Sending invoices is a painful but necessary part of running a business. You have to itemize charges, add taxes, track who paid, and chase down clients who don't pay. It's time-consuming and can be downright annoying. Free invoicing tools make the billing process a whole lot easier.
With the click of a few buttons, you can create client profiles, add payment options, include expenses, and even add your logo. Tap a few more buttons to deliver that invoice to your client's inbox.
When I started freelancing in 2010, there were only a few invoicing options, and none of them were particularly easy to use. They didn't offer any automation features, and you were lucky if they let you add a logo, much less send payment reminders. Today, there are dozens of invoicing tools on the market, which creates a whole other problem—which free invoicing software is the right choice for your business? I tested every option out there to find out.
The best free invoicing software
Wave for growing businesses
PayPal for a simple invoicing solution
Zoho Invoice for free invoicing with a mini-CRM
Invoicera for invoice automation
Stripe for subscription-based invoices
Square for in-person sales
What makes the best free billing software?
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There's no one perfect solution when it comes to the best free invoicing tools. That's because every business is different—a freelance SEO consultant, for example, needs different features than a business coach.
To find the best platforms, I signed up for a free version of each and tested it by creating and customizing an invoice, adding new clients, digging into the report settings, and testing any automation features. As I tested, I considered:
Value of the free plan. Not all free plans are worth it. Some "free" plans are just lead magnets to get you to sign up for a paid plan. All the invoicing tools on this list offer a solid suite of features for free.
Ability to customize invoices. Branding is what sets your business apart. Customizing your invoice to add brand colors and logos also helps your clients know your invoice is legitimate. I tested all the customization features for each of these invoice tools.
Reporting tools. Knowing where your money is going is crucial to running a successful business. I chose invoicing tools that offer robust reporting features, so you can see where you stand.
Recurring billing. Whether you have a subscription-based company or use retainers, being able to bill automatically can save you tons of time. I looked specifically for tools that offer this feature whenever possible.
If you only send one or two invoices a month, you might not need the bells and whistles of a complete platform. In that case, you can use this invoice template in Google Docs and just email it off when it's ready. Or you could use a free invoice generator like Invoice Generator. But if you want your tool to be part of a broader workflow, the apps below are your best options.
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 growing businesses
Wave (Web, iOS, Android)
Wave is a solid option to send invoices and track where all your cash goes—including cash coming and going. It's a full-featured business app that connects to your bank account to track expenses, send invoices, access detailed reports, and (if you need it) even reconcile your accounts for free.
Wave's invoicing features are intuitive to navigate and include several templates, so you can customize the layout and design. To create an invoice, click Create a new on your dashboard, then select Invoice. Choose from several templates, add a logo, and adjust colors. Need to add a discount, adjust pricing, or add a note? You can do all that with the click of a button.
It's the additional features, like payroll and tax filing, that make this platform ideal for growing businesses. As your business grows, there's a good chance you'll need these additional features down the road. If you start with a different invoicing platform, you'll either have to switch or juggle multiple platforms. While the upgraded features aren't free, they are affordable (Payroll, for example, starts at $20/month), and you won't have to switch apps as your business grows.
But if all you need is invoicing, Wave is still one of the easiest and best options. And you can connect Wave to Zapier, so you can automate your invoicing workflows. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Create Wave customers from new changes to properties of HubSpot contacts
What's included in Wave's free plan: All invoicing and accounting features except payroll
Wave payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.60 per transaction for card payments (3.4% + $0.60 for card payments from American Express); 1% per transaction for bank payments (ACH)
Best free invoice app for a simple way to invoice
PayPal (Web, iOS, Android)
PayPal Invoicing might not have all the bells and whistles—there's no time tracking, full client profiles, or detailed subscription billing—but it works really well as a free invoice maker.
For starters, it's straightforward to use. No complicated platform, no constant push to upgrade: just add your client's name, contact info, and pricing, and send the invoice off. Invoice customization features include adding your own logo, including custom fields and notes, and sending payment reminders. You don't have to create a client profile or add items to your inventory like some platforms make you do.
If you do want access to detailed features, like adding a client, they're a little tough to track down. I ended up finding the client profile option while adding a client email to a new invoice (you'll see a dropdown menu with the option to create a new client). The option to save invoice templates is also a little hidden: look for the three dots next to the Send button, and then tap Save as template.
PayPal is a highly trusted payment platform, which your clients might appreciate. They also offer a robust phone app, so you can send invoices from anywhere, anytime.
While PayPal's features are basic—especially compared to robust platforms like Wave—the ease of use and trust that people have in the brand makes it a strong contender. You can also do more with PayPal by connecting it to Zapier, so you can automate your invoicing workflows. Here are some examples to start you off.
Add new rows to Google Sheets spreadsheets for new PayPal sales
Automatically subscribe new PayPal customers to Mailchimp lists
What's included in PayPal's free plan: Free to create an account and send invoices
PayPal payment processing fees: 3.49% + $0.49 per transaction
Best free invoicing software with a mini-CRM
Zoho Invoice (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)
Zoho Invoice is one of the most impressive invoicing tools on this list. Honestly, I was amazed at all the features included in its free plan.
Sending an online invoice is simple: enter your business name, location, and currency. Customize your invoice by adding terms and conditions, uploading files, adjusting the invoice recipient, and adding taxes as needed. For recurring billing, just click the recurring billing button at the bottom of the invoice.
But running a business isn't only about invoices. In addition to creating invoices, Zoho lets you send estimates, sign contracts, bill for retainers, track payments, and even track time. I also love how detailed the customer files are. In addition to name and email, you can keep track of their phone number, website, language, social media handles, and even add custom fields. This customization means you can adjust Zoho to fit your needs.
I also really like the customer portal feature, which I didn't see on other apps. It allows the customer to see what they owe, payments made, and available credits. Inviting customers is as easy as sending an email, which Zoho automatically generates for you under the Customers tab.
Another place where Zoho shines is its automation features. You can create incredibly detailed workflows for actions like adding a discount if an invoice is paid early or sending a payment email reminder. It does take a little time to set up but can save you hours down the road. And you can automate even further by connecting Zoho Invoice to Zapier to automatically create contacts, estimates, invoices, and more when trigger events happen in the other apps you use most.
Create contact persons in Zoho Invoice from newly-confirmed appointments in CatchApp Bookings
What's included in Zoho Invoice's free plan: All features, including client portal
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 invoicing software for automating your workflows
Invoicera (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)
Busy? Don't have time to follow up on invoices or track late fees? Invoicera does invoices, but it also offers pretty robust automation features that make this platform stand out. For example, after creating a recurring client profile, you can set up "dynamic parameters" to pull billing from the time tracker, add expenses you've tracked, then automatically send invoices and payment reminders. It's kind of like a bookkeeping assistant you don't have to pay. It's a little clunky to set up, but you only have to do it once, so it's worth the effort.
To create an invoice, select Create Invoice from the main navigation bar. From there, add your client, set payment terms and late fees, and add billing items. If you need to charge taxes or want to offer a discount, you can do it all right there in the invoice. Note that there are only four invoice templates, so you can't change the look of invoices all that much.
I kept expecting Invoicera to ask me to upgrade, but almost all the features were available on the free plan. There are a few drawbacks: it isn't quite as intuitive as I would have liked, and you can only have three clients on the free plan. But overall, it's a powerful platform that's worth considering—especially if you only have a few clients.
What's included in Invoicera's free plan: All core features for up to 3 clients (0 staff)
Invoicera payment processing fees: This platform integrates with more than 30+ payment gateways, so fees vary based on the platform you select.
Best free invoicing software for subscription-based businesses
Stripe (Web, iOS, Android)
Stripe might be best known as a payment gateway, but it also has its very own invoice creator. If you have a subscription-based business, Stripe is a fantastic platform. While the invoicing features are limited, its subscription-based billing features are top-notch.
To create an invoice, click Start under Send an invoice in your main dashboard. To customize your invoice, select Go to brand settings, and add a logo, adjust colors, and so forth. Overall, the invoices are pretty simple: you can list items, adjust quantity and price, and automatically collect taxes.
The free plan allows you to create up to 25 customized invoices a month (after that, you'll be charged 0.4% per invoice). It also offers several reporting tools, including billing, financial reports, card monitoring, and a hosted invoice page. Some basic things like quotes and email reminders aren't included on the free plan, though.
But again, where Stripe stands out is with its robust subscription invoicing features. For starters, you get a whole dashboard just for subscription and recurring billing settings. Want to offer tiered pricing and invoice every month? Do you charge by usage, for example, or charge businesses that use three seats a bit more? You can do that. Click Subscriptions under the Payments tab to access those features.
Do even more with Stripe by connecting it to thousands of other apps with Zapier. That way, you can do things like add new contacts based on Stripe payments or send a message when a subscription is canceled.
What's included in Stripe's free plan: Up to 25 free invoices/month, then 0.4% per paid invoice, a hosted invoice page, and analytics. Not included are automatic collection, invoice auto-reconciliation, or quotes.
Stripe payment processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Best free invoicing software for in-person businesses
Square (Web, iOS, Android)
If you want to sync online and offline sales, Square is your best option. In addition to sending invoices and selling online, you can also accept payments in person via the ubiquitous Square smartphone swiper.
Square offers a few options to customize your invoices in the account settings. You can add a logo, select a color, choose whether or not to display your address, and add custom text or a return policy.
The platform also lets you build an item library of products and services, which speeds up the invoice creation process. When creating an item, you can add information like SKU, size options, images, location, and other custom options. Then, when you're ready to create an invoice, just click the Item line, and select the item from a dropdown menu.
Other strong features include the ability to send recurring invoices, schedule invoices to be sent at a later date, accept digital signatures, and schedule automatic payment reminders. Overall, it's intuitive to use and full-featured. While it lacks some reporting features (it has only a few reports), it does allow users to accept in-person payments and send unlimited invoices for free. And you can connect Square to Zapier to automate more of your invoicing workflows. Here are some examples to get you started.
What's included in Square's free plan: 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.
What's the best free invoicing software?
An online invoice generator should do more than just give you a PDF to send via email. Your invoice program should function as fully-featured billing software that lets you take care of your online invoicing in the context of your business. Because these are all free, it's worth taking a few of them for a spin to see which one makes your life the easiest.
Originally published in January 2019 by Jessica Greene, this post has also had contributions from Emily Esposito and Maria Myre.