Expensify Review & Alternatives

Expensify Review & Alternatives
Contents

Doing expenses doesn’t come naturally to anyone. Most see it as a necessary evil to get reimbursed or meet audit obligations.  

The new normal has presented new challenges in expense reporting. According to an Oversight report, the shift to remote work reduced T&E spend by 63.5%, yet violations of T&E policies somehow increased by 206.7% in the same period. Fraudulent reports led the charge. While setting up work from home equipment, employees found ways to fit in sound systems, cable, and alcohol purchases. 

For a business owner, controller, or CFO, setting up better spend controls is key to cash flow management and forecasting. Trying to automate expense reporting has finance leaders scrambling for the best software solutions. Although a full automation solution does not yet exist, software management and corporate cards are among the most convenient options to achieve some form of automation.

Expensify has historically been a popular expense management solution for businesses of all sizes. In this guide, we will thoroughly review Expensify and offer up competitors to help you make the right choice for your business.

Expensify alternatives

Who should use Expensify

Expensify provides expense management solutions to small businesses and enterprises. Companies looking to capture receipts and digitize expense reports quickly are a good fit. However, the price of Expensify doubles if you don’t use their Expensify card. 

Who should use Lola.com 

Lola is a spend management solution that stops unauthorized spending before it happens. Use Lola spend, a software-enabled corporate card, if you’d like to have real-time budget visibility and spend control. Not only do you minimize administrative tasks, but you can say goodbye to expense reports, which are a waste of time. 

ExpensifyvsLolachecklist

What is Expensify?

Expensify software is a leading expense management tool. It aims to process, pay, and audit business expenses initiated by employees efficiently.  The software uses OCR technology to capture receipts and digitizes expense reports while providing third-party app integration. 

Users get help with automatic categorization of expenses and report submission, streamlining workflows. The overall goal is to improve reporting accuracy and reduce manual data entry.  

What is Expensify used for?

Using Expensify means you don’t need an accounting degree to categorize and code receipts. 

Employees do most of the work using the app’s Smartscan feature—a patented OCR technology that reads scanned receipts and automatically records the date, amount, and expense category. The software will suggest appropriate merchants and codes as it learns from the data.

Not only does the technology extract information for smart categorization, but it also electronically audits the results. AI-powered technology detects duplicate receipts, checks exchange rates, and tries to confirm transaction accuracy.

To smooth out workflows, users can also send electronic receipts for approval through the mobile app, tag expenses, and add notes. 

Admin users set expense policy rules upfront, and the system flags questionable and policy violations for manual review. Otherwise, expenses can be automatically approved based on the rules in place. 

Managers can also approve expense reports from their inbox. The app offers next-day expense reimbursements for connected accounts to improve processing time for expense claims. 

All reports processed can be integrated into accounting software, eliminating the need for double entry of data.

Expensify software categories 

Expensify typically falls under expense management or reporting software. On Capterra it’s listed as Expense Report software, while g2 categorizes it under accounting & finance software, travel & expense software, and expense management software. 

Similar products

Expensify has a few competitors with similar capabilities.

SAP Concur: SAP Concur is a popular provider of travel, expense, and invoice management software solutions. It makes sense for SMBs growing into enterprises with international locations.

Zoho Expense: This expense management tool comes with the Zoho One subscription. Zoho Expense aims to be a quick and easy receipt, expense, and card solution.  It works with major applications like Quickbooks, Slack, Office 365, and G Suite. 

Certify Expense by Emburse: Another cloud-based solution to expense management that digitizes expense reports. 

TripActions: This travel, payments, and expense management platform reduces expense reconciliations by capturing details from receipt photos and streamlining the reconciliation process.

Pleo: This expense management tool comes with smart cards seeking to minimize expense reporting by setting individual limits for each card. The tool is popular in Europe.

Does Expensify help you control spend?

Employee expenses 

Sort-of. Expensify has a smart scan system called Concierge DoubleCheck that audits submitted reports and flags suspicious or out-of-policy expenses. However, the control mechanism alerts employees and managers of violations only after the transaction occurs.

Since Expensify is available as a mobile app and the OCR technology minimizes manual input, employees find the tool easy to use. Most employees don’t even know the ins and outs of corporate expense policy, so having the criteria applied during the approval process ideally wards off unnecessary spend. As a manager, you still won’t control spending until after the transaction.

To address this issue, Expensify introduced the Expensify card to provide better expense control. With the corporate card, out-of-policy and over-the-limit charges are rejected, notifying users and admins immediately. Without the card, spending control only kicks in after the fact.

Expensify focuses heavily on end-user usability. By reducing the need for manual inputs and allowing employees to categorize and tag expenses, Expensify reduces the workload for finance teams. Administrative work is also simplified for finance teams through accounting software integrations.

Budgets and invoices

No. Expensify doesn’t support the concept of a budget limit or budget-to-actual analysis. A workaround would be manually analyzing spend based on the category or tag and then comparing it to your budget. There also isn't an obvious way to control spend on invoices before they are paid.

Does Expensify give you visibility into spend?

Employee expenses 

Yes. Charges made using the Expensify card or connected cards should automatically sync with the app’s dashboard in real-time. 

Even if you don't have a direct connection from Expensify into your accounting software, you can export data as a CSV file. There are also export formats compatible with different types of accounting software. You can customize reports to match the format needed. 

Invoices

Sort of. Managers can view invoices processed using the app after payment. You have the ability to invoice others, though that doesn’t mean you can see a complete net cash flow position. 

Does Expensify help you analyze spend?

Sort-of. Expensify offers limited options for spend analysis. You can see total spending by category, export expenses to a template, or view expenses as a pie chart. However, you can’t track other metrics. If you want visibility over budget to actual it’s solely up to your controller to do the leg work. You’ll need additional software or spreadsheets to gather insights. 

Does Expensify work well with the rest of your software?

Expensify integrates with software across several verticals:

  • Accounting and ERP: Bill.com, FinancialForce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, Netsuite, QuickBooks, Sage, Intacct, and Xero
  • Travel: Lola, NexTravel, TripActions, TravelPerk, Flight Sugar, Gallop, Upside, Egencia, and Pana
  • Tax: GlobalNaTax and Taxback International
  • Receipts for applications: Lyft, Uber, Grab, HotelTonight, Revel, Jettly, Roomex.com, HotelEngine, ParkWhiz, and Spot Hero
  • Human resources: Greenhouse, Gusto, TSheets, Workday, Zenefits
  • Practice management: Star, Practice Engine, CCH, and Thomson Reuters

These third-party integrations serve to improve overall workflows. 

Expensify's other features & benefits

Aside from expense management, Expensify also allows:

  • GPS-Powered Mileage Tracking: Users can use their GPS to automatically calculate mileage for business purposes
  • Invoicing features: Expensify allows users to create and send invoices to clients for expenses such as travel time.
  • Credit Card Import: Users can import both personal and business card transactions directly into Expensify for automatic receipt merging and coding
  • Tax Tracking: Tax rates can be synced from accounting packages, with custom tax names, rates, codes, and defaults for expense policies

Expensify card

Expensify introduced a corporate card to improve expense management. The card generates expense entries that automatically appear on the dashboard. It also gives controllers greater control over enforcing spending limits.

How does the card help you control spend? 

The Expensify card allows the company to set employee spending limits and flag out-of-policy expenses. Expenses over the credit limit will not be approved, preventing surprise charges. 

Managers may also enforce a rule that requires all employees to upload a receipt before submitting an expense report if the card does not automatically generate an eReceipt for the transaction. 

Does it eliminate the need for expense reports?

No. Most Expensify card purchases automatically generate eReceipts and expense reports, although scanned receipts may occasionally be required. Any time another credit card is used, the receipt must be captured as a photo and submitted manually to the app.

Even with digitization, Expensify does not eliminate the expense report. It provides a simpler way to prepare reports by digitizing the process and prompting employees to submit reports on time. 

Card Features

The Expensify card is not a credit card but a corporate card with a daily settlement policy. Since Expensify is not a lender, you do not have a 30 day payment period typical of credit cards. You must have the full balance in your bank account to pay for your transactions.  

Managers can define which employees can receive a physical card. The Visa-powered card issued by Sutton Bank can also be used for purchases online or offline, though there’s no virtual card.  

It’s worth noting that the Expensify card will not work without the app. You need to purchase a group plan and therefore it cannot be used as a standalone corporate card. Automation features like smart spending limits only apply to Expensify card users, and they also must be used with the app.

Does the Expensify card offer Rewards?

Unlike a traditional credit card, there is no signup bonus for the Expensify card. There are also no points, or cash back for spending that accrue to the company. Instead, Expensify established karma points, a rewards program that turns around and donates a percentage of each purchase to charities. There are also no annual fees for using the Expensify card. 

While traditional credit card rewards are out of the question, users can enjoy perks from Expensify’s partners when you sign up with your card. These perks could include a discount on your subscription or credits such as a 50% off QuickBooks for an annual subscription. 

Expensify pricing

Personal plans start at $4.99 per month and include unlimited SmartScans plus automatic mileage tracking and expense categorization. Meanwhile, group plans bundled with the Expensify card start at a monthly cost of $5 or $9 per month. Users who do not use the Expensify card for at least 50% of spend have their costs doubled to $10 or $18 per user, depending on the plan.

Expensify also offers a free trial so businesses can see how the software works before they subscribe.

Expensify support

Expensify maintains an online forum where users can ask for help. There is also in-app support and users may get in touch with the support team through email. 

One of the biggest complaints from users has been inconsistent or poor support, which includes lack of phone support. The issues are particularly challenging for new users and companies transitioning to the software. When a company is onboarding new software, chances are good that there will be technical issues. Because new users can’t get a quick response, companies end up wasting their own tech talent on resolving Expensify related problems.

Verdict — is Expensify worth it?

Expensify is a useful tool for companies looking to digitize the expense reporting process and improve workflows. Since Expensify charges fees per user, providing access to every employee in a large corporation could be expensive. In fact, your costs double if you don’t use the Expensify corporate card for at least half your purchases. For those using other branded corporate cards, the software only reduces administrative workload for expense reporting without complete spend control.

Expensify is a better fit for companies with a small number of authorized users who can commit to using the Expensify card. It might be hard to make the switch because most corporate cards don’t have an embedded fee.

Pros

  • Reduction of administrative tasks. OCR receipt scanning from the mobile app makes immediate expense recording more likely and accurate.
  • Tax return friendly eReceipts. Most Expensify card charges automatically generate an eReceipt useful for the audit trail.
  • Policy compliance assistance. Managers can set policy rules and require users to attach receipts to all approval requests.
  • Automate approvals and improved workflows. Multi-level expense approvals can be set up and integrations with third-party apps promote easy data transfer.

Cons

  • Support. If you’re trying to setup Expensify with efficiency and speed, you can’t get immediate quality support easily.  
  • Expense reports. Reports still need to be completed, and sometimes require manual entry from employees.
  • Known bank specific issues. Several bank accounts and cards have known issues with Expensify integration
  • Pricing. Expensify rolled out a price change this year that doubled pricing for companies that don’t use the Expensify card for at least half of their spend. The pay per user model also is more expensive for larger companies 
  • Budgeting control. Expensify does not allow comparison of real-time actual expenses to budget
  • User driven. Development philosophy seems to be end user driven rather than focused on catering to company needs
  • Not a credit card. Funds for the expenses must be available immediately.
  • No standalone corporate card. You must pay for a group plan to use the Expensify corporate card.  

Alternatives

After surprising customers with a new pricing plan and sending out a hot button political email before the election, some existing customers started looking for alternatives. There were already festering complaints about bank import issues or lack of support.

Lola.com provides software-enabled corporated cards that help companies save time and money, all while getting on budget in real-time. Instead of wasting time on expense reports, you can control spend before it even happens by issuing cards with individual spend limits.

Lola.com is the spend management solution that keeps you on budget.


About the Author: Anna Yen
Anna Yen, CFA, has nearly 2 decades of experience spanning financial markets, cryptocurrencies, and digital marketing. Currently she manages digital assets at FamilyFI, working to empower families with financial literacy.