The Top 10 Online Payment & Billing Solutions for Startups on a Budget: Streamline Your Billing and Get Paid without Getting Taken to the Cleaners

Sean Lund-Brown

When you’re just starting out in business, the list of things you need can seem insurmountable, to say the least. You’re already working with limited capital, prioritizing and triaging your must-have list of essentials to make sure that you cover all the bases—and then suddenly, the money is tapped, and the list isn’t anywhere near complete—it's a frustrating struggle for all. 

What if we told you it doesn’t have to be that way? Thanks to modern cloud-based apps and software, there are hundreds of affordable (and even FREE) tools and solutions available to the modern startup, including robust payment and billing solutions that can handle all aspects of your billing and accounting to make sure that you’re getting paid and your books are being managed like a well-oiled machine. 

In order to find what works, we’ve done the hard work of reviewing the best solutions available today. In the list below, you’ll find tons of free and cheap billing and payment solutions that will help you take your startup to the next level. (And as a bonus, you can affordably enlist your own dedicated team of 24/7 virtual receptionists to handle other aspects of your business logistics, thanks to our services at Smith.ai.)

1. PayPal

PayPal is one of the best-known names for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups working with limited resources. It’s an online payment platform-turned business payment and billing solution that is now one of the most popular choices among those who want simple tools for paying their bills and getting paid when they are just starting out in business. PayPal features easy transfers, bank account syncing, invoice generation, and other tools. 

You can even use PayPal to pay for everyday expenses with the Business Debit MasterCard, or apply for the PayPal Business credit card or line of credit for additional funding and financial support. PayPal also has a new Working Capital feature that lets you borrow a little extra cash against your sales so that you can keep your business growing. Plus, it all comes with automated payment reminders, recurring payment tools, and everything you need to make sure that you’re getting paid. 

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Percentage-based payment processing fees, no monthly fees charged
  • Easy payment acceptance
  • Send and receive payments via mobile
  • Instant transfer available
  • Low-cost payment processing
  • Easy invoice generation
  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases with Business Debit card

2. Invoicely

Invoicely is one of the most robust free forever billing and payment solutions out there. There are plenty of features to love, including the fact that you get free invoicing solutions forever if you only need the basic features. The platform is cloud-based and includes apps for both iOS and Android, and it integrates with tons of payment processors and hundreds of other software, apps, and tools. 

For the busy startup on the move, mobile invoice creation is available, and you can even streamline billing with automated workflows, automated and recurring billing and payments, and customized invoice templates so your clients always know who they’re paying. Plus, it’s all easily tracked from the real-time dashboard that comes with custom labeling solutions. 

The best features include:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $10 per month starting
  • Robust reporting
  • Automated reminders and payments
  • Custom invoice branding
  • Workflow automation
  • Mobile invoicing and mobile apps

3. Invoice2Go

The Invoice2Go platform is a dedicated billing and payments solution that offers a host of different tools and resources for billing that won’t break the bank. In fact, even though it’s not free, the basic plan is just three bucks a month—that's right, you’re spending more on coffee and lunch than you’ll spend on good billing software with this investment. The app comes with a money-back guarantee, too, giving you total peace of mind. 

Invoice2Go is available on iOS and Android. It offers mobile invoicing, lead generation tools, and customizable features to brand your invoices and more. You can accept online payments, track unbilled and billable hours, and even generate invoices with a “pay now” button to let people pay instantly. Plus, there’s a custom dashboard with real-time reporting and more. 

Check out the highlights, including:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $3 per month to start
  • Custom invoice creation
  • Billable and unbilled hours tracking
  • Online payment acceptance
  • Real-time reporting 
  • Custom dashboard
  • Mobile invoicing and tools

4. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is another simple platform and while it doesn’t offer a free version, there’s a lot packed into this budget-friendly platform that costs less than a few good lattes every month. For starters, it has iOS and Android apps, including an automatic mileage tracking feature on iPhone, and an estimate-to-invoice conversion tool that makes it easy to turn those quotes into bills and get paid. 

FreshBooks is cloud-deployed so it’s totally scalable and can be customized to fit your needs. You can make sure that everything checks out with double-entry accounting, and you can even get detailed reports to keep you abreast of how things are doing and who’s not paying their bills. The platform also integrates with a lot of the tools you already use. 

Check out features like:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Starts at $15 per month
  • Fee-based payment processing
  • Estimate-to-invoice conversion
  • Android and iOS apps with mobile invoicing
  • Real-time dashboard and reporting
  • Retainer feature

5. OneUp

OneUp offers a professional billing and payment solution that’s full of features you’re sure to love. It starts with a dedicated personal assistant that can handle all the billing, invoicing, time tracking, and more. There is also a customer 360 view option to provide a total view of your customers and their needs, and you can create digital accounting entries in minutes with the scan feature. 

OneUp also allows you to manage cash flow, handle taxes, and even split payments right on the bill. There are apps available for Android and iOS and several tools assist with all aspects of managing your billing-- including AI and automation that’s going to take a ton of the work off your hands. The premium security gives everyone peace of mind, too. 

The best features include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Starts at $9 per month
  • Automated reminders and billing
  • Customer 360 views
  • Digital accounting with scan-to-pay
  • Open API to integrate easily
  • Payment processing

6. Square Invoices

Square is one of the more familiar names for the startup or entrepreneur—it's also one of the leading payment processing solutions for startups and small businesses. However, the Square brand also has an entire suite of merchant tools and solutions, including an Invoices program for billing and payments. You can send invoices in seconds, get paid 24 hours a day, and track everything in real-time. 

Customers can easily pay through their mobile device, use the one-click pay feature for instant credit card, Google Pay, or other payments, and more. Square reports that over 75% of their invoices are paid within a single day, and the automation ensures that you can save time and effort in every aspect possible. There's also a detailed reporting section that helps you harness your cash flow and improve your billing. 

Highlights of Square Invoices include:

  • Free option? Yes, you only pay for payment processing
  • Price: 2.9% +$0.30 for credit card processing, 1% for ACH processing
  • No monthly fees
  • 24/7 online payment acceptance
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • Email and text receipts
  • Automate payments and reminders
  • Estimates
  • Batch payments

7. Zoho Invoice

Zoho Invoice is another great platform from the Zoho suite of products, and it offers the choice of free solo membership or cheap plans for those who need access for multiple users. It integrates with the rest of the Zoho family, along with your other tech tools and apps, and makes invoicing a breeze. One of the best features is the estimate-to-invoice conversion option, which lets you convert your quotes into bills in just a few clicks. 

Zoho also has a custom-facing portal available that allows you to accept online payments, and it can be configured to accept multiple currencies and multiple languages to handle business for companies that have clients around the world. It’s easy to track unbilled expenses and hours, too, and everything is organized in a single place. Consider highlights like:

  • Free option? Yes, for single users
  • Price: $9 per month to start 
  • Online client portal
  • Multiple currencies and languages
  • Estimate-to-invoice conversion
  • Automated billing
  • Automated reminders
  • Custom branding available

8. Wave

Wave Accounting has some free features to appreciate, along with some paid features and monthly solutions that will handle every aspect of your payment, billing, payroll, and general business accounting needs. Plus, since it’s part-free/part pay-as-you-go, it allows you to get what you need and save money on what you don’t. The impressive selection of invoices makes it easy to create a custom look for less—mostly free, in fact. 

Wave also offers automation, customization, pay-per-use payment processing, and an open API that fits right into your existing tech stack. You will also find monthly payroll and expense tracking solutions, as well as client data management tools to help keep everything organized. Plus, you can generate custom reports and see everything in real-time, and never pay for anything that you don’t need. 

The key features of note include:

  • Free option? Some features are free
  • Price: Plans start at $20 monthly
  • Automated payments
  • Pay-per-use features
  • Recurring billing 
  • Payroll solutions
  • Expense tracking
  • Customized invoicing

9. Stripe

Stripe is an integrated payment processing platform that offers a great basic invoicing tool for startups and solo business owners. This tool isn’t just for payment processing—it's used by everyone from startups to seriously major brands to take payments, send bills, and manage other aspects of billing and accounting with ease. The tools make it easy to manage business spend, send invoices and get paid, and even keep data and payment information secure with premium data security. 

Stripe includes tons of prebuilt integrations for Shopify, NetSuite, and others, and has an open API that will integrate with just about anything that you need. You can enjoy intelligent optimization, automated billing and payments, and integrations with banks and card networks for easy transactions. Stripe supports 135 currencies and payment methods, and it offers simple per-transaction pricing. 

The key features of note include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Pay-per-transaction, 0.5% for Starter Billing 
  • Advanced integrations
  • Customized invoices
  • Built-in payment options
  • Subscription and flat-rate billing
  • Reporting tools
  • Mobile tools

10. Invoice Ninja

This open-source invoicing platform is designed to offer a 100% free forever solution for billing, invoicing, expenses, payroll, and more. You can use Invoice Ninja to make vendor payments, manage projects and billable hours, create proposals, turn estimates into invoices, and take care of everything from the streamlined, customizable dashboard. 

Invoice Ninja offers custom-branded invoices, automated reminders and automated billing and payments, payment history, and even a dedicated portal where clients and customers can make payments and interact with your brand. You can send bulk email invoices, create expense reports, and even convert timed projects and tasks to invoices with a single click. 

In case you want more, check out the highlights, including:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $10 per month to start for paid plans
  • Custom template creation
  • Time tracker
  • Auto billing and recurring invoicing
  • Integrates with over 40 payment processors
  • Real-time invoice creation
  • Robust reporting

With billing managed, how else can you save time?

Any of the tools on this list is sure to handle your billing and payments in a much more streamlined, efficient way than ever before. You'll find a host of options, from free tools to those that offer pay-as-you-go features, and even those with affordable monthly plans that include more features or customization options. The choice will ultimately be yours, but you will love whatever you choose. 

There are plenty of other ways you can streamline and save time, and our team of virtual receptionists can help. At Smith.ai, we know what it’s like to fight the uphill battle as a startup and we have the tools to take all the hassles off your hands. Schedule your consultation today to learn more about our 24/7 answering services, live online chat, and other services that can integrate with your billing and payment solutions and more. You can also reach us via email or at (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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