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10 of the Best Expense Management Tools in the UK

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Expense management tools help businesses, small or large, and even individual entrepreneurs, keep track of business expenses, both to reimburse employees, but also to make sure all business expenses are valid and properly accounted for.

Expense reporting is universally loathed by employees. One study by Banyan, a receipt management software company, said that more than one-third of business travellers would rather get their teeth drilled at the dentist or visit their driver’s license bureau than fill out an expense report.

The best expense tracker apps in the UK can help employees get reimbursed promptly while their expenses are accurately monitored and recorded, for accounting purposes. A growing use of technology by expense management apps is making the job a little easier. We have analysed and compared expense management tools in the UK and selected 10 of the best. Read on for our expert reviews.

Comparison of the best expense tracker apps

Here’s a quick overview of the features of the top expense management tools available in the UK. Find out what each expense tracker app is known for:

  1. QuickBooks: The company’s family of apps is great for small and medium-sized businesses because of its simplicity and relatively low cost. Companies can track everything from payroll to inventory, to accounting and billable hours, all in the company’s family of applications that work with each other.
  2. Rydoo: The company’s features to help companies stay compliant with local expense regulations around the world, makes the application to track expenses a strong pick for any company that does business internationally or has global travel. Its mobile app presents a streamlined way for employees to submit and track expenses.
  3. Freshbooks: It  caters specifically to the needs of small businesses, as well as  freelancers and solopreneurs. Its user-friendly interface and intuitive design has helped it grow.
  4. Zoho: It focuses on customisation and provides an all-in-one platform for businesses to manage various aspects of their operations, with apps that cover everything from customer relationship management (CRM) and project management to accounting and marketing automation.
  5. Expensify: The company helps businesses stay on top of expense regulations with features like automated receipt audits and built-in intelligence for compliance checks. It also offers a unique corporate card with features such as daily settlements, high spending limits without pre-approval, and real-time compliance checks.
  6. Sap Concur Expense: The app is great for companies that need a customised way of tracking expenses. It automates the manual tasks associated with expense reporting, such as data entry, receipt capture, and approval workflows.
  7. Emburse Certify: The app is considered one of the best for creating virtual expenses. Its receipt transcription technology has shown itself to be accurate in garnering data from receipts, with details such as amount, date, category and vendor.
  8. Xero: Its cloud-based app is best for small businesses and it enables users to capture receipts from emails, photos and scans and then helps with automatic bank reconciliation.
  9. ExpensePoint: It’s designed for international business and offers its software in 14 languages, supporting expense tracking in more than 150 currencies, using real-time exchange rates.
  10. Shoeboxed: It allows employees to use a variety of ways to capture and submit receipts. It boasts of its Magic Envelope feature, which allows users to physically mail in a collection of receipts, which are then scanned and uploaded to their Shoeboxed account.

An in-depth look at today’s best expense management software 

Modern expense management software is increasingly automating tasks involved with business expenses, freeing up employees’ time as well as ensuring better reporting and preventing fraud. Let’s take a look at the top expense management software systems in a little more detail:

1. QuickBooks: Best expense management app for small businesses

QuickBooks screenshot

QuickBooks‘ dominant position in the expense management industry means that its systems are well-understood by accountants and non-accountants. Its software integrates with more than 750 business applications, from Shopify, to PayPal to Amazon Business.

This company makes it easy to download transactions directly from your bank accounts, saving users time and effort on manual data entry. It also recently launched an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to help small business owners in understanding their financial data.

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One con to QuickBooks is, while it has a mobile app, it functions better as a desktop app, so it may not be ideal for businesses that are out of the office and need to function on the go. Another potential concern is that starting in July, the company won’t release new QuickBooks Desktop subscriptions in an effort to increase the number of QuickBooks Online users.

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • New AI chatbot works well for small business owners
  • Its software works well with plenty of other apps

Cons

  • Mobile app needs work
  • New QuickBooks Desktop subscriptions are delayed

2. Rydoo: Best expense management app for international business

Rydoo screenshot

Rydoo is designed for small and medium-sized companies that conduct business internationally. Its platform is scalable, with plans from five to more than 500 users, helping them track expenses with one tool. 

One of the biggest advantages of the app is it allows employees to avoid doing an expense form by allowing them to directly upload their expenses for approval. On top of that, there’s an option to set up spending controls to keep employees from exceeding their per diem limits. It also helps track mileage using Rydoo and Google Maps, with an option to use set mileage rates to establish reimbursement. Rydoo also syncs with more than 35 travel, HR, finance and ERP tools, from Oracle’s Netsuite to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Rydoo isn’t ideal for freelancers or sole proprietors, because its smallest plan is designed for at least five people and priced accordingly, at £8 per month per user, if paid annually. It also isn’t as customisable as some other apps.

Pros

  • Ability to directly upload expenses to reports
  • Option to set up spending controls for employees
  • Syncs easily with various software tools

Cons

  • May be too expensive for freelancers
  • Not as easy to customise

3. Freshbooks: Best investment management app for freelancers

Freshbooks expense tracker tool

The app is great for creating and sending invoices, keeping track of project work and accepting online payments. It allows new users to try out the system for free for 30 days, without using a credit card. Once those 30 days are up, it offers tiered pricing plans that are fairly affordable for small businesses, from £15 to £76 for the premium plan. It also has a select plan with more features, whose costs vary. It has more advanced tools and is designed for a company with more than 500 clients.

Its mobile app includes an automatic receipt capture and the ability to categorize expenses and generate reports for tax preparation and expense tracking. All of its plans can be paired with HR platform Gusto for payroll purposes, though there are extra fees for that.

The biggest downside to Freshbooks is it isn’t designed for larger businesses. Its plans aren’t as scalable and the lack of some complex features, such as audit capability, corporate card integration and advanced approval workflows, becomes more apparent. 

Pros

  • Tiered pricing plans are designed for growing businesses
  • Mobile app has automatic receipt capture function
  • Its plans can be paired with Gusto for payroll expenses

Cons

  • Platforms are not that scalable
  • Doesn’t include more advanced features that other apps have

4. Zoho: Solid choice for smaller international businesses

Zoho expense tracker tool

The app, which adapts to 22 languages, is designed for growing businesses and works well with Zoho Books, QuickBooks Online and Xero. It’s a good app for solo entrepreneurs, as it has a free plan, good for up to three users, and permitted for businesses with £35,000 in annual revenue or less, while paid plans start at £10 per month and can be tried out for 14 days for free. 

Its platform is designed to prevent overspending at its source, minimise manual intervention, prevent policy breaches and fraudulent claims, and provide insights into discretionary spending to improve a business’s productivity, cash flow, and overall financial health. It also pairs well with other Zoho platforms and with other services like Lyft, and it integrates with QuickBooks Desktop.

The biggest knock on Zoho is it doesn’t integrate as well as other apps with banks and credit card companies. It also isn’t as customisable as other apps.

Pros

  • Has a free plan, good for up to 3 users
  • Customers can try out paid plans for free for 14 days
  • Works well to prevent fraud and policy breaches

Cons

  • Doesn’t integrate well with some apps
  • App isn’t that customisable

5. Expensify: Best expense management tool for integration with other apps

Expensify expense tracker tool screenshot

The Expensify app is best for large companies with complex software integration needs.

More than 12 million people use Expensify’s free features, which include corporate cards, expense tracking, next-day reimbursement, invoicing, bill pay, travel booking, and chat in one app. 

The cost of Expensify per user ranges from £8 for the collect plan, which includes one to 10 employees. The control plan, designed for larger companies, costs £14  per month. Two things make Expensify stand out. It seamlessly integrates with Quickbooks, Oracle Netsuite, Xero, Sage, certinia, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle. Its SmartScan technology allows users to take a photo of a receipt and downloads the data with a high degree of accuracy, saving time for users.

On the downside, users have complained about the company’s customer support. Also, the administration side of the interface isn’t as intuitive as the user side of the app

Pros

  • More than 12 million people use the app
  • It integrates well with other apps
  • SmartScan technology works well and accurately

Cons

  • Customer support is lacking
  • Expense makes it less useful for small businesses

6. Sap Concur Expense: Keeping expense reports simple

Sap Concourse expense management software screenshot

The company just extended and improved its partnership with Mastercard to make business expense reporting easier. Concur Expense’s platform captures purchases with Mastercard corporate cards and automatically populates the platform. It then tells employees right away if additional information is needed. The point is to achieve better expense policy compliance without the lag time typically associated with expense reports.

Sap Concur Expense is one of the most established names in expense management, with more than 51,000 businesses worldwide using its platform. It offers 24/7 customer support, which is important for business travelers who may be filling out their expense report while they’re waiting for their flight. The company’s intelligent software is flexible and integrates trip bookings with calendars with reminder notifications. Its mobile app accurately captures expenses and categorizes them.

While Concur Expense isn’t cheap, costing an average of £7 per expense report, it does allow users to try the software out for free. One con is when Concur rejects an expense report, it isn’t always easy to figure out where the compliance failed.

Pros

  • Good customer support
  • Well-established company
  • Its software is flexible and works well with plenty of other apps

Cons

  • The costs per expense report add up
  • App isn’t that intuitive

7. Emburse Certify: High ratings for accuracy, affordability

Emburse Certify employee interface

More than 20,000 organisations in 120 countries use Emburse Certify’s expense management systems. It has a strong rating for accuracy in itemising receipts. It’s also affordable for smaller businesses, as it costs £9.50 a month for companies with 25 or fewer employees. 

Emburse has an air contract audit feature that pulls in a customer’s airline contracts for better internal reviews. It flags any flight booking that differs from the terms of an airline contract. Similarly, the Emburse Premier App notifies travelers automatically when there is a better rate at their hotel, allowing them to rebook without leaving the app.

Some of its drawbacks are extra charges for ACH reimbursements and a lack of simple integrations with other applications, other than with QuickBooks. Certify directly handles other integrations. Some users have reported that it is difficult to correct errors in reports.

Pros

  • Not too expensive for small businesses
  • Strong audit features
  • Accurate in itemising apps

Cons

  • Doesn’t always integrate well with other apps
  • Difficult to correct report errors

8. Xero: Great scalability for growing businesses

Xero expenses interface screenshot

The cloud-based software integrates with more than 1,000 apps and is easy to use and allows an unlimited number of users, and its plans are scalable, which is an advantage for growing businesses.

Its subscriptions start with the Starter plan, which usually charges only £15 a month, but supports only 20 invoices, along with the ability to send purchase orders, do basic inventory management and automated bill and receipt capture with Hubdoc, as well as the ability to reconcile bank transactions. The next level, Standard, starts at £30 and includes all those features, plus unlimited invoices, quotes and bill entries and the ability to reconcile bulk transactions.

There’s a Premium plans for £42 and the most expensive plan, Ultimate, costs £55 and includes everything from the lesser-priced plans, plus it works with multiple currencies, has tracking tools for recording time and breaking down job costs, and advanced analytic tools for anticipating future cash flow up to three months ahead. All the plans have an optional add-on for payroll through the HR app Gusto.

Some of the negatives of Xero is it doesn’t provide a phone number for customer support and doesn’t have a live chat service. Its systems increasingly become more complex, so users need to go through tutorials to fully understand them.

Pros

  • Cloud-based software supports more than 1,000 apps
  • Tracking tools help record time spent, show job costs
  • Works well with multiple currencies

Cons

  • Customer support is lacking
  • Systems are too complex for some users

9. Expense Point: Straightforward, low-cost pricing

Expense Point mobile phone interface

The best attribute of Expense Point is the price and its ability to automatically build an expense report. For as little as £6.75 a month, it allows small businesses to capture receipts and other expenses through the mobile app, credit card import and by scanned images. It also uses a full approval workflow. Subscribers can access its Windows desktop app offline (which comes in handy while traveling) and it will sync data later with the cloud.

Expense Point uses a different feature than many expense management apps in Receipt Reader, which uses actual people to read a receipt and then fills it with the appropriate details. In many cases, this is more accurate, albeit slightly slower, than the optical character recognition software used by other apps. It also is capable of integrating with a multitude of other apps, including Xero, QuickBooks Online, Sage, and NetSuite.

While administrators like the software, employees who file reports through the platform may find the software difficult to use. However, it does offer free telephone support and training.

Pros

  • Inexpensive for small businesses
  • Integrates well with plenty of apps
  • Has an app that can be accessed offline

Cons

  • Reports are difficult to file
  • Receipt reader function is accurate but slow

10. Shoeboxed: Best flexibility for a receipt scanner

Shoboxed expense management tool screenshot

The app is highly rated for its receipt scanner app. Users can get their receipts into the system in several ways: by mail, email, sending a phone from your phone, through a Gmail plug-in and by scanning and dragging and dropping into the cloud.

Its £29 a month startup plan is designed for a freelancer or solopreneur. Its features include automatic data extraction with human verification, unlimited file storage, unlimited users and unlimited mileage recording. The one catch is the limit of 300 physical documents a year or 600 digital document scans a year. Its professional plan allows for 1,800 physical documents and 1,800 digital document scans. The business plan allows 3,600 physical documents and 1,800 digital documents a year.

Considering those costs and the limits of the plans, the app is a little pricier than others designed primarily for small businesses. The mobile app can sometimes run slowly, some users have said.

Pros

  • Receipt scanner app is highly rated
  • Has a start-up plans for freelancers or solopreneurs
  • Multiple ways to import receipts into system

Cons

  • Costs are relatively high for small businesses
  • Start-up plan has a limit of limit of 300 physical documents a year or 600 digital document scans a year

How to choose the right expense tracker app 

Expense management apps vary widely. What works for a major international company, may be ill-suited for a freelancer or small businessman. Here are factors you need to consider before signing up to a platform.

  • Dashboards make analysis easier: The best apps have dashboards that display all the relevant data in one place. It should help navigate the app with ease. The best dashboards allow you to categorise expense receipts under each report to allow you to reconcile the numbers. Some dashboards even allow the access to real-time data to help better ensure compliance.
  • How good is the mobile app: You employees are traveling and can’t always easily access a laptop. That makes mobile apps more important for logging receipts and creating expense reports. When the employee experience with the app is clunky, that costs valuable man hours. The best mobile apps offer custom reminders and notifications. They speed up the review, submission and approval process for expense reports.
  • Integrated credit cards are a plus: Prepaid corporate credit cards are a useful option. Their integration with your system can help prevent fraud or misuse of corporate funds. It will also help with budget tracing, spend visibility and online payments.
  • How well does it handle foreign currency: The best apps can handle multiple currencies in real time, which cuts down on confusion.
  • Compatibility with existing software and platforms: Expense management systems that offer hassle-free and easy integration, can shorten processing times. It can also save you the expense of buying new software.

Our methodology, explained

Our editors regularly look at what the best tools and latest technologies are that help investors and businesses. For this article, our methodology included looking at 10 of the most popular expense management applications in the UK. We focused on ease of use for administrators and business travelers, the cost of each platform, and whether they were scalable. 

We aimed to find unique features in each application, and what users they best were suited for. We also examined how well each application integrated with other applications, how well they handled foreign currency, and how useful and approachable each company’s customer service was.

FAQs of expense tracking tools

What is the best software for keeping track of expenses?

Of all the software applications, QuickBooks was the most useful for several reasons. Accountants and front-end users understand the platform well. Its starting costs are low, and the application is scalable and it integrates well with other applications.

Do I still need an accountant if I use an expense management app?

That depends on the size of your business. Most businesses larger than five employees, regardless of how good their expense management app, will need to have an accountant. If your business has a lot of transactions, or if you sell products or services in multiple countries, you will definitely need an accountant. That’s particularly true if you are not as comfortable with accounting tasks, or simply don’t have the time to do them.

However, having the right expense management app for your company will make the accountant’s job easier and will also save time for your employees. 

Can I use Excel to track my expenses? 

That’s certainly a good option, particularly for sole proprietors or small business owners. Excel is free to Microsoft users and here’s an Excel expense tracker template you can download.

There are also online tutorials for creating more advanced expense trackers in Excel with features like pivot tables for deeper analysis.

References

Banyan expense management study

QuickBooks pricing changes

Rydoo integrations

Freshbooks pricing plans

Zoho pricing plans

SAP Concur Expense products

Expense Point plan pricing

Shoeboxed pricing and platforms

Our Editorial Standards

At ValueWalk, we’re committed to providing accurate, research-backed information. Our editors go above and beyond to ensure our content is trustworthy and transparent.

Jim Halley
Editor

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