If you are a freelancer, small business owner, entrepreneur, or a “solopreneur,” you already know the web is full of professional tools and services for creating invoices. The task is sifting through them all to find the ones that offer the features and functionality that you need, for the price you can afford. All services have upgrade options, but what features are they withholding in hopes that you’ll pay for them?
Previously, I wrote about several websites that allow you to create free invoices without an account. If you need to manage your invoices and enjoy other features, keep reading.
In this article, I’ve collected six great invoicing services, many of which provide more than just invoicing for free. All have premium upgrades and some are better deals than others. The idea is to use this guide to discover what service is the best fit for you and your business.
Invoiceable is gaining a lot of traction as the go-to online invoicing website. And it’s no wonder when you look at its ability to manage your clients and create custom invoices on the fly through the intuitive, mobile-friendly design. The best part, though, is that all features are free. While many services (including some mentioned in this article) limit the number of invoices per month or cap the total amount of clients, with Invoiceable you only pay if you want to personalize your invoice account with a custom domain. This wouldn’t be a bad move for your business.
Check out our complete review of Invoiceable.
- Manage clients
- Quickly create invoices
- 256-bit SSL encryption
- Mobile friendly
- Automate invoices
- PayPal integration
- All features accessible (except personal domain)
- Unlimited clients/invoices
- Clean, intuitive design
- Invoiceable branding on free invoices
Hiveage (Previously CurdBee)
In the past we featured CurdBee, which recently got a face (and feature) lift and is now called Hiveage. Like Invoiceable, this invoice and client manager doesn’t have a monthly limit for the number of invoices you can create with the free version, and it’s compatible with PayPal and Google Wallet. Should you want to do invoicing on the go, the intuitive web interface is mobile-friendly as well. When you choose to upgrade for its additional features, customize what you need so you aren’t paying for more than what you’ll use.
- Unlimited Clients
- Unlimited Invoices
- PayPal & Google Wallet compatible
- Mobile-friendly interface
- No invoice/client limits
- Clean design
- Upgrade includes a custom plan
- Hiveage branding on invoices
- More features need an upgrade
- Upgrade is a monthly/yearly subscription
Zoho has been around for some time and is likely the number one online competitor to Google Docs. It’s a leader in online project management and CRM, containing plenty of business-focused tools. For many already using Zoho for other purposes, it makes sense to stay within the same system. That is if you can function within its constraints of the free account. Despite the user and mobile-friendly web design, you’re limited to 5 customers max – that’s less and kind of unrealistic, even for a free tool.
One other large disadvantage (for me) is the monthly subscription should you want more of the features – a probable case for many businesses. With a month-to-month service, it’s a constant expense and you end up paying far more than what you would with other options. To some, its features and tools may be worth that.
Beyond the customer limit (so to speak) and monthly premium, Zoho is an awesome invoicing tool with features that kept it from going unmentioned in this article. These include Google Apps integration, compatibility with PayPal (and other payment services), and invoice, payment and expense automation – a feature that often costs a premium with other cloud invoicing clients.
- Google Apps and CRM Integration
- Mobile invoicing (iOS, Android, Windows)
- Compatible with PayPal and other payment services
- Invoice, payment and expense automation
- Track payments
- Expense and time tracking
- Most features available
- No Zoho-branded invoice
- 5 customer limit
- Zoho-branded emails
- Upgrade is a monthly cost
Wave is the closest to a full-featured accounting and invoicing service. The free service is geared towards small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers alike. And it’s completely free — no catch. We’ve already raved about Wave, so look at that article for more insight. As far as features go, you can use it as your business invoicing and accounting software – it separates the two within the same account. It securely integrates with your bank account and online payment service. You can view accounts and reports, create and send invoices and scan in receipts.
Wave does have three pro services: Payroll, accepting credit cards, and premium support. However, these aren’t provided under a large umbrella-account where you end up paying for functionality you don’t need. Instead, each has their own affordable price.
- Bank account/online payment integration
- Account and reports
- Create and send invoices
- Receipt scanning
- Personal finance
- Intuitive and mobile-friendly web interface
- Completely free accounting and invoicing
- Only need to pay for a premium tool when you need it
- Mobile invoice app available only for iOS
- May be more than what you need
Many of you have actually heard of Nutcache already because I’ve seen it mentioned in the comments of our other articles on invoicing and on MakeUseOf Answers. Nutcache allows for unlimited users and companies for one account – a rare free feature with invoicing services. All core features are free, though some are more limited, such as the number and size of files you can attach to the invoice (1 file/transaction up to 5 MB), and data storage (1 GB for the free account). Many more invoicing features are available, but they’ll cost you a monthly fee.
The interface is nice and mobile-friendly, though a bit heavy on sub-menus, making it difficult to find what you’re looking for. In addition, Nutcache makes a time logger app for Android and iOS.
- Unlimited users/clients
- Mobile time logger app (Android/iOS)
- All core features available
- Modern, mobile interface
- Link-heavy interface (lots of submenus)
- Upgrade is a monthly cost
Affordable and Convenient: PayPal
It’s true that invoicing through PayPal isn’t completely free. While you don’t pay anything for creating or sending the invoice, once the client pays you through PayPal, there is a 2.9% charge + $0.30 per invoice.
When receiving payment through PayPal, however, you’re already paying the 2.9% per transaction, so it’s only an additional $0.30 per invoice. When considering the convenience of staying within the same system you’re already used to, this is nothing.
PayPal doesn’t have as many features as the other invoice managers mentioned here, but it gives you all you need: invoice and client management, tax settings, storing items such as products or services sold, and templates. It even allows you to provide financing to your clients.
- Attach up to 5 files per invoice
- Offer financing
- Mobile app
- No monthly fees
- Convenient if you’re already using it
- Limited functionality
- 2.9% + $0.30 per invoice transaction on received payment
When it comes down to deciding which invoicing tool to use, it depends on how it fits into your system. You should use something integrated within your current accounting setup. When you are on a budget or aren’t happy with the invoicing service you already have, you could look elsewhere. In this case, I’d recommend for you to look at Invoiceable as your sole invoicing tool.
Wave Accounting or Zoho are your best options when starting a new system that won’t throw your current practices for a loop. Keep in mind that Zoho will cost you more than Wave, but if it has what your business needs (and Wave doesn’t) the cost is trivial.
Hiveage and Nutcache are viable invoicing services too. I like Invoiceable the best, but it’s great to have options, and you may find either of the former more attractive for what you need.
PayPal comes in last, for me. It’s a great option to know about, but many other services do integrate with PayPal.
Interested in more complete accounting services? Check out our write-up featuring 5 cloud-based accounting apps.
What do you use currently? Has this article changed that or solidified your choice? Let’s hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments!