Announcing new and improved Per Diem tracking

Ted Harris
Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team
edited March 2020 in Product Updates

Per Diem tracking in Expensify has just gotten an amazing facelift! 📆

You can now track and submit Per Diem claims by departure, return date, and time, and view only the subset of rates you need depending on where your trip takes you and Expensify will then calculate your trip’s Per Diem total for you - no extra work required!

Your new Per Diem expenses will be easily digestible for approvers, with a quick receipt breakdown showing the rates you've claimed that make up the total.

All new policies will now have the updated version of Per Diem enabled by default (when you toggle it ON from the policy settings). Anybody currently using Per Diem has been contacted and instructions have been added here to help with the migration (which needs to be completed by the end of April 2020).

Check out the How-To's below for more on creating new Per Diem expenses, setting it up as an admin and migrating over.

Got an idea of what could still be improved?

Fantastic, we've got a few ideas, and it'd be great to get your feedback too. We’re particularly interested in ideas explored in our Deep Dive around balancing the global requirements for Per Diem with any individual country’s specific needs.

In the short term, we're looking to improve things like the export of your Per Diem data for your jurisdiction’s tax authorities and maybe even improve the export of new Per Diem dates/times to accounting integrations to help with that too.

If you're keen for these or any others, discuss them below and maybe even kick it off as an idea yourself! Thanks for reading, and enjoy our shiny new Per Diem feature!

Related Articles:


    JFDIT Expensify Customer Posts: 1

    Having been using Per Diem as a method of recording "time" spend on clients sites the new process is somewhat more complicated to administer

    I have differing rates dependant on the work completed (and indeed the clients) and the per diem was an easy way to record this

    it now does not appear to default to the category its set up to and the date of posting to the report is fixed and you have to select start and finish dates

    what was a simple process for me is now much more laborious

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team
    edited March 2020

    Hi @JFDIT, thanks for the response! It sounds like you weren't actually using "Per Diems", which are rates usually set by a government but instead were using the previous, poorer support for these as a workaround for time-based expenses per clients?

    We're working on fixing the category default now, so that all Per Diem's still have that default applied.

    It sounds like what you'd really benefit from would be the ability to configure multiple time-based expenses, like we have for Distance right now in every policy.

    I see how this workaround is a pain for your specific use-case right now though. I'd encourage you to create an Idea in this community to see if others would benefit from multiple time-expenses like they have from multiple-mileage expenses as well.

    If you were looking to co-opt another feature though, it's possible you could use the Distance expenses option as you had been using Per Diem previously. The differences here are small and amount to:

    • Distance expenses are editable (where Per Diems are not)
    • Distance expenses can only have one currency, the policy default (where Per Diems can have any)
    • Distance expenses can incur a specific taxable portion

  • Path1123
    Path1123 Expensify Customer Posts: 2 Expensify Newcomer

    What if we do not want to change but like how we have our per diem set up for our organization. We have employees who travel all over the US and we have all the rates set up so they choose the rate based on the city they will be traveling to for a conference or training. We do not have a set list of cities because it is fluid.

    I think if people used the same travel plans over and over, your new system would be great but we have not idea where the conferences or trainings will be held each year and it is just easier for us to have all the rates available and they choose the one based on the city they travel to each time.

    Please advise if not changing is going to be an option. If we are being forced to change, this will not work for us and will become too labor intensive to have to set these up every time someone wants to travel.

    Pat Hilliard, SHIFT NC

  • April Bekkala
    April Bekkala Expensify Customer, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 117 Expensify Team

    Hi @Path1123,

    I think this Community post will serve you well! You are able to remain on your current method of per diem rates! This post will help you to better understand the new method, should you choose to use it, as well as provide information on how to get it set up successfully!

  • jadame104
    jadame104 Approved! Accountant Posts: 1
    edited March 2020

    I loaded all DoD Per Diem rates into the system. It resulted in a large list; now when I go use the search feature in the destination it takes a little less than a min. to load the destination list. Also, when I try to load the policy it takes close to two mins. to load. 😑

  • Flavia Faria
    Flavia Faria Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 39 Expensify Team
    edited March 2020

    Hi @jadame104! Would you mind sending this issue to so that we can look further into it? Thank you!

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hi @jadame104 - It sounds like you might have uploaded more than 100,000 rates - even though I only see an extra 663 rates (or 1,326 rates with M&IE rates as well as Lodging) stipulated by the US GSA here, in addition to the Standard CONUS rate which applies to all counties not specifically listed - where cities not listed may be located in a listed county.

    It would be great if we could make hundreds of thousands work as well as up to ~around 10k, but I just had never expected the need to load every individual destination if they fell within the standard.

    Could you try slimming down your list and simply label one as "Other" or "Standard CONUS rate" to account for the thousands extra you have?

  • C22
    C22 Expensify Customer Posts: 1

    Expensify is being very short sided not using the government's API to pre-load global GSA or DoD (JTR) approved per diem rates. It forces individual account administrators to have to perform very manually intensive data entry and to import massive spreadsheets. This duplicates the exact same data in multiple accounts in Expensify, thus using massive amounts of Expensify storage and system resources.

    Your competition provides this feature already at a rate that makes a good business case for migrating off of Expensify, which most of us do not want to do but may be compelled to do so.

    For users reading this post, go to the Expensify Ideas community and vote for GSA integration of per diem rates.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    @C22, you're dead right about what a better solution would be! When you're responsible for building a feature to support all governments (not the USA alone) and take into account the time it would take a portion of your engineering team, unfortunately some ideals are always deemed to be out-of-scope. Right now, the manual upload supports every government possible, including the USA but it has no bells, or whistles in how those rates are added to the policy.

    Some governments have API's available to download rates, but some simply upload a PDF to very old website every so often. If you know of an API which can pre-populate and keep truly global per diem rates in sync, we'd love to hear about it.

    This feature was built to service a large gap in our product - the ability to accurately and more easily claim Per Diem amounts primarily where a government has multiple deductions available for that trip, and also allow users to record the actual trip dates.

    We'd definitely concede that if your main use case within Expensify is capturing and tracking Per Diem expenses, many of our competitors have focused more energy here - because as you've correctly identified, there is a need for it. If you have no need for in-app and automatic reimbursement, smart unlimited and automatic levels of approval (both by category/tag and employee), any existing daily synced cloud accounting connection, GPS mileage or time expense tracking, tax, integrated audit features, custom company expense policy violations, company card management and reconciliation or SmartScan just to name a few features - then we'd encourage that.

    We're building solutions for people who need them to solve their biggest pain-points, and if our current solution doesn't do so - but some other solution does, you'd be a fool not to use them!

    I'm so happy you've taken the first step in creating an Idea to have others weigh in on. It's great to see this part of our community thriving and I hope we see plenty of votes on this, so we can get back to improving yet another piece of our product for all the customers who need it.

  • Kasu
    Kasu Expensify Customer Posts: 1

    I am not using per-Diem rates. Is there anything that I need to do.

  • Isabela Stisser
    Isabela Stisser Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 200 Expensify Team

    Hey @Kasu, if you're not using per diem rates you can ignore this announcement. Thanks!

  • M_W
    M_W Expensify Customer Posts: 4 Expensify Newcomer
    edited October 2020

    Here's my specific feedback:

    What the hell is wrong with you? How is "Fix it now!" an appropriate subject, ever?

    I chalked up Expensify's deeply flawed and brainless approach to rolling out the Expensify card to sheer stupidity. Not malice or intent, just the absolute lack of strategic thinking and absence of any form of common sense or foresight.

    With this, I can only conclude is that it's an active strategy to alienate and shed customers.

    We're in the process of migrating from Expesnify now (prompted by the trash fire that was the Expensify card roll-out and response). I had deprioritized it given everything else going on in the world, but this email reminded me just how clueless Expensify's approach is to everything and, aside from wanting COVID-19 to stop killing people, I couldn't want anything more than to churn out of Expensify. Brilliant work.

    BAINT Expensify Customer Posts: 2

    Hi -  Our per diems are always non-reimbursable.   Will the new per diem tracking allow for that?

  • Greg Schroeder
    Greg Schroeder Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 64 Expensify Team

    Hi @BAINT - you still have the option to mark per diem expenses as non-reimbursable on an individual basis. Or, you can default cash expenses to non-reimbursable via your policy settings which would apply to per diem expenses automatically.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hi @BAINT - woops, sorry for the advice there. The new Per Diem actually requires that Per Diem expenses be reimbursable.

    Would you mind elaborating on how your jurisdiction requires Per Diem expenses to be non-reimbursable? As a Per Diem is always an amount owed to the employee, it should be reimbursable, but we might have missed your use-case here.

    BAINTL Expensify Customer Posts: 1 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Ted Harris

    We pay our team members actuals for their meals and incidentals, so they are marked re-reimbursable and non-billable. Per diems are added for each day traveled as non-reimbursable and billable. Please let me know if Expensify is still able to support this.

    Thank you!

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    @BAINTL - I don't believe we can no. Would you mind explaining exactly what requirement the Non-reimbursable billable Per Diem expenses fulfil for your accounting team or jurisdiction if you're reimbursing the employees actuals anyway?

    I'm just struggling to understand the need to duplicate here.

  • Ashlea_Synertec
    Ashlea_Synertec Expensify Customer Posts: 6 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Ted Harris,

    We need the Billable flag too. This tells us whether or not it needs to be on-charged to the client. Sometimes per diems are directly on-chargeable and sometimes they're not.

    The reimbursable flag isn't very useful because why would you submit a per diem claim that isn't reimbursable - unless you were using it to flag that you were taking time off in lieu of wages... anyway, that's not the common use case.

    The important part is knowing whether or not to charge the client!! Why would this functionality be taken away? It is definitely not duplicated in the new feature and was available in the old per diem feature and is available in the current manual expense and distance features.

    Please put the flags back!!

    I also noticed they're still available on mobile but not web - that might be an interim workaround for you @BAINTL. Moreover... why??

    Also, you've really taken away a valuable feature in the ability to add evidence to a per diem expense - now we have to upload a document to the report and it isn't as which expense the report document pertains to. Of what use is the auto-generated receipt image?

    I can see the benefit of the new feature if you have lots of complex rates to manage (we don't) but why would you take valuable features away and add useless ones?


  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hi @Ashlea_Synertec thanks for this feedback. Honestly, it's amazing to get such detailed responses to these feature updates.

    All Per Diem claims are reimbursable and non-billable by default, but both should actually be able to be amended after creation as long as your policy settings don't force either of these:

    More than anything, I'm actually keen to remove the ability to set one as non-reimbursable at all, but I agree the billable flag can stay. Are you saying you'd simply prefer this to be configurable when you create the Per Diem, rather than only after now? (I think that makes sense too!)

    you've really taken away a valuable feature in the ability to add evidence to a per diem expense - now we have to upload a document to the report and it isn't as which expense the report document pertains to. Of what use is the auto-generated receipt image?

    From our research when building this feature, we found no use to actually tie a PDF or Image directly to a Per Diem expense. The majority of users were actually setting their Per Diem expenses with "No Receipt Required" and we couldn't find any jurisdiction which required evidence to be submitted with a Per Diem claim. We actually added this receipt to show the breakdown of rates used and the full trip time (as these won't show in the Description if you choose to create your own or overwrite it).

    This seemed to be quite a niche use-case from our perspective as to any user uploading a receipt with a Per Diem, and somewhat antithetical to the use of a Per Diem itself, so we've moved that to Report Documents for now.

    We have some changes in the works for how Report Documents could work in the future which might alleviate some of these concerns, but if this is a constant requirement for you and your tax jurisdiction, let me know and I'll look it over to see if this is something we need to provide for our wider user base.

    There's an odd workaround where you can merge a SmartScanned receipt with the Per Diem expense and choose the receipt you want attached to the Per Diem claim which might serve this use case of yours for now:

  • Ashlea_Synertec
    Ashlea_Synertec Expensify Customer Posts: 6 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Ted Harris,

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Yes, agree that it makes no sense to have a non-reimbursable per diem in the standard use case. From my point of view, I don’t think there’s any real need to remove it as you can default it to on and. I tend to take the view that if you’ve gone out of your way to turn the reimbursable status off, then maybe you don’t really want to get paid - but that’s just me.

    Yes, we definitely need the billable flag and it’s a pain to have to go in and edit the expense when previously on web (and still on mobile) we could apply it in one step, especially when the new features add complexity many of ya don’t need. I get that these new features are useful for some and you have to develop for the middle but I don’t think the tinkering with flags and options to add images adds any value.

    We used the add image option to add supporting evidence of trips e.g. timesheets or itineraries. It’s useful for the approving manager to be able to quickly verify the trip length and destination. We can still now add them to reports or merge a scanned receipt as you’ve suggested (thanks for the idea) but it’s just another step in the process.

    I really hope you can bring the flags back to the new per diem page and the option to add an image. The auto-generated receipt adds no value (in my opinion) bit if you must keep it, you could generate it if no image is uploaded.



  • Ashlea_Synertec
    Ashlea_Synertec Expensify Customer Posts: 6 Expensify Newcomer

    Just a thought @Ted Harris, you could enforce the reimbursable status to on for per diems but not suppress it from the page, in the same way company credit card transactions matched to feeds are enforced to off... but I agree with you in principle, it makes no sense to be off for per diems. You could enforce it to on as an indication to the submitter and that would align with the approach on other pages.

  • CinoMD
    CinoMD Expensify Customer Posts: 3 Expensify Newcomer

    My company (American) would not agree to pay per diems because they don't want to overpay if employees spend less and accounting rules would require receipts. However, we do have numerous types of expenses that could benefit from a per diem CAP. For example, we will pay for meals UP TO $65 per day. I can't use that in the expense category limit as every day that will be used 3x, for each meal, and the amounts need to be aggregated for the cap. But a Per Diem CAP on that expense category would work perfectly. Similarly, we have some expense rates that are only one per day, but we still can't use the expense category limit because they vary per country. Again, if I could use the Per Diem as a CAP instead of a set payment amount, I could set that reimbursement rate for that expense category per company and it would work like a charm. I hope that you will add this as an option for using the per diem feature.

  • Kadie Alexander
    Kadie Alexander Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team Posts: 113 Expensify Team

    Hi @CinoMD! This is a great idea! We have already implemented Smart Limits for Expensify Card purchases, which follows a similar philosophy of providing you with a limit that you can spend within.

    Spending limits are out of our control for other types of expenses, as they are added to Expensify after the purchase is made therefore we would have no way of preventing you from overspending prior to the purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this!

  • JustineB_CUE
    JustineB_CUE Expensify Customer Posts: 1 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Ted Harris,

    Here are my observations and questions. We are using Per Diems to simplify our meal reimbursements, a set rate for each Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Since we are trying to simplify, we only have one Destination (that falls within the guidelines of our government rules). Is there a way to set a default Destination, so the employee does not have to click the drop down and select the one available destination for every Per Diem Expense? Also since we are trying to make it easy on our employees and finance, wondering if we can turn off the End Date and the two time fields, so they only have to choose one date; we want them to create a Per Diem Expense for each day of the trip. One flaw we came across is: say we enter Jan 3 1:00pm to Jan 6 11:00pm which qualifies for lunch & dinner day one, 3 meals each for days 2-4, Expensify would allow the employee to select 12 Breakfast, 10 lunch, 20 dinner, but the report/receipt that is generated does not show what days & times the person is claiming meals for, so the date/time function is useless once the expense is submitted for the Finance side of things. The Finance person would need to do their own calculation of dates & times to determine if the correct amount of meals were claimed. It would be helpful if the First Day, Trip, and Last Day totals were on the generated receipt, then our people would be able to generate one expense for the whole trip instead of one per day.

    Your help is appreciated.