Deciding to go with online invoicing services is a positive step for most freelancers and small business owners. Online invoices save both time and money by simplifying the billing process and allowing you to get back to earning fast. But with a myriad of options on the market, which online invoice generator is for you?

Today we're looking at some of the top choices for online invoicing software, and the pros and cons of each. Deciding on the right program for you is important, since you want a product that you're satisfied with as well as one that's going to be efficient and simple to use.

The big hitters on the online invoice software market are going to be your best bet, quite simply because they're going to offer you better support and more reliability than smaller, and often cheaper, options. So, if the overwhelming choice of programs is slowing down your decision making process, here's a quick rundown of the biggest invoice programs on the market...

Invoicera: Simple and Popular

By far the most popular choice at the moment is Invoicera. This huge popularity has resulted in a product that meets the needs of a wide range of users.

There's multi-currency billing support, as well as multi lingual options. But probably the main selling point of Invoicera, particularly for those that frequently deal with overseas customers, is the sheer number of payment options that are offered.

Invoicera has a massive twenty one different online payment options, meaning that there's no excuse not to opt for the convenience of an online payment service.

Another big plus of Invoicera is that it is extremely simple to use, and involves little knowledge of any kind of accounting or financial vocabulary or processes. For beginners in online invoicing, Invoicera is by far the easiest choice. There is a range of plans to choose from, from a free option to large packages going for around a hundred bucks a month, and the array of add on options means that you can get a package that truly reflects your needs as a customer.

Downsides? There aren't many, to be honest. It's an Indian based company, and the English on the site isn't always up to scratch, though the language used on invoices themselves is fine. Other than that, Invoicera is the most popular choice for a reason, and is definitely worth a free trial as one of the best online invoicing programs out there.

Xero: For Pros Only

By far the most professional of the available options is Xero. You get the features that you'd expect from a solid invoicing program, including one click payment, a range of online invoice templates, time tracking and expense tracking. 

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But Xero excels in offering a one stop shop for online finance management. The program allows bank feeds, meaning that statements, credit card info and even PayPal balances are all automatically imported into the program to help you track all your financial information from the same place.

It's mobile friendly too, so there's no problem in using it from your cell. However, it's truly a professional product, and that means that if you don't have at least a basic grounding in accounting and finance terms then you're going to find Xero tough to use.

Pricing options range from free to forty bucks, depending on the size of the package you're looking for and which features you want. Though Xero is slightly less customizable than Invoicera, it's a solid choice for customers with a financial background who will be most likely to effectively make use of its many professional features.

Freshbooks: Easy and Money Saving

Freshbooks is a relative newcomer to the online invoice market, but it's making big head way, with more than five million users online already.

It's a back to basics service, allowing you to make and send invoices, receive payment (PayPal, credit card and direct deposit are currently the only payment options), as well as letting you track invoices and time.

This simplicity makes Freshbooks incredibly user friendly. They also score top marks for friendly and helpful customer service, no matter what time you call in. For a freelancer with basic invoicing needs, Freshbooks is perfect. There's no learning curve, all the basics are covered, and you're not going to spend a fortune.

More experienced users, or those with more than a few clients are going to be disappointed with the lack of complexity that Freshbooks offers though. But if you've got three or less clients to bill each month, Freshbooks is free, so you might end up saving more than you think.

Harvest: More than Just Time Tracking

Harvest made its name as a time tracking program to help freelancers bill efficiently and clients to know how many hours were being put into a project. However, Harvest does also offer online invoicing.

This invoicing system is a relatively simplified version of what is found in other online invoice programs, but for some that's an advantage. You get a basic invoice set up, but no choice of templates. Harvest does support Excel data uploading, which is a nice touch if you're doing your own invoicing but need clear records to hand over to the accountant come tax time. It's also supported on both the iPhone and Android, so you'll have full invoicing capabilities wherever you go.

This isn't going to be the software for advanced users, or, indeed, for anyone requiring anything other than very basic services. But for ease of use, Harvest gets full marks. The monthly price is just ten bucks for each user.

Quickbooks: Comprehensive and Simple to Use

Quickbooks has Simple Start, Pro and Premier versions of its invoice management software. The Pro version is the one that will suit most small businesses and freelancers. The Simple Start is short on too many features that you actually need; it cannot import from Excel and there is no Calendar View.

If you are looking for an online accounting package that does not overwhelm you with its complexity and make you wary of logging in every day then this is the program you need. It is one of the easiest to get used to and it will scale up as your business grows.

Which Business Management Software Will Work for You

As far as online invoice management programs go, there are a lot of options. However, finding the software that matches your needs as a user is by far the most important part of your decision. Recommending one program over others isn't necessarily a great idea, since different users require different services, though Invoicera does tend to be the best general choice to go with. But a brief look at the intro video on any of these companies web sites should be more than enough to let you know whether or not a service is for you.

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