Business travel creates unique challenges for travel management companies, corporate travel managers, and travelers alike. For companies who manage hundreds or thousands of bookings each year, the challenges are multiplied. That’s where the use of Virtual Card Numbers (VCNs) can make a huge impact on simplifying payments for travel expenses.
The biggest advantages of using VCNs are the ability to control the parameters of payment, the enhanced security features, and the convenience for both the traveler and the finance department. Let’s review them one-by-one.
VCNs are an ideal tool for ensuring adherence to travel policies and preventing misuse. At the time of booking, the VCN is set up and a number of controls can be set, such as the merchant category, a pre-defined number of hotel nights, and other instructions. Many companies have room charges and tax charged to the VCN, while incidentals are taken care of by the traveler. VCNs allow flexibility where it is needed, as well as providing the option to lock down on parameters that the TMC or travel manager do not wish to be changed by the traveler.
VCNs have enhanced security features that have benefits over traditional credit cards and other payments. When a VCN is set up, it is created for a one-time, specific use and avoids passing consumer or agency card details to a hotel. Unlike traditional card numbers that can be stolen and used for any purpose, at any vendor, and at any price up to the limit, VCNs are of little or no use after they’ve been used for their designated purpose. The controls that can be used to protect against misuse also work against fraud, as the number can only be used for the specific use, amount, and merchant type that it was programmed for.
VCNs make life easier for TMCs, corporate travel managers, the traveler, and even the finance department. For the travel manager, VCNs allow them to book travel for anyone, even someone without a company credit card. For the traveler, major expenses such as hotel rooms are taken care of by the VCN, so they don’t need to use their corporate or personal cards, and the use of a VCN also saves them the hassle of submitting reimbursement reports.
Reconciliation is also simple and easy, saving time and expense for the finance department. Since each booking is tied to a unique VCN, reconciliation is automatic. Rich data can be associated with each number, allowing corporate travel managers to easily track and analyze the data.
With VCNs from WEX, there are other benefits as well. For companies with employees who travel internationally, the use of VCNs can generally save up to 3% per booking since payment can most often be made in the currency of the destination country, avoiding FX markups and cross-currency fees. Money can also be earned on each payment made, creating a whole new revenue stream, and VCNs can also be used as a credit line, enhancing cash flow.
The bottom line is that VCNs streamline payment processes for all parties, creating an easier and more efficient experience for business travel. The flexibility to set up certain parameters and to include rich data allow their use to be targeted to each company’s needs. For travel management companies and travel managers, using VCNs can ultimately save time, save money, and create a better experience for everyone involved.