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Updated Mar 18, 2024

Melio Accounting Software

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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Editors Score:9/10

With options to add bills manually, in bulk or automatically via QuickBooks and Xero integrations, Melio’s free ACH bank payment tools streamline accounts payable management. The exceptionally user-friendly interface is just the cherry on top.

Plus Sign Pros
  • Melio makes it hassle-free to store, organize and review your outstanding bills, and it’s just as easy to schedule payments or view paid bills.
  • Unlike most accounting software, Melio doesn’t charge monthly fees, and its ACH bank transfers are entirely free.
  • Unlike most accounting software, Melio doesn’t charge monthly fees, and its ACH bank transfers are entirely free.
Minus Sign Cons
  • Melio only offers features for paying vendor bills and accepting customer payments rather than including a full suite of accounting tools.
  • You can’t create custom-branded invoices directly from within Melio.
  • You must store a vendor’s contact information in Melio for the program’s optical character recognition (OCR) tools to pull it from the bills you upload.

Looking for more options?

For more options, check out the rest of Business News Daily’s picks for the The Best Business Accounting Software Services of 2024.

The definition of accounting includes tracking your finances, a process that can get disorganized and overwhelming when you have numerous bills to pay. Smart accounts payable (A/P) management counters this challenge and requires clean, crisp accounting software that stores bills and allows you to quickly pay them. 

Although most of the best accounting software includes this functionality, Melio’s A/P suite stands out because it’s one of only two core features. Melio’s design directs you right to its exceptionally user-friendly A/P tools, standouts among which are entirely free ACH bank transfers. Plus, there are no monthly fees, and Melio offers half a dozen bill payment methods. We found it immediately clear upon testing Melio that it’s the best program for A/P management and a vital complement to any accounting platform.

Melio Editor's Rating:

9 / 10

Affordable pricing
10/10
Free trial
10/10
Robust integrations
7.5/10
Invoicing and bill pay
10/10
Mobile app
7.5/10

Why Melio Is Best for Free Accounts Payable

Melio’s entirely free ACH bank payment suite and exceptionally user-friendly interface tremendously streamline accounts payable management. The platform is dedicated to accounts payable management and, to a lesser extent, accounts receivable, and this shows in the Melio experience. When you log in to Melio, you’ll immediately be directed to the Pay module, where you’ll see an incredibly well-organized, action-oriented inbox containing your outstanding bills. 

You can enter bills into Melio manually, bulk-add PDFs or import them from QuickBooks or Xero. In fact, if you use an accounting program other than Xero, we’d say that Melio is a must-have. It streamlines the organization, scheduling and payment of bills in ways more intuitive and navigable than most full-scale accounting programs.

FYIDid you know

Although we love how smoothly Melio organizes bills, expedites payments and stores records, it may be redundant for Xero users. That’s because Xero’s accounting software is our top pick for bill pay. Read our Xero review to learn more.

Usability

We love that Melio is so clean and easy to navigate, though we fully expected this to be the case. After all, Melio is narrowly focused on A/P and, to a lesser extent, A/R. As such, it offers only so many tools, so a complicated user interface would be a shock – and Melio’s experience is exactly the opposite. We find that it’s among the very easiest programs to use and navigate, not just within accounting software, but across all types of business technologies.

Although there’s no way to customize Melio’s layout, we don’t see any reason why you’d need to do so. There are only four main modules – two each for A/P and A/R – and you can reach them in one click at any time. They’re all accessible via icons on the left-hand side, and you’ll immediately see all the tools within a module when you open it. We found there to be absolutely no learning curve involved in getting started with Melio and continuing to use it effectively.

Melio interface

The Melio interface puts all four core modules, as well as the support and settings modules, within reach the moment you log in. Source: Melio

That said, should you face obstacles, you can easily get support – there’s a module for that on the left-hand side too. Within this module is a searchable help database where you can learn about Melio features, including recurring payments, integrations and the mobile app. Speaking of integrations, we found Melio’s two integrations (QuickBooks and Xero) to be outstanding. In particular, we felt that they unlocked more expedient and organized bill pay and vendor management within QuickBooks.

Melio’s Pay module also gives you the option to schedule or immediately make payments and quickly view all your scheduled or paid bills. Jump to the Vendors tab right below this module to see your open balance for each vendor alongside their preferred payment methods. This module takes one click to reach, as do the Get Paid and Customers modules that are home to Melio’s accounts receivable tools.

Melio Features

Bill storage and review

Upload bills via PDF, add them manually or import them via QuickBooks, and view all paid and scheduled bills.

Bill payment

Pay bills via free or same-day ACH bank transfer, instant transfer, card, or paper check.

Vendor storage and management

Store each of your vendors’ preferred payment methods, and request this information directly from vendors if you don’t already have it.

Pay over time

Through Melio’s partnership with Credit Key, you can pay bills via lines of credit with terms of one to 12 months.

Approval workflows

Introduce in-house staff or third-party accountants or bookkeepers into your Melio account to ensure thorough review before you approve and make payments.

Accounts receivable

View unsent, sent, in-progress and paid invoices, and create a custom payment link to send your customers.

From getting money out the door to pulling it in from your customers, Melio covers your entire cash flow. We were especially impressed with the below features.

Bill Storage and Review

While testing Melio, we were enthusiastic about how easy the platform made it to manually add or automatically pull bill data. Our favorite option for adding bills was importing them via QuickBooks, a process that was seamless and automatic. We liked manual entry the least but still found it easy given Melio’s no-fuss interface.

Did You Know?Did you know

Year after year, we’ve chosen QuickBooks as the best accounting software for small businesses. Learn why via our QuickBooks accounting software review.

We ranked Melio’s PDF uploading of bills between QuickBooks sync and manual entry. The platform’s optical character recognition (OCR) tool accurately pulled almost all the information from our bills. That said, we were disappointed that we had to manually enter contact information for vendors we hadn’t yet added to our Melio contacts. We were only slightly disappointed, as it took mere seconds for us to add this information to our bills. 

Even if uploading our bills had taken a bit longer, it would’ve been worth it since Melio so deftly organizes outstanding and paid bills. We felt that Melio made it uniquely easy to review our accounts payable, and we particularly liked seeing our total balance due per vendor. We could view this balance by bill or across all bills, giving us a full picture of what we owed and to whom.

Bill Payment

It’s as easy to organize and review bills in Melio as it is to pay them. You can schedule payments right from the inbox you see upon login, and you can choose one of seven domestic payment options. ACH bank transfers through Melio are free, with paper checks, card payments, instant transfers, pay-over-time and all international transactions incurring fees. 

Naturally, we loved Melio’s free ACH payments, and we found the other options’ fees reasonable too. Melio clearly listed these fees when we considered paying via these other options, and we appreciated the transparency. 

Vendor Storage and Management

In Melio’s Vendors module, you can view each of your vendors and your open balances with them. You can also see your scheduled and paid amounts and number of payments for each, plus you can add a new bill through any vendor. We especially liked this feature since it eliminates the step of linking an uploaded bill to a vendor. 

Melio vendor balances

The Melio page for each of your vendors shows your scheduled, paid and outstanding balances while making it easy to add a new bill. Source: Melio

When you add a vendor in Melio, you’ll be asked whether the vendor prefers to receive payment via bank transfer or paper check. You’ll also see an option to ask the vendor their preference if you don’t know the answer. There’s also a button to indicate international payments, which come with a $20 fee.

We liked being able to ask vendors which payment methods they prefer right from within Melio. This removed common steps from the payment process while still getting our money where it needed to go.

Pay Over Time

Unique to Melio’s accounts payable tools is the ability to pay a bill over time. Melio powers this tool via its partnership with Credit Key, through which Melio offers a non-revolving line of credit in place of a one-time payment. You must apply for this line of credit when paying a bill, and if approved, you’ll have one to 12 months for repayment. 

We were especially excited about this feature. No other accounting programs we’ve reviewed offer anything like it, and it’s an excellent option for managing your finances when you’re low on cash. Of course, as with any loan, it’s not free, but it’s often highly affordable. In fact, a Melio representative told us that one-month loans come with a 2.55 percent fixed fee. This is lower than almost all the loan rates we’ve encountered when reviewing the best business loans. Melio’s lines of credit are among the lowest-risk loans we’ve encountered for repaying debts.

Approval Workflows

You can set up owners, admins and accountants within Melio to approve and sign off on payments before you submit them. We immediately saw how this feature could be useful for a finance team using QuickBooks but seeking streamlined accounts payable management through Melio. With these approval workflows, QuickBooks teams can work in Melio without forgoing that platform’s robust access control tools. We’re not as convinced that this feature is valuable for very small teams, but it certainly doesn’t detract from these users’ experiences.

Melio workflows

With Melio’s approval workflows, owners, admins and accountants can all sign off before payments are scheduled. Source: Melio

Accounts Receivable

You can see all your unsent, sent, in-progress and paid invoices in Melio. You can also generate a custom link through which customers can pay you. As such, Melio doubles as an accounts receivable platform, not just an accounts payable tool. 

Melio invoices

It’s easy to toggle among unsent, sent, in-progress and paid invoices within the Melio interface. Source: Melio

However, unlike with most accounting software, you can’t use Melio to generate invoices. Instead, you must add these invoices manually or from your accounting software. We thus felt that Melio is a better fit for accounts payable than accounts receivable, but it’s far from bad for the latter. In fact, you can add your logo and branding to the payment requests, links and emails you send through Melio. This feature is part and parcel of the best invoicing tools within accounting programs, and we were happy to see it in Melio.

TipTip

For the best possible invoicing experience from within an accounting platform, choose FreshBooks. Read our FreshBooks review to learn why, year after year, we’ve enjoyed FreshBooks’ invoicing module more than that of any other accounting program.

Melio Costs

It’s entirely free to create a Melio account and pay bills via ACH bank transfer. Naturally, we love this about Melio since most accounting programs charge monthly fees. This pricing structure also means you don’t need to seek out a free trial – signing up for Melio inherently means you’re trying it for free. There are also no extra costs to set up your Melio account, nor are there user caps, per-user charges or add-ons.

Instead, Melio makes its money via fees on transactions beyond traditional ACH bank transfers. Below is Melio’s pricing for other transactions:

  • Same-day ACH bank transfer: 1 percent (at most $30). A Melio representative told us that, if you use this option, payments made after 2 p.m. ET arrive the next day instead.
  • Instant transfer: 1.5 percent (at most $50). A Melio representative told us that these transfers arrive in minutes and go through even on bank holidays.
  • Card payments: 2.9 percent. Many of the best credit card processors charge exactly this rate as well as an additional flat fee – which, excitingly, Melio does not charge.
  • Paper checks sent by mail: $1.50. The first two checks you send through Melio are free.
  • Fast checks: $20. These checks arrive at their destination within three business days.
  • International payments: $20. Only U.S.-based Melio users can make international payments, and bank transfer and Mastercard are the only supported payment methods.

Melio Setup

As an extremely user-friendly program with a narrow set of features, Melio lends itself naturally to easy setup. You can sign up for an account via Google single sign-on or via your Intuit account if you use QuickBooks. From there, you’ll be asked whether you’re using Melio for your business or if you’re an accountant using Melio for other businesses. After that, you’ll add your basic contact info, company doing business as (DBA) name and address, industry and monthly bill pay volume. 

From there, all that’s left to do is start adding bills and vendors. Each bill or vendor takes at most a minute to add, and we got through our full Melio setup in well under half an hour. This was less time than it took us to get set up with several other accounting platforms.

Melio Customer Service

Melio’s support tool is among its left-hand-side modules, and we liked that this makes it reachable in one click upon login. The tool initially directs to a list of frequently asked questions and their answers, but you have to scroll down to contact Melio. Although we figured this out quickly, we wished that contact options appeared immediately. 

Melio's contact tool

You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find Melio’s contact tool, but the popular help topics that appear at first are helpful too. Source: Melio

Melio offers the ability to submit a help request via email or live chat. A Melio representative told us that the company’s support agents are available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. The team is unavailable on federal holidays.

We were concerned to see that Melio’s Better Business Bureau page is littered with negative reviews about its customer service. Of course, negative online reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, as they often come from angry customers shooting from the hip. You may nevertheless want to avoid Melio if you need robust support, though the platform is so easy to use that support might be unnecessary.

Melio Drawbacks

Melio’s narrow set of features at once results in its excellent user experience and its biggest drawback: It’s not a full-scale accounting program. You can’t use it for other core accounting software functions, such as financial reporting, tax management, and receipt and mileage tracking. When you use Melio, you’ll always need to use it alongside a full-scale accounting program like that described in our Sage 50 review.

TipTip

If you’re drawn to Melio for its lack of monthly fees, consider using it alongside Wave Accounting or Zoho Books. Wave Financial is always free to use, and Zoho Books is free if your annual revenue is under $50,000. Check out our Wave Financial review and Zoho Books review to learn more.

Another minor drawback of Melio is that you can’t create invoices from scratch within the platform’s accounts receivable suite. That said, this disadvantage is pretty minor since you can easily import invoices from your accounting platform or upload them as PDFs. Melio’s tools for adding your branding to payment links, emails and requests make up for this drawback as well. In general, any disadvantages we identified within Melio were similarly minor and made up for by other features.

Methodology

When we sought out the best accounting software for free accounts payable, we looked for programs with a strong focus on bill pay and management. We prioritized options with simple user interfaces through which looking at bills and paying them in just a few clicks was easy. 

After extensive research, analysis, and comparison against similar platforms such as Plooto, we recommend Melio as the best accounting software for free accounts payable. Our research involved setting up our own Melio account, using the platform, reporting on our experience and reading online reviews from real customers.

Melio FAQ

Melio offers free business software for paying business bills via free ACH transfers and six other payment methods that come with fees. It does not include most features associated with full-scope accounting software.

The amount of time it takes for Melio payments to arrive varies by payment method. Instant transfers arrive in mere minutes, whereas paper checks may take up to seven business days to arrive. Melio’s free ACH bank transfers take three business days to arrive, with payments scheduled at or before 9 p.m. ET processed the same day.

In most cases, there is no limit on how much money you can send via Melio. That said, a Melio representative told us that there are processing limits on expedited ACH payments. This limit varies by Melio user and is based on the user’s transaction history with Melio.

Overall Value

We recommend Melio for…

  • Businesses that need entirely free ways to manage and pay bills.
  • Businesses seeking ways to pay their most expensive bills over time rather than all at once.
  • Businesses looking for the simplest possible interface for managing and paying bills online.

We don’t recommend Melio for…

  • Businesses currently using, or planning to use, Xero for bill pay.
  • Businesses seeking to manage and pay bills from one and only one full-scope accounting platform.
  • Businesses hesitant to sign up for a service associated with negative customer support experiences.
author image
Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.

Looking for more options?

For more options, check out the rest of Business News Daily’s picks for the The Best Business Accounting Software Services of 2024.

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