Whether your employees fly a lot and need a card to reserve plane tickets or they purchase lumber or office supplies for the company at the store, getting them a company credit card is often a great way to keep track of expenses and make it easy for them to purchase whatâs needed.
For many entrepreneurs, aÂ small business credit cardÂ is the best solution. Many are designed to reward the types of purchases that employees typically make in a small firm.
However, for larger small businesses, getting a corporate credit card, like the ones big corporations issue to employees, often makes sense.
See related:Â How to get a business credit card
What is a corporate credit card?
Corporate cards are generally available only to larger small businesses, meaning those with at least several million dollars in annual revenue. A company may have to submit a federal tax ID and undergo an audit of its financials to qualify.
For example, the One Card from Capital One requires its users to have a minimum annual card spend over $1 million. Cards are issued to the company itself (rather than any individual) and require that you submit your tax ID and require an audit of company financials before approval.
Similarly, the One Card from J.P. Morgan is available to businesses that spend between $1 million and $9.9 million per year. The bank can also match companies that spend $20 million or more on travel with corporate credit cards.
Once an account has been opened, the company is responsible for paying the balance in full each billing cycle and managing spending of each cardholder. However, it is also the company that reaps any rewards the card may include, including statement credits or travel perks. In the case of the One Card from Capital One, businesses earn competitive rewards up to 1.5X net purchases.
Corporate credit card pros and cons
The biggest perk attached to corporate cards is the ease of tracking employee spending. Rather than having employees make personal charges and submit expense reports or receipts for reimbursement, the company can easily manage spend limits, track budget needs and manage fraud risk. Most corporate cards offer detailed analytics all in one system about where and how company money is being spent.
Since these cards are sometimes more complex, corporate cards often come with their own designated customer service representative who can help resolve any issues quickly. These representatives are usually on-call 24/7 and have an intricate knowledge of each companyâs individual needs.
- Simplified tracking and analysis of work-related purchases
- Benefits and rewards help the company directly
- Dedicated or on-call customer service representative
- Prevents employees from trying to make personal charges on a company card with clearer visibility and better spending controls than most business cards
- Additional cardholder fees can add up quickly
- Not an option for smaller companies
- Tough application process
- Employees canât earn their own rewards by using a personal card and getting reimbursed
See related: Managing employee cards on your credit card account
How corporate cards differ from small business credit cards
BothÂ corporate and small business cardsÂ offer conveniences such as the ability to set limits on employeesâ spending and to restrict spending to certain categories. Most also offer features that make it possible to track expenses easily.
However, corporate cards come with certain benefits that small business cards donât offer â and vice versa.
Unlike corporate credit cards, business cards are available to any-sized business â even entrepreneurs just getting started on their own. The application process is much less intensive and usually doesnât require an audit of company finances.
Responsibility for the debt
Business cards are issued to an individual and the company (unless it is a sole proprietor), and even if additional cards are added for employees,Â the business owner is responsible for managing payments.
Typically, a small business owner must personally guarantee a small business card, though some small business cards come withÂ joint and several liability, where the owner shares liability with the business. With joint and several liability, a creditor can pursue either the business or the owner for a debt.
With most corporate cards, the company is generally liable for the debt on employeesâ cards, which is a big advantage in many owners’ eyes. When the company guarantees the debt, the owner is not held responsible if, for instance, the company fails without paying its bills.
Some corporate cards also offer whatâs known as individual liability. That means the employee must stay current on paying the bill in the short term and request reimbursement upon filing an expense report. This is less common than it used to be. Itâs not necessarily ideal for employees, who may not have the cash available to pay for large charges until their expense report is processed.
Credit CARD ActÂ doesnât apply to business or corporate accounts. But many card issuers grant those CARD Act protections anyway, as a matter of practice. Nevertheless, donât take anything for granted. Before using your corporate or business card, familiarize yourself with its rules.