(Last updated on January 9th, 2023)
Expensify or QuickBooks, which software is better in 2023? Is there a comparison between these software?
Read this ultimate Expensify vs. QuickBooks comparison to make a smart decision.
For some businesses accounting is all about invoicing and getting paid. Freelancers who don’t have many costs and are paid on the basis of billable hours, for instance, care more about invoicing than they do about expenses.
But if you’re in a business that has large or complex expenses, or multiple employees all racking up travel expenses, and you need to keep track of them, not all accounting software will do the job properly. You might want to look at a specialized software application for that. Expensify is highly rated, and it’s a really single-minded program that will keep on top of the job.
QuickBooks is a highly functional accounting system that has a good expense tracking capability. It has to do a much bigger job than Expensify, tracking your sales, inventory and assets as well as expenses.
We’ve compared the two to see how far each one gets you and which you really need. It’s an unusual comparison since the two applications aren’t in quite the same space… but let’s see which one of them deserves to win!
Expensify Vs QuickBooks: Comparison At a Glance
Winner: Tie. Both these apps offer really impressive functionality. Expensify is particularly impressive once you need to manage employee expenses as well as your own. QuickBooks is one of the most fully featured accounting packages we’ve tried.
Winner: Tie. Expensify is cheaper, but only handles your expenses while QuickBooks handles all your finances. In terms of value offered, both packages are reasonably priced and offer a tiered price structure to suit all needs.
3. Ease of use
Winner: Expensify. Once you’ve set Expensify up, it is incredibly easy to use. QuickBooks has a steeper learning curve, though it’s not user-unfriendly considering the complexity of the tasks it sets out to do.
4. Mobile Apps
Winner: Tie. Expensify has a really slick app that’s a pleasure to use. QuickBooks’ app is more powerful, but that also means more choices to make, and more cluttered screens.
Winner: QuickBooks. Neither application is a slouch; both offer multiple integrations. Expensify will integrate with many of the major accounting packages, as well as with travel providers like Uber, while QuickBooks offers integration with CRM, payroll and inventory management systems, among others.
6. Customer Support
Winner: QuickBooks. One of the few things users don’t like about Expensify is the fact that it doesn’t offer phone support. QuickBooks on the other hand offers business hours support by phone, email or messaging from within the application.
Winner: Expensify. A bot will talk you through the Expensify setup process in very short order. QuickBooks takes a bit longer to set up and has a steeper learning curve too.
Winner: QuickBooks. Expensify has great reporting, including exceptions and policy violations if you’re a ‘Control’ user. But QuickBooks is in another league with its multiple, customizable reports.
We can’t find a winner. Both are really good applications. Expensify is more fun to use – but then QuickBooks does more.
We like the fact that the two apps integrate with each other well. If you’re a single person business maybe you don’t need both – but many mid-size businesses could really benefit from the integration. Get QuickBooks, and get Expensify too.
QuickBooks is a fully featured accounting software, based on a strong double-entry accounting system. That will please your accountant, but because the double entry works largely behind the scenes, so you don’t need to be trained as a book-keeper to use QuickBooks. It will handle all the basic accounting tasks and adds many extra functions that can help you manage your business;
- expenses and bill payments, including automatic reminders
- managing receivables and payables
- accounting for fixed assets and depreciation
- inventory management
- business dashboard
- bank reconciliations, with automatic categorization of transactions
- contact management
- support for credit card payments
- special log-in for your accountant
- customizable chart of accounts.
Let’s just explain that last bit. The chart of accounts shows your hierarchies of categorization for each kind of transaction. Some accounting software just tells you how to categorize, but QuickBooks lets you customize the hierarchies and headings to suit your particular business. It can make a big difference.
Expensify doesn’t offer all that – it concentrates on expenses management. Within that area it delivers some great functionality;
- ACH processing of your expenses payments
- account reconciliation with multiple credit cards
- activity management (which QuickBooks doesn’t offer)
- alerts and escalation, automatic notifications (also not offered by QuickBooks)
- business intelligence
- cashflow management
- fraud detection
- policy management
- project accounting
- management of reimbursements to employees
- spend control
- tagging of items
- travel management and mileage tracking
- export of expense information to your accounting package
That’s quite an impressive list of features, enabling you to manage your expenses pro-actively. For instance, you can set approval levels and expense policies and the system will automatically police them for you and alert you to any violations.
Policy management is useful once you have more than a couple of employees. It’s popular with staff, too, as in an owner-managed business it can be frustrating to have to ask every time you want to book a taxi or buy stationery. Using Expensify means staff can incur basic expenses without having to ask. There’s also an approval system for larger items.
Expensify may be gilding the lily for the one-person business. However, if you’re a road warrior or have frequent expenses for spare parts or suppliers, or your business involves working on client premises and charging clients, Expensify could save you a lot of time.
We also like the fact that Expensify uses your GPS to track your actual journey when calculating your mileage expenses. Many systems use Google Maps to work out the distance you travel, but if you have to follow a diversion, find a gas station, or get lost en route, you may end up traveling further than the ‘theoretical’ miles. Expensify can also grab travel bookings from sites like NexTravel to save you time.
Even quite a small business can be challenged to handle its expenses. For instance, a veterinary practice has three vets, a practice manager, an administrative assistant, and a veterinary technologist, all of whom make purchases on behalf of the practice using their credit cards and, sometimes, petty cash. This is the kind of business that needs Expensify.
But let’s look at what QuickBooks offers you in expenses tracking. It does quite a lot.
- Scanning in receipts via the mobile app
- Mileage tracking, also via the app
- credit card reconciliation
- expense reports showing you major categories and month on month comparisons.
So if you have QuickBooks, you’re already half way there – but Expensify does offer quite a lot more.
Expensify’s pricing is determined by a matrix that depends on various factors:
- whether you have an Expensify credit card (‘bundled’ fee) or not
- whether you are an individual or a business with more than one employee
- the level of functionality required.
The ‘Track’ package offers the lowest level of functionality; above this, each successive package adds further functions.
|Plan||Price per month bundled/unbundled||Functionality|
|Individual: Track||$4.99||Unlimited SmartScans, automatic mileage tracking, auto-categorization|
|Individual: submit||$4.99||Adds auto-submission of reports for reimbursement, or to accountant|
|Group: Collect||$5 / $10 per user||Adds reconciliation, auto-sync to your accounts software|
|Group: Control||$9 / $18 per user||Adds multi-level approvals and corporate card management|
There’s a six week free trial for the Group packages. Collect is probably the package that is most in line with SME’s requirements – few smaller enterprises will need the Control level.
An Expensify credit card is available to any company with a US business bank account, so if your business is incorporated, it’s worth considering.
QuickBooks has four pricing packages, which are tiered by the number of users. Functionality also increases as you move up the tiers; for instance, time management and project management aren’t included in the two lowest priced packages.
|Plan||Price per month||Users|
|Simple start||$25||Single user|
|Essentials||$40||Up to three users|
|Plus||$70||Up to five users|
|Advanced||$150||Up to 25 users|
Obviously, QuickBooks charges more – but then it also covers a bigger percentage of your business’s accounting and finance needs. Both applications, in our view, are well priced for what they offer, and allow you to pick the combination of price and functionality that is optimal for your business.
3. Ease of Use
Expensify scores very highly on ease of use, particularly when you’re using it day to day to handle expenses transactions. For instance, you can just capture a photo of a receipt and it will automatically categorize the expense and save the details of the transaction to your account.
Mileage and time tracking can also be enabled, and the program can also track receipts sent to a specific email address (like Expensify@mybusiness.com), if you ask vendors to direct bills there. It can also import from Evernote and Dropbox. Expensify’s extensive automation represents a huge time saving for business owners.
Expensify is pretty smart at working out where each item on a receipt goes – for instance it will divide your hotel bill into room, meals, and other expenses.
The workflow is very streamlined. You can also decide on what you see and when – if you have five team members on a project you may not want to be distracted, so you can set Expensify to show you expenses for a once a week check.
There are a few glitches. Expensify doesn’t support all credit cards. You may not find out about that before you’ve set the system up – and then you’ll have to enter transactions manually, which is exactly what you wanted to avoid doing. Bank feeds sometimes break down and it can take time to get issues resolved.
And adding new vendors is a hassle, because you have to reconfigure all your custom tags each time.
QuickBooks has made great strides in making accounting easier for business owners. The interface is modern, and the application opens on a business dashboard that shows you how your income, expenses, and receivables stack up. From there, you can navigate via a left hand menu or via tabs across the top to different areas of your accounts, or perform different tasks.
However, things aren’t always as streamlined as they could be. For instance, creating recurring transactions – for instance, if you work on a retainer – is a two-step process, when it would be easier to simply have a ‘recurring’ check box to tick. Some other transactions take several stages and while on a single transaction that’s not a big issue, multiply that by ten or twenty invoices or bills to pay and you’ve eaten up a fair bit of time.
QuickBooks also suffers from the fact that it offers so much functionality. Because it supports complexity, it has a rather steep learning curve. Screens can be rather cluttered as there are so many fields available. You’ll need to learn which fields you have to fill in, for instance, and which you can safely ignore.
That said, once you’ve learned, it’s a system that gives you a lot of flexibility and the ability to customize it extensively to suit your needs.
4. Mobile apps
Expensify is really slick and useful as an app on either Android or iOS. The OCR is extremely good – accurate even when receipts are hand scrawled or crumpled. You can tag receipts to a particular category, product line or project, and make notes. It’s fast, too, and really clear.
You won’t, though, want to manage your accounts from the mobile app. You probably could, but it quickly becomes frustrating on a smartphone (though it works better on a tablet).
QuickBooks offers a mobile app that doesn’t have all the functionality of the full accounts package, but lets you issue invoices as well as scanning in receipts and seeing the overview of your business finances. It takes a bit more navigation to get to the expenses scan, but once you’re there, the process is as easy as in Expensify.
We find Expensify much simpler and more fun to use – it’s bright and clear. QuickBooks offers a bit too much data and too many choices.
So if your main use for the mobile app is entering expenses, Expensify wins. On the other hand if you want to track customers as well on your phone, QuickBooks is a must-have – it will even let you connect from the app to a map with directions for how to get to your customer’s address.
Both QuickBooks and Expensify have really taken on board the fact that business owners want to be able to integrate their accounts and expenses with other software such as project management, industry-specific management modules, and e-commerce.
Expensify has 71 total integrations including accounts packages QuickBooks Online, the desktop version of QuickBooks, Sage (including intacct), and Xero, and you can connect to FreshBooks or Wave via Zapier. It also integrates to HR software like Gusto, Workday and TSheets.
A particular strength of Expensify is that where accounts packages take data from your bank account and credit card, Expensify can link to your travel apps. Do you use Uber? It can grab your expenses automatically. The same goes for Trainline, Lyft, Jettly, Parkwhiz, Tripcatcher, Travelperk and many more.
QuickBooks offers over 600 integrations. These include Stripe for e-commerce, payroll and CRM applications, direct mail, project management and industry-specific software like practice management or rental management applications.
QuickBooks has really thought through integration, and that’s one of the reasons it’s a software that can keep pace with your business and scale up as you grow.
And yes, QuickBooks integrates well with Expensify.
6. Customer Support
Expensify has great how-to videos for any function you need to use. It also provides some useful support during onboarding. But many users criticize the fact that support doesn’t continue once you’ve got the system up and running.
This is definitely a weak point. Online-only support can mean you have to wait 12 hours to get a problem solved, and that’s tough if you’re trying to manage a fast growth business at the same time.
QuickBooks has extensive online resources including video tutorials, plenty of articles full of tips, webinars, and forums. You’ll also get phone, email and instant messaging support for extended business hours. Users’ mileage varies, as some support staff appear better able to handle technical requests than others, but the support is definitely there.
It’s worth noting that both Expensify and QuickBooks are very common applications with huge user bases. That means whatever your problem, you’ll find a colleague or professional who can help you – even if that just means asking a buddy to show you how Expensify works on her phone before you sign up.
If you’re using QuickBooks, most accountants know their way round the system, too.
Both these applications are provided over the cloud so there are no CDs or downloads to fiddle around with and no installation to do.
Expensify makes setup as painless as possible with a bot that will walk you through the process. And with Expensify, the setup is three quarters of the job – once you’ve set things up properly, automation kicks in. Expensify also provides good support during the onboarding process.
QuickBooks is a bit less easy to set up but has definitely made an effort to make the process as easy as it can. For instance, if you don’t need certain functionalities, you don’t need to set them up. You can also set up QuickBooks with a fictional company’s data installed if you want to just walk around the system and see how things work before you put it to use.
Expensify has great reporting, particularly at ‘Control’ level where you’ll get exceptions reporting and reports of policy violations. Reports can be configured to get the detail and frequency you want.
QuickBooks also takes reporting seriously, with up to 60 reports available (depending on the price package). You’ll get your profit and loss account and balance sheet, but also reports on overdues, sales splits by customer or product line, and loads of detail. You can drag and drop columns, and easily sort the data by different criteria.
Best of all, you can customize your reports so that if you have a particular presentation you fine useful, you can save it so it will display the same way next time.
As we said, it’s tricky to compare these two applications because though they share a focus on business accounts, they do rather different things. We like them both!
Expensify does one job really well and it’s incredibly easy to use once you have it set up. If you have a small business with a number of employees or team members, it’s really easy for them to log their own expenses without having to come anywhere near your accounting system.
QuickBooks does a great job of running a business’s accounts. It takes a bit more learning your way around, but if you have a large number of transactions to manage, or need to remember to bill your retainer clients every month, it can save you a lot of time.
Our counsel of perfection – why not use Expensify with QuickBooks? That will save you a lot of manual entry and give you another level of control.
So we have two winners. Two really first class applications for the mid-size business.