Review: 7 Android apps that track your expenses

If you do any business travel, you know how important -- and annoying -- it is to track your spending. These apps can help.

Hello Expense

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Hello Expense has a very simple interface which allows you to add new expenses quickly (left); you can use color-coded tags to organize your expenses (right).

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 or small businesses. (Note: I've used it for several years to track travel expenses and then transfer them into my company's spreadsheet.)

Data entry

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-colded tag.

Right below the area with the fill-in field, 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 do it from the Setup 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 expenses are listed under the calculator as you're doing them; once you do any kind of search or leave that screen, they are no longer visible underneath. You can tap any entry to edit it; you can then save the edited expense either as a changed entry or as a new entry (allowing you to, for example, 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.

Bottom line

Hello Expense has been tweaked considerably since we first covered it back in 2012. It 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 and/or business expenses.

Travel Expense

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Travel Expense lets you add your expenses quickly and easily, together with a photo of the receipt (left); expenses are organized based on your specific trip (right).

Travel Expense is, as its name indicates, focused on helping people track their travel expenses. It opens on a simple screen with six buttons that let you access all the major functions: Travel, Charts, Setting, Data, About and Exit.

Data entry

To start entering your expense you tap on the Travel button. There, you get a list of trips you have already entered. You can add a new trip or edit an existing one. Tap on the trip and you see a similar list of all the entries you have made for that one (assuming there are any, of course).

Now you can either edit an existing entry for that trip, or add a new one, by tapping the plus sign at the top of the screen. Each expense entry has fields for amount, category, currency and account (cash/check or credit card); the second two are pre-entered but can be changed. You can also add a photo of your receipt, if you wish.

Conveniently, expense categories can be added on the fly. Once you're done, you can either save the entry and go back to the listing of entries for that trip, or save and immediately add a new entry (however, all the information from the previous entry, including the amount, remains, which can be a little confusing). The screen for each trip also lets you filter by date or category.

Reports and other features

The Charts button offers access to a simple pie chart that shows the expenses for whichever trip you choose. The Data button lets you back your info up to your SD card, Dropbox or Google Drive; you can also email the database, which is in the .DB format.

The fly in this particular ointment, however, is the expense report feature. Travel Expense is a free app but charges $4.99 per report to export and email an expense report in HTML, CSV or Excel.

Bottom line

Travel Expense is a well-organized and simple-to-use app for tracking expenses during a business trip. However, because it demands $4.99 a hit each time you need to create a report, anyone who travels more than once a month may found the mounting costs a bit excessive.

Conclusions

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. Travel Expense would be great for tracking expenses on the go were it not for its rather pricey strategy of charging per report.

If you're looking for something you can mold to your individual needs, AndroMoney and Expense Manager (Bushinews) 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 options for corporate versions. Neither is perfect: Expensify's SmartScan functionality is slow and doesn't pick up a great deal of information; Abukai's ability to scan receipts and drop them into well-formatted expense reports is impressive but the app was unable to work on one of my devices and occasionally crashed on the other. Either, however, is worth investigating if your researching third-party expense reporting services for corporate use.

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