Employee Expense Trends for SMBs in 2019

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After payroll, employee reimbursement is the second largest expense for companies. However, according to a 2018 Levvel Research report, more than 70% of SMBs still use a manual based expense reporting system.

Of employee expenses, travel purchases typically constitute the biggest line item, including purchases for

  • flights
  • hotels
  • per diem allotments for food

We analyzed more than half a million expense receipts between October 2018 to May 2019 for US-based companies with no more than 50 employees.

Key Findings

On an average, employees lend their employers over $800 per month

After incurring a hotel or flight expense, it takes employees on average 65 days to submit it for reimbursement.
Company’s bank loses ~80K$ spends on credit business.
In monetary terms, the average employee fronts $877 per month in-flight expenses and $651 per month in hotel costs.


More than 20% of all employee expenses risk of being incorrectly accounted for as a result of delayed receipt submission.
Although, the number of digital receipts is less than half compared to the number of paper receipts, the dollar amount spent via digital receipts is nearly equal at 37% vs 43%.

Travel reigns supreme

Travel is the number one expense among employees, at more than 70%.


Top three travel expenses are:
- Flights (18%)
- Hotel (15%)
- Per diem (14%)

The average employee cost per flight ticket is $361.


Los Angeles is the top employee destination

The top three favorite airlines among employees are:
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines


Employees top three locations for travel are:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas

Palo Alto hotels costs employees the same as in Dubai

Top five most expensive cities to stay the night in are:
- Stockholm ($470)
- Sydney ($340)
- Dubai ($300)
- Palo Alto ($300)
- Cincinnati ($260)


Uber is more popular


Uber is three times more popular than Lyft among employees.

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