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This article was last updated Feb 19, 2014, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Accounting for routine petty cash expenditures is one of the biggest and most constant hassles for many small business owners. They have to dispense money to employees to enable them to pay for everything from gasoline and lodging to office supplies and postage. Bookkeepers and supervisors are often forced to resort to haranguing employees for receipts. When the paper trail inevitably gets lost in the shuffle it can throw a wrench into any attempt to balance the books or account for legitimate business expenses for tax purposes.
Employers are also faced with sneaky, unscrupulous employees. Those tricky miscreants come up with all sorts of strategies for submitting false expense reports and fraudulent receipts. It’s important for business owners to have an error-proof way to monitor all those business expenses.
A Counterintuitive Solution
Handing out credit cards may not sound like a logical solution to thwart unscrupulous spending, but it can actually help your bottom line. Almost every credit card issuer offers versions of plastic that is custom-tailored to the needs of businesses, and most will issue additional cards for employees at no extra cost. What makes these such good money management tools is that the cards are designed to do exactly what owners want to do, namely to control expenses, budgets and vigilantly monitor the use of company funds by employees.
Let’s take a look at some options available to small business owners.
MasterCard Prepaid Business Plastic
One option, a MasterCard Business Prepaid Card, allows you to set both individual or team and group spending limits for your employees. When you register the card you’ll be reimbursed because it comes with Zero Liability if it gets lost or stolen. Employers have maximum control over employee issued cards like:
- Create a customized spending profile for each employee that specifies exactly how, when, and where they can use their card.
- Set a maximum single-purchase amount or regulate which merchant categories can be used for transactions during a specific timeframe.
- Adjust the settings and spending profiles anytime, anywhere, just by going online – and receive real-time alerts by email or text whenever someone goes over budget or spends beyond the limits you set.
No matter where your employees go, MasterCard is accepted, making it really easy to manage travel expenses across international borders without using foreign currency. You can also generate expense reports, transforming what could be a potentially complex hassle into a quick, easy and virtually foolproof system.
Chase Ink for Business
Chase has a line of business credit cards, their Ink line, that offers two credit cards; Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Both cards allow you to add free additional cards for your employees, and earns you rewards. Right now the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card will help you earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening., and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card will help you Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Both of these will be awarded after you spend a certain amount on purchases in the first three months from account opening. *See terms for details.
One of the most important features for business owners are employee credit cards. You can set credit limits for individual employees and they can use Chase’s free smart phone app, Jot, to take snapshots of business expense receipts, tag them, and sync them with the business account. Cash back earned on employee cards will be directed to the main account holder allowing you to rack up points, fast!
American Express for Business
Earlier this week we analyzed the benefits of American Express Corporate credit cards, but Amex also offers small business credit cards. Some of those great offers include The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN and the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN. These partner credit cards from American Express OPEN for Business include perks such as roadside assistance, car rental insurance, purchase protection, extended warranties, return protection coverage, and more.
Employee cards can be issued and they will be protected under American Express Employee Card Misuse Protection. As expected, the main account holder can monitor employee spending and all rewards are tacked onto the business account so employees can’t use those rewards. The terms and conditions of issued employee cards vary by card, so be sure to check with a representative from Amex, or check the specific credit card’s terms and conditions. *Terms and limitations apply.
Capital One for Business
Capital One has a pretty big line of small business credit cards offering 6 options for small business owners. All six cards allow you to add free credit cards for your employees. Capital One business tools include things like year-end summaries and the ability to set spending limits and track your employee purchases on your monthly statement.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.