By Daniel Lewis,
/ Advertising Disclosure

4.8 / 5
TOTAL SCORE
SUMMARY

Ideally, the Freshbooks accounting system is suited for micro to small business owners, though it will also suit medium-sized business owners. While the feature set is not the most extensive, it offers a smooth and intuitive experience to streamline basic accounting needs. The learning curve is not at all sharp. The Freshbooks invoice feature is excellent.

DETAILED RATING
Features
Pricing
User Experience
Security
Service & Support
POSITIVES
  • Unlimited Invoices
  • Unlimited Estimates
  • Unlimited Expenses
  • Excellent User Interface
  • Excellent Mobile Applications
  • Easy To Use
  • Premium Customer Service
NEGATIVES
  • Limited Users
  • No Payroll

With over 10 million customers, Freshbooks is a well-respected name in the world of online accounting. It is also well known for its superb invoicing functionality and impressive payroll, truly earning it the name one-stop-shop. I decided to test it out and see if it really stood up to the hype.

Freshbooks comes with an extensive range of features to satisfy every business owner, from the micro freelancer to the large business. It has stepped up its services to match the biggest names in the online accounting industry, including Quickbooks Online and Zoho Books. The list of features on the basic package includes:

  • Unlimited invoices
  • Unlimited estimates
  • Expense tracking
  • Contact management
  • Project management
  • Time tracking
  • Mobile mileage tracking
  • Reports
  • Five billable clients
  • One user

This is the typical option you would expect in an online accounting platform. What is more important is how well these features are performed. After rigorous testing and comparison with other platforms, I found it to be an intuitive and responsive platform that was able to do everything I wanted. Freshbooks cloud accounting could be an ideal complement for your current business.

Editor’s Note: A common gripe with Freshbooks cloud accounting is the price. But most reviews are critical of the actual price of the product, not the price you pay. Freshbooks have been running a half-price deal for years and are currently offering a 60% reduction. So the Lite edition is $6.00, not $15 per month. And this goes for all packages. This lasts for 6 months, however, and then the price goes up. Most current reviews list the older pricing structures, such as $7.50 for the Lite plan – they are out of date.

Freshbooks Online Features

Freshbooks has the typical functionality you would expect with an online accounting platform, though there is little in the way of Freshbooks payroll. Most notable is the Freshbooks invoice functionality and the Freshbooks app for Android & IOS. The total feature set for the 3 price plans are outlined below:

  • Unlimited invoices (Basic)
  • Unlimited estimates (Basic)
  • Expense tracking (Basic)
  • Contact management (Basic)
  • Project management (Basic)
  • Time tracking (Basic)
  • Mobile mileage tracking (Basic)
  • Reports (Basic)
  • Five billable clients (Basic)
  • One user (Basic)
  • Double-entry accounting (Plus)
  • Advanced reports (Plus)
  • Proposals (Plus)
  • Live bank feeds (Plus)
  • 50 billable clients (Plus)
  • One user (Plus)
  • Bill-tracking (Premium)
  • 500 billable clients (Premium)
  • One user (Premium)

Freshbooks also has a fourth option, known as Freshbooks Select. This is a custom plan and you will have to call Freshbooks directly for a quote. There are some drawbacks to Freshbooks in terms of its functionality. First, it only offers one user with an option to add another user at $10 a month. Second, it only allows 5 billable clients, which is simply not enough. Third, there is no native payroll, though it does offer Gusto integration. The single-user simply means that only a single company can use it. Your employees will still have access to it through a single dedicated account. The limited number of billable clients is much more troubling.

Are there areas where Freshbooks functionality excels? Certainly. The Freshbooks invoicing functionality is excellent. There are 2 basic invoices where you can change the color, font, and logo. You don’t want too many customization options where design is concerned – it actually distracts from essential business processes. On the Plus and Premium plans, you can send recurring invoices, send reminders, and set late fees. Other prominent areas where the platform excels include:

  1. Contact Management – Contact management is relatively straightforward with Freshbooks. The interface is simple and easy, which is all that I really wanted. There is no way to manage vendors through contact management, which is something of a drawback.
  2. Time Tracking – You manually log time into FreshBooks or make use of the timer. You can also easily review the logged time of your employees and contractors. Time can be added to projects and billed as an invoice. You can also record unbillable time.
  3. Estimates – The ability to send estimates with Freshbooks is as expected. They can also be quickly converted to invoices. Estimates are linked to a novel proposal feature offered by Freshbooks, outlined in more detail below.
  4. Expense Tracking – Expense tracking with Freshbooks is simple and intuitive. You can enter expenses manually, import bank statements, or connect to live bank feeds. FreshBooks live bank feeds are not automatic like you would expect, however. When you enter an expense manually, you can add a receipt image, a vendor, description, total, and a category.
  5. Project Management – Typical of most platforms in that you can easily manage projects. But Freshbooks differentiates itself by the fact that it has a ‘discuss’ chat feature where employees can talk about the project.

Freshbooks also has a very cool feature called ‘proposals’ that I have never seen on other platforms. It allows you to make proposals to clients and you can add text, videos, files, etc. You can outline the details of the project and showcase previous work. You can request electronic signatures on these proposals. Moreover, the Freshbooks apps are excellent and I did not experience any errors or glitches during the tests. 

Freshbooks Price Plans

The basic plan is $6 a month, the Plus plan $10 a month, and the Premium plan $20 a month. This is due to the half-price deal Freshbooks is offering. This is a common pricing tactic deployed by nearly all accounting platforms (and in all other marketing industries).

Customers feel like they are getting a ‘deal’, so it is better to raise the price and then pretend that a deal is being offered. Still, compared to other platforms, the price is excellent when you take all of the features into account. 

The point is to be able to see the value of an accounting platform based on its unique merits instead of the marketing hacks. Which is what this review is all about. The following table compares the basic plans across multiple platforms along with the features on offer.

Brand Price What is on the plan
Freshbooks $6 per month for the first 6 months. $15 thereafter Accrual entry accounting on the basic plan. Essential features including invoices, estimates, expense tracking, contact management, project management, time tracking, mobile mileage tracking, reports.
Quickbooks Online $12.50 for the first 3 months and $25 thereafter. More robust features including track income & expenses, receipts, tax deductions, invoices, payments, mileage tracking, cash flow management, general reports, estimates, sales tracking, 1099 contractors.
Patriot Accounting Software $15 per month (simple price structure) Includes expense tracking, payroll integration, 1099 contractors, payments, unlimited vendor payments, e-filing, invoices, create customers.
Zoho Books $9 per month Includes bank reconciliation, custom invoices, expense tracking, projects, timesheets, recurring transactions, sales approval, budgeting

Zoho Sign integration.

Why Is FreshBooks Better Than Other Softwares With Similar Products?

It’s always interesting to distinguish different accounting solutions. Sometimes you can read all the reviews and still be unclear about the differences between them. The following will give you a rough idea of how Freshbooks stacks up against the competition.

In a nutshell, Freshbooks is superior based on its customer service and ease of use. However, it lacks certain reporting features and allows only limited users and clients. The best software is always going to be the one that best suits your needs and preferences. You can start small and expand as you need.

Software Invoice Expense Tracking Mobile Apps Project Management  Ease of Use Customer Service Reports Payroll
Freshbooks 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4
5 5 4 5 4 4 5 5
Zoho Books 4.5 4.5 5 4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
4.5 4 4 4 4 5 4 5
4.5 5 4 4 5 5 4.5 4

Freshbooks User Experience

Freshbooks offers an outstanding user experience. The following are the areas where it really excels:

  • General User Experience – The initial setup is fantastically smooth, regardless of what size of business you manage. The beauty of Freshbooks is that it really ties in simplicity with power. Though the dashboard and client portal look neat and streamlined, both are extremely powerful in terms of accounting functionality.
  • Client portal – The Freshbooks client portal is easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. It is also easy for clients to use.
  • Dashboard – Within the Freshbooks dashboard, you can quickly view important financial information about your business. The dashboard is organized by graphs for Outstanding Revenue, Total Profit, Revenue Streams, Spending, and Unbilled Time. The side menu offers quick access to key reports. There is also a quick create button in the top right-hand corner of the screen and a help button in the bottom right-hand corner.
  • Estimates & Proposals – Covered previously, this just makes it so much easier to interact with clients, submit proposals, and create invoices out of existing estimates.
  • Navigation – In the latest version, Freshbooks has really worked on its navigation, listening to user feedback. It has made it even more streamlined to use. Moreover, it is continually making small updates to its navigation panels each month.
  • Mobile Applications – The high standard in terms of user experience extends to the IOS and Android applications. Both the desktop and mobile options are easy to navigate and use. This can be contrasted to many other online accounting tools which have a far steeper learning curve.
  • Importing & Exporting – Freshbooks allows you to import clients and expenses as .csv files. There’s no way to personally import items or services, which is something of a drawback given this should be an easy fix. But if you send a file to FreshBooks support, the company will import the data for you. You can export reports and download estimates/invoices as .pdf files.

Freshbooks is also known to roll out small incremental changes which are not too upsetting. An exception to this would be the migration from Freshbooks Classic, which caused a lot of issues for existing users.

Freshbooks Customer Service & Support

Freshbooks customer service and the associated support options are excellent. There is no other mainstream accounting platform that rivals Freshbooks in terms of its customer service. This can easily be observed from the swift and consistent responses to client queries across multiple review sites. 

I also found it to be the case with email and phone support. Not only was it swift and responsive, but the representatives were friendly and clearly engaged with the reported issues. There are so many customer service representatives who simply don’t give a damn and are just collecting a paycheck. This is not the case with Freshbooks.

There is a huge amount of support options available with Freshbooks. This includes phone, email, online support forms, knowledgebase, blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Press Center, & webinars.

Online reviews of Freshbooks are incredible and predominantly positive. The most common online criticism relates to the migration from Freshbooks Classic. Others complain that it is too expensive, in comparison to Wave which is 100% free.

Freshbooks Software Security

Freshbooks is secure and has not suffered any of the hacks associated with multiple other accounting platforms. All of its security features are outlined on its security policy page. To start off, the platform uses the standard AES-256 bit encryption. This is typical and expected, useful for all online communications to prevent online ‘listeners’.

A third-party security provider known as SIKICH tests the network which stores your data. The Freshbooks data centers are said to be ‘state of the art’ with biometric and physical checks, cameras, and many other considerations to ensure the integrity of the data. Practically all online cloud providers make these claims. On the other hand, most compromises and hacks are done through online means, almost never though a hacker gaining physical access to data anymore. The customer is always the weakest point of vulnerability.

Freshbooks data is backed up every night and the page allows for responsible disclosure of hacks and scams. The FreshBooks Application uses the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for hosting requirements. With a vast array of clients with varying needs, GCP provides an environment that allows for the fast delivery of features, continued product innovation, reliable security and stability, and a reduced chance of downtime.

Freshbooks FAQ

What Is FreshBooks Used For?

Freshbooks is an online accounting platform for business owners. It performs all of the typical functions you would expect with accounting (though double-entry accounting is only offered at the Plus and Premium plans). However, Freshbooks also offers other features like invoicing and project management, and all of these features are interrelated. Freshbooks is known to be easy to use and is popular for its excellent invoicing features. Freshbooks also offers some of the best customer services around.

How Do I Create an Expense With Freshbooks?

Creating an expense through Freshbooks is easy. All you have to do, literally, is navigate to the dashboard, click on ‘Create New’, and then click on ‘New Expense’. You also have a quick entry option by going to the expenses section on the left-hand menu. When the window opens, you will have to fill out all of the relevant expense information. This includes the category, attaching receipt images, setting the date, adding a merchant, adding a description, adding taxes, etc. You can also choose whether or not to make a recurring expense.

How Do I Create An Invoice With Freshbooks?

The easiest way to create an invoice through Freshbooks is by creating one from an estimate. This is the most efficient method because you are automatically replicating data that the customer has already approved. On the estimates page, you would simply click on the ‘convert to invoice’ tab after selecting the correct invoices. You will need to change any relevant information (dates, amounts, tax, etc) when doing this, but it is definitely a faster process than creating an invoice manually. It’s better to update the estimate first (after clearing changes with the client) and then creating the invoice out of the existing estimate. This also makes the accounting side a lot more streamlined.

How Do I Accept Credit Card Payments With Freshbooks Payments?

There are a number of ways to do this. Business owners will allow clients to pay using Stripe or PayPal, indirectly allowing credit card payments. The mobile card reader on the Freshbooks application also allows credit card payments. Business owners also have the option of accepting credit card payments physically, from the store. Freshbooks integrates with a variety of online payment providers to allow easy access to credit card payments. All you have to do is enable it through Freshbooks payments.

What Should I Know When Migrating to the All-New FreshBooks?

Actually, if you are migrating to the all-new Freshbooks from a different platform, then you won’t have a problem. But if you are using Freshbooks Classic and are being ‘upgraded’, then you could run into difficulties. Literally, this is always a nightmare for those used to the older version to be forced onto a new version. Among other things, you will have to download a new Freshbooks app for mobile, resend invoices to existing customers, reconnect applications, reconnect bank accounts, invite your team members again, review roles, and set up emails and templates. In other words, you have to do everything again. In addition, there are lots of things that are not available in the new version, including card readers, client logins, late payment reminders, and much, much, much more.

How Much Is FreshBooks Monthly?

This will depend on what plan you intend on purchasing. At present, the Lite plan is $6 a month, the Plus plan is $10 a month, and the Premium plan is $20 a month. Be aware that other reviews will cite older prices, like $7.50 a month for the basic plan or $12.50 for the Plus plan. Also, be mindful of the fact that this current offer is only valid for the first 6 months. So the price will jump after this period. You can also use a free trial for one month to see if Freshbooks is a fit for you.

Is There a Free Version of FreshBooks?

Freshbooks does offer a free trial (but there is no free Freshbooks version). The free trial is available for 30 days. Of course, the Lite plan is currently available for as little as $6 a month for the first 6 months. It is a great way to test out a product. At the same time, you have to be careful even before taking a free trial these days. Using a product for an entire month is an investment of your time and data. And once clients are in, it can be very tricky migrating to another platform. Thankfully, Freshbooks has superb customer service and excellent reviews, so you are in safe hands.

Freshbooks Conclusion

Freshbooks is an excellent tool for small to medium-sized business owners. Its customer service and invoicing functionality ensure that it stands out, in tandem with its incredible user interface. 

The main caveats are the limitations on users and billable clients, which is very annoying.

Aside from this, it remains one of the best online accounting tools on the market. People complain about the price, but it is actually similar to most other accounting software on the market price-wise. It is the limitations that most are concerned about.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel Lewis is an MBA accredited investment professional who wants to assist small business owners to gain access to finance. After going through many channels for funding, Lewis has found that getting the first loan right is vitally important for future success.

Leave a Comment