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Expense Tracking Services Buying Guide

By
Kayla Harrison
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jan 03, 2019
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Why Use an Expense Tracking Service?

Expense tracking apps monitor your business expenses, miles traveled and time spent on projects to make filing taxes and claiming deductions easier and more accurate, whether you use a tax service or prepare year-ends on your own. All the expense trackers we recently examined are mobile apps that give you flexibility to track your work on the go without having to keep track of receipts or mileage. 

Several trackers come standard with accounting and tax software. They also feature real-time monitoring of credit card transactions. Programs like Expense Manager automatically input charges to your expense calculator so you have a permanent report. This beats the alternative of reconciling past expenses against your bank account, trying to remember whether each purchase was a business or personal expense. 

Other solutions, such as Taxbot, connect to your bank account so you can share expense information between all of your devices and programs. This ensures an entry in one program isn't missed in another, so your records remain accurate. 

In addition to tracking your expenses, the best expense tracking software provides you with tools to create and stick with a budget or to monitor your accounts payable and receivable. Some track your time, including billable hours, so you can invoice your clients.

Editor's note: Need help with your accounting and bookkeeping? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you with information.

Features to Look For

To choose the right solution for your business, you’ll need to consider your needs and whether the services offered will benefit your business. Here are some common features you want to look for when considering which solution is the best for you. 

ORC Intelligent Scan

Optical character recognition, or OCR, technology scans a document photo, such as business cards and receipt images, and automatically fills in the required text fields in the program. This can save you the time it would otherwise take manually inputting data. OCR technology isn't always 100 percent accurate, so double check to make sure that the correct info and amounts have been entered in the right places before submitting expenses. 

Web Integration

Some services’ app comes with an online web expense-reporting software account through the manufacturer. Xpenditure, Expensify, Concur and Taxbot all provide you with an online, cloud-based program that automatically syncs with your app and saves your information to the web in addition to the app on your device. Pricing varies; some programs include this feature in the app's purchase price, while others require you to pay a monthly subscription fee. 

Additional Features

Expense tracking apps all perform similar functions, but a major difference we noted between each app was with the dashboard: Each has a different layout along with different ways of performing those functions. Some apps, for example, have split view screens, sidebar navigations and multiple-step prompts to record expenses while others have a more pared down look with simple-to-execute functions. 

All of the apps on our recommended services list below let you create your own categories to classify each transaction (though the process varies between each app). Additionally, some apps, such as Receipts Pro, have predesignated categories for both business and personal expenses, so you can use this app both on and off the clock.

Which Solution Do You Need?

The apps we've reviewed are designed as small business expense trackers, but several are better utilized for personal finances. All of the apps we examined have free options well suited to personal expense tracking. These free options limit you to only a few entries per month, usually less than 10. Plus, they don't have additional features, such as OCR intelligent scan, that make the app more useful for tracking business expenses.

While a mobile app is very convenient, expense recording software services come standard with many business software solutions, so you don't have to double purchase an app if you already have one of these business suites.

Here is a quick list of some of these business solutions and the services they provide: 

  • Time Tracking - Tracks hours worked, billable hours and expenses accrued per project
  • Project Management - Manages every aspect of your work project, including mileage and expenses
  • GPS System - Tracks mileage and converts to files that you can share with tax and accounting programs
  • CRM - All-encompassing business solution that includes sales, time management, accounting and employee tracking features 

Each of these business programs requires a monthly fee, which may be outside your current budget. However, business expense trackers are a one-time purchase (usually under $10) and are designed to ensure accurate expense records for tax-declaration purposes.

Choosing whether to purchase a single app or a full business suite is a hard decision. Additionally, our sister site, Business News Daily, has a few buying guides with helpful hints.

Downloadable Guides

Expense Management Guide
Expense Management Guide

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Your EEM Solution is how your employees receive funds to make purchases on behalf of the company. Whether the system is cash-based or card-based, any employee expected to make a purchase to complete a job, go on business trips, or who may need funds in case of an emergency, should have access to the appropriate resources.

There are several types of EEM Solutions that work for a variety of industries and business sizes. Which system your business implements will depend upon your available resources, and the system’s ease of implementa on within your company.

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IDC estimates that 86% of U.S. businesses use spreadsheets for strategic business planning and performance management.

A new class of EPM solutions enables stakeholders in the finance, HR, sales, marketing, IT, and supply chain departments to focus their expertise on business needs rather than technology challenges.

Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) is extending its reach beyond the CFO’s office to automate five critical aspects across the modern enterprise: strategy, plans, budgets, performance, and forecasts. The modern, cloud-based class of EPM that enables this transformation—called “connected EPM” by research firm IDC—is more than just a better way to plan. It’s a strategic competitive advantage for organizations.

Common Expense Tracking Service Questions & Answers

Have an expense tracking service question of your own?
Ask an Expert

What is your experience managing the expense reporting process?

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I have used many different methods to manage the expense report process. The best I have found so far is having employees use Expensify on their mobile phones. Then the accounting department uses it as an add-on to QuickBooks. This lets the employees take pictures of receipts as they go, therefore not losing all those little individual slips of paper. Then Expensify can automatically organize these expenses into a report, which can then be uploaded into QuickBooks for approval and...

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Peter, For just time tracking & expense logging you can probably "make do" with Google applications. I'd use a google form for employee data capture. This limits them to just adds as well as blocking access to recorded data. Good Luck! Doug

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Typically anything that can be deducted on your taxes as a business expense is something they should be able to charge on the card and anything that is not deductible should not be allowed. You need to write up a guideline of what limits they can charge. For instance you could say motel rooms are allowed up to $ 100.00 and anything over that amount needs your prior approval. Lunches up to $ 15.00. and so on. In some businesses wining and dining a customer is an important part of doing...

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Hello David, Receipt Bank lets you make purchasing entries for your business by way of a digital photo or up to fifty entries by way of a scanned image from your computer. Receipt Bank integrates with eleven software programs including QuickBooks Online and Xero. In addition, with Receipt Bank you can set "rules" which determine how an invoice is treated in your accounting program. For example, you can set a rule to classify an invoice by category automatically, based on supplier, payment...

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It depends whether you are a cash-basis taxpayer or an accrual-basis taxpayer. Cash basis taxpayers record income when received and record deductible expenses when paid (in your case, bill deductible in 2017). Accrual basis taxpayers record income when billed and deduct expenses when incurred (this would be where you could deduct the bill in 2016). So you need to know whether you are reporting on cash basis or accrual basis. Should be a checkbox on your tax return to tell you which one you...

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Services

List of the Expense Tracking Services Buying Guide