Best Accounting Software 2021

FreshBooks vs. Wave

Is FreshBooks or Wave the better solution for you? This in-depth, feature-by-feature breakdown will help you select the best accounting software for your business.

All businesses should use accounting software to manage invoices, track finances, and prepare for tax season. As a business owner, you’ll use accounting software to send invoices to clients, upload receipts for business expenses, and record financial information. Your bookkeeper or accountant will likely be given access to the software and do most of the heavy lifting regarding the reporting, tax forms, and more.

Most accounting solutions include features like invoicing, expense tracking, accounting reports, payroll, and accounting or bookkeeping services. Some accounting tools are designed for specific industries, but FreshBooks and Wave can both be applied to businesses of all types. Whether you’re in ecommerce, retail, or consulting, you could use either of these options.

This article will discuss the main differences between FreshBooks and Wave by highlighting differences in features, price, and usability. We’ll highlight notable strengths and drawbacks of each tool and make recommendations to help you pick the best software for your business.

FreshBooks & Wave Comparison Summary

FreshBooks and Wave are two of the more basic accounting tools on the market. Both tools received a SoftwarePundit Analyst rating of 86.

FreshBooks received a score of 86 because it’s incredibly easy to use, and it’s easy to get in touch with the customer support team. Wave, on the other hand, is a bit more advanced, but their customer support is not at all accessible. Both are solid starter tools that are ideal for those who want to start using accounting software in just a day.


Here’s a breakdown of our review criteria and how FreshBooks and Wave performed in each category.

CriteriaAnalyst RatingFeaturesUsabilityPricingCustomer Support
FreshBooks868999
Wave86810106

FreshBooks is a great entry-level accounting software for freelancers and very small service-based businesses. It doesn’t have advanced features, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in usability and accessible customer support. FreshBooks offers invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, project management, payments, and accounting reports. FreshBooks pricing starts at $15 per month for basic features and tops out at $50 per month.

Conversely, Wave offers invoicing, expense tracking, recurring billing, and automatic payments for free. Many users choose Wave because those essential accounting features are entirely free, and additional features like payroll, payment processing, and bookkeeping services can be purchased. While we found that Wave is also extremely user-friendly, it’s much more difficult to get in touch with customer support, which can be frustrating.

Here are a few quick points to summarize who we recommend each tool for:

You'll prefer FreshBooks if:

  • You are a service-based company
  • You want easy access to the customer support team
  • You’re searching for the tool that’s easiest to use

Try FreshBooks Today

You'll prefer Wave if:

  • You’d like basic accounting features entirely free of charge
  • Your business sells both products and services
  • You want access to bookkeeping and tax services

Try Wave Today


Table of Contents

Who Should Purchase FreshBooks?

We recommend FreshBooks to anyone just starting a service-based business, or just starting out with accounting software. It’s not as nuanced as top players in the accounting space like QuickBooks Online or Xero, but this tool will benefit freelancers more. We recommend it for service-based businesses only, however, because FreshBooks lacks the inventory management features that are required to keep track of inventory.

When we spoke with FreshBooks customers, they reported that while the tool definitely works for freelancers and small businesses, it’s truly best for bookkeeping and keeping things on track for tax time. This solution is a reliable starter option.

Who Should Purchase Wave?

We recommend Wave for most small businesses given its value and wider range of features. Along with the free accounting features, there’s a variety of things you can purchase like services, payroll, and a business bank account with Wave. Mark Hayes, the head of marketing at Kintell, appreciates the professional user interface as well as the billing and invoicing system, which he says improves year after year.

Other customers told us that the reporting feature isn’t as advanced as some alternatives offer, but it includes the necessary reports to bring to a CPA to prepare documents for yearly taxes. Overall, Wave is one of the easiest tools to use to send invoices to many different individuals. While it can be difficult to get in touch with customer support, you likely won’t need to contact them too often.

FreshBooks & Wave Price Comparison

FreshBooks operates on a plan pricing tier, while Wave is priced per feature. Quick descriptions of each tool’s payment options are outlined below.

FreshBooks Pricing Details

FreshBooks pricing begins at $15 per month for the Lite Plan and costs up to $50 per month with the Premium Plan.

Lite Plan
  • $15 per month
  • Invoices for five clients
  • Track expenses
  • Send estimates
Plus Plan
  • $25 per month
  • Bill up to 50 clients
  • Recurring billing
  • Give accountant access
Premium Plan
  • $50 per month
  • Bill unlimited clients
  • Manage projects and track time
  • Late payment reminders

Wave Pricing Details

Wave’s accounting software, invoicing features, and business bank accounts are entirely free of charge. Customers will pay for things like online payments, payroll, and bookkeeping and tax services.

Online Payments
  • Between 1% and 3.4% + 30c per transaction
Payroll
  • Between $26 and $41 per month
Services
  • Between $149 per month and $1500 per year

FreshBooks & Wave Feature Comparison

Wave offers more features than FreshBooks, and their payroll feature was built in-house, whereas FreshBooks connects with Gusto for payroll services. A quick comparison list of each tool’s features is shown below.

FeatureFreshBooksWave
InvoicingYesYes
Expense TrackingYesYes
Accounting Reports~20~15
Vendor & Client CRMYesYes
PayrollYes - GustoYes
Project TrackingYesYes
Time TrackingYesYes
Receipt CaptureYesYes
Inventory ManagementNoYes - basic
Accounting & Bookkeeping ServicesNoYes
Business Bank AccountNoYes
Mobile ApplicationYesYes
Accountant AccessYesYes

Top Features: FreshBooks

The top features included with FreshBooks are invoicing, receipt capture, and project tracking. For a full description of what FreshBooks has to offer, check out the full FreshBooks review.

Invoicing

FreshBooks has one of the easiest invoicing features across accounting software tools. The first time you log onto the interface, FreshBooks will walk you through the process of creating and sending your first invoice.

FreshBooks Invoicing

You can send one-time invoices or schedule recurring invoices for repeat clients. For recurring invoices, you can set how many need to be sent, the sending schedule, and the issue dates.

Receipt Capture

When you purchase something for a business expense, you’ll be able to take a photo of the receipt directly from the FreshBook application and attach the image to your expense. This is a great feature that will enable you to easily provide proof of purchase.

Though the receipt capture is not quite as advanced as some competitors offer—some competitors’ features will pull data directly from the receipt and input it into your reports—it’s still helpful.

Projects and Time Tracking

Especially for those who have service-based businesses, where consultations or other projects will be completed for clients, the project management and time tracking feature with FreshBooks is extremely helpful. As you’ll see below, you can use a real-time timer to track the time spent on projects, or you can simply mark the hours you worked after the fact.

FreshBooks Time Tracking

Once a project is done, you can generate an invoice directly from this screen, where all information will be pulled to the invoice and you can send it with just a couple clicks.

Top Features: Wave

Wave offers basic accounting features, including invoicing, a dashboard, and expense tracking, as well as a few additional things like payroll and a business bank account. Wave also offers bookkeeping and tax services, which FreshBooks does not. Because Wave offers more than FreshBooks, it may be worth it to start with Wave if you don’t already have other systems in place, simply because Wave is more of a one-stop software. For a more in-depth overview of Wave’s features, check out the full Wave review.

Dashboard

Wave’s dashboard provides a high-level overview of your business transactions, from your profit and loss statement to accounts payable. From this dashboard, you can also connect your business bank accounts, track overdue payments, and manage all invoices.

Wave Dashboard

Services

Wave Advisors is Wave’s bookkeeping and tax service, which is available for an additional monthly fee. Starting at $149 per month, Wave’s advisors will do your books every month after a free consultation.

Wave Advisors

Because FreshBooks doesn’t offer this type of service, it’s notable that Wave has it. Particularly if you do not have an in-house bookkeeper at your company, this is a great way to make sure everything is on track for your accountant to get documents ready for tax season.

Reporting

Wave offers around 15 accounting reports, which cover all the basics for accounting and financial reports. FreshBooks does offer a few more than this, and though neither option gives a particularly broad range of reports, it’s enough for you and your accountant to keep track of finances.

Wave Balance Sheet

Bottom Line

Freshbooks is a modern yet basic platform that’s ideal for freelancers who have service-based businesses. If you need relatively entry-level functionality combined with the ultimate ease of use, FreshBooks is a great option.

Compared with FreshBooks, Wave is more advanced and has more features to offer. Both are relatively the same regarding the user experience and ease of use, though we found it very difficult to get in touch with someone from Wave’s support team. However, in spite of this, we recommend Wave for all small businesses that need moderate power and functionality. The platform can support all types of small businesses.

  • FreshBooks is a reliable starter option for freelancers who need to quickly track projects and invoice clients.
  • Wave is a user-friendly freemium accounting system for those who want a broader range of features like a business bank account and payroll.

If you’re interested, visit FreshBooks or Wave today to get started.

Katelyn Anderson

Katelyn is a Junior Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where she conducts in-depth analyses of technology markets & products and writes software-related content. She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in English and Psychology. Her main areas of interest are content creation, user experience, and search engine optimization. You can connect with Katelyn on LinkedIn.

Katelyn is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Accounting software
  • Live chat software
  • Vacation rental software

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