Wave vs. QuickBooks Online: Comparing Two Leading Accounting Softwares

Jul 3, 2024


There’s absolutely no reason to manually manage your accounting. Today’s accounting software can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, from compiling all of your transactions into a single place to creating key financial reports. 

In fact, the focus shouldn’t be on whether or not to leverage accounting software. (You should.) Instead, the priority should be finding the right software solution for your specific tech company. 

With that in mind, we’re doing a deep dive into two of the leading options available today: QuickBooks Online and Wave.



We want to highlight this up top because it’s a key differentiating factor between these two softwares.

We’ll look at QuickBooks Online’s pricing first. QuickBooks’s Simple Start plan starts at $30 a month (usually — although the company does periodically run sales). That Simple Start plan includes:

  • Income and expenses, including bill management
  • Invoices and payments
  • Banking
  • General reporting
  • Mileage tracking
  • Receipt capture
  • Cash flow management

To work with multiple currencies, you’ll need to upgrade to the Essentials plan, which costs $60 a month. To manage inventory, you’ll need a Plus plan, which rings in with a monthly total of $90. To get the full suite of QuickBooks Online services — including revenue recognition, employee expense management, workflow automation, and 24/7 support and training — you’ll need to opt for the $200-a-month Advanced plan. 

To recap, the most basic version of QuickBooks will cost you $360 a year, while the full-fledged version of the solution comes with an annual price tag of $2,400. QuickBooks says the Plus plan is the customer favorite, which comes with a yearly cost of $1,080.

Wave’s pricing is a little simpler and a lot cheaper. The company offers just two plans, and its Starter plan is free. That gets you:

  • The ability to create estimates, invoices, bills, and bookkeeping records
  • An online payment acceptance tool
  • Cash flow management
  • Customer management

Wave’s Pro plan, which costs $16 a month, gives you all of that plus other features including but not limited to:

  • A discounted rate for the first 10 online payments you accept each month
  • Automatic syncing and categorization of bank transactions
  • Digital receipt capture
  • Automated late payment reminders
  • Expense tracking
  • Digital capture of unlimited receipts 

Both QuickBooks and Wave have apps that are included in their pricing. 


Key features

Wave and QuickBooks both give you a way to create and send estimates and invoices and manage your cash flow. Both sync and organize your bank and credit card transactions within their dashboard and offer some level of reporting. 

But the added cost of QuickBooks translates into features that Wave doesn’t offer. Those include:

  • Customizable reporting
  • Time tracking
  • Mileage tracking
  • Inventory management

The more you pay for your QuickBooks plans, the more features you can access. If you want built-in revenue recognition functionality, for example, you’ll need to pay for the company’s priciest plan. And since that’s a feature that most tech startups benefit from, getting the most from your accounting software might mean creating a bigger budget for this tool. 


Getting started and getting support

QuickBooks offers a demo that lets you try out the software using an already-set sample company’s information. This allows you to get a feel for the user interface and the features that might benefit your tech business. You can also talk with a QuickBooks salesperson to further explore how this software could function for you. The sales team is available at (888) 318-1273 Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. 

If you decide to move forward with QuickBooks, the company maintains a robust Help portal to answer most questions that arise. If you pay for an Advanced plan, you get access to 24/7 support. 

Because Wave offers a free account, you can try this tool — and potentially even use it for months — without ever handing over any money. To set up an account and take this solution for a spin, you just need to register

If you choose a free Wave plan, you’ll need to use the company’s Help Center or chatbot to get support. With a Pro plan, you gain access to the support team, which is available via chat or email Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET. 


Choosing the right accounting software

If you’re primarily looking for a dashboard to capture and categorize your transactions paired with an invoice-sending tool, Wave delivers at a fraction of the cost of QuickBooks. Our team generally recommends Wave to seed-stage startups who don’t need a wide range of accounting features, and who benefit from limiting expenses wherever possible.

As tech companies grow, though, they need a more robust suite of accounting tools. Here, QuickBooks is the clear winner. It offers more features than Wave even at its Simple Start level. Perhaps more importantly, it gives businesses the opportunity to add more functionality by upgrading plans as the company scales. 

It’s not impossible to move from one accounting software to another, but it’s also not overly easy. Paying the extra $14 a month to get started with QuickBooks makes sense if you anticipate that you’ll need features Wave doesn’t offer in the next year or so.

If you’re still not sure which solution is best for your tech startup, definitely spend some time in the QuickBooks demo and create a free Wave account. Getting familiar with the user interface and features of both solutions gives you a better idea of which will work best for your team. While chatting with the QuickBooks sales team does mean giving them your contact info, their informed reps might also be able to tell you more about how their tools can work for you, too. 

We can also help here. As accountants with extensive experience supporting tech companies, we have multiple clients using both of these solutions. We’re familiar with the value-add and drawbacks of both Wave and Quickbooks, plus other competitors like Xero and FreshBooks. 

Our team can help you pinpoint the best accounting software for your company’s specific needs — and its growth plan. To chat with us and get some guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out