Spendesk Review & Alternatives
Spendesk is a decent tool if you’re looking for a basic spend management option without travel management, integrations with your accounts stack, or any data imports. But why settle when there are alternatives to consider that do it all?
Spendesk is a spend management tool that aims to help companies spend smarter. It offers companies a way to manage spend, reimbursements, employee expenses, and accounting—in one cohesive tool.
If you already use or are considering Spendesk as a spend management tool, this article is for you. In this article, we’ll provide:
- A general overview of Spendesk and how it works
- An in-depth analysis of the features it offers, and
- A breakdown of how Spendesk can make or break your spend management
What is Spendesk and what’s it used for?
Spendesk is a spend management software for companies looking to manage employee expenses with expense cards, pre-approvals, real-time visibility, reimbursements, and accounting—all in one tool. Spendesk simplifies expenses for companies of all sizes by offering a channel to spend and regulate funds with.
Spendesk software categories
If your needs fall into any of these categories, Spendesk or a similar tool will fit the bill.
- Expense management software: equips you with the tools you need to manage and allocate company funds to increase efficiency, minimize unnecessary spend, and enforce better controls.
- Invoice management software: serves as a tool for managing the invoicing process end-to-end.
- AP automation software: streamlines the process of collecting, authenticating, and processing accounts payable claims from your company’s vendors.
What is spend management?
Spend management is about controlling company expenses, preventing out-of-policy spend, and eliminating manual work. Modern spend management focuses on how companies can give employees the spending flexibility they need and still retain control over the entire process.
Not just limited to credit card spend, spend management also deals with controlling the flow of company funds, ranging from employee expenses, invoices, payroll and benefits, and virtually every channel cash flows out from.
Understanding the nitty-gritty of spend management and how to do it better is the first step of choosing a great spend management tool. Here’s a great resource to start with.
Does Spendesk help you control spend?
You can create physical and virtual cards tied to a budget, pre-approve expenses before they happen, create detailed policy rules, and enforce compliance with penalties.
Spendesk cards are set up with granular controls so you can limit spending, require pre-approval for certain (or all) expenses, and keep employees compliant with company spending policies. For example, an employee’s card can be programmed to shut off once there’s a certain number of expenses made without submitting receipts.
This serves as a healthy way to control spending, build accountability, and train your employees to adopt expense policies faster.
Does Spendesk give you visibility into spending?
Spendesk is built to offer finance departments reporting and pre-approval workflows to control expenses as they’re made. And after they’re made, you can either filter expenses from the dashboard or pull up detailed spending reports.
With a simple UI, Spendesk offers a rather inviting onboarding and long-term user experience for both your employees and your finance team. This completes both sides of the spend visibility equation: a tool simple enough for employees to use it, and powerful enough for your finance team to work with.
Does Spendesk help you analyze spend?
Spendesk combines filtered viewing and a dedicated reporting dashboard to offer a serious spend analysis feature for smaller companies.
You can access detailed insights into spending per employee, vendors, and over specific periods.
Does Spendesk work well with the rest of your software?
Verdict: Sort of.
Spendesk offers integrations with two of the core tools in your accounting toolkit. Route data to your bookkeeper in Xero, and have controllers manage and approve expense requests in Slack.
And that’s it.
What then happens if you use QuickBooks instead? Well, tough luck. You’ll have to look elsewhere.
Raw data exports may be a great way to work around this, but limit you from editing finance data in Spendesk after it’s been exported.
Overall, just two integrations don’t bode well for your company if you’re looking for a tool to manage spend management long-term and share data across your accounting stack.
What other features or benefits does Spendesk offer?
Spendesk Cards & Wallet
Both Spendesk’s physical and virtual cards are MasterCard-issued debit cards linked to your Spendesk wallet. And your Spendesk wallet is topped up from your business bank account, either via card payments or wires. Card top-ups are charged a 2% fee & wires may take anywhere from 1 to 3 days to settle.
This can be make-or-break especially at the end of the month when you’re looking to balance accounts and top-up funds for next month’s expenses. Delayed funds are not ideal if you’re building an agile workplace.
For your subscriptions, Spendesk features a control dashboard where you can track your overall SaaS footprint to prevent double-spending.
On the go, employees can either spend with physical cards or with their personal credit cards and get reimbursed later. Spendesk still doesn’t (nor does it seem like they’re planning to) provide a travel management system to streamline the travel management process for your employees.
With your employees skipping through 38 websites just to book one flight, Spendesk’s nonexistent travel management lets down the ball on how much it could be doing for your company, especially if employee travel is an integral part of your operations.
Unlocking the Spendesk card
Spendesk’s physical and virtual cards are at the heart of their spend management offering. While physical cards empower you to swipe at terminals and make other offline purchases, virtual cards help employees make one-off purchases or recurring subscription payments online.
How does the Spendesk card help you control spend?
With a toolkit that features budget limits, pre-approvals, and policy penalties, your finance team can approve expenses in real-time. Automation takes care of your expense policy and restricts employees until they get back on track (e.g. submit pending receipts, etc.).
How many cards can you issue?
Spendesk allows you to issue as many cards as each user needs and a universal rollout means that everyone across your organization gets a debit card linked to your Spendesk budget.
Does Spendesk eliminate the need for expense reports?
To some degree, Spendesk reduces manual work throughout the expense reporting process by requiring receipts with backup details for transactions.
Employees that spend on their personal cards still have to file for reimbursements. With a universal rollout, the need for reimbursements will be eliminated.
Does the Spendesk card offer rewards?
Spendesk doesn’t offer a reward on card spending.
Quoting G2 reviews, Spendesk’s charges are “prohibitively high for what they provide”, with pricing ranging from $115 - 225 for their Digital, Voyager, and Suite plans.
Spendesk doesn’t offer a free tier and the Digital and Voyager plans lack essential spend management features like debit cards and invoice management. In essence, choosing Spendesk’s pricier plans is an option you have little control over—if you choose to stick with them.
What support does Spendesk offer?
Spendesk offers real-time support via live chat and email support. I reached out to Spendesk during office hours for a quick question regarding their corporate card policies. I heard back in under 3 minutes with the answer I needed.
Who should use Spendesk? Pros & Cons
Like every other product out there, Spendesk isn’t for everyone. There are a couple of places where Spendesk nails the spend management experience and a few underwhelming or even nonexistent features that may be a deal-breaker, depending on your needs.
So, Spendesk should be a good fit for your company if:
- You’re a startup kicking off with clean books—otherwise, Spendesk doesn’t offer any data imports for bringing along your existing financial data.
- You have, or intend to have a very slim finance stack. For all the good it does, Spendesk integrates with just two (Slack & Xero) apps. Assuming a good chunk of your finance work lives in your ERP or some other bookkeeping app other than Xero, it’ll be a hard match to configure. But, if you’re okay with just Xero and Slack, you can check it out. QB users, look elsewhere.
- You’re okay with paying a premium for basic spend management features. At over $150/month for just the basics, Spendesk could do better. If you’re a small business looking for a more cost-effective solution, Spendesk might not be it for you.
- You don’t care much about managing company travel more efficiently. Using Spendesk, your entire team will still have to manually navigate the travel process, wasting time, energy, and cash in the process.
Overall, Spendesk provides a robust spend management tool. Budgets paired with real-time controls mean that employees get the flexibility they need, and your finance team doesn’t lose control.
But if you’re looking for a truly all-in-one solution that brings travel management, more integrations, and a functional free tier all under the same roof, Spendesk just won’t do.
Three major Spendesk alternatives to consider instead
Spendesk is an excellent employee spend management tool but drops the ball in meeting other spend management needs. So, why opt for good when you can have perfect instead? Here are a bunch of alternatives to consider instead.
Expensify rates high on our spend management list.
Overall, Expensify offers a more comprehensive spend management product, complete with expense cards, expense reporting, and controls to keep your employees compliant. Travel-wise, Expensify features a well-built platform for managing your itineraries, trip notifications, and in the payments niche, Expensify also shines with invoicing and digital payments solutions.
On the user experience scale, Spendesk is easier to use than Expensify but if you’re looking for raw power and dynamic features to take your spend management further, then Expensify tops out.
Brex offers a decent spend management product combined with a line of credit you pay off every month from your account. This product model empowers Brex to offer corporate credit cards connected to your main line of credit.
With SaaS deals and rewards, it’s easy to see Brex as the real deal if you’re a tech or life science startup (the niche they’re catering to) but with punitive interest rates on any unpaid balances, those benefits can quickly turn sour.
Brex does the spend management job pretty well (complete with spend limits, approvals, and receipt capture)—only if you’re comfortable taking out credit that you'll still pay in full come month’s end, and risking huge fees on any unpaid balance.
What do you get when you combine intelligent spend management built with smart expense cards, robust integrations, powerful spend visibility, and controls into one tool?
Lola is our homegrown spend management software built to offer companies one place to manage it all—card expenses, payroll, benefits, and real-time approvals.
With Lola, you can:
- Issue unlimited physical and virtual cards with custom budgets
- Approve expenses at the point of spend
- Manage all your travel from one cohesive platform
- Integrate with your ERP and SaaS finance tools
- Offer your finance team more in-depth controls, and
- Eliminate overspending and reimbursements
Travel management. Integrations. Reasonable pricing. Lola does everything that Spendesk offers and doubles down on what it doesn’t.
Lola simplifies spend management into a truly all-in-one platform where it’s easy to visualize, control, and manage funds with unmatched ease. Learn more about how Lola can transform your spend management today.
Zooming out for a bit, we’ve managed to put the spotlight on three key factors.
Spendesk works fine
Spendesk is a good expense management software with dynamic spend controls, user flexibility, and visibility into the entire process. And Spendesk is a good enough tool if you’re looking for a basic option—without travel management, integrations with your accounts stack, or any data imports.
But you need more than the basics
While Spendesk does a good job, it could do an even better one. A spend management tool should feature passable travel management, be priced better, and shouldn’t require you to abandon all your data in whatever tool you were using before.
And Lola does it!
Why go for good when you can have the best?
Lola offers a truly all-in-one spend management solution with unlimited employee cards, extensive controls, and exciting new features continually rolling out to make spend management easier.
Learn how Lola can transform your spend management with powerful simplicity.