75

My company's policy for travel is for employees to open a credit card, purchase registration/travel/lodging themselves, and then get reimbursed. Since I'll be traveling for company-sponsored training, they sent me the official document which lists two different cards that are accepted with special company-specific links to the applications.

This seems really weird to me. I'm uncomfortable with my credit report having this card on it, and with myself being responsible for the charges if they didn't reimburse me. My employer is a huge corporation with 20,000+ employees, but this feels like a scam. Is this just normal practice?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jan 7 at 2:54
128

This sounds like a personal/individual liability corporate credit card and as such isn't unusual and is almost certainly not a scam.

| improve this answer | |
  • 29
    Especially in a company with 20,000+ employees. One single employee's travel expenses is not worth being sued for a scam if you're that big. – John Hamilton Jan 6 at 11:01
  • 12
    Gosh I would love this. Free points baby! – C Bauer Jan 6 at 18:21
  • 6
    @CBauer haha - That was my thought. I highly prefer to put my work travel expenses on my own cards and be reimbursed by the company. For me, it's a bummer if a company doesn't allow that. 5x Amex points for flights and 3x Chase points for hotels, car rentals, airport parking, etc.? Yes, please! – reirab Jan 7 at 17:50
  • 3
    Yes, I have got thousands in freebies (Hotel night, flights and amazon spending money). Curently I have 412,000 miles and I'm goin, for da million! ($10,000). So I'd say it's been quite worth it for me! – Michael Durrant Jan 7 at 18:28
  • 6
    Downvoted. Trite response to a complex issue. It may be perfectly valid and permissible, but this answer addresses none of the other concerns mentioned in the question besides a simple yes/no. – Starshine Jan 7 at 23:08
75

That's totally normal and what I experienced in all companies I've worked so far.

If you don't trust your company to reimburse you, do you trust them to pay your salary each time?

| improve this answer | |
  • 11
    I've experienced several different strategies. This is not universal, but it is not uncommon. – cmm Jan 6 at 15:05
  • 3
    @emory So? In the context of the employee trusting the company, who cares about them getting reimbursed? If you're going to nitpick this, you should also change get your salary to pay your salary. – Barmar Jan 6 at 17:05
  • 6
    There's a lot more legal protection for salary than expenses. – Loren Pechtel Jan 6 at 22:55
  • 2
    In 20 years of working, I've had 1 company expect this of me. Its extremely unusual. The norm is for you to use your own existing card and ask for reimbusement, not take out a new one and all the associated hits on your credit rating. – Gabe Sechan Jan 6 at 23:17
  • 7
    In the UK I would be aghast if a company even proposed this. All my company cards have been procured by, managed by, and paid by, the company. They even had the company's name on it (alongside mine) as that's how corporate cards work. I guess it must be cultural. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 7 at 11:19
32

From my past experiences, this pratice was a perk and not a scam.

Most coworker I worked with preferred to buy those tickets on their personal credit card so they can get the credit card reward. They seems very happy at the end of the year with all the accumulated reward points.

I also work for companies were they managed to buy the ticket for the employee. Employees were asking annually to management the possibility to buy on their own credit card so they can get 2% cash back or other credit card perk.

It really depends of your perspective and your location.

| improve this answer | |
  • 5
    Those reward points would be either taxable income or employer property, no? – gerrit Jan 6 at 12:12
  • 2
    If the employer forces me to get a credit card I sure hope they reimburse any applicable annual fees... what I've seen is the employer providing a credit card in the employee's name, but it remains owned by the employer which pays fees and bills and, presumably, collects any applicable reward points (but I'm not sure how the latter is handled). – gerrit Jan 6 at 13:33
  • 30
    At the time of writing, neither HRMC in the UK nor the IRS in the US treats air miles type promotional benefits as incurring a tax liability. gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/employment-income-manual/eim21618 irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/a-02-18.pdf – James Jan 6 at 13:35
  • 4
    @James that is somewhat location dependent. Using a personal card to earn reward points for business expenses is a no-go in Germany; IIRC reading on another question here years ago it was a serious enough offense to fire someone. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jan 6 at 19:51
  • 1
    @DanNeely definitely very location dependent. In Hong Kong, the government fraud investigation branch had issues with those silly convenient store collectible stickers (collect X amount, get a small prize), because the sticker count was recorded on the receipt and the employee had to hand over the sticker to the agency... heaven forbid you lose a sticker because the store sure won't just give you another, you can't buy them, and it is the government's fraud prevention so it goes on record... very hilarious to hear that story. – Nelson Jan 7 at 8:13
23

This is a standard practice and is very unlikely to be a scam if your employer is reputed and has mature financial practices otherwise.

Why is it good for you?

  • You don't need to pay for the business expenses out of your pocket to begin with (which can be painful irrespective of the fact that you are guaranteed to get it reimbursed). This is especially applicable in situations where you are required to pay just in time (including but not limited to local transport & meals).
  • You are in control of the bookings (for example, you may prefer hotel/flight A out of A & B which are both in the approved list or satisfy the criteria prescribed; having someone else do the bookings may mean you get B, for whatever reason).

Why is it good for your employer?

  • They save on costs involved with someone else manage the bookings for you. Since the responsibility for managing the bookings rests with you, so, in the event of cancellations/modifications, you will proactively manage it and potentially save costs to the company.

  • You will file your travel expense report (or whatever you call it) ASAP because payment to the card depends on it (with delays potentially impacting your finances at least temporarily and also your credit rating), resulting in better compliance (and saving costs of overseeing/managing compliance).

Why can it be good for both? (edited to add this; thanks to Ralph Bolton for reminding this in a comment):

  • The expense records can directly flow from the card provider (typically a bank) into the employer's expense management system against the specific employee. This can save the hassle of manual entry/reconciliation both for the employer & employee while also providing data for analytics.

When can things go wrong?

  • You delay your expense reports resulting in delay in payment. Of course, you should be proactive enough to avoid this situation.
  • Even if you filed your paperwork within reasonable timelines, if red-tape (either due to inefficiencies in the system or circumstances beyond the control of both you and your employer) delays payment against the card statement beyond the deadline. This is the only thing you should worry about. Ask around how such situations are prevented/managed within the company. People who've been around long enough will know. Then take a decision/stand.
| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Where are these quotes coming from? – indigochild Jan 6 at 16:11
  • 1
    I skipped over the yellow parts of your answer because I thought they were quotes, and then I was surprised to see that your answer didn't seem to have any content. If they are quotes, please add some explanatory text like "Page X has Y to say about Z"; if they're not quotes, please remove the quote markup from them. – Tanner Swett Jan 6 at 16:26
  • Thanks for pointing this out. "Unquoted" the content in question. – alwayslearning Jan 6 at 16:36
  • 2
    Also, to add that most companies get additional data about the things you put on these credit cards (which helps them supply travel services next time around). Also, for some purchases you may not need to supply expense reports and receipts as they get done automatically - depends on what deals and arrangements your employer has in place though. – Ralph Bolton Jan 6 at 17:10
  • 1
    Don't use quote formatting for text that isn't quoted. – user207421 Jan 7 at 9:53
8

This is usual practice in some companies (and I talk about worldwide corporations). Using specific card issuer speedup the process of acceptance the card report/balance and therefore speedup payments of the duties.

| improve this answer | |
  • I worked for a very large motor car manufacturer and they had a company / department card which one "borrowed" for authorized trips - worked very well. – Solar Mike Jan 6 at 8:28
  • 4
    @SolarMike, different companies, different behaviors – Romeo Ninov Jan 6 at 8:29
  • 4
    @SolarMike, for me it is usual, I had same experience with several companies – Romeo Ninov Jan 6 at 8:32
  • 6
    @SolarMike, did you read my answer? "This is usual practice in some companies", keyword some – Romeo Ninov Jan 6 at 8:48
  • 1
    @SolarMike "usual" doesn't mean "majority". All bigger companies I know in my country have personal employee credit cards, but that's far from the majority, because most companies are small and won't do it. P.S. If only people who worked for more than 1% of all companies are allowed to answer, this will be a lonely place. – Chris Jan 6 at 18:22
5

I've never been asked to make my own card; but I have been asked to pay for things myself and then get reimbursed later.

If you don't like the idea of using a dedicated card; then there are a couple of replies you can give.

  1. I don't want to.
  2. Can I use an existing card and just provide the filtered documents?

However; I can promise you that the option that I was given - using my own debit card - is VASTLY less preferable to using a dedicated credit; as I was actually unable to pay for a hotel bill!

This way; if you have a credit card; and you blow the limit or suffer any other fees etc; you can demonstrate that it's expenses that your company needs to cover; and you can take them to a small claims court if need be.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    What you can and can not do depends completely on the policy of the company. If the travel policies allow you to charge on your own card, then you can, and the documentation you provide must match the company policy. If the travel policies require that you use a "corporate" card that you are responsible for, then that's what you must do. – cmm Jan 6 at 15:08
  • @cmm wrong. A company can not force you to suffer a credit check since there are knock on effects. If you're in the middle of applying for a mortgage; or have recently applied for other credit cards, then rejecting the "you must have a credit card" is very reasonable. There is; after all; always the option of not sending OP to training; or getting a proxy to pay for them – UKMonkey Jan 6 at 15:14
  • 1
    @cmm this becomes location dependant. Once employed, in Europe, conditions of employment can't change at will of the employer. In America, one can expect anything to result in being fired. If however a condition to being employed is the willingness to apply for a credit card; then OP has ALREADY accepted that they must do so; and has just learnt the importance of reading contracts. – UKMonkey Jan 6 at 15:32
  • 1
    +1 for pointing out location dependency. Also reading contracts is a good thing. How many times have you been given the full policies and procedures manual which you are agreeing to when accepting a job offer? In my case: 0. But, I work in the US. – cmm Jan 6 at 16:04
  • 1
    @cmm every single time; because I won't sign without it ;) Am I normal - probably not. – UKMonkey Jan 6 at 17:54
2

Yes, this is normal. When I applied for my company card, I have to submit to the credit card company. However, it does not work like a normal credit card. The credit card is almost always given to you regardless of your credit score. They only check if you been black list which can happen if you were previously delinquent on your debts within the same company. Opening a company card does not get reported on your credit history that you opened a new credit line, and as you pay the balance, your credit score does not get a bump (I think a very slight one, if that when I asked about it to the credit card company). You cannot use the card outside of company expense. You might get away from time to time, but most of the time you cannot carry a balance over, or if you do it gets reported to the company and they cancel your card.

The only way it gets reported on your credit history is if you don't pay it or pay it late. I believe this is why companies do it this way so if you refuse to pay, it gets on your credit history, and on top of that it saves the company money by eliminating an entire department dedicated to paying cards. Typically you submit expense reports with receipts, then the company cuts you a check, and then you pay the balance.

My advice is to keep track of the payment date ranges. That way as you get back from a trip, you can easily wait for the check to come in the mail and you can pay your balance. Otherwise you might have to pay out of pocket until the check comes.

Outside of this, you do not have to use the card, if you don't want to. You can simply keep it for large expense items like hotels, car rentals, gas, or plane tickets. But small stuff you can usually pay out of pocket during your trip and get reimbursed. Generally speaking, there's no way they would know if you paid by your card or not. Once you get back from the trip, you submit your expense receipts and get reimbursed. Keep all your tickets and receipts and tolls you get and be sure to submit and pay in a timely manner.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    This isn't necessarily true, although it is at some companies. My corporate card is linked to our expense report system, so they can absolutely see if I charged it to the corporate card or some other way. Charges are automatically pulled into the system, which makes expense reports a lot easier, and they pay the card directly. If I paid another way, I might have to justify it and could be denied reimbursement depending on the situation. (Paying for a taxi in cash is okay. Buying a plane ticket on my personal card is not.) – Kat Jan 6 at 22:46
2

...this feels like a scam.

You've not made it clear how you think this is a scam. Scam you to what end?

Companies do things differently. Some tell you to use your personal credit card and you file an expense report to get reimbursed. Others have a corporate credit card with the company's name on it and your name on it. Then you are responsible to file your expense report so you can pay the credit card (or charge card) bill on time. If you are charging $10K a month and you pay the bill off on time each money, this would only improve your credit score because it shows a very good payment history, assuming this would actually impact your credit score at all.

Companies do this instead of giving employees a corporate credit card not tied to the employee using it, because they want to make the employee authorized to use it to be accountable for the expenses.

| improve this answer | |
1

I am sure it's not a scam if the company is reputable. My company had such offer as well, it's usually tied to benefits.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.