From “ugh” to “ahh”: Six ways corporate cards make expense management easier
Keeping up with tiny paper receipts. Gathering all the necessary approvals. Filling in spreadsheets.
The drudgery of expense reporting and management is a common and relatable theme in the corporate world. But employees often need to make work-related purchases, and businesses need a process to reimburse them for those purchases.
Corporate credit card programs are an easier more efficient alternative to managing business expenses.
Corporate credit cards are intended to give businesses more flexibility and control over discretionary spending. When a company provides a card for an employee’s business purchases, the company — not the individual — is typically liable for the charges. Because of the liability, corporate cards are usually reserved for companies that have very high revenue and high transaction volumes.
More companies are ditching the labor-intensive, "old way" of expense management in favor of corporate credit card programs, and it's easy to see why.1 Wondering if it’s the right option for your company? Corporate card programs offer six benefits that might align with your business’s priorities.
Control employee spending.
Most employees gladly follow company spending policies. But some don’t. Corporate cards, unlike traditional purchasing methods, can help control spending with built-in rules that are customized for each cardholder. These parameters include dollar limits for purchases, approved merchants, product categories and locations. (Another bonus: a new corporate card program presents a great opportunity to evaluate your current spending policies, revise or update those policies, and communicate them to employees.)
Save time and processing costs.
Traditional expense management is notoriously time-consuming. It's also very expensive. The average cost to manually process a single travel and expense report (T&E) from submission to disbursement is $58 and takes 20 minutes to complete, accounting for the various employees who work on it. If the report has errors, you can add another $52 and 18 minutes to those totals.2
Most corporate card programs integrate with accounting software to automatically generate reports, streamline approvals, and make reimbursement faster and easier. For example, many card programs offer automated reconciliation, which not only reduces the time required but is also more accurate and reliable than manual processing. Companies that automate expense management report a 15% reduction in time spent on expense reports, which represents a significant cost savings.3
Centralize and simplify cash management.
T&E spending typically represents a company's second-highest indirect expense, behind labor costs, so it's essential that it’s closely monitored. But when expenses that are scattered across various cards, accounts, and payment tools trickle in it can be difficult to assess total costs. This makes a consolidated employee purchasing tool, like a corporate card program, all the more critical.4 Corporate credit card programs centralize expenses under one payment tool with dashboard reporting, so it's much easier to organize, review and analyze purchases for efficiency and trending. This data can be further used to identify savings opportunities and to optimize cash management.
For example, does an analysis of card usage reveal your company spends a lot of money with a particular vendor? If so, it might be time to negotiate better rates with that vendor.
Prevent expense-related fraud.
Businesses spend approximately $200 billion per year on T&E, with $1 billion of those funds going to fraudulent expenses.5 Corporate card programs with automated processing offer the transparency needed to detect unusual activity sooner. These programs can usually monitor activity, flagging or preventing questionable purchases.
Track budgets in real time.
Forty-three percent of companies in a recent survey still use manual processes to manage T&E.6 With all the paperwork, documentation and approvals required, this traditional multi-step process for expense management can take days or even weeks. It also blurs the view of outstanding expenses or cash flow. With a corporate credit card program, all employee cards are on the same statement cycle and spending is visible throughout the billing cycle. Companies don't have to wait for employees to submit receipts to get a clear view of spend. Finance managers will have real-time visibility into cash flow and expenses for better budget oversight.
Provide a better employee experience.
Approximately 38% of employees use their own funds for work-related purchases at least once per month, potentially straining their personal finances and credit score in the process.7 Corporate cards allow employees to make approved purchases without having to dip into their personal accounts and wait to be reimbursed. Many corporate cards include timesaving, cardholder-friendly features like texting, emailing, or uploading receipts, as well as auto-populating transaction details. Helpful features like these make reporting easier, more timely and more accurate — a win for employees and finance managers alike.8 Providing corporate cards also communicates trust in employees’ ability to make purchases they need to effectively perform their jobs.
Companies have been slow to transition from manual purchasing and reimbursement processes, but now might be a good time to upgrade to a better tool. A corporate credit card program offers game-changing flexibility for companies that want to lower costs, save time, and use resources more efficiently.
Contact Synovus Treasury and Payment Solutions, your Treasury Consultant, or Relationship Manager to learn how a corporate card program can help better manage company expenses and cash flow.
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