Our top expense management systems of 2024

An EMS, or expense management system, allows you to reimburse staff, offer company cards, and bills. Here are our favourites.


An EMS, or expense management system, is a software platform for managing staff and company expenses. A typical EMS might offer any of the following features:

  • Out-of-pocket reimbursements
  • Receipt uploads & scanning
  • Company debit cards
  • Company credit cards
  • Bill payments
  • Customizable approval structures


You’ve likely interacted with an EMS as a user when you’ve submitted a reimbursement request for an out-of-pocket expense, like a train ticket. And you may have interacted with an EMS as an admin if you’ve run an organization-wide spend report, or administered a new company card for a member of staff.

Choosing your EMS

There are dozens of well-reviewed expense management platforms in the wild, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to identify one that suits the needs of your organization. Here’s how we recommend you approach it.


1. Identify priority features

Not all platforms offer the same sets of features, and not all features are implemented equally well. It’s worth identifying which features are deal-breakers for your organization, and potentially ranking features by priority.

When we analyze EMSs, we’re typically interested in seeing which of the following features they support:


Category Feature
User experience Ability to tag transactions with multiple GL codes, like project, account & restriction
Auto-tag regular payments/vendors
Responsive customer support
Multi-entity Multiple employing entities in different jurisdictions
Company cards Cards with US billing addresses pulling from a US bank in USD
Cards with UK billing addresses pulling from a UK bank in GBP
Cards with European billing addresses pulling from a European bank in EUR
Widely accepted cards
Easy to retrieve PINs
Easy to freeze and/or cancel cards
Easy to request replacement cards, and quick to administer them
Temporary virtual cards
Credit cards
Reasonable conversion rate & exchange fees
Out-of-pocket reimbursements Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology on receipt uploads
Automatically uploading receipts for common vendors
Bills & invoices Tag bills with the correct GL codes (e.g. project, account, restriction)
Financial controls Customizable approval structures
Organization-wide spend overview
Thresholds for uploading receipts (e.g. receipts not required for transactions of $50 or lower)
Reports showing expenses usefully categorized
Stipends or budgets, with allowances visible to both admins and users
Mobile app iOS & Android apps, with Apple Pay & Google Pay
Uploading photos of receipts via app
Requesting additional funds via app
Integrations Xero/QuickBooks


Here’s a template you can use to determine your priority features.


2. Determine budget

What’s the value of a good EMS? This will depend on your budget, team culture and working preferences, and whether you’re already using other systems that overlap with the features of the EMS. (For example, you may already be using an HRIS that supports expense management, which could make the value of the EMS significantly lower.)

A typical pricing structure for an EMS is on the order of $9 per user per month. However, this typically depends on whether you’re looking for all three expense types (reimbursements, cards, and bills) or just a subset.

Here’s a template you can use to determine your budget.


3. Create a comparison spreadsheet

An EMS touches many elements of an organization, from department budgets to financial controls. This means that there are often several stakeholders in play. It’s therefore useful to present the options you’ve considered — with summaries, pros and cons, expected costs, and the presence or absence of your priority features.

As you’re doing this, make sure to check out endorsements and see what users of the EMS have to say about it. Look up ratings on Capterra and Trustpilot — a score of 4.5 and above (ideally based on 100+ reviews) is a good sign. Also, check out what other high-impact organizations are using. The EA Ops Slack workspace is full of recommendations; popular platforms include BILL Spend & Expense (formerly Divvy), Ramp, and Expensify.

Finally, see the platform in action. There’s no substitute for a demo of the EMS, to get a feel for the user experience, user interface, and the actual implementation of the features you’re interested in. You might begin your investigation by checking out third-party walkthroughs on YouTube — like these walkthroughs for Expensify and Wise. Most providers will have their own YouTube channels with first-party tutorials, but these are often less useful or impartial.

As you narrow down your list of contenders, register for demos or trial accounts with the providers directly.

Here’s a template you can use to highlight the differences among platforms, with some suggested platforms listed to get you started.

Our favourites

There’s no single best solution for an EMS — it all depends on your needs, expectations, and budget. That said, we believe the following platforms score relatively well along the dimensions we’ve discussed above, so we’re happy to generically recommend these as worth exploring:

  • Ramp
  • Airbase
  • Spendesk
  • Payhawk
  • Expensify


Before we dive into each, it’s worth noting that our particular criteria emphasize support for global teams. If this isn’t something that applies to your organization, then adjust your priority features as desired.


Ramp: A+

Pros ✅ Strongly reviewed online

✅ Free version available

Cons ❌ No multi-entity support
Pricing per employee (approx.) Ramp: Free

Ramp Plus: $12

Ramp Enterprise: Custom pricing

User rating 4.8, based on a weighted average from Capterra and Trustpilot scores
Walkthrough Experience the Power of Ramp: Corporate Cards and Spend Management Reimagined


Airbase: A+

Pros ✅ Intuitive and feature-rich
Cons ❌ May not accept small clients
Pricing per employee (approx.) Custom pricing, likely ~$30
User rating 4.8, based on a weighted average from Capterra and Trustpilot scores
Walkthrough Automated Expense Management Airbase 


Spendesk: A

Pros ✅ Free trial available
Cons ❌ Model built around temporary cards, which aren’t for everyone
Pricing per employee (approx.) ~$9, free trial available
User rating 4.4, based on a weighted average from Capterra and Trustpilot scores
Walkthrough Unique virtual cards for online business spending | Spendesk


Payhawk: A

Pros ✅ Very strong offering across our top features
Cons ❌ Very expensive
Pricing per employee (approx.) Custom pricing, likely ~$30
User rating 4.6, based on a weighted average from Capterra and Trustpilot scores
Walkthrough Transform global spend management with Payhawk | Enterprises


Expensify: A

Pros ✅ Strong offering for US organizations
Cons ❌ UK-bank-cards haven’t rolled out widely despite being advertised as coming early 2023
Pricing per employee (approx.) “Collect”: $5

“Control”: $9

User rating 4.4, based on a weighted average from Capterra and Trustpilot scores
Walkthrough Expensify Tutorial 2024: How To Use Expensify For Beginners (Step-By-Step)


While we generally endorse the above platforms, the best option for your organization will likely depend on its particulars, such as headcount, growth plans, and other systems in use.

The above platforms emphasize support for global teams. If this isn’t something that applies to your organization, then the following additional platforms have a number of advantages:


Rippling: A

  • Expense management would integrate nicely with Rippling as the HRIS 
  • No standalone expense product that integrates with other HRISs
  • Custom pricing as a module within broader HR system; likely ~$12 per employee per month


Pleo: A-


Rydoo: B+

  • Low cost
  • Mixed reviewed online
  • ~$11 per employee per month


BILL Spend & Expense: B+

  • Trusted by many EA organizations
  • Mixed reviewed online
  • Reimbursements & cards: free; Bills: $55 per user per month


Brex: B

Getting support

At Impact Ops, we’ve helped a number of high-impact projects scope, determine, and implement expense management platforms. Our mission is to solve critical operational bottlenecks for our clients, and we’re excited about offering system implementation as a service, so that teams can spend more time on their mission, strategy, and execution.

If you’d like support identifying or implementing an EMS for your organization, please get in touch at hello@impact-ops.org.

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