- Very simple design
- Non-accountant friendly
- Affordable pricing
- Good customer support
- Available on most platforms
- Clever time management option
- Some features are UK-only
- Mobile version omits certain features
- CSV format support is limited
Cloud-based online accounting company FreeAgent was founded in 2007 in the United Kingdom with the main goal of making the lives of smaller businesses and sole proprietors easier in the UK, the U.S. and even worldwide. The site is praised for its many features, of which most are available on mobile platforms as well, such as: a nice overview, creating invoices, bills, estimates in an easy way with different currencies and in different languages, time tracking of your projects, easy bank reconciliation, 7 different reports, a smaller inventory for price lists and stocks, 30 integration and add-on options, and the possibility to give partial or full permission to other users such as your co-workers and accountants. And let’s not forget about two big pros of the site for new users: the completely free 30-day trial period with a fully functional software after which you can choose a monthly or the cheaper annual subscription, and the award-winning support of the company with tutorial videos, webinars and many more.
FreeAgent is entirely cloud-based and doesn’t require downloading separate software. For the first steps you just need an email address, your personal name and your company’s name and some crucial data like the starting date of your business, and your bank account with the balance at the start of your business.
After the initial setup is completed you are greeted by an extremely simplistic dashboard, the look of which you can configure any time. The dashboard allows you to see your cashflow, your banking, your due/overdue and paid invoices, the estimates, projects, time slips, see the seven reports the software automatically makes, such as your profit & loss, balance sheet etc., and the due tax dates the reports of which unfortunately cannot be printed out.
The main functions, all of which can be accessed by clicking on the Quick Links button, are the following: invoicing, creating estimates, mileages, bills, projects, managing your banking, and as of lately, you can add price lists and stocks to a built-in inventory.
However, keep in mind that this software was mostly made for small businesses and sole proprietors based in the UK, therefore use this software only if you don’t mind that it is not scalable and some features – such as payroll – are omitted from the U.S. and global versions.
A Guided Tour of FreeAgent
Creating New Documents
Creating new estimates, bills, projects and especially invoicing is simple. Not only can you select from various templates; you can set up invoices to send themselves to recurring clients, remind late payers, use all of the currencies of the world, and create your invoices in ten different languages. Last but not least, you can offer your clients to pay directly with different payment methods other than bank remittance, like credit/debit cards and electronic wallets.
Like many other similar software, you have the option to link your bank account to FreeAgent as well. To get your daily transactions automatically imported to the software, you can simply upload a bank statement, but not in CSV format as it may not be supported in some cases, regardless of the currency you use. You just have to explain the bank transactions, which will be recognized in the future should similar items appear on a bank statement, while FreeAgent does the accounting in the background. The only downside is that to keep everything fully up-to-date, you have to manually match the payment to the invoice.
When it comes to accounting, you have nothing to do, as the process itself is completely automated: FreeAgent builds reports such as profit & loss, trial balances and balance sheets from your bank statements, expenses and invoices. You also have the option to give complete access to your accountant and other users you trust, so you can work together simultaneously.
Ask an Accountant – FreeAgent Live Q&A
One of the most interesting features of the software, however, is the time tracking option. With this feature you can keep track of the time you spend with different tasks of different projects by manually typing in the time or using the built-in stopwatch, next to setting up weekly timesheets. It also lets you generate reports containing billable and unbillable times, which can be sent to your client to give them visibility of the progress.
If you want to manage your online accounting with a mobile device you have two options: you can either access the site using a mobile browser, or you can download the official application, which is available for Android and iOS platforms.
The version you can access via a mobile browser is basically the regular site itself adapted to your mobile screen. This means that all major functions remain available like creating an invoice, updating customer information, and you can also continue working on your projects. However, not all subpages adapt to mobile screens: for instance when you want to create a new invoice, the site reverts to its desktop format, which is not a big problem, but it is however a bit annoying.
The application looks extremely simple and only allows you to use the most important features like invoices, expenses, banking, and your contacts. With the invoices you can make a completely new one and attach it to an ongoing/new project, send or draft existing ones, you can add new expenses, mileages, contacts and edit them if necessary, and you can also check out your bank transactions that are either imported from your bank account or you manually typed them in. You can also make minor modifications in the company’s and your details, set the country options and the accounting dates, and even ask FreeAgent for support via email.
Integrations & Extra Services
There are 30 third party applications and services you could integrate into FreeAgent, which is not too much, but sufficient enough to further simplify your accounting work. These include other payment methods such as PayPal, Dwolla, and Stripe. For expense handling you can use a great variety of solutions such as Receipt Bank, ExpenseMagic, Xpenditure, Kagazz, while Senddr and SkyCollect are the available invoicing software options. CRMs and project management tools like Capsule CRM, Basecamp are supported: the latter is even promoted in the FreeAgent software itself. There is also Zapier with which those of your co-workers who are also using FreeAgent can synchronize every important data you need for work. Furthermore, there is a Google Chrome add-on which you can use to easily access your account without typing in your email address and password each time you want to work with the software. There is also the option for developers to add their programs to the list of software that could be integrated to FreeAgent, as the company offers and supports an API.
Integration itself usually follows the same steps: you have to search for the program you want to sync FreeAgent with – the list of which is provided on the website under Extras/Integrations & Add-ons – go the selected software’s page and follow the steps of the integration. The latter usually means signing into your FreeAgent account and the other account, and due to the cloud-based nature each time you create something in FreeAgent it will appear in the other software and vice versa.
Before you decide whether you want to become a regular FreeAgent client or not, you have the option to try out the services of the company for 30 days. All you have to do is create an account, provide some data about yourself and your company, and after a quick set-up you thankfully get the fully functional software and not a version with limited options. This means that you can already start uploading all the necessary data that is essential for your business, which you can easily export to an outside source if you decide to terminate your account any time within the trial period. But if FreeAgent has managed to convince you to purchase its services, you don’t have to wait until the expiry of the trial period: you just have to click on the Subscribe Today button on the top right corner and you can select the subscription type you prefer.
There are two subscription types for U.S. users: monthly, which is billed every month and the annual, which is always pre-paid. The monthly subscription price is $24 per month, while the annual subscription price is $240 per year or $20 a month, which means an approximately 17% discount making it a better choice for those who like things settled for a long time. Regardless of the chosen subscription you get all the FreeAgent features with sales tax reporting, multi-currency invoicing and full access to the company’s support until your subscription expires.
Seeing this rather generous offer it is quite a shame that you only have two payment options to choose from: Visa and MasterCard. However, there is a huge pro we should mention and that is the referral code: if you have been given one or more referral codes by other FreeAgent users, you just have to enter it into the bar, apply it and you will receive a 10% discount from the price.
While you are still in trial period, you have the option to sign up for 30-minute webinars during which one of the three professional accountants will guide you through the main features of FreeAgent and answer any questions you may have via live chat. Furthermore, you can book a 20-minute Getting Started phone call in which a professional will answer all of your questions. All of these options will be unavailable after you became a regular client, but do not worry, because you can still ask for help via email, go through the detailed knowledge base full of information and video tutorials about the major features. You can also visit the community forums to get in contact with the developers and other professionals.
Overall we can say that FreeAgent is a very good online accounting solution that is ideal for those who want to manage their businesses in a professional manner. However, the software is not 100% perfect, because some features such as payroll are missing from the U.S. version. The company offers just one plan that only differs in the subscription duration, some of the support options become unavailable once your 30-day trial has expired and only a few features are fit for work on mobile devices through the website itself. But if you are a sole proprietor, or own a smaller business, FreeAgent is a viable option for you. Its super simplistic design, invoices, estimates, bills that can be easily configured and managed, project creation with clever solutions are perfectly capable tools to manage your accounting more easily on any device. The service’s pricing is friendly, and so is the fantastic customer support you enjoy.
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