Billing and invoice software can help you create custom invoices, bill your clients, track customer information and manage expenses. While many of these programs offer additional accounting features, most freelance or contract workers primarily need just invoicing and basic CRM tools, not a full accounting software suite. Though free services can provide invoice templates, these paid services do more. Most notably, they help you get paid faster by supporting online payment processing, recurring billing and subscription payments for services.
We researched the best billing and invoice software for small business. Our recommendations are below.
Benefits of billing and invoice software
Most billing and invoice software is now cloud-based and is available for a low monthly subscription fee, rather than a one-time purchase of traditional software. This allows you to send invoices via email — in addition to regular mail — and accept online payments. Billing and invoice software offers other benefits, too, including that it:
- Creates professional, branded invoices
- Tracks time and expenses
- Allows online payment processing
- Includes basic customer relationship management (CRM)
How we evaluated billing and invoice software
Our site Business.com has been testing and reviewing accounting software for nearly 10 years. This year the TTR business team tested 10 invoice and billing services extensively. The 10 products were evaluated for ease-of-use in routine tasks such as creating invoices, customer files and services. Testers also emailed invoices and evaluated their appearance as a customer might view a received invoice. Payment processing options were also evaluated.
We looked at their tests results and spoke with the reviewers about their findings. We chose three products that we found to be low-priced and that had easy-to-use, introductory versions. These programs all have the ability to create invoices easily, offer time-saving features and most importantly, help you get paid faster.
Best billing and invoice software
All versions support unlimited invoices, process card payments, and include time and invoice tracking
FreshBooks is simple to use and supports unlimited invoices, expenses and time tracking. However, many plans support a limited number of clients. The introductory plan supports only five customers, but unlimited plans are available. FreshBooks takes billing to the next level and supports auto-processing of recurring invoices so you can collect monthly fees. Customers can also pay directly from their emailed invoices, even if they pay in foreign currencies. This is a good choice for those who bill by time since it has excellent tools for tracking billable and nonbillable hours. Mobile features include the ability to submit receipts using your mobile phone's camera. Businesses that track time and expenses, such as independent contract workers or consultants, will benefit most from this service. Go here to read a full review of FreshBooks on Business.com.
Low monthly rates, tracks income and expenses, advanced-reporting options
QuickBooks (QB) is a familiar small business staple. It is much easier to use than it was in the past, and starter online versions begin at only $10 per month. All versions track income, expenses and customer contact information. It syncs to your bank accounts and creates branded estimates and invoices easily. It is compatible with nearly all other business solutions, including POS software and TurboTax. Since so many businesses use this system, community support is extensive and helpful. Plus, all accountants know how to use the software and can help you set up your chart of accounts using a free QuickBooks version. [Go here to read a full review of QuickBooks on Business.com.]
Compatible with other Zoho business solutions, has low-cost advanced plans, supports customer portals
Zoho offers a free version that supports invoicing of up to 25 customers. Even the professional version is only $30 per month and supports unlimited everything. Zoho invoicing is simple to use and works with other Zoho products, such as the Zoho CRM, sales, email and project-tracker services. Zoho's billing and invoice software supports multiple languages and currencies and will even send your invoice out by snail mail if desired. The interface is clean and simple to navigate. This is a good choice for small businesses looking to take the next step forward, because it works with Google Apps, which many businesses already use. It also works with mobile iOS and Android devices, including the Apple Watch.
Another popular accounting solution worth mentioning is Xero, though Business.com did not cover this service in its billing and invoice software reviews. It is a basic accounting system that can handle invoicing easily and is compatible with over 500 business apps and 160 currencies.
Offers low-cost starter accounts, supports unlimited users, prepares W-2s and 1099s
Xero is an extremely popular online accounting solution that offers starter accounts for less than $10 per month. It easily creates branded quotes and invoices, tracks bills and expenses, and prepares tax forms. This online billing software works with over 500 other business solutions, including CRM, time trackers and point-of-sale systems. While Xero is suitable for contract or freelance workers, it also has features to help employers process payroll and manage taxes. It can convert QuickBooks files, which is helpful if you are looking for an alternative to QB. Go here to read a full review of Xero on Business.com.
If you need a bit more than simple invoicing, or are interested in accounting software, see Business News Daily's review of the Best Accounting Software for Small Business to learn more.