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What is Spend Management? Importance, Benefits & Process

Vlad Falin

November 14, 2022

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In the realm of business operations, effective spend management is crucial for maintaining a healthy financial bottom line. Businesses grappling with inefficient spending control face risks that can substantially impact their financial stability. 

For example, poor invoicing practices that cause a delay in payment can lead to contract management issues or, even worse, a lost client for your business. It also might cause issues with some of your preferred suppliers if they feel they’re not being paid on time. 

Making a slip-up that disrupts a subscription can mean your company lacks access to critical software or tools until the issue is fixed.

A poor expense report system means charges incurred on your business trip might result in many follow-up questions, so your accounts payable team is on the same page with purchase orders. A system without real-time visibility for spending data is not ideal for any organization and does not make it easy to reduce spend.

Intelligent spend management helps prevent these issues. A business uses spend management to comprehensively track and review organizational-wide spending and purchase orders down to the last dirham. 

In this post we will deep dive into spend management and discuss the best ways to properly manage it. 

What is spend management?

Spend management refers to the systematic process of tracking, analyzing, and controlling an organization's total expenditure. It encompasses all aspects of business spending, including invoicing, contract management, subscription services, and expense reporting. 

The goal of spend management is to enhance financial stability by providing real-time visibility into all financial transactions and purchase orders. This comprehensive approach enables businesses to identify inefficiencies, reduce unnecessary expenses, and maintain strong relationships with suppliers and clients.

The Importance Of Spend Management

Effective spend management is crucial for a company's financial health and operational efficiency. Neglecting careful expenditure tracking or allowing excessive indirect spending can lead to significant revenue loss, risking even the most well-planned business strategies. Managing costs and enhancing efficiency becomes challenging when financial processes are time-intensive and complex.

A report by McKinsey highlights the critical nature of this issue, noting that external spending on suppliers typically represents 40-80% of a company's total expenses. This statistic underscores the vital importance of meticulous spending control. Furthermore, the process of reviewing and optimizing expenditures can have a substantial impact on employee workloads, indicating the far-reaching effects of spend management.

Adopting robust spend management practices enables companies to achieve greater financial stability and avert potential crises. Implementing a system that tracks and monitors all financial transactions ensures that expenditures are fully accounted for, reducing the likelihood of wastage. In summary, efficient spend management is not just about cost control; it is a strategic approach that influences every aspect of a company's operations and contributes significantly to its long-term success.

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Advantages Of Digital Spend Management

In this day and age, using an online tool to keep track of your expenses should be a no-brainer. Let’s have a look at some of the main advantages.

1. Insight Into Everyday Expenditures 

Where is every dirham your company makes going? If you don’t know, digital spend management will dramatically strengthen financial accountability, budgeting, and expenses. In addition, reporting on where company funds are flowing makes it much simpler to see how different department heads oversee budgets. Read more on how to improve internal control over financial reporting.

2. Stronger Financial Controls 

Spend management tools like Pluto, allow you to not only monitor your spending in real-time but also set the limits on the go. In addition to that you can issue cards for departments or individuals, and even focus them on a particular type of usage, such as specific vendors only. 

spend management

3. Budget optimization 

Effective spend management is a great solution to ensure a better-looking budget. Analyzing and managing spending makes it simple to find and cancel unneeded services, negotiate lower prices with new supplier contracts, and never have to pay a late fee again. It will also significantly help your board of directors as they’ll have a simplified, streamlined budget to review and discuss at the start of the year. 

Common Spend Management Challenges 

It’s easy to pursue spend management practices that hurt your business’s bottom line if you’re not careful. Many ‘traditional’ best practices might not fit companies with remote-first work policies, engage in cutting-edge industries, or have an unorthodox structure.

If your company has a dynamic structure, spend management becomes all the more important to help you keep up with the competition and get the most value out of every dirham spent. 

Keep these potential challenges in mind as you pursue spend management practices. 

1. Relying On Old Spending Data

Be wary of relying on old budgets or financial data when managing more spend. It’s challenging for leadership to identify problem areas with cash inflows or outflows, when they only have outdated information.

2. Over reliance On Manual Mapping 

Having to go back at the end of the month to match spending to budgets manually can take an inordinate amount of hours and opens the door to errors and mistakes that can throw off a spend management policy. 

Pluto helps to automatically match spend to budgets in real-time, ensuring accounting and finance teams have accurate updates. 

3. Harnessing Too Much Technology

Modern financial software can dramatically help your company’s day-to-day operational flow. However, if these solutions do not work together, chaos can ensue which leads to data migration and processing errors. Pluto integrates with your accounting tools, cutting the data flow time significantly. 

4. Outdated Processes

The post-COVID world of remote and digital work means your employees might be scattered across the globe and in different time zones. Having to arrange shared corporate cards manually or coordinate team spending with employees in different locations can be tricky. Pluto offers unlimited virtual cards, which allow you to provide a payment channel for any employee anywhere in the world. 

spend management challenges

How To Improve Your Spend Management Process

Optimizing your spend management process might seem tricky at first glance. Fortunately, small and large businesses often rely on the same core strategies to optimize spending. 

1. Rely On Spend Management Software: Pluto can help automatically track expenses, keep abreast of budgeting, and help manage strategic sourcing. CEOs and CFOs then have relevant, real-time data at their fingertips to see where their company is financially. 

2. Focus On A Few Payment Methods: Do you have too many company cards in your pocket? It might be time to streamline purchasing methods to help simplify your spend management strategy. For example, your business can dramatically improve expense tracking by asking employees to only use company cards for business expenses instead of asking for their personal cards to be reimbursed. 

3. Have An Organized Approval Process: You can clarify your spending process (you might want to check our post on how to create a corporate card policy)  by ensuring employees have a clear hierarchy of how and by whom purchases need to be approved. If your team is unclear, they might complicate the payment process by not filing the right reports, which means your financial team could be left in the dark about purchases. 

6 Efficient Spend Management Strategy Tips

Your company needs to optimize its spend management strategy to ensure the final results lead to reduced procurement costs, improved efficiency, and streamlined workflows. 

Spend management best practices also help improve vendor relationships and communication, procure the optimal goods and services your business needs, and even help you earn volume and early payment discounts due to more effective and simplified financial practices. 

Keep the following steps in mind for the best results regardless of your organization’s industry or size. 

1. Calculate Expenses

Do you know exactly where employees spend company funds? If not, you’ll need to build a comprehensive list of company expenses, suppliers, and entities where funds are going. 

This might quickly become a challenge if you’re in charge of a large business. If so, look to designate specific team members to review employee salaries, utilities, marketing, training, and all other day-to-day expenses to have the most detailed list. 

You can’t improve what you do not measure. You can use Pluto to get a firm grip on your expenses. Pluto allows you to monitor and control your expenses so you clearly see how much was spent in which category. 

2. Confirm Data

You’ll want to ensure all accrued expense data is accurate and can be cross-checked with receipts and inventory records. Ensuring transaction data is precise, and expense lists are free of duplicates, spelling mistakes, and other mistakes makes the entire spend management process more efficient. 

Take this step extremely seriously if your company spend practices have relied on more manual processing methods. Standardization ensures that multiple currencies, formatting differences, and other nuances are accounted for when looking at spend analysis data. 

(Goes without saying that when using Pluto this is all pre-done for you!)

3. Categorize Information

While optimal spend management brings all expenditures under a single umbrella to review, your team will still want to categorize expenses into various groups to make reviewing and making adjustments across different departments simpler. 

It’s usually best to categorize expenses in multiple ways to understand where money is going. Pluto allows you to categorize expenses both through specialized cards or just by tagging, so everything is nicely grouped together when it is review time. 

spend management strategy

4. Review Expenses

A well-thought-out process of calculating, verifying, and categorizing spending information will simplify your entire review process when you’re looking at spend data. 

You should immediately be able to spot expenses that are anomalies or recurring spending that might be able to be cut out from the start. 

Pluto’s dashboard can give you a high level but also a detailed view, so you can clearly identify trends and separate expenses.

5. Devise A Strategy

You’ll want to move decisively once you’ve identified potential changes to spending habits and department budgeting approaches. 

It might seem difficult at first glance to start reducing budgets, cutting out vendors, or make other dramatic changes to your company’s budget and expense habits. Rely on good change management practices and your leadership team to cultivate employee and stakeholder buy-in to any adjustments.

6. Practice Good Data Forecasting

Keep updating your expense data as you make a budget and spending adjustments. Doing so keeps your team on top of where funds are going and can help forecast different spending scenarios and how they might impact your business’s bottom line. 

Keeping data and information updated becomes particularly important if your expenses grow to ensure financial operations run smoothly. Don’t forget to cultivate supplier relationships if you work with different vendors for optimal inventory management.

Should You Rely On Spend Management Software? 

Manually processing expense claims, keeping up with petty cash, and tracking company credit cards can quickly turn inefficient, hinder your company’s financial management, and inhibit the overall procurement process.

In contrast, the right spend analysis solution can aid real-time expense tracking, provide easy-to-read charts and graphs of high-level expenses, and capture and store financial-related documents, so your finance team members are not scrambling to find a receipt or report. 

Pluto has a multitude of features including procurement software and account payable that will help you with spend management and make spend control much easier.

1. Flexibility

Pluto allows you to create cards for various purposes, edit spending limits on the go and monitor your expenses in real time. This allows you to scale up or down depending on what your business needs at any given moment.

2. Powerful Analytics

With Pluto, you will be able to track spending patterns and areas of high expenditure and get real-time insights into your business finances. The powerful analytics will help you make better decisions about where to allocate your resources.

3. Ease Of Use

The main bottleneck of many spend management platforms is that the employees do not use them - as it is just too time-consuming. Not with Pluto!  The sleek and user-friendly interface makes expense management a breeze.

4. Simplified Reimbursements

Receipt upload and reimbursements can be quite a burden for the team. Pluto allows you to take pictures of receipts with your phone and just add them to your reimbursements list. With the use of categories and tags, you will be able to both submit and review them in record time!

Key Takeaways For Company Spending

Spend management remains an essential component of all organizations regardless of size. Accountability for every dirham flowing in and out ensures your company maximizes revenue and remains growth-focused, no matter the budget.

You can take the first step today by relying on Pluto and processes to establish control over budgets, track spending, manage payments, cut costs, and boost your financial team’s day-to-day operations and processes.

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Learn how Pluto is helping Keyper        to eliminate petty cash spending and optimize spend management

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At Pluto Card, our mission is to assist businesses of all scales make well-informed choices. To uphold our standards, we follow editorial guidelines to guarantee that our content consistently aligns with our high-quality benchmarks.

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Corporate vs. Business Credit Card: What is the Difference?

Corporate credit card vs. a business credit card. You might have heard both terms used interchangeably, but what's the difference?

Primarily, corporate cards are issued to large businesses with many employees, while business credit cards are designed for smaller businesses. Corporate cards generally have higher spending limits and may offer more perks than business cards due to their volume.

This post will cover the main differences so you can decide which card is best for your business.

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What is a Business Credit Card?

A business credit card is a commercial payment solution for companies and businesses. Similar to a personal credit card, business credit cards are used when business-related purchases are made on credit provided by one of the credit card companies.

Banks in the UAE and MENA offer various business credit cards for small, medium, and large companies. 

Business credit cards usually offer higher credit limits than personal credit cards and may come with exclusive privileges, such as free travel insurance, concierge services, and air miles.

In the case of small businesses, a personal credit score will play an important role in credit limit approval.

What is a Corporate Credit Card?

A corporate credit card is issued to company employees to help with business expenses. The company will be liable for any debts incurred on the card.

It is important to note that corporate cards are not personal credit cards and should only be used for business purposes.

Financial institutions expect you to spend more with a corporate card than a business card, as the companies that require those cards are usually bigger. Therefore, the company must have a good credit score to qualify. This can come with various perks, such as lower interest rates, extended grace periods, and, most importantly - higher spending limits.

At the same time, there can be some drawbacks, such as:

  • Long approval periods due to the nature of the financial product.
  • Limited online features for your cards and company spend management. 

What is a Pluto Card?

Pluto is MENA's corporate card that helps finance teams take control of their company's expenses while saving their business time & money. While Pluto can't give you a line of credit, you will be able to instantly issue as many business and corporate cards as you need while getting a complete overview of your business's spend management on one dashboard.

Pluto Virtual & Physical Corporate Cards

Virtual credit cards

Virtual cards are corporate credit card numbers used for online business-related purchases and contactless payments.

Although there is no physical card, virtual credit cards are great as they are flexible, convenient, and controllable.

With virtual credit cards, you can:

  • Issue unlimited virtual credit cards/employee cards;
  • Create a virtual credit card within seconds;
  • Set employee spending limits to avoid going over budget;
  • Generate a one-time use purchase card that deactivates as soon as it is used;
  • Set purchases to be made with specific vendors so the card can't be used for other purchases;

Chances are that if you need a virtual credit card at your existing bank, it might take quite some time, and the reporting and limit setting options might not be very user-friendly.

While Pluto cannot provide you with credit cards, we can issue as many virtual cards as you need with just a few clicks:

Physical credit cards

Physical corporate credit cards serve the same purpose as virtual and business credit cards, making payments. Unlike virtual cards, physical corporate credit cards can be used in person to make purchases.

While both virtual and physical credit cards are comparable, the main differences are:

  • Physical corporate credit cards may take up to 3 business days to be delivered.
  • Virtual cards cannot be used physically.
  • Virtual cards are safer for the user, as they cannot be lost or stolen.

Benefits and perks

The benefits and perks differ for business and corporate credit cards and Pluto cards.

Business & corporate credit cards:

  • Receive Business reward points for purchases made that can be redeemed for future purchases.

Pluto cards:

Pluto Corporate Card Perks

Why are Business Credit Cards and Corporate Credit Cards Different?

Now you know the main difference between business and corporate cards, but let's investigate some of them in more detail.

Expense management tools

Business credit cards are frequently limited to your online banking platform. In the case of corporate credit cards, you may get something slightly better - an enterprise solution.

But from what we have seen, the speed of card issuing or limit changes is usually lacking.

Pluto doesn't give you a credit line, but here is a list of things that Pluto's expense management platform does:

  • Unlimited corporate cards (within seconds);
  • Set spending limits on corporate cards to avoid going over budget or being overcharged;
  • Issue one-time purchase cards that deactivate after being used;
  • Real-time transactional data - know what (and where) is being spent in real-time;
  • Ability to oversee company financials and receive instantaneous expense reports;
  • Automated accounting; 
  • Sync transactional data to major accounting platforms;
  • Simple and quick reimbursements;
  • Digitized receipt reconciliation;
  • Close books in hours, not days.

Corporate and business card fees

The fees that you might have to pay on corporate and business cards fall into two main categories:

Annual fees

For business and corporate credit cards, annual fees may differ depending on the bank or credit card issuer you choose to move forward with. Typically, the UAE's yearly fees range from 0-800 AED, with 'free for life' being the most popular.

If there are any fees, you can typically waive them by spending a certain amount per year.

Pluto cards do not have any annual fees and are entirely free; however, if you're a large corporation that wants unlimited users, custom ERP integrations, or a dedicated account manager, there will be a monthly subscription fee.

FX fees

Business and corporate credit cards tend to incur FX fees, making it expensive for a company owner, a small business, or a large business to do any transactions outside their domestic currency.

FX fees can be high, and credit card issuers are usually not transparent with the fees that come with them. Typically, fees come in the form of an FX spread and are hidden inside your payment, meaning you might be paying 2-6% for a transaction in a different currency.

Just imagine how much of your spending is in a different currency and take an optimistic 4% fee from that amount. Now multiply it by five years.

Pluto does not charge FX fees, making it the perfect choice for companies or businesses that frequently transact in foreign currencies.

Application & Approval Process

You must wait around two weeks for a business credit card approval. After the approval process, it may take up to 10 business days to receive your business credit card.

With a corporate credit card, the time may vary, but the chances are that you will need to wait more than 5 business days before you get approved.

From our experience, when you need an expense card - you need it on the spot!

Pluto has adopted a KYB & KYC (know your business and client) process that allows us to onboard customers in minutes. After you set up your account, you can start issuing virtual cards and continue your work without halts or limitations.

Corporate vs. Business Credit Cards Pros and Cons

While a corporate credit card and a business credit card may be comparable in some aspects, there are some differences between the two financial products.

Business credit card pros

  • Available for most businesses in their standard banking products;
  • Standard application process with low business requirements;

Business credit card cons

  • Usually limited in numbers, one card is internally shared amongst many employees. That creates bottlenecks in spending and raises various security risks;
  • Non-existent (or very limited) spend management platforms to monitor your reporting;
  • No virtual cards;
  • High FX fees;

Corporate credit card pros

  • Higher spending limits;
  • Possibility to issue several cards;
  • Safe & secure, as information is not being shared;

Corporate credit card cons

  • Longer approval process;
  • High FX fees;

While the pros and cons for both types of cards may vary, the final decision will be based on the size of your business.

Why Pick Pluto Card for Business and Corporate Users?

As mentioned, Pluto won't give you a line of credit; instead, Pluto provides you with an all-in-one expense management solution. 

Pluto's spend management platform

  • All your business expenses are at your reach on Pluto's dashboard;
  • Control over all issued cards and their limits;
  • Creation of unlimited virtual cards;
  • Real-time expense reporting;
Pluto's Dashboard

Approval workflow on Pluto

Once you have access to Pluto's expense management dashboard, you'll also be able to set up approval flows and automation.

With Pluto's approval workflow, you can:

  • Get visibility and control over your expenses;
  • Streamline how you manage your spending;
  • Automatically direct approvals to the right employees;
  • Create approval flows within departments;
Pluto Card Approval Workflow

Real-time expense reports

With Pluto cards, you'll gain real-time transactional data on company spending while being able to set strict budget limits.

This will also help you make informed decisions about allocating resources and improving your P&L.

Additionally, you can also set up notifications to be sent to your accounting or finance team whenever a transaction is made. This way, they'll always be in the loop and can take appropriate action if needed.

Which Card is Best for My Business?

The final pick of the card will depend on several factors related to your business.

Industry

The needs of companies based on their industries may differ. Consulting businesses need a flexible card solution with no FX fees, as their employees travel frequently. Digital agencies need multiple virtual cards to onboard new projects and pay for ad networks daily.

Consider the needs relevant to your industry and decide from there. While Pluto is an excellent pick for all industries (as we have a very versatile product), here are some of the use cases that illustrate the needs and how Pluto solves them:

Size

Annual revenue, the number of employees, and spending volume will also come into play when making your decision.

If it is just you or a couple of employees, you may not need many cards (or you might take advantage of Pluto's virtual cards).

On the other hand, if you have a sales team that needs to pay for lunches with prospects every second day, one card in the business owner's name will be problematic! 

Control

How much control do you need over your spending? Classic credit cards (be it business or corporate) usually have just a few features that are extensions of your online banking.

In some cases, that might be enough. If there is one card and one person using it - setting limits and monitoring the spending is not an issue.

Pluto comes into play when you have several holders and many cards, as you can set custom limits on cards. Real-time reports of spending suddenly become very important to increase and decrease limits on the go.

Pluto Corporate Card Budget Control

Key Takeaways

  • Business credit card is the best fit for small business owners; they offer a standardized solution.
  • Corporate credit cards are for bigger companies, allowing higher spending and slightly better control.
  • Pluto cards (used for all business sizes) can provide unlimited virtual cards and give you access to an all-in-one expense management platform.

FAQ

Does a corporate credit card affect my credit score?

A corporate card is a company's liability and does not affect your credit score, and you will not see them on your personal credit report. Pluto cards do not affect your credit score in any way (as they do not provide loans or credit facilities).

What is the difference between a business and a corporate credit card?

The main difference between small business credit cards is the size of the company that uses them, followed by credit limits and available control features. Pluto provides cards to corporations and businesses through the all-in-one spend management platform.

What is meant by a corporate credit card?

A corporate credit card refers to a card provided by the company to the employee for various business-related expenses.

Is a corporate card the same as a credit card?

Credit cards primarily draw from an approved loan balance, while corporate card programs are just an extension to a dedicated corporate account. But the terms are used interchangeably nowadays.

What is the difference between corporate and domestic credit cards?

A domestic card may refer to a debit card or a card issued by your local bank for your local use. Corporate cards are accepted internationally, at the ATM, or online.

Can a corporate card be used for personal use?

No. By default, corporate cards have to be used for business expenses, which are reported into accounting, but most importantly, it is the company's money on that card. The only exception will be if your company allows it.

What is the advantage of a corporate credit card?

Usually, it comes down to higher spending limiting. Compared to small business credit cards, corporate credit card debt does not usually require a personal guarantee, as the company guarantees it.

In the case of Pluto's corporate card, we can also add - unlimited virtual cards, real-time team-wide spend control, instantaneous reporting, and no FX fees!

Does a corporate credit card affect my credit score?

No. If the corporate credit card has a credit facility attached to it (it usually does), it is a company liability, not a personal liability. You are given access to a portion of their credit facility that does not fall into the personal loans group, and you do not need to provide personal guarantees.

Can my company require me to put business travel on my own credit card?

No, the company cannot force you to put business expenses on your credit card, but it is sometimes easier for everyone. So, if you agree with that, and the company agrees to reimburse you - it is not a problem. 

If you are looking for a better solution, let the Pluto team know, and we will provide you with an easy corporate card platform for your whole team.

Do corporate credit cards require a credit check?

A corporate credit card (in its classical meaning) is attached to a loan facility. To approve this loan facility, banks must do a company credit check. 

5
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October 26, 2022

Leen Shami

Corporate Credit Card Policy: What is it & How to Create One

Corporate cards are a great way to manage your spending, control expenses, eliminate petty cash, and, most importantly - give your employees the freedom to focus on their work without any blockages.
But for everything to work smoothly and for everyone to know how to use your corporate cards, you must establish some ground rules.

What is a Corporate Credit Card Policy?

A corporate credit card policy entails the protocols and terms and conditions of use associated with a company credit card issued in an employee's name. A company credit card policy protects businesses and companies from unauthorized payments and inappropriate use by outlining the repercussions and consequences of such actions.

See a Demo

Why Do You Need a Corporate Credit Card Policy?

In the same way, companies have a travel and expense policy; they have a corporate card policy. A company credit card policy is set in place to ensure all company cards are used for authorized and permitted business purchases.

In a corporate credit card policy, the guidelines, responsibilities of the cardholder, dos and don'ts, and repercussions of misuse are outlined. This ensures that all business finances are regulated.

While it is important to have a corporate credit card policy, Pluto takes the extra step to ensure all transactions and purchases are pre-approved, regulated, and permitted by:

  • Creating Pluto cards that can only be used with specific vendors
  • Setting daily, weekly, or monthly limits on cards
  • Having an approval workflow to make sure the necessary departments are approving all transactions
Credit Card
Creating a corporate card with Pluto

Which Employees are Eligible for a Corporate Credit Card?

It is essential to note which job roles are eligible for a company credit card to protect your business against accusations of favoritism or discrimination.

A company can decide whether all employees, c-suites, or department heads are eligible for corporate credit cards.

Typically, companies only give executives, VP levels, C-suite, and salespeople access to company credit cards. However, there are situations where employees who are not eligible for a company credit card may have to pay for business-related expenses, such as plane tickets. In this case, the employee would ask their manager to pay for such an expense with the corporate credit card, or they will have to pay using their personal credit card or cash and file a reimbursement, which will be reimbursed with the next paycheck.

 With Pluto's expense management platform, a company does not have to worry about corporate credit card eligibility or the hassle of employees filing reimbursements.

Using Pluto's platform, the business will have access to unlimited corporate cards, meaning any employee can be issued corporate cards with spend limits, approval workflows, and category-specific purchases. This results in no overspending and knowing all transactions are pre-approved and authorized due to the card only being accepted at allocated vendors.

Suppose an expense is made using cash or a personal credit card. In that case, the employee can snap a picture of their receipt and have it approved on the spot with Pluto's Whatsapp reimbursement feature, making it easier for finance teams and employees to sort through reimbursement receipts!

Corporate card message
Pluto's Whatsapp Reimbursements

Components of a Corporate Credit Card Policy

When creating a corporate credit card policy, the credit cards intended to be used, the credit card provider's requirements, and the company's needs should be known.
In most cases, corporate credit card policies include the following points as part of their corporate credit card policy:

1. Employee Credit Card Agreement

When issuing a corporate credit card to employees, an employee credit card agreement must be signed to ensure that employees understand the card belongs to the company, regardless of the employee's name on the card.
The agreement will also state that the company credit cards can only be used for business-related expenses, where the company can investigate charges, if necessary.

2. Permitted Types of Expenses 

The types of transactions that can be made should be stated clearly in the company credit card policy: work-related expenses only. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Meetings with clients
  • Work-related travel (e.g., flight ticket, accommodation)
  • Educational material
  • Software subscriptions
  • Legal document expenses
  • Business meals

While tending to the above is a good way to ensure company credit cards are being used for business-related expenses, Pluto offers cards that can only be used for specific vendors, such as fuel cards, to avoid mishaps or fraud.

Corporate card fuel expense
Vendor-specific purchase cards

With these policies and procedures in place, employees should note that if an instance occurs where the company credit card is used for non-authorized transactions, personal expenses, or cash withdrawals, they will be faced with disciplinary action.

The disciplinary action could result in the following:

  • Cancellation of the company credit card
  • Withdrawal of corporate credit cards privileges
  • Recovery of funds from employee's salary
  • Termination of employee contract

3. Exceptions

In some cases, an employee cardholder may incur an expense that is not usually permitted under the company credit card policy. To be able to do so, the company credit card policy should indicate how the cardholders can apply for an exception and get permission for such expenses.
While doing so, the company should also outline specific transactions that can never be made using the company credit card.

4. Spend Limits

The spending limits on a company credit card usually depend on the employee's job and level of seniority. The company credit card policy should clarify the card's limits when receiving a new card.
In general, businesses can choose to have limits established based on transactions per-item or on a cumulative basis. However, not all employees will have the same spending limits.
With Pluto, you can set spending limits on virtual or physical cards before issuing them to ensure that employee spending stays within their budget.

Corporate card new card creation
Set spend limits on Pluto

5. Temporary and Permanent Limit Increase

To get a limit increase on a company credit card, the cardholder must fill out a form stating why they need a limit increase on their card and whether it is a temporary or permanent limit increase. The form will then have to be signed by the employee's manager and sent to the company credit card provider for processing.
Although it is possible, the process of getting a limit increase on a company credit card may take quite some time. Pluto allows managers, administrators, and finance teams to increase limits on virtual or physical company credit cards in seconds.

Corporate card limit
Edit spend limits on Pluto in seconds

6. Approval Requests

A company credit card policy must show how approval requests work when using a corporate credit card. Usually, approvers are responsible for reviewing all transactions regularly. By doing so, the following is warranted:

  • The transaction or expense adheres to the company credit card policy
  • A receipt is attached to the transaction made
  • The description of the transaction follows the details mentioned above

Pluto takes the extra mile to automate approval workflows and receipt reconciliation. With Pluto, all approval requests will be made through the Pluto platform, and receipts will be collected through Whatsapp as soon as a transaction is made.

Corporate card request
Approval workflows on Pluto

7. Cardholder Responsibilities

Including the cardholder's responsibilities in the company credit card policy is an essential part of the document. The purpose is to describe how employees can ensure they use their cards appropriately.

It's important to include that:

  • Cards cannot be used for personal expenses
  • Cards must only be used by the cardholder to help avoid fraud 
  • Cards and PINs must be stored in a safe place
  • Cards must be reported as stolen and lost as soon as possible
  • Document all expenses and send monthly reports

8. Policy Violations

Employees are expected to comply with the corporate card policy. If the cardholder violates the terms stated, disciplinary action will be taken against the employee.

The disciplinary action can include:

  • Face a written warning for violating the corporate credit card policy
  • Pay for the expenses yourself if you've used the card for any inappropriate use
  • Lose the right to have a corporate credit card if you lose a receipt or violate the policy
  • Suspension or termination of employment if you give the company credit card to unauthorized people or abuse the expense limits
  • Loss of company card privileges if expenses are not submitted on time
  • Legal action and termination can be imposed if prohibited purchases are made using the company credit card

How Can a Corporate Card Policy Prevent Fraud?

Globalization and remote work have increased the risks of card fraud and identity theft. A proper corporate credit card policy will minimize these risks and ensure that your corporate funds are safe.

1. Flexible limits

With Pluto, it is effortless to set card limits in real-time, so decreasing the spending limit when needed can be done in a matter of seconds. This ensures that a card is not over-exposed. If the card details were compromised, the perpetrator would not be able to withdraw any big sums.

2. Limited users

You can see all the cardholders from your Pluto dashboard and create additional cards if needed. This prevents sharing card details between the employees, as it is simply not needed anymore. The cards are used by authorized personnel, who are aware of the proper use and policies - further preventing any potential fraud and leaks.

3. Vendor-specific cards

Pluto allows you to create a card for a particular transaction, purpose, or project. This will enable you to allocate a certain amount of money that can be spent on the card, meaning the risks of any authorized charges, re-bills, or other online scams are non-existent.

4. No petty-cash

In a bigger organization, petty cash can be an issue as it is easy to defraud. Even when used properly, it is a pain to keep track of. Petty cash is no longer a problem with Pluto corporate cards, particularly when you can issue as many corporate p cards as you need with Pluto seconds (specifically 9 seconds).

The Value of a Corporate Credit Card Policy

Company card policies control employee spending, ensure compliance, and minimize fraud risk. It's even easier to maximize your results by integrating it with Pluto's expense management software.

By integrating with Pluto, you can:

  • Issue unlimited corporate cards
  • Digitize receipt reconciliation
  • Reimburse in seconds
  • Review all transactions in real-time
  • Approve expenses in an instant
  • Minimize the risk of employee fraud

Key Takeaways

A corporate card policy will help you to establish ground rules that will keep things running smoothly but, at the same time, will not limit your employees in their day-to-day work.

Ensure everyone who will have the card is aware of the rules. The great thing about using Pluto is that you can make your corporate card policy very simple, as Pluto has all the tools to manage your spending and keep everything under control.

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Guides
November 9, 2023

Mohammed Ridwan

Corporate P-Cards: How to Use Them for Maximum Advantage

P-cards can replace your corporate credit cards. 

If you rely on credit cards, you would have 2-3 cards issued to the executives, which are shared with the employees. Though it seems a great method to ensure approval and budget control, it has many loopholes.

The finance teams are running after employees for receipts, employees are waiting on OTPs and approvals, and the CFO is not satisfied with the numbers.

You look for alternatives and land on p-cards. 

P-cards (or purchase cards) are corporate cards you issue to your employees for business expenses. Then, be it purchasing a SaaS or making vendor payments, employees use it for all work-related spending. 

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What are Corporate P cards?

Corporate P cards are company purchase cards that employees can use to make business purchases without going through the traditional purchase request and approval process. Corporate P cards make it easy for companies to manage account payables & automate expense accounting while staying in complete control of their spending.

What Is the Difference Between a Credit Card and a P-Card? 

While both cards are used exclusively for business expenses, there are many differences.

Credit cards make expense management difficult, with no visibility into where the money is going. An executive shares a single card with their team, creating a chaotic financial situation. 

The card owner struggles to manage a constant stream of payment requests. Employees are left hanging with delayed payments, waiting for approvals. Especially in bigger companies, finance teams struggle with reconciliation and zombie spending (which is when a company continues to pay for something that isn’t used anymore, or when it pays for services that former employees had used).  

On the flip side, if you use p-cards, you can issue each employee a separate card for corporate expenses. Each card has a specific budget and restrictions to ensure control and facilitate approval without delays. 

For instance, you issue a card with a $500 monthly limit, restricted to office supply vendors like "Office One."

In this way, you manage budget control and approvals without losing visibility or having to micromanage. 

How can Businesses use Corporate P Cards for Employee Expenses?

Moving from a credit card to a P-card isn’t complicated. Here is a step-by-step process of how you can provide your employees p cards and start using them:

Step 1: Generate Corporate Cards

The first step is to choose the type of card you want for your employees: physical or virtual. While a virtual card can be set up in under a minute, a physical card takes about 2-3 days to get delivered.

generate corporate card

Physical cards work well for those who travel or have on-site jobs, making petty cash management easy. Contrarily, virtual cards support secure online purchases, such as buying SaaS tools or paying for digital advertising campaigns.

Once you decide whom to give a card and what type, set the budget and policies. You can incorporate the following policies to customize the cards:

  • Specify the budget and replenishment frequency of the budget on the card- daily, monthly, or yearly.
  • Define the purpose of cards by enabling only specific general ledgers (GL), labels, and tax codes.
  • Switch on/off the ATM withdrawal option.
  • Enable auto-lock for cards in case of receipt policy violation, where if the receipt isn’t attached in 7 days, the card is frozen. 
corporate purchase cards

All these customization options offer you better control without having to chase employees later. Deciding the budget, frequency, and vendors ensures that the card is used rightfully. 

For instance, you would switch off ATM withdrawal for virtual cards that are meant for buying SaaS tools. Likewise, you can establish a monthly replenishment schedule to maintain sufficient funds while preventing excess spending.   

Apart from this method, your employees can also request to activate the P-cards. They explain the card's purpose, after which the admin can approve/reject the request. 

customize corporate p cards

Now that the employees have cards in their hands, let’s see how you can better manage corporate spending with them. 

Step 2: Manage Expenses Via Centralized Dashboard

Every expense on the corporate p-card is visible in real time on a centralized transactions dashboard. You get key information such as merchant name, expense category, card information, amount, and approval status.

corporate p cards for expense management

Along with this dashboard, you get a dedicated tab for each expense where all its information is available. 

You can review the key information such as receipt, department, merchant, date/time, expense category, etc. you can also download the receipt, approve/reject the expense, and check the activity log. 

manage corporate p cards

The activity log keeps track of all the conversations that have been happening with a particular transaction. Traditionally, companies use email and Slack, which makes communication messy. With this log, they can keep all their conversations and important information in one organized place. 

Step 3: Create Approval Workflows

Approval workflows ensure that each expense follows a defined hierarchy for approval by the right stakeholders. You can customize them depending on different amounts, departments, and other factors. 

It is a simple no-code system where you create workflows based on if-then rules.

Creating financial approval workflow

A custom approval workflow ensures timely and effective approval without having to run after dedicated team members. Each of them receives a notification as soon as the expense takes place, and they can approve it easily. 

Approvals and employee reimbursement become easy with a frictionless workflow like this. 

Step 4: Report and Reconcile Expenses

Integrating your cards with your accounting systems becomes the last step to facilitate reporting and reconciliation. 

Integrate Pluto with your ERP

Once you integrate with your accounting software, you can enjoy complete visibility and control over your corporate expenses. 

You get a dedicated insights window to track expenses and identify trends. You can add custom filters and export these for further analysis. 

Get dedicated insights

To understand the entire process better, book a demo and see how you can benefit from switching to a corporate p card. 

Why Shift From Traditional Methods to Corporate P Cards?

Credit cards seem simpler, where a bank gives a few credit cards to share among the teams. But here’s why it doesn’t work:

  • It is difficult to track who spends what, how much, and why.
  • Employees wait for OTPs and approvals, delaying payments and reimbursements.
  • The chances of zombie spending increase because the same card is shared. This also becomes one of the loopholes which leads employees to misuse the cards.
  • The admins have to chase employees for receipts during reconciliation.

While these are just a few, relying on credit cards can cause chaos in expense management. Here are some reasons corporate p-cards are a more suitable option today:

No More Shared Cards

Corporate P card

You ditch the whole system of sharing credit cards, which is the root cause of limited visibility. With corporate p cards, you can issue any employee a dedicated card for specific expenses. 

So, if you issue Rashid from the marketing department a virtual corporate card for running Ads, he can not use it otherwise. He will be accountable for any unnecessary expenses beyond the specified budget.

This means more visibility and control over corporate expenses.  

Easy Receipt Management

Receipt management with Pluto

Corporate cards make receipt management easier with OCR technology in the following ways:

  • Submitting expense reports at the end of the day becomes easier as it auto-populates all the information
  • Uploading receipts in bulk upload with OCR handling the rest makes the process faster
  • Detecting duplicate receipts becomes simpler as OCR eliminates the risk of manual errors 

Apart from OCR, you also get the option to split the transactions to make the accounting process easier. Here, for each transaction, you can split the amount into a separate category, GL account, tax code, etc. 

Split transactions with ease

For instance, a $300 expense can be split into $200 for software purchases and the remaining $100 as consulting fees. Each will have a specific category, GL account, and corresponding tax code.

Budget Control

Corporate cards give more visibility and control over finances. 

Although both credit cards and p-cards can have specific budgets, p-cards enable you to set specific policies and rules. 

For instance, you give an employee a $1,000 monthly budget but restrict them to using the card only for office supplies purchases. 

Similarly, you can set a $500 monthly limit for marketing expenses and restrict the card to "Ad Campaigns" and "Promotions," ensuring focused spending.

Another benefit is to assign monthly, yearly, and weekly budgets.

For instance, you can allocate an annual budget of $500,000 for the marketing department but assign a weekly budget of $10,000 for ad campaigns. 

This facilitates flexibility for the teams to function better and gives the finance team more control over resource planning and allocation.

WhatsApp Integration

Integrate with Whatsapp

Receipt uploading becomes simpler when all you have to do is click a picture on WhatsApp and hit send. 

After each transaction, employees get a notification to upload the receipts via WhatsApp. With this simple integration, receipt capturing becomes simple and fast. 

Not only is the receipt captured, but stored under the relevant transaction tab with all its information intact. OCR makes it easier to extract key details and populate expense reports. 

Admins can approve these expenses, and reconciliation becomes a breeze. 

Eliminate Corporate Card Fraud

P-cards give you more control and security. From setting custom policies to raising alerts in case of duplicate receipts, p-cards ensure that employees don’t misuse the cards.

Additionally, the custom approvals workflows and dedicated activity logs reduce the chances of oversight. This system helps prevent unauthorized spending. 

For instance, an employee tries to use the card for a personal expense, like an expensive dinner. 

The custom approval setup will alert the admins. The active activity log with documented conversations will further ensure that no personal expense is charged on corporate cards. 

Get the Most Out of Your Corporate Cards 

Transitioning from credit cards to corporate p cards can be an exciting move. But to make the most of it:

  • Set an expense policy outlining the guidelines that will govern the corporate cards. This practice will also become the pillar for a healthier financial environment to support internal control over financial reporting (ICFR) efforts.
  • Understand the hierarchies in the company to create approval workflows accordingly. Find a balance between control and micromanagement. Managers should be informed about expenses without being excessively involved in them. 

Do this right, and you will have better visibility and control over your finances. The employees will not be left hanging for approvals. The finance team will be at peace, and the CFO will have more faith in the numbers.