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8 Best QuickBooks Alternatives in 2024

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Updated on:
December 12, 2022
December 18, 2023
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Many freelancers and other self-employed workers are waking up to the fact that, in order to run their operations smoothly and to their greatest financial potential, they need some assistance. A helping hand, such as bookkeeping and small business accounting software, will simplify, organize, and streamline those tasks.

The QuickBooks desktop enterprise software is one of the oldest, best-known brands, which is how it became many freelancers' first online accounting software. Some ended up loving it and sticking with it. In contrast, others realized that QuickBooks' features are either too inflexible or simply not the right fit for their particular needs and started looking for something "similar but different."

If you're considering alternatives to your "QuickBooks Self-Employed" subscription, read on to see how other top brands stack up against the competition.

Note: If you want to try the top rated alternative to QuickBooks self-employed, try Bonsai Tax. Our software typically saves users $5,600 from their tax bill by automatically recording and tracking their tax deductions. Try a 7-day free trial today.

The Best QuickBooks Alternatives For Freelancers & Small Business

Here are some QuickBooks online alternatives that also provide independent contractor-oriented software solutions, beginning with the #1 product suite for freelancers.

1. Bonsai: The Overall Best Freelancer Digital Product

Bonsai is the favorite digital business tool/solution among freelancers and a top choice for accommodating independent contractor CRM and accounting requirements. It is designed to be a one-stop-shop software/digital space for all independent contractor business operations.

The software provides a secure, cloud-based online account where a busy freelancer can meet multiple professional, administrative, and accounting software needs within one super-user-friendly interface. In addition, it offers a wide array of other independent worker necessities, which include versatile proposal and contract templates for unlimited invoices, time tracking, project management, and other customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

Sign up and enjoy the 7-day free trial NOW!

Bonsai All-In-One Freelancer Product Platform Features

  • Time and project management tools: Bonsai will keep you on track with billable hours and the numerous tasks you juggle.
  • Customizable templates for proposals, contracts, invoices, etc.: Bonsai offers many templates for all freelancer administrative, communication, custom invoices, and other agreement materials to choose from and customize.
  • Features are integrated with each other: The personal and business information you enroll into the system and the invoices/contracts/proposals you compose within your account can be integrated, with other projects and tasks and time-tracking functions, and shared with collaborators in real-time.

The Bonsai Tax Accounting/Bookkeeping App Features For Freelancers

For $10 a month, you can add the Bonsai Tax application to your Bonsai all-in-one suite and enjoy the following integrated functions:

  • Track income (without a ledger template form)
  • Track, organize, and sort business expenses (this is necessary for future tax deductions!)
  • Bank accounts/credit card data auto-imported in real-time.
  • The best receipt scanner app for tracking expenses that don't come out of credit cards/bank account
  • On-demand financial reports ("profit and loss") for ongoing budget tracking
  • Quarterly tax estimates are generated based on income and expense enrollment (so you never underestimate how much tax you owe to the IRS!)
  • Annual help with filling out and filing tax returns (with all the previously enrolled data auto-imported into the tax forms)

The Bonsai App Supporting Features

The Bonsai CRM/accounting/bookkeeping software is very easy to use and comes with the following assurances:

  • Excellent customer support: Bonsai customer service can be reached by phone and email, with an extensive online "help" page and an online chat support feature available to paid customers.
  • 100% accuracy guarantee: Sleep easier knowing your tax calculations game is on point. No guesswork and no need to use a manual expense tracker template.
  • Cloud-based app: There is never a need to download anything to your device: as long as you have an internet connection, you can access your Bonsai online account.
  • Lets you do away with paper clutter: Since you can store all your receipts for taxes, recurring invoices, and other paperwork in a safe and secure digital cloud account, you can do away with the old-fashioned pen-and-paper method and toss all those hard copies in the recycling bin.
  • Use it on any device: Bonsai is available as computer software for Mac and PC and a mobile accounting app for Android and iOS smartphones.
  • Comes with a free trial: If you are unsure if the Bonsai freelance toolkit fits your needs and user experience, you can try it for free for two weeks (14 days) to find out for yourself.
  • Freebie resources galore: While it does not come in a free version, Bonsai offers a ton of free templates for invoices, contracts, proposals, and other useful materials, as well as a free accounting software with a self-employed tax estimate calculator freelancers can use free of charge on the company website.

‍The Bonsai Bookkeeping/CRM Software Is Excellent – Best For Freelancers/Small Businesses

Bonsai is not for everybody; it is specifically designed for freelancers, independent contractors, and other micro-businesses classified as "self-employed 1099 workers". It is integrated with financial tools that give you a comprehensive snapshot of your business's health, including income reports, tax reminders, and more.

Furthermore, Bonsai auto-generates invoices based on the proposals or contracts you created using this software, allowing you to collect hassle-free customer payments. Bonsai also tracks expenses, maximizes write-offs, estimates quarterly taxes, manages 1099s and helps save money!

Within the narrower niche of accounting software for freelancers, Bonsai digital toolkit/solution is unbeatable! Given all of the above-listed advanced features, Bonsai is a great alternative to QuickBooks online. Sign up for the free trial and experience Bonsai firsthand!

2. Expensify

Expensify is a good QuickBooks alternative with a user-friendly workspace. It makes it easier for people and businesses to keep track of their spending and other related data, which helps save time and effort that otherwise would be wasted just by documenting expenses.

Furthermore, this software is cloud-based and thus can be accessed via different devices, including Android and iOS. It is praised for its simplicity and user-friendliness, but it does run into issues with duplicate charges.

Here are some alternatives to Expensify.

Features & Pricing

  • Smart receipt scanning
  • Billing and invoicing
  • Expense management (tracking)
  • Customizable workflows
  • Time tracking
  • Robust integration
  • Automatic bank reconciliation
  • Custom expense reports

Expensify offers different sets of plans for individuals and businesses,

Business plan:

  • Collect Plan (Bundled): Starting at $10 per user/month
  • Control Plan (Bundled): Starting at $18 per user/month
  • Collect Plan (Unbundled): Starting at $20 per user /month
  • Control Plan (Unbundled): Starting at $36 per user /month

Individuals and Self-employed:

  • Track: $4.99 /month (25 SmartScans free per month)
  • Submit: $4.99 /month (25 SmartScans free per month)

Why we like it?

Expensify offers an easy-to-follow expense tracking and management system. It also has a friendly interface that allows users to set up and add categories for each department and the manager approval routing for each employee. The SmartScan feature allows employees to submit their eligible work expenses and receipts to get them reviewed and approved within seconds.

3. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is one of the biggest names in the accounting software niche. It was Founded in 2003 and is operated by Toronto-based 2ndSite Inc.

Similar to Bonsai, FreshBooks is a full-service product suite for small businesses, freelancers, and solopreneurs, and a good Quickbooks alternative, providing CRM templates (estimates, proposals, invoices, etc.), time tracking, income and expense recording/organizing, tax filing, etc. It also offers a comprehensive dashboard that is easy to navigate, with everything you need in one place.

Check out the best Freshbooks alternatives.

Features & Pricing

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Easy reconciliation of bank accounts
  • Time and project tracking
  • Seamless integrations
  • Invoicing software
  • Auto-categorizes business transactions
  • Free templates

Freshbooks offers a free 30-day trial and the following plans with 80% off for the first 4 months.

  • Lite plan: $17 /month
  • Plus plan: $30 /month
  • Premium plan: $55 /month
  • Select plan: Customize your plan to suit your needs

Why we like it?

Freshbooks provides a robust accounting software and an outstanding invoicing solution, simplifying financial management for service-based businesses, including solopreneurs and freelancers. The software makes it easy to stay organized, track expenses made, send invoices, and accept payments for new and growing businesses.

4. Xero

Xero is a tailored accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses, originally founded in New Zealand. It is known to be a comprehensive and reliable choice for bookkeeping software, making it a popular QuickBooks alternative among freelancers and small businesses.

However, to fully grasp its functionality and utilize the software effectively, users may experience a steep learning curve. It offers an attractive workspace with a clean design in finance-jargon-free language that also supports many plug-ins.

Features & Pricing

  • Project management
  • Data Analytics
  • Accurate financial reporting
  • Tracks your expenses
  • Bill payment
  • Offers integrations
  • Supports multiple currencies
  • Inventory tracking

Xero offers a 30-day free trial, and the following subscription plans with 50% off for the first 3 months,

  • Early: $15 /month
  • Growing: $42 /month
  • Established: $78 /month

Why we like it?

Xero is a reliable software backed by global cloud infrastructure, allowing access to users from anywhere, anytime. It supports 160+ currencies with multi-currency accounting, creates bills and invoices, and integrates users' banks with Xero so they can directly reconcile every transaction on a single platform.

5. Zoho Books

Released in 2011 by the Zoho Corporation headquartered in India, Zoho Books is among the top QuickBooks online alternatives offering accounting, CRM, HR, and other scalable administrative tools to help small businesses grow.

The software offers good customer support users can call directly, useful analytics, customizable reports, and a flexible workspace. Zoho also makes it easy for users to generate and send invoices, record expenses, and receive quick business insights.

Features & Pricing

  • CRM management
  • Bills and invoice generation
  • Project tracking
  • Inventory tools
  • Vendor and client portal
  • Expense tracking
  • Workflow automation

Zoho Books offers six subscription plans, including a forever free version with limited users and features.

  • Standard plan: $20 /month
  • Professional plan: $50 /month
  • Premium plan: $70 /month
  • Elite plan: $150 /month
  • Ultimate plan: $275 /month

Why we like it?

Zoho is one of the best free Quickbooks alternatives comprising almost everything required to run a small business. Its ability to automate tedious, error-prone accounting tasks, comprehensive and a friendly interface, integrations with other Zoho apps, and other accounting-related tools, are also major selling points.

6. Sage

Sage is an all-in-one business suite contender worth considering as an apt QuickBooks alternative. The software was UK-founded and was formerly known as Sage 50, but it was rebranded as Sage 50Cloud in 2021.

Sage 50Cloud is an all-round accounting software for small and medium companies. It offers many other useful features, such as a well-designed inventory management app, payroll, and HR operations. Sage business cloud accounting software also comprises other advanced features that are better suited for those that are more tech-savvy.

Features & Pricing

  • Invoicing and cashflow manager
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Project tracking
  • Microsoft 365 integration
  • Reporting and industry-specific features (construction, manufacturing, distribution, and more)

Sage50 price rates are as follows,

  • Pro Accounting: $58.92 per user /month
  • Premium Accounting: $96.58 per user /month
  • Quantum Accounting: $160 per user /month

Why we like it?

Sage accounting offers excellent accounting features, including daily accounting, accounts payable, and receivable, which helps you stay updated with all accounting processes. The software also provides enough flexibility to grow without upgrading certain numbers of users, employees, or items.

7. Wave

Wave is a Toronto-based free QuickBooks alternative designed for small businesses. The software was founded in 2009 and parented by H&R Block.

It is a financing software equipped with all the basic tools required for financial management for service-based businesses. Wave also offers a user-friendly interface with great workflow automation that automatically downloads and categorizes your transactions, so the users won't have to worry about doing it manually.

Clients praise the following features of Wave:

  • It's free forever (while Wave offers free accounting software options and invoicing digital services if you want to add payment or payroll transactions, there are pricing plans for those features).
  • A good set of accounting software products

Features & Pricing

  • User-friendly interface
  • Customizable templates
  • Invoicing
  • Payment and payrolls
  • Basic accounting tools

Unlike other finance or business management tools, Wave pricing plans are product-wise rather than packages.

  • Invoicing: $0
  • Accounting: $0
  • Payment: 2.9% + $0.60 pay-per-transaction
  • Mobile receipts: $8 /month
  • Payroll: $40 /month + $6 per employee/ contractor
  • Advisors: $149 /month

Why we like it?

Wave is a financial management tool that is simple to set up, making it the best choice for freelancers and small businesses. The software makes creating and sending invoices, quotes, and payments easier.

8. ZipBooks

ZipBooks is a Utah-based software released in 2017 that offers contractors and small businesses invoicing, time-tracking and accounting software. The new feature addition of Payroll integration makes the software useful for small businesses with employees.

However, ZipBooks software is only suited for service-based businesses because of the lack of an inventory management feature. In addition, ZipBooks offers a good selection of features under its free plan, making it another free QuickBooks alternative for small businesses.

Features & Pricing

  • Bank reconciliation
  • Customer portal /Vendor management
  • Bookkeeping and transaction tracking
  • Expense and Sales management
  • Workflow automation
  • Payment reminders
  • Invoicing
  • Time tracking
  • Overview reports

ZipBooks offers the following prices for its 4 subscription plans, respectively.

  • Starter: $0
  • Smarter: $15 /month
  • Sophisticated: $35 /month
  • Accountant: Custom pricing

Why we like it?

In addition to being one of the best free QuickBooks alternatives, ZipBooks is an excellent overall finance and accounting software. The software makes it easier to track all the small business finances, invoices, bills, payroll, and expenses in one platform.

How To Choose Accounting Software

Managing your business accounting and taxes makes all the difference in how well your business performs. Finding smart software to automate most of the labor on your behalf saves your energy and time.

There are a variety of alternatives to QuickBooks out there, and picking the right one can be overwhelming. However, knowing which features are must-haves and which are optional to your business and researching the latest accounting software/mobile app selection can help narrow down your selection process.

The good news is that, with modern technology, freelancers/small business owners can't go wrong with any of the above-mentioned QuickBooks alternatives, as they are all top-rated, respected accounting software. However, you do owe it to yourself and to your business to invest in the best-fitting business operating/accounting solution that provides the following features/ requirements:

  • It must be user-friendly and easy to set up and use.
  • Should have features that matter to your business needs.
  • The software must allow add-ons and third-party integrations that fit your business accounting requirements or already exist within your business processing.
  • It should be flexible/customizable enough as you need it to be.
  • It should be scalable for your anticipated future growth.
  • It must offer more than just accounting software- but additional features such as useful customer outreach, project management, time-tracking functions, etc.
  • It must fall within the price range you are comfortable with/can afford

The QuickBooks Online Service Is Good -- But So Are Its Competitors

There's no denying it: QuickBooks is one of the "granddaddies" of accounting/bookkeeping software in the industry, with four million accounts around the globe. Its popularity makes sense, as the software has been around in some form since 1983 (developed by Intuit financial software company in California).

In the modern world, however, the range of accounting software consumers is so great that one bookkeeping tool, however solid, cannot serve the needs and interests of every single customer. Different online tools cater to different business demographics and, hence, prioritize different features, interfaces, scalability, integrations, and price points, depending on the size, nature, and industry of the businesses targeted by each service.

Do I Need QuickBooks Self-Employed As A Freelancer?

Well, as a busy freelancer, you certainly need the help of some accounting software!

Now, whether it's QuickBooks, Bonsai, or any other competitors offering analogous digital online tools for accounting for freelancers is up to you to decide, depending on your unique entrepreneurial needs.

QuickBooks Self Employed Has Its Limitations

QuickBooks is a solid, time-tested choice of accounting software, but it's not equally well-suited for every individual contractor's business needs.

Furthermore, while QuickBooks Self Employed is primarily a bookkeeping/accounting software: it does not offer the same array of freelancer-centric "customer relationship management" (CRM) tools and templates, project management capabilities, or time-tracking aides offered by other software on the market -- ones specifically designed to let freelancers get all their accounting and administrative tasks handled in a single space.

QuickBooks Self Employed offers basic accounting software for self-employed (1099) workers, with basic income and expenses tracking tools (e.g. tax receipt organizing, business mileage tracking, calculating Schedule C deductions, generating expense and financial reports, calculating quarterly tax estimates, etc.) but it is mostly limited to finances, without much to offer in the way of assisting with the workload and the workflow of a small business.

Accounting Features To Look For In An Online Accounting App For Independent Contractors

If you are looking to switch from QuickBooks Self Employed to a similar software that's a better fit for your business dealings and challenges, take into consideration both, what's missing from your current software as well as the general concerns in shopping for accounting/bookkeeping solutions.

QuickBooks-Alternative Features

Some of QuickBooks Self Employed software's weaknesses include:

  • too basic/limited invoicing templates/options
  • online customer support lacking in solutions/usefulness
  • project management and team collaboration capabilities are not offered
  • difficulty in upgrading the existing QuickBooks Self Employed to the next-tier package (which would be to QuickBooks Online)
  • no general ledger/no system for double-entry accounting (to balance the debit/credit state of budget)
  • no ability to reconcile credit card/bank account data
  • while QuickBooks Online does offer a desktop version, QuickBooks Self Employed is only available in mobile/smartphone version.

So, if you have been missing those features in your QuickBooks experience, look for them in different accounting/bookkeeping apps -- just make sure that if you switch, you do not compromise on the features that you do value about QuickBooks.

When shopping around for accounting/bookkeeping software for your freelance business, it is useful to ask the following questions:

Are Plug-Ins Supported?

The majority of accounting apps will offer same or similar overlapping accounting features considered standard and necessary for any business, but it's a different story with plug-ins. Account management plug-ins allow businesses to develop/manage relationships with current and future clients: they collect/analyze consumer information, track accounts, notify/request feedback from clients, etc.

Some apps (like Xero) support many plug-ins while others don't: if you like to enhance your accounting experience with auxiliary functions, choose an app that allows for it.

Is It Customizable?

For simple, repetitive tasks and accounting, basic preset templates may do the trick, but freelancers juggling a variety of projects tailored specifically to boutique client requests may need to customize their proposals, contracts, invoices, and other customer relationship management documents to each job. Make sure to sign up for a software that gives you the amount of flexibility (or rigidity) you need for the most optimal bookkeeping experience (for example FreshBooks is known for how customizable their reports and invoices are).

Does The User Experience Do It For You?

It's not always about logic, but different software interfaces work differently for different clients. Certain familiar ways of organizing things, or recognizable template styles, or other visual patterns that appeal to us: these factors can put our minds at ease and let us relax with the tasks at hand.

Also, some apps may be offering cutting-edge accounting features and operations -- but the learning curve may be too steep and, hence, too daunting for a novice to take on. Sophisticated features are of no value to the users who can't get past the set-up screen (Bonsai, on the other hand, offers a variety of flexible features and is still incredibly easy to navigate).

This is why it's useful to take advantage of a free trial, if one is offered: then, you can poke around the different features of the software and see if the whole thing feels intuitive enough to commit to.

Accounting/budgeting/taxes are already an anxious topic for many freelancers, who are overextended with their professional work -- and nobody wants accounting software to add to the confusion and stress of it!

Is The Price Right?

Many freelancers operate from limited budgets, so the pricing of software subscriptions is a top priority for the majority of them (let's be honest, pricing is a top priority for just about all of us!)

Entrepreneurship is always a tricky balance between staying frugal -- but without compromising the features you need to operate your business properly. Depending on your business' demands, you may find yourself being perfectly content with the free alternatives (like Wave)-- or decide to spring for the pricier, deluxe package that fully covers and integrates all the disparate operations you need to perform, with multiple income streams from different clients and sales, numerous collaborators, and a whole array of tax forms to be processed at tax time.

So, for the most simple business needs, a free QuickBooks alternative will suffice -- but if your business operations involve sophisticated multi-tasking with multiple players, it is wise to opt for a plan that covers what you need, even if it's not free or bottom-dollar-cheap. Because, when it comes to quality vis-a-vis price, you get what you pay for. Consider it an investment into the longevity and excellence of your business!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What accounting software is most similar to QuickBooks?

HelloBonsai is the best alternative to QuickBooks that provides a better solution to your business needs. It offers extensive features, including time tracking, international invoicing, workflow automation, customizable client contracts and proposals, and more. Wait no more and sign up for Bonsai Now!

Does QuickBooks have a free plan?

Unfortunately, QuickBooks does not offer a free plan. However, it does a free trial for 30 days or a 50% discount for starting 3 months of service.

What is the cheapest way to buy QuickBooks?

The cheapest way to buy QuickBooks services is to choose its cheapest alternative, such as Bonsai. QuickBooks price ranges from $24 to $140 per month, whereas Bonsai offers $25 to $79 monthly.

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