Do You Need a Company Credit Card?

Dayton Uttinger  | 

Moving up in your field is an exciting prospect. Although not everyone has their dream job, even being recognized for your accomplishments in any position is validating, but especially when you know that you deserve it.

It’s a well-accepted standard that more responsibility means more compensation, but sometimes more responsibility is just a stepping stone. Acquiring a company credit card is certainly a sign of increased trust between you and your employer, which can be valuable in itself, but how do you know when to push for your own card?  And how to do so?

The Case for Your Company Card

There is little debate that a company card can make your life easier. While some companies rely on their employees using their personal card and then submitting a report for reimbursement, this runs the risk of affecting your personal credit score. If you are not reimbursed in a timely manner, carrying that debt on your own card is uncomfortable to say the least. Furthermore, depending on your personal financial situation and how much your company is asking for you to pay up front, you might not have the required funds necessary to pay for these business charges.

It can also be very beneficial for the business as well. With access to a company card, purchases can be made that much quicker. Instead of searching for a reimbursement later or tracking down your employer for the appropriate signature, everyone saves time by just referring to the transaction history reports that most business credit cards offer.

Additionally, business or corporate credit cards often earn rewards, which can be beneficial for the company. If you also have a company card, that’s one more person who is potentially racking up rewards that the business can take advantage of later. Not only is having a company card more efficient, but it makes financial sense as well.

The Case Against Your Company Card

You might not consider these valid concerns, but you need to understand your employer’s perspective if you ever want to convince them to make you an authorized user on the company’s account. The first thing you need to understand is that the worries of a small business and a corporation are going to be slightly different.

The relationship between small businesses and credit cards can be tricky; entrepreneurs are starting at a very fragile place. More importantly, they are often personally responsible for any charges on business credit cards, whereas larger businesses often qualify for a corporate credit card. The latter doesn’t carry the same strings; a single individual isn’t personally liable for the credit charges. With a corporate credit card, it’s the corporation itself that is financially responsible. So, keep in mind the size of your place of employment, because your employer might be a little more cautious if it’s a small business and they risk footing the bill themselves.

Regardless, your employer is worried about reckless spending and credit card fraud. These are big risks for your employer to take, so getting your own card will take some careful phrasing on your part.

Negotiating for Your Company Card

First, access why you want the card in the first place. Does having frequent business transactions on your personal card make you nervous, especially considering that many businesses don’t have a formal procedure for reimbursement?  Do you believe that having one will enable you to perform your job duties better?  Or do you simply want to prove that you can be trusted?  Keep this in mind while you are talking with your employer.

Second, recognize that even approaching your employer with this request might set off alarms. As such, proceed cautiously, and if you sense that they’re freezing up, sound the retreat.

When bringing up this topic of conversation, phrase it as an issue important to your employer. Emphasize how you having a company card could help the business with specific examples. If you can’t do that, you’re probably not in a place where having a company card is really necessary. Discuss exactly what you’d be using a company card for, whether it’s travel, supplies, or treating clients. It’s critical that you’re both on the same page and have a clear company spending policy.

If your employer is on the line, suggest that you start with a prepaid debit card instead. While this doesn’t have the flexibility of a credit card, it can still display your trustworthiness and relieve you of the hassle of using a personal card – and putting your own credit on the line. Be willing to research specific options. Already having them prepared might seem a little presumptuous, but you don’t want to add another task on your employer’s to-do list. Instead, offer to present them with different card options and have them review it later.

Having access to your own company card can help establish your career, but your employer is taking on a considerable risk. Don’t be blind to their point of view, and phrase your request in a way that makes it clear you are thinking of the business, not only yourself. Being equipped with a company credit card is a clear indicator of trust. Holding such a responsibility can boost your career early on, so take care not to abuse it.


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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.

This post was updated April 27, 2017. It was originally published April 27, 2017.