In the past, splitting the cost of bills and expenses was a clumsy process. You had to calculate who owed what, then go through the tedious task of collecting money from each person. And since fewer people are carrying cash less often these days, settling up gets even more difficult. That is, until bill-splitting apps.
Bill-splitting apps let you divide up the cost of things like group dinners and group trips so that everyone can pay their fair share. The best bill-splitting apps also connect to a credit or debit card or another peer-to-peer payment platform, making it much easier for everyone to cover their share of the expense right away, even down to the penny. With bill-splitting apps, you’ll be able to keep the peace between friends by cutting down on squabbles about who owes what to whom.
Best Overall : Splitwise
Free for the web, iPhone, and Android, Splitwise is the most versatile of all the bill-splitting apps on our list and fits most situations where you need to split costs between multiple people. You can create groups with various friends and divide up what each person owes. All your shared expenses and IOUs are organized in one place and everyone in the group can see the amount they owe.
The app tracks borrowing and lending over time. And, until the balance is settled up, each person’s outstanding balance may go up and down. Splitwise sends reminders at the end of the month so everyone can pay what they owe and go into a new month with a fresh start. On the homepage, you’ll find a tally of the amount you owe and you can settle your balance at any time – you don’t have to wait until the end of the month. Payments can be settled with PayPal or Venmo directly from the app, or if the person who owes you pays in cash, you can record a cash payment to clear up the outstanding balance.
Runner-Up, Best Overall : SettleUp
Settle Up can handle a variety of payment scenarios: When one person pays or multiple people have paid, it can split payments evenly based on the amounts or allow you to select individual amounts for each person to pay. The share function allows you to send expenses via e-mail or a link. Expenses are backed up and synced for all people in the group so each person can see them.
If you’re traveling internationally, Settle Up can add the day’s local exchange rate to the transaction and even stores historical exchange rates just in case you change the date. You can also set a fixed exchange to be applied to all purchases. The free version of the app will display ads occasionally, which can get annoying if you’re a heavy user. The premium version of the app doesn’t display ads, allows you to add photos of receipts, and allows you to customize groups with color.
Best for Group Dinners : Plates by Splitwise
There are two types of group diners – those who don’t mind splitting the bill evenly and those who want to precisely split the bill based on what they owe exactly. Plates by Splitwise lets you handle both. The iOS-only app gives everyone in the group a “plate.” Then as you add items to the group, they can be placed on a specific person’s plate or split up among the entire group.
For example, shared items like appetizers would be split among the entire group or just a few people in the group. The app can handily accommodate large parties by allowing you to add up to 10 people to each group. Once you’ve divided up the food among all the plates you can add in tax and tip and share the final tally with each person through text or e-mail. The app integrates with Splitwise and is completely free. The only downside is that the app isn’t available yet for Android users.
Runner-Up, Best for Group Dinners : Tab
We’ve all been to group dinners and the server brings out just one check – or the restaurant has a policy of not splitting up checks for large groups. Tab solves the headache of figuring out what each person owes. Each person in the group can pay for the items they ordered without having to send the server back to separate the ticket.
Take a picture of the order receipt and the app automatically reads the items from a receipt. This nifty feature saves you from having to enter the amounts for each item. Everyone in the group can join the same bill from their phones and tap the items they ordered to claim them. The tax and tip are divided proportionally among each person in the group. Then, each person gets an itemized total for their items. You can settle up the payment by using Venmo – which is integrated within the app – or by recording a cash payment if friends settle up using a different payment method. You can even use the app to evenly split up the tab for a birthday dinner.
Best for Group Trips : Splid
Splitting up the cost of group trips can be tough. Splid allows you to add in all the expenses of a trip and then split it up among each person on the trip. The app is useful for splitting up non-trip expenses as well. Multiple payees can be added to each expense, for example, if two people covered the cost of groceries upfront, but five people need to chip in on the bill. You can settle up bills in different currencies – choosing from more than 150 currencies.
If you need an offline record of the expenses, you can download a PDF or Excel file with a comprehensive summary of all the expenses. The app is free to use for just one group.
Most Versatile : Square Cash
Square Cash doesn’t have bill-splitting payment functionality built-in – not yet at least – but because it’s a peer-to-peer payment platform, it can be useful for splitting payments. Once you’ve determined how a payment should be split, you can send a payment request to each person in the group right through the app. They can open their Cash App and send payment based on your request. Then, once you’ve been paid, you can “cash out” and get a deposit to your bank account or use your cash card (a virtual debit card) to make purchases just like you would with your debit card.
The app is free as is sending money via debit card. Credit card payments are charged a 3% fee and instant deposits to your checking account are charged a 1.5% fee.
What Does a Bill-Splitting App Do?
A bill-splitting app is an app you can download on your smartphone or tablet and use on the go for splitting bills. It divides the cost of the bill that is being split and assigns each person their cost down to the penny. Some bill-splitting apps can be connected to your financial institution or other payment apps and peer payment platforms, so bills can be split and paid immediately. You don’t need to worry about underpaying or overpaying when you go out with a group of friends because the bill-splitting app helps you fairly divide the costs.
When Would You Use a Bill-Splitting App?
Most people don’t carry as much cash as they used to, so a bill-splitting app is often the convenient and easy way to divide the costs of a bill. Here are situations where you could use a bill-splitting app :
- Eating out with a large group
- Restaurant won’t give you separate checks
- Friend’s birthday dinner
- Bar tabs
- Group trips
- Buying a birthday gift paid for by multiple people
How Much Does a Bill-Splitting App Cost?
Most of the bill-splitting apps are free. However, not all of them are available for Android users, and some bill-splitting apps offer free and paid versions. The paid versions typically don’t carry ads and offer more features, such as photos of receipts. Paid versions are generally inexpensive and may cost only $1.99. Other apps may charge 1.5% fees to use a checking account or up to 3% to use a credit card with the app.
How We Chose the Best Bill-Splitting Apps
These top 6 apps were chosen based on their unique tools and features, what their purpose is, how compatible they are with banks and other apps, and if they can be used by Android and iPhone users.