-one invoicing and accounting for small businesses

  • Zoho Invoice for automated invoice workflows

  • Harvest for time-tracking invoicing software

  • Invoice Generator for sending invoices without creating an account

  • AND.CO for managing a single client project

  • Hiveage for integrating with multiple payment gateways

  • Stripe for all-in-one payment processing across platforms

What makes great free invoicing software?

To find the best free invoicing software, we evaluated and tested more than 30 tools. Then, we narrowed the pool by looking for tools that met the following criteria:

  • Unlimited invoices: While many of the tools on our list do limit the number of active clients you can invoice on a free plan, all let you send an unlimited number of invoices without having to upgrade to a premium plan.

  • Simple and intuitive to use: We selected tools that made invoicing as simple as typing in a word processor and offer features to expedite the process by letting you save client information, product/service details, standard prices, and more.

  • Accept payments online: The most important part of invoicing is getting paid. All the tools below let you accept payments by credit card. Some also accept bank and wire transfers.

While all these tools let you quickly create invoices and send them to customers, they are first and foremost free apps. For more advanced features, you'll want to look at their paid plans, or check out the more robust invoicing tools in our post on the best overall invoicing software.

Another important thing to note: all online payments require the use of a payment gateway—a service that processes card and bank payments. So even though the invoicing software itself is free to use, all of the apps charge payment processing and transaction fees for accepting payments. Those fees are automatically deducted from any payment you receive.

Some of the tools below—like PayPal and Stripe—are payment gateways. Others use third-party payment gateways to process payments. For invoicing apps that are also payment gateways, we've listed the applicable fees. For those that use third-party payment gateways, the fees are typically subject to the terms of the payment gateway you use to accept payments.

Note: Quoted payment processing and transaction fees apply only to payments sent to and received from individuals within the United States. International fees may vary by both provider and location.

Best free invoice software for creating invoices on mobile devices

PayPal (Web, iOS, Android)

Creating an invoice on the go with the PayPal Business app.

PayPal has been around for more than 20 years and is one of the biggest names in online payment processing. In addition to the benefits of PayPal's name recognition and credibility, it also has the best free mobile app for invoicing.

The PayPal Business app allows you to create and send invoices, review account activity, and issue refunds on the go. Despite the name of the app, you don't actually need a special business account—logging in with your usual PayPal credentials works just fine.

Once logged in, you'll see a dedicated tab just for invoicing, where you can create a new invoice and view paid and unpaid invoices. Creating a new one takes a few seconds, with PayPal pulling in the contact information of your recent "customers" (people who you have paid recently). The editor is also strategically reconfigured for mobile, with big buttons and easy data entry. You can create a basic invoice with just a few line items or create something more advanced that allows tips, partial payments, or for photos to be included. The entire experience is quick and intuitive.

Customers will receive the invoice through their PayPal account, where they can pay via credit card, debit card, or PayPal balance. The funds will then be deposited into your PayPal account, where you can transfer the balance—subject to certain limits—to your debit card or bank account.

You can automate PayPal with PayPal's Zapier integrations, allowing you to do things like logging new PayPal sales in a spreadsheet or subscribing new PayPal customers to your email marketing list.

PayPal price: Free to create an account and send invoices

PayPal payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Best free invoice software for accepting POS (point of sale) and online payments

Square (Web, iOS, Android)

creating an invoice in Square

If you want to synchronize your online and in-person payments, Square is your best option. Not only does it come with eCommerce capabilities for your online sales, but it also offers quality point-of-sale hardware that lets you accept payments in person (whether in your store or on your phone while at a customer's house or business) or post-sale payments from an invoice. For invoicing specifically, you can choose to use the standard Square point-of-sale app or the Square Invoices app.

To speed up the invoice creation process, Square lets you build an item library of your products and services. Once an item is in your library, you can add it to any invoice. This helps to standardize the naming convention and price of each item that you bill for.

Square also lets you create recurring invoices, schedule invoices to be sent at a later date, and schedule automatic payment reminders. And within your account settings, you'll find a few options for customizing your invoice: add a logo, select a color, choose whether or not to display your address, and add custom text or a return policy to every invoice you send.

You can streamline your processes even more by automating Square with Square's Zapier integrations. Add new Square customers to your email list, post sales to a Slack channel, and more.

Square price: Free for point-of-sale payment processing and invoicing

Square payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for credit/debit card payments made on invoices. 3.5% + $0.15 if processed using Card on File.

Best free invoice software for all-in-one invoicing and accounting for small businesses

Wave (Web, iOS, Android)

Creating an invoice in Wave

You could have two separate tools—one for invoicing and one for accounting—but with Wave, you get both in one package.

Wave is a full-featured accounting app with all the tools you need to track your business's income and expenses. Connect your business bank account, and Wave pulls in all account transactions for you automatically. Choose a category for each expense, and you can access detailed reports on where all of your money is coming from and going to. You can also use the receipt scanner on Wave's iOS and Android apps to track your business receipts. The overall financial health of your business finances is available at a glance with a visual dashboard.

If you don't need all of the extra accounting features, you can still use Wave's invoicing tool to create and send invoices and receive payments. If you take time to create customers and add products/services to the tool, you can quickly pull in the details for both just by tapping the applicable section of the invoice. With data saved in Wave, you can create and send an invoice in less than 60 seconds.

Wave lets you do some basic customization of your invoice, such as adding a logo or custom title and selecting what information to display about your business. You can also create recurring invoices that are sent based on a schedule you specify and—if customers opt-in—charge saved customer payment methods automatically.

If you automate Wave with Wave's Zapier integrations, you can do things like automatically creating customers in Wave whenever there's a new deal or updated property in your CRM.

Wave price: Free for accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning

Wave payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for card payments (3.4% + $0.30 for card payments from American Express); 1% per transaction for bank payments (ACH)

Best free invoice software for automated invoice workflows

Zoho Invoice (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)

Automate workflows with Zoho Invoice.

The process of sending out invoices typically requires a few other repetitive manual tasks, like filing, data entry, and keeping record of who's paid. But buried within Zoho Invoice's feature set is the ability to set up workflows to automate these other tasks, like scheduling triggered emails or calculating and adding discounts, late fees, and due dates.

To get to the workflow editor, click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of Zoho and select Automation. You’ll then see five different automation types, from email alerts to custom functions.

With Zoho's out-of-the-box features, you can set up an email alert to go out when an invoice is created or overdue, or you can schedule an in-app notification for the finance team whenever an invoice is paid.

The most powerful features, however, are the custom functions. These allow you to write small pieces of code using Deluge script to automate invoicing processes. For example, you can write a script to automatically calculate and add a late fee to overdue invoices. Or you can create a function to provide a 5 percent discount if payment is made before the due date. Zoho provides examples with guidance on how to update and create some of the more common workflows. Otherwise, you'll have to learn Deluge to get the most out of this feature.

You can also automate Zoho Invoice with Zoho Invoice's Zapier integrations, which let you do things like creating Zoho Invoice contacts for new WooCommerce orders or customers.

Zoho Invoice price: Free for unlimited invoices, one user, and up to five customers; from $9/month for the Basic plan that includes unlimited invoices for one user and up to 50 customers

Zoho Invoice payment processing fees: Payments accepted through Zoho Invoice are made through third-party apps like PayPal, Stripe, and Square, so transaction fees vary based on the terms of your selected payment gateway.

Best free invoice software for time tracking

Harvest (Web, Mac, Windows, Chrome, iOS, Android)

Harvest invoice screen

Harvest is a solid invoicing tool if you charge your customers by the hour. It's first and foremost a time-tracking app. Choose a project, add tasks, and then start your timer to track exactly how much time you spend on each task. You can also track expenses, monitor your project budgets, and get notifications when your billable time is approaching your budget for a project.

The true value of this time tracking, though, comes with Harvest's ability to integrate with other project management apps like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. These integrations allow you to utilize Harvest time tracking with a single click as you go about your tasks, so that you can maximize billable time throughout your workday. And, with the Chrome extension, you can even track research time. You can also automate Harvest using Zapier, to do things like create timesheet entries when calendar events start or add your timesheet entries to a Google Sheet.

When it comes time to invoice the clients, your hours are already accounted for inside Harvest. Just review the totals and create an invoice. As a bonus, you can designate whether a particular time-tracked task is billable or not, which can be useful when calculating the true expense of any project.

As a time-tracking and project management tool, Harvest's free plan is fairly basic—you only get two projects before you have to upgrade. However, if you don't need to separate your work into distinct projects (or use another task management app for more detailed organization), you can use Harvest to send unlimited one-time and recurring invoices.

Harvest price: Free for unlimited invoicing, one user, and two projects; $12/month per person for the Pro plan that includes unlimited invoicing and projects

Harvest payment processing fees: Payments accepted through Harvest are made through either PayPal or Stripe, so transaction fees vary based on the terms of your selected payment gateway.

Best free invoice software for sending invoices without creating an account

Invoice Generator (Web)

creating an invoice in Invoice Generator

If you don't send enough invoices to justify signing up for a specific invoicing tool, Invoice Generator by Invoiced is the tool for you. It lets you create invoices, send your invoices to clients, and even accept payments online—all without ever requiring you to create an account and log in.

Just type in your invoice details, add your business's logo, and choose whether or not to display amounts for tax, shipping, and discounts. Then, click Send Invoice to enter your client's email address and choose what payment methods you plan to accept. Invoice Generator lets you add payment links for PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash.

Although you don't need an account to use Invoice Generator, it does use cookies to remember some of your preferences. For example, if you use the tool again without clearing the cookies on your browser, it remembers what invoice number you're on, what payment methods you accept, your email address, and your Square Cash $cashtag.

Invoice Generator price: Free

Invoice Generator payment processing fees: Payments are made through PayPal, Venmo, or Square Cash, so transaction fees vary based on the terms of your selected payment gateway.

Best free invoice software for managing a single client project

AND.CO (Web, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android)

Store documents in AND.CO’s Shoebox.

In its paid version, AND.CO is an all-in-one invoicing, time tracking, and task management app designed specifically for freelancers. The experience is straightforward and intuitive, even giving you the ability to create invoices based on your contracts and projects. The free version includes the same capabilities, with one caveat: you are limited to a single client project. 

Since the client project name can't be changed or archived (and shows up on all invoices), the limitation can feel very strict. However, if you tend to only work with one client at a time, this might not be an issue at all—and the other capabilities may more than compensate for it.

One of the unique features, for example, is Shoebox: a digital storage folder for all your receipts, documents, and files. You can upload files directly to the Shoebox or email them to a dedicated email address. They're then automatically attached to your project and can be marked as a "billable to client" expense. Then, when you're ready to send an invoice, you can visit your project and create an invoice, automatically aggregating the services and fees outlined in your contract as well as your expenses.

You can automate AND.CO with AND.CO's Zapier integrations, to do things like automatically save new AND.CO invoices to Dropbox or add new AND.CO clients from new Wufoo entries.

AND.CO price: Free for one active client. The Pro plan is $18/month for unlimited clients, editable contracts, and the ability to remove AND.CO branding.

AND CO payment processing fees: Payments accepted through AND.CO are made through WePay, Stripe, or PayPal, so transaction fees vary based on the terms of your selected payment gateway.

Best free invoice software for integrating with multiple payment gateways

Hiveage (Web, iOS, Android)

Hiveage screenshot

Hiveage is one of the few apps on this list that doesn't try to wear too many hats: it is 100% focused on delivering a spectacular invoicing experience—and accomplishes it extremely well. 

The interface is clean and easy to navigate, with a dashboard that shows you exactly where your business lies in terms of money-in, money-out. The data here comes not only from your invoices (money-in), but also from the bills area, which allows you to record and track incoming expenses. There's also a tab called Track, where you can keep a record of time spent on a project, related mileage, or other expenses. When you're ready, click on the Invoice tab to bill your client as needed. 

So far, fairly straightforward. But where Hiveage really stands out is its extended list of payment gateway integrations. Not only can you use the standard PayPal and Stripe, but Hiveage also includes options like Mollie, Razorpay, and Paymentwall, which are more directed toward a global clientele. If you find yourself invoicing internationally, these extra options can help make the payment collection process a bit easier for you and your clients. 

Do more with Hiveage by connecting it to Zapier, so you can automate processes like creating Hiveage connections from new form submissions or adding new Hiveage connections to your email list.

Hiveage price: Free for unlimited invoices and up to 5 clients; from $16/month for the Basic plan with up to 50 clients

Hiveage processing fees: Depends on your selected payment gateway.

Best free invoice software for all-in-one payment processing across platforms

Stripe (Web, iOS, Android)

Stripe Invoice Screenshot

Stripe might be best known as a payment gateway that's available to use with almost any eCommerce platform, from Shopify to Squarespace to most of the invoicing apps on this list. Setting up your account is user-friendly for complete beginners and code-savvy developers alike.

In addition to powering the payment processing for your online platforms, Stripe also includes its own invoice creator.

To create an invoice, you'll log in to your Stripe account and click on Customers, then Invoices. Here, you'll be able to see at a glance a list of invoices that have been created, all of which can be sorted based on whether they're a draft, past due, or paid. When you click on the Create invoice button, you're able to set up your invoice manually: select the customer, add items and their cost, as well as any applicable coupons, taxes, and other fees. The customer will then be able to pay the invoice online (or you can simply charge their credit card on file, if applicable).

The main benefit of using Stripe for invoicing is that all of your revenue reports across the platforms that you choose to use exist in the same place. So when it comes time for accounting and taxes, you don't have to worry about missing anything.

And you can automate Stripe with Zapier to do things like posting failed charges to Slack or adding new Stripe sales to Google Sheets.

Stripe price: Free

Stripe payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Originally published in January 2019, this post has since been updated by Emily Esposito and Maria Myre.

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1/wk, and never share your information.

Jessica Greene picture

Jessica Greene

Jessica Greene is a freelance marketing and business writer. A former writing instructor and corporate marketer, she uses her subject-matter expertise and passion for educating others to develop actionable, in-depth, user-focused content.

tags

Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign upSee how it works