A company credit card is a convenient purchasing tool for any small business.
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Back in the early days of your company, you were the only one who needed the company card and keeping track of its use was a piece of cake.
But now that your company is growing, other employees also require access to the company card and you need to come up with a plan before things get totally out of control.
The responsibility for defining acceptable uses of your company's credit card falls on you, the business owner. Left undefined, your company's credit card usage will be determined by individual employees and may result in extravagant charges or even abuse. A proactive, acceptable use policy is the ounce of prevention you need to avoid costly cures later on.
You obviously don't want just anybody using the company credit card. Some employees have a legitimate need to charge purchases and some don't.
Employees who have been approved to use the company card should be notified and given clear instructions about its acceptable business usage. Card users should also understand that permission to use the company card is a convenience, a privilege that can be revoked if misused.
Individual Cards & Statements
These days it's common for credit card companies to provide individual card for each approved employee. Since the monthly statements are separated by employee credit card, monitoring each employee's charges is a relatively painless proves.
Additionally, individual cards make it possible to set different transaction and purchase limits for each employee. With some credit cards, you can even limit the kinds of purchases each employee is permitted to charge to the business' account.
Business Use vs. Personal Use
A policy that allows employees to routinely use a company credit card for personal purchases is a disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later, someone will fail to reimburse the business for a personal purchase.
When that happens, it can be difficult to determine whether it was an accidental oversight or an intentional act of deception. Even if it was accidental, the fallout can sometimes push a valuable employee out the door. It's one thing if an employee uses the company card for personal reasons in an emergency, but otherwise personal use of the business credit card should be restricted.
Employees who use company credit cards should be required to provide a monthly reconciliation of their purchases in addition to the monthly statement received from the credit card company. Forms and methods of monthly reconciliation vary from company to company, but typically include receipts and other details of each purpose. Reconciliations are then reviewed by supervisors to monitor for signs of abuse or fraud.
Written Use Policy
The best acceptable use policies are written down and distributed throughout the organization. It's also not unusual for businesses to require signed statements indicating that employee credit card cardholders understand the policy and agree to abide by its provisions.