This article was written in collaboration with one of Zeni’s trusted partners, Lilas Kniho from Ramp, America's fastest-growing corporate card and spend management platform designed to help companies spend less. Read on to learn more, or visit https://ramp.com/partners/zeni


It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running: You need a foolproof way to track money being spent by employees on behalf of your business. And the larger your business grows, the more complex this becomes. 


In some cases, businesses employ traditional employee reimbursement programs. In others, they turn to corporate credit cards. 


Over the past several years, corporate credit card programs have become more sophisticated, intelligent, and tuned-in to the needs of business owners. From the ability to instantly issue virtual cards, to setting smart controls around spend and credit card limits, to full-blown expense management systems, businesses of all sizes can benefit from corporate credit card programs like what we offer at Ramp.


In this article, we’ll review the two most popular methods businesses use to facilitate and track expenses, and share our best practices for keeping corporate card programs under control.


Corporate credit cards vs employee reimbursements

Businesses typically chose to manage business spending by facilitating employee reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses, or issuing corporate credit cards to employees.


Employee reimbursement programs have been used for years by small businesses and large corporations alike, however the process is complex, time-consuming, and cumbersome for everyone involved. Employees are required to front costs of business-related expenses on their personal credit cards, which could add up quickly if they travel, entertain clients, or make large purchases frequently. Employees must track and file expense reports with managers, who review, approve, and pass along to the finance department to process the reimbursement.


With a corporate credit card account, businesses can manage all employee expenses from a single platform with built-in controls and expense management systems, streamlining the process dramatically. Finance teams and business leaders gain access to greater visibility across an organization for who spends what, where, and why. Plus, employers can access perks, rewards, and/or accumulate points they can apply toward their business expenses.


In some cases, businesses may take a hybrid approach. Key business leaders or members within the organization who are responsible for the bulk of spend on behalf of the business are issued corporate credit cards, and employees who only require occasional reimbursements can use personal payment methods and follow the employee reimbursement process for reimbursement.

How do corporate cards make expense management easier?

Corporate credit cards allow the finance team and business leaders to proactively manage employee expenses in a number of ways.

  • Set spending limits and enforce card transaction rules by employee or business unit
  • Control approved merchants/vendors and locations of credit card transactions
  • Request purchase approval before transactions takes place
  • Monitor cash flow via a single credit card platform
  • Facilitate expense reporting process from within the business credit card platform
  • Immediately issue credit cards to new employees, with instant access to virtual cards
  • Limit fraud and misuse of business cards with built-in controls and proactive monitoring


Some business leaders shy away from issuing company cards to members across their organization, for fear of losing control of expenses or misused funds. However, with a thoughtful partner and clear expense policy, businesses may find employing a corporate card program helps them save time, resources, and money as they grow.


5 Best practices for managing corporate credit card use

For any corporate credit card program to be successful, a business must set expectations and clearly communicate cardholder responsibilities from the get-go. At Ramp, we work with hundreds of companies of all sizes, across every industry, and have developed a set of best practices for managing corporate credit card use.


1 | Create an expense policy

Before issuing a single corporate credit card to your employees, take the time to setup a company credit card policy and guidelines for your business. This expense policy should set expectations and clearly communicate corporate cardholder responsibilities from day one. 


With Ramp, businesses can enforce expense policies using Ramp’s back-end controls, and send automatic reminders to employees requesting receipts and details about the transaction to remain in compliance with the business expense policy.


Beyond keeping business expenses under control, a thorough corporate expense policy is important to implement and follow should your business undergo an audit down the line.


2 | Set limits on spending

Work with team leads to set an overall budget, and allow managers to allocate funds to teammates accordingly. By setting limits on spending or usage at the team and individual level, businesses can more actively manage corporate credit card spend.


With Ramp, businesses can control spend before it happens with pre-approved daily, monthly, and one-time limits that eliminate out-of-policy spend.


3 | Monitor employee spending habits

Proactively manage employee spending habits by setting alerts and monitoring transaction activity on a regular basis—not just when the monthly statement is delivered. This is especially important and helpful for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs with limited operating capital.


With Ramp, you can find, browse, and download real-time transactions from any employee, department, or merchant on any device—no need to wait for the credit card statement to arrive at the end of the month.


4 | Make your corporate credit card expense reporting easy

The simpler the expense reporting process, the more likely your employees will follow it. Investing in a spend management tool is a great way to streamline and remove friction from your expense reporting process.


With Ramp, expense reporting is built-into the platform and accessible to employees virtually anywhere—including mobile app, SMS, email, and even Slack. The expense reporting tool is equipped with powerful category controls, receipt capture via smart scanner, automatic reminders, simple approval workflows, and more. Managers and finance team members can easily review and approve expense reports through a single digital portal. 


5 | Sync directly with your accounting software

When a business employs a modern corporate credit card program, it has the ability to save finance teams a considerable amount of time and paperwork. Look at programs that offer credit card integration with your accounting software that automatically pull through receipts and transaction categorization details. Your finance team or accounting department will appreciate the “last mile” data entry automation.


Ramp offers direct integrations and native support for advanced accounting needs like multi entity, split transactions, and project codes. It currently integrates with all major accounting software solutions, including QuickBooks Online, NetSuite, Xero, Sage Intacct, and more.


How Ramp Makes Corporate Credit Card Management Easy

Ramp’s Visa corporate card and expense management solution help startups spend less, take control of their finances, and stay on top of key bookkeeping and accounting tasks. The Zeni Finance Team appreciates the thoughtful controls, receipt management, and accounting integrations Ramp has in place, which help Zeni customers using Ramp easily enforce their corporate credit card policies and streamline their corporate card reconciliation process.

 

Coupled with Zeni’s AI-powered finance concierge, Ramp’s spend management solution—built with powerful automated accounting and expense management software, high credit limits, 1.5% cash back on every purchase, instant virtual cards with powerful card limits and controls, and no fees—is a strong addition to any startup, small business, or enterprise finance stack.

 

Check out how Ramp can power your business

 

Learn how your startup can unlock real-time visibility into your business finances with the Zeni Dashboard.