There is a plethora of company cards designed for business expense payments. How do you choose the most suitable payment method for your company?
It used to be customary to issue a personal credit card to pay for individual professional expenses. This practice has long been outdated due to insufficient details about expenses, confusion between professional and personal expenses, complicated reimbursement procedures, and so on.
Today, there are a multitude of corporate credit card offers on the market that are far more professional – and practical.
What are the different business payment solutions available?
The corporate card
The corporate card is a plastic “walking” credit card issued to an individual and used by both SMEs and large companies.
It can be linked to the company’s business account or to the employee’s personal account - the choice is yours.
The corporate card has many advantages beyond just making payment.
- Integrates with your treasury management software systems
- Automates expenses reporting processes, bank reconciliation, etc.
- Streamlines management
- Provides travel accident insurance for the cardholder.
- Numerous, long and/or distant business trips
- Frequent high volume business transactions
- Multiple expenses.
The virtual card
As the name suggests, a virtual card isn’t a plastic card – it’s a digital payment solution used for one single payment with a predefined amount and supplier. This payment solution provides control over spending and fraud protection as it’s impossible for anyone to make an unauthorized payment.
Payments made with a virtual card are debited from the company’s account, making it ideal for employees who do not have a business credit card or a corporate card.
As a centralized payment method linked to your company’s information systems and management tools, the virtual card greatly simplifies expense management tasks.
- Occasional travel expenses (restaurant, transportation, etc.)
- Costs of participation in a one-time event (trade show, conference, etc.)
- Restaurant costs for quarterly or annual meetings with partners.
The lodge card (company account)
Like the virtual card, the lodge card (also known as a company account) is a digital card with centralized payments and a single billing statement. However, it’s a very different type of digital payment method.
The card is “lodged” with an external service provider such as a travel agency or SBT (Self Booking Tool). It can be used for all travel reservation expenses before a business trip such as flight ticketing, train ticketing and hotel reservations. The service provider is responsible for managing all suppliers and advancing money for each of them.
- Simplifying managing multiple expenses
- Keeping control over expenses with a wide number of end suppliers
- Streamlining cost control by only having one debit per month.
What kind of business expenses can be claimed for?
Online payments and ad-hoc purchases
These costs are increasingly incurring business expenses, such as for remote working and teleworking.
For purchases such as Internet service, computers, software packages and smartphones, a virtual card (single use and multi use) is the answer:
- Use a single use virtual card for a one-time expense such as the purchase of a professional smartphone for an employee.
- Use a multi use virtual card for non-individual expenses such as a group purchase of smartphones for several employees.
Meals at the workplace restaurant or outside of company premises
Any individual meal expenses not covered by meal vouchers or meal tickets can be paid with:
- A corporate card if such expenses are frequent
- A virtual card if the expense is non-recurring.
Business travel expenses
For medium-sized and large companies, business travel expenses are among the heaviest in terms of expenses management tasks and transaction volume.
A combination of different corporate credit cards may be advisable. For example:
- A company account (lodge card) for accommodation and transportation reservations
- A corporate card for daily expenses such as meals, public transportation or car
- A virtual card if employees only travel for business on rare occasions.
Transportation costs (excluding business travel)
Transportation costs to commute to work may include:
- Cost of using a personal car for work
- Mileage and fuel costs
- Parking fees
- Public transportation costs
- Bike rental costs.
Again, it may be sensible to use a range of corporate credit cards.
Some of these expenses can be reimbursed without requiring a company card, particularly for total or partial reimbursement of transportation tickets and transit passes, or for bicycles. Fuel costs can be covered by using a fuel card, which is used like a company account, while the best solution for individual, recurring business expenses such as car usage and parking costs is a corporate card.
Moving costs are those resulting from a professional relocation due to a change of job. These cover:
- Temporary expenses for accommodation prior to settling in the new home
- Expenses necessary to make the home habitable (water, gas, electricity, repairs, mail forwarding, etc.)
- Additional food costs during the transfer
- Moving expenses
- Furniture storage expenses
- Transportation expenses resulting from the balance transfer, as well as reimbursement for transportation costs incurred while searching for a new home.
Relocation costs qualify as a single event, therefore single-use virtual cards are the ideal payment card solution.