I work for Contracting Firm X which coordinated a long-term contract with Company Y (which is where I go to work each day). Firm X pays me and offers me benefits, handles basic HR functions, etc. However, they do not offer a credit card for me to use for expenses. "Just keep track of your expenses and you will be reimbursed in an upcoming paycheck" is basically the understanding we have. There is nothing in the contract I signed regarding expenses, timeliness of reimbursement, or anything to that effect.
So Company Y asked me to travel overseas and gave me an itinerary to copy. The bill for the plane ticket alone came to thousands of dollars. Since neither Firm X nor Company Y gave me a credit card, I put it on my personal card thinking "Lucky me, look at all the points I'm getting". I submitted the expense report the same day and it was approved by all relevant parties (my manager at Company Y and the contact at Firm X). I thought I'd get an extra big paycheck that week to help pay off the massive credit card bill that was coming my way.
That was 1.5 months ago. After numerous follow-up communications on my part and stalling on Firm X's, they finally told me that they have a policy of not reimbursing travel expenses that are large (larger than some unspecified amount) until the trip is actually taken to prevent someone from taking the money and quitting.
As much I can understand their rationale, I can't for the life of me imagine how this is a good practice. It feels burdensome for a person with a limited line of credit to assume that debt for more than one billing cycle.
So, If I were to go into debt because of this cost, would I bill them for my interest payments? Luckily I have enough in my savings to cover the credit card bill, but if I just paid the minimum and accrued a balance, that could hurt my credit and future ability to do exactly this thing they want me to do. And my other question, Is this a common practice, or am just at the mercy of an unfortunately stingy contracting firm? Is there anything I can do to get paid back quicker next time I need to travel?
Note: I understand that there are details between Firm X and Company Y that I don't know about (it might take months for them to get reimbursed) which might be making things more complicated.