January 21, 2022
Insights

Switching to a modern corporate card that saves you time and money

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Business credit cards can help business owners get a company off the ground, but they’re not a forever solution. An established business should have a corporate card that uses the company’s credit rather than a personal credit card.

Applying for a corporate card takes some forethought. Typically it requires working closely with a banker to get approval. Any applications you send may trigger a credit search, which affects your company’s credit score. In short, it’s not something you want to do more than once. You want to make the right decision the first time.

So how do you decide which corporate credit card is right for you? There are multiple perks you may consider, but the main factor to consider should be whether a card’s features make your life easier. Features like robust spend control management and finance automation software that are emphasized in newer offerings can give your entire company a boost.

Let's get started:

What is a corporate credit card?

Is it time to switch to a corporate card?

What to look for in a corporate credit card

Popular corporate cards compared

Modern corporate cards built for agile businesses

Find a card that supports your companies growth

What is a corporate credit card?

Corporate cards are similar to business credit cards, but their structure and features are geared toward mid-sized or large businesses with multiple authorized purchasers. They are issued to companies, not individuals, meaning your business’ credit rating and assets are impacted rather than your own.

Is it time to switch to a corporate card? 

Not every business is eligible for a corporate card. Your company must be incorporated (as an LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp, or another individual legal entity) and meet other requirements to qualify for a corporate card.

Traditional corporate cards require businesses to make at least $4 million in annual revenue. Some corporate cards expect you to have at least 15 authorized spenders on your account and a minimum annual spending expectation of $250,000 or more. If your annual expenses barely reach this number, upgrading could push you into spending more than your company can afford. Fortunately, newer corporate cards like Ramp are now available with more flexible eligibility requirements and zero spending expectations.

Assuming you qualify, consider your company’s financial needs and stability to decide whether it's the right time to make the switch.

  • You must have good business credit to be approved for a corporate card. If you have a low score or no credit history, you’ll need to find a good small business credit card to help you build your credit.
  • While business credit cards allow companies to charge purchases up to a certain limit and then pay them off over time, corporate cards require customers to pay their balance in full at the end of each billing cycle.

Upgrading from a business credit card to a corporate card does bring important benefits. First and foremost, it shifts liability for any debts to your corporation. Though no leader wants to think about the worst-case scenario for their company, having your assets completely separate from your company’s finances will protect you in case of a lean year.

Corporate cards also have useful features for larger businesses. While business credit cards allow you to add on additional cards for employee use, corporate credit accounts are built on the assumption your company has multiple authorized spenders. Therefore, they come with tools to help you manage this level of shared financial control. Most card issuers’ corporate offerings include robust spend control tools, including virtual cards, expense tracking software, and the means to set limits on cards. No more need for your employees to pay out of pocket and inundate your finance team with expense reports.


What to look for in a corporate card

Corporate cards are an important part of your financial operations because they allow your employees to use company finance to make purchases. So first and foremost you'll want a card that works with the rest of your finance systems and ensures responsible spending.

  • Does it allow you to restrict purchases from certain categories or vendors, so your finance team doesn’t have to play bad cop over unapproved transactions or expense reimbursements?
  • Does it allow you to set custom approval workflows, so spending requests can be routed to the right person every time?
  • Can it sync to your accounting software so your team can close its books on time? 
  • Can it integrate with the collaboration tools used by your organization (for example, a Slack integration) so you can incorporate approvals into existing workflows?

Whether you have a system that works or gaps that you’re looking to fill, your corporate card should strengthen your existing financial practices.

Look out for spending traps

While corporate cards are thankfully less rewards-focused than business credit cards, chasing special perks typically isn’t worth it. Card rewards programs that aren’t solely cashback-based may offer less value: Points programs often restrict you to brands that are pricier than competitors.

As if lower-value rewards weren’t bad enough, you can’t even get many travel cards without paying for them. Is any point system worth the $500 each year you have to spend to access it? Most companies would do better signing up for a card with no annual fee, purchasing plane tickets outright, and earning cashback as a statement credit.

Features that can help your company save money…and time

The right corporate card comes with tools to help you manage your company’s finances and improve your bottom line. While corporate cards as a whole offer more than business cards, features do vary between them. Look for card programs that stand out in the areas that are most important to you.

Spend control

All corporate cards come with built-in limits, but the strength of these restrictions varies. Some cards’ only capability is an overall credit limit. Other cards provide robust expense management features and allow you to implement comprehensive digital expense policies. You can set recurring spend limits or restrict purchases by category or vendor so employees can’t make the prohibited charge in the first place.

Accounting automation

The software that comes with a corporate card should go beyond a simple integration with your accounting software. Nudging employees for receipts is the least a card can do to make your life easier. The best offerings also enhance expense reporting, auto-categorize expenses, and sort transactions in real time.

Accounts payable automation

Processing invoices and cutting checks doesn’t need to take a lot of time or effort. Many corporate cards come with a program that makes it easier to pay vendors. Some make it easier for vendors to accept card payments; others offer ACH and check payments out of your card account.

Savings insights

With your employee spending data in hand, card issuers can help you find opportunities to save. Features in this bucket include reminding you of upcoming recurring expenses, notifying you of duplicate subscriptions, and flagging increased spend with a certain category or vendor for review.

Partner offers

Discounts on expenses like hotel bookings and software subscriptions help your company save money on products you already use. These benefits are offered on top of cashback rewards—not instead of them. Look for card offers on products or services you already pay for to make the most of a partner program.


Popular corporate cards, compared

With these areas in mind, here's how the top traditional corporate cards on the market compare:

American Express

Source

American Express helps you digitize and streamline payments while offering three card levels with different benefits to match your company’s needs.

Three card options: American Express offers three different corporate cards, so you can choose the best rewards programs and travel perks structure. The Corporate Green Card—AmEx’s cheapest option, at $75 annually—comes with a healthy selection of perks, including Hilton Honors™ Silver Status. Its top-tier offering, the Corporate Platinum Card, costs $550 annually and is loaded with benefits and credits to offset travel costs.

Accounts payable automation: American Express offers a program that consolidates and fully digitizes your vendor payments, with support for virtual cards, checks, and ACH payments. Once you sign up, you can route all your invoices to one location and tell American Express who to pay. The charges will be added to your monthly bill, and you’ll earn rewards on your payments.

Capital One

Source

Simplify your finances without paying a price thanks to Capital One’s easy-to-use online platform and features that save you time and money.

Virtual Card relay: Capital One simplifies invoice payments by proactively reaching out to your vendors. Any vendors who accept Mastercard® are pre-boarded onto the Capital One online payment platform. You can pay them with a few clicks. The Supplier Enablement Team even runs additional vendor outreach to holdouts, working to increase the number of vendors you can pay online.

Mastercard Easy Savings®: This free program helps your company spend less by offering rebates of 1–4% at over 30,000 companies. These aren’t the type of rebates you have to apply for, either—they’re automatically added to your account no more than a week after the eligible purchase. You can save on stays at participating hotels, meals at restaurants, rental cars, business services, and even car maintenance.

J.P. Morgan Chase

Source

J.P. Morgan Chase’s One Card (not to be confused with Capital One’s One Card) helps businesses with expenses below $1 million annually spend smarter while earning better rewards.

Data-backed insights: Spend data can provide valuable insights. If you don’t have time to analyze yours, don’t worry: The J.P. Morgan Chase team will handle the heavy lifting. You’ll get suggestions for industry best practices and strategic adjustments to help your company keep growing.

High-powered rewards: As long as you spend more than $1 million annually, participating in the One Card Rewards program costs $0. Your points will also go further on purchases, including gift cards and hotels, as compared to competing rewards programs like AmEx.

Modern corporate cards built for agile businesses

Frustrations with the limits of traditional corporate cards have led many businesses to consider new alternatives instead. A new wave of modern corporate cards offer higher account limits, no credit checks or founder guarantees, and better spend management software.

Ramp

The Ramp card is America's fastest-growing corporate card and comes with highly rated finance automation software that gives finances team powerful spend controls, without the busy work.

Digital expense policies and spend restrictions: Ramp has some of the best employee card controls on offer. Its software allows you to easily restrict spend by dollar amount, expense category, or merchant. You can also set recurring spend limits to create daily, weekly, monthly, or annual purchase allowances. These features allow your finance team to set tight controls, then sit back and let the software enforce them.

Actionable savings: Not only does our software prevent out-of-policy spending, it proactively looks for ways for your business to save. Businesses save an average of 3.3% after joining Ramp, thanks to our unlimited 1.5% cashback and software that detects issues like redundant vendors and duplicate software subscriptions. Customers can also access time-saving procurement negotiation services to make sure they don't overpay for software.

Brex

Source

Brex is an alternative to Ramp that is popular among startups.

Built-in expense tracking: Brex offers better expense tracking software than legacy brands like American Express. It can auto-match receipts to purchase records and run custom expense reports to help you understand where your company’s money is going. This data may even help you identify ways to save more.

Unlimited ACH and wire transfers: Brex's card comes with the option to sign up for a pseudo bank account called Brex Cash. When you deposit funds into your Cash account, you can send free wires and ACH transfers. Companies that make multiple payments each month stand to save big on fees.


Find a card that supports your company’s growth

While all corporate cards allow you to authorize your employees to spend, only one of them has the power to create and enforce a healthy spend culture. Ramp was created to help companies thrive and flourish based on expert spend management advice. That’s why we offer advanced software that integrates with over 100 programs—for free.

Don't settle for legacy cards that come with legacy software and features. We believe the future of the corporate card industry is an agile payment network that doesn’t seek to incentivize spending with complicated points systems. Instead corporate cards should be tools that help businesses grow by maximizing their scarcest resources: time and money. It’s time for a radically different system that puts your company first.

It’s easy to get started: Get Ramp today.

Learn how Ramp strengthens your finances

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FAQs
What is a corporate card used for?

Corporate cards can be used for anything you would use a credit card for. Many companies use them for B2B payments (bills and vendors) along with business expenses like work lunches, business travel, and office supplies.

How do corporate cards work?

Corporate cards are charge cards so they don’t allow you to carry a balance from month to month. You’re expected to pay the full amount on your bill at the end of each cycle. However, they’re otherwise virtually identical to credit cards and can be used at any merchant that accepts credit.

How do I get a corporate card for my business?

Visit the website and determine if you qualify. You should be prepared to provide in-depth financial records, your Employer Identification Number (also known as your tax ID), and other documents like credit ratings or vendor/supplier references.

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Learn more about Ramp

Streamline approvals.
Review requests, pre-approve expenses, and issue general expense cards in a few clicks – or directly in Slack. Delegate approvals and empower your team leads to spend on the things they need and control their team’s expenses.
Learn more
Issue instant cards.
Unlimited virtual and physical cards with built-in spend limits, instantly available for everyone in your team. Define spend rules and let your smart cards enforce your policies automatically. No more surprises or under-the-radar spending.
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See spend as it happens.
Stop waiting on monthly statements or manual spreadsheets. Find, browse, and download real-time transactions from any employee, department, or merchant – on any device.
Learn more
Close your books 5x faster.
An accounting experience by finance teams, built for speed and efficiency. Automate manual processes and start enjoying instant reconciliation – Ramp does all the heavy lifting.
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Trim wasteful spend.
Ramp analyses every transaction and identifies hundreds of actionable ways your company can cut expenses and alerts your team via email, SMS, or Slack. It’s like having a second finance team, laser-focused on cutting costs.
Learn more
Consolidate reimbursements.
Ramp makes it easy to reimburse your employees for any incidental out-of-pocket expenses. Review, approve, and pay employees back for anything that didn’t make it onto a card with the rest of your Ramp transactions.
Learn more

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