What is Wave?
Wave is a freemium accounting software that’s ideal for service-based small businesses. The accounting reports, invoicing, and business bank accounts are offered for free; services like payroll and bookkeeping must be purchased. With a streamlined dashboard, easy-to-navigate interface, and add-on features like payroll and tax filing, Wave is a fantastic choice for any small business with standard accounting needs.
Table of Contents
- What is Wave?
- Wave Review Summary
- Wave Pricing & Cost
- Wave Features
- Wave Customer Support
- Wave vs. Competitors
- Is Wave Right For You?
Wave Review Summary
Wave was founded in 2009 by James Lochrie and Kirk Simpson. After originally offering just accounting software, the company has introduced Wave Payroll, Wave Payments, Wave Invoicing, and Wave Advisors over the last 10 years. After being acquired by H&R Block in 2019, Wave launched Wave Money, a full-service business bank account. Wave currently serves over 4 million users from 400,000 small businesses.
There’s no denying that Wave is one of the most popular accounting software tools on the market, and that’s largely due to its low cost and fantastic user interface. The core software tools—accounting, invoicing, and the business bank account—are entirely free, while other tools like payment processing, payroll, and services come at a monthly fee. We’ll break down those costs later.
Customers we interviewed were extremely pleased with how approachable the tool is given its low cost and ease of use. Cole Torres, the owner of Local Eye Media, noted that Wave is particularly advantageous for companies that provide services rather than products.
During our testing, we found Wave to be extremely easy to use compared with tools like QuickBooks and Zoho Books, though also less advanced as well. We also noted that the application offers a ton of step-by-step self-help options within the dashboard, which will help those who are newer to accounting software tools.
We broadly recommend Wave to all small businesses. The software will help you perform basic accounting and bookkeeping functions for free, while the paid products and services are flexible and will allow you to choose what you’d like to pay for. If you need a tool that’s more advanced, or if you have customers and suppliers in many different countries, we recommend opting for QuickBooks Online or Zoho Books, which are less user-friendly but offer more functionality.
Wave Pricing & Cost
Wave offers their accounting software, invoicing features, and business bank accounts for free. Other features and services, such as payroll and bookkeeping services, come at varying costs of $20 per month to $1500 per year, which are broken down in the table below.
|Online Payments||Between 1% and 3.4% + 30c per transaction|
|Payroll||Between $26 and $41 per month|
|Services||Between $149 per month to $1500 per year|
Wave’s Key Features
This review will walk through the features and services offered by Wave. We’ll discuss the product’s usability, customer service, and any major benefits or drawbacks of the software. We’ll also show real images of the software to give you an idea of what it’s like to use Wave.
Wave’s dashboard provides an excellent overview of your business financials. You’ll see a graph of your cash flow, profit and loss report, and expense breakdown by year or month. The dashboard also shows a list view of your net income and payables and owing. This section is particularly useful because you can not only view each option, but also drill down into the reports and change the date range of reports.
Invoicing & Sales
Wave’s invoicing feature is as straightforward as it gets, with three pre-built invoice templates to choose from. Businesses can customize invoices to their preference with company logos. Along with invoicing capabilities, Wave offers estimates, recurring invoices, customer statements, and your list of products and services.
To create and send invoices with Wave, you’ll choose from three templates, add your logo, customize colors to fit your business, and add customers and line items with just a few clicks. Once you’ve customized the invoice, you can save it as a draft and preview before sending to your customers. When we sent invoices, they were delivered promptly to customers’ inboxes.
Once you’ve approved and sent the invoice, you can schedule automatic payment reminders for the customer for 3 days, 7 days, and 14 days after the due date. You can make any invoice recurring for repeat customers, send invoices via email or shareable link, and turn on online payments for customers to pay directly from their invoice.
When customers have received an invoice, they’ll be able to view it as a web page and will also receive invoice as a PDF to save for their records.
Wave allows you to add customer contact information manually or to import your list of contacts from Google Contacts and via CSV file. The customers’ names, phone numbers, saved forms of payment, and overdue balances will be displayed in a list view, allowing you to easily check if your customers owe your business anything.
While this does not replace the need for a full CRM system, it is valuable to have these very basic CRM capabilities in Wave.
With Wave, you can accept payment via credit card or bank payments. Your customers can choose to pay whichever way they prefer, or you can mandate which form of payment you’d like to accept on each invoice.
One unique feature of Wave’s is the ability to add a “checkout link” to your website, which allows your clients to pay without an invoice. This isn’t found in all other accounting software tools, so it’s definitely advantageous if you offer products or services that customers can order from your company website.
Wave’s expenses section breaks down sales categories into bills, receipts, products and services purchases, and a vendor CRM to keep track of your list of vendor contacts.
When you upload receipts, Wave will automatically calculate the sales tax for that particular receipt. Additionally, Wave creates an automatic expense transaction when receipts are uploaded. Bills look much like invoices, and are kept in a list view with information like the purchase and due dates, the vendor, and payment status.
Accounting & Reports
Within the Accounting tab, Wave allows you to track transactions, reconcile accounts, and keep a chart of accounts. You’ll also be able to hire a bookkeeper directly through Wave, or give your current accountant or bookkeeper access to your account.
Wave offers fewer reports than its competitors, but includes the most crucial reports for any business. This includes reports across four categories: tax reports, profit and loss reports, customer and vendor reports, and balance reports.
|Profit and Loss Reports|
|Customer and Vendor Reports|
|Account balance reports|
Below is an image of what the Balance Sheet report looks like. The reports are composed of line items rather than graphs, but this is still a helpful and simple layout of company financials.
Chart of Accounts
The chart of accounts tracks your assets, equity, liabilities, income, and expenses. For each category, you’ll add associated accounts and Wave will track the goings-on in your accounts.
With Wave, you can manage employee payroll with features like tax form generation, time sheets, and more. While this section comes at an additional cost, it’s probably worth the investment to have all company functions recorded within one software tool. It’s also a plus given that not all accounting software tools offer this functionality.
Wave offers bookkeeping services with Wave Advisors. You can opt to get an expert to coach you on your books or hire someone to do your books for you. While some businesses may not need this feature if they already have bookkeepers or accountants, this is a great offering for small businesses who need guidance.
To determine the best option for you, you’ll fill out a quick quiz to determine your needs and coaching preferences. From there, Wave will provide you with the ability to sign up with their Advisors.
Tax Filing Service
If you use H&R Block to file your taxes, you can import information from Wave to make tax filing more straightforward. Pricing varies depending on your business type and you can choose to file taxes yourself or have a Wave tax advisor assist with filing.
Wave also built a COVID-19 help section into their software, which allows businesses to see tax relief options for their business. They also created a helpful resource section with links to government relief sites.
Wave Customer Support
Unfortunately, it’s notably difficult to get in touch with Wave’s customer support team. There is a live chat widget with a chatbot within each account, which can be helpful for basic questions. However, the chatbot makes it extremely difficult to get in touch with a real person from Wave’s team, as the bot will continuously route you to the Help Center rather than putting you in touch with customer support. Customers can submit a support ticket over email if they can’t get an answer with the chatbot.
|Customer Support Channels||Email, Chatbot|
|Other Support Resources||Blog, Help Center, Community Discussion Page|
|Application Status Page||Yes|
Wave Alternatives & Competitors
Wave is very similar to FreshBooks, another user-friendly and modern accounting software. It also competes with Xero and QuickBooks, though it’s less nuanced than those tools.
For one-to-one software comparisons, check out the following articles:
Is Wave Right For You?
Wave is a fantastic freemium accounting software tool that’s ideal for freelancers and small businesses. Customers we interviewed were extremely pleased with the tool, especially given the value it offers for free. However, we did note that the customer support team is hard to get in touch with, and Wave’s chatbot can be frustrating to deal with.
This is definitely not the right software for you if you’re a large business with advanced needs regarding inventory management. For more advanced tools that will serve larger product-based businesses, look to Zoho Books or QuickBooks Online.
If you are interested in trying Wave, sign up for free today.