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Best apps for splitting bills among housemates

By George Hadgelias

Sharing is a brilliant way to keep living costs down, but when one or more housemates aren’t pulling their weight, the savings quickly evaporate.

Here are four apps to take the pain out of splitting bills.

Easy to share the bills

Made specifically for share houses, easyshare is simple to use.

First, download the app, add payment details (credit or debit card or direct debit) and invite housemates to join.

Then, input the bill, each person’s share, and the details of the organisation being paid, and easyshare will split the bill and make the necessary payments. It works for rent and other shared expenses such as power and internet.

The app also manages IOUs – for instance, when someone needs to be reimbursed for the grocery shopping. Easyshare will get the user’s permission to debit their account before honouring a housemate’s IOU request.

The app is free, but takes a 1.5 per cent fee for each transaction (2.5 per cent for Amex). Users also have to pay standard credit card charges.

Payments in a snap

Splitr uses photos of printed bills to split the cost between housemates. It relies on one person paying the bill and then seeking reimbursements, essentially IOUs. To set up, the app is downloaded and payment details provided.

Take a photo of a printed bill or invoice using a smartphone and open the image immediately in the app, or upload it later from the phone’s photo album. The app’s “optical character recognition” reads the total cost, as well the individual items and their specific amounts.

Even splits are easier, but for itemised accounts, the user can drag and drop to assign specific costs to specific people – meaning the champagne drinker pays their own way at house parties.

Splitr allows transfers via credit card and direct debit, but not via Amex.

Wise up to bill splits

Splitwise is a somewhat more mature offering, featuring “fairness calculators” and mediation services. It’s also available online, as well as on smartphones.

Again, get started by entering payment options and the people who will be splitting the bills.

When a bill arrives, input the info into the app and indicate who needs to pay what. As well as being able to pay a single IOU, Splitwise uses an online ledger system to keep track of who owes who what, and allows users to pay larger one-off sums, preventing unnecessary back and forth between users.

Based on crowdsourced data, Splitwise’s fairness calculators work out how rent should be divided, based on room size, features such as aircon, and whether a room has a shared or private bathroom.

Splitwise is free to download and use, except for regular banking/credit card fees, with the company raising money from advertising.

It’s a cinch

Finch differs from similar options by providing a Finch account, which users can add funds to, as well as the standard credit/debit card and direct debit options. Those making payments from their Finch account avoid the 2.4 per cent transaction fee.

For share houses, start by downloading the app, adding payment details and setting up a “household group”. The app offers instant transfers between users, a bill splitting option and group tabs.

With an emphasis on assisting Gen Y with its finances, app users can also get “actionable financial insights” to keep their budget on track.

Finch will only transfer money between Finch users, but users can send an IOU to a non-user’s phone, encouraging them to sign up.

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