This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
FreshBooks and Wave have many similar features, such as the ability to send unlimited invoices and track unpaid bills. Both programs have a lot to bring to the table, but FreshBooks has the edge in terms of project accounting, invoicing, and customer service.
While FreshBooks charges a low monthly fee that starts at $15, Wave’s bookkeeping software, which includes invoicing, bill tracking, and receipt scanning, is completely free. Wave is a great choice for businesses on a budget with basic needs while FreshBooks is ideal for service businesses needing to assign time and expenses to customers.
When to Use FreshBooks
Since FreshBooks is more advanced than Wave, it’s more suitable for established businesses that need complex accounting features from the get-go. FreshBooks particularly excels with its invoicing and time tracking system, making it an ideal option for small businesses, microbusinesses, and freelancers needing to track billable hours and bill clients. It’s also known for its award-winning customer support, making it one of our best small business accounting software.
FreshBooks is better for:
- Businesses looking for reliable customer service: With FreshBooks, you have the option to talk to a real agent over the phone, which comes in handy if you run into problems that need immediate attention.
- Project-based businesses: FreshBooks lets you track hours spent on a project and collaborate with your team members. You can also compare estimated costs to actual expenses so that you’ll know how to plan your budget.
- Businesses that need one user: If you only need one user to work on your accounting, then FreshBooks is for you. You’ll pay an extra fee for additional users.
When to Use Wave
Wave’s biggest selling point is its $0 price tag. It was ranked our best overall free accounting software. You should consider Wave if you’re a new business and have no extensive accounting needs. If you only need basic features, such as bank and credit card connections, income and expense tracking, and recurring invoices, Wave allows you to complete all of these tasks for free.
A huge advantage of Wave over FreshBooks is that despite being free software, it grants access to an unlimited number of users. The $0 price tag comes with a different kind of cost as it doesn’t have some of the advanced features of FreshBooks, such as project accounting, but nothing more affordable than free.
Wave is better for:
- Businesses that need free accounting software: Wave allows you to issue invoices and track expenses for free.
- Companies with multiple users: Unlike FreshBooks, there’s no cost to add additional users in Wave. You can add as many users as needed.
- Freelancers looking to send invoices for free: If you only need simple invoicing for your clients, there’s no reason not to choose the free Wave software over the paid FreshBooks.
When to Use an Alternative
- Businesses that need inventory management: Neither FreshBooks nor Wave has an inventory management feature. QuickBooks Online allows you to track inventory costs and calculate profit and loss by project.
- Companies that require fixed asset accounting: There’s no option to track fixed assets in both programs. If you’re looking for software to manage and track fixed assets, such as equipment and machinery, we recommend Xero.
Fit Small Business Case Study
We compare FreshBooks and Wave head-to-head in our case study to help you make the right choice. We compare these two accounting solutions across 11 key categories, such as general features, accounts payable (A/P), accounts receivable (A/R), and banking and cash management. We’ve done in-depth research, so it’s easier for you to find out which program is better suited for your business. Check out our detailed FreshBooks review and Wave review for more information.
The chart below shows a summary of our case study.
FreshBooks vs QuickBooks at a Glance
Who It’s Best For
Businesses that need project accounting
Small businesses with basic accounting needs
$0, plus additional fees for credit card processing and payroll
1 + $10/month for additional users
Send Invoices & Track Collections
Track Sales Tax & Collections
Record and Track Unpaid Bills
Capture Expense Receipts
Reconcile Bank Accounts
Manage & Track Projects
Manage & Track Inventories
Managed & Track Fixed Assets
Which Accounting Software is Right for you?
Answer a few simple questions to receive a customized suggestion for the best accounting software for your business.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Pricing
Although Wave’s basic accounting functions are offered free of charge, FreshBooks pricing is also competitive. FreshBooks offers four different plans to choose from; they’re priced for only one user, but you have the option to add users for an additional $10 per user, per month.
FreshBooks offers four plans, and each has specific inclusions with the option to purchase add-ons, such as more team members, for an additional monthly fee. Here are the costs for each plan:
- Lite: $15 per month with five billable clients
- Plus: $25 per month with 50 billable clients
- Premium: $50 per month with unlimited billable clients
- Select: Custom pricing option with unlimited billable clients and specialized features
There are additional fees incurred for credit card processing, which is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for most cards and 3.5% plus 30 cents per transaction for American Express.
All plans include one user with the option to add additional users for $10 per month. If you would like to check out the program first, FreshBooks currently offers a free 30-day trial with no credit card required.
There’s no charge to use Wave’s bookkeeping software, and it supports unlimited users. There are additional fees for credit card and payroll processing, which is typical of any bookkeeping program. The fees you may encounter with Wave include:
- Accounting and Invoicing: Free
- Credit card processing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for most cards, 3.4% plus 30 cents per transaction for American Express
- Bank payments: $1 per transaction
- $35 per month plus $6 per employee or independent contractor for users living in tax-service states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin
- $20 per month plus $6 per employee or independent contractor for users living in the remaining 36 states
Takeaway: If you need simple accounting but can’t afford to pay for monthly fees, Wave’s $0 price tag is unbeatable.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Features
Customize Chart of Accounts
Connect Bank Accounts
Reconcile Bank Accounts
Send Unlimited Invoices
Track Unpaid Bills
Invite Your Accountant
Dedicated Account Manager
We selected three categories in our case study to provide you with a more thorough comparison of FreshBooks and Wave in terms of features.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Banking & Cash Management
Based on our case study, FreshBooks and Wave have their own unique strengths and weaknesses in terms of bank account reconciliation. While both programs let you connect your bank accounts, Wave lets you manually upload your files of transactions, instead of linking your bank. With FreshBooks, you can’t upload files of transactions unless you connect your bank account. This can be a huge limitation since not all users are comfortable connecting their bank accounts to their accounting software. Both FreshBooks and Wave can’t reconcile transactions with timing differences, including outstanding checks that aren’t yet cleared by your bank. Both programs also have no options for combining multiple checks in a single deposit. If your business relies on checks for your day-to-day transactions, you should consider QuickBooks Online for powerful bank reconciliation.
FreshBooks vs Wave: A/R
Collecting payments is necessary for any business. Both FreshBooks and Wave have good invoicing capabilities, but FreshBooks offers more optimization options. Not only does FreshBooks have more templates to choose from, but it also offers advanced functions like customizing payment reminders and late fees by clients. Both these two programs can set up recurring invoices, but Wave doesn’t allow you to add late fees to your invoice. Also, the project management feature in FreshBooks allows you to bill for hours worked and add it to your invoice.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Project Accounting
If you’re a service-based business that works on projects or bills clients by the hour, then you’ll find FreshBooks useful as it allows you to set up hourly or flat-rate projects and assign them to your employees or customers. Once you’re done with a project, you can convert it into an invoice easily. When setting up a project estimate in FreshBooks, you have the option to add sales taxes, inventories, and labor. You can also compare cost estimates to actual costs, which is a useful feature for contractors. Unfortunately, Wave has no project accounting system.
Takeaway: Sunrise’s features are more developed than Wave’s, which isn’t surprising considering their pricing differences. If you need project accounting, have no problem connecting your bank, and want more options to customize invoices, then choose FreshBooks. If you only need simple invoicing to collect payments, pick Wave.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Ease of Use
Both FreshBooks and Wave have easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing user interfaces that are ideal for someone with little or no accounting experience. Because their dashboards are uncluttered, you can find your way around easily. Menu items are organized and labeled clearly, and both have shortcut buttons to automate transactions, such as entering a new bill and creating a new invoice.
FreshBooks Ease of Use
FreshBooks requires minimal setup. You can input your business details easily, such as company name, address, and telephone number. Additionally, the main page includes shortcut functions like the +New button to help you execute certain tasks easily, such as creating a new invoice and adding a new customer or bill. The left menu bar contains all the core features of FreshBooks, including Banking, Sales, Cashflow, Expenses, Projects, and Payroll. The problem with FreshBooks is that you can’t modify the chart of accounts or import a chart of accounts unless you sign in as an accountant. This can be annoying if you’re switching to FreshBooks from previous accounting software:
Wave Ease of Use
Being free software, Wave is one of the easiest-to-use accounting programs on the market. When setting up your account in Wave, you’ll start with the Wave Launchpad, where you can choose one of the displayed options and then set up the entire process. Just like FreshBooks, the Wave dashboard is easy to navigate, with uncluttered menu items and visible buttons to help you find what you need easily. Even as a beginner, you’ll get the gist of automating workflows easily, such as setting up a new client, adding a new bill, creating a project estimate, and sending an invoice:
Takeaway: We don’t find many significant differences between FreshBooks and Wave across this category. Both are generally easy to set up, and anyone can learn how to use their features in a very short period easily. We’re calling this section a tie.
FreshBooks and Wave: Integrations
It’s common for accounting software to integrate with other business tools to expand their capabilities. For instance, both FreshBooks and Wave integrate with PayPal and Stripe to allow users to process payments from their customers. If you’re an e-commerce business, then you should consider integrating Wave or FreshBooks to Shopify.
FreshBooks integrates with hundreds of third-party software to automate different business processes that are beyond its capability. Some of its most popular integrations include Shopify, Square, Bench Bookkeeping, Zapier, Calendly, Mailchimp, HubSpot, Gusto, Stripe, and PayPal.
Wave has very few direct integrations, but it connects with thousands of apps through Zapier. Some of its popular integrations include PayPal, Square, Stripe, Etsy, HubSpot, Slack, Google Sheets, and Pipedrive.
Takeaway: Since FreshBooks already has strong integration with third-party software even without Zapier, it beats wave in this section.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Mobile App
We compare FreshBooks and Wave across a similar set of functions, and we found that the FreshBooks app can do more. Here’s a brief comparison of FreshBooks’ and Wave’s mobile app.
Assign Expenses to Customers
Enter Bill Payments
Categorize Expenses From the Bank Feed
Record Time Worked
Assign Time Worked to Customers
Takeaway: FreshBooks’ app wins in this section. If you’re a service-based business or an independent contractor who’s always out in the field, having the ability to record hours worked and assign them to your customers is very convenient.
FreshBooks vs Wave: Assisted Bookkeeping
If you have no in-house accounting or bookkeeping team to manage your books, it makes sense to hire a bookkeeper. When you sign up for FreshBooks or Wave, you have the option to bring in a professional bookkeeper to help you get down on the nitty-gritty of your accounting duties and your business as a whole.
FreshBooks Assisted Bookkeeping
FreshBooks by itself has no bookkeeping service for users. Instead, it partners with an online bookkeeping service provider, Bench, to accommodate users who require expert help with their bookkeeping needs. With Bench, you’ll receive a dedicated bookkeeper who’ll assist you in managing your books. They’ll help you connect your bank and credit card accounts, categorize your transactions, reconcile your statements, and prepare the reports you need for the tax season. Check out the breakdown of Bench’s pricing below:
- Essential: $299 per month, with access to a dedicated bookkeeping team, plus monthly bookkeeping, year-end tax reports, and direct, unlimited support from Bench
- Premium: $399 per month, includes everything in Essential, plus one one-on-one tax coaching, unlimited tax advisory, and annual tax filing for businesses and individuals
Wave Assisted Bookkeeping
Wave users who need help with their books can seek help from Wave Advisors. These are Wave-certified accounting and tax professionals who provide one-on-one accounting, bookkeeping, and tax consulting services exclusively for Wave customers. You can choose from the following services provided by Wave Advisors:
- Accounting Coaching:
- $229 for one session (1-hour package)—on-on-one coaching through video call, plus access to video recording, live chat support, and unlimited email support
- $329 for two sessions (2 hours)—includes two separate 1-hour sessions
- Bookkeeping Service: Starts at $149 per month—you’ll receive professional assistance with major bookkeeping tasks like account setup, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting
- Tax Service: Starts at $149 per month and includes year-round support for federal and state tax filing
Takeaway: If you need a professional bookkeeping service but need to cut costs, Wave is the better option. Both services offer the same features and benefits but at a lower price for Wave. For users who want to learn best practices for accounting, Wave’s accounting coaching for $229 would be ideal.
FreshBooks vs QuickBooks: Customer Support
FreshBooks offers better customer service than Wave and other leading accounting solutions. Typically, most accounting vendors offer customer service in the form of email support, live chat, and email support. FreshBooks takes it one step further with its phone support.
FreshBooks Customer Support
FreshBooks has excellent customer support. FreshBooks users can seek help through email or talk with a representative via a chatbot. The best part here is that you have the option to talk to a real agent over the phone. Some providers, such as QuickBooks Online, do the same, but you can’t initiate the call. With FreshBooks, you can dial the phone, so you can directly talk to an agent without having to submit a ticket first. It also has a vast online help section equipped with detailed instructions on how to use FreshBooks’ features.
Wave Customer Support
You can’t trust Wave to help you with serious or immediate technical problems. There’s literally no one to talk to over the phone, and the only thing you can hold on to is chat support, which is available for new users for 60 days after purchase. You can’t also contact the provider through email or talk to an agent through live chat. In addition to a chatbot, you can use the Wave Help Center, which includes some helpful resources that provide answers to your questions.
Takeaway: FreshBooks is the clear winner in this category. If customer service matters to you, then choose FreshBooks.
FreshBooks and Wave have a lot of similar features despite their different pricing structures. FreshBooks has a slight edge as it provides more options to invoice and bill customers, not to mention its project accounting and unbeatable customer support. However, if you only need basic accounting features, such as income and expense tracking and invoicing, regardless of how many users you need, Wave’s price is unbeatable.