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May 25, 2021

Let’s be clear. Selecting a corporate card program is a software decision.

Written by
Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
Let’s be clear. Selecting a corporate card program is a software decision.Let’s be clear. Selecting a corporate card program is a software decision.

It’s time we all started to think differently about our corporate cards. They’re not just an easy way to pay for work expenses without using personal funds. Modern cards are enabled by software that supports pre-spending approval workflows, real-time reporting, and automated accounting. 

The magic doesn’t just lie in how easy it is to purchase something, but in greatly enhanced visibility and control, whether a purchase is made online with a virtual card or in person with a card from their wallet. A card is no longer just a piece of plastic or a randomly generated number; it’s a system that improves AP processes, saves time, and strengthens budget control.

The “old way” of dealing with corporate credit cards involved trying to keep track of who had (or who shared) each card, waiting to receive credit card statements to see what had been spent, downloading CSV files to move data into the GL, unfolding crumpled up receipts to reconcile those statements, and, often, trying to explain why spending went over budget. Today, as TechCrunch explained in a recent article, it’s the software powering a card that makes it indispensable by eliminating those annoying inefficiencies. Let’s take a closer look at the ways software elevates the credit card purchasing process.

Control over spending up front.

Budget owners and management can implement spend controls by setting time and dollar limits when a card is created. When limits are enforced before spending takes place, policies are clear to employees, and finance doesn’t have to worry about surprises when credit card bills arrive. The best software allows for limits to be adjusted as necessary, and provides multiple options for per-card limits, such as by day, week, month, quarter, or year. 

Visibility through accounting automation.

A well-designed approval process for virtual cards makes it easier to track ownership of employee spending, and ensures all stakeholders are aware of an expense, before it even happens. 

When both virtual and traditional corporate card transactions sync to the general ledger, time-consuming reconciliations aren’t necessary to garner an up-to-date view of financial status at any time. Auto-categorization removes the guesswork and enables a smooth sync to the GL. 

Protection from fraud and wasted spend.

Virtual cards have built-in fraud controls, since they can be vendor-specific, which means if one is somehow compromised, the card number can’t be used anywhere else. Software-backed physical cards alert users to possible fraud, and can easily be suspended online by the card owner, or by the company admin in charge of cards. With virtual cards, automated controls also check for duplicate charges or subscriptions, and cards can be set to send an alert when a subscription is about to expire in order to avoid unwanted auto-renewals. And because they are tied to specific employees, it’s easy for the finance team to shut down any charges tied to a departing employee and avoid “zombie spend.”

An easy audit trail, without having to chase receipts. 

Because the workflows powering virtual cards ensure each step takes place in one platform, all documentation — approvals, receipts, and other related documents — are found in one place. That means no more frantic sleuthing in the event of an audit

The software backing physical cards can enforce receipt compliance by reminding those with delinquent receipt uploads to do so. In fact, card controls can even be set to suspend a card if receipt compliance rules aren’t followed within a certain time period. Another nice feature of a card as software is that a user is prompted to upload the receipt at the time of purchase. Even better, the ability to take a photo of the receipt with a mobile app, then upload it into the transaction record, means nobody has to hand over a pile of receipts, or file a dreaded expense report, after a business trip or client meal. 

Monetize AP. 

Cash back earned on credit card spend isn’t new to software-backed cards. But when a virtual card program is housed on the same platform as bill payments, it’s also possible to swap ACH or check purchases to cards in order to earn cash back when paying bills.

Join the finance professionals who’ve discovered the power of cards as software. Schedule a demo with Airbase.

Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson

About Airbase

Airbase offers a one platform solution to manage all non-payroll spend. It provides oversight and control over spending with real-time reporting and automatic syncing directly to your general ledger. Control all paymentsphysical cards, virtual cards, ACH, and checks – from one place. Close faster. Empower employees. Control spend.

To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
Laura Slauson
Laura Slauson
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*Cashback rate offered on Airbase charge cards may vary based upon the Secured Overnight Financing Rates published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or any such similar benchmark rates. Additional terms apply.