Manually recording your business expenses can be a huge challenge. The chances are higher for erroneous reporting, duplication, and miscalculation of expenses, profits, and loss. These mistakes adversely impact the financial health and future of your business.
One way to avoid this situation is by using accounting software to automate most of the processes. However, the challenge is finding a good enough solution that meets all your business needs and fits your budget.
A Gartner study on the challenges and approaches to technology investments found that one in two small businesses find “identifying the right technology” to be one of their top three challenges.
The best way to navigate these issues is by assessing your business needs and matching these to the features of your shortlisted software. If the features are able to address your needs, you will be able to reap the software’s full benefits.
We created this report to provide you information on the five top-rated accounting apps for tracking business expenses. The report should help you shortlist the right software for your business.
For a longer list of accounting solutions offering expense tracking features:
1. FreshBooks: Automate expense organization for easy tax calculation
FreshBooks is cloud-based accounting software that offers several features to manage and track invoices, accounts, time, and expenses. Its expense tracking feature helps managers record and track each spend to ensure that no project overruns the budget.
The software also allows project managers to track time and accurately bill hours so they can prevent unpredictable delays and overruns.
FreshBooks’s business-expense tracking capability
- Lets you link your bank account and credit card to automatically note and update each spend in real time. You won’t have to manually add entries.
- Allows you to upload and store digital copies or images of expense receipts so your expenses are organized. The receipts are stored on the cloud and can be retrieved at any time using a mobile app or the desktop version.
- Helps you organize expenses into categories, such as advertising, meals, and travel, to simplify tax calculations. The software also auto-categorizes expenses.
- Makes it convenient to bill clients and marks business expenses as billable and adds them to the invoice for your clients. You can also mark repeat expenses to rebill a client at a later date.
- Lets project managers keep a tab on project spends. This ensures that projects don’t overrun the budget. You can also assign recurring expenses.
Record and track expenses in FreshBooks (Source)
User feedback trends
Based on the analysis of reviews on GetApp, here’s how users of FreshBooks feel about the solution:
- Users like the ease of use as they don’t need special training to navigate the desktop and mobile versions.
- Reviewers like the reporting functionality as well as the customizable and easy-to-understand format of reports.
- They like being able to organize the expense receipts and that the timesheet as well as invoice data can be transferred to record expenses.
- Some reviewers feel they should be able to share projects with contractors more seamlessly. They want contractors to be able to see the project name and client name, but sometimes that’s not possible.
Who should consider FreshBooks?
FreshBooks is suitable for businesses with a global network because it helps them track multicurrency expenses. Project managers can automate expense categorization and recurring expenses to handle a diversified, global workforce.
2. QuickBooks Online: Collaborate on managing expense data in real time
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting solution that offers a consolidated dashboard to track payments, invoice details, billing, and other functions. The software offers customer support from setup to execution.
QuickBooks Online lets users connect all their bank accounts and credit cards to the tool, so they can reconcile all sales and expense transactions. The tool also offers predictive reports based on previous years’ expenses, so that businesses manage their financial health.
QuickBooks’s business expense tracking capabilities
- Lets you connect your bank, credit card, and PayPal accounts to the tool. It automatically imports all the transactions for review. You can record the method of bill payment using an expense form and download your transactions.
- Adds transactions for sorting into tax categories. You can approve and edit the categories as per your need as well as create custom rules to categorize expenses. The tool learns from your categorization, so that it can prompt you the next time.
- Provides business reports (as Excel sheets and CSV files) about profit and loss. It also offers predictive reports based on yearly expenses to help you plan your cash flow for the next year. You can email these reports or set up automatic email reporting to share the insights with stakeholders.
- Allows you to save the bills that you want to pay later, so that all your expenses are recorded and nothing slips through the cracks. You can check the dashboard to get an overview of all the user activity that needs your attention.
Record and track expenses in QuickBooks Online (Source)
User feedback trends
Based on the analysis of reviews on GetApp, here’s what real users of QuickBooks Online said about it:
- Users like that their expenses, payroll, and vendor information are all organized, stored, and presented on a single dashboard.
- Some like the connectivity and smooth transition between tablet, phone, and computer. The tool helps users track expenses and time, and provides real-time information to make business decisions.
- Reviewers like that they can sort their transactions and expenses as “personal” or “business” in the app. This helps them sort out their finances and prevent any accounting mistakes.
- Users would like to view customer history in a click, so they’re aware of updates and can manage invoicing using the expense tracking feature.
- Some reviewers would like an offline version of the tool. They note that the software can be difficult to use at times, but the constant guidance by customer service makes things easy.
Who should consider QuickBooks?
QuickBooks Online will suit businesses that plan to transition from manual methods and start using accounting software. The software offers first-time users a checklist to set it up. It also offers guided accounting tips based on user activity in the first month, in a bid to promote user acceptance.
3. Wave: Scan expense receipts on the go, keep records updated
Wave is a cloud-based integrated accounting solution. It has an easy-to-use interface and navigation panel to help first-time users manage their accounts. Its features include invoicing, online payment processing, investment tracking, and automatic reporting.
Users can scan expense receipts on the go and consolidate all expense records. They can record and automatically calculate multicurrency expenses as per the exchange rates in the tool.
Wave’s business expense tracking capabilities
- Provides a dashboard view to organize your income, expenses, payments, and invoices. The tool offers reports about monthly and yearly expenses. It lets you keep a tab on your business’s financial health and avoid budget overruns.
- Connect your bank accounts and credit card to avoid manual receipt entry for expenses. Keep your business and personal finances separate even when using the personal account for business expenses, or when you have a single bank account to manage both personal and business expenses.
- Offers a mobile receipt scanning app to scan and submit expense receipts for managerial approval while on-the-go. The receipts sync-up to the Wave account.
Dashboard view with income and expenses in Wave (Source)
User feedback trends
Based on an analysis of reviews on GetApp, here’s what Wave users said about the tool:
- Users like the ease of use and ability to scan receipts when they’re off work. They can post the receipts and invoices into accounts or send to clients via email/post.
- Reviewers like that they can manage receipts, track expenses, and handle traditional double-entry accounting in the app’s free version.
- They like that the app pulls all the transactions from accounts and lets you maintain separate business and personal accounts.
- Some users would like to move transactions between accounts using the mobile app. They noted that the bank payments could be processed faster.
- Some reviewers would like an improved reporting functionality and the ability to print account reconciliation reports.
- They would like Wave to categorize expenses as reimbursed, then assign it to an invoice at cost or with a markup, to smooth out year-end accounting.
Who should consider Wave?
Wave is most suitable for small businesses with client-facing teams that are focused on business development. The software reduces manual effort by letting them collate expense receipts from anywhere using the mobile app. So, an employee could be in meetings and still be able to submit and claim expenses on time.
4. Xero: Monitor expenses in real time to manage cash flow
Xero is a cloud-based accounting solution that streamlines processes such as bank reconciliation, inventory management, expense tracking, and bookkeeping. Its dashboard provides a complete view of a business’s financial situation such as the bank balance, outstanding invoices, upcoming bills, and expense claims.
Xero automatically records all bank and credit card transactions in one place. Account reconciliation helps businesses eliminate hidden costs such as expense duplication. This ensures that all the expenses are accounted for in real time.
Xero’s business expense tracking capabilities
- Streamlines expense submission by reconciling all expenses on a single dashboard. You can find out the number of incomplete, approved, and submitted expenses at once.
- Provides insights into expenses and cash flow on the dashboard. You can also access real-time reports and analytics to get insights about expense patterns.
- Allows employees to capture expenses as a photo from a phone or tablet, and submit it on the tool. Managers can control user permissions for who can view, submit, or approve the claims. Also, the claims are easily retrievable.
- Lets you assign expenses to projects to prevent budget overrun. You can label expenses and then track those using relevant categories.
Receipts in Xero’s mobile app (Source)
User feedback trends
Based on an analysis of reviews on GetApp, here’s what real users of Xero feel:
- Users like Xero’s double-entry accounting system that accommodates cash and accrued. They also like its fixed asset management, expense tracking, sales tax, and inventory management features.
- Reviewers like that Xero is easy to use and quick to reconcile transactions. They like the iOS app for tracking payments and receipts on the go.
- Some reviewers said that Xero’s integrations for expense reports and receipt management makes tax returns straightforward, which is highly beneficial.
- A few users felt that the expense report filing could be easier or that they could have better support and further training on how to categorize expenses.
- Users would like to see improvements in the auto reconciliation feature. They feel that the unreconciliation of accounts on the tool is difficult.
Who should consider Xero?
Xero is suitable for small businesses that have mobile teams such as client-facing teams that frequently handle business development. The software’s auto receipt scanning feature lets you quickly scan receipts to automatically log in the information. This way, they save time and won’t forget to file receipts later.
5. Zoho Books: Automate expense management to save time
Zoho Books is also a cloud-based accounting tool that automates business workflows to assist in online accounting. It helps users trace their bills and track expenses. They can organize their expenses, automate recurring ones, and autoscan receipts to record all expenses in one place.
Users can create multilingual invoices and have multicurrency transactions. They can record and monitor bank and credit card transactions. They can also collaborate with stakeholders over data, from anywhere and anytime, in real time.
Zoho Books’s business expense tracking capabilities
- Allows you to track, categorize, and bill expenses in one single place. You can get periodic detailed audit trail reports to audit expenses.
- Lets you automate expense generation for recurring expenses to tackle bulk expenses and avoid manual entries. Also, it automatically reconciles corporate cards with the expenses to save time.
- Lets you attach bills, receipts, and credit notes to the expenses, which makes accounting easy. The autoscan feature helps you maintain records and eliminates manual data entry.
- Lets your employees add the expenses in a consolidated report and submit for approval. You and your employees can comment on expense claims. The feature can also detect fraud and duplicate expenses.
- Helps you build multilayered and automatic approval flows for expenses. You can also handle multicurrency expenses. The tool ensures that expenses are swiftly reimbursed via different remittance options such as NEFT, RTGS, IMPS, or ICICI Fund Transfer.
Upload expense receipts in Zoho Books (Source)
User feedback trends
Based on the analysis of reviews on GetApp, here’s what real users of Zoho Books said:
- They like that the vendor offers regular feature updates and frequently adds new features. Also, Zoho Books can be integrated with online shopping websites such as Shopify and WooCommerce.
- Some reviewers like the automatically generated graphic reports that are easy to understand. However, the overall interface of the app can be slightly challenging.
- A few reviewers like the inventory management, payroll processing, sales, and purchase booking features. Uploading receipts online, with a digital copy for documentation, was highly rated by users.
- Users would like the data import and export features to be better as the Excel sheets can lose the contact details sometimes.
- They would like Zoho Books to support cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to let users transact in different countries. Users also pointed out that the recurring expense feature should be improved as it stops working at times.
Who should consider Zoho Books?
Zoho Books is suitable for businesses and independent consultants. It is easy to use and helps individuals and businesses take care of accounting without any professional help. The software automates all accounting and expense management tasks, which allows users to focus better on strategic work.
Having read about the top-rated accounting tools and their features, you need to keep a few things in mind before making a purchase:
- Identify your unique business needs and choose a solution that offers all the capabilities you require. For instance, if you need to track time with expenses, select a tool that offers both capabilities. Do not buy a solution that offers more than what you need, as the unwanted features will be a waste of money.
- Shortlist a few tools and test those on your team to find out what they prefer. Review the subscription models, demos, and free trials. The trials can help your team understand how the software functions. Pick the solution that fits your team’s requirements, is easy for them to use, and is within your budget.
Other helpful resources
Choosing the most relevant accounting software can be challenging as most solutions in the market offer similar features. You can explore the accounting software buyer’s guide to read up more about the industry. Visit GetApp’s directory for accounting software to check out a list of all the products mentioned here and others.
Read on to discover
- Small-business accounting 101: Address 6 key accounting challenges with technology
- Tech-savvy guide to expense and time tracking features for small businesses
- 3 robotic process automation use cases to eliminate financial paperwork
- 3 international business tax factors to consider for remote employees
The solutions highlighted in this article are the accounting software systems that offer expense tracking capabilities and had 4+ overall user rating from among the most reviewed products at the time of writing (the week of May 28, 2019).
Here’s an overview of our method for choosing this list of top-rated apps:
- We filtered accounting software products that offered expense tracking. The list of 50 products was then arranged in descending order, with those having the highest average customer review at the top. From among the top 10 products with 50+ reviews, the five having the 4+ user ratings were shortlisted.
- The “User feedback trends” section for each product is based on the analysis of feedback for the feature discussed, from users who left reviews on GetApp.
- Additional information in the article is compiled from vendor websites and other secondary sources, wherever mentioned.
NOTE: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users and does not represent the views of GetApp.
Results presented are based on a Gartner study to understand small business challenges and approach to technology investments. The primary research was conducted online during July-September 2018 among 715 respondents in the U.S. Companies were screened for company size in terms of number of employees: 2-249 employees and enterprise-wide annual revenue: less than $100 million. Respondents were required to be involved in purchasing technologies for the organization and hold a position of manager and above in the company.