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Mobile apps help track business credit card receipts

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Anyone who has ever run a small business has experienced the tax-time nightmare of finding and organizing receipts. For every entrepreneurial dream, there's a pile of paper and electronic receipts to be sorted. 

As small businesses become more mobile, so does bookkeeping. One solution is to use your smartphone to go paperless. A handful of receipt-tracking apps now offer new ways to track business expenses, allowing you to capture receipts and file them on the fly.

Mobile apps help track business credit card receipts

The apps fall into two categories: those from-third party providers such as Shoeboxed and OneReceipt, and others from the credit card issuers themselves. Chase's Jot app is designed to work with Ink business cards and ReceiptMatch is for American Express OPEN business cards. Both apps come in iPhone and Android versions that let you photograph receipts and tag them for tracking. They were developed in response to a common plight of small-business card holders: lack of time. 

"Being tied to the back office has really become an issue for card members," says Doug Tabish, vice president and general manager of ReceiptMatch. "We wanted to make receipt-tracking as easy and flexible as possible."

Chase launched Jot in June 2013 to answer similar complaints. "One thing we hear from business owners consistently is that they hate being trapped in the back office," says Brent Reinhard, general manager of Ink at Chase. "Small businesses are becoming more and more mobile, and owners are out trying to grow their businesses -- meeting clients, making purchases. Jot was conceived as a way to allow small-business owners to get out of the back offices and really focus on growing their business." 

Among other things, mobile receipt-tracking allows you to store receipts securely in the cloud. Small businesses are advised to keep business-related receipts for up to seven years for tax purposes. Having a good expense-tracking system in place not only helps with tax filing, it can also help you analyze and grow your business.

"A lot of small businesses grow quicker than expected," says Tabish. "Owners need to keep improving products and services and customer experience, but there's this record-keeping that becomes more and more stressful. They realize they can't do it all themselves. That's where we thought we could alleviate the burden." 

Check out the slide show below for a look at how the tracking apps compare:

 

 

Chase Jot

Features: Available free through iTunes or Google Play, Jot allows Chase Ink cardholders to set up tags and categories specific to their business. If you're out of town at a conference, for example, you can shoot pictures of hotel receipts and tag them as "conference" or a category you've created, such as "business travel." Each time you use the card, you're sent an instant alert that allows you to upload a receipt photo, and tag and store purchase info. You can get alerts when employees make purchases too, and you can change employee spending limits from the app. Log in to your Chase.com account and you can create customized expense reports from these stored purchases to sync with Quicken or other financial software.

Pros: Jot addresses a weakness of doing business with a rewards card: many people charge both personal and business expenses on the card to maximize rewards. The app helps differentiate and organize the business expenses.

Cons: Does not automatically sync receipts with transactions on statement. Also, you can't upload receipts from your computer, only from the mobile app.

American Express ReceiptMatch

Features: Available free through iTunes or Google Play, ReceiptMatch works similarly to Jot in that you register with the app, define your projects and clients, then snap a picture of paper receipts or email electronic ones and add notes and tags. Employees can also use ReceiptMatch.

Pros: Receipts are automatically matched to transactions on your statement, saving you from having to go back through them months later and decipher what was what.

Cons: Like Jot, ReceiptMatch is a nice option if you use one credit card for all your business-related expenses -- which is precisely what many accountants suggest, for tax purposes. However, if you're trying to maximize rewards with your business spending, you may find yourself using a travel rewards card as well as a business card, or any number of other payment systems. In that case, it makes more sense to use a third-party app.

Clients can also manually match their own receipt to an individual transaction, though this can only be done online, not on the mobile app.

OneReceipt

Features: This is a simple app designed for iPhones (no Android yet, though non-iPhone users can email receipts). Shoot a quick pic of your receipt, then email it to your OneReceipt.com account. Or let it pull email receipts from your Gmail or Yahoo account. It will even separate out various purchases on one receipt so you can attach different tags to them. A nice alternative for tracking more than one credit card, OneReceipt isn't specifically designed for small business but it can easily serve that function by setting up tags and categories.

Pros: Guarantees privacy and promises your credit card info is not stored and your email is safe. Once you input your credit card info, OneReceipt automatically tracks any rewards accrued. It even alerts you when return policies are about to expire.

Cons: There's no way to track or analyze spending over time.

Shoeboxed

Features: This app (available for iPhone and Android) is also designed around snapping and sending receipt photos, but offers other options for dealing with paper and electronic receipts. You can clip and submit receipts from your browser or even snail mail them. Prepaid envelopes come with the $30-a-month Classic version, which allows up to two users, or you can pay your own postage with the $10/month or free versions. Tags let you file receipts as "Deductible," "Reimbursable" or "I'm not sure" and you can generate expense reports and export data to Quickbooks, Excel and more. You can also track mileage using your phone's GPS function.

Pros: The option to have a human being scan and verify receipts you mail in is great for people who find even photographing a receipt to be too time-consuming. The mileage tracker is also simple to use.

Cons: Could use more tagging capability to make it truly useful to business owners. It's also pricier than other options, at nearly $100/month for 1-10 users. Free version only allows one user and five document uploads a month.

Expensify

Features: Expensify is available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, and the small business version includes two free users per month. After that it's $6/month per active user -- meaning an employee who submits at least one report per month. The app allows you to import account information from any number of credit cards or banks, then tag and upload receipts. You can create expense reports for your business, track mileage and log billable hours. New: the ability to produce bills and invoices.

Pros: Via the website, you can easily customize spending categories and produce charts that give an instant visual picture of where your money is going. Generates tax-friendly, tamper-proof "Guaranteed eReceipts" for expenses imported directly from accounts for transactions under $75.

Cons: Website is far more sophisticated and functional than the app itself, which is fine for people using it primarily from a computer. Not as useful for people using the mobile app to track expenses on the fly.

See related: Can you apply for a business card -- before you own a business?

Published: November 4, 2013



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