On the money: Five handy smartphone apps to sort out your travel expenses
EXPENSE tracking and reporting is notoriously problematic for both business travelers and companies.
Research conducted by Forrester found that 80 percent of the firms they reviewed relied on data that was manually entered after the event by the employee – something that is both time-consuming and highly error-prone.
But modern technology now appears to offer a sophisticated yet easy-to-use solution. Using online management software, mobile applications or a combination of the two, the process of expense management has been simplified, sped up and many of the problems seem to have been eliminated or reduced.
So, if you’re tired of losing receipts, compiling lengthy expense reports, and waiting weeks to be reimbursed after a trip; then you should perhaps consider an expense tracking app for your smartphone. Here are some of our picks of the best.
Xpenditure combines an online account and mobile app to offer streamlined, paperless expense reporting.
Unlike a lot of expense trackers, Xpenditure has an auto-sync feature allowing for real-time reporting and approval without the need to manually export information.
Simply snap a picture of your receipt using your phone and the app will extract the necessary details to record the transaction and immediately transfer it along with the image to its cloud-based management software.
From your online account, you can organise and categorize items and generate an expense report in a few clicks.
For a more comprehensive travel expense solution try Concur, the app allows you to record transactions, and book travel arrangements and accommodation.
From your phone, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature can capture data from paper and e-receipts, creating expense line items that can be matched against your credit card information and stored.
When you are ready to create a report, head online to your Concur account where you can easily retrieve your expense data and submit a report.
You can make reservations on the move as the mobile app is tailored to your company’s travel policy. You can choose from a number of booking options and see straight away if there are any exceptions not covered by your expenses such as first class travel and upgrades.
The app also integrates with GraspPAY, the single use virtual credit card; automating travel payments without the need to manually add a card number to each booking.
If you need to record more than just your purchases during a trip, Expensify offers a mobile app and monthly subscription service to track expenses, mileage and time.
The mobile app is easy to navigate. From the main page, you can log the number of hours you work and record your mileage using your phone’s GPS, then add this information to your expense report later.
Expense tracking is just as straight-forward. By connecting your credit card or bank account to the mobile app, you can automatically import and record your expenses. The OCR intelligent scanning facility also enables you to collect data from receipts.
All your transactions are listed on the expense page of the app and are easy to export from your phone to your Expensify web account, Excel, Dropbox or email.
The paid solutions allow further integration with accounting and CRM software like Sage, FreshBooks, Locomote or your company’s payroll; as well as a number of additional features.
For a standalone mobile app that supports all major currencies, try BizXpense Tracker.
As with other apps, you can log expense entries and photograph receipts. You can then sort and categorize your transactions and compile a professional PDF report from a choice of templates.
The report and receipt images are saved as a single file that can be exported to Dropbox or your computer. You can also convert your report to CSV and import it into Excel.
BizXpense Tracker is compatible with iCloud so you can easily backup your data as you go. The app also features live mileage tracking and allows you to create custom rates for your time by the hour and day or visit; both valuable information to add to your expense report.
If you’re a frequent business traveler, you are no doubt a member of several loyalty schemes and perhaps use these alongside your expenses. AwardWallet allows you to manage and track them all from a handy mobile app helping you maximize their use and avoid expiration.
Your AwardWallet profile lists all your loyalty programs and points, allows you to update details, see your travel plans and flights statuses. Your data is even available when you are offline as long as you stay logged into the app.
The app is supported by 661 different loyalty programs for credit cards, air travel, hotel booking and car rental. It includes popular schemes like Frequent Flyer Miles, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Hyatt Gold Passport, Jin Jiang Group J-Club and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.