Simply providing business travelers with a corporate card is already a significant step towards better controlling business travel expenses. However, optimizing this means of payment – and its benefits – depends on a wide acceptance network of merchants. Which isn’t always the case...
94% of business travelers consider their corporate card’s acceptance network to be of critical importance (ITMS/AirPlus).
With good reason. Whenever they find themselves off the beaten track, be it on the outskirts of a large city, in a foreign country, or in a remote rural area, business travelers still want to be able to pay their business expenses without their card being declined by merchants.
This is why it is so important for travel managers to check the range of the acceptance network of their corporate card providers before choosing one.
Ensuring a card provider’s acceptance network
Whilst most corporate card providers have a relatively extensive acceptance network in large cities and developed areas, this is not the case in rural areas and in some countries.
In the Benelux, for example, CB, Visa, and Mastercard enjoy essentially equivalent acceptance networks that should continue to grow, reaching nearly two million points of sale in 2022 according to British institute RBR.
Mastercard and Visa cards are accepted at 94% of merchants in Western Europe and also have the most extensive network in Africa. Mastercard’s acceptance in particular is rapidly expanding in Africa. The card provider is involved in many local initiatives across the continent to encourage digital payment solutions. It is forging partnerships with banks, for instance, to strengthen local card infrastructure, and with telephone operators to support the development of mobile payment, particularly contactless payment.
Mastercard is accepted at 44 million points of sale in 220 countries around the world.
In the Benelux, Mastercard and Visa cards enjoy three times higher acceptance rates than American Express Corporate. Their acceptance is 57% higher across Western Europe and 59% globally. This difference in acceptance levels is due in large part to fees that American Express Corporate charges merchants, leading to reluctance to accept these payment solutions.
The benefits of a wide acceptance network
With a wide acceptance network, travelers are more comfortable during business trips, without the worry of declined transactions. Wide acceptance networks also contribute to better adoption of a corporate card policy by employees, who are less likely to be discouraged from using it for business expenses while traveling.
The company ultimately makes gains when in visibility over travel expenses incurred by its employees, which puts it in a better position to manage expenses, such as through analysis, controlling and spending limits.
A wide card acceptance network also means travelers won’t need to carry cash or withdraw it from ATMs. This improves their security during their trip – the highest priority of business travel.