Both are easy to use and provide a full set of features that enable you to create invoices, handle recurring invoices and payments, and track time and expenses. For the smallest businesses, they each provide free options.
The two solutions differ in a number of capabilities—such as online payment options, mobile support, external data importing, and integration with external apps.
FreshBooks, in general, provides a richer set of unique features. For example, FreshBooks allows you to collaborate with clients and contractors and share access to the application.
However, for small business owners looking for a simple means of automating their invoice process, these extra capabilities may be overkill. As one reviewer noted, “Seriously, unless you're putting out like 10 invoices a day, why make it complicated?”
Each solution has a devoted following. In a Comparz.com survey, users gave both solutions high marks for easy setup, ease of use, and overall invoicing processing. FreshBook’s integration capabilities get high marks, while Zoho Invoice’s integration with its larger business suite is an obvious advantage for its users.
Users cited the Paypal integration as a welcome feature of both solutions, and contractors who performed work globally praised the multicurrency capabilities.
For many users, cost will be a determining factor. This is where an assessment of the free and paid plans gets tricky because the plans differ in the number of customers and users allowed at each level. FreshBooks and Zoho Invoice both limit you to three customers in their free versions, and both allow you to send an unlimited number of invoices.
If your monthly usage falls within the free plan parameters, you’re golden. However, once you move into the paid plans, these applications can get expensive for small businesses owners.
As Ben Metcalfe bemoaned, “Like a crack dealer, giving you the first hit free, most of them offer a ‘free’ plan that is clearly designed to be severely limited the moment things begin to work out for you and your business takes off.”
FreshBook's paid plans range from $19.95 to $39.95 and only allow an extra user at the high end, while Zoho Invoice's paid plans are $15 per month for one user and $30 per month for unlimited customers and users.
Metcalfe offers sound advice in warning companies to consider future growth and costs when assessing these services.
The good news is that you can try them for free with no time limit to determine which app best suits your needs, preferences, and budget.