Since Chris and I are about to embark on our three month tour of Europe, involving multiple cities and a few different currencies, I decided I needed an easy way to keep track of our expenses. We’re travelling together for four days out of each week, then I’ll be doing independent travel for three days when he heads back to London.
Although we’re great fans of the excel spreadsheet, I figured a spreadsheet might fall by the wayside as the receipts start mounting up. A free travel expense app that is simple and intuitive is called for!
After some discussion, we devised a win-win situation for paying for items as a couple (out of my comfort zone totally as I’ve been a solo traveller up until now), i.e he pays by credit card to get the points and I transfer my portion to his NZ bank account. I thereby avoid the ATM fees for taking out cash withdrawals and the 2.5% offshore margin fee using my Master Debit card.
Paying by his credit card also solves the problem of shared dinners whereby it’s easier to pay one bill rather than try and divvy up who had what at the restaurant. I envisioned we’d do that back at the hotel and enter the amount, plus what I owed into the app. Capturing the receipt into the app would also be a handy feature to have a record for each expense, as well as being able to categorise each expense into food, activities, accommodation etc.
Before I started my search I listed a few requirements that I wanted the app to be able to do, from recording the expense as the most basic requirement, to being able to export data, a good feature if you want to manipulate it afterwards into reports. If it could export a pretty graph report without us having to do anything even better!
There are lots of free travel expense apps out there but the following are the 5 apps I trialled to see what boxes they ticked in terms of our requirements and the pros and cons of each.
|Requirements||Trail Wallet||iTravel Budget||Trip Wallet||Trip Splitter Lite||Tripcoin|
|Say who paid expense||✓|
|Ability to enter a specific amount owed||✓|
|Support multiple foreign currencies||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Breakdowns of daily/weekly/monthly expenses||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Graphs/Graphics at a glance||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Set daily/weekly/total budgets for trip/cities||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Ability to share with users||✓||✓|
|Export the data||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
- Can add multiple trips with custom start & end dates
- Can organise spending by category
- Customisable icons and themes
- Free for first 25 items, In App Purchase to unlock unlimited amounts
- Simple interface
- Can send email with a breakdown of expenses for trip
- Create detailed budget, i.e what things will cost
- More for budgeting rather than keeping track of expenses
- Can tag expenses to categorise them and see breakdown of totals
- Easy to use interface
- Refresh button for latest currency rates
- Add expense in overseas currency and it calculates it into home currency
- Can’t add other users or split costs
Trip Splitter Lite
- Personalise accounts with photos
- Attach photos of receipts
- Geo-locate spendings on a map
- Two people are free, must upgrade to add more
- Only creates even or uneven splits
- Works offline
- Stores historical currency exchange rates
- Breakdown of total per category
- Currency converter
- Stores historical currency exchange rates
- Exports reports as csv file
- Exports receipts in a zip file
- Can back up on drop box
- Can’t add multiple users
So in conclusion, the app that ticked the most boxes for our purposes is Tripcoin. It offers the most in terms of recording expenses, supporting multiple currencies, at a glance graphs, exporting data, backing up data and capturing receipts. The interface is also easy to use, after a few hours of creating trips, adding expenses and exporting data, I feel I have it sorted.
Although it doesn’t let me itemise the portion of the expense that I owe, I got around that by adding the amount to the comments section of the expense, which appears in a separate column when you export the data, and is easily totalled.
The proof will be in the pudding as we see how Tripcoin performs on the trip! I’m also trialling Trip Wallet to keep track of my personal expenses for my independent travel for the three days out of each week.
After using Tripcoin since early April 2017, I can safely say that it has exceeded expectations. It was a godsend on the Summer 2017 UNESCO trip. In fact it’s become an integral tool for my daily budgeting even when not travelling to keep track of who owes who what.