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FreshBooks Review: Best Small Business Invoicing Software

FreshBooks
Credit: Freshbooks

After much research and analysis of accounting software, we recommend Freshbooks as the best small business invoicing software in 2018.

FreshBooks is our best pick for small business invoicing software because in addition to making it extremely easy to create invoices, it includes advanced features like time and expense tracking, and it's competitively priced.

Like other accounting software, it offers several pricing plans. These plans are based on the number of active clients you're working with, though the lowest tier lacks some of the features included in mid- and top tiers. If you choose to subscribe annually rather than monthly, you receive a 10 percent discount.

  • The Lite plan costs $15 per month and allows you to bill up to five clients. This tier doesn't include proposals, automatic payment reminders, recurring invoices or the ability to charge late fees.
  • The Plus plan costs $25 per month and allows you to bill up to 50 clients.
  • The Premium plan costs $50 per month and allows you to bill up to 500 clients.

If you want to add employees to the system, it costs an extra $10 per month per employee, though you can add contractors at no additional cost. If you have more than five employees, you can contact the company for special pricing.

The difference between employee and contractor access is that employees are added to your account and can view and create invoices and expenses, view the dashboard and generate reports. Contractor accounts are separate from yours, and these users can only view the projects you've added them to, track time toward those projects, and invoice you for their time.

There's no additional cost to use the mobile app, though you need to subscribe to one of the paid plans mentioned above to use it.

One unique aspect of FreshBooks is that it supports financial education for college students by offering free accounts and classroom materials to college-level educators and their students.

FreshBooks describes itself as a "simple and intuitive" cloud-based accounting software that's easily accessible across all your devices. To see just how easy it is to use, we decided to find out for ourselves. Signing up for a trial account took just a few minutes. The signup process doesn't require a credit card – you simply enter your company name, first name, last name, email address and password – then check your email and click a link to verify the setup.

The home screen has a clean layout, with navigation to everything you need on one screen. The top bar highlights your outstanding balance, so you don't have to dig around for it. The left sidebar has easy access buttons for the dashboard and key functions, such as invoices, estimates, clients, expenses, projects and time tracking. It also has a Create New button, a shortcut that lets you quickly create new invoices, estimates, client profiles and expenses. Overall, we found the FreshBooks as easy and intuitive to use as the company claims.

To learn more about what FreshBooks can do, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial or check out the tutorial videos on the company's website.

When we asked small business owners what they sought most in accounting software, the consensus was that it should save time. Here are some FreshBooks features that can help you accomplish your accounting tasks faster:

Invoicing. You can easily create, send and manage invoices from any computer with internet access or from the app when you're using your phone or tablet.

  • Schedule the system to automatically send recurring invoices, payment reminders and add late fees to past-due invoices, either as a percentage or flat fee.
  • Customize the invoice by changing the template, font and color. Add notes and terms. Drag and drop line items to rearrange them. Add a discount, deposit request or payment schedule with just a few clicks.
  • After your invoices are sent, you can see when clients view your invoices, so you don't have to wonder whether the invoice was received or got lost in a spam folder.
  • If you provide your clients project estimates or proposals, you can convert them to invoices in two clicks rather than creating new invoices from scratch.

Faster payments. When you set up FreshBooks Payments or connect your Stripe account and send invoices to clients electronically, you can accept credit card payments through the system, allowing your clients to pay online by clicking a payment option on the invoice. Each invoice records how much your client has paid and whether there are any outstanding balances so you don't have to manually track this information.

Mobile app. Available for both iOS and Android phones and tablets, FreshBooks' app includes nearly all of the features found on the browser version of its software, allowing you to accomplish most of your accounting tasks on the go.

FreshBooks offers both phone and email support. Its customer support representatives are friendly and knowledgeable. When we first called the company as a small business looking for accounting software, the representative we spoke with picked up our call promptly and answered our many questions patiently, without pressuring us to upgrade our trial account. However, 24/7 support isn't available; hours are Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. It also lacks a live chat support option.

If you need help while using FreshBooks, you can find the company's contact information by clicking on the Help link, saving you the time it would take to look it up on the company's website.

FreshBooks offers a collection of helpful resources on its website so you can learn about the program and find answers to your questions on your own. These include a Getting Started guide, FAQs, a blog with helpful accounting and business tips, knowledgebase and a free get-started webinar.

This accounting software is best suited for freelancers and service- or project-based agencies, because it includes time-tracking and project management tools. Like other top accounting software, integrations are available.

Expense tracking. Using the app, you can photograph receipts and log them as expenses. You can then categorize them, connect them to transactions imported from your bank account or credit cards, and mark them as billable so you can add them to invoices. Expenses can be attached to projects or clients, so you can see what you're spending, helping you stay on budget.

Project management and time tracking. FreshBooks can serve as the hub for your projects. After inviting contributors, clients and employees to projects, you can share files, discuss the project and set deadlines. Your contributors and employees can track their time, allowing you to easily monitor the hours spent on a project. You can also bill your client for hours tracked and expenses incurred on their project.

Integrations. More than 60 apps and integrations are available for FreshBooks, allowing you to add features or connect this accounting software with other business programs you already use for analytics, scheduling, marketing, tax help and more.

Although FreshBooks offers the best invoicing for small businesses, it isn't without its drawbacks.

  • It lacks vendor and inventory-management and purchase-ordering features, so it isn't well suited for businesses with inventory.
  • You can't view reports or manage team members from the app. While you could use the browser on your phone or tablet to access your FreshBooks account to do this, it's inconvenient if you're on the go.
  • Another drawback of FreshBooks' mobile app is that it isn't yet available for the Apple Watch or Android-powered smartwatches.
  • With only two templates and two font choices, it has fewer customization options than most of its competitors.

Ready to choose accounting software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.

Lori Fairbanks

Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as an editor for Creating Keepsakes magazine and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She joined Purch in 2014 as a senior writer for Top Ten Reviews and now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily.