Are you looking for a free online booking system?
Then you’ve landed in the right place.
There are many powerful and free appointment booking apps available today.
So if you’re just starting out, and you’re on a tight budget, there’s really no reason to pay a hefty bill for an expensive software anymore.
For example, Square Appointments is free for individuals and when you sign up with this special offer, you even get a $2,000 bonus that you can use to cover your credit card processing fees.
This article gives you a summary of all the best online booking apps on the market right now. This list includes free salon software solutions as well we other free appointment scheduling apps that aren’t industry specific.
Let’s dive right in!
Overview of the Best Free Scheduling Software
Following the table below, I will dive into each free appointment software in more detail.
Note: You may need to scroll the table to the right to see all details.
|Salon Booking Software||Free Plan||Primary Industry||Features||Ease-of-use||SMS||Prepayments||Website Embed||Google & Instagram||Geography|
|Fresha/Shedul||Subscription free at all levels||Salon & Spa Software||3(5)||5(5)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Global|
|Square Appointments||Free for individuals||Any local businesses (including salons)||5(5)||5(5)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||US, Canada, Australia|
|Acuity Scheduling||Free for individuals||Any industry||5(5)||3(5)||Yes||Yes (at cost)||Yes||Yes||Global|
|Schedulicity||10 free appointments per month||Salon & Spa Software||3(5)||4(5)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||US, UK|
|SimplyBook.me||50 free appointments per month||Any industry||4(5)||4(5)||Yes (at cost)||Yes (at cost)||Yes||Yes||Global|
|Calendly||Free for individuals||Online businesses & coaches||4(5)||5(5)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Global|
|Setmore||Free up to 4 users||Any industry||4(5)||4(5)||Yes (at cost)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Global|
|Picktime||Subscription free at all level||Any industry||3(5)||4(5)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Global|
This table should give you a good overview of the leading free online booking systems. Let’s now take a closer look at the top 4 free appointment scheduling apps so that you can judge which one is right for your business.
1. Fresha: Best 100% Subscription Free Salon Scheduling Software (Worldwide)
Fresha, previously called Shedul, is a complete system for salons with an easy to use appointment calendar. It’s the only 100% subscription-free salon booking system, so for individual stylists or new salons that need to keep fixed costs low, this is the perfect option.
Apart from the robust salon appointment scheduling, Fresha features a point-of-sale system, staff scheduling, product, and stock management, payment processing, financial reporting and analytics, and a range of marketing tools.
Fresha makes it easy for you to attract clients online through your own website, the Fresha marketplace, or by connecting to their Instagram and Facebook business pages.
You’ll be surprised how much you get with your free Fresha subscription. It’s no wonder it’s the fastest-growing salon appointment system with 250’000 stylists and therapists in more than 120 countries.
It gives you a lot of the advanced features you’d normally need to pay for – like free SMS, built-in no show protection, and marketing automation (e.g. like client birthday emails).
An important difference with Fresha is that they offer a salon client marketplace. This allows you to promote your business and get discovered by new clients. Note that this is also where they earn their money back. When you market your salon or spa on the platform and you get a new client, they’ll charge you 20% of the appointment. Also, as you’ll be using their credit card payment gateway, you’ll also be charged transaction fees when clients pay online (2.19% + $0.2).
This means you only pay when the platform is generating business for you which I think makes a lot of sense.
The main reason I like Fresha is because it’s so easy to use and despite being subscription-free, you get many of the features that other companies charge for.
One thing to keep in mind with Fresha is that it works best as a complete system on their platform. If you already have an established website and other marketing solutions, other options might give you more control and flexibility.
- Free subscription for unlimited staff
- Integrates with Facebook, Instagram, and Google
- User friendly and easy to learn
- Available in many languages
- Limited options to customize the appearance (default designs looks very good though)
- Limited support for integration with other platforms. You’re kind of locked into using the Fresha tools.
- Subscription FREE for unlimited staff
- You pay a transaction fee when a client books through the Fresha marketplace, your website or social pages, or confirms or pays using one of their payment systems (2.19% + $0.2). Also, if you get a new client when promoting your business on the Fresha Marketplace, you’ll be charged 20% on the appointment.
2. Square Appointments: Best Scheduling Software in the US, Canada, and Australia
Square Appointments is beautifully designed and super easy-to-use. This is the go-to solution for many local businesses as it is rich in functionality, integrates with the full range of Square tools, and is free for individuals to start using.
When joining Square, you get access to so much more than “just” Square Appointments. Even if that might be the only feature you need right now, you can easily integrate their credit card payment tools, POS system, marketing features, online store, payroll & team management, and more when you need it.
Square is set up to grow with you as your business grows and is a complete business partner for small and bigger businesses.
What I found most impressive is how well it supports client/staff notifications and online bookings. While you work in the simple calendar view and arrange appointments, your clients and employees are kept up-to-date with simple, customizable notifications.
You also have several options when integrating the booking feature on your website. You can embed it or link out to your booking page. This makes it very powerful vs. some of the competitors.
On top of that, Square Appointments is very strong at the business fundamentals (like inventory management and client data management).
- Free for individuals
- Well designed, easy to use, interface
- Very strong client notification support
- Integration with the full suite of Square applications for endless possibilities
- Robust core business management (inventory, reports, and client data)
- Limited design flexibility
- You can change colors but not completely make it fit your brand
- Only available in the U.S., Canada, and Australia at the moment
Square Appointments Pricing
- FREE for individuals
- $50/month for a team of 5 staff
- $90/month for a team of 10 staff
- Credit card process fee of 2.6% + $0.1 when you allow clients to pay for appointments using the app. Note that you will always pay a credit card fee no matter which scheduler you use.
Exclusive Discount on Square Appointments (Limited Time)
Get $2,000 credit card process bonus when you sign up for Square here. This offer is only available for a limited time and at The Salon Business only.
3. Acuity Scheduling: Advanced & Customizable Appointment Software (Worldwide)
Do you want the absolute best booking experience for your clients? Then it is Acuity Scheduling you’re looking for.
Acuity is the most flexible appointment scheduler on the market and what I find most powerful with Acuity is that it integrates with a broad range of other software. This allows you to achieve whatever you want.
You can customize everything with Acuity. Brand your booking page or website widget as you like. Acuity is the most flexible appointment scheduler on the market and it allows you to integrate bookings with a full suite of third-party software which, together, becomes a powerful salon software setup for you.
Acuity is for any size business that wants the ultimate scheduling experience and is ready to invest the time (or money) to configure the platform to work as you want. It’s not difficult to use. But to get the full benefit of the platform, you’ll want to configure it to work with other platforms and design it to fit your brand.
This makes it more flexible than Square Appointments and Fresha but also more complex. With Square Appointments, you get all the tools you need to work together with the need to learn and configure multiple tools.
- Fully customizable website booking widget
- Fully customizable SMS & email reminders
- Integrates with all leading software for marketing, accounting, and POS directly or via Zapier.
- Available worldwide
- Only appointment scheduling
- All other business support functionality needs to be managed via integrations
- A bit of a learning curve to get the most out of the tool
Acuity Scheduling Pricing
- FREE for 1 person but without advanced features
- $14/month for 1 person with some advanced features
- $23/month for a team of 6 with text reminders and the ability to sell subscriptions, memberships, and gift certificates
- $45/month for a team of 36 with text reminders and the ability to sell subscriptions, memberships, and gift certificates
Schedulicity is another good salon appointment scheduling platform that has grown into an all-in-one system that now offers payment processing, automated email marketing, and a marketplace where local online customers can discover you.
Users can process payments instantly through Square or Stripe or use the built-in payment processing with Schedulicity Pay.
The add-on pricing model means that you can pick and choose from the features you need and potentially save money. However, the fee for the communication/marketing piece can double your monthly cost.
Schedulicity is good for small businesses that later can grow into the system. It’s a good all-in-one solution but doesn’t offer many integrations.
- No contracts, cancel anytime you want
- Pay only for the add-ons you need
- Good customer service
- Option to block repeat no-show customers
- Cost increases when adding add-ons
- Limited integrations apart from calendars sync with Yahoo, Outlook, iCal, Hotmail, and Office 365
- Limited to the US and Canada
- Free plan for 10 bookings per month
- $20/month for a solo user
- $30/month for 2-5 users
- $40/month for 6-10 users
- $50/month for 11+ users
Only choose the additional add-ons that you need. (See Schedulicity pricing).
As you’ll have seen in this article, there are a number of great free appointment scheduling systems out there.
If your budget is limited, these will work very well for you can also grow with the solution and later move to a paid plan if you need more features or support for more staff than what’s offered on the free plan.
Benefits of using a scheduling software
- Save time. Fewer phone calls, text messages, and e-mails that disturb during client treatments
- Automatic e-mail or text reminders helps avoid no-shows
- Clients can book and reschedule 24/7
- Get appointments via Google, Instagram, and Facebook
- Take payments. Receiving payments during booking is convenient and helps reducing customer no-shows
- A client can more easily review appointment details
- Helps staff manage their appointments
Conclusion and my top picks
Out of the ones I’ve tested the below three are my top free online reservation systems.
My top 3 choices
Fresha is an excellent all-in-one-solution for salons and spas that is free and very easy to get started with.
However, more experienced salon owners might want more customization options and control over integrations than what freshe offers.
Square Appointments is perfect for users who want a complete business system that is free for solo owners and easy to use. You really get all you need with Square Appointments and the other tools from Square.
If you want more control and flexibility and already use other business tools, you might like to look at other scheduling systems that can integrate with your existing tool stack. Also, if you’re located outside the US, Canada, or Australia, Square won’t work for you.
Acuity Scheduling is perfect for business owners that want to create the best possible scheduling experience for themselves and their clients. Acuity is very flexible and integrates with a wide variety of other software, which is great for salon owners who want to invest more time upfront into creating a customized system.
This can later pay dividends through a more efficient workflow, lower cost, and better integration with their existing website, email marketing, and payment solution.
You however need to be prepared for a bigger learning curve when you go with Acuity as you’ll need to set up integrations and learn other tools to help you in specific areas of your business.
Also, their free plan is rather limited so you’ll likely soon find that you will need to upgrade to a premium plan to get all the benefits of the tool.
I hope you found this review of the best free appointment scheduling software.
If you’re looking for more salon specific tools, I also recommend you read my review of the best salon software, best point of sale systems for salons, as well as the best website builders for salons.