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This article was last updated Jan 15, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you’re reimbursing employees for business expenses often, the back-and-forth of getting receipts and issuing repayments can be a hassle. Issuing employee credit cards can streamline the process, as well as provide the business with the ability to earn rewards.
Numerous card issuers offer free employee cards on business card accounts, allowing you to benefit from numerous perks without paying an additional fee per card. Purchases made on an employee card can be tracked easily, earn rewards and provide a multitude of purchase protections. However, before you start handing out employee cards, certain card-use rules and restrictions must be set in place to prevent abuse.
We’ll review the many benefits of employee credit cards, which issuers offer free employee cards, and best practices.
Benefits of employee credit cards
From streamlining spending to earning rewards on everyday business purchases, here are some common perks you may receive by using employee cards:
- Reward programs: Most business cards have rewards programs where you and your employees’ purchases can earn points, miles or cash back. Rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, from statement credits to gift cards, merchandise and travel.
- Insurances and protections: When employees pay for purchases in full with select employee cards, they may benefit from cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation or interruption insurance, auto rental damage collision waivers, and more.
- Spending management tools: Most business cards offer quarterly and year-end summaries, and the ability to download purchase records to programs like Excel and Quickbooks, so you can track spending and simplify accounting.
- Streamline employee business spending: Unlike business spending on employee personal cards that require reimbursement, any spending done on an employee card will be billed directly to a primary account.
Card issuers who provide free employee credit cards
Many major credit card issuers offer a variety of business cards with the option to open employee cards at no additional cost. However, some of the cards below have annual fees — but only for the primary account. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
American Express business credit cards
0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening, then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable
Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases up to the annual cap
Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card
- Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
- Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
- You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
- More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
- *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
- 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
- No Annual Fee
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*
No foreign transaction fees & many helpful business tools*
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*
- MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month. 1X is earned for other purchases. **
- **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
- AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
- PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option with interest to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
- *Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for American Express® Business Gold Card
Receive 1.5% discount for paying early*
Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest*
No foreign transaction fees & no fee for extra employee cards*
- Paying early pays off: get a 1.5% Early Pay Discount, with no cap on what you can earn back.
- Take up to 60 days to pay with no interest, when you pay your minimum due by the Payment Due Date.
- Use the power of the Plum Card to buy big for your business.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $250
- Terms & Restrictions Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Plum Card® from American Express
Best practices for using employee credit cards
Employee cards aren’t risk-free — the business is liable for all charges made on the account as the employees are considered to be authorized users of the cards, not account owners. Review the steps below so you can get the most benefit and potentially avoid issues:
- Set up spending guidelines: Make sure you set clear parameters to your employees on what is and what isn’t considered a business expense. With clear guidelines and expectations, an employer can hopefully avoid any employee card abuse. A helpful feature some cards have, like Chase’s employee credit cards, is the ability to set spending limits for each employee card.
- Review charges: Regularly reviewing credit card charges is a key action any business owner should take and is especially important with employee cards. If you have several employee cards open, there’s a greater risk for fraud and card misuse. You should take the time to review charges to verify employees are using their card appropriately.
- Use available spending controls: When you open an Amex business card, for example, you can set spending controls that alert you if a purchase is made outside selected categories. Just know that this doesn’t always prevent purchases from being approved; it just notifies the business owner and the employee.
Employee cards can be a great asset for businesses that want to avoid the hassle of reimbursing employees for business charges made on personal cards. In addition to optimizing business spending, purchases charged to an employee card can help you earn rewards faster and allow employee purchases to benefit from a multitude of protections.
Keep in mind, however, that while employee cards have many perks, the business is liable for all charges, so set up spending guidelines, regularly monitor charges and implement any safeguards against abuse the issuer offers.
Check out the best business cards.