What Are the Benefits of Having a Corporate Credit Card?

By Nadya JosifovLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:41 PM ET
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Corporate credit cards can help businesses keep track of their expenses and allow trusted employees to make purchases in the name of the company. Moreover, they often provide a range of financial rewards and come with features to manage individual employee spending levels.

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If you run a business, it could be in your best interest to make use of corporate credit cards.

Corporate vs. Business Credit Cards

While people often use the term "corporate credit card" to refer to any credit card issued by a business or corporation, that’s not actually the case. When private businesses have credit cards associated with their organization, they’re generally what’s known as a small business credit card. These cards allow employees to make purchases in the name of the company, but the owners of the business (and sometimes the business itself as well) are liable for their credit card usage. Business credit card usage also affects employees’ personal credit scores

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A true corporate credit card is issued to a corporation, and usually one that makes more than $4 million in revenue a year. Unlike with a business credit card, the corporation itself is liable for charges, so neither the owners nor the employees are at risk or have their credit scores impacted by using the card. When a corporate credit card has individual liability, employees pay for whatever they buy with the card and must wait to be reimbursed by the company, while with corporate liability, the charges go directly to the company. (The company can still take measures to regain that money, such as docking the employees pay, if they add personal charges to the card.)

Card Benefits

Both corporate and business credit cards offer users a range of benefits, including fraud protection, activity reports and online banking. However, some benefits are exclusive.

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Corporate credit cards usually emphasize rewards less but come with greater tools for analyzing business expenses. Employers can also set limits on specific kinds of spending as well as expenses as a whole While the corporation has to make savings accounts and other funds available to the creditor to cover their liability, the owners themselves aren’t risking their personal finances in the event that employee credit card use gets out of hand.

Business credit cards are more likely to come with flashy reward programs for free trips or cash back, and because multiple employees can be turned into authorized users of a single card, spending can be pooled to max out those rewards. Additionally, businesses ranging from sole proprietorships with few to no employees to large private companies can take advantage of the ability to make expenditures through employees with business credit cards, whereas only a few U.S. corporations meet the requirements for a corporate credit card.

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Applying for a Company Credit Card

Business credit cards can be applied for with your company’s information and tax ID number. A credit check will be performed on you, your business and any employees you intend to issue the card to. Once you’re approved, you have a set number of cards you can issue for employee use.

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Corporate business cards, however, are a different matter. While you can apply for some business credit cards online, corporate credit cards usually require a meeting with a bank representative and an audit. Because the amount of money that moves through corporate credit cards is usually much larger, the restrictions on them are significantly tighter.

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Rewards for Travel

One of the main benefits for a company whose employees travel frequently are air travel rewards. While corporate credit cards generally offer straightforward savings for the corporations that use them, business credit cards offer a wider range of options. Generally speaking, there are two ways you can use them. First, if employees themselves pay the fees to be in a credit card reward program, they can use those free miles to go on personal trips that boost morale and make them happy to travel for the company, since sooner or later, they’ll get a direct benefit from it,

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The second way is for the company itself to use the rewards to save money on additional business trips. This saves money more directly and takes away an incentive for employees to put costs on their card that they otherwise wouldn’t, but it doesn’t do anything for the employees themselves. However, a compromise also exists: the company can buy into the reward program and control the rewards, but they can then hold a random drawing or other event to periodically award one employee a free trip, boosting morale but keeping more control over spending. Which approach is best ultimately depends on your company and employees.

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No matter how you approach travel rewards, if your business spends a lot on business travel, an airline business credit card can be particularly useful. There are cards for various airlines, including like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Each of these airlines have different spending and rewards levels for the cards. Other credit cards offer deals on hotels and more.