Issuing employee cards from your business credit card account can be a handy solution to manage employee spending, but it comes with risks. These tips can help you take advantage of employee cards’ spending features while avoiding pitfalls.
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If you’re the owner of a growing business, you may have experienced the pains and logistical challenges that come with managing employee spending.
Your hands are full enough without the effort of gathering receipts and reimbursing expenses, and it’s difficult to get a view of your cash flow with so many charges coming from different places. Not to mention, requiring employees to cover a purchase and get reimbursed later places a burden on them if the dollar amount is substantial.
Issuing employee cards from your business credit card account can be a handy solution – you can save your employees from having to wait for reimbursement, put your expenses on one account, streamline your expense tracking and even earn rewards on your employee purchases – but it comes with serious risk.
Make sure to keep close tabs on your credit card account so you can catch any anomalies early on. The more cards you hand out, the higher the risk of an employee using the card fraudulently, or of card numbers (and even the cards themselves) falling into the hands of thieves.
Fortunately, many business credit cards come with controls and alerts that can mitigate the risks. By taking advantage of your card’s spending features and setting ground rules with your employees, you can reap all the advantages of employee cards while avoiding the pitfalls.
Tracking employee expenditures on your business card account
To give you a view of how employee card management works, we’ll show you the American Express® Business Gold Card as an example:
American Express® Business Gold Card
With a generous 4X bonus on your biggest business expenses and a slew of great purchase and travel benefits, the Business Gold card is a great option for businesses of all types and sizes.
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For a small $50 fee each year, you can add multiple employee cards to your Amex Business Gold card, allowing you to reap the benefit of the card’s 4x bonus rate on your employees’ purchases and to use the card’s protections – including extended warranties and up to $50,000 in purchase protection each year – to insure those purchases.
The Amex Business Gold Card also offers a suite of features to help you streamline and track employee purchasing:
Set spending limits on your employee cards
Log in to Amex’s website, call the number on the back of your card or use your Amex Business App to set limits on each card that you issue. You can set spending limits by billing period as well as block access to cash advances on individual cards.
Set up account alerts
Once you’ve established limits on your employee cards, you can set up alerts in case a cardholder goes on a spending spree or uses a card fraudulently. You can set alerts for purchases outside of approved categories, when a card nears a purchase limit or whenever a card is blocked for exceeding the spending limit.
Assign an account manager
Besides setting controls and limits, it’s essential to keep a close eye on your account to catch spurious charges before the situation gets out of hand. If you’ve already got a lot on your plate, delegating this task to a trusted employee can help you keep tabs on things. Amex lets you assign an account manager to review account statements, make payments and dispute charges.
Manage your account on the go
The Amex Business App makes expense tracking easier, allowing you to snap photos of your receipts and tag them on the go, view and flag transactions, freeze and unfreeze employee cards on the spot and even pay your bill. Your account manager has access to the same features.
Download everything to QuickBooks
With all your spending on a single card, you have a comprehensive view of your cash flow and a simpler way to track receipts and reimburse your employees. Amex offers an additional feature for expense-tracking: QuickBooks integration. Once you connect your Amex Business Gold Card account to QuickBooks, your transactions are automatically transferred to QuickBooks each day, sparing you some bookkeeping hours.
Tips for managing employee spending
In addition to taking advantage of your business card’s spending controls, it’s important to set expectations with your employees before you start handing out credit cards. Here are a few tips for getting off on the right foot:
- Set guidelines on how employee cards should be used: Clarify upfront when employees can use their employee cards and what types of purchases are appropriate. Be as specific as possible, including dollar amounts and overall spending limits and how you will handle violations of your policy.
- Require approval for big purchases: Also consider requiring approval upfront for purchases over a certain dollar amount. You should also specify what is allowable for that particular purchase to prevent an employee from overspending.
- Review your account on a frequent basis: By keeping a close eye on the charges on your account (on a daily basis if possible) you can catch fraud early.
- Set guidelines on expense reports: Without the need to get reimbursed, you may find that employees are less motivated to turn in expense reports. Be sure to set expectations on keeping receipts and other important documents and set a firm deadline for reporting their expenses.
See related: 5 business expense card options for employers
There are many reasons why employee credit cards can be a smart solution for your business, including the ability to streamline your purchasing and take advantage of card rewards and protections, all from a single credit card account. By using your business credit card’s spending controls and setting some ground rules with your employees, you can help ensure the solution is as secure as it is rewarding.
See related: Find the right American Express card for your business
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