Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tips for Using Corporate Credit Cards Wisely

In this age of plastic money, one of the perks of having a nice white-collar corporate job is having your own expense account. Most companies give out corporate credit cards to their employees, especially to those that are expected to travel a lot for business.

The way the payments and expenses work for these cards is pretty simple although there have been reports of some card owners complaining about how to file their expenses to the accounts payable. Here's how it works - when you use your corporate card for any transaction, you are handed a receipt. Nearing the end of the expense cycle, you are asked by the accounts payable to "file your expenses" and submit the receipt to them. Once that is done, your work is done as your accounts payable then makes the payment to the credit card issuer.

It's kind of astonishing how all of these steps are so simple and yet some people see late fees and extra charges on their cards with no apparent fault of their own. It eventually boils down to confrontations between the employees, the customer support rep working in the credit card company and at times, also with someone in the accounts department in the corporate office. The truth is such ugly scenarios can be easily avoided with a proper knowledge of how corporate cards work.

· Firstly, as employees, a lot of customers forget that there are different types of corporate credit cards depending on who the issuer is. For example, American Express Corporate cards have different set of rules of usage than Visa and MasterCard. More importantly, after getting their corporate cards, employees should immediately ask their accounts payable about the kind of charges they can or cannot make with the card. In most cases, differences arise with retail charges which involve apparel stores, electronic gadgets stores, shopping marts like Wal-Mart, etc.

· When traveling abroad, it is a good idea to let the card company know your travel dates beforehand. This ensures that the auto fraud protection will not freeze the card in case of irregular charges from abroad. In some cases, notifications are also necessary for retail charges. Knowing how to classify retail charges is also important. There have been examples of people trying to use their corporate cards to book trainings or seminars and get their card denied. It is because such charges are grouped as retail. All it takes to make the card go through in such cases is a call to the customer rep in the card company and get the charge taken care of over the phone itself.

· Let us talk about the all important part of membership points and frequent flyer miles. Most offices do not care about membership points and hence most cards are not pre-approved with this feature. One can just call up the card company and activate this feature which costs around $15. This charge however cannot be expensed and so it must be paid by the card owner himself. If anyone has seen the George Clooney movie 'Up in the Air', he'll know the value of these loyalty points.

· The problem of late fees has been bothering corporate card members for a long time now. Here's how one can avoid it. Most corporate cards are charged cards, which mean that they need to be paid in full within 60 days to avoid late fees. However, in case the accounts payable makes the payment after that time period, one might incur a late fee. To avoid that, one can simply choose to pay the last few charges on the card out of one's own pocket. These charges can be reimbursed by asking the card company to send the employer a check equaling the amount of the extra credit. Thus, late fees can be avoided.

Corporate credit cards are not a luxury but a necessity for a lot of professionals. One must remember that these are not meant for retail purchases unless specified. If employees follow the tips discussed here and use their card in a responsible manner, there is no reason why one should face any problems while filing the expenses.

View the original article here

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