Integrating your travel and entertainment (T&E) card offering into a larger corporate payments and accounts payable program is a better way to offer T&E cards to your employees. Finance teams want to manage and control these expenses through the same system that manages all your payables, and take advantage of additional benefits for fraud protection, tracking and reporting, and potential cash backs.
Key elements of a corporate T&E offering
A T&E card is a corporate credit card given to employees to pay for their work-related travel and entertainment expenses. Typically restricted to certain types of purchases and dollar limits, T&E cards free employees from having to use their personal cards for business expenses and from needing to submit out-of-pocket expense reports.
Employees love T&E cards because they are particularly handy for small, irregular purchases such as office supplies, shipping, or meeting catering. When tied to a virtual card program, companies can extend a single-use virtual card for some T&E expenses, if, for instance, a prospective employee or consultant is flying in for one night.
When these transactions are managed directly in the corporate system, our clients find that the expense and payments process moves faster and gives the company access to detailed cost allocation and transaction data that it might not have with a personal card.
Why working with an issuer is a better approach to T&E card management
While T&E cards have evolved quite a bit from the first Diner’s Card issued back in the 1950s, they remain a staple of corporate finance for a very good reason: they help finance teams save time and money.
Corporate travel booking, trip management, and expense reporting have become ever more closely integrated in recent years, with travel managers, corporate leadership, and employees all recognizing the benefits of using a centralized system. But one major piece of the corporate travel puzzle—payment cards—remains an outlier, often managed as a separate service provided by an issuing bank. Since WEX can also serve as the issuer, our solution integrates T&E cards into the same payments processing solution that the company uses for accounts payable and receivables.
There are many benefits to working directly with an issuer for T&E and other corporate payment card solutions.
- Savings and discounts: A T&E card makes it easier for companies to access usage data so they can negotiate supplier prices and extra benefits. These benefits may include no change fees for changing flights and automatic upgrades on those flights, hotels, and car rentals. This type of card can also provide unique travel benefits such as travel insurance and dedicated customer service representatives.
- Reporting: WEX is both the issuer and the system of record, so we house all the data, and receive and transmit the data between the suppliers and the buyer. As a result, our corporate customers can access near real-time data. Companies can see expenses immediately and do not need to wait for data to show up in an outside third party software.
Since WEX integrates T&E card management into our larger payments platform, our customers get one report with everything across all payments areas. This sightline into the true spending across the board may also increase a company’s rebate or cash reward potential.
- Control employee spend: By far the biggest perk attached to corporate cards is the ease of tracking employee spend. Companies always want to manage spending, and look to control the use of the corporate T&E card both with amount limits and at the spend category level. Our customers will often place controls at the merchant category code (MCC) level, or limit the type of spending by department or user profile. For example, a marketing person may only be authorized to buy printing and advertising from certain suppliers, whereas an office manager needs access to supply stores, food and catering services, and incidentals like shipping.
Our customers log into the same system to manage these controls and limits, and view real-time transactions as they do to manage their other payables to suppliers of goods and services to support their business model.
- Fraud protection: By nature of their use in hospitality and other public places, corporate T&E cards are exposed to theft and fraud risks. If the management of fraud is manual or relies on periodic statements, it can be easy to miss clues to high-risk employee behavior or allow fraud to continue undetected until the company must be responsible for the loss or have to go through a chargeback process to recover. It’s so much more secure and efficient to use built-in fraud alerts like those in the WEX payments platform. Risk teams need to have immediate access to transactions to enable a quick response.
- Support: Another benefit to keeping T&E card management within your corporate payments solution is to ensure that someone inside your company can manage blocks, lost cards, or limit adjustments according to your own rules and policies. For many companies, it’s essential to business continuity and sales revenue to make sure that a traveling employee or a field employee can call in to get immediate help from someone who shares their sense of urgency.
- Flexibility: Most T&E cards are plastic/physical, as is the offering from WEX. However, issuers like WEX can also make virtual purchasing cards available, which are accepted just as any credit card. With the same controls, fraud protection, and tracking, these virtual cards can be used in online portals, to order food delivery, and manage regular shipments of office supplies, and software subscriptions.
A one-stop accounts payable (AP) solution for corporate payments
As any finance team member will tell you, when it comes to keeping the business on track, the fewer systems you need to log into the better. If your AP solution can also manage your T&E and other corporate cards, it will save you time and increase team productivity, as well as make consolidated reporting more consistent and accessible.
If your payments solution provider is also the issuer, as WEX is, then they become the system of record for your p-card (physical) and v-card (virtual) solutions, including T&E cards for corporate and personal liability. If you work directly with the issuer, you may also have opportunities to earn cash back on every transaction processed.
Learn more about how WEX payment solutions can be tailored to your business, so you can operate easier and faster while creating lasting growth and success.