The Best Cheap Accounting Software 2024

Tired of manual data entry? Then investing in accounting software is a surefire way to ensure you spend less time on admin and more time running your business.

As a small business owner or sole trader, you’re likely in search of a solution that is both robust and budget-friendly. Look no further – you’re in the right place. Read on to discover our take on the best cheap accounting software in 2024.

Want a TL;DR version? In our view, Wave is the best cheap accounting software platform out there because its basic features are completely free. However, there are plenty of other providers that are worth looking at, depending on the nature of your business, your growth plans, and your needs.

Let’s dive in!

The 7 Best Cheap Accounting Software Ranked

  1. Wave: Best free accounting software for businesses
  2. QuickBooks: Best for small businesses
  3. FreshBooks: Best for micro businesses
  4. Xero: Best for startups
  5. Tide: Best for digital banking and accounting
  6. GnuCash: Best free accounting software for sole traders
  7. Zoho Books: Best for project management capabilities

The Cheapest Accounting Software Reviewed

To put together this list, we assessed the leading accounting software platforms, reviewing a range of factors. Of course, price was our number one consideration for this review, but we also explored factors like usability, the range of features, integrations, security, and scalability.

Wave – Best Free Accounting Software

A screenshot of Wave's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
Free Excellent free features
Easy to use
Solid reporting capabilities

Forget just being cheap, Wave’s accounting platform is actually free, without skimping on powerful functionality. Using Wave’s intuitive platform, it’s easy to perform a range of accounting tasks: sending and managing invoices, automating bookkeeping, and tracking expenses.

The major downside is that the payroll feature does cost money–but only $20/month, which makes the platform relatively cheap to use overall. Plus, if you’re looking for a platform that allows you to track billable hours or inventory, Wave will leave you wanting, as it lacks these features.

All in all, then, Wave is an excellent choice for digital freelancers and small businesses just getting started with accounting. However, creative agencies, fast-growing organizations, and product-led companies will likely find Wave too limiting.

Read more about Wave in our full review

Wave Pricing Plans

  • Free plan with unlimited users, double-entry accounting, invoicing, payments, and automated bookkeeping.

Wave’s free platform and relatively inexpensive payroll subscription make this provider one of the cheapest on the market. For small businesses looking for a basic accounting platform, it’s a fantastic option. However, if you’re a dedicated financial professional or want to run custom reports, Wave won’t have the flexibility that you’re looking for.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Free
  • Perfect platform for accounting novices

Cons

  • No time tracking
  • No inventory management
  • Payroll costs extra

QuickBooks – Best for Small Businesses

A screenshot of QuickBooks' dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
$15/month Easy to use
Plenty of integrations
Time tracking feature

Second on our list of top cheap accounting software is QuickBooks. While this provider isn’t the cheapest on the market, its excellent automated features–encompassing everything from expenses to time tracking to inventory–means this powerhouse of a platform is inexpensive for just how powerful it is.

As with Wave, the only downside is that you’ll need to pay extra for payroll–and quite a bit, too, with it costing $75 a month to enable this feature. However, if you’re a sole trader or freelancer, this might not be an issue.

Plus, we have to praise QuickBooks for its superb range of integrations, including HubSpot, Google Docs, and Salesforce. Put simply, if you’re looking for an accounting platform that you can easily slot into your digital business operations, QuickBooks won’t disappoint.

Read the full QuickBooks review

QuickBooks Pricing Plans

  • QuickBooks Self-Employed: $15/month
    • Best for freelancers, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals
  • QuickBooks Online: $30/month
    • Ideal for small businesses
  • QuickBooks Desktop: $549.99/year
    • Suitable for larger businesses with complex accounting requirements
  • QuickBooks Payroll: $75/month
    • Comprehensive, integrated payroll management system
  • QuickBooks for Mac: $30/month
    • Specifically designed for Mac users

QuickBook’s cheapest plan costs a respectable $15/month. This plan–which is geared toward freelancers and self-employed individuals–comes with all the accounting features you could need to start taking control of your business’ finances. However, we will say that Wave’s free features are comparable to this plan–and free–which is why it takes the top spot.

It’s with the QuickBooks Online plan that this provider really comes into its own. With extended capabilities like detailed reporting, project profitability, inventory, and time tracking, the platform really packs a punch for a relatively low price.

Pros

  • Wide range of accounting features
  • Customizable reports
  • Exceptional integrations

Cons

  • Payroll costs extra
  • Using the platform to its full potential will require training
  • Limited file sizes

FreshBooks – Best for Micro Businesses

A screenshot of FreshBooks' dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
$8.50/month – Easy to use
– Thoughtful features (e.g, retainer invoicing feature)
– Great mobile app

FreshBooks is another excellent and highly affordable piece of accounting software. While its features aren’t as robust and in-depth as QuickBooks, this is intentional. The platform is aimed at freelancers and small businesses looking for a straightforward, easy-to-use accounting platform.

What makes FreshBooks stand out, in particular, is its consideration of the customer management process. On top of features for invoicing and bookkeeping, the platform comes equipped with technology to help you automate proposal creation, streamline your estimates, and communicate with your clients–all in the app.

Read more about FreshBooks in our full review

FreshBooks Pricing Plans

  • Lite — $8.50/month
    • Up to five billable clients, unlimited expense tracking, and estimates.
  • Plus — $15/month
    • Up to 50 billable clients, plus unlock features to set up recurring bills and client retainers
  • Premium — $27.50/month
    • Unlimited clients, plus features for tracking project profitability and client management

FreshBooks Premium plan is still relatively inexpensive compared to providers like Sage and Xendoo. We think it’s a fantastic, cost-effective solution for busy freelancers and consultants who want to better manage their finances and clients.

Saying that, if you’re a business with multiple employees, it’s worth noting a few things that will bump up the price. Firstly, there’s no native payroll feature within the platform. You’ll need to purchase and then integrate, Gusto. Secondly, adding an extra user to your account will cost $6/per user a month.

Pros

  • Sleek user experience
  • Client relationship management features
  • Inventory tracking

Cons

  • Only one free seat
  • Limited billable clients with lower-tier plans
  • Quite basic reporting

Xero – Best for Startups

A screenshot of Xero's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
$13.50/month Excellent integrations
Unlimited users
Highly scalable

If you’ve got big visions of where you’d like to take your business–and want an accounting app that can grow with you–Xero will likely be a winner. This sleek, quite beautiful application has been designed with growing businesses in mind, with plans tailored to startups at different stages of maturity.

On top of that, Xero has some features that its competitors lack. Namely: unlimited seats, an almost endless array of integrations, and automation features that enable you to completely step back from the accounting process–Xero can do it all for you!

Read more about Xero in our full review

Xero Pricing Plans

  • Early — $13/month
    • Send up to 20 invoices per month, reconcile bank transactions, and capture bills and receipts
  • Growing — $37/month
    • Unlimited invoices, along with bulk reconciled transactions
  • Established — $70/month
    • Unlock the ability to use multiple currencies

While Xero’s fantastic features mean it’s good value for money, this provider is more expensive than QuickBooks and FreshBooks–especially as your business scales.

The only other drawback is that, to use multiple currencies, you’ll need to jump straight up to the Established plan, which is a rather pricey $70/month.

Pros

  • Highly-scalable
  • Excellent user experience
  • Unlimited users

Cons

  • Multiple currencies only available on the highest-tier plan
  • Payroll costs extra
  • Limited number of invoices on lower-tier plans

Tide – Best for Digital Banking and Accounting

A screenshot of Tide's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
£9.99
(UK only)
Digital banking services
Excellent mobile app
Member perks on paid plans

UK-based businesses take note, Tide is a cheap accounting app with a unique proposition. As well as providing accounting features like bookkeeping, invoicing, and expenses, this software provider is also a digital banking service designed specifically for businesses.

With a Tide bank card, you’ll gain access to a range of discounts and perks, including free hot desking, business transportation discount codes, and more.

In terms of accounting, Tide’s features compare to that of Wave–although it doesn’t offer double-entry accounting. The interface is clean and easy to use, and the feature set is simplistic, which is great for individuals new to accounting, but a negative for financial professionals.

Read more about Tide in our full review

Tide Pricing Plans

  • Accounting — £9.99/per month
    • Easy-to-use solution for basic accounting, banking, and invoicing.

Tide’s Accounting offering is relatively cheap compared to the likes of QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Xero. However, we will say that the platform isn’t as robust as these providers either. Comparatively, Tide’s reporting features are basic, and the solution lacks useful features like time tracking, inventory management, and project management.

Still, if you’re a freelancer or small business looking to automate the accounting process and you’re in the market for a business bank card, Tide could be a great option.

Pros

  • Banking features
  • Simple to use
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons

  • UK only
  • No payroll
  • Only basic functionality

GnuCash – Best Free Accounting Software for Sole Traders

A screenshot of GnuCash's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
Free Open-source
Excellent custom reporting functionality
Wide array of features

In honesty, GnuCash isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s because of its outdated interface, which looks a little like an early 2000s Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. If a sleek, enjoyable user experience is what you’re looking for, Xero and Wave will be better options.

But GnuCash is also free to use, and extremely powerful and flexible despite that. You’d usually expect to pay for such powerful, custom reporting capabilities, but GnuCash offers them for free. On top of that, it has all the accounting features you could need: expense tracking, cash flow management, invoicing, investment tracking, and much more.

Read the full GnuCash review

GnuCash Pricing Plans

  • Free plan for one user with a range of accounting features

The obvious benefit of GnuCash is that it’s free. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to note. For one, GnuCash only allows one user per account. If you’re a sole trader, this won’t matter, but for larger teams, it could be a deal breaker.

Secondly, the platform requires a rather steep learning curve. To use it to its full potential, you’ll need to do a lot of manual data entry at first, and the wide array of accounting terms and jargon within the interface could be off-putting to novices. Still, if you put the time in, GnuCash is a great free way to digitize the accounting process.

Pros

  • Free
  • Excellent reporting
  • Wide array of features

Cons

  • Difficult to use at first
  • Unappealing interface
  • Only one user per account

Zoho Books – Best for Project Management Capabilities

A screenshot of Zoho Books' dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Double-Entry Reporting
Free – Scalable
– Retailer-friendly
– Supplier management capabilities

Zoho Books is a fantastically scalable platform. Its cheapest plan is free, with all the basic accounting features a sole trader needs to bring more visibility to their finances. But, really, this provider is targeting growing retailers and businesses with several suppliers.

As you’ll see below, Zoho Books isn’t as cheap as the other platforms in this list, especially as you look at the more premium plans. However, we think that the platform is still great value for money. Compared to Sage 50 Accounts, for example, it is still competitively priced for the fantastic range of in-depth features it offers.

Read more about Zoho Books in our full review

Zoho Books Pricing Plans

  • Free — $0/Month
    • Limited to a single user plus your accountant with access to all the accounting basics, such as chart of accounts, invoicing, payment reminders, bank and credit statements import, taxes, and reporting.
  • Standard — Starts at $15/Month
    • Up to three other users, combined with custom reporting
  • Professional — Starts at $40/Month
    • Best for product-based businesses and larger companies, with features like timesheets and billing, sales approval, vendor credits, purchase orders, currency adjustment, and inventory management.
  • Premium — Starts at $60/Month
    • More reporting functionality and the ability to create a vendor portal for supplier relationship management.
  • Elite — Starts at $120/Month
    • Unlimited custom advanced multi-currency handling and advanced inventory controls that integrate with Shopify. Perfect for retailers.
  • Ultimate — Starts at $240/Month
    • For established businesses seeking hands-on support from the Zoho Books team.

If you’re looking for a simple accounting solution, Zoho Books’ subscription plans might be overwhelming. This is a powerful solution designed to help businesses with accounting, customer relationship management, and inventory management all in one.

One thing to note, though, is that Zoho Books is part of the Zoho family: a full suite of applications designed for businesses. While Zoho Books can be used independently, the platform only reaches its full potential when you partner it with Zoho’s CRM, sales, and marketing tools, which also all cost a subscription fee.

Pros

  • Forever free option
  • Scalable
  • CRM capabilities

Cons

  • Limited integrations
  • Too complex for small businesses
  • No in-built payroll capability

The Best Cheap Accounting Software Compared

Best For Standout Features Free Plan Offer Double-Entry Reporting Compatibility
Wave Best free accounting software A wealth of free features
Robust reporting
Intuitive interface
✅- free to use PC, Mac
QuickBooks Best for small businesses Unified expense tracking
Time tracking
Contractor payments
✅- 30-day free trial PC, Mac
FreshBooks Best for micro businesses – Beginner friendly
– Inventory management
– Powerful automations
✅- 30-day free trial PC, Mac
Xero Best for startups Powerful app integrations
Unlimited users
Detailed reports
✅- 30-day free trial PC, Mac
Tide Best for accounting and banking – Digital banking services
– Excellent mobile app
– Member perks on paid plans
✅2-month free trial PC, Mac
GnuCash Best free software for sole traders Open source
Custom reporting
Wide array of features
✅- free to use PC, Mac
Zoho Books Best for project management – Scalable
– Retailer-friendly
– Custom reporting
✅ – 14-day free trial PC, Mac

Conclusion – What is the Best Cheap Accounting Software?

With an intuitive interface, a powerful range of features, and the added benefit of being completely free, Wave Accounting comes in as our number one choice for the best cheap accounting software.

How We Test Accounting Software

It’s our aim to give you unbiased advice on the leading accounting software platforms on the market. To achieve this, we conduct thorough testing on each provider for 30 days, assessing factors like:

  • Pricing – We compare the pricing structures of each software platform to gauge value for money.
  • Features – We test each platform’s reporting capabilities, bookkeeping, CRM integrations, and more
  • Integrations – We scrutinize the available integrations and their effectiveness in helping users achieve their objectives.
  • Automation – We conduct comprehensive tests on the automation capabilities of each feature, analyzing the platform’s potential to save you time.
  • Ease of use – We test out the user interface as if we were new to accounting software to see how intuitive the user experience is.
  • Third-Party Reviews – In order to provide a comprehensive overview, we combine our overview with insights gathered from reputable third-party websites such as Reddit and Trustpilot.

How to Choose the Best Cheap Accounting Software

When you purchase accounting software, you want to make the right choice. With that in mind, keep these factors in mind as you browse the market:

  • Pricing – Choose a solution that is not only affordable now but also becomes more cost-effective as your business grows.
  • Features – Review the features offered in each plan. Look for a provider that can meet as many of your requirements as possible without requiring additional software purchases.
  • Scalability – Reflect on your business’s long-term growth plans and evaluate whether the software offers the flexibility to scale as your business expands.
  • Ease of Use – Ideally, the software will be easy to use from the get-go, so you can start deriving value quickly.
  • Integrations – Check that the chosen plan includes all the integrations you need.
  • Customer Support – In case of hiccups, having a reliable customer support team is essential. Ensure the chosen provider offers easily accessible support, preferably through 24/7 live chat.

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Hannah Pisani

Hannah Pisani is a freelance writer specializing in technology, the future of work and psychology. Having worked in tech for the last five years, she has an in-depth knowledge of VPNs, project management tools and HR software, and loves using this knowledge to help readers make informed decisions that enhance their digital lives.