There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s one of the saddest facts in
my life, right up there with my insane student debt and the realization
that Taylor Swift will probably never talk to me.
But there’s good news! I just saved a bunch of money by switching to… no, I’m kidding.
Free stuff is exciting!
Free CRM comes in two categories – free, but limited (also known as freemium), and open source.
So the free, but limited versions offset caps on the amount of free
users, contacts, storage, extra features, or some combination thereof.
Open source, on the other hand, offers an unlimited, fully functional
CRM to users. The caveat is that your company needs a person (or team)
who can install and configure the CRM. Of course, because of this, open
source CRM is extremely customizable, which is nice. Most open source
CRM companies also offer a preconfigured version and/or installation and
support for a price.
Where can you find these magical free CRMs? Well, I put together a list
for you! Check out the comparison chart below and read the details about
the CRM systems that interest you.
Please note that I have not placed these in any particular order. Each
system is different and each one will serve some companies better than
SuiteCRM is an open source alternative to SugarCRM
and is actually based on Sugar’s open source version. Sugar’s open source product is extremely stripped down, and as one reviewer
it “SuiteCRM is the best of all worlds. It’s based on Open Source
Sugar, but uses Open Source add-ons to make it close to, if not better
than, the ‘Pay’ Sugar.”
Suite offers a preconfigured version for those users who don’t have the
ability to install/configure in house. The upgrade fee for that is £10
or roughly $16.40 a month.
Capsule is free for up to two users with 10 MB of storage, and 250
contacts. To upgrade, it’s $12/user/month. With the upgrade comes two
gigabytes of storage, 50,000 contacts, and integration with such
applications as Mailchimp
Capsule’s best feature, according to its many glowing reviews
, is its ability to integrate with at least 33 other software programs, including Mailchimp, Freshbooks, and Gmail.
In fact, according to the reviews, the only place Capsule is really
lacking as a system is its customer support. While they have a FAQs
section as well as helpful articles posted on their page, if you need
any help after hours, you’re sunk. In addition, they offer no direct
phone service. Rather, you must submit a form, though they do claim to
call you back within a single business day.
Insightly claims on its homepage to be the “#1 online small business
CRM.” I have no evidence to corroborate this particular claim, but I can
tell you that they offer a great free program and a very friendly
Insightly offers their system free for three users, 2,500 records (which
they define as any stored item from contact to note), 200 megabytes of
storage and ten custom fields. Perhaps most importantly, Insightly
offers free users full product support! The upgrade fee is $7/user/month
and includes 100,000 records, unlimited storage, and Mailchimp
As they say on their homepage, Insightly is great for small businesses.
For many small businesses three users is really more than enough.
However, many reviewers
mentioned that Insightly is not ideal for bigger businesses,
particularly because its functionality is not capable of handling the
demands of a larger business. One particular example cited is that the
email integration lacks a lot of user functionality that other CRM
platforms don’t think twice about.
Really Simple Systems claims to be the best CRM system for small businesses. (But it does not claim to be the #1 online CRM for small business, so there’s no rivalry with Insightly.)
Really Simple Systems offers a free two user system that includes 100
accounts (business that you deal with), unlimited contacts within those
accounts, tasks, and 100MB of storage. To upgrade to five users with the
same functionality, it’s $15/user/month.
However, I did manage to dig up one con to keep in mind. Cloudpro’s review
while generally praising this CRM, does mention that Really Simple
Systems offers more limited functionality, and so works best for small
businesses compared to large or enterprise ones.
Here’s another CRM that claims to be #1 at something. This time its #1
at online free CRM software for business (so again, technically no
This free version comes with five free users, 2,500 contacts, and all
the basic features. The upgrade fee is $14.95/user/month for more
features, storage, and support. Two major drawbacks up front: you only
get one year free, and no customer support.
So what makes FreeCRM worth it? First, their upgraded system is actually
one of the most affordable CRMs on the market. Second, it’s a web-based
solution, so you don’t need to create an expensive and time-consuming
infrastructure to host it on, meaning pretty much anyone can get it up
and running with ease.
I like Bitrix a lot because it offers really flexible price options. I
like flexibility. For a completely free account you get 12 users, five
GB of storage and the ability to do anything you want with that storage,
which is already a pretty sweet deal.
This is how it gets better. The upgrade fee to get unlimited users and
50 gigs of storage is $99, but if you’re not feeling that cause really
all you needed was a few more users, or maybe just more storage… Bitrix
totally hears you! They offer an additional 12 users to the same program
for $25/user/month. And/or if you want more storage they offer a tiered
pricing plan on that up to one TB.
So that’s the pricing.
The drawback that reviewers all point out is that Bitrix’ aesthetics are a little rough at points. One reviewer
that they use a flashing clock in the corner to remind users to
timestamp all activities, which I could easily imagine is quite
Raynet markets itself as an easy-to-use, does-it-all CRM. It’s free
version allows for two users, 150 accounts, 50MB of storage, and full
customer support. Upgrade to 20,000 accounts and one TB of storage for
Raynet’s system is very aesthetically pleasing and features an “account
card” (featured above) where you can glean most of the information you
need about a customer from a single glance, including how much they’re
worth to your company.
All that said, Raynet is a fairly new company, and the fact that it’s
headquartered in the Czech Republic may make support difficult for
U.S.-based companies (though they have an office in Florida).
Additionally, perhaps because it’s such a recent entrant to the
American CRM market, there is not yet much third party information or
reviews on software.
vTiger is an open source CRM, that is also based on Sugar. vTiger was
actually originally a part of Sugar, but both have since gone their own
While you can download and install the open source version of the
software for free yourself, vTiger does offer several preconfigured
versions starting as just $12/user/month. In addition, vTiger also
offers installation, support, hardware, and/or administration for a
price. It integrates with MailChimp, Intuit
, among others.
One thing that vTiger does really well is offer a wide array of features for very cheap
even on the preconfigured level. These features include billing,
inventory tracking, and project management capabilities, all of which
are fairly unusual to find in any CRM system.
it would appear as though a fairly important drawback to vTiger is the
fact that it has compatibility issues with PHP 5.6 and above.
Zoho is one of the big dogs of business software, so it’s pretty cool
that they offer a free program. This CRM version is free for three users
and 5,000 records. It comes with a mobile app and social CRM among
other things. Their first step upgrade (for more users, features, and
100,000 records) is only $12/user/month.
Zoho is well known for being easy to use with highly developed importing features.
Unfortunately, Zoho is not as feature-rich as other CRMs on this list
and has some quirks that take getting used to. An example that one reviewer
was that, when exporting from Zoho, you have to be very careful to
ensure that there are no commas in any records, or else it will split up
the record when putting it into Excel.
Zurmo is open source, and is unique on this list because it is also
gamified. Zurmo was written on the principal that offering users
incentives along the way makes users better employees. So the system
sets goals, or ‘missions’ (which are different for different types of
users) and then gives badges along the way to goal completion. It also
allows coworkers to challenge each other to missions with set rewards at
the end (like a gift card).
Currently, the biggest drawback to Zurmo is that it’s pretty new on the
scene – which, being open source, can actually be a bit of a bother.
Zurmo’s open source version lacks some fairly basic features such as
social CRM. This, of course, is unlikely to remain a problem the longer
it sticks around.
Zurmo does offer a preconfigured version for $32/user/month.