I just got back from a week-long business trip with my company. This is the first time I've traveled with my current company.

On our trip, we had a $300/day meal allowance that we would charge on the corporate credit card. Being a big foodie and traveling to a city known for its fine dining, I was thrilled! I didn't max out my daily allowance, but I went all in on meals. All-in-all, for 7 days, I ended up charging about $1,550.

Well... I filled out an expense report today. When I re-read the rules in closer detail, I see that the meal allowance was actually $300 for the entire week (not per day)!

So, obviously I screwed up royally. I'm complete idiot. I feel like I'm about to throw up. I would normally just offer to pay up the difference out of pocket, but money is really tight.

I'm afraid I'm going to get fired (and probably rightfully so). What's the best way to bring this up to my boss? Is there anything I can say or avoid saying to minimize the damage?

UPDATE: 10/10

Well, some good news. I've been waffling on this all weekend, but the most recent answer was actually an interesting thought that I thought I'd try. I reached out to my coworkers who traveled with me, and asked if we could split my meal expenses, because I accidentally charged too much. They said sure, since they had exclusively eaten at 7-11 and from the McDonald's dollar menu all week, they each only used a small fraction of their meal expenses. They showed me how through the expense report tool, I could mark it as a "shared" expense (basically looking like we all ate a restaurant, but I charged the entire group's meal to my card).

This doesn't cover ALL of $1,250 overage that I had, but it gets me really close. And now I don't feel too bad telling my boss I accidentally went over about $100. I'm really fortunate to have such awesome coworkers!

  • 40
    Are these US-Dollars? Just wondering what country you travelled to and what job area you have so that $300 per day sounds like a plausible amount.
    – quarague
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 6:33
  • 46
    I am confused, you thought $300/day was ok, but you have trouble paying back the $1250? What company has an allowance policy like that but pays you so little that you can't afford the difference? This alone should have made you re-read the policy before spending so much.
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 7:19
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    I notice there are 307 upvotes between all the answers. 3 of them are on the accepted answer. The other 304 are either some variant of be honest with your boss OR expense only a normal amount and pay the rest yourself so that it doesn't become a work issue. I would really, really consider why that distribution is so lopsided before you pursue your current plan of action. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 2:12
  • 24
    You asked your colleagues to commit expenses fraud to cover up an honest mistake?
    – Eterm
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 8:59
  • 14
    The problem is that he claims it as a shared expense when in reality it wasn’t, in order to save 1250. Which is plain and simple fraud.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 21:37

13 Answers 13


Maybe not the most popular idea, but have you considered asking the other coworkers who went with you to help expense the excess you've spent? If they're on good terms with you and have few dollars left over or a lot more if they're frugal, I'm sure they'll help cover for you.

Something similar happened to me, so I just asked around and was able to cover my mistakes without letting too many people know.

  • 49
    This has the potential to get you into much more trouble than you are currently in. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 19:17
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    I'm trying to imagine what would happen if I said to my coworkers, 'I screwed up to the tune of £1200 (near enough) by gorging myself at fancy restaurants, and now I might get fired for it, so could you please put your hands in your pockets to save me?'. I think the replies might consist of two words. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 20:21
  • 5
    And if just one of those co-workers mentions it to your boss, you're going to come out of this looking much worse than if you'd been honest about it.
    – G_B
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 4:28
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    Big Boss: "Hey Gaius, why are you expensing dinner? Professional Flosser said he covered group meals every night!"
    – Gaius
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 11:26
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    What is the record for the most downvotes on an accepted answer? Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 17:34

Your best recourse is to go to your boss as soon as you can and tell them what happened. You misunderstood the travel expense policy and spent more than you should have. Now that you are back and reread the policy, you realize your mistake and want to set it right. It is very possible they will want you to repay the overage, and that will sting, but there really is no way around this. Consider it an expensive lesson in paying attention to details. You've submitted your expense report, so they are going to find out anyway. You'll get your best outcome by being as forthcoming as you can be.

It is unlikely they will fire you over this unless you think they were looking for a reason to dismiss you already. You overspent by $1250, which may sound like a lot to you, but really isn't that much in the world of business. It will cost them far more to replace you.

And if they were looking for a reason to dismiss you, there is no way around it anyway. Your best outcome will be by being forthcoming and upfront about wanting to set it right.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 22:10

There's one important aspect not mentioned in the other answers. In Japan, that aspect would actually be the main issue, but I am unsure about the American corporate culture.

Before I graduated from a Japanese university, my professor sent me to a conference. The university travel expense policy has a formal cap on accommodation expenses per night and person, but does it mean I am encouraged to book an accommodation as luxury as I can within that spending limit? Not at all, for it is considered unfair to spend more than actually and reasonably needed in the particular city at the particular time. Prices vary with seasons and cities, so the formal spending caps are based on crude upper estimates of how expensive it might get in general and are thus in place just to prevent massive overspending rather than to encourage people to spend that much no matter where they go.

You went all in on meals and put that expense entirely on your employer just because you thought you were within the formal spending limits. Do you see now where the problem is from the Japanese standpoint? You might have been mistaken about the spending limits, but that's not the main issue. The main issue is that you spent more than was needed in that place and at that time and tried to put that unnecessary expense on your employer.

But things might be different in America. Maybe the daily allowance for a business trip is seen as a perk and is expected to be maxed out. Maybe. But you actually didn't max out your allowance. So maybe you felt it wouldn't be the right thing to do. So maybe the American corporate culture isn't that different, at least in this aspect.

Consider this:

"Hey boss, I really messed up during my trip. I thought the daily allowance for meals is a perk to be maxed out. And I thought it was 300$ per day, not per week. I was actually unable to spend that much, but I did spend about 1,500$ for meals in total. What can I do about it?"

I don't know how it would work in your case, but that's what I would recommend if you were a foreigner employed in Japan. Fully and honestly admitting your mistake, showing full understanding of it, and asking what to do about it is the way to minimize consequences.

  • 49
    In America it would depend on the size of the company. Big company? Nobody would care about you spending every last penny you're eligible for. Small company where you know the owner, or a startup? Could be an issue. A startup is actually likely to get fairly pissed because it wasn't slightly over- 10 bucks or 20 bucks a day would at worst ask him not to do it again. This was an unreasonable amount over, so at a small place it could be trouble. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 5:57
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    The idea that one should be considerate and not inconvenience their company is very much a Japanese thing in my experience.
    – Setsu
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 11:02
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    It is very Japanese to think Japan is unique! I'm 55 and have work in finance (trading floors) and high tech for decades, in UK US Japan and Hong Kong. Keeping the expense account low has been appreciated by all of my jobs but one. (In that job, entirely in a foreign land for several years, expenses were paid as a per diem and in effect a perq or even a portion of compensation.) Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 20:57
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    I have worked only in the US, but at big companies and small startups, private companies, NYSE-listed companies, and government employers, and ALL of them expect you to spend the company's money as if it were your own. That is, don't go all-in and max out the limit.
    – shoover
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 2:54
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    From a US perspective. I know I would NEVER consider this @professional-flosser for any position of authority. Maybe he's super junior, but I would expect anyone over the age of 16 to understand that profligate wasting of money is just a huge character flaw. Pay back the overage and THEN apologize for acting the fool. No amount of "mis-reading" could lead you to believe that that kind of spending is encouraged or allowed. Unless you are salesman of the year and spending that on clients with million dollar budgets to get the deal closed, this is just unacceptable behavior.
    – boatcoder
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 13:11

Yeah, your story is not believable.

If my employer gives me a $300/day food allowance, I'm double-checking, and triple-checking the wording to make sure I didn't misunderstand. Even if the wording was 100% unambiguous, I would raise the issue with my manager, because it would look to me that someone had made a massive error, and I wouldn't want to be seen to personally benefit from a mistake made by my employer.

The $300 wasn't meant to stretch to pay for all meal expenses. It's a allowance that is meant to cover the additional cost of not being able to prepare home cooked meals which are less expensive compared to the alternatives. It's meant to supplement the money you would have spent on food anyway.

You need to be seen to be willing to work with your employer to find a solution that works for them. It's likely they won't bother to recoup costs from you, but maybe you could expect less bonus this year, along with a more modest salary increase. How likely these outcomes are, are correlated to how well you manage to convince them this was an honest mistake. I suspect you have an uphill battle in that regard.

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    Their story is very believable. I can envision a kid with rich parents doing this kind of thing right out of College and on their very first job. And the thing is, they seem to think their employer is just like their parents, and will simply eat the cost of the meals. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 0:34
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    @StephanBranczyk In this scenario, the OP can simply ask their parents for the money so they can keep their job. Maybe we can contrive a believable story, but the employer isn't going to do that. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 1:02
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    At a previous employee I was at, the daily allowance when on business was $240, so $300 isn't that far off. Scenario doesn't seem unbelievable to me.
    – William
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 7:39
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    I agree that $300/day is incredibly unbelievable for meals & incidentals (M&I). That said, $43/day seems to be incredibly chintzy. If offered $43/day, I would have looked up the US government M&I rate for the target city. A lot of US-based companies pay whatever the US government pays for M&I as doing so eliminates the overhead burden of doing the research for how much it costs for travel, and it eliminates arguments. The highest US government M&I rate I could find was $155/day for Tahiti, a popular resort getaway for very rich people from Japan. $300/day is not credible. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 15:55
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    @DavidHammen - You would be shocked at how incredibly low M&I actually is, not even the US federal government, pay much more than $40 a day. On average I have only received approximately $20 for breakfast, $20 for lunch, and $30-40 for dinner. Now the difference is if I spent $5 or $70 I would get $70 for that day. All my travel experience has be CONUS.
    – Donald
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 17:50

Okay - first and foremost - you need to fess up to your boss. Assuming it's an Honest mistake although, I gotta question - thinking you had $300 a DAY for food? That's a bit of a stretch...

Like most things in life, you'll get a far more lenient judgement if you tell them vs if they find out.

Also - people going over Expense claims is nothing new or unheard of - you are certainly not the first and will not be the last. It may taint your reputation in the company for a shortwhile and you may be passed over for overseas/out-of-turn work trips in the short term, however - just do your job and bounce back - you'll be fine.

Next will be (after you have told your boss) to go talk to Finance or whoever approves Expense claims. Let them know what has happened and discuss options with them. Most likely their first response will be something like 'We will deduct the difference from your next Pay Cheque'. I would then counter with an honest assessment that your personal finances are a bit tight and then suggest a reasonable figure that is doable - How you accomplish this depends on whether you are paid Weekly, Fortnightly or Monthly - my recommendation would be to aim to have everything settled within 8 weeks or 2 months (the same time that services like AfterPay use).

This does mean that your personal finances (even though you said they are tight) are going to suffer a little - that is life, you made a mistake - take it on the chin for a bit.

Depending on the type of business trip, you may be able to wiggle down some of the overage - for example - if it's a Sales type trip (or you were meeting clients/Vendors) you may be able to justify some of the expenses as Corporate Schmoozing, Also find out if the $300 a week is a blanket rule, if so - you may (if you are in generally good graces with your company) be able to argue that although you have made a mistake, the City that you went to was significantly more expensive than the average and look for that to be accounted for.

Dream Scenario is that you've absolutely crushed all other aspects of your work - the trip was a roaring success and you have smashed all your KPIs and your boss decides to give you a Mulligan, a freeby - but with a stern 'Don't do it again'

Next best scenario is that your on the hook for an amount - you may be able to negotiate them down to a round $1,000, paid back on some form of payment plan.

Next scenario is you have to pay back the full amount, but again on some form of Plan.

The Worst scenario is that it gets deducted from your next pay amount and you are on Ramen and Noodles for a while.

  • 14
    It depends on location and employer, but $300/day doesn't sound completely outrageous - it's about double what my employer allows for most major US cities, but it seems about as unreasonably high as I find $43/day to be unreasonably low, which will cover a day's worth of fast food in a high cost of living area and not much else. The allowance as a daily amount seems 2-3 times higher than I'd expect, but as a weekly amount seems 2-3 times lower than I'd expect Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 20:12
  • 12
    "Dream Scenario": Dream on, it won't happen. "Negotiate to reduce debt to $1000": you may upset more people and make the situation worse if you try to reduce the debt. Just pay the full debt amount, and you may negotiate to pay in installments if possible ."Worst scenario" is what the OP is afraid of: being fired (although it may not happen if he tries hard to fix it). Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 3:55
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    @NuclearHoagie 300 a day is a 2 star michellin dinner in New York City, with enough left over for lunch and breakfast somewhere reasonable. Unless it was a 300 dollar a day per diem including hotel, its not a reasonable assumption. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 6:07
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    'I don't get this 'fess up' line.', well, I do. Much better to mention it to them than have them mention it to you. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 21:09
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    @NuclearHoagie that was my first thought was well - but on reflection I realise that they're probably taking into account that every meal you have on their dime, is a meal you would have paid for yourself at home. By that I mean, if you hadn't been on the work trip you'd have been cooking at home, which is far cheaper, but still not (directly) paid for by your company. The $43 a day is to make up for the fact that you don't have access to cooking appliances and will have to purchase food out, and the amount you cover yourself should be roughly equal to the amount you'd have spent at home.
    – Woodman
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 7:43

The harsh truth is that you made an expensive mistake. It is only fair that you pay the amount which was over the limit, around $1,250, and figure out how to raise that amount – even if it hurts. If your credit line with your bank allows it, bite the bullet and foot the bill, even if that means paying interest. Keep your company out of “how shall I pay for this when my budget is tight” questions. We are talking about an amount that surely hurts, but is unlikely to cause you any long-lasting financial trouble if you have a stable job that earns you enough to pay your bills and a few extras – you’ll have to cut down on extras for a while.

The good news then is that all you are asking your company for is assistance in handling that administratively. You are not asking them for money, or explaining that you caused them financial damage.

Since I do not know how your particular company credit card works, there are two possibilities:

  • You have an individual liability corporate card: Any transaction will eventually get charged to your bank account, but with a rather generous timespan in which you can submit an expense report (e.g. some 60 days). So eventually anything you pay with the card will get charged to your bank account, unless you submit an expense report. Then it depends on what your company’s policy is regarding use of the credit card for personal purchases:

    • If the policy allows using your company card for personal purchases (since they will eventually get charged to your bank account), all you need to do is submit an expense report, but only for those expenses which are within the limit. You will end up paying for the difference.
    • If the card is strictly for business-related expenses, contact your travel management team (or whoever manages credit cards in your company) and politely ask if there is anything to do if you exceeded the limit by mistake. They may still tell you it is sufficient to submit an expense report for the correct amount, and the extra amount will not be reimbursed.
  • You have a corporate liability card: Transactions will get charged directly to the company’s bank account. There is no reimbursement (since the company is footing the bill directly), but you will need to justify any expenses incurred using that card. In that case, again, contact your company’s travel management team, tell them you used the company card and only then realized you had exceeded the limit, and ask what the process (and deadline) for reimbursing the difference is.

  • 15
    Anyone who isn't making such a large salary that finding an extra $1250 is no big deal should realize that $300/day is an absurd amount. $300/day wouldn't be unheard of for a high level executive, but a rank-and-file worker getting that is something else. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 21:41
  • 2
    Most employers, mine included, place a high value on qualities like common sense, carefulness, worldliness, alertness to anomalies, etc, and a low value on their opposites, especially where money is concerned. This could feed across into the employee's standing generally. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 15:03
  • Hence my suggestion that OP pay the extra amount themselves, see if there’s anything to sort out on the admin side at all, and if so, sort it out directly with the respective admin teams. Unless OP works in admin (or in a very small company), word might never reach their superiors, present or future, minimizing the risk for career impact. Sure, you never know who’s talking to whom – on the other hand, depending on local legislation (I have no idea where OP resides), there may be legal limitations to keeping/sharing such data within the organization.
    – user149408
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 20:28
  1. Talk to you manager and explain the oversight and apologise.
  2. Arrange for repayment. You can probably do it by instalments

BTW - How much food do you get for $300, £280 per day. I do not spend that much in a month. Did you not notice the high bills when you had the first meal.

  • 12
    The OP went out of their way to eat at expensive places. They didn't accidentally spend the money. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 1:09
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    @GregoryCurrie I think Ed is pointing out how ridiculous it is to assume your company would give you $100 per meal for food. Upon seeing such a high figure, OPs first thought should have been "Wow that's an incredible amount of money for a business trip, must be a mistake!" and not "Wow that's an incredible amount of money for a business trip, must be an extremely generous gift from the same people who will groan about giving people scheduled raises!". Seriously though, that's 2.5% of a 70k salary for a week of food, not including accommodations. How can you think that was correct?
    – Woodman
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 7:50
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    @Woodman I'm referring to "Did you not notice the high bills when you had the first meal.". They saw the high bill and thought: "Lucky work is paying for this" Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 9:53
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    @user253751 - I hate when people say “it’s no big deal for a company that size”, because it’s all about scale, if everyone in the company spent $300 per day on per denim that would cost any company an incredible amount of money. So while a single employee making an incredible naïve mistake, won’t break the bank, it is a significant mistake and shouldn’t be taken lightly by said employee.
    – Donald
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 17:55
  • 1
    @Donald - my first thought on reading the OP question was '$300 per day? What colour is the sky on your planet?' Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 7:45

So, obviously I screwed up royally. I'm complete idiot. I feel like I'm about to throw up. I would normally just offer to pay up the difference out of pocket, but money is really tight.

Regardless of what the outcome of this situation will turn out to be. This attitude is poor. You did wrong, you erred. You don't then get to determine the conditions of your atonement.

Take responsibility for your own actions and especially your own naivety and take whatever the consequences may be of your actions. If you worked for me and you came to me and admitted an honest mistake I would not be too fussed.

If you came to me admitting a mistake and then tell me how you want to put it right I would just consider you an entitled brat.

You are in the wrong, not your employer. You have no right to expect your employer to sympathise with you. You either do what they tell you or you risk losing your job. It is that simple

Your attitude in how you admit this mistake would speak much greater in regard that your character than the minor goof with the company card.

  • 8
    This "answer" is just beating on the OP and does not appear to provide any constructive advice.
    – JDL
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 10:53
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    This answer gives exactly the fatherly advice I would give any child of mine that is in this position. I personally think that taking responsibility for your own actions is good advice and not 'beating' on anyone. Also, don't argue with them, and do what it takes to put it right is EXTREMELY constructive.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 11:01
  • This answer is a very good one. Any alert employer will be unhappy to know of an employee who is (1) careless with money (2) unusually or severely financially challenged in their home life. One of the things we consider when trying to track down fraud or theft is 'who has money or debt troubles?'. Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 12:30

What I would expect if you hadn’t used a company credit card is that you hand in your expense record for $1550, everyone laughs, and they put $300 into your bank account.

As it is, you took $1550 of the company’s money, so not handing your expenses in isn’t going to help. What will happen is that you hand in your expenses, you add a note that you misunderstood the rules and spent much too much, someone whose job it is to handle expenses and who has seen it all gets it, calls payroll, and they’ll take $1250 out of your next salary payment.

(I knew people installing booths on trade shows. If a tool is broken, they have to buy a replacement, and not the cheapest but a professional one that you would buy because it lasts ages. So they could have thousands on the company credit card).

PS. I read your update. You claimed a “shared expense” when you know 100% that it wasn’t. You lied to get a financial advantage that you shouldn’t get. That is the exact definition of fraud. Fraud is a criminal offense. Are you sure that you want to commit a criminal offense for a measly 1250 dollars? An offense that could destroy your whole future?


One factor not previously mentioned is that some companies (including every company I've had a a company card for) do not allow the card to be used for personal expenses. Spending over this limit without pre-approval is personal spending. By violating that policy--which might not be merely corporate fiat but govt law or card company rules--you might be in trouble.

Now of course, people do make mistakes, and I highly doubt they simply jail or fire people every time someone is over the limit. That said I don't actually know.

What will make it clear to them that it's a mistake is you going to management with your mistake. Submitting it without comment could create suspicion you're trying to see if you can rip the company off, and that will create bad vibes that are hard to shake. You're VERY lucky to have caught the mistake, and you can head that suspicion off.

Also in my experience, don't even try to slip it in and see if gets past. I can nearly guarantee expenses are checked by HR at the clerk level, who do this paperwork all day and will love having something to shout about. My boss and boss's boss were both involved in my expenses even though it was a bank trading department making let's say a billion a year profit across 250 guys. My boss and boss's boss were really put out with my spending on one operation and let me know their big boss was going to ruin their days over it. I racked up a lot of positives with my bosses, but even after a decade, they don't forget.

On the positive side, you've had a once-in-a-lifetime experience from this. I've spent that kind of money in NY, Paris and Tokyo (albeit not for 7 consecutive nights! But maybe twice in a week??) and have great memories even 20-30 years later. YOLO, man!

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    "albeit not for 7 consecutive nights" - that was where your comparison utterly collapsed! 😂
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 17:03
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    "I can nearly guarantee expenses are checked by HR at the clerk level, who do this paperwork all day and will love having something to shout about." Absolutely. My organisation has a Financial Governance team that does this kind of thing (I am a member) and we have to submit monthly reports to Head of Finance and if they spot something we've missed, we have egg on our faces, so we are hyper thorough. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 7:43

Is there any ambiguity in the wording of the policy, or common mistake with your colleagues (you say "our" trip), that could seem to justify such a mistake?

Did you remark to any of your colleagues how thrilled you were at the scale of the allowance and what indulgence it would enable?

If the actual allowance was about $42/day, would that have seemed too little for local prices, the kind of hotel you were staying in, and the lavishness of any other arrangements like first-class flights or limousine transport (i.e. would the actual allowance have required an incongruous frugality)?

If the answer is no on all fronts, then the best bet is to just approach your boss and declare that you've made a grave mistake in understanding the allowances, offer whatever savings you have immediately, and state that you are arranging a personal loan as soon as possible for any remainder.

People tend to have a fairly relaxed attitude when people make mistakes that they can afford to make with their own money, even if they do not necessarily accept that the mistake was reasonable.

However, if for whatever reason your credit is shot and you have no savings whatsoever, they could make more serious adverse inferences about your responsibility with financial matters. They may even call your honesty into question.

  • 'adverse inferences about your responsibility with financial matters.' - altogether this. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 15:39
  • Important to keep in mind that allowances are meant to supplement the money you would have been spending on food anyway. So if you on average spend $10 on food a day, you total budget with the allowance becomes $52. If you dine out every meal it probably doesn't stretch. If you are more realistic, it does. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 15:40
  • @GregoryCurrie, employers could lose a kingdom for a horseshoe nail that way. Once you start nit-picking about each item, you cause the employee to expend unwanted effort doing likewise (usually around the same time they are burdened to make arrangements for the trip itself), and you risk them ruminating on objections or ambiguities. Without goodwill and a feeling that they are morally obligated by the employer's unquestionable generosity, the reality is that many employees will prefer their home comforts and daily habits, and simply choose not to travel.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 16:57
  • @Steve Travel may be a job requirement so the employee has no choice. Like it or not, employers do the whole kingdom for a horseshoe thing. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 1:00
  • @GregoryCurrie, employers can be self-spiteful, but they'll just find overall costs increase, because the price of a man who accepts an obligation to travel whenever the employer demands it, will be higher than the price of a man who is not obligated but is buttered up with a nice steak. I'm not defending the $300/day spending btw - I'm just making the point that the argument you advance is not the understanding that generally exists. (1/2)
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 8:27

Your employer doesn't have a limit on how much you can spend on food. They have a limit on how much you can charge for food on your expense report.

Assuming that you have not yet filed an expense report, consider your situation here: You have not yet done anything wrong. There is nothing to apologize for, nobody you need to talk to, and no excuses you need to make. The mistake you have made only affects you.

Attempting to charge $1500 when you're only allowed to charge $300 is, however, a violation of policy. You are trying to find a way to get your employer to pay for the consequences of a personal mistake. It's not even asking for an advance on your pay, but for extra compensation over and above your salary.

Your employer might give you what you're asking for, but it's not normal and you have no right to it. Even if you do this in the best possible way, there's a good chance that your position with your employer will be affected in ways that will cost you way more than $1200. An employee who makes their personal problems into company problems is less desirable. An employee who doesn't recognize that $300/day for food is highly unusual is less desirable.

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    They have already charged their companies credit card. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 13:16
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    Really confused about what you're saying. A corporate card is a card that's owned by the company. A lot of companies do reimbursements, but that's not the same as a company card. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 15:22
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    It's as I a say. I have a Mastercard with my company's name on it, that I'm required to use for travel-related purchases. I get the bill. When I file an expense report, I get reimbursed by direct deposit into my bank account in advance of that bill actually coming due. It was the same at the last company I worked at, and my understanding is that this sort of arrangement is much more common than a card that is billed directly to the company, so when the OP says "corporate card", this is the sort of card that I expect he is talking about. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 16:31
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    @MattTimmermans, interesting national difference. Here in the UK, when I've had a "corporate credit card", it's the employer who gets and pays the bill. I haven't heard of the arrangement you describe - perhaps financial regulations differ.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 16:57
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    In the industry, it seems to be known as an "individual liability corporate card", which would be the googlable term, and contrasts with with a "corporate liability card" Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 0:28

Stop. Don't turn in that expense report. Look at what you are about to do.

If you submit for more than the allowed amount, then you are expecting that they will catch it, and ask you to correct it. If they don't catch it right away they might demand the money be repaid with the next paycheck when they do notice it.

In some places they send the money to the card company. If that is the case then you will need to ask how you can pay the overage. Do they pull it from your paycheck? Do they ask you to pay the difference from your bank account. You need to know the deadline.

Sometimes they cut you a check, or add it to your pay as a post-tax payment. You are responsible for paying the full bill from those funds. Again you will need to know about the deadline.

What happens if you miss the deadline? In same companies the corporate card is actually linked to the employee credit history. (No employee likes this. I hope that in the decades since I had a corporate card that practice has been ended.) Late payments that trigger interest are the responsibility of the employee. But if the card is linked to the corporations credit history you might not have many options.

This is not the first time that it has happened. Besides going over the limit, sometimes people charge an item they shouldn't have. There should be a way to address non-reimbursable items and amounts. Ask.

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    Given the OP used a company credit card, I think they will have to file an expense report, if only to explain the charges. Trying to hide it would be embezzlement. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 12:30
  • It depends on the type of card it is. Sometimes the company sees everything other times they don't. Even when the company sees everything they should have a category for items that are not to be reimbursed. They need to ask the procedure before submitting. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 12:38
  • @MarkRotteveel: my "company card" (Europe) is a normal card at my name that has higher spending levels and a longer pay-back period. This card is provided to everyone who wants one so that there is fairness - most people may not want to use their own card.
    – WoJ
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 16:35
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    "This is not the first time that it has happened" - you can bet it is. Not going over but going THAT MUCH over on FOOD for a WHOLE WEEK (not a one time "taking people out for a sales dinner" thing is NOT something that happens regular. Most people do not go for the Ferrari when taking a rental car. This is not "250 instead of 300 dollar", this is 7 TIME OVER... FOR FOOD. You have real problems spending that outside of Michelin level restaurants and expensive alcohol.
    – TomTom
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 16:56
  • @TomTom some people would if they thought they had Ferrari level money for the rental car! And some companies would give them that money. (Also, it's 3.5 times over) Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 13:50

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