The Top 10 Online Payment & Billing Solutions for Consultants: Get Paid Faster and Spend Less Time on Billing with These Free and Cheap Tools

Sean Lund-Brown

When you’re in the business of consulting, you spend a lot of time on ideas and intellectual property—but we all know that ideas aren’t tangible, and neither is the idea of getting paid in a hassle-free way. Instead of dreaming it, why not do it? Thanks to modern billing and payment software and a slew of cheap and free invoicing and accounting tools, you’ll be able to consult with AI and automation to streamline billing, get paid faster, and have fewer outstanding bills. 

Plus, you’ll free up more of your time to focus on your clients and projects without having to sacrifice or compromise—your billing will be handled, from end-to-end if you desire, and with totally customizable and scalable platforms that can be tailored to your specific business. Whether you’re a solo consultant or you’re scouting solutions for a small firm, any of the choices on this list is sure to deliver. 

And, when you want a partner to deliver other mission-critical solutions like 24/7 live answering services, website chat, lead intake and scheduling, and even payment collection, you can count on the expertise of the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai

1. Zoho Invoice

Zoho Invoice is part of the Zoho family, offering plenty of billing and payment solutions for those who need them. This invoicing solution has a free version for solo users and affordable paid plans for multiple users or those who just need more features. It has easy estimate-to-invoice conversion so you can generate bills from quotes in just a few clicks, along with a customer-facing portal that you can use to take payments of all kinds, including those in multiple currencies.

Zoho also supports multiple languages and is mobile-friendly so that you can handle your billing on the go. There are tools to track hours and unbilled expenses, and you can brand invoices, set up recurring payments, automate workflows, and more. Streamlined accounting makes getting paid easy with this platform. 

Plus, you’ll enjoy the best features, like:

  • Free option? Yes, free for solo users
  • Price $9 per month to start
  • Estimate-to-invoice converter
  • Custom branding
  • Multiple languages and currencies
  • Online customer-facing portal
  • Automated billing and reminders

2. Wave

Wave Accounting is one of the most comprehensive solutions available today. It offers plenty of features and tools for payment and billing needs, whether you’re a solo consultant or working for an agency. Some of the features, such as the impressive collection of invoice templates, are free to use, helping you save money from the start. Plus, the features that do cost money are generally charged on a pay-per-use basis, save for the payroll accounting tools, which come in the form of monthly plans. 

Wave allows total customization of invoices and the user-friendly dashboard, and it comes with rich reports and analytics so that you can keep tabs on everything. You can even set up workflow automations, recurring billing, and other automated tasks to give yourself even more free time. And as mentioned, expense tracking and payroll solutions are available if you need them, as well. 

Highlights include:

  • Free option? Many features are free
  • Price: Pay-as-you-go for most features, monthly plans start at $20 per month
  • Automated payments and billing
  • Customized invoicing
  • Free tools and features
  • Payroll and expense tracking
  • Customized accounting solutions
  • Open API for easy integrations

3. Stripe

Stripe is an integrated payment processing platform that offers a great basic invoicing tool for startups and consultants that need to get paid. You might be wondering what a payment processor can do for your billing, but Stripe does so much more than just take payments. This platform offers a total merchant services billing solution, including several features that are useful for consultants and consulting firms.  

You can send custom invoices, manage your business spending, and even track data and store payment information for future billing needs, thanks to premium security. Stripe also integrates with tons of software programs and tools you’re already using, and it can integrate with your bank account for easy transfers. Plus, it’s percentage-based, so you’re only paying what your transactions say you can afford. 

Check out key features like:

  • Free option? No
  • Built-in payment processing
  • Subscription and flat-rate billing
  • Project tracking 
  • Advanced integrations
  • Mobile tools
  • Detailed reporting

4. Invoicely

Invoicely is one of our favorite choices for integrated invoicing and billing. Plus, the basic platform and most of the invoice templates are free forever so you’re not just getting paid quicker, but you’re spending less to do it; it’s a win all around. There are automated payments and reminders, recurring billing tools, and plenty of free invoice templates to ensure that you can generate whatever you need, however you need it. 

You'll also enjoy mobile apps and mobile invoices for easy billing and payments on the go, and a real-time dashboard where you can create custom labels that will help you streamline and organize all of your payments and billing in one place. You can automate workflows, track payment histories, and more. The platform integrates with several of the tools that you already use, and even if you upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll never spend more than you can afford. 

Check out the key highlights:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Paid plans start at $10 per month
  • Custom branded invoices
  • Free tools and templates
  • Workflow automation
  • Android and iOS access
  • Detailed reporting
  • Open API for easy integration

5. Invoice Ninja

Invoice Ninja is a popular choice for consultants and freelancers since it offers an open-source platform that includes a free forever option without skimping on the features that you need. This platform allows you to track projects, billable hours, vendor payments, and more. You can even create invoices from estimates in just a few clicks and turn those proposals into bills with ease. 

Invoice Ninja allows custom branding of invoices and automated reminders are easy to send so that you don’t have to worry about outstanding bills. There’s even a client portal your consulting business can use to get paid in real-time with 24/7 availability. You can create expense reports and track payroll, and even convert those timed tasks to bills in a single click. 

The key features of this tool include:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $10 per month starting
  • Custom templates
  • Time tracking
  • Easy payment processing integration
  • Real-time invoicing and reporting
  • Custom dashboard
  • Completely open-source software 

6. Invoice2Go

The Invoice2Go platform is designed to keep you updated on all of your payment and billing needs in real-time, with tools and features that will make sure that it’s easier than ever to get paid and pay your bills. Whether you’re a solo consultant or you work for a firm, this platform offers plenty of tools for small to mid-size operations in all areas of consulting. You can track billable hours and projects, turn estimates into invoices, and more.

Take payments online and integrate with all of your existing tools, thanks to the cloud deployment and open API, and you’ll even be able to add a “pay now” button to your email invoices so that people can pay instantly and there is never a reason to wait. Plus, you can customize the entire platform and count on detailed reporting and analytics to help keep you on track. 

Key features of this platform include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $3 per month starting
  • Custom invoicing
  • Real-time reporting
  • Online payment acceptance
  • Tracking of hours (billable and unbilled)
  • Estimate-to-invoice conversion
  • Mobile invoicing and apps

7. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a cloud-based invoicing solution that includes apps for iOS and Android so that you can manage billing and get paid from anywhere. You can enjoy all kinds of features and tools, including mileage tracking on the iOS app for those who are consulting in a field where mileage matters. You can also use the invoice-to-estimate converter to turn your quotes into payable bills in just seconds.

Plus, since it’s based in the cloud, it can be scaled and customized to fit your exact needs. You’ll also be able to use the double-entry accounting to make sure there are fewer errors and the detailed reporting tools help you stay on top of everything. There are plenty of integrations with this software and it includes a handy deposit/retainer feature for those clients who need a prepayment arrangement. 

The highlights of this tool include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $15 per month to start
  • Estimate-to-invoice converter
  • Mobile apps and tools
  • Real-time reporting 
  • Retainer/deposit feature
  • Double-entry accounting
  • Recurring payments 
  • Automated reminders 

8. OneUp

OneUp starts by giving you your own personal assistant to manage all of your business payment and billing needs. This app integrates with several other software platforms and even syncs with your bank accounts for easy transfers. There is a Customer 360 view that allows you to see a full picture of your clients and their billing history, and there are even tools to manage your cash flow and handle your taxes with ease. 

The scan feature makes it easy to turn receipts and paper bills into digital accounting entries and there is even a feature that lets you split payments right on the bill. The dedicated iOS and Android apps help you get paid and manage your billing on the go, no matter what you’re consulting on or where you are in the world. Plus, this app also includes workflow automation, easy automated reminders, and other tools. 

Features that people love include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $9 per month to start
  • Automated reminders
  • Recurring billing
  • Detailed reporting
  • Digital accounting with scan-to-pay
  • Customer 360 profiles
  • Payment processing gateway

9. Square Invoices

Square Invoices reports that more than 75% of the invoices generated on the platform are paid within a day. If you want that kind of reliability without a big investment, this platform could be perfect for your consulting business. In fact, Square doesn’t charge any monthly fees and you only pay for transactions when you accept payments. Processing fees are affordable, and you can get paid instantly in several different ways. 

Square allows you to generate batch payments, send estimates, automate workflows, and even give people the option of email or text receipts. You will be able to accept online payments 24 hours a day and people can pay from mobile devices, desktop computers, or even by scanning a QR code. Plus, there are plenty of workflow automation tools to automate your billing and make getting paid a breeze. 

Consider the highlights, including:

  • Free option? Yes, several features are free
  • Price: 1% for ACH, 2.9% + $0.30 for credit cards 
  • Mobile apps
  • Email and text receipts 
  • Batch payments and invoicing
  • 24/7 payments
  • No monthly fees
  • Automated reminders
  • Recurring payments and billing

10. PayPal

PayPal is probably one of the best options for merchant services and billing solutions in a total provider. This company started with a simple online payment platform, but today it can offer plenty of resources for free invoicing and getting paid. All you pay is a small fee for the payment processing service. You can sync bank accounts, send and receive mobile payments, and more. 

You can even sign up for the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard and earn 1% cashback just for spending money on your business that you’d spend anyway. Plus, for consultants that need a little boost, the new Working Capital program allows you to borrow small sums against your sales to help purchase inventory, take care of expenses, or anything else you need. It all comes with automated payment reminders, email and other receipt options, and easy integrations with your existing software. 

Consider highlights like:

  • Free option? Most features and tools are free to use
  • Price: Per-transaction fees charged for some tools and payments
  • Instant transfers available
  • Mobile payments
  • No monthly fees
  • 1% cash back with Business Debit
  • Detailed AR and financial reports 

Consult with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai for more streamlined solutions

Now that you’re aware of all of the best ways to streamline your payment and billing solutions and get more out of getting paid, how else can you save time and hassle in your consulting business? While you’re integrating one of the billing tools listed here, consider how our virtual receptionists could add to your investment by taking even more work off your plate: overflow calling, appointment scheduling and intake, customer service via 24/7 live chat, and even payment collection

Schedule your consultation today to find out how Smith.ai can change the way you do business while acting as the face of your company. We'll take care of the details so that you can take care of your clients, with 24/7 answering services, live website chat, and other solutions. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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