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Best expense sharing apps

I travel frequently in Europe in a group of four friends. Before we leave home I book all the big ticket items (hotels, cars, theatre tickets, etc) and everybody sends me a check or Venmo for her fourth. Once in Europe we've always worked out of a kitty, actually a ziplock bag full of cash. We pay all our meals, taxis, tips, snacks, day tours, etc out of that. When the cash gets low, we replenish the stash with equal amounts. We do NOT need to keep track of any individual expenses like who ordered how many drinks! This is a perfect solution for us and the CPA in our group keeps up with the money.

My question, on this upcoming trip to the UK and Iceland, as businesses are going more cashless, how do we handle the money? What apps do you like to use? I'm thinking we could take turns using different cards, but how do we keep up? Once again, not necessary to know a four-way split for each expense, but rather how much has gone on each card so we can settle up at the end.

I'm not a numbers person, and this is sounding very complicated compared to what has always been very simple! Maybe it's best I put it all on my card while we travel, and we just split it four ways later when the bill comes.

Thoughts or ideas? Thank you!

Posted by
2134 posts

We did a girls trip in December and used Splitwise. It was perfect for the 3 of us and super easy to use!

Posted by
7377 posts

Another vote for using Splitwise. It’s very easy - no money calculations. You just enter the amount (we paid most with cash - some with a credit card; it doesn’t matter with this app). and pick which person paid and if it’s being split in half or in your case by a quarter. At the end of the trip, it gives a final number of who needs to reconcile an amount to someone else.

My adult daughter and I used it last year for Italy. It was handy for me to just put the pre-purchased train ticket expenses into it, and my daughter paid for the first locations’ meals. We would glance at it occasionally just to see how we were coming out and shift to the other person paying. I really liked that it was just “enter the amount” and forget it.

One trick - when you enter a restaurant bill, put the name of the restaurant in Splitwise as the name. It’s SO nice afterwards when you’re wondering what that wonderful restaurant was in a previous city! ; )

Posted by
358 posts

I have used Google Sheets (spreadsheet) to track group expenses for a girls' weekend in the states - either end of the day, or in the moment (generally while waiting for drinks!), I would note who paid for what and what the total was. "Susie - hotel - $600" "Jean - Friday dinner and drinks - $200" and so on. Then I would add it all up and split accordingly, and we all Venmo/paypal/wrote checks as needed when we got home. However, this was more complicated (and more math) than I liked, so not sure I would do it that way again. Still, it was a handy way to track things.

Alternatively, whomever pays for something can send a Venmo request to everyone in the group, right away, or at the end of the day (if everyone has Venmo). That way you can be all settled up each day.

If I were to do this again, I would probably look at an app like Splitwise, which gets good reviews and works on iPhone and Android - but I have not used this yet.

Posted by
2267 posts

Ive used Splitwise, and while slightly more cumbersome than the 'I'll pay, and everyone makes good' method, it offers a few benefits:
-The effort is shared, so no one feels unevenly burdened.
-If Friend2 isn't at that dinner, they're left off the split, so don't have to contribute.
-We've all had a moment of someone owing us money—are they welshing or forgetting? It's always awkward, and Splitwise minimizes that.

Posted by
978 posts

This is all so helpful. Thank you all! Forwarding this thread to my CPA buddy!

Posted by
471 posts

I travel with my sister. In the past, we've booked air and lodging in a package which frontloaded most of the charges and made splitting easy. This year, while we've bought our airfare, all of our hotels are booked with cancellable reservations.

The month before we leave, I'm getting a new credit card that we'll put all the hotels, transportation and shared meals on that one. By the time our trip is done, we'll have wracked up enough charges to get bonus miles or cashback. We'll split the bill and use the miles to help book our next adventure.

Posted by
720 posts

Another vote for SPLID. It's super simple to use and can handle multiple currencies. When we used it in Egypt, we were both able to see and update the data on our phones. It was especially handy for little things like tips. You would just enter "Marie paid 10 dollars, Egyptian Pounds, Euros, Turkish Lira, or whatever for xxxxx." It handled all the conversions and kept a running total.

Posted by
582 posts

Don’t have any info on splitting costs, I’m excited that you’re going on another trip and will hopefully write a trip report! ☺️

Posted by
978 posts

Thanks, Luv2Travel! I'll write one! This is going to be a fun one. Calling it our Gardens and Glaciers trip. Two weeks, starting with the Royal Chelsea Flower Show and ending in Iceland!

Posted by
9761 posts

Gardens and Glaciers -- I love it !!

Thanks for posting this question, I am now interested to look more into Splitwise, given all the rave reviews .

Posted by
1250 posts

In the past when traveling in a group, I set up a simple spreadsheet. There are columns for date, description of the expense and for each payor. At the bottom, a running total balance is kept. During and after the trip, everybody knows who contributed what and an adjustment can be made at any time.

I also create a shared Dropbox and put the expense spreadsheet and any shared documents so that everybody has access.