How Much Does Accounting Software Cost? 2021 Pricing Guide

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Pricing is one of the most important factors in choosing accounting software.

While some vendors provide transparent pricing details on their websites, others prefer to give a personalized price quote, as company needs and requirements vary.

We’ve developed this pricing guide that details pricing types, additional costs a company needs to consider and pricing examples from popular vendors.

What Is Accounting Software?

Accounting software manages a company’s financial data, such as bank transactions, invoices, budgets and reports. In addition to core accounting functions (e.g., account receivable and accounts payable), other functions of the software include inventory management, expense management, fixed assets management and payroll.

Accounting Software Pricing Models

Accounting software vendors use two popular pricing models: perpetual licensing (on-premise) and subscription hosting plans (cloud). Here’s a look at each:

Perpetual licensing – Companies that prefer to host their own data can purchase licenses that last for the software’s lifespan. On-premise deployment requires the business to purchase hardware, servers and other infrastructure, as well as use IT resources to host and maintain the solution.  

Perpetual licenses can be an attractive option for companies that are larger in size, have complex systems and are concerned with data security. Even though licenses and infrastructure are paid for upfront, maintenance and product upgrades typically aren’t free. Companies have to consider IT labor costs, vendor support and potential system breakdowns in price factors. 

Subscription hosting – Companies that don’t have the time or resources to host their own solution can consider deploying it in the cloud. They then only need to pay a monthly or annual subscription cost.  

Subscription costs can include the specific features the company needs, support and maintenance. Cloud-based deployment can be an attractive option for smaller companies, as it typically costs less than an on-premise solution. 

Regardless of deployment, some vendors offer their software as modular components, meaning companies can choose and pay only for the modules or features they need. The software Abila MIP Fund Accounting, for example, provides up to 25 modules that companies can choose from. Other vendors provide pricing tiers that have different features under each tier.

Additional Costs to Consider

Some vendors offer implementation, support and additional services in the base price. Others may require additional fees for them.

Additional features or modules – Most vendors provide core features or modules at one price. However, there may be optional features that can cost extra, such as payroll management, project accounting or multicompany financial management.

Implementation – Prices of implementation services vary by vendor and can include access to a dedicated implementation specialist, installation, software customization, data migration and integration to other software (e.g., ERP systems). Some vendors have a staff of implementation specialists while others rely on third-party consultants.

Training – Some vendors include basic training services for free, while others offer them at an additional cost, especially if the training is done at the client’s site.

Support – Basic support (e.g., knowledge base, email support) is typically included in the original price. But some vendors offer plans that include advanced support, such as access to a dedicated customer service manager. If you opt for perpetual licensing, note that certain vendors may offer support and product upgrades for free for the first year but charge extra in the second year and beyond.

Free Software

There are a few vendors that offer free software (or free versions of paid plans) with basic features.

One such vendor is Wave, an accounting solution that lets small businesses take advantage of its accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning features for free. Wave offers paid payroll and financial services that are pay-as-you-go (no contracts).

Another example is the expense management app Divvy. There’s no costs for companies to use it, as the vendor generates revenue from the interchange fees that are paid by the specific merchant each time the user spends money using the Divvy app.

Note that free software versions only include basic features. If your company requires advanced features, you’ll want to look at paid accounting software solutions. Many vendors offer a free trial ranging anywhere from 10 to 30 days as well as a demo of the software.

Pricing Questions to Ask a Vendor

Once your company has compared price quotes and decided on a specific vendor, you’ll want to see a copy of the contract (also known as a Service Level Agreement). Here are some key questions to ask the vendor as you look over the agreement:  

  • What is the total cost of the solution (TCO), including all implementation, training and other fees? 
  • Are there any undisclosed costs? 
  • Are there any “evergreen” clauses (e.g., subscription automatically renews without client approval)? 
  • Are partial licenses an option? 

It’s important to note that vendor price quotes aren’t always set in stone. Your company may be able to negotiate for better pricing that aligns with your budget.

Accounting Software Vendor Pricing

Below, we’ve compared pricing of popular accounting solutions. Note that because a vast majority of vendors prefer to provide customized pricing based on a company’s needs, public pricing information isn’t always available. You’ll need to contact the vendors directly for a quote.

AccountEdge – AccountEdge Basic is a desktop solution for a single user. It has a one-time fee of $149 that includes banking, sales and a general ledger. The more advanced AccountEdge Pro is a one-time fee of $499 for the first user license and $249 for each additional license. It adds on payroll, billing, inventory and purchasing features.

AccountEdge also offers an optional payroll tax service that give users access to federal, state and local tax updates as they change during the year. It costs $249 per year for a single user. AccountEdge provides additional optional payroll features (e.g., payroll forms, direct deposit).

Clients that prefer the subscription model of AccountEdge Pro can expect to pay $15 per month for the first license and $10 per month for each additional license. The payroll subscription costs $15 per month.

AccountingSuite – AccountingSuite has four pricing tiers. The StartUp tier costs $19 per month and accommodates a single user. It includes the banking, accounting/reporting and project/time tracking modules. The Business tier costs $25 per month for up to two users and adds on the sales and purchasing modules. The Professional tier costs $55 per month for up to five users and also has an inventory management module. The highest tier, Professional with eCommerce, costs $129 per month, accommodates up to 10 users and includes integration to eCommerce platforms.

Certify – The expense management platform Certify provides three pricing plans based on company size. Certify Now! is intended for businesses with up to 25 employees and costs $8 per user, per month. It includes many basic features, such as a mobile app, expense approval workflows and mileage tracking.

The Professional plan targets companies with 25 to 200 employees and adds on receipt backup, credit card integration and standard and custom accounts payable feeds. The Enterprise plan is aimed at companies with more than 200 employees and includes all features of the other two plans, plus HRMS and ERP integration, and availability in up to 64 languages. Pricing for the Professional and Enterprise plans aren’t available, so you’ll have to contact Certify for a quote.

FreshBooks – FreshBooks has four pricing plans (based on annual billing). We’ve listed the plans’ original pricing, but note that the vendor is currently offering a 50% discount for the first three months. The Lite plan costs $15 per month for up to five billable clients, while the Plus plan costs $25 per month for up to 50 billable clients. The Premium plan costs $50 per month for unlimited billable clients. The Select plan’s pricing is available by quote and is intended for companies that require custom services.

QuickBooks – QuickBooks is available in the cloud and on-premise. QuickBooks Online has five monthly subscription plans: Self-Employed ($15 per month), Simple Start ($25 per month), Essentials ($50 per month), Plus ($80 per month) and Advanced ($180 per month). These prices reflect the original amount, but QuickBooks offers a 50% discount for the first three months. Users can optionally add full-service payroll that starts at $22.50 per month (for the first three months) plus $4 per employee.

For desktop users, QuickBooks Desktop Pro is available for $299.99 as a subscription (Pro Plus 2021). QuickBooks Premier Plus 2021 includes more advanced features for $499.99. Finally, QuickBooks Enterprise’s annual subscription license normally costs $1,275 but the vendor is offering a discount for the first year.

Rydoo – Expense management software Rydoo has three pricing plans. The Starter plan is $7 per user, per month and includes many features, such as multicurrency conversion, approval workflows, and email and chat support. The Growth plan costs $9 per user, per month. It has all the features of the Starter plan plus the ability to set expense policy rules, manage per diems and create unlimited branches. The Enterprise plan has even more customized features, but its pricing is not publicly available.

Xero – Xero provides three monthly subscription plans. The Early plan costs $11 per month and gives users the ability to send up to five invoices and quotes, and reconcile 20 bank transactions. The Growing plan is priced at $32 per month for unlimited invoice and quote sending, bills and bank transactions. The Established plan starts at $62 per month, and supports multicurrency capabilities, expense management and project tracking.

Xero also offers an optional full-service payroll solution via its partnership with Gusto.

Bottom Line

Accounting software pricing can vary based on deployment and the specific features or modules offered. While some vendors provide transparent pricing, others don’t, so you’ll need to do your research. You’ll also need to be aware of whether implementation, support or additional features will cost extra.

If you’re looking to compare different solutions, we have detailed reviews for over 15 vendors.

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