Wave offers competitive accounting software, and is a great choice if you're running a side hustle and can do without the bells and whistles that come with pricier options. In fact, with quality free packages available, businesses don't need to spend a dime to get started with Wave — the best value accounting software we've reviewed.
Boasting a perfect score of 10/10 for accounts receivable features and a custom bill-scanning app, our research shows that Wave's toolkit isn't too far behind the costly alternatives either. However, if you're after advanced features, like budgeting, projection, and stock management, you'd be better off with FreshBooks or Xero, as these are not offered with Wave.
From its add-ons to its support options, there is a lot to discuss when it comes to this provider. So, scroll down to find out if Wave is right for your business, or use the links on the right to jump to specific sections.
Still playing the field? You can check out our comparison table to see how Wave compares against the top accountancy providers, too.
- Completely free to use
- Offers affordable add-ons
- Lacks features
- Struggles to scale with growing businesses
Wave Accounting: Quick Fact File
Below is a summary of Wave's main research findings, to help you gauge its suitability at a glance:
- Bookkeeping features – Wave scores a solid 9.5/10 score for bookkeeping features, proving that its offering is almost as strong as what is offered by QuickBooks and Freshbooks.
- Help & support – Phone and live chat support costs Wave users a premium, which is why the software only receives a lackluster score of 5.5/10 for its support options.
- Value for money – With quality free plans available, Wave scores a perfect 10/10 score for pricing topping every other provider we've reviewed.
- Financial reporting features – Wave offers decent financial reports, helping it secure a respectable score of 8.4/10 in the category.
- Accounts payable – Wave's 7/10 accounts payable features are strong enough to get the job done but they aren't as competitive as QuickBooks' or Xero's.
- Advanced features – Scoring a dismal 0/10 for advanced features, Wave's tools are fairly basic, making it a poor choice for businesses with complex accountancy needs.
Is Wave Accounting Really Free?
Yes, Wave's accountancy software is completely free. It requires no contract, features no hidden fees, and businesses don't even need to use a credit card to get started.
- Accounting – Wave's accounting software costs $0. It offers everything small ventures need to manage their finances, including income and expense tracking tools, solid reporting features, and unlimited bank card connections. However, this service does lack project accounting functions, budgeting features, and stock handling tools, which makes it unsuitable for retail stores and businesses with advanced needs like health care providers and government agencies.
- Invoicing – Wave's invoicing service also costs $0, but it does charge users transaction fees. Read our Wave invoicing pricing guide to learn more about this software and its price point.
- Banking – Wave's bank account, Wave Money, is also available for $0. The bank account may not be as comprehensive as industry leaders, like Chase and Amex, but it includes a free card, decent bookkeeping tools, and extra perks. One of these additions is Instant Payouts, which is a great feature for smaller businesses with single owners.
Wave Accounting Review: Key Features
While Wave's accounting software isn't as feature-rich as many of its competitors (it scores a rather dismal 0/10 for advanced features), it offers more than enough tools for small businesses to manage their finances. With this in mind, we break down Wave's accountancy features, from bookkeeping to financial reporting.
If you're looking for a reliable tool to track your financial transactions, Wave's bookkeeping features will definitely cut the mustard. Scoring a perfect 10/10 in our research in this category, it is head-to-head with our accountancy frontrunners, QuickBooks and Xero. It is worth noting that Wave offers a wide range of bookkeeping functions that include journal entries, bank reconciliation statements, customizable charts of accounts, and balance sheets.
Income and expense tracking
Wave offers unlimited income and expense tracking capabilities, which is almost unheard of for free accountancy software. Businesses can link their bank accounts to the platform, import bank statements, and add expenses manually. Wave even lets you categorize transactions in bulk as well as merge duplicate transactions, allowing you to streamline the process.
For those looking to ditch physical documents, the software will let you backup your businesses receipts, too. This will allow your organization to keep important transaction data in the cloud, and make it easier to keep up with legal requirements.
Securing a category score of 7/10, Wave's accounts payable features are well above average. Users can use the tool to track bills and expenses, record payments in multiple currencies, and scan bills. However, unlike QuickBooks and Zoho Books, businesses using the software can't set recurring bills or create purchase orders, making it harder for them to manage finances automatically. Unfortunately, this prevents Wave from scoring any higher in this category.
Solid accounts receivable features make light work of tracking money owed. Wave understands this more than anyone, offering its users a broad range of accounts receivable features, scoring a perfect 10/10 in the category.
For instance, Wave can be used to track overdue client payments, create and send invoices and estimates, set up recurring invoices, and create payment reminders. Wave even lets businesses store client information in comprehensive customer profiles, letting users access a range of important information from one user-friendly dashboard. (pictured below).
With a promising research score of 8.4/10, Wave's financial reporting features are fairly extensive, offering businesses a plethora of money-tracking tools that include income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, sales reports, and sales tax reports. Wave's sales reports even let users view paid and unpaid income per customer, which separates its reporting features from the competition.
However, if it's specialist tools you're looking for, such as customizable reports, you'd be better off choosing Xero, as it gives users full control over the metrics, dimensions, and the layout of their reports and scored a perfect 10/10 in the category.
What's more, Wave doesn't let users create cash flow projections, or any budget forecasting tools at that, making the software less suited to larger businesses that require an advanced overview of their finances.
Is Wave Right for Your Business?
Wave is a streamlined accountancy platform that likes to keep things simple. However, it secured a terrible score of 0/10 for advanced features and completely lacks budgeting tools, making it completely unsuitable for businesses that need a one-size-fits-all solution.
If you're looking to gain a firmer grasp of your business's finances, Zoho Books offers excellent budget management features for as low as $15 per month. QuickBooks is another great contender. However, its budget management tools are reserved for its pricier tiers, making it less appropriate for budget-conscious businesses.
How Does Wave Compare with Other Providers?
Wave is the cheapest accountancy software you'll be able to get your hands on, but it's not the only worthy contender out there. If you're able to afford $15 per month, QuickBooks has much stronger reporting and accounts payable features than Wave, making it easier for businesses to understand their finances and improve their payroll efficiency. In fact, with a research score of 4.7/5, QuickBooks is our top-ranked accountancy software for small businesses.
With a similarly strong feature offering — including a built-in budget creator — Xero is a better for hospitability businesses; while Freshbooks is the optimum choice for retail stores, thanks to its top-tier stock handling tools. However, there are tons of quality options out there, including Zoho Books and Sage, so take a look at our comparison table to discover which piece of accounting software will work best for you.
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$20 per month
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Unbeatable range of accounting features and some truly good value plans for growing businesses
Strong automation features
Inventory tools at a low price, plus a great 50% discount for the first 6 months
Accountancy software is a vital tool for a business's financial well-being. We understand this well at Tech.co, and it's why we make sure every recommendation is research-backed and quantifiable.
Working alongside our team of independent in-house researchers, we consider a huge variety of metrics when reviewing the top accountancy software and award each provider a mark out of 10 in each sub-category. We break down some of our key research criteria below:
- Pricing – We asses the average price of each provider's plans, and check for the presence of free versions and trials to gain a comprehensive overview of each software's value offering.
- Help & support – To judge the quality of a provider's support tools we take multiple factors into account, including what support channels are offered, whether they can be accessed around the clock, and whether quality support is available on all pricing tiers.
- Bookkeeping tools – To measure how equipped bookkeeping tools are at fulfilling their purpose, we look out for a number of key features, including stock management, receipt scanning, and reconciliation statements.
- Accounts receivable – In this category, we assess how capable a piece of software is at tracking money owed, i.e, does the tool offer advanced capabilities, like invoice trackers, client databases, and payment reminders?
- Accounts payable – To help businesses stay on top of supplier payments, we also look out for accounts payable tools, such as supplier databases, bill scanning tools, and recurring bill payment options.
- Financial reports – Finally, to determine how capable a tool is at monitoring finances, we measure the number and quality of reporting options available, i.e, does the software give users access to sales reports, custom reports, balance sheets, and cash-flow statements?
Verdict – Is Wave Financial worth it?
Considering Wave is completely free, with no trials or hidden fees in sight, its value offering is extremely impressive. In addition to being super user-friendly, the software receives full marks in numerous research categories, including software attributes and bookkeeping – a feat that even some paid tools weren't able to achieve, like Sage and Kashoo.
Still, Wave's affordability does come with a slight cost. With a rock bottom score (0/10) for advanced features, the software lacks a number of basic accountancy capabilities, including stock tracking, project accounting, or budget and forecasting. This means that if you have specific needs it'll make more sense to fork out for paid alternatives, like Xero or QuickBooks.
The market is stacked with competitive accounting software options though, so check out our comparison page to see how the best of the best compare side by side.
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