Which accounting software is the best value for money?

Whether you're a freelancer or a small business owner, keeping your business accounts in order is probably your top priority. Not only this, but if you have taxable turnover which reaches, or exceeds, the VAT threshold, then you're now legally obliged to keep digital records. With this in mind, it is worth sourcing the most appropriate accounting software package for you and your business.

There are plenty of choices out there, ranging from expensive options through to more affordable alternatives. Choosing the package that offers all of the functionality that you need is essential, as switching software at a later date isn't always easy.

To get you started, we've summarised a selection of accounting software packages. Many of them are cloud-based, so you can access them on a PC or Mac, with some options also configured for mobile access too. It is worth checking whether you can try a package out for free for a month, before committing to it long term.

Points to consider when choosing a software accounting package

With so much choice available, it makes good business sense to do your homework before making a final decision. There are several factors to take into account, including:

- Cost

- Ease of use

- Features

- Multiple currency options

- Computer installed software or cloud-based

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

Sage is a tried and trusted brand in the world of accounting software, and the company offers two distinct options suitable for smaller startups and freelancers. If you're going it alone, then your best option is Sage Accounting Start, which is available for £12 per month, reduced to £7.20 for the first three months. You can record your business income and your expenses, in addition to having access to bank account integration and cash flow statements. You can also submit your VAT returns to HMRC via the software.

If you employ staff, then you'll need the more expensive Sage Accounting package. This package includes inventory management, as well as cash flow forecasts, amongst other features. However, the costs increase to £26.40 per month, reduced to just £7.92 for the first three months.

Intuit QuickBooks

Another leading brand in accounting software, Quickbooks offers a range of solutions, suitable for all sizes of business. The Self-Employed package costs just £8 per month, reduced to £4 for the first six months. You can create and send invoices, photograph and upload receipts and even track your mileage and record it for tax purposes.

Quickbooks Online Essentials costs £18 per month, but Intuit regularly offer the first six months half price for new subscribers. Particularly suitable for VAT registered concerns, the Essentials package helps with calculating and filing your VAT returns, as well as managing payments and bills. There's also an extra add-on for including a payroll service.

The Plus package is available for £27 per month (before any discounts). This package offers extra functionality, such as managing stock, creating purchase orders and tracking costs.

Xero

 Xero is the UK’s leading cloud accounting solution with almost 500,000 subscribers, and also offers different packages for differing business needs. Costing £10 per month for the Starter package, £24 per month for the Standard package and £30 per month for the Premium option for their multi-currency solution (before any introductory discounts are applied), Xero offers access for unlimited users, and has a strong accountant ecosystem, along with over 700 integrated apps to extend the functionality of the platform.

The software provides a customisable dashboard and users can take control of their inventory management and integrate the company bank accounts with market leading bank feed integrations with all the major banks. However, be aware that the most affordable Starter package restricts you to sending just five invoices, submitting five bills and reconciling only 20 transactions from your bank account. A payroll feature, expenses module and projects functionality can be also be added at an extra cost.

FreeAgent

Also offering a choice of three packages, FreeAgent's Sole Trader software costs £19 per month. The Partnership/LLP package costs £24 per month, and the Limited Company package is priced at £29 per month, before any discounts. These options may seem on the expensive side, but the host of features make this a package well worth considering, especially for freelancers and sole traders. 

The software includes custom invoices, multi-currency invoicing, payroll and expense management. Sole Trader users benefit from the filing of their self-assessment forms, while Partnership / LLP users can access the Profit Share Calculation. The Limited Company package includes Corporation Tax forecasting and shareholder dividend vouchers.

Zoho Books

Priced from £6 per month for the Basic version, £12 per month for the Standard plan and £18 per month for the Professional version, Zoho Books is one of the most affordable accounting software packages. The software, aimed at micro businesses, welcomes a host of features, including custom invoicing and bank reconciliation. There's no payroll feature, although third party support is available.

All of these software packages have plenty of benefits to offer freelancers and SMBs, but your choice must be determined by your what is right for your business specifically. 

Expense management is a crucial element of accounting. It is therefore worth considering how you intend to manage your employee expenses as your company grows and develops. 

At Soldo, our prepaid multi-user card system allows you to keep tight control over expenditure and reduces the administrative burden on your staff and accounting team. Soldo also integrates with leading expense management systems, together with accounting systems such as Quickbooks and Xero.

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