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Expense Tracking Services Buying Guide

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business.com editorial staff
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| Updated
Aug 08, 2022

Which expense tracking service is right for you? Our buying guide explains what to look for in a provider and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Which expense tracking service is right for you? Our buying guide explains what to look for in a provider and how to choose the best one for your needs.

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.

Find the Right Expense Tracking Service for Your Business

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.

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 the apps we examined have free options for 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.

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