Employees who are issued an individual payment card are responsible for submitting their own expense reports, based on company policy, and paying the issuer directly for any charges. With company-payment cards, the employer picks up the tab for all company-sanctioned charges.
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The employee may still pay the issuer directly for any unapproved or personal charges. Learn your company policies Regardless of which type a company issues, experts say cardholders need to first familiarize themselves with the spending and reporting rules established by their employers. In addition to broad company policies on corporate card use, employees should educate themselves on any policies specific to their department or position. Cardholders should find out the types and limits on making charges with their corporate card.
Even within approved spending categories, companies may set charge limits, with different spending restrictions established for different types of merchants. This enables companies to essentially "paint by numbers" when it comes to employee spending, O'Malley says. Such control means an employer may decide to cap charges at a lower level for office supplies than for airline tickets, for example.
The number of transactions in a given time limit "velocity" can also be controlled to prevent employees from going overboard with spending. Experts advise cardholders to take advantage of any corporate credit card training sessions. Often these may be mandatory. But don't rely on Big Brother to keep you abreast of the rules.
Avoid the pitfalls While education should go a long way toward helping employees make wise corporate card decisions, there are a number of pitfalls that experts say cardholders should be sure to avoid.
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One threat comes from unapproved charges, which can end up hitting the cardholder in the wallet. Commonly, cardholders using individual payment cards need to have their expense reports filed and approved by management before getting reimbursed. This means the employees could be on the hook for any unapproved charges. Another danger involves mixing personal expenses with business spending. Cardholders may be tempted to skip the hassle of performing a separate transaction on a personal credit card, instead simply including unapproved expenses on the corporate card.
Experts say such mixing of personal and business expenses may put the employee on a collision course with management. Meanwhile, employees who are convinced they can slip personal charges past the watchful eyes of their bosses need to beware. Use common sense Perhaps one of the biggest dangers comes from a lack of simple common sense. Even smaller personal charges can prove problematic.
Jennifer Stoddard, assistant vice president at Family First Federal Credit Union, says that a co-worker doing some job-related shopping was exposed when a receipt from wholesale club Costco turned up an item that was certainly not company approved: Some charges are more obviously personal than others. Company-imposed limits on corporate credit card use may prevent employees from making prohibited purchases, but they may also occasionally mean that an acceptable charge gets denied. Although this may cause some embarrassment to the cardholder, the charge may still be approved. O'Malley says that in cases where a legitimate transaction is blocked, employees should put in a call to the program administrator at the company, who can make a quick adjustment and enable the transaction to go through.
Watch your credit score Just as a consumer's credit score is used to determine approvals for a personal credit card, it can also come into play when a company hands out corporate cards.
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As explained by credit bureau Experian in a since-deleted post, employees "need a good credit history to qualify for a corporate credit card used to rent a car, purchase airline tickets, pay hotel bills and buy dinner for clients. Additionally, being delinquent with payments can sting a cardholder's credit score. American Express says that a credit bureau is informed of delinquencies depending on if the company chooses to make the individual liable for payment, regardless of card type.
AmEx reports accounts to a credit bureau once payments become past due for days, since the cardholder is responsible for submitting expenses. In instances where the company is fully liable, the cardholder's credit score is not in danger. Therefore, cardholders need to make sure they are aware of when expense reports are due, what type of liability their companies have chosen and due dates for any payments.
Some experts recommend setting up e-mail alerts to remind the cardholder of when those payments are due. Theft and loss Just as consumers should always keep their credit cards in safe places to prevent theft or loss, employees also need to ensure the security of their corporate cards.
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Since each credit card issued by an employer has its own unique number, blocking a lost or stolen corporate card is no different from blocking a consumer card. Just as with a personal credit card, the loss or theft of a corporate credit card should be reported as soon as possible to prevent fraudulent charges and to begin the process of receiving a new card and account number.
In cases where employees are unaware their cards are lost, issuers may contact them if suspicious charges appear. Contacting the issuer as soon as plastic goes missing prevents further fraud and gets a new card issued more quickly. GE Money's O'Malley says an employee may wait a week to 10 days for a new corporate credit card in a nonemergency situation. In emergency cases, such as when the employee is traveling overseas, a new card or account number can be provided almost immediately. Benefits offered, too Luckily for employees, corporate cards do not just come with a list of warnings.
They frequently provide perks, as well. Since some businesses leave it up to employees to choose whether to use the corporate card, "It's important to have a value proposition not only for the company but for the employee," says Eduardo Vergara, senior vice president of global project management and marketing with American Express. Offering benefits encourages card usage and can improve employee morale, Vergara says. One of the initial benefits of corporate card use comes when it is time for payment.
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With company-pay cards, employers float the funds themselves, meaning employees never take money out of their personal accounts. Any time a credit card user can leave money in a checking or savings account longer or in this case, not have to take money out at all , interest payments mean additional funds can accrue. Corporate cards may also save employees' time. Some offer electronic expense reporting that links the card purchases with corporate expense reports, automatically populating the reports with the purchase information. Employees then need to fill in only those purchases not made using the company plastic, such as by cash or check.
While convenient, such electronic expense report systems may also flag expenses in violation of company rules or limits -- such as paying for a business class seat on a flight when the employee should have booked an economy ticket instead.
Corporate credit cards: How they work, benefits, drawbacks
Having a corporate card may enable a worker to earn rewards on the company's dime. For example, the Wells Fargo Rewards Card terms and conditions state that points expire 60 months after being posted to your account. As you use points, the oldest are used first. With the Citi ThankYou rewards program, the rewards on some cards never expire while others expire after three or five years.
You worked hard for those points, so don't throw them away
If you have a co-branded airline card in which miles get deposited right into your frequent flyer account, you might need some kind of activity on the account every 18 months or so to keep your miles from expiring, depending on the program. You die. Most card companies also spell out what happens to points when a cardholder dies, and it varies by issuer. Otherwise, the points are lost, according to the Chase Sapphire Preferred agreement.
And the Citi ThankYou rewards agreement states that you lose your points when you die, with one exception. If the executor of your estate contacts Citi within one year and provides proof of your death, the points can be redeemed for cash rewards. Credit card points tend to expire upon death and are not to be transferrable, Feddis says. The issuer cancels the program. In most agreements, the fine print mentions that the issuer may cancel the rewards program.
If that happens, cardholders in many cases will have a few months to redeem rewards.
For example, if the program is ever canceled, Chase will allow Ultimate Rewards members 30 days to use their points. And the Citi ThankYou rewards program will allow consumers 90 days to use points. However, the Capital One Venture rewards agreement simply states that the issuer can terminate the program at any time without notice.
You can minimize the chances of losing your rewards for any reason by keeping your account in good standing, monitoring it closely and following the rules.
If you have an airline co-branded card , and your points go directly into your frequent flyer account, the points become subject to the terms and conditions of that account, not those of your credit card issuer. The same applies if your card issuer allows you to transfer points into a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty account, and you make that move. One way to avoid having points sit around for too long is to consider switching to a cash back program, Rheingold says. See related: Many cards allow it. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditCards.
This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. June 12, You stop actively using your card. Financial troubles impact your credit.
You break reward program rules. The rewards expire. Card issuer changes the reward program. Expiration is a big issue, so you need to consistently check your stockpiles. Join the discussion. Three most recent Reward programs stories: Fret not. These booking and credit card tips will help you save money Got miles to burn?
Book these winter getaways with your excess points — Since winter is off-peak travel season in many destinations, you may encounter lighter crowds and lower prices when you book. If you have a stash of miles to burn, you may even discover you'll need fewer of them to reach many places