The best expense tracker apps and software of 2018

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When running a business, it's essential to manage your finances effectively. Any problems could lead to issues with taxman and, potentially, a hefty fine.

Expense is one of the most important areas of financial control. Throughout a whole fiscal year, you no doubt have a steady outflow of money to other companies and individuals for products and services used in your business operations.  And of course there's those annual tax returns to calculate, too.

But as ever, there are digital solutions that can help. We've picked out six expense tracking software and apps that can help you stay on top of things - saving you money and allowing you to devote more time to your business.

1. QuickBooks

Affordable accounting

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Expenses, invoices, bank account management | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: No | Free trial: 30-day

Mobile support
Won’t damage your wallet
Core accounting focus

QuickBooks is one of the most popular and effective accounting applications for businesses of all sizes. Available on a variety of platforms, it aims to keep all aspects of your accounting process running smoothly. There’s a big emphasis on expense tracking here.

There are real-time dashboards so you can keep up-to-date with all your financial transactions as they happen, and you can download bank account data automatically. That way, you won’t have to waste time typing information into spreadsheets.

You can also track invoices to ensure you get paid on time and chase them up when a client’s payment is overdue. The app even provides VAT tracking compliant with HMRC standards, and you can capture all your receipts on your mobile device. Perhaps best of all for smaller firms, this is one solution that won’t break the bank.

And it's getting better all the time. At its recent customer conference in London, QuickBooks detailed the integration of QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA), and QuickBooks Assistant - a new chatbot for the platform.

2. Xpenditure

A nifty solution to digitise your expenses

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Expenses, receipt scanning | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: Sage, SAP, QuickBooks | Free trial: 14-day

Mobile support
Handy integrations
Won't be powerful enough for some
Basic expense tracking

Xpenditure positions itself as paperless expense reporting for growing business and enterprises. It aims to streamline the way you track expenses, and allow you to do so without having to spend money on an accountant. 

The app saves you lots of time in this respect, avoiding manual input and paper-based expense reporting. In terms of capabilities, you can upload receipts via the app or email. Once you’ve done that, it’ll extract the most important data and order all this based on projects and categories.

Within the app, there’s the option to log cash advances and mileages, and you can set up offices, branches and groups to organise how you use the software and to improve your financial policy. For your records, you can generate reports in the form of XML, PDF, CSV and XLS files.

3. Expensify

Automated expense tracking

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Outgoings, receipts, reports | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: Sage, Oracle, QuickBooks | Free trial: No, but free individual plan available

Automated features
Smart reporting and integrations
Free individual plan
Some may prefer manual tracking

Expensify is a business automation solution that’ll manage your expenses in real-time. The app wants to cut out all the hassle in accounting and ensure your books are kept up-to-date, letting you worry about other things.

Through the app, you can scan your receipts and log your outgoings. It’ll then generate reports and submit them to you for approval. And because Expensify analyses your company policies, it knows exactly what to send. 

What’s also useful is that the software sports an automatic reimbursement system. The latter will rapidly deliver money to employee bank accounts based on your accounting reports. Because the app is cloud-based and real-time, all changes are remembered. You needn’t worry about losing important financial data.

4. Concur

Enterprise-grade expense tracking software

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Outgoings, receipts | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: None | Free trial: 30-day

Streamlines expense process
HMRC compliant
May be too advanced for SMEs
Lack of integrations

Concur is a business finance app that covers a number of areas, from invoicing to expense management. Positioned as an ecosystem and open platform, the app will help you stay compliant with regulations and optimise expense performance.

With the expense side of things in mind specifically, there’s an app that lets you take pictures of receipts and submit them to make expense claims. Bosses can quickly manage and approve them with the software, and everything is tightly organised. 

You can add as many business bank cards as you want, and there’s also integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) to give you a complete view of your budget and forecasts. The software analyses all your data and ensures it’s fully compliant with HMRC rules and regulations, plus Concur is protected by corporate-grade security, too.

5. Deductr

A solution for creating accurate tax returns

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Outgoings, receipts, reports | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: None | Free trial: 30-day

Automated
Useful tax reports
Price plans are expensive
Not as many features as rivals

Deductr will help keep your expenses and finances in order for when the tax return period comes around. This software, which is available in web and mobile versions, automatically tracks your income and expenses.

You simply connect your bank account or credit card to the app, and it’ll monitor expenses and make sure you never miss a deduction again. It also sports a calculator for real-time tax savings – and you can also get tailored tax reports detailing all your finances to give to your accountant.

Zoho Expense

Simplified expense reports with easy upload

Platforms: Web and mobile | Resources covered: Expenses, invoices | Cloud-based: Yes | Integrations: Yes | Free trial: 14-day

UK-specific features
Works with QuickBooks
Text heavy
Little data visulisation

Zoho Expense comes from business software specialist Zoho and is aimed at small to medium sized businesses (SMB).

The application can automatically turn receipts into expense entries and several can be grouped together into a single report. There’s also the possibility to import card transactions and forward expenses from your inbox.

Receipts are stored in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about receipts fading or getting lost.

For organisations, it’s possible to set policies about spending limits and to monitor an employee’s expenditure or any policy violation. The addition of instant approval makes life easier for both the business and employee.

Finally, there are UK specific features. VAT is automatically calculated and mileage expenses are calculated at HMRC rates.