How to choose the best corporate card for your business

Tilly Michell5 minutes
FinanceBusiness tips
How to choose the best corporate card for your business
In this article
  • Assess your expense management needs
  • Research different types of corporate card
  • Airwallex Borderless Cards can help your business manage global expenses

Corporate cards can make life easier for companies in all sorts of ways. They allow employees to spend money on necessary purchases without being left out of pocket and needing to be reimbursed. They also allow a greater degree of control and remove friction from the expense approval process. With the right corporate card program in place, managing company expenses can be quick, automated and transparent. The entire process, from approvals to reconciliation, can be completed with minimal effort, leaving employees with more time to get on with the work that really matters. In this article, we’ll outline the steps you should take before choosing a corporate card provider.  

Assess your expense management needs

Before you start looking through options, it’s a good idea to review the way that your company currently handles employee business expenses. Consider your company’s size, industry and the current level of expenses that are typically processed. What are the pain points and what are you looking for a corporate card to do?

For example, you may find that your finance team is overwhelmed by a manual expenses system with a fiddly approvals process, or that it’s taking too long for employees to have their out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed. You may be growing, and have aspirations to do more in terms of business travel and client entertainment. You may want to reign in out-of-control spending, or empower employees to take more responsibility for buying the things they need to be productive.

Think about whether your business operates across borders or has ambitions to do so. If you plan to use your corporate cards abroad or to pay international vendors, a new layer of complexity is added thanks to the currency conversion and international transaction fees that some card providers charge. You may want to consider a corporate card program that specialises in cost-effective international transactions, such as Airwallex Borderless Cards.

Research different types of corporate card

There is a lot of variation in the world of corporate cards: some are specifically tailored to certain purposes. For example:

  • Credit cards: These offer short-term financing, which is useful in emergencies or when you want to pay off a large purchase over time. They can also come with rewards and improved fraud protection, however interest fees can be steep and there’s a danger of overspending.

  • Debit cards: There are typically no fees associated with debit cards, you just pay directly from the funds you hold in your account. This can help with budgeting by discouraging excess spending.

  • Prepaid cards: Unlike standard debit cards, prepaid cards are not attached to a business account and therefore require you to preload money onto each card before use.

  • Virtual cards: These cards can be issued in moments, easily cancelled, and remove the likelihood of loss, theft or card fraud.

  • Employee cards: Some card providers offer card programs that are specifically designed to help your business manage employee expenses. Cards can be issued to individual employees with customisable rules and spend limits. They may also come with inbuilt expense management that enables employees to upload photos of receipts, catagorise expenses, and submit them to managers for approval.

  • Company cards: Similar to employee cards, these cards are designed to help you keep track of company spending, but these are more closely related to procurement. This could include purchases such as software subscriptions, office supplies, supplier payments, and marketing expenses.

  • Multi-currency cards: Allowing you to hold money in multiple currencies, these cards enable international spending as if you were a local.

In order to dig down and figure out which corporate card is best for your company’s expense management needs, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each.

What are the interest rates and fees?

It’s important to get into the fine print of what rates and fees are associated with the card you choose. Some providers charge a flat annual fee for corporate cards. Other charges can include international transaction fees, foreign exchange (FX) fees for purchases made in different currencies and, if you decide to use credit cards rather than debit cards or prepaid cards, potentially late payment fees. 

Does the card provider offer expense management tools?

Advanced expense-tracking tools can not only make the corporate expense process quicker and easier, but also enable better financial strategy. Modern expense management tools include real-time spend tracking, customisable approval workflows, and integration with accounting software. These can reduce administrative labour and improve financial transparency as well as saving your team time and effort.

Does the card provider offer virtual cards?

Virtual cards help protect your business from fraud because, unlike physical cards, they cannot be lost or stolen. Virtual cards can be created and destroyed instantly, meaning you can assign cards for specific purposes, vendors or transactions, and even create single-use cards which expire as soon as a payment has been made. Virtual cards can be created with spend rules and transaction limits that ensure they’re only used for the right purpose, protecting your business from misuse and any accidental overspend. 

What are the protections for cardholders?

If your employees are dealing with large purchases and high transaction volumes, it is reassuring to know that there are measures in place if something goes wrong. Look into whether the corporate card you are considering comes with purchase protection, warranty coverage or fraud protection, and factor that into your ultimate decision. You may also consider the quality of customer support available when dealing with card issues or disputes. 

Is the corporate card widely accepted?

It’s an obvious question, but may be overlooked. The credit or debit card provider you’re working with may be almost ubiquitous all over the world, or it may cause problems in certain locations. Think about where spending will take place and ensure the corporate card is widely accepted by vendors there.

Will the card help you scale?

When putting a new expense management system in place, you don’t just need to think about the present, but also the future of your company. If you have ambitions to scale up, consider how automating processes will help you achieve your goals, and whether your solutions will be appropriate if you expand across multiple countries. 

Airwallex Borderless Cards can help your business manage global expenses

Airwallex offers virtual and physical multi-currency debit cards with built-in expense management. Say goodbye to hidden fees on your international spend and move away from manual processes that distract your team from more important tasks. Learn more here.  

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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