This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
What We Recommend NCH Express Accounts For
NCH Express Accounts has a free version for small businesses with fewer than five employees. However, companies with five or more employees will find its entry-level packages budget-friendly and strong enough to streamline their financial operations. The free and paid versions offer powerful tools to help you document and report on A/P and A/R effectively and stay on top of your cash flow.
NCH Express Accounts is Especially Good For
- Small businesses with fewer than five employees looking for free desktop accounting software: This is great free software if you have a business with fewer than five employees. If you have a larger company and are looking for a free program, check out our guide to the best free accounting software.
- Companies seeking inexpensive accounting software with inventory management: NCH Software’s proprietary stock management software, Inventoria, is available as an add-on, at a lower price than what most other accounting programs offer.
- Bank reconciliation: Reconciling bank accounts is a strength of NCH Express Accounts, making it one of our choices for the best bank reconciliation software. The process of reconciling accounts—ticking transactions that are present in the bank statement—is similar to other accounting software programs. Also, users can create adjusting entries for book reconciling items without leaving the reconciliation.
NCH Express Accounts Is Not a Good Fit For
- Construction companies: While NCH Express Accounts offers integrated project management functionality through NCH Project, it isn’t sufficient for tracking job or project costs. If you need a powerful accounting solution for your construction business, check out our review of the best construction accounting software.
- Users that need payroll processing: Unlike other free accounting software like Wave, NCH Express Accounts has no built-in payroll, nor does it integrate with third-party payroll providers.
- Mobile app users: NCH Express Accounts has no mobile version. Zoho Books has a fantastic mobile app and is even free for companies with less than $50,000 in annual revenue.
NCH Express Accounts Pros and Cons
|Free forever for companies with fewer than five employees||Cannot connect to your bank account|
|Among the most easy-to-use accounting programs||Small fonts can be hard to read in dashboard|
|Intuitive dashboard to navigate between tasks||Doesn’t automatically record cost of goods sold without an integration|
NCH Express Accounts Case Study
We compared NCH Express Accounts with Sunrise and QuickBooks Online. Sunrise is also free software, while QuickBooks Online is our choice for the overall best small business accounting software. When compared to QuickBooks Online, NCH Express Accounts lags behind, which isn’t surprising, given that it’s free software. Meanwhile, NCH Express Accounts and Sunrise are on par in terms of features, except that Sunrise has a mobile app.
NCH Express Accounts Pricing
NCH Express Accounts offers a free program for small businesses with fewer than five employees. For larger companies, you can choose between the paid plans:
Express Accounts Basic
Express Accounts Plus
Billing & Invoicing
A/P & A/R Tracking
Quotes & Sales Order Generation
Sales Analysis by Customer/Salespersons
Creating & Printing Checks
Access to NCH Express Via Email
NCH Express Accounts Features
NCH Express Accounting Software offers a good selection of features that enable you to create professional quotes, invoices, and sales orders. You can track sales and A/R, manage A/P and pay bills, generate financial reports, and more. (We performed the case study using the free version of the software.)
NCH Express Accounts’ interface experience is an improvement on traditional desktop accounting software. Users with less-than-perfect eyesight might have a hard time with the small font size. Though the navigation menus use tabs instead of drop-down menus, we think that a more user-friendly interface could make NCH Express Accounts more accessible to users with impaired vision.
You can set up your company in the options menu, but there’s no setup wizard to guide you. You can change your business name, adjust fiscal year-end, assign prefixes and numbering systems, and much more. In terms of customization, NCH Accounts Express provides a lot of options. Even though we appreciate the software’s customization options, it could be time-consuming to set up a large chart of accounts in NCH Accounts Express.
The chart of accounts is also comprehensive; it contains all the necessary accounts. We saw that it comes preloaded with the Accumulated Depreciation account for fixed assets. Many of the other free accounting software products we reviewed don’t have depreciation accounts. Another interesting feature to note is that you must classify accounts for the statement cash flows. This feature is unique because most accounting programs do this automatically, based on account type.
Bookkeepers and certified public accountants (CPAs) will find NCH Accounts Express interesting because of its customization options. However, our main concern is for business owners who plan to do their business’ bookkeeping themselves. At this point in the review, we’d already seen difficulty in setting up, as some settings require accounting knowledge, such as cash flow classification of accounts.
NCH Accounts Express General Features Video
The A/P module is on the Purchases tab. It has a workflow diagram that also serves as quick access to A/P functions like creating and viewing purchase orders (POs), entering and viewing A/P details, viewing vendor details, paying bills, and generating an A/P report.
Creating a bill in the A/P module requires you to set up the suppliers or vendors list first. Click on “Suppliers” in the workflow diagram, and it’ll show you the Suppliers list window. Click the green plus button at the top left of the window to add suppliers. Fill out the information and repeat the same process for all suppliers.
Once you’re done, you can create a bill, which is fairly easy. In the Accounts Allocation box, you’ll have to supply the account(s) debited as a result of recording the bill. For bookkeepers, this part is easy. However, this part can be tricky for those without accounting knowledge.
Before you create a PO, you need to set up your inventory list first. Go to the Sales tab and click “Add New Item” under Invoice Items in the left navigation bar. Once you’re done, you can start making a PO as seen in the image above.
If you completely set up supplier information, entering the supplier’s name will populate the vendor address and shipping address automatically. For our case study, we opted not to complete supplier information for expediency.
POs can be converted into bills afterward. You can also enter partial payments for bills, which is great for free software. Most free accounting applications we reviewed don’t include this kind of feature.
A major problem in the A/P module is that the PO function operates differently from what we usually see in accounting software programs. When you record a PO, the quantity of inventory ordered appears as inventory on hand in the inventory list. In a standard A/P transaction cycle, goods aren’t reflected in inventory available until they’re received, not when they’re ordered.
Because of this, the PO function of NCH somehow skips a step and records the inventory you ordered as inventory already on hand automatically. Because of this transaction flow, entering a PO prior to receipt would overstate inventory balances. So, a good work-around here would be to not record any PO until the receipt of the goods.
NCH Express Accounts A/P Video
The A/R module is under the Sales tab. Invoicing in NCH Express Accounts is also under the Sales tab, but invoice template and design customization are in the settings. NCH Express Accounts doesn’t have a lot of features for customizing the look of your invoice. You can find a few invoice templates, but the overall customization experience isn’t as robust as other accounting software products.
Before you create invoices, you must first add new customers. You can do that by going to the left-side navigation menu and clicking “Add New Customer.” Once you’re done, proceed to “Create New Invoice” to prompt the invoice creation window. Within the invoice creation window, you can also add a new customer, but NCH won’t prompt you to do so.
For invoicing items, you must first add invoice items just like what we did in A/P. One limitation we saw here is that you can’t create a service item. Instead, you have to create service items as part of the inventory list. We find it a bit unusual since service items don’t usually have trackable quantities, but it’s the only workaround available so that we can include services into invoices.
Suppose a walk-in customer buys your products. NCH Accounts Express can help you immediately record cash sales without the need to go through invoice processing. Just enter the details and click “Record Cash” at the bottom of the screen. The software will generate a receipt automatically that you can print, email, or fax to the customer. This receipt feature is commendable because we mostly see this feature in higher-end software.
NCH Express Accounts A/R Video
First and foremost, you can’t connect your bank account to NCH Accounts Express, but you can upload your transactions from a CSV file. For desktop software that can connect to your bank, we recommend QuickBooks Desktop. When you upload a CSV file, an import wizard will help you map the transaction fields.
Bank reconciliation is decent, except that it doesn’t show line items (like deposits in transit and outstanding checks) on the reconciliation report when you’re finished. The interface layout is also unconventional but manageable if you’re an experienced bookkeeper or CPA. Nonaccountants will find this part difficult, so we recommend asking for expert help to learn this part. The bank reconciliation module isn’t the best in terms of how NCH Express Accounts presents it, but the functionality is more or less the same as the ideal bank reconciliation systems we’ve seen in higher-end software.
What we appreciate here is that you can directly create adjusting entries for bank statement transactions not yet recorded in the books (like collections of interests, bank charges, or NSF checks) without leaving the reconciliation. This feature is a plus since it makes the accounting workflow faster.
NCH Express Accounts Banking and Cash Management Video
NCH Express Accounts doesn’t have fixed asset accounting features, except for recording the purchase of a fixed asset. Even though we saw an Accumulated Depreciation account in the chart of accounts, depreciation adjustments are done manually through a journal entry in the general journal.
NCH Express Accounts can’t accumulate income and expense by project. You can create job estimates but can’t track the actual expenses for comparison. To create estimates, go to the Sales tab and click “Create Quote.”
Once you’re done with the estimate, you can record and email it to the customer. NCH Express Accounts will generate a PDF version of the quote as well. If the client agrees with your quote, you can quickly convert the estimate into an invoice.
If you’re a project-based business, we recommend getting another accounting application that has project accounting features. Our top pick would be Zoho Books because it has excellent project accounting features that can help you manage projects and create budget-to-actual reports to evaluate profitability.
NCH Express Accounts Project Accounting Video
Users can create sales tax items in NCH Express Accounts and view sales tax liability in detail. Charging sales tax is also easy because it’s a part of the invoice creation process. If there are credit memos, you can also adjust sales taxes based on the credit memo amount. It’s not possible to pay sales tax liability and file sales tax returns in the software. We have no separate video for this part since the discussion is already integrated into the A/P and A/R videos.
As discussed in the A/R section, inventory items are found in the Sales tab. You can create inventory items, assign ideal quantities, and set a warning quantity. The warning quantity is a great feature because it can help you set reorder points based on economic order quantities or whatever amount you deem appropriate for it.
As discussed in the A/P section, we encountered a problem in recognizing inventory on hand. The system records inventory on PO as inventory on hand, which overstates inventory until the order is received.
More importantly, NCH Express Accounts doesn’t compute cost of goods sold (COGS) and the cost of ending inventory. Inventory purchases must be assigned to either the inventory asset or the COGS expense. You then must make manual journal entries to properly allocate the cost at the end of the period.
NCH Express Accounts lacks many specialized accounting reports, mostly because of its lack of project accounting features. Here are the available and unavailable reports in NCH Express Accounts:
It’s disappointing that NCH Express Accounts doesn’t have a general ledger report. Though most account information can be accessed within the modules, it would be better if a general ledger could be generated to show all transactions in every account. The general ledger is usually one of the reports typically given to your tax accountant.
Customer service isn’t a strong point for NCH Express Accounts. If you need technical support, you can either email them or check their online help center. You can’t call or chat with a chatbot or live representative.
NCH Express Accounts doesn’t have a mobile app, but the absence of mobile apps for desktop software is common. Mobile app functionality only began to gain popularity when cloud accounting software services were introduced as an alternative to desktop software. So if you want a mobile app, we recommend shifting to cloud-based software services. Zoho Books is our recommendation if you want a mobile app with excellent functionality.
Assisted Bookkeeping Options
We haven’t found any bookkeeping assistance services offered for NCH Express Accounts users.
NCH Express Accounts can integrate with other NCH business software products like Inventoria and Express Invoice. Besides that, there are no third-party app integrations for NCH Express Accounts based on our research.
NCH Express Accounting Software Alternatives
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NCH Express Accounts offers robust accounting features from the get-go. Among all the desktop accounting software products we’ve reviewed, NCH Express Accounts has the easiest user experience. However, this software is still difficult to use if compared with cloud-based accounting services like Zoho Books and Sunrise.
It’s also impossible to connect bank accounts in NCH Express Accounts and recording COGS isn’t an automatic feature of the software. Overall, NCH Express Accounts is a worthy choice for very specific uses. But because of the level of difficulty, you might want to consider alternatives with an easier bookkeeping experience.