Best Expense Trackers for Small Business Owners of 2021

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to get excited about expense tracking software. For employers, the goal is to keep up-to-the-minute financial records; for employees, they just want to upload their receipts or get reimbursed in a timely manner without tearing their hair out.

Everyone can agree that they just need a tracker that is simple so business receipts are scanned (ideally on-the-go) and expenses are approved without much muss or fuss. 

At Select, we’ve taken a deep dive into low-cost expense tracking software that works for small businesses of 2 to 50 employees. We looked at products that can grow with your small team and allow you and your new hires to jump in and start using. In addition, we chose software that can integrate with your team’s accounting software and offers other benefits that go above and beyond stapling a receipt to an invoice. (See our methodology for more information on how we chose the best expense trackers for small business owners.)

Best expense trackers for small business owners:

FAQs:

Best overall

FreshBooks

On FreshBook’s secure site

  • Cost

    30-day free trial, then plan options include: the Lite plan for $6 per user per month for 5 billable clients; the Plus plan for $10 per user per month for up to 50 billable clients; the Premium plan for $20 per user per month, unlimited billable clients; and the Select plan, variable pricing depending on complexity of needs. 

  • Standout features

    Extremely easy to get started; Lite plan offers a lot of features; it’s easy to upload receipts (including mileage) and create invoices. App offers time tracing. Very mobile friendly interface.

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, credit cards and bank accounts

  • Availability

  • Security features

    FreshBooks utilizes a 256-bit SSL encryption. The program collects a minimal amount of personally identifiable information, and if your information is ever lost, it’s backed up in multiple databases so you can retrieve it again.

Pros

  • Lite plan is a great affordable option for for teams under 10.
  • Good for self-employed and freelance team members 
  • Pricing incentives and discounts for first 3 months with sign-up 
  • Automatically categorizes your expenses and itemizes them to make it easier on you when tax filing season comes along
  • Allows you to take photos of the receipts and to store them on the cloud.

Cons

  • Can get pricey once you begin adding on other FreshBooks software integrations

Pricier but also great

QuickBooks Online

  • Cost

    30-day free trial then plan options include: Simple Start for $12.50 per month, Essentials for $20 per month, Plus for $35 per month and Advanced for $75 per month

  • Standout features

    Tracks your business expenses as they happen, as well as your income. Users can use app to do invoicing, accept payments, manage their cash flow, maximize tax deductions, track travel miles, run reports, send estimates, manage bills and 1099 contractors, plus pay employees

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards, plus third-party apps like PayPal and Square

  • Availability

    Accessible from any web browser and also offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Verisign scanning, password-protected login, firewall protected servers and the same encryption technology (128 bit SSL) used by the world’s top banks. QuickBooks also offers multiple permission levels that you can set for additional users’ access

Pros

  • Offers a 30-day free trial
  • Syncs to your bank accounts, credit cards and third-party apps like PayPal and Square
  • Offers real-time dashboards so you can stay updated on all financial transactions related to your business
  • The most basic “Simple Start” plan tracks income, sales and expenses, organizes receipts, creates invoices, helps you prepare your taxes, categorizes your business and personal trips, offers a QuickBooks Cash account, runs reports like P&Ls and balance sheets and includes 1 user
  • “Essentials” plan, in addition to the above, helps you pay your bills, clock employee time and billable hours and includes up to 3 users
  • “Plus” plan, in addition to the above, lets you oversees projects, track inventory and includes up to 5 users
  • “Advanced” plan, in addition to the above, provides business analytics and insights, speeds up transactions, gives users access to VIP service QuickBooks Priority Circle that includes a dedicated account team and free online QuickBooks training, includes up to 25 users
  • QuickBooks offers a fourth “Self-Employed” plan for freelancers at a low $7.50 per month
  • All QuickBooks users get fast, customized setup of their QuickBooks with a certified bookkeeper for an additional $50 one-time live virtual session
  • Full-service payroll plans start at $22.50 per month
  • Security features include Verisign scanning, encryption technology (128 bit SSL) used by the world’s top banks and customized access for other users

Cons

  • Costs range from $12.50 per month to $75 per month, depending on the plan
  • Some user reviews complain of glitches in app and a not so user-friendly interface

Most User-Friendly

Expensify

On Expensify’s secure site

  • Cost

    Free for up to 25 SmartScans of receipts per month. For unlimited SmartScans, pricing is as follows: six-week free trial then for employees, individual pricing is $4.99 per month. For companies, group pricing starts at $5 per user, per month

  • Standout features

    Individuals can track receipts and submit expenses to their employer. Users scan their receipts and the app will automatically read the receipt then translate it into a logged expense. Also offers mileage and GPS tracking and automatic credit card importing

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can customize

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and personal/company credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Two-factor authentication so users input a generated code when logging in; banking data is protected by world-class security standards and compliant with Privacy Shield and GDPR requirements

Pros

  • Free to use for up to 25 SmartScans per month
  • Offers a six-week free trial for unlimited SmartScans
  • Designed to help you get your expenses done quickly while on the go and in real time
  • Expensify website claims expense reports with Expensify take 83% less time
  • One-click receipt scanning and SmartScan automatically transcribes receipt details with the date, merchant and amount
  • Receipts are automatically coded and categorized once user takes photo and assigns to a report or emails their receipts to receipts@expensify.com
  • Users can split their expenses by using the ExpensePoint feature to split the cost
  • Allows users to track their mileage by manual entry, odometer readings or by using the GPS
  • Web dashboard shows spending by different categories and uses time references
  • Automatically generates and submits expense reports for automatic next-day reimbursement
  • Users can share or print documents/expense reports from the app for review
  • Syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Lets users send and receive money via Venmo
  • Connects to apps like Uber, Lyft and HotelTonight for automatic receipt import and transcription
  • Security features include two-factor authentication, world-class security standards and Privacy Shield / GDPR compliance
  • With a group plan, employers can integrate with their accounting software, including QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite and others
  • Two plans offered for individuals: “Track” is $4.99 per month, with unlimited SmartScans, automatic mileage tracking and categorizing expenses; “Submit” is $4.99 per month and, in addition to the above, automatically submits reports for reimbursement, submits receipts
  • Two plans offered for groups: “Collect” is $5 per user, per month and, in addition to the above, automates receipt collection and reimbursement, auto-syncs to accounting software and offers free Expensify card with auto-reconciliation; “Control” is $9 per user, per month and, in addition to the above, manages approval workflows

Cons

  • Costs $4.99 per month for individuals and starts at $5 per user, per month for groups
  • Some user reviews report that the interface isn’t intuitive

Pricey but powerful

Certify

  • Cost

    14-day free trial, then plan options include: Now! Plan for $8 per user per month, for 1-25 employees; Professional plan, which can work for teams of 25-200 people, comes with a monthly service fee and a $1,500-$3,500 implementation fee; Enterprise plan also has an implementation as well as variable fixed cost

  • Standout features

    Excellent video tutorials via the Certify Training Camp, integrations with Quickbooks, Uber, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle NetSuite, and others. You can also use Certify to book travel

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    If your business uses Oracle Netsuit Integration, Paycor Integration, Quickbooks Desktop Connector, Sage X3 Connector or UKG Integration, you’ll be able to sync Certify with your existing business and accounting systems

  • Availability

  • Security features

    Certify uses industry-standard firewalls, secure web servers and data encryption to protect your data

Pros

  • The exclusive ReceiptParse® technology allows you to take a photo or upload your receipts, and information like location, date and category are extracted, which is then used to categorize expenses for reports.
  • Offers a tight audit trail for your team’s accounting.
  • Automation means you don’t have to keep manually entering commonly used tasks.  

Cons

  • Pricing structure is confusing.
  • Pricy set-up fee.
  • May need to train staff on Certify’s other features.

For more advanced users

SAP Concur Expense 

  • Cost

    30-day free trial; minimum fee for an organization to purchase Concur Expense product for the first time is approximately $83 per month (around $8 per employee for a company with 10 employees)

  • Standout features

    High-quality image capture for receipts; easy-to-track mileage

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    SAP Concur can be linked with third-party systems, including ADP, QuickBooks and NetSuite

  • Availability

    Web, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone

  • Security features

    SAP Concur is cloud-based and uses a framework of audited processes and controls to protect user information; the program also only collects a minimal amount of personally identifiable information

Pros

  • Works seamlessly with other SAP products, such as SAP Travel and SAP Invoice 
  • User benefits include discounts on travel-related sites
  • Can book and expense travel in the app

Cons

  • Interface isn’t as inviting as Expensify or Freshbooks 
  • Reviewers say entering expense reports can be time-consuming 
  • Team will need to trained on software 

FAQs:

What is expense tracking software?

Need to expense a meal with a client or track the mileage you put on the company van? Simply put, expense tracking software eliminates the need for manual entry of receipts and makes it easy for managers to check in on employee spending and track company spending. 

In addition, your business is going to need expense tracking software that can integrate (or at least not conflict) with your existing accounting software so your team’s accountant can easily keep a  tax-complaint trail of your business expenses. 

How much does this software cost?

Expense tracking software can vary in price depending on the size of your business, the complexity of reports, department structure, categories (e.g. travel, office supplies) and functionality. When choosing our recommendations, we focused on 10 popular pieces of software that offer free trials so you can test them out before you choose the tier that’s best for your company’s needs. 

Why is this software good for small businesses? 

If you’ve got a small business, your project manager or accountant may have their hands full and would rather not spend valuable time sorting through receipts, invoices and reams of paperwork. The aim of this software is to reduce the time that your team spends tracking and logging expenses for reimbursement (and making life easier for managers who have to approve them). 

With the exception of Expensify, we chose software that offers more than just the ability to create invoices and photograph or scan receipts. As your business grows, you’re going to want software that can grow in complexity to suit your needs, growing expense categories and expanding team. 

Why should small business owners track their expenses?

Expenses are more than just coffees and trips to conventions. If your small business is on a lean budget, tracking and approving expenses can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your annual budget. This software can reduce time wasted on paperwork and most importantly, increase employee satisfaction by not having them just through hoops to get reimbursed.  

Our methodology 

The apps we’ve chosen receive high marks for being:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Available for Android, iOS and web
  • Easy to navigate interface
  • Helpful integrations with other business software
  • Easy to customize according to your company’s needs and policies

To test the software, we downloaded the apps and tested the functionality by creating an invoice, adding expenses using a receipt and generally testing how easy the whole process is for a small business to get started. 

We watched dozens of brand tutorials to see if they did a good job of explaining advanced features and spoke with users who use these products every day to understand the pros and cons of the software. 

The five apps Select chose offer a free trial and have a version that costs $10 or under per employee, per month. They each have at least 1,000 reviews in both the App Store and on Google Play, as well as a rating of 4 stars (out of 5) or higher on both platforms.

To determine the best expense tracking software for small businesses, Select reviewed six top reviewed applications and zeroed in on their cost, ease of use and ease of access on multiple devices, as well as extra features. 

Note: Unless indicated otherwise, all the pricing is for what you’d be billed annually, which is less expensive than you would pay if billed monthly.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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