- Modern receipt-tracking apps help businesses track and calculate a wide range of expenses.
- They digitize documentation and simplify reimbursement and taxation.
- Though apps do most of the work, businesses should establish best practices to organize paperwork.
- This article is for small business owners looking to streamline their receipt-tracking efforts with specialized apps.
Small business owners need to deal with receipts and expense reports quickly and efficiently. These affect not just your balance sheet, but other responsibilities like annual taxes. Receipt apps let you photograph and create a digital copy of your receipts. From there, you can file your receipts directly within the app. The right receipt app will keep you from losing your receipts and save you from having to dig through a pile of receipts come tax season.
Tip: A receipt app will save you from searching through a pile of receipts when doing your taxes.
Which receipt-tracking apps do small business owners prefer?
There are many options for receipt-tracking apps, ranging from free apps with limited features to advanced ones that require a monthly subscription. To help you determine the best solution for your business, we examined what makes a good receipt-tracking app and asked business owners which ones they prefer. [Read related article: Learn the Different Accounting Types]
Here are the top three solutions that small business owners told us about, and a few others you might want to consider.
1. Expensify is a popular all-in-one solution.
Pricing: Starts at $4.99 per month
In our conversations with small business owners, the name that popped up most consistently was Expensify.
"Expensify does a great job of pre-organizing receipts, but you can organize them to your liking in the app as well," said Tawnya Schultz, financial freedom coach at The Money Life Coach. "It does a lot of the heavy lifting for me, and it's super simple and quick to use so I'm not up for days doing expense reports or taxes."
The service starts at $4.99 per month for individuals and $5 per user per month for business plans. Business plans have high-powered features like automatic expense reporting and company credit card monitoring. Most of the professionals we polled considered it a worthwhile investment because of how automated it is.
"Manual entry is a thing of the past for users of Expensify because of the software's SmartScan technology that automatically scans, inputs and tracks business expenses," said Yaniv Masjedi, chief marketing officer at Nextiva. "However, its unique selling proposition is that it can automate any possible expense tracking as long as it's within the software's current capabilities, including an estimated mileage usage for your vehicle using the wonders of GPS."
2. Rydoo is an inexpensive cloud-based option.
Pricing: Starts at $7 per user per month
Brian Patrick, home expert and CEO of Pest Strategies, said he relies on Rydoo for his company's expense-tracking needs.
"Rydoo is the best receipt-tracking tool because it is cloud-based, inexpensive, feature-rich, has OCR scanning capabilities, and allows enterprises to limit access according to employees' roles and responsibilities," he said.
Plans are billed annually and start at $7 per user per month for the Team plan, which covers up to 50 active users. It's $9 per user per month for the Growth Plan, which covers more than 50 active users. Both plans include OCR scanning, mileage expense reporting and approval flow. The Growth Latter Plan includes features like expanded expense policy rules and per diems. [Read related article: Defining Accounting for Business]
3. AutoEntry simplifies receipt scanning and organization.
Pricing: Starts at $12 per month
Glen Wilde, CEO and founder of Diet to Success, said that AutoEntry more than meets his company's receipt-tracking needs.
"I currently use AutoEntry for managing and organizing all of my receipts," he said. "It syncs well with the most popular accounting software programs. I can scan receipts and invoices and have a digital copy in my phone in seconds. Once [it is] uploaded, the system automatically extracts the numbers and inputs it into the system. There is no manual input required. This is a huge plus because even the smallest human error can completely compromise accuracy and snowball into huge errors. It's a major benefit for someone like me who isn't a strong number-cruncher."
AutoEntry uses a credit-based pricing model that's billed as a monthly subscription. That means you pay for credits to use for invoices (one credit), bills with line items extracted (two credits), bank statements (three credits per page) and so on. Unused credits roll over to the following month.
Plans range from the Bronze tier, which costs $12 per month for 50 credits, to the Platinum tier, which costs $98 per month and includes 500 credits.
4. Shoeboxed adds data analytics to the fold.
Pricing: Starts at $18 per month
Shoeboxed takes an all-encompassing approach to loading, organizing and using receipt data. You can send paper receipts in the mail, or you can use the phone app to upload them digitally. Either way, Shoeboxed will put them through advanced software that runs professional analytics on your receipt information.
Additionally, you can use Shoeboxed tools to catalog and organize your receipts in a way that makes sense to you. You can stick with default recommendations, or you can personalize the experience.
Shoeboxed runs on a subscription model. The lowest tier starts at $18 per month. You can add services and capacity through two more tiers, topping out at $54 per month.
This puts Shoeboxed in a competitive price range. It's not the cheapest service available, but still well within the realm of affordable for most businesses.
[Read related article: List of the Best Android Accounting Apps]
5. Smart Receipts puts receipt tracking in the palm of your hand.
Most receipt software packages come with a smartphone app. Smart Receipts, however, turns your phone into a mobile scanner. With the ability to create CSV reports, as well as PDFs and ZIP reports, you can organize your receipt data in the manner that works best for you. You can then load your data into expense-tracking apps, accounting reports, etc. – all from your phone.
The app is available for free at the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Some features are behind a paywall, but all things considered, a free app that lets you digitize and track receipts has a lot of potential.
6. Wave Receipts simplifies expense tracking.
Wave Receipts, another free mobile app, focuses on a narrower range of functions than other receipt-organization tools. With Wave Receipts, you can scan receipts anywhere with your phone. With the mobile app, you can organize the data as you see fit, and the built-in tools make it easy to track expenses.
What you won't find, though, are advanced analytics. Wave Receipts caters to startups and small businesses; the app aims to simplify expense tracking to make it more accessible, not necessarily to provide granular financial data for companies. You can pair the free app with other Wave apps, like Wave Invoicing, to create a complete software suite. Read our review of Wave Financial to learn about its free accounting software.
Key takeaway: There are many receipt-tracking app solutions. The three most popular apps among the small business owners we spoke with are Expensify, Rydoo and AutoEntry.
Editor's note: Looking for the right accounting software solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
Why should you use a receipt-tracking app?
Over the course of a year, your small business will make many purchases, such as computers, phones, office supplies and business travel. Documenting these transactions matters for several financial and tax reasons, among other things. [Related content: Picking the Best Invoice App for Your Business]
Careful organization of your receipts makes your life as a business owner much simpler. Here are some of the most important things you can do with a receipt-tracking app:
- Track your transactions. With a receipt-tracking app, you can quantify how much each transaction cost, as well as any expenses your employees may have incurred.
- Reimburse your employees. The right receipt-tracking app can make it easier to reimburse employees for business expenses.
- Integrate it with accounting software. One of the biggest benefits of a receipt-tracking app is its integration with your accounting software. This simplifies transaction itemization and gives you a high-level view of where your business's costs lie.
"The primary purpose of receipt-tracking software is to streamline budgeting and ease the burden of financial responsibility," Masjedi said. "An intuitive and straightforward design is vital in making things easier for every professional handling money."
Key takeaway: A receipt-tracking app automates some of the more tedious aspects of document organization, like calculating and categorizing expenses. It can also help you reimburse employees for eligible expenses that they incur on the job.
Which features should you look for in receipt-tracking apps?
When choosing a receipt-tracking app for your company, you have multiple things to consider. As with most apps, features are paramount.
However, what you value in an app may differ from other business owners' needs. For Gian Moore, owner and editor of MellowPine, features that automate the receipt-tracking process are key.
"Receipt-tracking software should be able to organize, name, and arrange the files quickly and efficiently," she said. "After you scan thousands of receipts, you often get confused whether you did scan it or not."
Here are some things that many receipt-tracking solutions offer:
- Mobile app for employees: Every receipt-tracking service we examined has an app that employees can use to scan their receipts. Available for both Android and iOS operating systems, these apps use the camera to scan a receipt and attach the corresponding photo to an expense report. Once generated, each mobile expense report goes directly to a manager or accountant for approval, which they can do on their own app. Employees can then keep track of their expense reports to see if they were approved and when to expect their reimbursement.
- Optical character recognition (OCR): Many receipt-tracking apps have OCR technology, which pulls the data from the scanned receipt and automatically inputs it to an expense report. This makes it quick and easy to create and submit expense reports.
- Simple data categorization: One of the biggest benefits to digitizing your company's receipts is the ability to dig deep into the receipt data. By using a receipt-scanning app, you can easily link receipts, invoices and expense data to certain accounts, projects or categories.
- Easy storage: Before receipt-tracking apps, businesses had to physically store documentation onsite, either in a box or a filing cabinet. This took up space, and some inks faded over time. By digitally saving each receipt, you no longer have to store your receipts or worry about deciphering a faded receipt.
- Support for multiple accounts: It's not unheard of for a small business to have multiple bank accounts. Over time, sorting receipts for each of those accounts can become unwieldy. Most receipt-tracking apps have a built-in dashboard that allows you to select the account you want to attach the receipt to. These dashboards also make it easy to access all receipt-associated data for each account.
- Compatibility with various devices: You'll want a receipt-tracking app that's compatible with the devices you use. Desktop computers are a natural choice, but newer software works on your mobile device through a mobile app that you can download from either the Android or iOS app store. These apps make it simple to scan a receipt – all you have to do is take a photo of it. The apps also simplify creating and submitting expense reports.
Key takeaway: When you're comparing receipt-tracking apps, features to look for include a mobile app for employees, OCR, easy data organization and multi-account support.
Best receipt app alternatives
Finally, what if you're looking for a way to digitize your paper receipts but don't want to download and use a receipt-tracking app? If this is you, consider these alternatives.
One alternative you can consider is simply taking photos of your receipts on your mobile phone. Then instead of uploading them to an app, you can store them in a digital filing system like Dropbox. However, the downside to this is that it'll make it harder for you to track what these purchases were for.
You can also create a Google Drive folder for your receipts. To get started, you'll need to download the Google Drive app on your smartphone. From there, you can create a new folder labeled "Receipts."
From there, you'll select "Scan," take a photo of the receipt, and upload it to your Google Drive folder. For some business owners, this may be a simpler alternative to a receipts app.
A final option is to switch to paperless receipts wherever possible. For instance, you can greatly minimize customer receipts by using a credit card reader that works with your smartphone or tablet. From there, you can either text or email receipts to customers.
Jamie Johnson contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.