Crunch Free accounting

Crunch Free accounting is a variation on an already well-known UK-based accountancy package that combines online bookkeeping with the backup of real advisors should you need them. The Crunch Free edition offers all of the tools you’ll need to tackle your accounts online, takes mere minutes to get set up and boasts no cost during the time that you choose to use it. Alongside everyday accounting tasks the free edition of Crunch lets you send invoices, keep track of expenses, create automated reminders and enjoy the benefit of bank reconciliation. 

Crunch is suitable for the self-employed, limited companies or sole traders. Hard-pressed freelancers, contractors and small business owners will find Crunch Free especially useful, particularly with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to contend with.

Crunch Free accounting

You begin the enrolment process by selecting either the sole trader or limited company options (Image credit: Crunch)

Pricing

At its most basic level Crunch Free is just that, with no charge for you to set up an account or use the dashboard and other features once you’ve got yourself registered. While this package will be more than enough for some, especially those with very simple accounting needs, there’s also the option to expand features and functions if needed. 

To do this you can upgrade, with Pro packages for sole traders and limited companies available. The current range of Crunch products is also topped off with a Premium edition aimed at limited companies and which comes with a complete suite of even more complex features and functions.

Crunch Free accounting

Crunch Free accounting has a simple sign-up process and an even simpler interface (Image credit: Crunch Free accounting)

Features

While Crunch Free might be viewed as something of a ‘lite’ solution it’s perfectly serviceable for general accounting requirements. With online bookkeeping as the starting point, there are also options for creating free open banking feeds, unlimited invoicing, expenses management, bank reconciliation plus a mileage app along with a receipt/scanning app, although you’ll need to pay for some of these additional features. 

You can also export data if you need to share your accounts. In that respect you might find that the basic feature set within Crunch Free offers everything you’re going to need. There is, of course, the added option of using the Crunch ‘ask an accountant’ service, although that and other more advanced features will also require payment to access.

Crunch Free accounting

There are additional tools alongside accounting such as expense tracking (Image credit: Crunch)

Performance

You’ll be able to use Crunch Free just as you would any other online accountancy software, which seems to work very nicely if you’re accessing it through a conventional browser. If you’ve got reasonably straightforward financial affairs to take care of then there’s not really a lot to go wrong. 

Even the bank reconciliation aspect of the package works to good effect. This allows you to connect to your bank accounts in order to join up all of your financial dots and have statement activity displayed within your Crunch Free dashboard area. This is not only easy to do but works as you’d hope for too. 

However, we did find on signing up that there was a long delay before we got our confirmation email allowing us to proceed to the dashboard and account area. We tried this with  couple of different email addresses too. That said, once we were in the site performed seamlessly.

Crunch Free accounting

The built-in assistance options are great though there is a push towards the Crunch paid-for add-ons (Image credit: Crunch)

Ease of use

While accounting software has come a long way in recent years Crunch takes the ease of use angle to new levels. To get started you’ll need to create an account, which took us seconds by inputting our contact details. Following that you’re taken to a welcome splash screen while there’s also a confirmation email that lets you complete the account setup. 

At this point there’s also the option to view the getting started with Crunch video guides, which is a handy introduction to the various features and functions. Once you’re into the main Crunch work area it’s all pretty self-explanatory, with the bulk of the action going on in the central dashboard zone. 

Aside from the easy to control basic menu options there’s a neat option on the bottom left of the screen that says ‘Boost your business’. Clicking on this delivers options on how to improve your trading position, plus there’s also the option for getting add-ons, such as paid-for guidance from a Crunch professional.

Crunch Free accounting

The Boost your Business area proves quite handy too for broadening your horizons (Image credit: Crunch)

Support

While the free edition of Crunch is pretty easy to use there are still plenty of options if you need a little bit of assistance. The Crunch Help Centre is a great first stop, with the aforementioned video guides providing you with a lot of insight into the core features and functions. An extensive FAQ sections adds more weight to the supportive feel of Crunch, with step-by-step overviews of core topics that include getting started, banking, expenses and sales. 

Crunch Free accounting

There's some pretty good guidance in the Help Centre if you want to bypass paid-for assistance (Image credit: Crunch)

While you’re working within the Crunch dashboard area it's also possible to click on the ‘Can we help?’ option, which brings up an array of assistance options, including the option to upgrade to unlimited live support from advisors via the phone or email. The useful thing with this is the easy access to those guides, which can be used while you're still in the area you might be having trouble with. It's really simple but effective.

Final verdict

Crunch the free edition arrives at a very good time and it’ll certainly be of use to impoverished freelancers, as well as contractors and small business owners. The overall package is fast and efficient to use online, with nothing that proves offputting aside from the fairly hard to miss nudges urging you to head towards the Crunch paid-for options. If you’ve got pretty simple accounting needs then the tools inside this gratis package will probably help you get the job done. 

However, it's nice to know that you can also upgrade and get paid-for assistance from accounting professionals from with the Crunch stable. That’s always good to know given how some accounting issues can turn out to be more complicated than they initially appear. Crunch Free is also fully Making Tax Digital compliant, so for any UK users it should help you navigate those MTD VAT returns and everything else related to the government’s vision with reasonable ease.

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