Finance News & Insights

Personal credit cards still reign supreme in biz travel: 4 strategies

The payment method employees use when traveling can have a major impact on your T&E process – for better or for worse.

And in 2019, employees are still using personal credit cards (65%) more than company credit cards (37%) for travel expenses, according to a new survey from Wex and MasterCard.

What gives personal cards such staying power?

For some companies, the choice could be for employee convenience or part of a payment strategy. But the survey points out it could also be because employees want to collect loyalty rewards and points during business travel for personal use. In fact, over 80% of people surveyed said they had a frequent flyer membership.

Make the most of it

No matter the reason, there are ways your finance team can manage personal card usage more effectively. Try these four tactics to keep your T&E process smooth and your employees happy:

1. Recommend rewards cards to employees. As soon as new travelers come on at your company, you’ll want to make sure credit cards are a part of the general T&E conversation they have with their manager, and/or the training they undergo with your team.

By suggesting that they apply for a credit card that allows them to collect rewards points, employees will start to see using a personal card for business as an opportunity, not a nuisance.

2. Be sensitive on an individual level. Every employee has a unique financial situation. For some, paying for hotels and flights upfront on their own card may be difficult to swing.

To make sure your finance team doesn’t feel the repercussions of those possible issues, consider whether you could offer alternatives in some cases to certain employees. For example, if an employee approaches their manager or Finance with concerns about covering costs, your company could provide a cash advance or a prepaid debit card instead.

3. Promise timeliness. In a similar vein, you’ll want to remind A/P that it’s important to reimburse employees who use their own personal cards as soon as possible.

You can even set and publicize a specific timetable of when employees can expect reimbursement by. Quick turnaround will keep them from feeling any animosity about having to cover the costs upfront.

4. Take advantage of both. For occasional travelers, using a personal card may work fine. But for frequent travelers, you know that a corporate card could be more effective.

If your company hasn’t already, it’s a good idea to discuss giving corporate cards to specific employees who meet certain criteria (number of trips per year, total spend each quarter, etc.) to advance your process and simplify things for everyone.

Of course, with any corporate card program, it’s key to outline the criteria in your policy and clearly communicate why certain employees are given corporate cards, so other employees don’t feel confused or slighted.

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