Traveling these days is a hassle, no matter why you’re going, or where — and the necessity to track your expenses along the way just adds to the irritation. A good app, though, can make things a lot easier — not only during the trip, but afterwards as well, when you have to report it all to your (or your company’s) accountant.
The following six Android apps help users track and report on their expenses. Some are strictly for business purposes; others can be used for both personal and work finance tracking. All of these have been updated within the last six months and have earned a rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars on Google Play by at least 100 users.
All that being said, they encompass a fairly wide range of features. All offer the ability to manually enter an expense, to categorize it, and to either create a report or export the data so it can be used in a spreadsheet or other format. Most allow you to photograph your receipts so you have proof of payment, and a couple, such as Abukai Expenses and Expensify, even extract information from those photographs.
All of these apps have free versions, which are the ones I tested. For each, I entered a number of expenses manually; when available, I added photos of receipts. I exported those expenses as a spreadsheet or PDF, depending what was available, and then explored the app further to see what other features it offered.
Some offer ad-free versions for an additional fee while others offer “Pro” versions with more advanced features; Abukai and Expensify both also have corporate versions with enterprise functionality.
All the apps were tested on a Huawei Honor 6X smartphone running Android 7.0.
As with all apps, which one you choose depends on your individual needs, the needs of your company and what type of interface you’re most comfortable with.
Abukai is a company that sells a number of business productivity products, one of which is Abukai Expenses. The app allows you to photograph your receipts, check the info, enter any additional data and upload it to create a report.
Unlike some of the others here, Abukai is strictly for business expense reports. The assumption is that you’re going to have paper receipts for all your expenses and that the app will provide a way for you to report those expenses without having to actually type in the information. It opens on a listing of your previous expense reports; two buttons at the bottom are labeled “Add Receipt” and “Process Expense Report.”
When you add a receipt, you are dropped immediately into a photo app; if you are dealing with a black-and-white receipt, you are encouraged to use a mode called “Copy Look” which converts the photo to a simple black-and-white format. You can, if you want, add a descriptive note, either on the fly or from a list of predefined notes.
By clicking on a small icon on the upper right of the screen, you can also add a multipage receipt, add a receipt from your phone’s photo gallery or add an expense without a receipt. For the last, you can only type each expense into a single Notes field (as in “Taxi $45”). I tried it out and was able to generate an expense entry using this method.
Reports and other features
Once you’ve collected and photographed all your receipts, it’s time to hit that second “Process Expense Report” button, which causes Abukai to email you a report of your expenses. A screen lets you forward the report to anyone else (such as your boss) or use a custom format for your report, among other options.
It did so quickly and efficiently. About 40 minutes after I told it to process a report, I received an email with several files attached: a PDF copy of three receipts I had photographed, and report files in five different formats: XLS, XLSX, CSV, OFX and LIF. I took a look at the XLSX (Excel) report and was pretty impressed: In a nicely formatted spreadsheet, it got all the receipts correct.
Abukai comes with a variety of formats to fit corporate expense needs and offers individualized features for companies, such as designing specialized reports and forwarding them to the appropriate staffers.
There are a few glitches that companies will have to be aware of. Any expenses that do not have receipts — such as tips, for example — will have to be manually entered, as will any corrections. But on the whole, organizations that want a strict accounting of its employees’ expenses should consider Abukai.
AndroMoney was the first app that I looked at — and it presented a high bar that some of the others struggled to meet. Although it’s described as a general budgeting app, it would work for business people looking to track their expenses if it only included an OCR feature.
If you do plan to use it as a business expense app, try not to be put off by the design, which is bright, bold and not anywhere near as sedate as most financial apps are. For example, although you start at a summary screen, when you click on “New” for an entry screen, you’re confronted with fields decorated with colorful icons and a bright blue, gold, red and green calculator.
You use the calculator to enter your amount; you then can choose a category, account (credit card, cash, etc.), specific project, payee and whether this is a one-time or periodic payment — every second day, for example. (Although you can’t do anything as complex as, say, twice a day for weekdays, which would be handy for entering commuting expenses.) You can also add a freeform note and a photo of a receipt. However, it cannot pick up data from those photos.
AndroMoney is extremely configurable. For example, each category has a series of subcategories, making it simple to, say, add an expense for Car > Tolls. As with the main entry screen, the layout is bright and easy to read; main categories are on the left and their subcategories listed on the right. And if you enter an expense and find that none of the existing categories or subcategories fits your need, you can add a new one immediately (rather than having to leave the entry and go to a separate screen).
This ease of use extends to the other entry fields as well. When you’re done, you can tap on either “Add Next” or just “Save.” With the former, the previous settings are retained (except for the amount). Unfortunately, there is no running total on the entry screen — to see that, you have to tap on Save, which brings you back to the main summary screen.
Reports and other features
AndroMoney uses reports as a visual way to show you your finances rather than a way to send them to others; as a result, the Reports feature offers pie charts, trend charts and bar charts that can be filtered in a variety of ways. If you want a less graphic report or something that you can send to your supervisor, you can export your data to a CSV file.
There are a variety of other features, such as the ability to track your income and transfer between accounts, set a yearly, weekly or daily budget (and to send an alert if you exceed it). You can sync your account via an email account or back it up to either an internal SD card, Dropbox or Google Drive.
There is a paid version that costs $3, but the only difference between that and the free version is a lack of ads.
AndroMoney was obviously built to be a general finance app for personal expenses, but it is flexible enough to be used efficiently for business expenses as well, especially if you’re tracking expenses on an individual basis. It doesn’t have any kind of OCR ability, and it has only very basic expense reporting features, but otherwise, it could work nicely for many users.
There are two apps called Expense Manager in our roundup. Like AndroMoney, the Expense Manager from Bishinews is a personal expense app that can also be used — quite efficiently — for business expenses.
The app opens on a comprehensive page that contains two rows of buttons that lead to a variety of functions, together with a listing of your balance, income and expenses for the week, month and year to date. If you scroll down, you’ll find two charts that offer graphic views of the data.
A plus button on the right corner of the screen leads to an entry page that offers a variety of fields, including date, amount, payee, category and payment method. You can categorize each entry as either expense or income. You can enter a reference or check number (and record that the check cleared), add a freeform description (with a photo of the receipt attached, if you wish) and/or add a tag (to, say, separate out a specific project) — and even calculate the tax. You can add a photo of a receipt as well, although there is no OCR ability.
Like AndroMoney, Expense Manager offers a wide variety of pre-entered categories and subcategories — for example, when I tapped on the Travel category, I was offered subcategories such as Airplane, Car Rental, Hotel, Food, etc. A plus sign on the category page lets you easily add a new main category. However, editing a category or adding a new subcategory is a little complicated: You have to first select Edit from the three-dot menu on the top of the screen and choose a category from there; you can then edit both that category and its subcategories.
One nice feature is the ability to create more than one account — for example, you could have one labeled “Personal Expenses” and one labeled “Business Expenses.” The different accounts then become easily accessible from tabs across the top of your main screen.
Another is autofill — you can create a list of pre-entered expenses and then choose the one you want to use when needed; you can even have an entry automatically filled when you select a specific payee or payer.
When you’re finished with your entry, you can either tap on a button labeled OK & New to save your entry and leave the screen up (together with most of the information), or just hit OK to go back to the main page.
Reports and other features
Unfortunately, while the app is up to date, its user help files are not. For example, when I was looking for information on creating a report, the manual told me to go to an Account Activities page that isn’t labeled as such. I finally figured out that it was referring to the main page; by hitting the search button, I found a menu item called Search/Report that let me export reports in Excel, PDF and HTML formats. (The Excel reports include the receipt images in a separate ZIP file.) You can also access a wide variety of report types by going to the Summary button on top of the main screen; these are exportable in HTML format.
There are plenty of other features in Expense Manager, including tools such as a basic calculator, currency converter, tip calculator (always handy) and a credit card payoff calculator. You can set up a PIN for security, back up your data as a CSV file, sync with Dropbox or save to Google Drive, set a daily reminder and tweak the look of the main page. It just takes a bit of exploration.
Expense Manager by Bishinews is a flexible, feature-filled app that is suitable for both personal and business expenses. There is a Pro edition for $5 that is ad-free; according to the company, that is the only difference between the two.
The second Expense Manager app in our roundup, from Markus Hintersteiner, is a fairly simple budget app that offers some good features but doesn’t have the range of features that competitors like AndroMoney and Expense Manager by Bishinews do.
The app opens on an Overview screen that offers a line chart illustrating your weekly, monthly or yearly expenses; you can set it up for one of the three.
The standard Android plus sign in the lower right corner lets you record an expense amount. The entry screen starts with a pop-up number keypad; once you’ve recorded the amount, the pop-up disappears and you can then choose a category for your entry, change the date (the default is “Today”) and type in a freeform note.
Each time you save an expense, the app goes back to the Overview page, and you have to hit the plus sign again to enter the next one.
Hintersteiner’s Expense Manager doesn’t offer as many options for categorization as some of the other apps reviewed here. You can add more categories if you want, but because there are no subcategories or tags, you have two choices — either use the Notes field (to, say, differentiate plane fare from gasoline expenses under Transportation) or to create a large number of categories (for example, make Plane Fare and Gas their own categories), which could get unwieldy.
Reports and other features
Besides the Overview screen, there is a nicely formatted History screen that lets you see all your past expenses (also by the week, month or year). You can filter the screen by category and export an Excel report from the setup manager.
In the Settings screen, there are a number of other tweaks you can make: You can choose a currency and opt for a daily reminder to enter your expenses. You can manually back up your data by sharing it with whatever services you have on your phone and set a lock pattern for extra security. You can also watch your spending via a budget page, and set up expenses or income that repeat on a regular basis.
For a one-time payment of $2.60, you can get three additional features: analysis of your expenses by category, analysis by time frame and automatic backup via Google Drive.
There are no options for taking photos of receipts.
Markus Hintersteiner’s Expense Manager is simple to use and could be a good app for personal budgeting; however, it’s a bit too limited to be used for any but the most basic expense reporting.
Expensify is a cloud-based expense tracker that offers personal, small business and enterprise-level versions with a wide variety of feature sets.
The Free version (the one I reviewed) offers five SmartScans (scans of receipts) per month, expense reports, unlimited receipt storage and the ability to categorize and tag entries. The $5/user/mo. Team plan adds unlimited SmartScans, basic expense approvals for businesses and ACH reimbursement, among others; the $9/user/mo. Corporate plan adds more functionality, such as corporate card reconciliation (which matches receipts to credit card statements) and custom reports. There is also a custom Enterprise plan.
Since Expensify is a cloud-based application, you have to sign up to use it. According to the site, the company uses “bank level security” to protect user data, including HTTPS+TLS data and password encryption.
You set it up with the help of a computerized “Concierge” that asks if you want to submit receipts (if you’re an employee of a company that uses Expensify), collect receipts (if you’re a company manager or accountant) or track personal expenses (for individuals and sole proprietors). Since I wasn’t going to submit my expenses to anyone, I chose the last.
You are then guided through the process of selecting a password, connecting to a business email account (if you have one), using your location to track mileage, and scanning your first receipt. A neighborly message from the Concierge assures you that it’s now taking care of everything.
From then on, the app will open at your Inbox, which shows any outstanding tasks waiting for you. In the top right corner of the screen, a large plus sign lets you add a new entry; tap on it and you get three choices: Distance (which lets you track how many miles you’ve traveled, either using GPS, your odometer or manually); Time (which lets you set an hourly rate); or Expense (allowing you to create a new expense with or without a receipt).
If you choose to create an expense without a receipt, you can fill in fields for a merchant’s name, the expense amount, the date, a comment, a category and a tag. You can also add any other attendees (if you’re paying for a group meal) and log the expense as reimbursable. If you choose to create a new expense with a receipt, Expensify will automatically use SmartScan. You can also immediately use SmartScan to scan a receipt by tapping the camera icon in the lower right corner of the Inbox.
SmartScan lets you photograph a receipt or choose one from your photo gallery; Expensify then uploads the photo to its servers, extracts the necessary information and downloads it to your account as an expense entry.
When I tried Expensify with two receipts, it worked well — for the most part. Although the photo it took of a McDonald’s receipt looked very dark, the information popped up in my list of expenses almost immediately, and the date, price and merchant name were filled in accurately. A more complicated hotel bill failed the first time; but the second time it took about 10 minutes to scan and then record the data correctly.
Reports and other features
But wait, there’s more! Click on the three parallel lines at the top left of the Inbox, and you have four other choices: Expenses, Reports, Trips and Settings.
Expenses leads you back to your list of current expense entries. Settings offers a few tweaks to the app, such as the type of currency being used, whether you have access to offline mode and whether you want to upgrade. It also allows you to edit your categories.
Trips is an interesting-sounding feature: You can, according to the instructions, email a hotel, flight, rental car or train reservation to email@example.com and you’ll get back an itinerary overview, flight status alerts and “automatic expense reports.” Because I didn’t have any current reservations pending, I wasn’t able to test this particular feature.
When you create a new report, you choose which expenses you want to include from your current list. Once you’ve finished adding expenses, you can email the report to yourself (or to anyone else); the report arrives as an attached PDF file (which can be previewed before you send it) that includes any scanned receipts you may have added.
Expensify is an excellent professional expensing app that works best for companies whose employees have to track their expenses and arrange for reimbursement. Individuals may like playing with SmartScan, but unless they are willing to pay the $5 per month, they may want to go with one of the less business-oriented apps.
Hello Expense is a nicely simple expense tracker that, while not on the level of something like Expensify or AndroMoney, has enough flexibility to suit individuals. I’ve used it for several years to track travel expenses.
When you open the app, you’re dropped immediately into an entry screen for the day’s date. You can change the date, choose a category from a drop-down menu, write in a freeform memo and select a color-coded tag.
Right below the tags, there is a large calculator for entering the expense amount. Hello Expense is a bit different than the others here in that you don’t have to hit the period for your cents; you just type in the amount. If you’re putting in a whole-dollar amount, you can simply hit the “00” button on the calculator to add zero cents. When you’re done, tap the Save button at the bottom.
In order to set up, edit, delete or add categories, you have to go to the Settings screen (which is accessible from the three-dot menu on the upper right corner of the display). You can, however, add a new tag directly from the entry screen, and can assign as many tags to each entry as you wish.
Your recent expenses are listed under the calculator. You can tap any entry to edit it or delete it; you can save the edited expense or copy it to a new entry (allowing you to, for example, quickly enter a series of similar expenses).
To see all your entries, you tap the arrow to the right of the bottom Save button. A pop-up menu then invites you to do a search, see all your entries or filter by category, day, week, month or year. You can also filter by tag, but only once you’ve chosen your initial search — so, for example, you can choose to see all your entries, and then, once you’ve got the list, filter it by choosing your Sales Trip tag.
Reports and other features
Hello Expense has no formal report function, but you can export your expenses in either CSV or QIF format to other apps on your device (say, Evernote or Gmail); you can also save them to your SD card. You can choose which date, categories or tags to export. The resulting file is just a very simple rundown of the data (including a separate column for the currency indicator).
There are a few other features that you can access if you click the menu icon on the top right. These include the ability to do a bulk update (for example, change the date for a set of specifically tagged entries) or tweak some of the formatting (such as the date format). You can also back up and restore your data.
Hello Expense would be nice for business use if there were a way to add receipt photos; however, it remains a relatively simple but useful app for individuals who want to track their personal expenses.
Choosing the right expense tracker
Having a good expense app can make things a lot easier for you, especially if you’re traveling and need to keep track of all those cab rides and quick fast-food stops along the way. The apps here offer a range of abilities, from simple and quick record keeping all the way to customized corporate expense reports.
If all you need are the basics, Hello Expense remains a simple, solid way to track expenses through your day. Expense Manager (Markus Hintersteiner’s version) is also easy to use, but its limitations on categorization could be an issue for business users.
If you’re looking for something you can mold to your individual needs, AndroMoney and Expense Manager (Bishinews) are both excellent and flexible apps with a good number of options. I’d try either or both to see which suits your needs best.
For more heavy-duty corporate use, both Abukai and Expensify offer much more technologically sophisticated solutions for individuals, along with a wide range of enterprise-level options.
This article was originally published in May 2015. All apps were retested and their reviews updated in October 2018.