Having the right business travel payment solution for your company is key to managing finances easily and efficiently. It’s also important to choose the best payment method to keep your employees motivated to travel for business.

We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to help you understand the different business travel payment methods available and pick the best one for your needs.

Business travel payment methods

Nowadays, companies can choose from a wide range of business travel payment methods. Depending on your company’s travel needs, some payment methods can be easy and effective to adopt.

Central corporate cards

Central corporate cards are issued by companies to cover business-related expenses. The card is paid for by the company and has its name on it. Many card providers like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express offer corporate cards and associated benefits. They can also offer simplified travel expense reporting, streamlining the process by eliminating the need for manual reporting.

Advantages

  • No need for employees to pay out of pocket
  • High credit limits
  • Ensures travel policy compliance
  • Simplifies the expense tracking process
  • Easy data analysis
  • Benefits and reward programs (e.g. miles, loyalty points, lounge access, cashback)

Disadvantages

  • Potentially high annual fees
  • Less protection than personal cards

Individual corporate cards

Individual corporate cards are the most flexible business travel payment option. They’re issued by a company for specific employees to cover business expenses, including those authorized by the travel program. Business travelers have to report their expenses via an expense management tool once their trips are over.

Advantages

  • No need for employees to pay out of pocket
  • Employees can choose and book business travel at their convenience
  • High credit limits
  • Supports only legitimate business travel payments as defined by the company’s travel policy
  • Separates personal and business travel expenses
  • Benefits and reward programs (e.g. miles, loyalty points, lounge access, cashback)

Disadvantages

  • Companies may have a hard time controlling travel expenses if they don’t use an efficient travel management tool

Personal cards

In some cases, companies prefer to ask employees to use their personal cards to pay for business expenses. However, this method has several drawbacks for employees who might bear the burden of business travel costs for weeks or months before getting reimbursed.

Advantages

  • Reduces the company’s upfront travel costs and burden

Disadvantages

  • Employees have to spend their own money before the company reimburses them. This process can be long and discourage employees from traveling
  • Companies have less control over business travel expenses, and it’s more difficult to comply with travel policies

Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards allow your company to load a fixed amount of money so employees can use them like debit cards during their business trips. They’re not linked to a bank account and can be topped up in real time.

Advantages

  • Ideal to manage expenses since the card can be loaded with a predefined budget
  • Employees don’t have to cover upfront expenses
  • No administration fees
  • Real-time visibility over travel expenses

Disadvantages

  • The card can be easily deactivated if stolen or lost
  • Not very flexible in case the requirements of a business trip change
  • Limited currency support

Virtual payment card

A virtual payment card, like the one provided by AirPlus, is one that doesn’t physically exist but is set for a predetermined use. The amount to spend is fixed and the card isn’t linked to the user’s bank account. The card details are unique for each transaction, using a security code and expiration date. The same card can be issued for single or multiple uses.

Advantages

  • Broad range of payment channels (e.g. apps, websites, phone transactions)
  • Enhanced security compared to physical cards
  • Easily disabled if stolen or lost
  • Improved expense tracking with categorized payments
  • More control over expenses

Disadvantages

  • Can’t be used at ATMs
  • Require internet connection
  • Might not be accepted everywhere

Bank transfer

Regular wire transfers are still one of the most popular and secure forms of cashless payment. They can be a good option for prepaid business trips.

Advantages

  • Secure
  • Protective regulations in place

Disadvantages

  • Fees
  • Potential delays
  • Can’t be used for on-the-go expenses

How to choose the best payment method for your business

Choosing the right payment solution for your company depends on your needs and financial processes.

Here are the main aspects to pay attention to when deciding what corporate travel payment method is best for your company:

1. Identify your company’s business travel payment needs

The first step to determine the best solution for travel payments is to analyze your company’s business travel habits. Are business trips frequent, occasional, or rare in your company? Which countries are your employees traveling to, and do most or only some of them travel for business? Based on the answer, the best payment solution for your needs might differ.

2. Gather feedback from your employees

Whether through in-person meetings or a survey, gathering feedback from your employees who are used to traveling for business can be very helpful. They’ll be able to tell you about any potential pain points related to business expenses and their experience with the current system.

3. Analyze your current corporate payment solution

To identify pain points and areas for improvement, analyze your current corporate travel payment solution:

  • Pay attention to how well the travel expenses reconciliation process is working, whether it’s efficient and employees are happy with it.
  • Consider tracking expenses in real time and whether that would be a useful feature to have.
  • Does your current payment method have a pre-authorization feature for expenses? This ensures expenses are kept within budgets and in line with travel policies.
  • Know whether your payment method can be used for international transactions and is accepted both on- and offline. Whichever method you go for, your business travelers should be able to use it seamlessly and worry-free.
  • To maximize benefits, your payment solution should also have a rewards program. A number of corporate cards allow you to earn points, miles, or cashback.
  • Last, make sure customer support is available via multiple channels to resolve any potential issues quickly.

Based on these criteria, you can identify which of the many business payment solutions would best fit your business needs.

Finding the right solution for business travel payment requires research and experimentation. It’s a key decision to manage your business travel expenses and to make sure employees have good travel experiences.

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