Wave Accounting Software Review 2024

Our Verdict

An accounting software platform with a lot to love

Wave is free, easy to use, and has all the automation and reporting features most micro-businesses and freelancers will need to take control of their finances.

However, with higher-grade features like payroll functionality and mobile receipts coming in at an extra cost, and inventory tracking lacking from the platform, some larger organizations may find Wave a little too simple to be effective.

For micro businesses, freelancers, and service-based sole traders, Wave is a fantastic cost-effective platform that is sure to meet expectations. It has everything a digital-based entrepreneur or small agency could need to make financial management simple.

Pros

  • Free forever plan
  • Robust reporting options
  • Intuitive and simple interface
  • Powerful automation capabilities

Cons

  • Lacks features like inventory management
  • Payroll comes at an additional monthly fee
  • Receipt scanning comes with an additional fee
  • Need to use Zapier to enable third-party integrations

Wave Plans & Pricing

Wave’s accounting, invoicing, and payment features are totally free, which puts it in good stead against competitors like QuickBooks and Kashoom which charge a monthly subscription fee.

However, to say the platform is 100% free would be misleading, as Wave does charge for certain add-ons. Namely, you’ll have to pay a fee of $8 per month for mobile receipts, while payroll features start at $20 per month for self-service tax states.

Monthly Cost/Per user Users Payroll Double Entry Manage Expenses Reporting Customer Support
Wave Free Unlimited ✅ – Additional fee Standard reporting – 24/7 chatbot
– Support team available to customers with payroll and/or receipt subscriptions, or who have processed a payment with Wave in the last 60 days.

With free double-entry accounting and automated bookkeeping, Wave’s free accounting software should certainly appeal to small businesses and freelancers looking to simplify the tax process and keep better track of their financial health.

Plus, with robust invoicing and payment features at no extra cost, Wave is great for users looking to consolidate financial management into one platform. Saying this, like all payment providers, Wave charges standard transaction fees for online payment processing. On top of this, we noticed that to pay vendors and contractors, we had to subscribe to Wave’s payroll feature.

For digital freelancers with only a small pool of suppliers, this probably wouldn’t be an issue, as they can pay their suppliers separately via their bank account, and Wave will automatically log the transaction. However, for companies with a network of suppliers and partners, having no visibility and insights on vendor payments could be a drawback. In this regard, competitors like Melio stand above.

Wave Overview

Starting price Free
Best for Micro-businesses and sole traders looking to automate the accounting process
Customer support Chatbot support and help desk
App integrations Zapier
Security & Compliance PCI-DSS certified, 256-bit SSL encryption
Payroll ✅- Additional fee
Reporting & analytics
Mobile app ✅- iOS and Android
Double entry
E-signatures
Auto-alerts and reminders

Features

For our Wave Accounting view, we tested Wave’s features–both free and premium–over a month. Immediately, we were impressed by how simple Wave is to use. For people new to accounting software, the platform’s user interface and easy-to-navigate dashboard will be a welcome sight.

Feature-wise, Wave’s free capabilities also really impressed us. We love that the platform automatically imports transactions from connected bank accounts (something you have to pay for with other providers), while the reporting features are excellent for sole traders and micro-businesses seeking a high-level overview of their business’s financial health.

However, we will say that, for finance professionals within a growing business, Wave might be a little too simplistic. It’s undoubtedly designed for organizations with simple accounting structures–particularly those that are service, rather than product-based.

For growing businesses with lots of transactions, or who sell products, Wave’s simple reporting features and, more importantly, lack of inventory management means the platform will fail to meet expectations.

Bookkeeping & Reporting

Wave's free accounting features

Wave’s free accounting features are nothing short but excellent. We found it very easy to connect our business bank account to the platform–it took just minutes. From there, Wave automatically started importing transactions for bookkeeping, meaning you can say goodbye to manual data entry.

On top of importing your data, Wave also generates helpful reports with insights into your cash flow, profit and loss, and expenses.

When it comes to account reconciliations, we noticed that Wave doesn’t have the automation prowess of competitors like Xero and QuickBooks. However, it does have a specific feature to help, called reconciliation. The downside of this feature is that it involves manual review. Saying that, if you hire an external accountant to help with year-end finances, this will be something they can do on your behalf.

Better still, inviting your accountant into your Wave account is simple and free. You can invite them via email and choose the access permissions they have, ranging from viewer to editor.

Invoicing

Wave's invoicing feature

We found the free invoicing feature very easy to use, and we liked that Wave allows you to customize your invoices, enabling you to add your company logo and change the template color. On top of that, there’s a solid range of template invoices to choose from, all of which look professional.

When it comes to paying for invoicing, Wave stands out from the crowd for its Apple Pay functionality. Your customers can choose to pay via credit card, bank payment, or Apple Pay via the ‘Pay Now’ button, which means you’ll receive payment in as little as a day.

We also really liked that Wave thinks about sales tax within your transactions. In your invoices, you can choose to list the price of your service either inclusive or exclusive of sales tax. Better still, for every invoice you send, Wave automatically syncs the transaction with your bookkeeping software.

Another thing we really liked about Wave’s invoicing feature is that you can access it on the go via the mobile app, which is available on both iOS and Android. Wave’s mobile app functionality is great, like a mini-version of the desktop application. With it, you can easily send invoices and check payment status while away from your desk.

Last but not least, we have to give a nod to Wave’s automation features. As all freelancers will know, clients don’t always pay on time. With Wave, you can set up automated email reminders if clients don’t pay within a certain time period. You can also configure the platform to send recurring invoices for clients on monthly retainers.

Expenses

Track your expenses with Wave

While Wave is excellent for receiving payments, paying vendors and expenses isn’t possible through the app. However, you can pay for Wave’s mobile scanning functionality to easily add receipts to your accounts.

Of course, with Wave’s automated bookkeeping feature, the platform characterizes withdrawals from your account as expenses. When it does this using automation, you’ll see a little robot sign appear in the transactions tab.

Wave learns the more data you feed it so, over time, its automation capabilities will get more accurate. However, we noticed a few transactions were characterized incorrectly at first and we needed to update them. This is worth bearing in mind when you first start using the platform.

Integrations

Wave doesn’t have as many integrations as we would like to see. While competitors like QuickBooks, for example, allow you to connect your customer relationship management system and communications channels, Wave is rather simplistic.

The only integration it allows is with Zapier, and it’s through this connection that you can then bridge to more platforms. Zapier, for context, is an automation tool that allows you to connect disparate applications.

For small businesses and sole traders, the lack of integrations might not be a problem. Wave has a lot of functionality in-built and adding too many apps to it could create complexity rather than making work quicker.

Wave Customer Reviews

For a free service, Wave has a lot to offer, and we can see its appeal for digital freelancers and service-based micro businesses. But what does the rest of the world have to say? We took to Reddit and G2 to find out.

On Reddit, reviewers were complimentary of Wave’s free features, noting them to be accurate and useful for small businesses and freelancers. However, users noted that the app is made for straightforward businesses with simple financial structures, stating that more robust platforms like Xero and Quickbooks would be better for larger companies.

A Wave review on Reddit

It was a similar story on G2. Users loved how simple Wave was to use and loved its automation capabilities. However, users in larger organizations or who needed more granular reports, found the platform’s capabilities lacking.

Wave vs Top Competitors

Wave QuickBooks Bonsai Xendoo
Best for Micro businesses Established small businesses Digital Freelancers Medium and large businesses
Starting Price Free $15/month $21/month $395/mo
Free Trial Free Forever 30-day free trial 7-day free trial
Payroll ✅ – through subscription ✅ – through integration
Reporting
Mobile App ✅ – on iOS and Android ✅ – on iOS and Android ✅ – on iOS and Android ✅ – on Android

Wave vs QuickBooks

Quickbooks–with its robust reporting features, almost endless integrations, and payroll functionality–is designed for small businesses and agencies with a growing employee base, and who need a platform that can scale with them.

Wave, on the other hand, is more simplistic–and for good reason. Its target audience is sole traders and micro businesses that want to simplify the accounting process, without having to spend too much.

Learn more in our QuickBooks review.

Wave vs Bonsai

Bonsai is an excellent choice for freelancers who regularly engage in project-based work. What makes this platform stand out is how it automates the entire client management process, making it easy to draw up contracts and send invoices from one platform.

However, not every freelancer or company will need this functionality–especially if they operate on long-standing monthly retainers. Plus, while Wave is free to use, Bonsai starts at $21/month.

Find out more in-depth in our Bonsai review.

Wave vs Xendoo

Xendoo is an expensive, powerful platform that’s designed for larger organizations. Its client base includes companies like Starbucks and F45. In that sense, Wave and Xendoo are like comparing apples and pears. They’re geared towards different buyers with different needs.

Check out the details in our Xendoo review.

Verdict – is Wave worth it?

If you’re a freelancer or small business wondering if you can automate the accounting process for free, the answer is yes–with Wave. This intuitive platform has all the capabilities a sole trader needs to start using the power of automation for financial management. With Wave, you’ll be able to spend more time on the work you like to do, and less on administration–all for free.

How We Test Accounting Software

It’s our goal to give you unbiased advice on the different accounting software platforms we test. To achieve this, we test each provider for at least 30 days, looking at factors like:

  • Pricing – We compare the pricing of each software platform against competitors to gain a solid picture of its affordability within the market.
  • Features – With our knowledge of the best accounting software platforms, we compare features against other leading providers, assessing ease-of-use, reporting capabilities, bookkeeping, CRM integrations, and security.
  • Integrations – For each software platform we test, we assess the integrations offered and how they support the platform in helping the end user achieve their goals.
  • Automation – Efficiency and accuracy is typically the number one priority with accounting software. We test for automation capabilities across every feature, letting you know when a platform can enhance your productivity.
  • Ease of use – A platform that is difficult to use can be off-putting and become a time drain in itself. We approach the user experience of every review as if we have never used accounting software, judging how easy it is for non-technical users to get to grips with.
  • Third-Party Reviews – To gain an in-depth picture of a product, we combine our reviews with reviews collected from reputable third-party websites like Reddit and Trustpilot.

How to Choose the Best Accounting Software

When looking for the best accounting software, it’s vital to consider a few factors, including your budget, the features, and the level of customer support you need.

  • Price – Look at the price of the software both initially and over a several-year period. You want something affordable now, and will become even more affordable in the future as your business grows.
  • Features – Explore the features offered in each plan. You want a provider that can meet as many of your needs as possible, without you having to purchase additional software. If you’re debating between two plans with the same provider, make sure you don’t miss out on crucial features in a higher-tier plan.
  • Scalability – Mull over your long-term plans for your business, and think about whether this software has the flexibility to scale with you as you grow and gain more customers.
  • Ease of use – Any software you invest in should be user-friendly, intuitive, and pleasant to use. That way, you’ll be able to start benefiting from it right away, rather than spending working hours trying to learn how to use it.
  • Integrations – Make sure you can access the integrations you need within the plan you pay for.
  • Customer support – If you get stuck, you want to have a customer support team you can count on. Make sure the provider you go for is easily accessible, ideally by 24/7 live chat.

FAQs

Is Wave Accounting really free?

Does Wave offer double-entry accounting?

How does Wave make money?

What is Wave used for in accounting?

Does Wave have a receipt capture?

Hannah Pisani

Hannah Pisani is a seasoned writer with a keen focus on the intersection between technology and the evolving nature of work. Over the last five years, she has written content for numerous leading technology brands, including Microsoft, AWS and Oracle. She regularly contributes to international technology publications such as Silicon Angle, Cloudwards and Techopedia. Hannah's depth of knowledge encompasses HR software, cybersecurity, SaaS tools and marketing optimization. She thrives on leveraging her expertise to empower business leaders, guiding them towards informed decisions that optimize efficiency and drive productivity.