Top 6 Free and Open Source Accounting Software for Your Small Business

Share This Article

0 0 0 0

Accounting software is essential for tracking your business finances, but expensive software can drain your finances. Here are six options that cost you nothing.

header illustration of a man cheering in front of accounting icons

You need accounting software to keep better track of your business’ money and—hopefully—hold on to more of it. But software can be expensive, especially if you’re a small business without a lot of capital.

And if you spend most of your money on new accounting software, what will that software keep track of once you have it?

Luckily, there’s a solution for anyone facing this conundrum: free accounting software.

6 best free accounting software products for small businesses

Your time and effort are valuable, so if your free accounting software is costing you hours of extra work every month, is it really free? The best free software is easy to learn, easy to use, and doesn’t require you to overcome an unending series of hurdles.

That’s why all of the products in this article have an ease-of-use rating of at least four (out of five) stars on Capterra (based on at least 30 user reviews) and an overall user rating of at least 4.5 stars.

This article looks at six highly rated free accounting software options. See the full list of free accounting solutions here.

We looked at more than 90 accounting software options in our directory that offer a free version, then picked the six best options based on the criteria above (find our full methodology here). Presented in alphabetical order, all of these products are truly free (not just a free trial) and meet our accounting software definition by offering these essential features:

  • General ledger
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Financial reporting

Let’s get started!

1. GnuCash

Ease of use: (4.2/5)

GnuCash is an open source, double-entry accounting solution for small businesses and individuals. With a deep feature set and consistent updates, GnuCash offers businesses of all sizes a slew of resources to keep their books in line.

Like any open source product, GnuCash requires a little more lifting from the user in terms of setup and maintenance, but there are plenty of guides and tutorials to help newcomers (or “GnuComers”).

GnuCash free open source accounting software for small businesses user interface

The main user interface in GnuCash. Source

Pros

Cons

GnuCash gets consistently good reviews for being easy to use. The user interface is straightforward, clearly designed for function over form. GnuCash’s interface is pretty dated, as you can see in the screenshot above, so if you like your technology to be sleek and modern, this could be a major turnoff.
GnuCash is a solid option for small businesses using double-entry accounting. The program offers a number of highly praised features, including foreign currency rates and a range of reporting features. GnuCash is an open source project, not a stand-alone business. If you need support, you’ll have to source it from other users and developers. That all means that if you’re not comfortable handling your own tech support and hunting for answers when you run into a problem you can’t solve, GnuCash isn’t a great choice for your business.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade: None; GnuCash is totally free, though if you really like it you can make a donation.
Most suitable for: GnuCash is popular among small- to midsize-business owners working in financial services and among nonprofits. GnuCash is available on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Mobile apps: Android

2. Manager

Ease of use: (4.7/5)

Manager is a free and highly functional accounting program available in more than 70 languages. It’s very easy to use (as indicated by its ease-of-use rating), and the basic desktop version is free forever with no strings attached.

Manager free accounting software for small businesses Balance Sheet.

The Balance Sheet screen in Manager. Source

Pros

Cons

Users love that Manager is free without stripping out any features, offering everything from aged receivables to project-based accounting. Multiple users find Manager’s reporting feature limited at best and say that importing your data can be a bit of a headache.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade: Upgrading to cloud saves, and multi-user access costs $39/month or $390/year.
Most suitable for: Manager is overwhelmingly used by small businesses (98%), and most reviewers are owners and managers at accounting and retail firms.
Mobile apps: N/A

3. SlickPie

Ease of use: (4.8/5)

SlickPie is a Canada-based accounting software vendor that offers a solid free option for small businesses and freelancers. There are some limits to the free version; users can work with no more than 10 different customers for invoicing.

That limit may be sufficient for very small businesses, and if so, you could ride it for a long time. Everything else in the free version is open to unlimited use, so you’ll have access to reports, support, and bank reconciliation at all levels. But as soon as you add that 11th customer, you’ll need to upgrade.

SlickPie free accounting software for small businesses interface.

The SlickPie interface. Source

Pros

Cons

SlickPie has some nice time-tracking options that work well for freelancers and service providers. The software also offers some good sales tax management tools to help retailers keep everything up-to-date. SlickPie’s main drawback is its limitation on invoicing. Sending invoices to 10 companies per month might be a limit you never hit, or a limit you hit right out of the gate. That all depends on your business type.
The simple layout and clean design make SlickPie easy to learn your way around, so most users shouldn’t have too much trouble with the software’s learning curve. SlickPie does not have dedicated apps, but is designed to be mobile responsive, meaning it should work in the browser on your smartphone or tablet of choice.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade: The Pro plan costs $39.95/month, increases the monthly invoice limitation to 50, and adds phone support to the email support included in the free plan.
Most suitable for: SlickPie has a high number of reviews from small-business owners in the IT and web service fields.
Mobile apps: N/A

4. Sunrise

Ease of use: (4.5/5)

Sunrise recently went through a branding overhaul (it used to be called Billy) after it was acquired by Utah-based small business loan company Lendio in 2019. Under the fresh coat of paint it’s still the same, free accounting software with unlimited invoices and transactions.

As a result of the merger, small-business users can also easily secure a loan through the app, if interested.

Sunrise free accounting software for small businesses customized invoice.

A customized invoice in Sunrise. Source

Pros

Cons

Sunrise doesn’t put a cap on transactions in its free version, so you can continue to use it even as your business grows. After Billy was acquired by Lendio, the program was limited to use in North America. It’s not available outside of the U.S. or Canada.
Users love the interface and the software’s invoicing feature.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade: Sunrise’s self-service option is free, though there is a charge for accepting credit card payments (2.9% + 30-cent processing fee) and bank transfers (1%). They also offer three paid plans that include a dedicated bookkeeper, ranging from $99/month to $499/month.
Most suitable for: Most Sunrise reviewers are small-business owners in the marketing, advertising, and IT/tech sectors.
Mobile apps: iOS, Android

5. Wave Accounting

Ease of use: (4.5/5)

Wave bills its accounting package as “the world’s fastest-growing small-business accounting software.” The company offers a completely free, no upgrades available, what-you-see-is-everything-there-is accounting program.

Initially, Wave made money by showing in-app ads, but it now reaps profits from companion apps that charge fees for payments and payroll. Wave’s core accounting package is aimed at businesses with nine or fewer employees.

Wave free accounting software for small businesses interface.

The Wave accounting interface. Source

Pros

Cons

If you’re an aesthetics person, Wave Accounting is a good choice. The software is very attractive. While Wave Accounting is indeed free, Wave Payments and Wave Payroll are not, so if you need to accept payments and run payroll (which are virtually never free, by the way) you’re going to have to spend money.
The engine under the hood is strong too, allowing users to run reports, connect to their bank, and integrate Wave’s invoicing and payroll systems (payroll has an associated fee). Some users complained that Wave’s reporting options are somewhat limited, and noted that it doesn’t offer an option for customizable reports. Wave also lacks an audit trail, which leaves it vulnerable to fraudulent employees.
Many users say in their reviews that they can’t understand how such a professionally produced product is free.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade:

  • Payments are 2.9% + 30 cents per credit transaction or 1% per bank transaction.
  • Payroll starts at $20 per month plus $4 per employee.
  • Wave offers dedicated bookkeeping services starting at $49 per month and 30 days of accounting coaching for a one-time fee of $49.
Most suitable for: Wave is mostly used by small-business owners and leaders at all types of businesses, from marketing and advertising to IT, tech, real estate, retail, and design.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS

6. ZipBooks

Ease of use: (4.6/5)

ZipBooks is a free cloud-based accounting solution and one of the newest players in the field (it launched in Utah in 2015). ZipBooks relies on partnerships with payment providers to generate cash.

The company basically acts as an affiliate for these payment processors, allowing it to provide accounting functions for free. You can use the ZipBooks accounting tool for free without using its payment processing offering, though.

ZipBooks free accounting software for small businesses accounting dashboard.

The ZipBooks dashboard. Source

Pros

Cons

Users agree that ZipBooks is very simple and user-friendly, even for those without an accounting background. The free version doesn’t include recurring invoices, notifications, reminders, or saved invoice items.
The free version includes unlimited invoices, vendors, and customers, and integrates with Square and PayPal to accept payments.

Product Information

Cost to upgrade: For $15/month you can add auto-billing, notifications, time tracking, multiple bank accounts, and five team members. $35/month adds tags, customization, advanced reports, and unlimited users.
Most suitable for: ZipBooks is frequently used and reviewed by small-business owners in the marketing and advertising, IT, and tech sectors.
Mobile apps: Android, iOS

Final thoughts on free and open source accounting software

While free is great, it’s not the most important consideration you should make when selecting a tool that you’ll be using every day to keep your business afloat.

There are plenty of people you should talk to before you make an accounting software decision (for example: if you have an accountant, ask for their opinion), and if you’re already using other business software, make sure the accounting software you choose integrates well.

Finally, make sure you know where to go for more information. Most software vendors offer user forums where you can post questions for the company or members of its development team.


Methodology

This article was updated Jan. 21, 2020. Products considered for this article fulfill the following criteria:

1. It must be free

For the purposes of this article, we classified a product as free if:

  • It offers a free, standalone version of the software.
  • It is not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product version after a limited amount of time.

2. Meets our accounting software definition

The products that met the above criteria for a free version were then evaluated against our accounting software definition: Accounting software automates an organization’s financial functions and transactions with modules including accounts payable, accounts receivable, and general ledger. Accounting solutions allow a comprehensive, real-time, on-demand analysis of an organization’s financial status.

This check verified the basic accounting software capabilities and appropriateness for the category. A product was classified as accounting software if it contained all the core features—accounts payable, accounts receivable, and general ledger.

3. Have a minimum number of reviews

Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 30 reviews across Gartner Digital Markets with an overall rating of at least 4.5 out of 5.0 and an ease-of-use rating of at least 4.0/5.0.

Disclaimers

The content in this piece provides opinions and points of view expressed by users and does not represent the views of Capterra.

Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.

Share This Article

About the Author

Avatar

Andrew Conrad

Andrew is a content writer for Capterra, specializing in church management and project management software. When he’s not striving for the perfect balance of information and entertainment, Andrew enjoys the great outdoors and the wide world of sports. Follow him on Twitter @CapterraAC.

Comments

Avatar

Thanks for sharing such as useful blog. I had used SlickPie accounting software which was really helpful for me.

Avatar

TopNotepad is a simple accounting software for small businesses.
Intuitive, and affordable.

Avatar

Accounting software revolutionized, https://fizibill.com, the flexible, online accounting software that offers the right features for your growing business; and an app store to boost up your productivity.

Avatar

You may also consider https://akaunting.com , a free, online and open source accounting software for small businesses and freelancers.

Avatar

HashMicro is a Singapore’s leading Cloud ERP & CRM vendor, offering innovative software development services and Business Solutions.
visit us:https://www.hashmicro.com

Avatar

Great job compiling the list.
Please consider Accurants (https://www.accurants.com). We have a 15-days FREE trial thereafter a FREE account with Invoice (limited number per month). Accurants has Invoicing, Time Tracking, Project Management, Expense Tracking, Expense Reports, Mileage Log, Accounting, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Payroll & HR, and Taxes as modules that work alone or in any combination. Whether you are just starting or you have 100 employees, Accurants scales up automatically as your business needs grow.

Avatar

For small business and freelancers, I recommend SlickPie software. It provides me financial reports of my business. It also calculates my business sales tax. It’s free online accounting software. Easily access its features on any devices such as PC, Tablets, and Mobiles.

Avatar

Excel accounting budget analysis is an accounting workbook that allows you to easily manage the cash flow in and out of your small to medium business. You can download trial version here Download https://www.excel-accounting-budget-analysis.com

Avatar

Thank you! This list was just the aggregate I needed to cut through the overload of information. I’d never heard of zipbooks and that’s the place I’m starting…

Thanks again!
Rachel db

Avatar

For my small business SlickPie is the best accounting/invoicing software for managing my business accounting. It’s a free online app. It offers many features, Such as – unlimited user, auto data entry tool-MagicBot, financial reports, bank feed, auto payment reminders, auto recur and more.

Avatar

Hello everyone,
My name is Guy and I just starting running a small used car dealership in the states. Any advice on which one of these open source free software could be a good fit? any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Avatar

Awesome list – Andrew Marder ..
It’s very informative.Free and openly developed Open Source software: accounting for small and medium businesses, with invoicing, orders, projects and more.

Avatar

You made a great list!
Is this Inventory Management Software should consider? what say?

Avatar

Baffled by numbers? Fancy to smile when you have to do your bookkeeping? Start today with https://easybook.io, try it for free now!

Avatar

This is a great list.
I work for http://inventrik.com/ and we are in process of developing an open source solution for retailers. Do connect with us if you would like to know more!

Cheers!

Avatar

Hi,

The LedgerSMB software has a development history of 17 years, so, we’ve been around for a long time. Free and openly developed Open Source software: accounting for small and medium businesses, with invoicing, orders, projects and more.

Demo system at https://demo.cloud.efficito.com/erp/1.5/

Regards,

Erik.

Avatar

Hi Andrew,

Great article! These are some great players in the space and we’re glad you’ve featured them. I’d like to introduce you to Billy, the most easy-to-use, cloud-based accounting software that’s been designed from the ground up for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Our package is fully functional with invoicing, expense tracking and more which is also 100% free.

Feel free to check us out at https://www.billyapp.com. You can check out all of the premium features using a 30 day trial, but I’d be happy to set you up with a review account if you’d like more time.

Thanks,

-Evan

Avatar

I use Slickpie online accounting software. It is 100% free and easy to use, but to me the best thing about it that it sends automatic payment reminders to clients that haven’t paid the invoices on time so they remember to do so. The support service is great.

Avatar

Hi Andrew, I’m in USA and researching to help a small and growing food processing business in Tanzania. Need to get accounting software. I like your review above, and based on what you say above, lean towards Turbo Cash to start with and see if it will work okay for them. Also want to be able to have food source traceability (free preferred) and saw some of that on your site also. Do you have suggestions on being able tie anything together for accounting and supply source traceability, maybe setting up lot codes or something? I’ve not done this before, but am familiar with accounting some. As a small business with 6 workers at peak time, they don’t have a lot of extra money since they are growing it. The accounting and traceability functions are important, yet free is good until they get bigger and can do more. Thanks. Diana

Avatar

Any thoughts on jgnash? I’m using gnuCash now, but am looking for a personal finance program with a more modern user interface, better documentation, and better support. I like the idea of double entry as it is more likely to keep things straight. Oh, I don’t mind paying for something if it is good, well supported, and open .

Dave,

Avatar

Hi

I think this list is not updated?
I am using openmiracle which is very good one with 100 percentage FREE source code.
I think its the best one I ever seen.

Salene

Avatar

I think you should check below software’s ……
http://www.manager.io/ ********* I recommended this one to all.
http://wandaapos.com/

Avatar

Andrew,

How do we get included on this list? We are new but we meet all the criteria. Thanks for letting us know in advance!

Comment on this article:


Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content

Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.