There are a number of quality free possibilities available for accounting software—all able to speed up, simplify, and ease the process of operating your company.
Zoho Books is our favourite free accounting software overall. You get free access to important business toolsets, such as the option to submit VAT returns faster and easier at the end of each tax year.
And given our cost of living crisis, what more could you ask for in such a difficult situation that is only expected to worsen? Using trusted accounting software to reduce expenses is crucial—look over your options here to determine the best match for your company.
In this guide, we review the best free accounting software in the UK, according to our efficient one-of-a-kind research.
Table of Contents:
6 Best Free Accounting Software 🖥️: The Selection
Our results below compared how each accounting software provider held up in terms of installation, user interface, bookkeeping features, and price schemes. And of course, we compared the software's functionality on the free plan for small businesses.
1. Zoho Books — Most Overall Outstanding Accounting Software
Although Zoho is well known for its CRM platforms, it has also provided accounting software since 2011.
In our view, the free plan from Zoho Books is the greatest overall free accounting software solution, and things get even better if you upgrade to the premium tier.
Overall, Zoho Invoice is not what it sounds like. Although you shouldn't ignore its excellent invoicing features—it’s a powerful choice for invoice generation—this tool does much more than just issue invoices. Although Zoho Invoice’s bookkeeping product isn't quite as feature-rich as Zoho Books, it still offers more than enough benefits to be recommended—and, of course, each of these products is totally free on the first tier:
- Professional, customised invoicing with compatibility for several currencies and languages
- Automated repeat billing and payment reminders for clients
- Projections (conveniently converted to invoices)
- Timesheet tracking, expense management, and receipt scans
- Zoho Invoice is the best sales and marketing compatible option for contractors who often communicate with clients because of its built-in timesheets (which synchronise effortlessly with invoicing), converting estimates to invoices, and customer portal for simple communication.
Consider Quickfile, which is cost-free for businesses up to a particular scale, and Crunch, which handles all of your essential bookkeeping requirements and comes with a number of useful add-ons.
Small Business User Experience
It's particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs on the road because it has fantastic (and once again, free) accounting and billing features.
For companies with less than £42k GBP in yearly revenue, Zoho Books offers a free subscription if you require more robust accounting tools. If it applies to your company, we strongly advise including Zoho Books in your Zoho Invoice package.
Otherwise, Zoho Books' monthly cost starts at £13. It's really difficult to top Zoho Invoice, though, if you're content with simple transactions and billing.
Zoho Standard Compared to Free
Of course, there are limitations to Zoho's free plan. For starters, it has an annual limit of 1,000 invoices and misses a variety of uses that can significantly impact the amount of debt that accounting software is normally used to manage.
A premium plan will also be automatically added to your account if your yearly revenue surpasses £35,000. While Zoho's free plan is excellent for startups, there are several significant benefits to the Standard plan that you should take into account.
The Standard plan, in particular, allows you to produce up to 5,000 invoices annually instead of only 1k on the Free plan. As a result, firms with huge transaction volumes won't be able to use Zoho Free, and SMEs with significant growth aspirations should choose a premium plan.
Another important aspect is that Zoho Standard includes integration for bank feeds. This implies that after your company bank account has been connected, any transactions you make will instantly show up in Zoho Books.
When you're busy operating your business, downloading and importing bank transactions using Zoho Free is a tedious and time-consuming operation.
You can also manage project spending, add up to three users, establish recurring expenses, utilise more payment channels, interface with other services like Uber and Zendesk, and receive phone and chat assistance when you upgrade to a subscription tier.
So, even though the Free plan undoubtedly has its advantages, Zoho Standard is a highly compelling choice for UK small businesses due to its added features and greater restrictions.
2. QuickFile — Well-Reviewed Professional Free Accounting Software
QuickFile is bookkeeping software that was created in 2010 with freelancing, small companies, and entrepreneurial startups in mind.
Any small company owner with no accounting experience may simply keep account of their money with the aid of this straightforward and user-friendly cloud-based software.
And although we don’t totally trust review sites, it also has excellent ratings on Trustpilot, where it has amassed a median rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 from over a thousand reviews. Reviewers praised its usability and feature set.
QuickFile’s Free Capabilities
What is QuickFile capable of? QuickFile has an impressive number of features, such as:
- Over 50 automatic bank feeds integrated with full support for several currencies.
- Manage bills with ease using a branded site that your customers can use to see and pay invoices using a number of online payment processors, including PayPal and Stripe.
- Monitor and submit VAT returns, working together seamlessly with digital processes.
- Create a variety of reports that provide an analysis of your company.
- Tools for making delivery notes, purchase orders, and estimates.
- An app for your phone that lets you make estimates and invoices while also taking pictures of receipts for expenditures.
- If you need to post physical copies of your invoices, estimates, or statements, there is a convenient “click to print” option available.
Where the Free Rubber Meets the Road…
You might be wondering why QuickFile is free. For accounts that are under a particular size, QuickFile is free. Although it's a little complicated, you can only have 1,000 entries (also included is invoicing, payments and banking transactions).
Once you exceed this threshold, you must pay a fixed cost of £45 + VAT every year (or around £54 at the current exchange rate). Additionally, you get access to certain more sophisticated capabilities, such as improved bulk invoice input and VAT bridging tools, for this cost.
You can simply test out QuickFile for free to see whether it's the appropriate match for your company thanks to the price structure, which makes it ideal for startups as they can scale up as things expands. However, Ads are also used to fund the free version.
While QuickFile does not offer phone assistance, it does have a very busy online community forum where most issues get answered within a few hours. Or you can choose to send an email to support staff directly, but asking a question in the forum is probably going to result in a speedier answer.
For very tiny firms that can keep under the ledger entry limit, QuickFile is a high-performance free option. It should also be heavily evaluated by larger enterprises due to its very competitive cost and a wide variety of features.
3. GnuCash — Best 100% Free Accounting Software for Open Source
GnuCash is an open-sourced PC accounting solution that was first developed in 2001.
If any of that is unclear, desktop software requires real download and installation, but open-source software allows any online business with its own developer team to download and modify the program's source code to add new features and correct bugs.
As a result, it will always be totally free, but its user interface won't win any design prizes, and it isn't particularly suited to the demands of small enterprises (there isn't an open banking connector or mobile app, for instance). Additionally, there is a little learning curve, and completing your accounts requires more manual labour and dexterity than with some of the other applications covered in this article.
What GnuCash Does 📊
A rudimentary set of accounting tools are available in GnuCash. This comprises:
- A UI that resembles a chequebook and lets you use a double-entry bookkeeping system to enter transactions
- Recurrent payment support
- Create reports that include profit and loss statements, balance sheets, etc.
- Technologies for tracking clients and suppliers.
- Compatibility with several currencies.
- Works with QIF files, a common kind of file that numerous accounting applications use.
In essence, no one is paid anything for creating GnuCash because it is created 100% voluntarily. The product is then made available for use without charge to anybody who requests it, and a committed team of volunteer developers maintains it.
Useful for Technical Self-Starters on a Shoestring Budget
To put it another way, GnuCash is free since its only goal is to assist those who cannot afford expensive accounting software. You may send money to them using the GnuCash website, or you can offer to test new releases if you want to.
In terms of what kind of help GnuCash provides, through its forums (referred to as Mailing Lists), a large manual, and a FAQ, GnuCash offers you help. The GnuCash wiki also has a section titled “Using GnuCash” that offers answers to problems that regular users frequently run across.
It probably goes without saying, but GnuCash doesn't offer phone or email assistance.
4. Crunch — Solid Free Accounting Software for Sole Traders
Like its rivals Zoho and Quickfile, Crunch offers 4 total tiers. The sole trader bookkeeping needs of sole proprietors are catered to by two of them—Crunch Free and Sole Trader Professional.
Most notably, Crunch Free is a solid choice for independent freelancers or contractors looking for an invoice tracking and management solution. It also offers payroll services although this comes at an add-on expense.
Crunch has a ton of useful extras that are intended to make invoicing simpler, such as “Snap,” a scanner that posts photographs of your bills directly onto the system—even if it is weak in complex tax or administrative areas. Whereas limited corporations benefit more from paid plans.
Some of its extras, like the self-reporting for £95, aren't free, but they may help turn the free service into a minimal solution that can be customised to meet your business requirements. Crunch also provides these services at no cost:
- Unlimited bill tracking.
- Free transfers for a whole year with Tide.
- Unrestricted invoice sales.
- Payroll (for an extra expense).
- Reminders for late payments.
- Bank report balancing within the app, including integrations with popular UK banks.
- Recurring bills and costs.
Free Plan Limits
What limitations come with Crunch's free plan? Overall, you have all the tools you need to keep up-to-date books and records with its list of free services, but you'll have to do more for payroll and tax filing. After the free plan you get Crunch's most affordable plan, Sole Trader Pro for £24/mo.
Sole Trader Pro still lacks several essential features for limited corporations because it was created for sole proprietors, such as the capacity to complete year-end tax filing. Additional sophisticated bookkeeping features are available for £39/mo on Limited Company Pro (prices for the first three months are £19).
This isn't the cheapest choice when compared to competing software brands: For instance, the cheapest tier of Zoho Books is only £10 a month. With every Crunch option, you may get half off your first three months.
In terms of customer support, Crunch does not provide customised customer assistance as part of its free package, in contrast to Zoho. However, you may schedule a conversation with a Chartered Accountant working for Crunch, to obtain assistance with your tax or financial problems.
If you have a Crunch Pro subscription, each course is free, else it costs £39.50 + VAT. Additionally, the website has a chatbot, a support centre, and tutorial videos.
5. Wave Accounting — Freelancer’s Powerful Free Accounting Tool
Wave Accounting is robust, free, cloud-based accounting system established in 2010 in Toronto, Canada—with a wonderful user interface and a sleek oceanic design theme.
Wave generates revenue by providing payroll and transaction business software, therefore the account sizes and other features of its free accounting software are almost limitless. (You’ll just need to expect display advertisements on the free plan.)
All of this is why Wave Accounting is adored by US entrepreneurs. But keep in mind it’s not the best match for small enterprises in the UK due to its US/Canada concentration. Some may even consider it a non-starter for this reason.
Why Wave is Powerful
The extensive feature set of Wave Accounting includes:
- Tools for sending expert invoices while on the move.
- Unlimited earnings and expenses tracking.
- Works with iPhone/Android mobile apps, saving digital versions of your receipts.
- Several accounting reports may be produced and exported.
- Support for many currencies and automated exchange rate computation.
- A sophisticated dashboard that manages receipts, payments, and invoices.
- The mobile app not only lets you create invoices and take pictures of receipts, but it also makes it simple to manage your accounts while you're on the go.
In addition to offering payments and payment processing, Wave Accounting also generates revenue by showing advertisements, as was already indicated. The payment product is only available to US/Canadian consumers, and these clients are the primary audience for the other services. Because of this emphasis, Wave Accounting has some serious shortcomings for small firms in the UK.
Most importantly, Wave Accounting is insufficient for enterprises that have to enrol for VAT and submit digital VAT tax returns since it does not incorporate the new Making Tax Digital (MTD) protocol for VAT. It also does not enable the automated importing of money transfers via open banking, which makes trying to keep track of your investment operations more time-consuming than with some of the other providers mentioned below.
Through its chat forum, Wave provides professional assistance. You can also use the system's help feature to request tech assistance. Unfortunately, there isn't any phone solution offered.
The simple-to-read dashboard of Wave provides you with an overview of your most crucial financial data. Although the programme is ideal for freelancers because to its billing, invoicing, and expenditure tracking capabilities, it can also be used by bigger enterprises, particularly because Wave doesn't place a restriction on the number of users you can add (unlike competitors like QuickBooks Online).
You are welcome to log in to your account for free to verify numbers and enter data along with the remainder of your sales team.
6. FreeAgent — Popular Free Accounting Software for Corporation Tax
Nobody really likes dealing with accounting, yet it’s one of those essential evils of life that must be endured.
Who wants to track mountains of bills, send them out in the hopes that they will be paid promptly, and then again when they aren’t—or to handle the complexities of 🏢 corporation tax?
Small companies struggle with the challenge of not having a separate accounting department since, if you're not cautious, this may seriously detract from your company's primary focus and become a major time and personnel drain.
To manage tasks and send and monitor invoices, FreeAgent offers a user-friendly solution for online accounting. For bigger small enterprises, we think the price is a reasonable offer, even if it is not appropriate for a single proprietorship. Here comes a UK-based accounting software provider specialising in the difficulties of small company accounting.
They got their start in 2007 when three independent coders who were fed up with the “mess and headache of accounting” decided to utilise what they knew how to manage the piles of payment and budget data.
Over 70,000 small businesses, freelancers, and their accountants have benefited from the accounting services provided by FreeAgent, which now employs 170 people. In fact, the business expanded so much that, despite FreeAgent maintaining its operational independence, RBS bought FreeAgent not too long ago…
Since its launch in 2007, FreeAgent has been used by over 90,000 small companies in the UK to manage their finances, spending, invoicing, estimates, and other tasks. It has some fantastic advanced capabilities, such as tools for self-assessment that can automatically complete up to 90% of the self-employment tax return form, projections for corporate tax, and automatically created VAT forms.
Additionally, it has received honours (such as being voted the Small Business Accounting Software of the Year at the 2018 Accounting Excellence Awards) and has received an average Trustpilot rating of 4.7 out of 5 (from almost 2,000 reviews).
How to Get a Free Plan
However, most users find that all of the above comes with a price. We are talking about FreeAgent because RBS purchased it in March 2018 for £53 million, and now RBS/Natwest business banking clients may use it for free.
This translates to an annual savings of at least £150, making it quite alluring for small company owners. The tiny print makes it obvious that if you choose this option, your bank will be able to view every activity on your accounts, so carefully evaluate if you want to provide them access to your extensive financial information in exchange.
Among the many features offered by FreeAgent are:
- Sending expert estimates and invoices
- Tools for monitoring your time so you can simply build intelligent timesheets
- Making your tax return simple with effective ⚙️ HMRC integration
- VAT returns are generated automatically
- Predicting corporate taxes
- Cash flow monitoring dashboard that makes CT taxes simple to calculate
- Bank transactions are automatically imported
- A project dashboard view—see how much each project is earning, the time to complete things, how much money is being lost, and so on
- A fully functional mobile app—take pics of receipts, make invoices, monitor time, handle payments, and more on the road.
FreeAgent is exclusively available to clients of RBS/Natwest business banking, as was previously mentioned.
It offers three alternative solutions for the UK (you’ll need to add VAT to each plan). Sole Traders with Ltd. companies will pay under £15/mo for the first six months, followed by £30/mo. The package includes company tax projections, dividend vouchers, and the ability to apply for self-assessing.
Following that, a partnership or LLP costs £13/mo for the first six months and £25 per month. It contains a computation of profit sharing. Contrarily, the Sole Trader plan, which also covers self-assessment filing, costs a tenner monthly before increasing to £20.
All in all, the online accounting sector has a strong newcomer in FreeAgent. It competes with programmes like Kashflow, Kashoo, Zoho Books, Sage Business Cloud Accounting, and FreshBooks. Find out if the “one size fits all” option is a suitable match for your company, but we appreciate the infinite element that will expand as your firm develops.
The feature set is robust and can undoubtedly handle routine company operations like making estimates, receipts, and invoices. We bemoan the fact that there is just one tier available since, although being a great value for a small company with several workers, the monthly fee may be too much for a sole proprietorship with basic requirements.
FreeAgent is still a suggested option for SMBs whose accounting requirements have beyond the capabilities of a simple spreadsheet.
Best Free Accounting Software 💸 — Buying Guide
We’ve reviewed some of the most popular free accounting tools used by small business owners. Now, let’s explore this topic more openly.
Accounting Basics 📚
As a part of company operations, accounting or bookkeeping involves keeping track of and reporting financial data. The data collected in this manner provides vital input to upper management on how well the company is doing in comparison to its goals.
If you want to know how an accountancy system works and how it is employed to create financial statements, you'll need to read the following description of accounting fundamentals.
To begin, there must be a methodical strategy for maintaining records. Each main kind of account can be placed into one of these categories:
- Assets. Things that have been obtained and won't be used right away. Inventory and accounts receivable are two good examples.
- Liabilities. These are the company's financial commitments that will need to be met at a later time. Accounts payable and loan payable are two examples.
- Equity. Equity is calculated by subtracting assets from liabilities and indicates the owners' stake in the company. Common stock and preferred stock are two types of stocks that fit this category.
- Revenue. To put it simply, this is the sum charged to consumers after products or services have been provided.
- Expenses. The assets used up throughout the time frame under consideration. Expenses like rent and salary are two examples.
Do You Know these Data Points? 📊: eCommerce Shopping Stats UK
Why Use Accounting Software? ⭐
There are two schools of thought when it comes to accounting for a small company owner depending on your capabilities and cash flow:
- Handle it yourself.
- Hire a bookkeeper/accountant.
Both have their uses, and your choice should be based on your level of expertise in accounting. In recent years, accounting software has evolved and become considerably more intuitive.
Some recommend not worrying about accounting until you are earning enough to justify using a professional system, at which point you can correct any issues using your profits.
A majority of the software programs out there now have an intuitive interface that allows users to quickly enter bills and sales invoices with little effort. They may even be able to provide you with invoicing applications that can send bills from your mobile device as soon as a task is completed.
You could overall save time and money by using accounting software. Most free software nowadays is web-based, and this trend is expected to continue. There are both benefits and drawbacks associated with bookkeeping on the cloud.
Benefits of Cloud-Based Accounting
- ✅ As long as you have access to the internet, utilise the tool from any location
- ✅ The tool is regularly updated
- ✅ Some allow you to send an attachment to your accountant or bookkeeper
- ✅ When doing books, it's important to use a system called
- ✅ Constructed with safety in mind
- ❎ It’s best to have a fast internet connection
- ❎ Potentially shackled to a single service
- ❎ All your information is stored with them
- ❎ Adapting to a new method
Choosing the Right Accounting Program… 💡
Making a list of requirements is a good place to start when researching small company accounting software. Invoices for sales, costs, stock, debtors, creditors, multiple currencies, hours worked, payroll, online payments, and bank account integration are all possible uses.
Some of these capabilities are not available in free accounting software, so you should check premium instead for whatever is essential. FreshBooks, Zoho Books, QuickBooks, Xero, and Freeagent are some examples of overall excellent bookkeeping tools (Zoho and Freeagent have free tiers).
The majority of these are simple to instal and use. A basic dashboard sums up the company's financial situation and provides access to adding new transactions. Frequently review available reports. Every report has to contain P&L and B/S, but some may also need to include AR/AP and trial balance.
As for the best free alternatives for bookkeeping in a small business, Manager is a desktop tool, but we also recommend the cloud-based software GNUCash, FreeAgent, Bokio, Pandle, QuickFile, Wave, and Zoho Books.
Some are paid, while others include a free tier that lacks premium features or customer service. Several factors, such as advertising—as well as the lack of paid professional assistance, and upgraded versions—contribute to its zero cost.
Common Questions 📚 — Best Free Accounting Software
Is there a Free Version for Wave Accounting?
The answer is yes, Wave Accounting does not cost anything. However, since it is aimed at companies in the United States and Canada, it is not ideal for usage in the United Kingdom and does not support ‘Making Tax Digital’ for Value Added Tax.
Is there a Free Version for Xero?
To my knowledge, Xero does not provide a free version of its software. Still, they provide a month of free access so you can see what all the fuss is about before committing.
Does QuickBooks have a Free Version?
While QuickBooks doesn't provide a free version, you may test it out for 60 days at no cost to see whether it's the best option for your company's needs.
Can I Do My Own Accounting in the UK?
Yes. But to professionally work as a solo accountant or to form your own accountancy firm, you must enrol with a national governing body so that they may supervise your business activities and guarantee that laws and regulations, such as anti-money laundering requirements, are followed.
What is the Simplest Accounting Software?
FreshBooks is one of the most user-friendly accounting tools. The software is intended for small company owners who do not have a background in accounting. Invoices can be created and sent, costs can be tracked, projects and customers can be managed, and reports can be seen.
How Can I Get Accounting Help for Free?
Thanks to the marvels of SaaS technologies today, you can leverage a bunch of free software (listed above) to churn through your payments, invoicing, and spending data, including things like predicting corporate tax. Alternatively, you can learn Accounting for Free with LearnAccountingForFree.com's Resources. Here, you’ll find a basic online course.
Choosing the best accounting software for your company is a critical choice that should not be taken lightly. Finding a solution that works for you and your company could save you countless hours of unpleasant and time-consuming admin, allowing you to focus on what you do best: running your business.
Free accounting software is a very appealing SMB tool for small UK companies—particularly those who are just getting started. However, as this article has indicated, any free accounting software comes with trade-offs, so you must decide which of them you can live with.
Furthermore, you don't want your small firm to remain tiny indefinitely, and chances are you'll need to upgrade to premium accounting software at some time. Finding a paid solution that will grow with your company, like QuickBooks or FreshBooks, if you can afford it, might make this process much simpler.
Finally, all of the choices covered on this page are either free or provide a 30-day free trial, so make use of them. Only by using the programme will you be able to determine which is best for you, which sacrifices are acceptable, and which additional features are really worth paying for.
We hope that helped!