April 25, 2024

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The Best Expense Tracker Apps Of 2024

17 min read

Tracking your spending is often the first step to getting your finances in order. By understanding what you spend money on and just how much things cost, you can see exactly where your cash is going and areas where you can scale back.

It’s easy to make this part of your everyday routine thanks to expense tracker apps that help you manage your money on the go. These apps certainly overlap with budgeting apps, but while the latter provides a big-picture view of your finances, expense tracker apps put more of an emphasis on your spending. These apps usually categorize your expenses and help you get a good idea of your purchasing behavior.

CNBC Select set out to find which expense tracker apps are the best. We reviewed more than a dozen and narrowed down our list to the top ones, whether you want an app that easily captures all your transaction data, one that automates the expense reporting process at your job or one that holds you accountable by requiring you to manually input each one of your transactions. (See our methodology for more information on how we chose the best expense tracker apps.)

Table of Contents

Best expense tracker apps

Best app for beginners

Goodbudget

  • Cost

    Free for 20 total envelopes; $8/month (or $70/year) for unlimited envelopes

  • Standout features

    Allows couples to use the envelope system digitally for budgeting, and allows couples to track their debt

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users must manually input transactions since the app does not sync to your bank account

  • Links to accounts

    No, users must manually input purchases and transactions

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android) and as a version for laptops

  • Security features

    Information is secured using bank-grade 256-bit SSL

Pros

  • Free version of the app
  • Helps couples manage their money together, track spending and track debt
  • Ability to share budget with your partner
  • Digital envelopes help couples save for big goals that matter to them
  • Money management courses and resources available

Cons

  • Can’t connect bank accounts so users must manually enter transactions

Who’s this for? When you’re just starting out to get your finances in check, Goodbudget is a solid go-to. Users will begin tracking their expenses by using the app’s digitalized version of the envelope budgeting method — a method where you divide up your cash into different spending categories with each category having its own envelope. This allows you to really see your different expense types and how much each type takes up of your income.

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Best app for serious budgeters

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

  • Cost

    34-day free trial then $99 per year or $14.99 per month (college students who provide proof of enrollment get 12 months free)

  • Standout features

    Instead of using traditional budgeting buckets, users allocate every dollar they earn to something (known as the “zero-based budgeting system” where no dollar is unaccounted for). Every dollar is assigned a “job,” whether it’s to go toward bills, savings, investments, etc.

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Encrypted data, accredited data centers, third-party audits and more

Pros

  • Offers a 34-day free trial, and college students get 12 months free
  • Designed to help you get out of debt
  • YNAB website claims average user saves $600 in their first two months and $6,000 in their first year
  • Syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Users can set goals, customize spending categories
  • Offers educational resources, such as budgeting advice and free, live workshops
  • Personal customer support
  • Security features include encrypted data, accredited data centers, third-party audits and more

Cons

  • Costs $99 per year or $14.99 per month
  • Customer reviews note that it takes longer to set up than other apps

Who’s this for? With YNAB, users use its zero-based budgeting system where every dollar is essentially assigned a “job.” Whether it be to cover groceries, pay rent or go toward your credit card bill, users allocate every dollar they earn to something so no dollar goes unaccounted for. This process allows you to really see how each dollar gets spent.

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Best app for planners

Simplifi by Quicken

  • Cost

    $2.99 per month; no free trial, but users can request a full refund within first 30 days if not satisfied

  • Standout features

    Lets users run fully customizable reports based on their spending, income and savings. Offers a personalized spending plan that adjusts in real time

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can modify

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank, credit cards, investments and loans

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Financial data from bank servers transmitted using 256-bit encryption

Pros

  • Offers full refund if not satisfied within first month
  • Users can easily track finances with customized reports
  • Automatically categorizes spending
  • Syncs to all sorts of financial accounts
  • Offers educational blog, investment research tool and financial calculators
  • Security features include 256-bit encryption

Cons

  • Costs $2.99 per month
  • Security features seem limited

Who’s this for? Simplifi by Quicken provides users with a personalized spending plan based on their income and costs and adjusts it as they spend in real-time, allowing them to always see where their expenses stand. Users can add planned spending, too, like vacations.

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Best app for over-spenders

PocketGuard

Information about PocketGuard has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by PocketGuard prior to publication.

  • Cost

    Upgrade to a Pocketguard Plus monthly subscription, for $12.99 per month, or a yearly subscription for $74.99 per year, which broken down equals $6.25 per month giving members an over all 50% savings.

  • Standout features

    Taking into account your estimated income, upcoming expenses and savings goals, “In My Pocket” feature uses an algorithm to show how much you have available for everyday spending

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can modify

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Major bank-level encryption, PIN codes and biometrics like Touch ID and Face ID

Pros

  • Syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards
  • “In My Pocket” feature uses an algorithm to show how much you have available for everyday spending
  • Users can create savings goals
  • Has bill payment tracker and bill negotiation feature (negotiated bills cost a fee)

Cons

  • Basic version costs $74.99/year and premium version costs $155.88/year
  • Some user reviews report that transactions are categorized incorrectly on occasion

Who’s this for? Part of the reason to track your expenses is to make sure you don’t overspend. With PocketGuard, you’ll get alerted whenever one of your spending categories is almost over its limit, giving you a better idea of how much you can actually afford to take on.

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Best app for small business owners

QuickBooks® Online

  • Cost

    30-day free trial then plan options include: Simple Start for $15 per month, Plus for $45 per month and Advanced for $100 per month

  • Standout features

    Tracks your business expenses as they happen, as well as your income. Users can use app to do invoicing, accept payments, manage their cash flow, maximize tax deductions, track travel miles, run reports, send estimates, manage bills and 1099 contractors, plus pay employees

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards, plus third-party apps like PayPal and Square

  • Availability

    Accessible from any web browser and also offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Verisign scanning, password-protected login, firewall protected servers and the same encryption technology (128 bit SSL) used by the world’s top banks. QuickBooks also offers multiple permission levels that you can set for additional users’ access

Pros

  • Offers a 30-day free trial
  • Syncs to your bank accounts, credit cards and third-party apps like PayPal and Square
  • Offers real-time dashboards so you can stay updated on all financial transactions related to your business
  • The most basic “Simple Start” plan tracks income, sales and expenses, organizes receipts, creates invoices, helps you prepare your taxes, categorizes your business and personal trips, offers a QuickBooks Cash account, runs reports like P&Ls and balance sheets and includes 1 user
  • “Essentials” plan, in addition to the above, helps you pay your bills, clock employee time and billable hours and includes up to 3 users
  • “Plus” plan, in addition to the above, lets you oversees projects, track inventory and includes up to 5 users
  • “Advanced” plan, in addition to the above, provides business analytics and insights, speeds up transactions, gives users access to VIP service QuickBooks Priority Circle that includes a dedicated account team and free online QuickBooks training, includes up to 25 usersQuickBooks offers a fourth “Self-Employed” plan for freelancers
  • Security features include Verisign scanning, encryption technology (128 bit SSL) used by the world’s top banks and customized access for other users

Cons

  • Costs range from $15 per month to $100 per month, depending on the plan
  • Some user reviews complain of glitches in app and a not so user-friendly interface

Who’s this for? QuickBooks Online is ideal for small- to medium-sized business owners because it allows them to connect to their bank accounts, credit cards and other third-party apps like PayPal and Square.

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Best app for employees’ business expenses

Expensify

  • Cost

    Free for up to 25 SmartScans of receipts per month. For unlimited SmartScans, pricing is as follows: six-week free trial then for employees, individual pricing is $4.99 per month. For companies, group pricing starts at $5 per user, per month

  • Standout features

    Individuals can track receipts and submit expenses to their employer. Users scan their receipts and the app will automatically read the receipt then translate it into a logged expense. Also offers mileage and GPS tracking and automatic credit card importing

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, but users can customize

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and personal/company credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android)

  • Security features

    Two-factor authentication so users input a generated code when logging in; banking data is protected by world-class security standards and compliant with Privacy Shield and GDPR requirements

Pros

Cons

  • Costs $4.99 per month for individuals and starts at $5 per user, per month for groups
  • Some user reviews report that the interface isn’t intuitive

Who’s this for? Expensify is a solid choice for employees who are often filling out expense reports — a painfully time-consuming task. Its SmartScan technology allows users to just snap photos of their receipts and it generates an expense report for them. Once an expense report is approved by a company admin, users can get paid as soon as the next day.

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More on our top expense tracker apps

Goodbudget

YNAB

Simplifi by Quicken

PocketGuard

QuickBooks Online

Expensify

Compare offers to find the best savings account

How to make the most of the money you do spend

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit or at Amazon.com checkout.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. 

  • Annual fee

    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Intro APR

    0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

    19.24% – 29.99% variable. Variable APRs will not exceed 29.99%.

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

If you’d rather earn travel rewards, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. As you spend on the card, you’ll earn:

  • 5X points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2025
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 3X points on select streaming services
  • 2X points on all other travel purchases
  • 1X point on all other purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    21.49% – 28.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Business owners can maximize their everyday expenses with a credit card, too. One of our top-rated small business credit cards is the *Capital One Spark Cash Plus Credit Card for its straightforward offering of unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. The card also offers business benefits, including free employee cards, account management tools (such as the ability to view recurring transactions and download purchase records to Quicken®, QuickBooks and Excel®), extended warranty and protection, travel benefits and more.

Capital One Spark Cash Plus Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Spark Cash Plus Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    For a limited time through March 11th, 2024, earn up to a $3,000 cash bonus: $1,500 once you spend $20,000 in the first 3 months, and an additional $1,500 once you spend $100,000 in the first 6 months

  • Annual fee

  • Promo APR

  • Regular APR

    No APR; pay off your balance in full every month to avoid a 2.99% late fee

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

By making the most of your spending, you can also invest your savings to maximize the earning potential of each dollar and start building wealth.

FAQs

What is the best way to track your expenses?

There’s no perfect expense tracking plan that fits everyone. Each person has their own method — unless, of course, you have no method at all.

While some people may find looking at their monthly credit or debit card statements enough to keep their spending in check, others need something more hands-on. You can opt to track your transactions daily in a spreadsheet or to use technology like an expense tracker app. If you’re not sure which is the best program for you, try out a few different methods to see what sticks.

What does an expense tracker app do?

Expense tracker apps connect to your bank account and/or credit cards to track and categorize your expenses, giving you a good idea of your purchasing behavior. This can help identify spending areas where you could make cuts.

Should I use an expense tracker app?

Keeping track of your expenses is important in managing your overall finances. While you don’t need an app to help you record your purchases, it can certainly come in handy.

Some expense tracker apps automatically sync to your bank accounts and credit cards, which can save you time instead of having to manually gather all your different credit card statements and such. Other apps help you categorize your spending so you can better understand your purchasing habits. Plus, some of the best expense tracker apps offer educational tools like blogs and courses to help you learn more about budgeting and your money.

Are expense tracker apps worth the cost?

Expense tracker apps are often either free, offer a free version, have a free trial or offer a refund for users to test out. This way, you can decide for yourself if the app is right for you. If you’re a serious budgeter or are tracking expenses for a small business, it generally will be worth splurging on a paid app.

Bottom line

Tracking your spending is smart for just about anyone since it shows possible areas you can cut back on, and a mobile app makes it easier to do. Consider the expense tracker apps listed here as a good place to get started and see which one works best for managing your money on the go.

Why trust CNBC Select?

Our methodology

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

*Information about the Capital One Spark Cash Plus Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.


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