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Best cloud accounting software for 2021

Susan Honea

Susan Honea – 8 years experience helping businesses with bookkeeping, tax preparation and auditing

Last updated: January 28, 2021

Interested in cloud accounting software for your business? We explain what cloud accounting is, the benefits which come with it and the best cloud accounting software on the market.

Best cloud accounting software for 2021

The accounting software industry has seen a huge boom and many changes over recent years. For nearly three decades, desktop accounting software was the only option, which meant that businesses had to consider a number of factors when choosing the best package, including hosting methods, security, number of users, backups, support, and cost. These considerations continue to be important elements in the decision-making process, but the entry of cloud computing in the early 2000s changed the accounting software landscape dramatically.

In 2006, Xero entered the scene. Unlike many other competitors, such as QuickBooks, which entered the market and continues to produce a strong desktop and enterprise offering, Xero was always designed as a cloud-based product with specific benefits in mind, including

  • automatic backups and built-in data security,
  • flexible access from mobile devices and any computer with an internet connection,
  • integrations that expand functionality beyond just accounting tasks,
  • easy collaboration with and across departments,
  • significantly improved reliability, and
  • lower overall costs.

Organizations looking to migrate from a desktop accounting solution to a cloud-based solution should consider not only the core accounting functionality that they require, but also how they want to access the software; how many people need access and whether user-level permissions are required; what additional functionality is required (e.g., fixed asset management, automation features, payroll, project management, and so forth); overall ease of use; and what monthly (or yearly) subscription costs they’re willing to bear.

Read on for more information about the best cloud accounting software on the market. While most offer the same essential double-entry accounting functions, each has unique features that are important to specific types and sizes of businesses.

Best cloud accounting software: the snapshot

Here’s our shortlist of the best cloud accounting software platforms:

  1. QuickBooks Online. Best overall cloud accounting software. QuickBooks turns up on nearly all “best accounting software lists,” and the best cloud-accounting software lineup is no different. Ever popular with a range of features, options, and price points, versatile QuickBooks cloud accounting can meet many needs.
  2. FreshBooks. Best cloud accounting software for small businesses. FreshBooks is the darling of small contract-based businesses and provides a good option for any self-employed business owner, freelancer, or other small businesses. It is known for its ease of use and strong invoicing functionality.
  3. Xero. Best cloud accounting software for mobile users. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software that comes with a surfeit of integrations. Xero works for a range of users from the freelancer to the small or even medium-sized business. Xero accommodates unlimited users and user-level permissions and provides significant automations and mobile functionality.
  4. Wave. Most cost-effective cloud accounting software. Wave is a free yet robust double-entry accounting option. Along with all the core accounting features, it offers a nice range of integrations and automations. Wave is a budget-friendly option for small businesses or even a start-up not willing to invest in accounting software just yet.
  5. Zoho Books. Best cloud accounting software for businesses needing an integrated ecosystem. Businesses inching toward the medium-sized space might look to Zoho Books for cloud accounting needs. Zoho Books is part of the Zoho ecosystem that supports many features of business management beyond just keeping the books.
  6. Oracle NetSuite. Best cloud accounting software for medium-sized businesses. Oracle NetSuite’s power and sophistication almost put it in a different league than most of the cloud accounting options here. It’s an entire enterprise resource planning system that pulls together accounting/financials, CRM and e-commerce. Flexible and robust, it can be configured to suit any user needs.
  7. Kashoo. Best cloud accounting software for owner-operators. Small businesses wanting a simple cloud accounting option that supports multiple users might look to Kashoo. Although simple, it does provide double-entry accounting and some useful integration options.
  8. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping. Best cloud accounting software for online sellers. Online sellers and resellers—in particular, those using Amazon, Etsy, or eBay—who don’t need double-entry accounting functionality might find GoDaddy a good cloud-based option for accounting needs. It’s a simple, easy-to-use, and inexpensive option, especially its cheapest plan. Those needing features in one of the more expensive GoDaddy plans will probably want to look elsewhere.
  9. Sage Business Cloud. Best cloud accounting software for stable small businesses. For those small businesses with multiple companies and multiple users, Sage Business Cloud Accounting is a good option. Safe Business Cloud covers accounting needs well but not payroll, time tracking, or inventory. However, a nice range of integrations can take up the slack.
  10. ZipBooks. Best cloud accounting software for service-oriented businesses. ZipBooks is another simple option providing basic accounting features and some helpful ones as well. It does offer a slimmed-down free option and is generally affordable anyway.

Best cloud accounting software reviewed

1. QuickBooks Online

Price from $8.00/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best overall cloud accounting software.

Best for:
QuickBooks Online is one of the most widely used cloud accounting software products in America, and it’s designed for any business or accounting professional who needs quick and easy access to accounting software. With many different subscription levels, anybody can find the version that best suits their needs, but because QuickBooks Online is most useful for small to medium-sized businesses, businesses that are expanding rapidly, have subentities, or have multiple locations may find that they outgrow QuickBooks Online’s capabilities.

Key features:
As are all products in this list, QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based product. It’s a full-featured double-entry accounting software that is applicable for a wide variety of business types and sizes. In addition, QuickBooks Online offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS. While the mobile app isn’t as full-featured as the browser-based version of QuickBooks Online, it does automate mileage tracking via your phone’s GPS.

QuickBooks Online’s tiered subscription service ensures that users only pay for the features they need. At its core, QuickBooks online is a robust double-entry accounting platform, so users can trust that it will help businesses manage accounts payable and receivable, general ledger tasks, and basic reporting.

Simple Start, which is the least expensive subscription tier, is the basis of features for all other packages. Simple Start allows users to maximize tax deductions, track mileage, manage cash flow, send unlimited invoices, accept unlimited payments, run reports, send estimates, track sales and sales taxes, capture and organize receipts, and manage contractors. With the Essentials package, users can manage and pay bills, track time, manage multiple currencies, and give access to multiple users. Plus subscribers can track profitability and inventory, track transactions by class, create budgets, and access more robust reports.

In addition to all the features in the lower subscriptions, the Advanced subscription includes role access customization, unlimited chart of accounts items, batch invoices and expenses, business analytics and insights, enhanced custom fields, access to a dedicated account team, on-demand online training, automated workflows, and restoration of company data.

The number of users is tied directly to the subscription. Simple Start, the most basic and least expensive tier, allows a single user. The Essentials package allows up to three users to have access, and the Plus package allows up to five users. Advanced, which is the most robust, and allows up to 25 users. Specific access permissions can be set at the Essentials, Plus, and Advanced levels.

The biggest disadvantage of QuickBooks Online is that it only supports a single entity per subscription. Users who own multiple businesses will need to purchase multiple QuickBooks Online subscriptions and manage each independently.

All subscription tiers integrate with Quickbooks Online Payroll, and while it does incur an additional subscription fee, it automates much of the payroll process, including automatic payroll tax tracking. In addition, QuickBooks Payroll includes optional human resources features, including health benefits, 401k plans, workers’ compensation, that other products don’t offer. Payroll Core covers the basics with simple, reliable automated payroll designed for small teams. Payroll Premium allows automated payroll, time tracking, same-day direct deposit, expert setup review, and HR support. Payroll Elite is the most comprehensive package, offering protected automated payroll, end-to-end setup with a suite of services, certified HR support, and tax penalty protections. Intuit’s sister product, TSheets, further simplifies the payroll process with time tracking.

Beyond Intuit’s suite of integrated products, there are hundreds of additional built-in and third-party integrations. For sending and receiving payments users can choose from Bill.com, Melio, PayPal, Stripe, Square, and many other options. Customer and project management integrations include HubSpot, Capsule CRM, Salesforce, Insightly, BigTime, Jobber, and more. And, if you’re an online retailer, QuickBooks Online integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

Ease of use:
As one of the biggest and most popular financial services software products, QuickBooks Online is used by millions of businesses around the world. Because of its quick setup and modern, simple design, QuickBooks Online is easy to learn even for those who don’t have much accounting experience. If help is needed, all plans give customers access to expert support. For users who need bookkeeping help or don’t want to do the work themselves, QuickBooks Online now offers QuickBooks Live, which is a monthly subscription bookkeeping service.

Cost:
QuickBooks Online subscriptions are generally affordable, and the feature set increases with each subscription tier, allowing users to choose a subscription that provides only the features they need. Plus, users can try QuickBooks Online for free for 30 days, and Intuit frequently offers significant discounts (as much as 50% off monthly fees, in some cases) for new subscribers. As noted, Payroll does incur an additional subscription fee, as may some integrated apps. Users will need to compare the benefits of the cost against the time savings they experience when making these purchase decisions.

Things we liked:

  • Lots of integrations
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Cost-effective for smaller businesses
  • Multi-currency support
  • Mobile access

Things we didn’t like:

  • Single entity only
  • Payroll requires subscription
  • Limited to one user on lowest subscription tier

2. FreshBooks

Price from $4.50/mo
Free Trial 30 days

Best cloud accounting software for small businesses.

Best for:
FreshBooks is designed for the self-employed, freelancers, small- to medium-sized businesses with employees, and businesses with 1099 contractors. FreshBooks claims that the software is “Ridiculously Easy to Use” and backs that up. It is not intended for use by accountants since its feature set is limited compared to what dedicated accountants need, but the vast majority of small- to medium-sized businesses will find FreshBooks’ features and ease of use attractive.

Key features:
Designed for the web and never available as a desktop product, FreshBooks was created with the small business owner or freelancer in mind. Mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android, and users give the apps high ratings in both the App Store and Google Play. Plus, Apple ecosystem users will appreciate the ability to use the app on iPad and iPod Touch, rather than just iPhone.

FreshBooks was originally engineered to facilitate getting paid faster, so it began as an invoice tracking and creation product. Since it launched, FreshBooks has expanded to include expense tracking (including billable expenses), multi-language and multi-currency capabilities, a comprehensive invoicing workflow and customizable invoices, and a retainer function.

FreshBooks notes that payments occur up to 11 days faster when customers pay with a credit card. FreshBooks’ integrations with Stripe, Plaid, PayPal, Apple Pay, and other processors, along with the ability for clients to pay by credit card or ACH directly from the invoice, simplifies the accounts receivable process. FreshBooks also offers an automatic deposit feature and automatically categorizes the income according to rules you set.

Each subscription tier comes with more available functions. For freelancers or brand new small businesses with five or fewer billable clients, the Lite plan is perfect and allows unlimited invoicing and account statements, stored credit card information, a self-service client portal, client credits, and automated recurring invoices and late payment reminders, along with time tracking, an automatic bank feed, and a payroll add-on through Gusto.

FreshBooks also offers a robust reporting system that is easy for business owners to understand while still providing accountant-ready information for quarterly or end-of-year tax prep. While there isn’t a budgeting feature built-in, reports can be exported to Excel, allowing users to create and manage budgets manually.

The Plus plan allows users to invoice up to 50 clients and adds the ability to charge client credit cards automatically, accept e-signatures, collect retainers from clients, produce double-entry accounting reports, and allow accountant access. The Premium plan includes the same feature set as the Plus plan but allows the business to invoice up to 500 clients. Both Plus and Premium also include Advanced Payments, which is available for an additional monthly fee and allows subscription-based billing and virtual terminal processing, which is helpful in a retail environment. Users with more than 500 clients should consider the Select plan, which adds a number of additional features, including a dedicated account manager.

Lite, Plus, and Premium subscribers will have one user per subscription by default, but additional users can be added for an additional monthly fee. Select subscribers start with two users and can add more as needed. User-level permissions are not available, however, meaning that each user will have access to all data in FreshBooks.

Comprehensive time-tracking is also available, ensuring that every hour is accounted for. For team focused businesses, users can seamlessly collaborate on projects through FreshBooks. FreshBooks also integrates directly with a number of CRM platforms, including Salesforce, HubSpot, HoneyBook, Insightly, and Capsule CRM, and provides project management support through integrations with Asana, Trello, Basecamp, and G Suite, along with many additional platforms.

Ease of use:
FreshBooks is simple and intuitive—it definitely embodies its “Ridiculously Easy to Use” slogan. The company is also well-known for its excellent customer service, and there are weekly webinars to help users get the most out of the product. Plus, there are tons of training materials on the Freshbooks website.

Cost:
Overall, FreshBooks is affordable for the vast majority of freelancers and micro-businesses; however, prospective users will want to consider the costs associated with required and nice-to-have integrations and adding additional users. In addition, FreshBooks offers a 30-day free trial that includes access to the entire feature set, and as with other products on this list, FreshBooks frequently offers discounts for new customers.

Things we liked:

  • Friendly, effective customer service
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Automated bank feed
  • Affordable
  • Built-in time tracking

Things we didn’t like:

  • Must pay for additional users
  • Integration required for payroll
  • Not robust enough for accountants

3. Xero

Website www.xero.com
Price from $9.00/mo
Free Trial 30 days

Best cloud accounting software for mobile users.

Best for:
With no technical or accounting skills required, any small- or medium-sized business would benefit from Xero’s comprehensive feature set. Though it isn’t technically designed for accountants, its built-in accountant access allows accountants to work with their customers easily without having to download and share files. In addition, freelancers will find Xero to be a simple solution for tracking income and expenses.

Key features:
As with most of the accounting software on this list, Xero is available at multiple subscription levels with increasing functionality at each price point. At its core, Xero is a double-entry accounting platform with a customizable chart of accounts. It also has more than 700 third party integrations available, making it the most versatile product on this list in terms of integration-based functionality.

The Early plan, which is the lowest-priced, includes a fairly limited feature set, allowing users to send up to 20 invoices and quotes, enter up to five bills, reconcile bank transactions, and use Hubdoc’s receipt and bill capture. At the Growing plan level, users can send unlimited invoices and quotes and enter unlimited bills. The Established plan includes all features of the lower two subscription tiers plus multi-currency tracking, capture and management of expense claims, and project times and cost tracking.

Payroll is available through an integration to Gusto, and there is an Expensify integration to facilitate receipt, mileage, and company credit card tracking; both products incur an additional monthly cost. Xero also integrates with other project management packages, including Trello, retail sales platforms, such as Shopify, and CRM packages, including Salesforce, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Mailchimp, and Agile CRM.

Inventory management also costs extra, but it’s a native Xero product, and there’s a handy purchase order management feature, too. Users who need a more robust order, shipping, and inventory management platform will appreciate the Orderhive integration in the Xero App Marketplace, as well.

Xero’s mobile apps are available for iOS (including iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch) and Android. The mobile app functionality tends to be less robust than the web-based version, but users will still be able to send invoices, enter bills, and complete bank reconciliations, as well as view the real-time dashboard data for cash flow and profit and loss.

Unlike other software products on this list, Xero doesn’t restrict the number of users per subscription. As many users as necessary can be added, and specific permissions can be set per user. However, Xero only supports a single entity per subscription, so business owners with more than one entity will have to subscribe multiple times. Xero also isn’t as scalable as other products on this list.

The clean, intuitive dashboard simplifies the reporting process—most of the necessary information is right there, readily available in real-time. All reports are customizable, and Xero includes a drag-and-drop feature that makes the customization process quick and painless. Reporting is limited from within the mobile app, but the sharing features in the cloud-based version make up for that shortcoming.

Ease of use:
Because of its simple and straightforward design, Xero is one of the easiest cloud-based accounting software platforms to use. Anyone can set it up and navigate the interface with just a little bit of effort—even with no accounting skills or background at all. Automated bank integrations make managing transactions easier than ever because the built-in machine learning functionality allows Xero to learn the transactions that are downloaded, reducing the volume of data entry over time. Customer support doesn’t appear to be the best, but Xero Central is available, and includes both support and self-service learning sections with quite a few guides and very good training materials.

Cost:
Prospective users should know that Xero plans to increase its subscription fees at the beginning of 2021, according to the website, but even with those rate increases, Xero is considered quite affordable overall. Of its three plans, Growing is likely to be the one most businesses start with, and its monthly cost won’t break the bank. The 30-day free trial that Xero offers should be enough to help most users determine whether they want to move forward with a subscription.

Things we liked:

  • Over 700 app integrations
  • Ease of use
  • Unlimited users with user-level permissions
  • Intuitive, clean dashboard
  • Affordable

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not the greatest customer support
  • No multi-currency functionality except at top-tier pricing
  • Single-entity support

4. Wave

Price from FREE/mo

Most cost effective cloud accounting software.

Best for:
Wave is a 100% free cloud-based double-entry accounting product designed for small businesses that are just getting started. This easy to navigate product has everything a business needs to run smoothly, including project-based accounting and fixed asset management. Growing businesses that need to manage payroll for employees or take online payments directly from invoices will appreciate Wave’s low-cost add-on services.

Key features:
Wave offers comprehensive income and expense tracking, including customizable invoices with an automatic unpaid invoice reminder and built-in sales tax calculations. Wave also supports multiple currencies and offers direct integration with a variety of third-party platforms, such as Shopify, Shoeboxed, Etsy, Salesforce, PayPal, and Stripe, plus additional options through connectors like Zapier and PieSync.

Wave also offers particularly good reporting features in both cash and accrual formats, as well as a built-in time tracker and good contact management functionality. Inventory tracking is also available, but it isn’t considered one of Wave’s best-developed features. Plus, unlimited receipts can be scanned, which is a fantastic feature come tax time. The receipt scanning function is housed in the mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS, and once the receipt has been scanned, it’s automatically matched to the transaction in Wave.

Payroll is available for an extra fee, but it’s a modest monthly commitment. One drawback of the payroll functionality is that there is no built-in payroll tax payment system for 36 states, so businesses located in those states will have to file monthly and quarterly reports and payments manually. However, employees log in to Wave directly to access pay stubs and Forms W-2, which simplifies the overall payroll process significantly for small businesses.

Wave also facilitates credit card payments directly from the invoice. While there is a fee to use this service, the percentages are comparable to other products on this list, as well as the fees that businesses would incur with PayPal, Square, Stripe, and other payment platforms. Plus, business owners will likely find that the simplicity of having customers pay directly from the invoice makes the fee worth it.

As do some other products on this list, Wave now has a monthly add-on bookkeeping service, called Wave Advisors. It’s available for business owners who either don’t have time to do their own monthly bookkeeping or who need some extra help getting started or cleaning things up for the end of the year. Though true tax prep functionality isn’t currently available, Wave’s recent acquisition by H&R Block may change that in the future.

In addition, Wave allows users to add unlimited bank and credit card accounts. Transactions are automatically downloaded, and monthly reconciliations are a breeze. Wave now also offers a product called Wave Money, which provides users with a bank account, a debit card, and a mobile app, further streamlining the bookkeeping process.

One of Wave’s best features is that unlimited users can be added—both accountants and additional employee-type users. Most other products on this list charge extra for this feature, but Wave continues to hold to its original notion that free is better. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for entrepreneurs, Wave allows users to manage books for multiple entities via one login, which is quite different from the vast majority of cloud-based accounting products.

Ease of use:
New users can have Wave up and running in just a few minutes. For those users who require extra help, a 24/7 live chat support option is available for a small fee, and email support is available for everyone. Wave’s built-in dashboard provides easy-to-understand, instant access to the business’ financial information. The automated financial functions allow users to set up recurring transactions once, and Wave provides reminders for important upcoming transactions.

Cost:
Wave is free, ad-free, and fully-functional as an accounting package, so—by far—it’s the most cost-effective option on this list. Even the payroll and payments are cost-effective given their robustness. Users don’t even have to enter a credit card to create a free account, so peace of mind is built-in, too.

Things we liked:

  • Free—no credit card required
  • Easy to navigate
  • Built-in sales tax calculations
  • Strong multi-currency and multi-entity support
  • Unlimited transactions, forever

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not ideal for quickly growing businesses
  • Limited inventory management features
  • Payroll tax reporting and filing in very few states

5. Zoho Books

Website www.zoho.com
Price from $9.00/mo

Best cloud accounting software for businesses needing an integrated ecosystem.

Best for:
Zoho Books is an ideal solution for small or medium-sized businesses, especially those interested in using the various products in the Zoho ecosystem. Zoho Books is an equally good standalone product as well, making it a flexible, cost-effective choice for a wide variety of users.

Key features:
Zoho Books features double-entry accounting and a comprehensive, convenient dashboard approach that allows the business owner or accountant to see a wide range of real-time data. Invoicing features include customizable invoice and estimate templates, recurring and scheduled invoices, automatic reminders, and more. Zoho Books’ reporting capabilities are also very good and include customization features, and there’s a handy Reports dashboard that’s built-in. Users requiring advanced reporting capabilities will want to look at Zoho Analytics.

One of Zoho Books’ best features is its contact management system. Because Zoho understands the way that businesses need to communicate with clients, its client portal is one of the best on the market. Clients can log in to view business transactions, and Zoho Books also allows users to push emails out to clients using built-in email templates.

Zoho Books also includes strong project management features. Within the platform, users can manage people and expenses and the project level, which is a feature unique to Zoho Books. Plus, user-level permissions facilitate allowing and restricting features as needed across the platform.

Like most accounting platforms, Zoho Books is available in a tiered subscription format. The Basic package, allows up to 50 contacts and five automated workflows, a sales approval process, and budgeting analysis. The Standard package includes all features in Basic and allows up to 500 contacts and 10 automated workflows along with bill tracking and automation, vendor credits, reporting tags, and a number of other features. The most comprehensive plan, Professional, allows more than 500 contacts and all the features from the Basic and Standard packages as well as sales orders, stock trading, a custom domain, purchase orders, and a vendor portal.

One disadvantage of using Zoho Books is that it restricts the number of users per subscription. In the Basic subscription, only two users are allowed. The Standard subscription allows three users, and the Professional subscription allows up to 10 users. Companies that require more users can purchase additional user licenses for a modest fee, but those fees can add up quickly for growing businesses who need to give broad access to the data. Zoho Books subscriptions also limit users to a single entity.

Users can access Zoho Books via a mobile app that’s available for Android and iOS. Apple ecosystem users will appreciate the comprehensive iOS app, which can be used on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The iOS app even includes built-in Siri functionality for setting reminders and iMessage functionality for keeping in touch with clients on the go.

Zoho offers other platform integrated products for more niche forms of business management, such as Zoho Inventory, which is a fully-fledged inventory management platform that integrates seamlessly with Zoho Books. Businesses offering subscription based services can purchase Zoho Subscriptions, which is one of the only financing software packages on the market that is specifically designed for subscription-based revenue.

Ease of use:
Those familiar with the Zoho ecosystem will find Zoho Books to be quite easy to use. Those migrating from other packages may experience a bit of a learning curve as the Zoho interface can initially seem a bit clunky and cluttered. Zoho is focused on regular updates and ensuring that the user experience is good. Users will also find that the user documentation and customer service are excellent. Businesses that require software customization will find that some programming experience is helpful, but the API integration that’s available simplifies the customization process, and there are lots of third-party integrations that can help limit the amount of customization that’s necessary.

Cost:
The three Zoho Books subscriptions (Basic, Standard, and Professional) are all available for a reasonable cost, especially given how robust Zoho Books is. Expansion into additional Zoho products can cause the platform to become expensive, however, so new users should consider carefully what functionality is necessary and only expand when the need arises.

Things we liked:

  • Good recurring transaction automation
  • Cost-effective as a standalone accounting product
  • Excellent APIs to facilitate customization
  • Available complete ecosystem for growing businesses
  • Good support and learning options

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited number of users on less expensive platforms
  • May be too feature-rich for smaller companies
  • No multi-entity support

6. Oracle NetSuite

Best cloud accounting software for medium-sized businesses.

Best for:
Oracle NetSuite bills itself as “the #1 Cloud Business Platform.” For those needing a powerful ERP, NetSuite is that and more. It is a commodity seller’s dream. A business requiring tracking of inventory or a manufacturer or entity needing purchasing capabilities will find Oracle NetSuite provides a robust solution. Oracle NetSuite’s flexible, customizable, and scalable options allow a business to grow.

Key features:
Whatever you want out of Oracle NetSuite, it will provide. At its core, Oracle NetSuite is a fully-scalable, complete double-entry accounting software, making it a great choice for medium-sized businesses or smaller businesses that are growing quickly. Accounts payable and receivable, payroll, general ledger, invoicing, and other features are part of the integrated platform, along with online and EFT accounts payable functionality.

Oracle NetSuite’s services are completely customizable. Features include customer engagement tracking, financial planning, and financial, product, and order management. Users can manage the supply chain with end-to-end inventory logistics and streamline lead-to-cash processes while elevating productivity across the organization. There are features for every type of business.

Reporting capabilities in Oracle NetSuite are robust, and the ad hoc report builder provides unparalleled reporting flexibility. Oracle NetSuite also supports multiple entities and subsidiaries, making it a strong contender for businesses with more than one location. Invoicing can be customized, too, allowing a business to invoice and receive payments from customers in several unique ways, including subsidiary and headquarters consolidation.

The number of users is directly related to the types of services required. The comprehensive dashboard is customized based on user-level permissions, allowing users to see only the data that pertain to their job roles. However, user-level permissions are so robust that Oracle NetSuite provides a 101-page manual to orient users to the roles and permissions, including how to customize/create roles. In short, NetSuite can accommodate as many roles as required.

Oracle NetSuite also includes strong budgeting functionality, allowing users to budget by location, department, team, or project, and build comparative budgets (e.g., best/worst case) for the same or similar criteria. In addition, employee expense management—including billable expenses—is facilitated easily through a built-in expense management feature.

Additional features include financial planning, revenue management, job and project management, and other ERP capabilities, as well as support for compliance protocols (SOX, GAAP, ASC 606, and others). Oracle NetSuite is a fully integrated platform, and it can be configured for unique purposes.

Ease of use:
Oracle NetSuite is vast, and its power and capability bring a steep learning curve, too. However, Oracle offers comprehensive support via online guides, phone, or email. Oracle NetSuite takes pride in its ability to streamline the overall business process, simplifying reporting, analytics, and decision making on one convenient platform. Add to that operation, HR, and marketing functions. Oracle NetSuite brings all of these features into a sleek and easily navigable dashboard, making managing the entire business easier.

Cost:
A business’ ability to choose the right services makes narrowing down one cost a bit difficult. Oracle NetSuite also does not publish their prices online, and users will need help navigating the array of options, so all purchasing must be done by consultation with a service representative. A free demo is available.

Things we liked:

  • Fully integrated platform, including payroll
  • Scalable and flexible
  • Built-in automation and customization
  • Comprehensive accounting and business management features
  • Top-notch reporting capabilities

Things we didn’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Challenging to set up and use
  • Customer support isn’t the best

7. Kashoo

Website www.kashoo.com
Price from $16.65/mo
Free Trial 14 days

Best cloud accounting software for owner-operators.

Best for:
Kashoo was made for the truly small business—for owner-operators, contractors, freelancers, digital professionals, and other small entities. Eliminating redundant tasks like manual reports, Kashoo leaves business owners time to do the things they love about their businesses. Kashoo is a simple and cost-effective solution to small business tax needs.

Key features:
Kashoo only has one subscription tier, but it includes many tools that a small business needs. The software’s workspace includes direct data entry fields for income and expenses. Automated features extend to functions such as data entry—including bank feeds in a variety of formats— and manual reports. Kashoo also offers customizable invoice templates.

Kashoo’s single offering includes other functions, such as sales and sales tax tracking, one-click financial reporting, and smart invoicing with payment options. With a mobile app, users can manage bills and payments with connection to over 5,000 banks. Kashoo includes multi-currency support and includes a receipt capture feature in its mobile app, too, and automatically categorizes the expenses.

The cloud-based platform offers automatic backups and notifications. Recently, Kashoo added a second layer of security to its platform—phone verification for connecting bank feeds— that helps users feel more confident. In addition, Kashoo has an intuitive user interface, including a dashboard that shows income, expenses, profits, and losses in one place, improving the user’s ability to predict cash flow and understand the business’ health.

Kashoo is made for small businesses, but it provides unlimited access to users. Users can be assigned to one of three roles, each with a different level of access: Admin and Billing, Admin, and Business Owner. Kashoo also includes an access point for qualified accountants.

Users can import a chart of accounts or build one from scratch, giving businesses the flexibility to manage their businesses in the way that makes the most sense to them. Kashoo also includes subcategory-level reporting to help businesses maximize deductions at tax time. Currently, however, no tax prep capabilities are built-in (for individuals or businesses), and the reporting feature is limited compared to other products on this list.

Kashoo integrates with Stripe and Square for credit card payments and with three different payroll apps: PaymentEvolution, SurePayroll, and Paychex. Users who require additional features, such as CRM functionality, can integrate with other products, including Pepperi.

Ease of use:
Kashoo provides a simple approach to tracking your business’s financial progress with a minimal learning curve. Support is available by phone and email, but most users won’t need to avail themselves of the service. Newcomers will appreciate the simplicity more than seasoned accounting professionals, who will find the software limited. Kashoo can be imported easily to other products as necessary, such as QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks.

Cost:
Users considering Kashoo can take advantage of the no-commitment 14-day free trial that doesn’t require a credit card to sign up. Kashoo offers one plan that comes with all features available. It’s not the cheapest nor most expensive option, but the user can opt out of it at any time. However, committing to a yearly plan brings some savings.

Things we liked:

  • Customizable, flexible chart of accounts
  • Recurring invoice functionality
  • Multi-currency support
  • Inexpensive
  • Built-in bank and credit card feeds

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited reporting
  • No budget feature
  • Not designed for medium and larger businesses

8. GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping

Best cloud accounting software for online sellers.

Best for:
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is a simple cloud-accounting solution for those who don’t need a more robust option but would like something that syncs with third-party platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and PayPal. Designed primarily for the sole proprietor or micro-businesses, it’s a good option for smaller online sellers and consultants.

Key features:
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping provides core features for easy bookkeeping requiring very little prior accounting knowledge. Convenient integration with reseller and retail sites such as Amazon or Etsy combined with the easily accessible dashboard helps GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping users monitor their money easily.

Functionality depends upon the package chosen, with the most basic—the Get Paid plan—including invoices and estimates, mobile payment acceptance, mileage and time tracking, and current-year business reports. The Essentials plan adds unlimited reporting capabilities, tax preparation worksheets for individuals, bank and credit card imports, and the ability to import sales data from sellers such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, as well as a direct sync with PayPal. The Premium plan adds a recurring invoice feature, as well.

Users should know, however, that GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is not a double-entry accounting platform. As such, it’s lacking in several areas, including accounts payable and reporting. It also doesn’t include strong billable expense tracking, project management, and contact management tools, which are often needed by small and growing businesses.

Notifications can be turned on for specific tasks, such as when clients view documents. Users can also track time and mileage manually, and while the manual data entry isn’t ideal, it may be sufficient for many sole proprietors and freelancers.

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is a basic offering designed for the self-employed, so it’s limited to a maximum of two users at a time. The vast majority of GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping’s intended user base won’t need more than two users, though. A mobile app for Android and iOS is available, as well, and users can do almost everything that’s included in the web-based version, making it one of the better apps on this list.

GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping also boasts a comprehensive quarterly and end-of-year tax reporting system, which is truly one of its best features. Users can produce a Schedule C report that maps information to specific tax lines, and there are sales tax and other tax worksheets available, as well.

Ease of use:
GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping is designed to keep accounting simple and easy. The dashboard simplifies tasks needed for profit and loss, time tracking, financial reporting, and invoices. The dashboard even has an estimated quarterly tax payment option to keep users apprised of upcoming tax obligations. Automated functions just need a one-time set-up, so almost no manual entry is required.

Cost:
There are three plans available from GoDaddy. The Get Paid plan is an inexpensive base package and is included in all other packages. The Essentials plan is their most popular option and comes with automated imports and tax worksheets. Essentials is still relatively cheap. Godaddy’s Premium package includes all other features as well as unlimited business reports and recurring invoices. The Premium plan is the most expensive but is still affordable compared to some competitors.

Things we liked:

  • Unrivaled reseller integration
  • Good mobile apps
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Very affordable
  • Quarterly and end-of-year tax tracking

Things we didn’t like:

  • No bill-pay (accounts payable) feature
  • Time and mileage tracking is manual
  • Not designed for multi-employee businesses

9. Sage Business Cloud

Price from $25.00/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best cloud accounting software for stable small businesses.

Best for:
Created for small businesses, Sage Business Cloud’s dashboard feature can help novice accountants keep track of their accounts payable easily, access reporting features, and enable other app integrations. A new business owner will find the simplicity and basic functions a good starting point for their financial operations, but users may find that Sage Business Cloud’s limited accounting features can hinder an organization’s ability to grow.

Key features:
Sage Business Cloud is designed to help businesses keep track of every cent coming into and going out of the organization. The simple dashboard enables easy cash flow forecasting, and customers can personalize and track their own invoices. Integrating Stripe Payments allows the business to get paid faster, and Stripe automatically tracks and updates what customers owe. The built-in reports allow the business owner to report on profit and loss, view balance sheets, and run other financial reports.

Sage Business Cloud offers two plans. The first package, Accounting Start, which is designed for sole proprietors and micro-businesses, allows only one user. Accounting Start includes very basic functionality—invoicing and receivables and a bank connection. The second plan, Accounting, supports an unlimited number of users, but only the subscriber has access to bank information. The Accounting package does open access to a number of important features, including accrual-based accounting, real-time reporting, and quotes and estimates.

Sage Business Cloud’s iOS and Android mobile apps allow users to pull data from anywhere, as well as capture receipts and automatically enter them from your dashboard. The AutoEntry feature, which is built into the mobile app at the higher subscription tier, automatically processes receipts and uses machine learning to remember categorizations, thus cutting down on manual data entry.

From the Products and Services tab, Sage Business Accounting users can monitor their inventory with ease—at no extra cost. Unlike other products, inventory management is a core feature, which is nice-to-have for small online sellers. However, even though the Sage Business Cloud model seems comprehensive, the time-saving automation isn’t as robust as other programs. In addition, some features aren’t as easy to use as competitors’ products, including the ability to edit journal entries.

That said, Sage Business Cloud Marketplace provides apps for integration in several categories. Users will recognize some common integrations, such as PieSync and NCR Small Business, and will appreciate the variety of other integrations that are available. And, both Sage Business Cloud plans provide access to one-on-one support from Sage Accounting experts.

Ease of use:
Sage’s “getting started” checklist is unique and especially helpful for new users and those unfamiliar with accounting software in general. Their dashboard keeps all information in one convenient and easily accessible place. The modern interface allows users to see what features are being used and how. Sage is not known for their customer support but they do offer live chats with professionals should customers have any questions.

Cost:
Sage Business Cloud offers two plans. The Accounting Start plan is inexpensive but very limited. The second plan, Accounting, offers several additional features, so it does cost more. Both plans are cost-effective overall, and Sage offers a free trial period and frequently offers short-term discounts.

Things we liked:

  • Easy to set up and navigate
  • Very good dashboard
  • Inventory management is built-in
  • Good reports options for the price
  • Stripe integration for payment processing

Things we didn’t like:

  • Automation is limited
  • The feature set is small compared to other products
  • Journal entries are hard to modify

10. ZipBooks

Website Zipbooks.com
Price from $15/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best for:
ZipBooks provides features and options that will appeal to start-ups, small businesses, and medium-sized businesses. New businesses looking to save money can take advantage of the free option provided by ZipBooks if they’re comfortable with its limited capabilities and larger, established businesses will find that advanced ZipBooks plans provide more functionality and the option to grow.

Key features:
ZipBooks is designed to be simple and easy to use, even for those with no accounting or bookkeeping experience. The primary feature of ZipBooks is accounts receivable; the built-in aging report is good for small businesses that send invoices and helps them stay on top of who has and has not paid. It even includes a feature that identifies clients who pay late and facilitates setting up automatic reminders.

The bank and credit card connection, transaction download, and reconciliation process in ZipBooks makes month-end easy. And, for users who choose not to use the automatic download feature, ZipBooks provides a handy import tool from which transactions can be imported via either a statement or a spreadsheet. Regardless of the import method, ZipBooks automatically categorizes the transactions, saving users lots of time as it learns.

The chart of accounts that is included is standardized, but it’s also fully customizable, allowing users to create a chart of accounts that makes sense to them. ZipBooks also supports project accounting, including tracking project-specific income and expenses and tracking time per project or task. For companies that need an additional level of granularity, transactions can be tagged to a specific location, department, or other entity and then reported against; this feature is particularly useful in companies with multiple locations in which cross-location comparison is common, such as retail stores.

The different plans offered by ZipBooks come with varying features. The more expensive packages allow users to send automated custom invoices, quotes, and estimates. Users can also send quotes and receive payments through Square, PayPal, and other software. ZipBooks also offers multi-currency support, but it is limited. Businesses that need to offer payroll services can do so via a Gusto integration. There is a mobile app (iOS only), but it’s not full-featured and tends to be buggy.

The Starter plan allows only one user and one bank account, basic reports, and online payments via Square and PayPal. The Smarter plan increases users to five team members with user-level permissions, allows connections to multiple bank and credit card accounts, automatic invoice reminders, time tracking, automated 1099 payments and expenses, as well as customized reporting. The Sophisticated plan allows unlimited users and bank accounts and features consolidated reports for multi-location accounting, custom report tags, custom categories in the chart of accounts, secure document sharing, and month-end (or regular periodic) closing functionality. The Accountant plan is designed specifically for accounting practices and includes features appropriate for that type of use.

Ease of use:
ZipBooks is very easy to set up and use. The interface is clean, modern, and intuitive. Chat Support is available from the ZipBooks website, and there is a knowledge base that users can access (also on the website).

Cost:
ZipBooks’ three business-focused plans are all affordable (the lowest subscription tier is free!), but users may find that they need a more expensive subscription tier to meet their needs. Even the highest-priced option, however, is cost-effective for most small businesses.

Things we liked:

  • Affordable, even at the highest subscription tier
  • Good customer support features
  • User-level permissions
  • Location tagging feature
  • Focus on accounts receivable

Things we didn’t like:

  • Features can be outgrown quickly
  • Limited reports compared to other products
  • Mobile apps are lacking

FAQ

What is cloud-based accounting software?

Cloud-based (online) accounting software uses apps to access the internet and connect to data stored on remote servers. Cloud-based accounting is typically subscription-based.

Why should I store my data in the cloud?

Cloud-based accounting offers options for accessibility that a desktop option can’t match. Any device—smartphone, tablet, laptop—that can be used to access the internet can access cloud-based software, and the apps provided by most software companies are available for a hefty range of devices. You’re not tied to the desktop in your office with cloud-based accounting software. In addition, cloud-based software is typically updated regularly, and it automatically backs up your data, so you don’t have to worry about losing your information. Desktop accounting software will soon be a thing of the past as software providers increasingly make the move to the cloud. Plus, cloud-accounting is a cost-effective option.

How secure is my data in the cloud?

Here’s another question: How secure is your data on your desktop computer? Computers can be stolen, broken, lost, or vulnerable in other ways. Even accounting done by pen and paper can be subject to loss. Cloud-based accounting software companies have a lot on the line in providing service to customers. They want to compete in the market, so they are deeply concerned about protecting their brand names and reputations. They are committed to keeping data secure.

How much do I need to know about accounting to use cloud accounting software?

It doesn’t hurt to take a few moments to learn some accounting basics. However, the software companies know that not all business owners are accountants, so they do work to make their software easy to use, even for the novice. Many offer free trials and training materials, tutorials, and additional support on their websites.

How do I choose the best cloud-accounting software for me?

The best place to start is here, with the reviews we have provided. Take a moment to think about what you need as a cloud-accounting software user, now and in the future. Read about the features each cloud accounting software uses. Take advantage of free trials, too!

Did you know?

A recent article at Funding Circle indicates that “40 to 46 percent of small business owners and executives consider bookkeeping and taxes the least enjoyable part of running a business.” However, the books won’t keep themselves, so someone has to do it, and cloud-based accounting software can ease that burden. Cloud-based accounting software is the accounting option of the future. With easy access, ease of use, and a range of options, cloud-based accounting software is increasingly the way to go.