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

Business travel payment methods

Nowadays, businesses can choose from a wide range of business travel payment methods. Depending on your company’s travel needs, some payment methods can be more or less 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 such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express offer corporate cards and associated benefits. They can also offer simplified travel expense reporting, making the reporting process faster 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 programmes (miles, loyalty points, airport lounge access and cashback)

Disadvantages

  • Potentially high annual fees
  • Lesser 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 a specific employee to cover business expenses, including the travel expenses authorised by the travel programme. The business traveller has to report their expenses via an expense management tool once their business trip is over.

Advantages

  • No need for employees to pay out of pocket
  • Employees can book business travel to suit their convenience and choice
  • 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 programmes (miles, loyalty points, airport lounge access and 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 have to bear the burden of business travel costs for weeks or months before getting reimbursed by their employer.

Advantages

  • Reduces the company’s upfront travel costs and burden

Disadvantages

  • Employees have to spend their own money before being reimbursed by the company. This process can be long and discourage your employees from travelling
  • Companies have less control over business travel expenses and compliance with the travel policy is more difficult to achieve

Prepaid top-up cards

Prepaid top-up cards allow your company to load a fixed amount of money on them so employees can use them as 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 as 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, such as the one provided by AirPlus, is one that doesn’t physically exist but is set for a predetermined use. The amount that can be spent 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: apps, websites, and phone transactions
  • Enhanced security compared to physical cards
  • Easily disabled if stolen or lost
  • Improved expense tracking with payments categorised and organised
  • Better control over expenses

Disadvantages

  • Can’t be used at ATMs
  • Require an 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 to pay for prepaid business trips.

Advantages

  • Secure
  • Protective regulations in place

Disadvantages

  • Fees
  • Potential delays
  • Won’t be usable for on-the-go expenses

How to choose the best payment method for your business

Choosing the right payment solution for your company is a decision that depends on your needs and financial processes.

Here are the main criteria 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 in understanding what’s the best solution for your business travel payments is to analyse your company’s business travel habits. Are business trips frequent, occasional or rare in your company? Which countries are your employees travelling to and do most of your employees travel for business or only some of them? Based on that answer, the most adapted payment solution for your needs might differ.

2. Gather feedback from your employees

Whether it’s through an in-person meeting or via a survey, gathering feedback from your employees who are used to travelling 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 in place.

3. Analyse your current corporate payment solution

To identify pain points and areas for improvement, it’s key that you analyse your current corporate travel payment solution:

  • Pay attention to how well the travel expenses reconciliation process is working, whether it’s efficient and if employees are happy with it.
  • Consider if you can track expenses in real time and if not, whether that would be a useful feature to have.
  • Does your current payment method have a pre-authorisation feature for expenses? This is to make sure the expense is in line with the budget and travel policy.
  • Know whether your payment method can be used for international transactions and if it’s accepted online and offline. Whichever method you go for, your business travellers should be able to use it seamlessly and without worry.
  • To be maximised, your payment solution should have a rewards programme. A number of corporate cards allow you to earn points, miles or cashback.
  • Lastly, make sure that customer support is available via multiple channels to resolve any potential problems 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 a bit of research and experimenting. But it’s a key decision to manage your business travel expenses and make sure that your employees have a good travel experience.

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