Brightbook’s fast facts

Starting price: $0/mo.
Key features:
  • Free forever software
  • Invoices and quotes
  • Bill tracking

Brightbook is a simple web-based accounting software that is completely free forever, with the exception of a couple features that cost a very small fee. Brightbook does offer several advantages in addition to a completely free price tag, such as unlimited invoices and unlimited users. However, the platform lacks many features provided by other accounting software — including double-entry accounting and expense tracking.

In this Brightbook review, we investigate the platform’s features and examine its pros and cons. We also offer some Brightbook alternatives in case this free accounting software doesn’t seem advanced enough for your business.

Brightbook’s pricing

Brightbook is completely free to sign up for and it costs $0 to use the main features. However, there are two small optional features that are behind a paywall:

  • Branding-free invoices and statements costs £1.99 per month (roughly $2.51 with the current exchange rate).
  • Using your own templates costs £3.49 per month (roughly $4.40 with the current exchange rate). You can design the template for free, but you’ll need to pay once you’re actually ready to use it.

Brightbook’s key features

Dashboard

Brightbook’s home screen dashboard allows you to choose between two colors: Brightbook’s signature red-pink gradient and a more subdued gray background. The design is simple and relatively easy to navigate, but it’s not very visually appealing. The interface feels outdated compared to many other competitors, including other free options such as Wave Accounting.

You can easily create a new invoice, payment, bill or client using the buttons at the top of the dashboard. The dashboard’s top bar also summarizes your current bank balance, money due in and bills due. Your invoices, payments and bills are displayed in a bar chart below. The bottom panel allows you to quickly click through invoices due, unreconciled payments, recurring invoices, unissued invoices, unpaid bills and quotes issued.

Brightbook offers a couple color options for your invoices so you can choose based on your business’s style.
Figure A: Brightbook offers a couple color options for your invoices so you can choose based on your business’s style. Image: Brightbook

Accounting

In true double-entry accounting, each transaction is recorded as a credit in one account and a debit in another. Double-entry accounting is the standard for most accounting software, but Brightbook doesn’t support this approach — there are no liability or asset accounts that you can credit or debit as needed.

SEE: What Is a Chart of Accounts? How It Works and Examples 

Instead, Brightbook simply tracks money coming in and money going out. This may be enough for businesses with very simple finances, but it won’t cut it for businesses that need to track a lot of complex transactions across multiple bank accounts.

Keep an eye on what’s going in and out of your accounts with Brightbook.
Figure B: Keep an eye on what’s going in and out of your accounts with Brightbook. Image: Brightbook

Invoices and quotes

Brightbook does come with 10 invoice templates preloaded into the system, but you must pay to change them from the default. This can be enabled in Get Features > Design Your Own Template. Once you enable the paid feature, you can also create your own template by customizing the font size and color, as well as uploading your own logo. The preloaded template designs are rather simplistic and the layouts are very similar to one another as well, especially compared to the invoice templates provided by other small-business accounting software.

After you’ve got your templates configured however you like, you can create a new invoice by clicking on the “+ New Invoice” button on the dashboard. Select the client you want to bill, choose whether to create a quote or invoice, list your line items and add taxes and discounts if necessary. If you’ve created a quote, then you can convert it to an invoice after approval by clicking a simple checkbox. After the quote or invoice is finalized, you can email a PDF of it to your client straight from Brightbook.

Simply create invoices using Brightbook’s invoicing features.
Figure C: Simply create invoices using Brightbook’s invoicing features. Image: Brightbook

Reporting

Brightbook offers a handful of very simple reports: profit and loss statements, aged debtors, all sales, all bills and expenses. There’s also an infographic that displays the monthly total of invoices, payments and bills for the last 12 months as a line chart. Meanwhile, you can use an “OpenInsight” module that tells you how your invoices and bills compare to other Brightbook clients in your industry.

While these reports may suffice for freelancers and solopreneurs, they are quite limited compared to other accounting software platforms. Business owners may find themselves seeking out more complex reporting that can give them a more comprehensive picture of their company’s financial health.

Take advantage of Brightbook’s reports to see where you can improve or adjust your financials.
Figure D: Take advantage of Brightbook’s reports to see where you can improve or adjust your financials. Image: Brightbook

Integrations

Brightbook does not offer any integrations whatsoever, even popular accounting integrations like time tracking and payroll. You can’t even link your bank account to automatically import transactions. Instead, you have to either manually add each transaction individually or download the transaction data as an OFX or QIF file and upload it to Brightbook.

Other features

Besides integrations, Brightbook lacks many different features that are common in accounting software. These features aren’t even held behind a paywall or confined to a more expensive plan — they’re simply not available. Some of the most notable missing features include inventory tracking, expense management, mile tracking and time tracking. Nor does Brightbook offer a mobile app.

All this means Brightbook is not very scalable, and you’ll need to switch to a different accounting software if you do end up needing these features in the future.

Brightbook pros

  • Completely free to use forever.
  • Beginner-friendly accounting software.
  • Supports unlimited invoices and users.
  • Basic financial reports available.

Brightbook cons

  • No expense, mileage or inventory tracking.
  • No integrations available.
  • Does not offer true double-entry accounting.
  • Must manually import bank transaction data.

If Brightbook isn’t ideal for you, check out these alternatives

BrightbookQuickBooksWave AccountingSage 50
Forever free planYesNoYesNo
Unlimited invoicesYesYesYesYes
Expense trackingNosYesYesYes
Inventory trackingNoYesYesYes
Starting price$0 forever$30/mo.$16/mo.$595/yr.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks logo.
Image: QuickBooks

If you want a widely regarded accounting software that any accountant will know how to use, you can’t go wrong with QuickBooks. It is rather expensive, with its most affordable plan starting at $30 per month and pricing going up from there. It includes unlimited invoices, mobile receipt capture, expense tracking and mileage tracking on all plans.

Inventory tracking, time tracking and other advanced features are available on the more expensive plans. Users are capped on each pricing tier, with a maximum of 25 users for the most expensive plan.

For more information, see our full QuickBooks review.

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting logo.
Image: Wave

If you are specifically looking for free accounting software, then you should definitely look into Wave, which is probably the most well-known free accounting platform. The accounting platform used to be completely free, and there is still a forever free tier that offers basic accounting features like unlimited estimates, invoices, bills and bookkeeping records.

The company recently introduced a single pricing plan that costs $16 per month and includes more advanced features like the ability to auto-import bank transactions.

For more information, see our full Wave Accounting review.

Sage 50 Accounting

Sage 50 logo.
Image: Sage

Sage software offers many different software plans for businesses of various sizes. The Sage 50 desktop accounting software starts at $595 for one license for one user for one year. It includes invoice and bill tracking, purchase order and approval, expense management, automated bank reconciliation and inventory management, among others.

If other accounting platforms aren’t complex enough for your business’ needs, then Sage 50 might be the desktop solution that you’ve been looking for.

Review methodology

To review Brightbook, we signed up for the free version of the software. We also consulted product documentation and user reviews. We considered features such as accounting, invoicing, billing and financial reports. We also weighed factors such as paid features, user interface design and customer support.

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Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays