The Best Cloud-Based Online Accounting Software

Over the past couple of years, I’ve moved a lot of my traditional “software” based tasks to the cloud.   You can read about it here: I Started Moving My Finances and Business To The Cloud.  There are so many great tools that I have been able to take advantage of, including Google Docs and Google Apps email.

However, over the past year, one area that I have been struggling with is finding a good cloud based accounting software that could complete with QuickBooks.  Well, after searching and searching, and trying out various companies and options, I’ve finally come to a conclusion.

** I just updated this in April 2013 with the latest from these companies.  I’m always experimenting with new cloud-based software, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

Online Accounting Software Choices

quickbooks online accounting softwareQuickbooks Online Since Quickbooks has been my bread and butter accounting software choice for over 5 years, I’d thought I’d look into using them in the cloud.  The great thing about Quickbooks Online is that is has all the features of Quickbooks Pro software, just available anywhere.  As a result, you can integrate it with other Quickbooks applications, like Payroll and more.

The downside of Quickbooks Online is the price: the cheapest option starts at $12.95 per month, with more features available at $26.95 per month and $39.99 per month.  To get payroll included, you jump up to $52.76 per month and $63.18 per month.

Even the cheapest option is $155 per year, which is just as expensive as purchasing Quickbooks Pro (which currently retails for $183.95).  If you use Quickbooks online for over a year, it just isn’t worth it.

However, Quickbooks Online does offer a current 30 day free trial of its software, so you can give it a go without committing.

 

Freshbooks Online Billing AccountingFreshbooksFreshbooks was recommended to me by a consultant that I used on a project.  He was very happy with it, especially the online invoicing part.  As a customer, I also thought that the online invoicing was a pretty neat aspect.  Freshbooks started with the easy to use online invoicing, and now has a full suite of accounting aspects to keep track of everything.  It is very client focused – with calendars for organization and ways to collaborate.

The good thing about Freshbooks is that not only can you try it free, but they have a free option that lets you manage up to 3 clients.  It’s not much, but it does give you a sense of what it would be like to use full time.

The downside, once again, is the ongoing cost of Freshbooks.  To manage 25 clients, it now becomes $19.95 per month, and for unlimited clients, it jumps to $29.95 per month.  If you want team management functions, it runs $39.95 per month.  So, for the basic level, you will pay $239 per year to manage 25 clients.

Here’s what users have to say:

FreshBooks Cloud Accounting FreshBooks Cloud Accounting SKU UPC Model
Pricey But Great Design
Aug 09, 2013 by Mario

I've been using Freshbooks for a while, I like the interface and clean design. And the free version is a great way to check out the service with no risk.
Read More Reviews of FreshBooks


4.0 5.0 5 5 I've been using Freshbooks for a while, I like the interface and clean design. And the free version is a great way to check out the service with no risk. FreshBooks Cloud Accounting

 

Kashoo Online Account SoftwareKashoo Kashoo was the next system I tried out, and it interested me because it had automatic bank import functions to import and categorize your transaction (I love automated).  It also had the basic accounting functions like Quickbooks, but was a little more automated.  The great thing is that it can import your bank information automatically, which is helpful and time saving.

The biggest drawback was the lack on invoicing available on Kashoo.  Instead, they want you to partner with Freshbooks to invoice your customers, or just manually enter the sales.

The good thing about Kashoo is that they have a free level, that includes all the accounting software (non-automated), as well as iPhone and iPad apps (which was very handy).  However, to get access to the good features, like templates, you must sign-up for the first level of service, which is $10 per month.  They also have an unlimited team version for $20 per month, which is also what you need to get if you want payroll integration.

At $10 per month, or $120 per year, this is the cheapest option of the paid online accounting programs so far, and it is pretty good in terms of features available as well.

 

Outright Online Accounting ProgramOutright Outright was the final choice for paid programs, and it is neck and neck with Kashoo.  The great thing about Outright is the automation – everything is automatically pulled from your bank accounts and categorized.  This is even included in the free option.

The drawback of Outright was that they charge $9.95 per month for their first and only level of service, but it is this level that has access to all the reporting you would want.  Otherwise, all Outright does is keep track of the basic profit and loss.  I also found it a little more difficult to use that Kashoo.

 

bean cruncher online bookkeepingBean Cruncher – Bean Cruncher is one of the newest online bookkeeping and accounting programs out there, and I was glad I stumbled up on.  What I really like about Bean Cruncher is the speed and interface.  Their online system runs quick, which is great – especially when you are entering a lot of invoices.  Their main dashboard is also really helpful, with all of the key data displayed right when you log in.

The only thing holding me back from Bean Cruncher is the price – it starts at $9 for up to 150 customers, then $19 for 500 customers, and $29 for unlimited customers.  In my business, I’d hit 150 customers pretty quickly, because I get a lot of one-time customers.  This was the main problem I ran into with Freshbooks.   Even though the software is great, it’s hard to beat free.

 

xero online accountingXero Online Accounting Software – I was turned on to Xero by the readers in the comments below (thank you)!  Of course, when someone mentions that this is the best online accounting software out there, I have to go check it out for myself.  And I have to agree – this is the most power online accounting software I’ve found to date.  The features and services of this program rival Quickbooks, which is impressive.  There is also easy integration for bookkeepers and accountants.

Xero is a bit different from most online accounting software in that they are targeting accountants and bookkeepers as their target audience – they want accountants to use the software, and setup their clients on the program.  You can still use the software if you’re a small business, and it is still great.

Once again, pricing matters.  Since this is the most powerful online software, I wasn’t surprised to see the prices be high.  The entry level is $19 for 5 invoices per month.  The next level up covers pretty much everything you need, at $29 per month you get 100s of invoices.  They do offer a $39 per month tier, but you only need this if you do multi-currency accounting.

 

Best Online Accounting Software

Wave Accounting OnlineWave AccountingMy personal pick for the best online accounting software is Wave Accounting.  It took me a long time to find this company, and they were actually referred to me by a Twitter follower!  However, I’m glad I found them.

This company does it all – invoicing (you can even send them to customers online), accounting, and reporting.  And the best part, is that it is free.  There are no costs for using Wave, and they maintain a business model similar to Mint, where they are paid through affiliate sales.

As of 2013, they also started an online payment system for their invoices, which does cost money, but the rate is cheap – 2.9%.  If you’re sending invoices and need to accept credit cards, this is a great solution that continues to distinguish Wave as one of the best online accounting programs out there.

I’ve supported them since these affiliates also provide good deals on business related products.  If you are interested in an online accounting program, Wave Accounting is the best option to check out.

 

Want this in a clear, comprehensive, easy to present version?  Check out our SlideShare presentation:

About Robert

Robert is the founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

Comments

  1. Hey there – just curious if you are still using Wave Accounting? I’m testing it out, and reports of bugs I’ve seen kinda give me doubt, but they also might’ve been fixed since those articles were written. Curious to hear from a (potential) long-time user about if it saves you time vs. other solutions. I currently use Kashoo.

    I also noticed that a few of your links are affiliate link – not that that is bad. But did it have any effect on your review, or was it just an afterthought?

    • Hi Kevin,

      I am still using Wave Accounting and I love it! I haven’t found any bugs, but I’d be curious to hear what you’ve read. It does save me time because it does a really good job of importing everything from my bank accounts and PayPal. The biggest disadvantage of Wave was when it started, it didn’t import PayPal fees. However, during the last update about two months ago, they added this feature and it has been smooth sailing since.

      As for the links, they had no bearing on my reviews. I used each program and just wrote down my opinion. I think Kashoo is okay, but the level of service you get at the free level doesn’t compare with what you get at Wave for free.

      • We WERE using Quickbooks Online, but they have undergone some drastic user unfriendly changes….before they force my other company over to the new format, I want to switch to a new software. I have used Wave for other clients, and liked it well enough for that but I need to know a few things:

        a) can you set up a recurring sales receipt to charge a credit card?

        b) can you import QBO files to Wave and have it set up properly?

        c) is the credit card information secure?

  2. D. West Davies says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I am a Realtor in Pagosa Springs, CO and was hoping to enter receipts at my office and from the house. I’m going to give Wave a try.

  3. I appreciate the insight as i am looking for some options to a web based accounting software. I have used qb pro for many years as well and went to them with their online product. I would absolutely disagree with you about qb online having all the same features as qb pro. They lack so many things such as job costing, loan manager and until 2 weeks ago did not even have a sales tax module. They just added the sales tax module and it is a nightmare. Feel free to look for yourself, http://blog.qbo.intuit.com/2012/11/08/qbo-sales-tax-update-11-8-12/ .Long story short I am looking for something new with more features. Was happy with qb pro features but need something that is cloud based.

  4. Michael McClellan says:

    I also think WAVE is cool, but I cannot use it, as it does not allow for project based tracking. We currently buy between 40-50 parts for each assembly we do and I have to make sure that each project makes money.

    If WAVE can add this feature, or if there is a workaround with another project management suite, I am all for it.

    • Dylan Kawfield says:

      I would look into Xero for this, I would of suggested MYOB’s cloud but it has too many bugs at this stage -also quite concerning that one of the founders sold his share from MYOB and put it into Xero too.

  5. I too tried WAVE but the glaring lack of Cash Based Accounting was the deal breaker. I and many others have pleaded with Wave over the past year, to add this important option to their software, and since their target audience is small businesses, I’m puzzled they did not incorporate it from the beginning. Because of that I now use Freshbooks exclusively and love everything about it except the price. But, because it saves so much time, I think it’s still worth it. BTW they just added a Beta version of automatic downloads from your bank account to ingest and record your expenses.

    • I am using cash based accounting for my business, and have never had any trouble with Wave. What specifically are you missing that you need for your business? I’m curious now…

      • Here’s the deal with Accrual based accounting that Wave uses. Once you enter an invoice, it immediately shows up as money you earned in your Income Statement (Profit & Loss) even though you haven’t yet received the payment. So if you are a Cash Based business this creates false numbers. For a while I was entering invoices into Wave and then generating a fictitious expense to deduct the amount of outstanding invoices before running the Income Statement report. I would delete the false expense afterwards. Too much jumping through hoops for something that really should have been built in from the get go. You may have noticed you can select “Cash” or “Accrual” when setting up Quickbooks, and can select Cash or Accrual from a drop down menu when running a report in Freshbooks. Wave knows about this from me and many others, but has yet to take any visible action to remedy the oversight. If Wave’s target audience is small businesses I find it unbelievable this is not an option since nearly every small business owner I know of uses Cash Based accounting.

        • I agree that they need a way to see cash basis reports versus accrual ones. In the US, many/most small businesses are on the cash basis for tax reporting purposes. But, the accrual basis does give a much more accurate depiction of the company’s financial position.

          I know it’s not ideal. But, you can either (1) keep only your cash transactions on Wave and manage your accounts payable and accounts receivable separately. Or, (2) you can manage your business using Wave on the accrual basis. And, when tax time rolls around, it’s a pretty quick journal entry or two that will adjust your books to the cash basis.–to add as income and expense the items that were accrued as A/R and A/P at the end of the prior year and to remove from income and expense the items that are being accrued as A/P and A/R at the end of the year in question. Then dated on the first day of the new year, just reverse this/these entries to get the balances of A/R and A/P back to where they should be.. If you have an accountant who does your taxes, he/she should be able to make these entries for tax purposes without a whole lot of effort. It’s pretty standard really.

          What I would say is that if you don’t have a whole lot of A/R and A/P and need to be on the cash basis, just record the transactions in Wave as the cash transactions occur and keep track of your receivables and payables another way.

          And, if you have a large number of Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable,, my advice would be to account for them within Wave. The accrual method of accounting for these really does give you a much more accurate reflection of where your business stands. The cash basis is probably only used for tax purposes. A standard entry(ies) can be made for tax purposes only when your taxes are being prepared or any time you need to see where you stand with your taxes.

          I agree that in this day of automation, this isn’t ideal. I’d like to see Wave offer both accrual basis and cash basis reports or somehow have a toggle to switch between the two methods for each report. But,, it’s really not that huge of a deal, especially to an accountant who is at all worth his or her salt.

          The important thing is to be able to manage your finances to see where you stand at any given time so you can make proactive decisions based upon up-to-date accurate information. And, while I have some things I’d like to see changed or offered in Wave, too (I haven’t yet found a program that perfectly has everything the way I’d like) in my opinion, Wave has a very robust, double entry accounting system along with some automation features that a lot of others don’t have. And, it’s free. Their customer service has excellent—definitely much better, for different reasons than Kashoo and even Quickbooks.

          Did I mention, it’s free?

          • Dylan Kawfield says:

            That’s the problem I had with Wave, the fact it was free and they can’t easily buy new enterprise servers was a big issue for me since I know working in project management and a software engineer that they can’t sustain a cloud-based accounting platform or even software without regular updates.

            The more popular Wave gets, the worse the software is going to become I’m afraid.

    • As an accountant, the whole cash vs. accrual thing isn’t such a big deal. You just need to make a journal entry for the outstanding receivables/payables at the end of the year (right on your dashboard). We love wave for our clients. Anyone using Wave in New York looking for a discounted tax preparation fee – send us an email – we love working with the software; it makes our lives so much easier.

  6. As a start up venture, we are most concerned about controlling costs. I found Wave when hunting through the Google Market and liked what I saw. Your review only confirms my initial decision to give it a try before spending valuable resources on other options.

    There has been one issue with setting up taxes but I managed to stumble through it and got it done.

    Thank you for your time and side by side review of these products!

  7. Chris Lamb says:

    Suprised that you haven’t tried Xero online accounting software – it’s fun to use and has the invoicing, cash and accrual, easy automation of bank data that reading the posts people really want,
    I’m an Accountant in New Zealand where Xero comes from but they do appear to be getting traction in the US currently and from the reviews ive seen are right up there with Quickbooks online if not better as they have some great integration products.

    • Xero’s pretty expensive if you want multi-currency. I’m grandfathered with Kashoo, so I don’t pay extra to have all the features. If I were ever to leave Kashoo, though, I have heard good things about Xero and would probably try it.

      I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Kashoo software,, but it works really, really well where it counts. The reports work great for me. Bank reconciliation is tedious, and I have heard Xero can handle it faster. That’s the main thing that has me thinking.

      As my transaction volume increases, though, I’m sure I’ll be reconsidering (or just outsourcing to an accountant :)).

      • Dylan Kawfield says:

        I used to use Kashoo too but then moved to Quick Books, it served it’s purpose for the time being but I still wasn’t really happy with it. I tried Xero and it’s by far the best cloud-accounting software that I’ve used, for someone who works in the software industry it by far is the most easy to use. It might be a little more expensive but it’s worth it, no more head aches. I also tried MYOB’s cloud accounting software, but found it had to many bugs too even handle the most basic transactions. I used to use MYOB before everything went to the cloud.

        I originally wanted to use Wave since it was free, but I find that the more popular they get the more buggy the service gets. In the next three or four years I don’t think they would be able to handle the traffic alone to the site on that model and you’ll probably find that they will go out of business. I think they need to charge something just to upgrade their software, or at least servers!

        Dylan Kawfield

        • Michelle, Xero’s kind of expensive when compared on price alone, but as someone said to me earlier, it’s worth it. I didn’t agree with that at first, but I do now. They also lowered the price from what they were asking for previously (cut it in 2 for what I needed, which was multi-currency), which made me jump for it.

          Basically, I was paying $99/yr. for Kashoo before. Difference of around $400 yearly. If I undervalue my time and estimate I save 8-10 hours a year (2-2.5 a quarter) then it’s absolutely worth it. And so far, I think I am saving that much time. The bank reconciliation is a DREAM, it’s a freaking DREAM. It can even be done on a phone. It’s almost worth the switch alone.

          The FreshBooks integration is not quite as good as Kashoo, but it’s good enough, and with Xero I can fill in the gaps with their API since I’m a developer if I need to.

    • xero is twice as expensive as QBO….wow!

  8. Joseph Sigman says:

    Here are two more companies that provide SaaS cloud solutions for small/mid-tier companies – NetSuite (netsuite.com) and Intacct (intacct.com). Netsuite has financial, ecommerce, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource management components based on a single database back-end.. As an order is created on the Website, the e-commerce component integrates with third-party payer systems and then enters the transaction into the books (ledger) and tracts customer data in the CRM module for seamless integration. You can turn on each module as you grow. Other financial cloud-based systems will require expensive custom development to connect the modules. Intaact is a newer SaaS company, and it is trying to target smaller companies that are using Quickbooks today, but are growing and need to move to a ledger system that is more robust for growing organizations entering the mid-tier market.

    Pricing tends to vary so visit each company website as mentioned above.

    Independent reviews of each company can be found at:
    Netsuite: http://www.crmsearch.com/netsuite-capabilities.php
    Intacct: http://www.softwareadvice.com/accounting/intacct-accounting-profile/

  9. We sell software over the web. Our software will be sold for 3, 4, and 5 year terms. Is there a particular accounting software that isn’t 20K that will automatically integrate with Braintree (our payment processor) that will automatically do the accounting to allow us to recognize the income from these fixed term sales evenly over the period eg. 25%/yr over 4 years?

  10. Thanks for a great round-up of Accounting software.
    You are right on the money, the only thing that has stopped me committing from some of the premium apps is the price. Some of these tiered pay systems that charge you a monthly fee to send out 5 invoices are ridiculous. I’m going to try Wave now.

    BTW, there is an interesting cloud book keeping called Expensify. I’ve been working with it today to try and make expense reports. I like the interface, but I don’t like how it imported my bank records, then after I deleted them and re-imported, it didn’t seem to work. It’s free, which is awesome, if it could only reconcile statements, and work, it would be really great.

  11. I have been using Wave to do my business reports for several months now. It works on my Mac without a drama & imports my bank statements easily, I really like it. And it’s free!

  12. Wave has a lot going for it, but the lack of QuickBooks import was kind of a deal breaker for me. I was surprised that it wasn’t/isn’t on the short term roadmap either, as I think they could start charging for upgraded accounts. I am signing up for Monchilla.com today and see how it goes.

  13. Hi, thanks for a clear explanation of the differences between the software choices. I opted for Wave last year (mid-2013) and I was thrilled with its ease of use and auto-import of bank statements. The invoicing was good, too.

    Taxes were a lot of work because I had two different software systems for the two halves of the year, but I kept going with Wave.

    Then it all fell apart. Wave “upgraded” its bank interface system and no longer supports my primary bank. I am devastated, after all the work put into data entry, setting up categories for expenses, etc.

    Once again, it is mid-year and I have to switch software. This experience has made me very shy of continuing with online systems. I feel abandoned and that’s not a good feeling.

    I hate Quicken for Mac (it’s sort of a joke) and dread the time it would take to learn QuickBooks, which I had years ago and didn’t seem Mac-friendly at the time.

    I have a freelance business so Quickbooks is probably overkill anyway. Wave was great but I won’t be herded to a big commercial bank when my local bank serves me so well. Why they won’t/can’t import from my bank is a complete mystery, they offered no explanation.

    THis type of experience can be very unsettling. Is there a reliability factor that can be found by input from people who have used these packages for some time?

  14. Hi there- I just wanted to give you a heads up on an aspect of Wave that you might not have considered.

    Wave does NOT support/offer a “Cash Basis” method- it is strictly accural. That might be fine for larger companies and from a managerial standpoint in smaller companies but, the fact is, most US based small businesses operate on a cash basis. The community has been begging Wave to add this option for nearly 3 years. As of today, no progress has been made other than a failed beta test on Cash Reports. The workarounds they suggest are ridiculous.

    Also, Wave does not support ‘non-employee wages’- i.e. 1099’s. For my small businesses- this is unacceptable.

    It’s too bad because Wave is otherwise awesome. But, no Cash Basis option is a serious deal breaker. Free or not- if it’s useless, it’s not worth the hassle.

    Hope that helps!

  15. Gianie Ramasamy says:

    I am looking for an accounting system to cater for media debtors management, which has the capability to manage rights and a vast number of credit terms.
    Do you have a recommendation?
    Thanks
    Gianie

    • Matthew says:

      Whilst every cloud accounting system has it’s pros and cons – it may be worthwhile checking out Gem Accounts [ http://www.gemaccounts.com ]. It’s fairly comprehensive as far as features go – has a free plan for small businesses, and all allows both cash and accrual options.

  16. Sharad Kumar says:

    Nice round up.
    I’m from India and came across this article while searching for a good accounting solution. For average Indian user, pricing will be too high except for Wave Accounting which is really good.

    I would like to mention ProfitBooks accounting software (http://www.profitbooks.net) which I found suitable for Indian users. Its simple to use and very affordable.

    I think, users from other countries can also use ProfitBooks as it supports multi-currency. Do check it out.

  17. Hi there,
    What about Monchilla. I’m surprised at how few reviews there are out there of this software. Any thoughts?

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