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TidyCal vs. Calendly: Which meeting scheduler is best? [2024]

By Ryan Kane · February 29, 2024
Hero image with the logos of TidyCal and Calendly

In the dark ages of scheduling meetings—a mere decade ago—back-and-forth emails were the standard. Then Calendly came along with its "smart scheduling" technology, which blocks out the times you aren't available and lets meeting attendees book whatever time works for them. Over time, it inspired legions of competitors. TidyCal is one of them, offering fewer features but significant cost savings.

I'm a long-time Calendly user, and I recently spent time in TidyCal to compare the strengths of each tool. If you're choosing between them, you'll need to consider the benefits of Calendly's advanced features against the cost savings of TidyCal's affordable lifetime subscription. In the article below, I'll guide you through this decision.

TidyCal vs. Calendly at a glance

Here's a quick rundown of the difference between these two scheduling tools:

  • TidyCal is best for solopreneurs on a budget. While it's not designed to support teams (and isn't quite as slick as Calendly), it's got everything most individual users need—at one low lifetime fee.

  • Calendly is best for teams and businesses. With advanced workflows, powerful admin features, and enterprise-friendly integrations, Calendly is your best bet if you have more than one person in your organization.




⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ With a single payment of $29 for lifetime access, TidyCal offers unbeatable value. It also has a capable free plan.

⭐⭐⭐ Calendly is affordable by enterprise software standards, but its per-user pricing means the cost can add up fast. Its free plan is generous.

Ease of use

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Straightforward and simple; with no team settings to navigate, solo users may find its menu less overwhelming than Calendly's.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A polished user interface, time-saving features, and helpful mobile app give Calendly an edge.

Advanced features

⭐⭐⭐ TidyCal has all the essential scheduling features you need—including paid bookings—but it's missing advanced features like custom automations.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Calendly goes above and beyond with advanced workflows, custom automations, and highly customizable booking pages.

Features for teams

⭐ TidyCal doesn't offer any features for teams; it's intentional about its focus on solo users.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you have a team, go with Calendly; you'll get features like round robin meetings, routing forms, cross-organizational analytics, and custom event types.


⭐⭐⭐⭐ 6 integrations; integrates with thousands more apps via Zapier.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 118 integrations; integrates with thousands more apps via Zapier.

TidyCal provides the best value

TidyCal is a rarity in today's SaaS environment. Instead of a monthly subscription, you pay a one-time fee of $29 for lifetime access. And it's no secret who AppSumo, the company behind TidyCal, is targeting: Calendly customers who want to save money.

Just look at this ad AppSumo is running.

An AppSumo ad that says "Cancel Calendly. TidyCal = $29."

In fact, Calendly users form such a core part of TidyCal's demographic that they're built right into the standard onboarding workflow.

Importing from Calendly into TidyCal

It's not hard to understand the appeal: by switching from Calendly, you can save $120+ per year. And if you're in TidyCal's target demographic of solo users, you probably won't notice the advanced features that are missing. TidyCal offers all the essentials: booking pages, custom availability, embeddable widgets, built-in email reminders, paid bookings, and 10 calendar connections.

That's not to say that Calendly isn't good value, though. Calendly powers scheduling for 80% of Fortune 500 companies, according to its website, but it's still relatively accessible at $12/month/user (or $20/month/user for Teams subscriptions). With larger teams, though, the cost can add up fast: if you want to connect a team of 20 people to Calendly, you'll pay $400/month.

What about free plans? TidyCal and Calendly both offer them, and both are generous. However, if you're a serial meeting-booker, you'll run into issues pretty fast.

With TidyCal's free plan, video conferencing URLs aren't automatically generated; instead, you need to go into Zoom or Google Meet, create a meeting, and copy/paste that link into TidyCal. Calendly's free plan generates meeting links automatically, but there are other limitations: for example, you can only create one event type, which means you can't offer meetings of different lengths. And both TidyCal and Calendly only allow you to connect one calendar on the free plan—not great if you don't want your work meetings to conflict with your dentist appointment.

Both are easy to use, but Calendly's interface is better

TidyCal is well-designed and intuitive, and if you're a solo user, you may find it easier than Calendly to navigate since its menus aren't full of irrelevant team-specific features.

Overall though, Calendly is a more refined piece of software. Many tasks are simply easier: for example, by selecting your country in the "availability" section, you can automatically block off your calendar based on your country's public holidays. Calendly also offers a convenient mobile app that sends you push notifications when someone books, reschedules, or cancels a meeting.

Going through the setup process, I was reminded of the trade-offs that often come with budget software like TidyCal. Calendly has step-by-step onboarding checklists—complete with walkthrough videos—that help you understand how to get the most out of the tool.

Calendly's onboarding checklist

TidyCal, on the other hand, has a basic three-step onboarding process. After that, you're on your own.

Setting your availability in Calendly is simple: just choose the hours you're available, and override your default availability when something comes up that disrupts your normal schedule. (TidyCal offers a way to override your default schedule too; in my experience, this feature comes in handy often.)

Setting availability in Calendly

One usability advantage Calendly has over TidyCal is that it centralizes your availability. For example, you can create a single schedule and apply it to all of your event types. By contrast, changing your availability in TidyCal is repetitive: you need to open each event type and change its availability individually.

Setting availability in TidyCal

From the perspective of your meeting attendees, the user experience is pretty equivalent with both tools. Here's the Calendly booking page, which you've almost certainly encountered while booking a meeting at some point.

A Calendly booking page

TidyCal's version is a near replica, though not quite as polished.

A TidyCal booking page

Calendly has more advanced features

As you might expect from a tool favored by Fortune 500 companies, Calendly is more powerful than its budget-friendly competitor. But since TidyCal and Calendly have many of the same basic features, the biggest differences only reveal themselves after more extensive use.

Some differences aren't particularly consequential: for example, Calendly lets you customize the appearance of your booking page in greater detail.

Other advanced features, though, can have a big impact on your scheduling experience. Automations are a good example: while TidyCal lets you send a maximum of two default meeting reminders, Calendly gives you much more flexibility. You can create complex workflows that automatically handle the grunt work that comes with booking a meeting, like sending reminder SMS messages and post-meeting thank-you emails.

Calendly comes with 15 pre-built workflows, from Email a feedback survey to Text booking confirmation to host; to activate one, just click Use workflow.

Calendly's pre-built workflows

If you need something more custom, click Create your own workflow to select from a range of triggers and actions.

Creating your own workflow in Calendly

While TidyCal doesn't have anything comparable to these automations, I do appreciate that it automatically sets up meeting reminders 24 hours and 1 hour before your meeting to reduce no-shows. Calendly can do this too, of course, but you need to proactively set it up; TidyCal's method is probably more useful for beginners.

Calendly's features for teams are more robust

You won't read much about TidyCal in this section. That's because the product is explicitly designed for solo users. As one of TidyCal's founders says, "Really, it comes down to one-person teams—and we're very intentional with who we serve. We don't anticipate adding any multi-team member features as that's outside of our core demo[graphic]."

Here's the good news: if features for teams are important to you, your decision just got easier. Calendly's "killer app" for teams is probably its sophisticated round robin settings, which give you a high degree of control over how meetings are assigned to different team members. For example, you can set each team member's "priority" and allow Calendly to assign the meeting to the available team member with the highest priority first. You can also optimize for equal distribution, which means that Calendly will attempt to keep things balanced (and avoid assigning too many meetings to one person).

Image source: Calendly

Another feature that comes in handy for teams is routing forms, which connects prospects with relevant members of your team depending on factors like their industry and company size. You can also use routing forms to screen people who aren't qualified prospects; if they don't meet your criteria, they won't be invited to book a meeting.

Routing forms in Calendly
Image source: Calendly

Calendly also offers an analytics dashboard that tracks the most popular times for meetings, the most frequently booked event types, and how many events were created, rescheduled, and canceled. For managers, this data is useful because it signals potential issues—for example, a spike in canceled events—and helps manage employee bandwidth.

Calendly analytics
Image Source: Calendly

Calendly offers some other nice touches for teams: you can add your branding to booking pages across your organization, connect Salesforce and HubSpot at a company-wide level, and create custom event types for your team. And Calendly's security protocols are also a lot more convincing than TidyCal's, with third-party security certifications, encryption technology, and professional measures to ensure account security. This is important for large companies, but also for some solo users. For example, US-based financial advisors need to carefully comply with federal user privacy guidelines, which might make Calendly a less risky option for them.

Calendly has more native integrations, but both integrate with Zapier

TidyCal's strategy is to offer an effective low-cost product by focusing only on the most essential features. That means you'll get access to just a handful of integrations: for calendars, you can connect Google, Microsoft Office 365 Outlook, and Apple/iCal; for video conferencing, you can connect Zoom and Google Meet.

Calendly integrates with most popular calendar and video conferencing software natively. It supports all of the above tools, as well as some solutions that are more popular with enterprise users: Outlook Desktop and Microsoft Exchange for calendars, and Webex, GoTo Meeting, and Microsoft Teams for video conferencing.

Overall, Calendly has 118 integrations and TidyCal has six. But by using Zapier, you can connect Calendly or TidyCal to pretty much any app you can imagine. Learn more about how to automate Calendly, or use one of these pre-made workflows to get started.

Send Slack messages for new Calendly invites

Send Slack messages for new Calendly invites
  • Calendly logo
  • Slack logo
Calendly + Slack

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

TidyCal vs. Calendly: Which should you choose?

Choosing TidyCal over Calendly can save you over a hundred dollars a year. But there are plenty of trade-offs, so you'll need to take a close look at your needs. Here are some guidelines to consider.

Go with TidyCal if you're a solo user looking to keep costs low. You'll get all the essential scheduling features you need, plus the satisfaction of paying a single fee for lifetime access.

Go with Calendly if you have more than one person on your team, or if you need advanced features that TidyCal doesn't offer. Calendly's workflows, unique event types, and routing options will make your life easier and boost your team's efficiency.

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