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Spend control is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses. It can be difficult to manage spending when employees have access to your business accounts for things like deposits or travel. It’s such a big challenge that some business owners use personal credit cards for business to protect their business accounts. In doing so, they’re able to easily determine how much money employees spend and where by separating their spending from their employees’.

This challenge becomes even more difficult to handle when you operate a business requiring your employees to access your bank account. Whether employees need to deposit or spend using your corporate account, tracking, managing, and controlling employee use of your account can be difficult.

That’s where the warm card comes in.

What is a warm card?

Warm cards are a particular type of bank card that provides restricted access to your bank accounts. The typical warm card lets the holder deposit money into bank accounts but doesn’t allow for withdrawals.

Financial institutions typically issue warm cards to business owners as a security measure. This makes it possible for your employees to deposit funds without giving them open access to your bank account.

How do warm cards work?

Most warm cards are designed to allow employees to make deposits but limit them from accessing the money you have in your business bank accounts. Once the employees have them, these cards are straightforward to use.

For example, you may run a business that requires your general manager to make after-hours cash and check deposits at an ATM, but you don’t want to give the manager full access to withdraw money.

Instead, you give your general manager a warm card. When it’s time to make a deposit, they can use their warm card at the ATM, just like a debit card, but they’ll only have restricted access. So, when they swipe their warm card in the ATM, the only option will be to make a deposit.

Benefits of warm cards

Warm cards come with two key benefits:

  • Fraud protection: Warm cards allow your employees to make deposits into your business accounts but restrict access to spend. This means your employees won’t be able to commit fraud by withdrawing money they shouldn’t or using a business card to make personal purchases.
  • Convenience: With these cards, you don’t have to handle all the banking for your business. Your employees can take the deposits off of your shoulders.

How to get a warm card

Warm cards are relatively easy to get your hands on if your financial institution provides them. In most cases, you have three options for requesting a friendly card:

  • Go to the bank: If your financial institution offers warm cards, you should be able to go to the bank branch and ask your banker for one. However, don’t expect to get it immediately. It typically takes a few business days for the institution to ship the card to you.
  • Over the phone: You can also call your banking institution to request a warm card.
  • Mobile banking app: Most financial institutions offer mobile banking apps. Those offering warm cards also make it easy to access these restricted cards on their banking apps.

What if employees need to spend money?

Standard warm cards aren’t always the best options for business owners. In particular, if your business requires multiple spending accounts, most warm cards won’t fit the bill. So, what do you do to make it possible for your employees to spend business funding for business activities while incorporating restrictions to protect your finances?

There are a few options to consider. Find the details of these options below.

Adjust access

Although most warm cards only allow users to make deposits, some financial institutions will enable you to adjust the restrictions of these accounts also to allow users to spend with them. However, this can create some challenges.

In particular, if you open a warm card up to spending, you likely won’t have control over the amount of money your employees spend on the account. This opens the door to fraud.

Another challenge with using a warm card as an employee spending account is that these aren’t credit cards or debit cards. They don’t have a Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express logo on them. Instead, these are simply bank cards connected to your business checking account. As such, most merchants simply don’t have the infrastructure to accept them as a form of payment.

Take advantage of employee spending cards

Another option you can take advantage of is employee spending cards. With Ramp, you can practice employee empowerment by offering your employees spending accounts and protecting your business’s operating budget by limiting the amount of money they can spend on these accounts or who they can spend with.

Temporary spending cards

You also have the option to give your employees temporary spending cards. These are cards that activate on a specific date and are scheduled to expire on the date you choose. Consider working with a company like Ramp to provide temporary spending cards to your team when needed.

Temporary spending cards are a practical option for T&E management. When you schedule an employee for work travels, you can provide them with a temporary spending card that’s active for the entire time they’re gone but expires on the day you expect them to return.

Take part in employee reimbursement programs

You can also take part in expense reimbursement. That means your employee pays up front, and you reimburse them on their paycheck. However, be careful with this option because it could lead to your business expenses causing financial hardships for your employees. At the same time, reimbursement leads to unnecessary paperwork and introduces risk of error - both of which could cut into your business’s bottom line.

Get Ramp to take control over your business finances

Warm cards are an excellent option for some businesses, but they’re not the perfect option for everyone. If you need to give your employees a way to access your money, consider an alternative, like Ramp, that makes it easy to issue employee spending cards with spending limits as well as temporary spending cards.

You get much more when you work with Ramp too. Enjoy complete expense management, simple accounting integrations, access funding with sales-based underwriting, detailed financial analytics, and other features that can help put and keep your business finances on track. Find out how Ramp can help your business today.

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Content Lead, Ramp
Fiona writes about B2B growth strategies and digital marketing. Prior to Ramp, she led content teams at Google and Intercom. Fiona graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English. Outside of work, she spends time dreaming about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one day.
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