How to track small business travel expenses

Posted on Oct 2, 2020 2:29:54 PM

Do you know how to estimate how many small amount travel transactions your company is making? While minor expenses made during a business trip are, in volume, the most numerous, it is difficult for companies to track them well... Corporate cards can help.

More than 80% of financial transactions related to business travel are made during the business trip (PTCO Europe Data Analytics).

Outside of transactions made for air travel (7%), hotel (8%), and car rental (3%), 82% of purchases go toward small expenses such as catering, taxi fares, and fuel.

Beyond their volume, these small expenses are all the more difficult to trace for the company as they come from diverse sources and merchants. Such transactions make expense management more difficult for travel managers.

Tellingly, the catering sector, which accounts for 30% of a company’s expenditure per year, is made up of more than 10 million establishments, according to the Paytech Financial Institute.

Compare this. Air expenses are incurred by “only” about 5,000 companies, whereas hotel expenses can be incurred by up to 500,000 establishments. But fear not. It is still possible to identify and track these scattered expenses, as long as your company provides its business travelers with a suitable payment solution: corporate cards.

Corporate Card Series

The card acceptance network, a major challenge

The challenge for the company is to choose a card provider that offers a wide acceptance network for all merchants, so that employees on the move can pay for their business expenses anywhere and from any destination.

While business card providers generally provide good coverage in city centers and urban areas, this is not always the case in rural or remote areas. This is why it is necessary to give preference to payment providers that offer a wide network for accepting their payment cards, including in remote geographical areas and distant countries.

The number of outlets in the Mastercard network, for example, is more than three times greater than the American Express acceptance network.

The wider the acceptance network, the more points of sale the business traveler has access to and the more merchants limit or even eliminate merchant refusals to accept payments.

The traveller thus becomes more comfortable in his travel and in the payment of these business expenses. This comfort and satisfaction will be all the more important if the payment card is equipped with "contactless" technology.

Between 2017 and 2018, contactless payments increased by 156% in France and 97% in Europe (source: Mastercard).

Although contactless payment is capped at €30, it unquestionably speeds up and simplifies the transaction process, to the great satisfaction of business travelers. A technology that they appreciate all the more since 60% of transactions related to their business trips involve amounts less than or equal to €30.


The corporate card, the visibility advantage

On the other hand, the more business travelers pay for their expenses with their corporate card, the more visibility the company will have on the expenses incurred.

Indeed, without the use of this means of payment, more than 80% of transactions involving small amounts are not captured by companies and therefore remain invisible.

With corporate cards, the company will then be able to better trace, control and manage them.

This visibility will also be optimized if the company combines the use of the corporate card with other payment solutions such as the embedded card or the virtual card. The latter will be used more for payments for reservations such as air and rail tickets, car rentals, travel agencies, etc., where the amounts are generally higher.

All the payment data can then be centralized in a reporting tool that will provide the company with precise and customizable analyses of each type of expenditure incurred, by employee or service provider.

To go even further in this process of traceability of travel expenses, it is also in the company's best interest to choose a single payment service provider and to centralize all its payment solutions within a single contract.

Thus equipped, the company will have a 360° vision and a consolidated approach to the travel expenses of all its subsidiaries. It will then have a powerful tool for negotiating its pricing conditions with its suppliers.

Screenshot payments during trip


Payment Solutions, Corporate Card AirPlus

Jente Geerts

Written by Jente Geerts