The Best Expense Management Software for Small Businesses in 2021

From the one-person office to the global enterprise, everyone can benefit from expense management software. But the biggest benefits accrue to the managers who traditionally spent hours reviewing incomplete expense reports, hounding employees for missing receipts, and wondering if they were ever going to finish. Today, with OCR technology, automated expense report creation, and sometimes immediate employee reimbursements, expense management software is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity.

Top Rated

Certify

Certify combines expense reporting with optional travel management and accounts payable capabilities into one easy-to-use application suitable for businesses of any size.

Best for SMBs

Expensify

Freelancers, sole proprietors, and small businesses will all appreciate Expensify’s easy-to-use interface and expansive list of options. See if Expensify is right for your business.

Easiest to Use

Zoho Expense

Zoho Expense is an online expense management application designed for almost any business looking for quick reporting automation and fast expense reimbursement.

Best for New Users

Rydoo

Built for a global market, Rydoo is an excellent online expense management application. Rydoo offers expense and travel management, easy system setup, and intuitive navigation at an affordable price.

Best for Enterprises

Abacus

Abacus Expense features a modern user interface and good expense policy management capability. Though best suited for larger businesses, even small business owners can use this scalable application.

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The Best.

Those two words are subjective, particularly with expense management software. My best may not be yours, and that’s fine. That’s why we encourage you to take advantage of all of the resources these online expense reporting applications offer, which usually includes a free 30-day trial.

There’s no better way to know if a software application is right for you than to test drive it for a couple of weeks.

But test driving an application takes time, a scarce commodity for small business owners. That’s why we did a lot of the upfront work for you. While the reviews can’t replace trying these expense tracking software applications, they hint at which products you may like to try.

Our top picks for the best Expense Reporting Software:

Top Rated

1. Certify

   
Best for Enterprises

2. Abacus

   

3. ExpensePoint

   
Easiest to Use

4. Zoho Expense

   
Best for SMBs

5. Expensify

   
Best for New Users

6. Rydoo

   

7. Tallie

   

8. Concur Expense

   

What The Blueprint looks for in a great expense management software

Remember those big, bulky expense reports with pages and pages of receipts, handwritten expenses, and sometimes notes explaining why there is no receipt attached for a specific expense? Remember what fun it was to reconcile all of your credit card transactions to the expenses on the expense report?

Today’s expense management applications say goodbye to all that. Expense reports are streamlined, and receipt images match nicely with credit card transactions. Reports are automatically funneled to the correct parties for approval and then submitted for reimbursement, which usually takes only days, instead of weeks.

These expense apps allow you to snap a photo of a receipt, eliminating the need to carry it around for eternity. Receipts are then scanned, and using OCR technology, are automatically matched with transactions uploaded from your financial institution or credit card company.

Expense tracker apps are also easy to use, with most including a powerful mobile app for recording business expenses from anywhere in the world. They make your employees’ lives a lot easier, which means your life is a lot easier.

Most expense management software applications are loaded with features, but some are more important than others. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Optical Character Recognition

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) works with receipt scanning software to read the details on a scanned receipt and autopopulate the appropriate fields with the data. Designed to eliminate much of the data entry needed to record expense details such as a merchant, transaction date, amount, and item, OCR technology is included in all expense management applications reviewed by The Blueprint.

Robust mobile app

Unless you’re doing a ton of online shopping, the majority of your business expenses occur while you’re out. That’s why a robust mobile app with the same features found in the online expense management application is so important.

And yes, being able to use a receipt tracker app to snap a photo of a receipt is important, but it’s just as important to be able to submit an expense for approval, complete an expense report, or approve an employee’s expenses using your mobile app.

Expense policy rules

It’s great having expense management software to track and categorize your expenses. But as with anything, with no rules in place, chaos may ensue. Specifying parameters your employees need to follow is helpful, but even more helpful is that you can warn them before they violate rules. Rules and policies serve as the backbone of every good expense management application. Take advantage of them.

Credit card transaction feeds

Similar to the credit card feeds available in many accounting software applications, this feature can save you time. Once transactions are imported, they are usually automatically matched with receipts that have been uploaded, without any data entry required. You can then investigate any transactions unmatched to an expense.


How your business can benefit from using expense management software

The biggest benefit small business owners derive from expense management software is the elimination of hours reviewing pages and pages of expense reports to ensure everything has been submitted properly. But there’s plenty of other benefits as well. Check out just a few of them.

Eliminates the "lost receipt" problem

Who hasn’t lost a receipt? I always used to lose the receipts I needed, while the ones I didn’t need were busy starting a colony at the bottom of my purse. By letting employees snap a photo of a receipt when they get it, you’ll never have to worry about missing receipts, and neither will your employees.

Automates the expense reporting process

I’ve never met anyone who liked completing an expense report. With expense management software, the application does all the hard work for you. Your employees can create a report for a single expense or wait and submit multiple business expenses on a single report, all nicely reconciled.

Prevents overspending and unauthorized charges

It’s one thing to give employees spending limits, but it’s another to enforce them. Expense management software lets you do just that. It lets you create spending guidelines and limits, flagging non-compliant employees. In some cases, you can even impose spending limits on specific items such as per diems, hotels, and even rental cars, ensuring your employees spend within the set policies.


Frequently Asked Questions for Expense Management Software

I’m a sole proprietor. Do I still need expense management software?

Yes, you do. Even if you don’t have a single employee, expense reporting software can be useful. While not all applications reviewed here would be a good fit, some, such as Certify, work well for freelancers or sole proprietors.

Is OCR technology important?

OCR or optical character recognition is one of the most important features in expense management software. It eliminates much of the data entry required in older expense management applications, allowing you to snap a photo of a receipt from your phone and have the details automatically scanned and necessary fields populated from the information obtained with OCR.

What if I don’t want to use expense reports anymore?

There’s an app or two for that as well. While many expense management applications are designed to automate expense reporting, expense software applications such as Concur eliminate the expense report completely. It’s up to you.

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