If you are a manager, check out Approving reports in Expensify.


Expensify is an online application that helps track and report your expenses. If your organization is using Expensify, this guide will help you make the most of it.

Note that there are several pricing plans for Expensify. This article assumes your organization is on the Corporate plan, and that you are using Domain Control to manage individual accounts on a company credit card.

Core Concepts


Personal vs. Company Credit Card

There are two main types of expenses you will report: personal expenses and company credit card expenses. Personal expenses, also commonly called cash expenses, will either be reimbursable by your employer, or covered by an advance given to you previously. The term “cash” refers here to the purchaser – if you paid for it with your own funds, it was “cash,” whether you bought it with actual paper money or a personal credit or debit card. If it was bought on a company credit card, it’s a “credit card expense” in terms of this guide.

You are the only person with knowledge of your cash expenses, so you must add each one manually to Expensify. For credit card expenses, the system is set up to automatically import your charges as they occur. You will need to provide information on these charges, but the dates, amounts, and vendor info will already be populated. Do not manually add your company card expenses, as this will create duplicates.

To avoid creating duplicate charges, do not use the Expensify app on your smartphone. You can take photos of receipts with your phone and email them to receipts@expensify.com. As long as you send the email from the account you use to log in to Expensify, they will show up in your Receipts page in Expensify, and you can link them to the credit card charges from there.


Categories and Tags

Each expense has two data types, Category and Tag. These correspond to data fields in QuickBooks. The Category is the account, or what you spent the money on. The tag is the department, or why you spent the money. If you work for a nonprofit, see How Sutro Li uses departments.

If your expense applies to several Categories or Tags, you can split the expense manually – see Splitting Expenses in the step-by-step instructions below.

If your expense applies to several Tags within the same Category and cannot be manually split, you can enter it with the Shared Tag. It will later be split among the rest of the Tags during a Shared Allocation. For more on this, see Shared allocation. Note that any expense entered as Shared is applied to all the other Tags, including Management and Fundraising. If you work for a nonprofit, see How Sutro Li uses departments.


Expense Reporting Policy

Your employer will set an expense reporting policy that requires you to follow certain rules. These rules include when you are required to report your expenses, as well as which expenses must have receipts attached. You must include a Category and Tag for every expense.

Expensify requires your expenses to be approved before they are entered as financial data. This means that you will always submit your expense report to a coworker for approval, usually your manager. If you submit an expense report that violates the policy, it will be up to your approver to decide if they will approve the report. The system will warn you that your report violates the policy, but you will still be able to submit it.

Step-by-Step Instructions


1) Your First Login

When you first log in, click the Expenses tab to view your expenses. At first, you may not see any. This is because you need to set the date filter. In the left column under Filters, set the date next to After to the earliest date of your expenses. Set the date next to Before to the latest date you wish to view. You should see a list of auto-imported company credit card expenses.


2) Adding Cash Expenses

If you need to add expenses paid for with your own funds, follow these steps:

  • Click Expenses at the top.
  • Click New Expense.
  • Add a Merchant Name, Date, and Total. You may also add the Category and Tag at this stage.
  • If you made this purchase with your own money and need to be paid back for it, check Reimbursable. If you made this purchase with money that your employer gave you in advance, do not check Reimbursable.
  • Add a comment for any purchases made with an advance that records the amount of the advance and when it was received, for example, “From $100 cash advance received 12/31/13.”
A note on foreign currencies:
If you are working with imported credit card expenses, the currency should already be indicated for you. If you are adding expenses paid with your own funds, you can select the currency by its three letter symbol next to the Total amount when adding the expense.
The exchange rate used to reimburse you will be based on the market rate for the day of the expense. For a full list of currency symbols and exchange rates, visit Oanda.


3) Adding Receipts

To attach a receipt, click the green “+” icon next to the amount for each expense. You can drag and drop a text document or image file to this field. Accepted formats include JPEG, JPG, GIF, PNG, DOC, HTML, TXT, RTF, and PDF. You can also forward an emailed receipt to receipts@expensify.com, and it will show up in your account in the Receipts tab. Make sure to send the receipts from the same email account you use when logging in to Expensify.

You may find that you need to import your receipts before your credit card charges are imported. In that case, you can add them without associating them to an expense. They will show up in the Receipts tab at the top. To associate a receipt with an expense, follow these steps:

  • Click Receipts at the top.
  • Click the receipt you are editing.
  • Click Attach Expense. Set the date filter at the left to find your expense.
  • Hover over the expense you want and click Attach at the left.

Expensify has a feature called E-Receipts. If this is allowed by your policy, you can use it instead of adding your own receipts. Next to the amount for each expense with an E-Receipt, you will see a receipt icon with an E on it. When you open the expense, you will see an electronically created receipt with a QR code.


4) Coding Expenses

For each expense, you must set the Category and Tag.

  • Click Expenses at the top.
  • Hover over an expense and click in the Category column to add the Category.
  • Hover over an expense and click in the Tag column to add the Tag.
  • If your company uses more than one level of Tags, add the additional tags. These may have custom types, such as Location or Job.
  • Add a comment when necessary to explain an expense. Comments are not usually required, but your approver may request them before approving your report.


5) Splitting Expenses

You may need to report a single expense to more than one Category and/or Tag. Use the Split Expense button in the edit pane to set the amount for each portion of the split.

  • Hover over the expense line and click Edit at the left.
  • Click Split Expense.
  • Use the interface to split your expense. It will not let you exceed the original total amount you entered.


6) Submitting Expenses

Once your expenses are coded with a Category and Tag, and have receipts attached, it’s time to submit them for approval. First, add them to a report:

Select every expense to add to the report by using the checkbox at the left. If you click the checkbox next to Date, it will select all the expenses. Click Add To Report at the top. If necessary, make a new report and give it a descriptive name. If you are reporting expenses from a trip, for example, describe where you went and why.

Now you can submit the report:

  • Click the Reports tag at the top.
  • Click Open next to your report’s name.
  • Click Submit at the top. The To: field will already be populated with your approver’s name. You do not need to CC their email address or add any other recipients.
  • Click Submit.

Your approver will now see your report and review it. If they approve it, you are all done. If it is rejected, you will need to make changes and resubmit it as instructed.


7) Wingman Access

If you are unable to code your own expenses before they are due, you can give access to a coworker and ask them to do it for you. This is done via a feature called Wingman Access. Your bookkeeper may also request this in order to edit your expenses or administer your account. To give someone else Wingman Access to your account:

  • Click your profile image at the upper right and click Settings.
  • In the Account area, scroll down to where it says Wingman: Delegated Access.
  • Add the email address of your coworker and click Invite Wingman.

Last Thoughts and Best Practices

You should report your expenses as soon as possible. Make it a habit, and you won’t need to dig through a big pile of work later. If you’re traveling, use the smartphone app and photograph your receipts as you get them. Tag them with Categories and Tags on the plane ride home.

The sooner we get your expense report, the sooner we know how your organization is spending its money. Having a clear picture of your spending allows us to complete financial reports. Expense reporting is not only mandatory; it helps your organization accomplish its mission.

Alex Nitta

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