- Free of charge
- Most important features are present
- Payment with credit/debit card option
- Good applications
- Lacking or pay-only features and support
- Slow processing
- Few software integrations
At first glance, Canada-based online accounting solution Wave is nothing special: you can do invoicing, create estimates, bills, add your clients, vendors, products, upload receipts, and check some reports. Upon further examination you will see that the user interface is rather blank; you have to pay for certain additional features, even for live chat and phone support, no profit & loss reports are created, and you are mostly unable to access your account from a mobile device. These all should be warning signs to avoid the software. But Wave has a huge advantage over its competitors: it provides all the major features for every single user free of charge. Furthermore, you can cancel your account any time you want. Therefore, if you are not satisfied with Wave’s services, you lose nothing. If you are a sole proprietor or an owner of a small business and you want to get accounting software that knows the basics without spending a fortune, then Wave may be worth a try.
Wave is a cloud-based online accounting solution, therefore you don’t need to download any software. You just have to sign in, and you will get everything that the company has promised you—for free. Registration is free of charge; you don’t have worry about a trial period, and you can cancel your account any time.
Wave’s dashboard is rather blank: on the left you will find the most important features, while the rest of the screen is loosely taken up by your financial snapshot and your recent activity. The available functions are as follows: transactions, invoices (including recurring ones), estimates and statements, payments, bills, receipts, accounting, reports, payroll and pro services.
Some features, however, are completely missing from Wave Accounting’s services. Missing features are check creation and printing, time tracking, projects, 1099s and profit & loss reports. And there are some features that are either not well developed – such as adding new customers, vendors and products under the Accounting subpage – or they are far from important, like Pro Services, which is just a built-in Google search for nearby accounting service providers. Also, be prepared that the software is a tad slow even when no other programs are opened.
Getting Started with Wave
In this section you can quickly and simply create invoices, even recurring ones, and for reasons unknown, this is the place where your estimates and statements are born as well. By clicking on Create, you can add your customer, the dates, the item you sold, the taxes, change the default currency, and then either save and send your invoice, and save and record a payment. If you want to change the look of your invoice, just go to Settings and select from the three templates, change the colors and many more.
To create a receipt you have to upload a picture thereof; first either from your computer or by using your mobile device. When the picture of the receipt is uploaded, you have to wait while Wave processes it after which you can type in all necessary data about the new receipt. When you checked all data, click on Verify and the receipt will be added to your expenses. Keep in mind, however, that once verified you cannot edit the receipt anymore, only view or delete it.
On the Transactions page you can only see your unverified transactions as default. These are the transactions that are waiting to be added to your incomes/expenses and unfortunately, you have to do this verification process manually. However, you can merge or delete your transactions, transfer them to other connected accounts, or manually add new incomes and expenses.
Transactions in Wave
Even though you can sign in to your account and use every single feature you have, accounting with Wave on your mobile device is anything but fun. If you are forced to use the software anyway, we suggest you to access Wave’s service via tablet, and don’t forget to rotate the device horizontally.
However there are many apps developed by the company with which you can access certain features of the software: invoicing, payment, payroll and receipts. Unfortunately only the latter is available for Android users, for the other features you either need to use an iOS device or try your best with the “mobile version”. It is a shame, because the Receipts by Wave app we tested on Android is quite good. You just capture the receipt with the camera of your mobile device, it gets automatically attached to the new receipt, you wait for processing, type in the necessary data, verify the receipt and next time you access the accounting solution on your computer, the receipt will be there.
Integrations & Extra Services
Since Wave is a completely free accounting solution we were expecting that it will have very few integration offers. It turns out that we were right: there are only three third-party applications that could be integrated into your Wave account. These applications are: PayPal, Shoeboxed and Etsy for Shop Owners. Even though it is a huge pro that integration with these services is quick and smooth – and like many other accounting solution companies, Wave also supports and offers an API – we think that providing only three possible software integrations is far from sufficient. Hopefully more companies will find Wave in the future so this number could finally start increasing rapidly.
With that said we would like to tell you a bit more about the three third-party software available for integration:
After the PayPal integration, you will be able to see all of your transactions which you have to verify. You can then transfer them to other accounts you have connected to Wave, merge them together or even delete them.
With Shoeboxed you can scan and organize receipts, expense reports, manage business cards, track mileages and more. And the best thing of all? It is completely free of charge.
Etsy for Shop Owners Integration
Connect your Etsy account with Wave and you can see and track your incomes made from selling your products.
We had to check our eyesight multiple times just to make sure we are seeing Wave Accounting’s price right. But every time we refreshed our browser the price remained the same: $0.00. You have heard it right: Wave’s accounting solution is completely free of charge. No trial period, no limitations, no contract that permits you from cancelling your account, which you can do any time you want, no additional fees. It’s just you and the accounting solution. So where is the trick?
The trick is that like YouTube, and many other “free” services on the internet, the company’s main financers – such as American Express, Dell, Microsoft, HP, RBC and Symantec – pay money to feature their ads in your account, whether you like it or not. It is annoying, we admit, but if this is the price of using the software for free, we would take it.
However, that doesn’t mean there are no features you have to pay for. One such feature is Payments by Wave. This add-on allows you to add direct payment links to the invoices of your clients who can then instantly pay the money they owe you with their credit/debit cards. The price of this add-on is 2.9% + $0.3 per card transaction.
The other feature you have to pay for is (obviously) Payroll by Wave. The base fee of this service is $15 per month + as many times $4 per month as the number of employees you have. However, if you have more than 11 but less than 100 employees, the additional per capita price is reduced to $2.
If you need any kind of help Wave Accounting recommends you to use its FAQ, the community forums, an email support by submitting a support request, and leaving a message on its social media pages. You can also watch a pre-recorded webinar on YouTube in which the basics of this accounting solution are explained. All of these services come free with the software.
To get live chat or phone support, however, you have to pay a monthly fee. This attitude of Wave is extremely questionable with regard to the customer, but understandable with regard to the free of charge nature of the software. The prices are as follows: the live chat support costs $9 a month, while including phone support from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm EST, is $19 per month. To get three-month long discounted support you have to pay $49 one time.
At first we thought that Wave’s only advantage will be its pricing, but thankfully we were wrong. This doesn’t mean, however, that Wave Accounting is the essence of perfection. Unfortunately the software is slow and not very appealing, certain features are united as one like invoicing, estimates, statements, and the payroll and credit card payment options can only be activated if you pay a monthly fee. The number of third-party software you can integrate into Wave is insufficient; many applications, which handle certain features separately, are not available for Android platforms, the most annoying of all, you have to pay for the live chat and phone support. However, if you want to have a software that still knows all major features of a good accounting solution for unlimited amount of users and no subscription fee and contractual obligation at all, give Wave a try and you won’t be disappointed.