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How virtual credit cards enhance security and control

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The payment industry has undergone a digital transformation in the last couple of years, and while this evolution has opened doors to new opportunities, it has also increased security risks. 

As more businesses operate online, the potential risks – from data breaches to financial fraud – become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. 

Research shows that North American fraud rates in 2023 – including attempted and successful incidents – increased by 70%, compared to 59% in 2022.

Hence, securing financial transactions is necessary in today’s digital-first environment. 

But where should you start?

A great first step is to adopt virtual cards as your preferred payment method.

What are virtual credit cards? 

Virtual credit cards are exactly what they sound like: credit cards that exist solely in digital form. They work just like traditional credit cards, holding a unique card number, validity date, and security code.

They’re created from your existing corporate card and via the virtual card platform you decide to use. As with a traditional credit card, you can use a virtual card to make purchases online, over the phone, and in person by loading them into your mobile wallet for contactless payments. 

What sets virtual cards apart from their physical counterparts is that virtual cards exist strictly in the digital realm, making them more secure and customizable.

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control over transactions 

Virtual credit cards bring unprecedented security and control over financial transactions, among other benefits, for businesses looking to streamline their spend management. This manifests in several key areas, allowing your business to navigate its finances with greater precision and security.

Unique card numbers 

Whenever you use a virtual card, you generate a unique credit card number. You can use this number to pay for a one-time transaction or other specific uses by assigning it to an employee, vendor, or client account for recurring payments. Relying on unique card numbers rather than one single number from your physical card is the best option for securing and controlling business expenses. Doing so eliminates the need to share physical card numbers across your organization and reduces the risk of card theft, cloning, or misuse. If a virtual card number is compromised, its impact is limited to that specific transaction or card, allowing you to quickly deactivate it and prevent widespread fraud.

Spending limits and expiration dates 

Another great advantage of virtual credit cards is the ease of setting and adjusting spending limits and expiration dates per card. Not only is this great for securing transactions, but this functionality ensures expenses remain within the allocated budget while maintaining financial discipline across departments and projects. It also guards against unauthorized charges or misuse. Adjusting these settings in response to changing economic situations or unexpected needs enhances your control and responsiveness in financial management.

Real-time transaction monitoring

Maintaining visibility is crucial when managing expenses to control cash flow and catch any potential unauthorized charges in time. Relying on month-end reports can be challenging for finance teams as funds have already been spent. Virtual cards transform this process into a proactive approach. They offer real-time visibility into company spending, ensuring you're always informed about where and how funds are used. This level of visibility is invaluable for effective budgeting, making timely financial decisions and analyses, quickly identifying discrepancies, and aligning every transaction with the company’s financial strategy and objectives.

Better expense management 

To simplify expense management, you need clarity and control, often lost in traditional methods where employees face costs and seek reimbursements. Instead of forcing employees to front the bill, use virtual cards. Employees can access an immediate payment method when needed, while finance teams retain complete oversight and control. This approach reduces the need for employees to pay out-of-pocket and streamlines expense reporting, freeing finance teams from the burdens of a cumbersome reimbursement process. 

Case study: A business success story

Let's look at how virtual cards can protect payments in real life through the lens of one of our customers, an electronic online retailer and wholesaler.

Before using Extend and virtual cards to manage transactions, the online retailer used one corporate card to manage inventory purchases for more than 200 vendors. Leaving the same card on file with every vendor proved to be a challenge since they experienced fraudulent charges at least once or twice a year, “an eight-month-long nightmare,” as the retailer’s business manager put it. 

Fortunately, they found Extend. 

After registering their existing corporate card, the retailer started creating new virtual cards in a matter of minutes. Fast forward to today: they create a unique virtual card for every vendor, meaning they never have to leave their primary card on file again, protecting them from exposing their primary account information. 

The results have been transformative. 

Not only were they able to reduce fraud hassles, but they prevented wrongful billing by setting exact spending limits on each card, and increased oversight when reconciling charges with original orders. 

Added bonus? They can continue to earn rewards for every transaction from their preferred card program.

Want to experience a similar success story? 

Leverage virtual cards for enhanced security in your business

Shifting to virtual credit cards is a strategic move to ensure safety and control over your company's financial transactions. 

From preventing fraud and overspending to increasing security, virtual cards are simply a better choice for today’s fast-paced and digital-first environment.

Learn more about how to implement virtual cards in your business. 

Blog

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control

Author
Irais Urias
Content Marketing Manager
Virtual Card Spend
No items found.
Share post

The payment industry has undergone a digital transformation in the last couple of years, and while this evolution has opened doors to new opportunities, it has also increased security risks. 

As more businesses operate online, the potential risks – from data breaches to financial fraud – become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. 

Research shows that North American fraud rates in 2023 – including attempted and successful incidents – increased by 70%, compared to 59% in 2022.

Hence, securing financial transactions is necessary in today’s digital-first environment. 

But where should you start?

A great first step is to adopt virtual cards as your preferred payment method.

What are virtual credit cards? 

Virtual credit cards are exactly what they sound like: credit cards that exist solely in digital form. They work just like traditional credit cards, holding a unique card number, validity date, and security code.

They’re created from your existing corporate card and via the virtual card platform you decide to use. As with a traditional credit card, you can use a virtual card to make purchases online, over the phone, and in person by loading them into your mobile wallet for contactless payments. 

What sets virtual cards apart from their physical counterparts is that virtual cards exist strictly in the digital realm, making them more secure and customizable.

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control over transactions 

Virtual credit cards bring unprecedented security and control over financial transactions, among other benefits, for businesses looking to streamline their spend management. This manifests in several key areas, allowing your business to navigate its finances with greater precision and security.

Unique card numbers 

Whenever you use a virtual card, you generate a unique credit card number. You can use this number to pay for a one-time transaction or other specific uses by assigning it to an employee, vendor, or client account for recurring payments. Relying on unique card numbers rather than one single number from your physical card is the best option for securing and controlling business expenses. Doing so eliminates the need to share physical card numbers across your organization and reduces the risk of card theft, cloning, or misuse. If a virtual card number is compromised, its impact is limited to that specific transaction or card, allowing you to quickly deactivate it and prevent widespread fraud.

Spending limits and expiration dates 

Another great advantage of virtual credit cards is the ease of setting and adjusting spending limits and expiration dates per card. Not only is this great for securing transactions, but this functionality ensures expenses remain within the allocated budget while maintaining financial discipline across departments and projects. It also guards against unauthorized charges or misuse. Adjusting these settings in response to changing economic situations or unexpected needs enhances your control and responsiveness in financial management.

Real-time transaction monitoring

Maintaining visibility is crucial when managing expenses to control cash flow and catch any potential unauthorized charges in time. Relying on month-end reports can be challenging for finance teams as funds have already been spent. Virtual cards transform this process into a proactive approach. They offer real-time visibility into company spending, ensuring you're always informed about where and how funds are used. This level of visibility is invaluable for effective budgeting, making timely financial decisions and analyses, quickly identifying discrepancies, and aligning every transaction with the company’s financial strategy and objectives.

Better expense management 

To simplify expense management, you need clarity and control, often lost in traditional methods where employees face costs and seek reimbursements. Instead of forcing employees to front the bill, use virtual cards. Employees can access an immediate payment method when needed, while finance teams retain complete oversight and control. This approach reduces the need for employees to pay out-of-pocket and streamlines expense reporting, freeing finance teams from the burdens of a cumbersome reimbursement process. 

Case study: A business success story

Let's look at how virtual cards can protect payments in real life through the lens of one of our customers, an electronic online retailer and wholesaler.

Before using Extend and virtual cards to manage transactions, the online retailer used one corporate card to manage inventory purchases for more than 200 vendors. Leaving the same card on file with every vendor proved to be a challenge since they experienced fraudulent charges at least once or twice a year, “an eight-month-long nightmare,” as the retailer’s business manager put it. 

Fortunately, they found Extend. 

After registering their existing corporate card, the retailer started creating new virtual cards in a matter of minutes. Fast forward to today: they create a unique virtual card for every vendor, meaning they never have to leave their primary card on file again, protecting them from exposing their primary account information. 

The results have been transformative. 

Not only were they able to reduce fraud hassles, but they prevented wrongful billing by setting exact spending limits on each card, and increased oversight when reconciling charges with original orders. 

Added bonus? They can continue to earn rewards for every transaction from their preferred card program.

Want to experience a similar success story? 

Leverage virtual cards for enhanced security in your business

Shifting to virtual credit cards is a strategic move to ensure safety and control over your company's financial transactions. 

From preventing fraud and overspending to increasing security, virtual cards are simply a better choice for today’s fast-paced and digital-first environment.

Learn more about how to implement virtual cards in your business. 

About the author

Irais Urias

Content Marketing Manager

Irais is the Content Marketing Manager at Extend. An ambitious and performance-driven professional, Irais brings over five years of experience in journalism, content marketing, social media, and communications. Before Extend, she was the Marketing Communications Specialist at DATAMARK, where she led content marketing and social media campaigns, further deepening her skills in strategic storytelling and augmenting brand affinity. She earned a B.S. in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Marketing from The University of Texas at El Paso.

Frequently asked questions about security and spend control with virtual credit cards.

How are virtual cards more secure?

Virtual cards enhance security in several key ways, making them a safer option than traditional credit cards. Each virtual card holds a unique number, significantly reducing the risk of fraud. You also have the ability to set customizable spending limits and expiration dates for each card, allowing for precise control over transactions. Shifting from a single corporate card to multiple virtual cards greatly minimizes the risk of unauthorized use and fraud within your organization, thereby bolstering the overall security of your business transactions.

What is the benefit of a virtual credit card?

Virtual cards have many benefits, but two stand-out benefits are their enhanced security and transaction control. They empower businesses with tailored spending limits, expiration dates, and real-time monitoring. This not only aids in efficient budget management but also substantially lowers the risk of fraud, offering a secure and controlled financial transaction environment.

Why are virtual cards secure?

Virtual cards are particularly secure due to their unique design. Each transaction generates a distinct number, masking sensitive card details with a secure code. Additionally, businesses can set specific spending limits and expiration dates for each card. This multi-layered approach minimizes the potential for unauthorized access and fraud and adds an extra layer of security, making each transaction inherently safer and more controlled than traditional credit cards. 

How do virtual credit cards work?

Virtual cards operate similarly to physical cards, each having a unique credit card number, expiration date, and security code. Businesses can generate virtual cards for specific or recurring payments, using auto-refill features for ongoing expenses. This functionality enhances flexibility in managing business finances, allowing precise control over each transaction while maintaining the convenience and familiarity of traditional card usage.

Are virtual cards safer than physical cards?

Yes, virtual cards are generally considered safer than physical cards. Their distinct, transaction-specific numbers and supplementary security measures offer a more robust shield against fraudulent activities and unauthorized usage, enhancing the overall security of your financial transactions.

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How virtual credit cards enhance security and control

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Irais Urias

Content Marketing Manager

The payment industry has undergone a digital transformation in the last couple of years, and while this evolution has opened doors to new opportunities, it has also increased security risks. 

As more businesses operate online, the potential risks – from data breaches to financial fraud – become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. 

Research shows that North American fraud rates in 2023 – including attempted and successful incidents – increased by 70%, compared to 59% in 2022.

Hence, securing financial transactions is necessary in today’s digital-first environment. 

But where should you start?

A great first step is to adopt virtual cards as your preferred payment method.

What are virtual credit cards? 

Virtual credit cards are exactly what they sound like: credit cards that exist solely in digital form. They work just like traditional credit cards, holding a unique card number, validity date, and security code.

They’re created from your existing corporate card and via the virtual card platform you decide to use. As with a traditional credit card, you can use a virtual card to make purchases online, over the phone, and in person by loading them into your mobile wallet for contactless payments. 

What sets virtual cards apart from their physical counterparts is that virtual cards exist strictly in the digital realm, making them more secure and customizable.

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control over transactions 

Virtual credit cards bring unprecedented security and control over financial transactions, among other benefits, for businesses looking to streamline their spend management. This manifests in several key areas, allowing your business to navigate its finances with greater precision and security.

Unique card numbers 

Whenever you use a virtual card, you generate a unique credit card number. You can use this number to pay for a one-time transaction or other specific uses by assigning it to an employee, vendor, or client account for recurring payments. Relying on unique card numbers rather than one single number from your physical card is the best option for securing and controlling business expenses. Doing so eliminates the need to share physical card numbers across your organization and reduces the risk of card theft, cloning, or misuse. If a virtual card number is compromised, its impact is limited to that specific transaction or card, allowing you to quickly deactivate it and prevent widespread fraud.

Spending limits and expiration dates 

Another great advantage of virtual credit cards is the ease of setting and adjusting spending limits and expiration dates per card. Not only is this great for securing transactions, but this functionality ensures expenses remain within the allocated budget while maintaining financial discipline across departments and projects. It also guards against unauthorized charges or misuse. Adjusting these settings in response to changing economic situations or unexpected needs enhances your control and responsiveness in financial management.

Real-time transaction monitoring

Maintaining visibility is crucial when managing expenses to control cash flow and catch any potential unauthorized charges in time. Relying on month-end reports can be challenging for finance teams as funds have already been spent. Virtual cards transform this process into a proactive approach. They offer real-time visibility into company spending, ensuring you're always informed about where and how funds are used. This level of visibility is invaluable for effective budgeting, making timely financial decisions and analyses, quickly identifying discrepancies, and aligning every transaction with the company’s financial strategy and objectives.

Better expense management 

To simplify expense management, you need clarity and control, often lost in traditional methods where employees face costs and seek reimbursements. Instead of forcing employees to front the bill, use virtual cards. Employees can access an immediate payment method when needed, while finance teams retain complete oversight and control. This approach reduces the need for employees to pay out-of-pocket and streamlines expense reporting, freeing finance teams from the burdens of a cumbersome reimbursement process. 

Case study: A business success story

Let's look at how virtual cards can protect payments in real life through the lens of one of our customers, an electronic online retailer and wholesaler.

Before using Extend and virtual cards to manage transactions, the online retailer used one corporate card to manage inventory purchases for more than 200 vendors. Leaving the same card on file with every vendor proved to be a challenge since they experienced fraudulent charges at least once or twice a year, “an eight-month-long nightmare,” as the retailer’s business manager put it. 

Fortunately, they found Extend. 

After registering their existing corporate card, the retailer started creating new virtual cards in a matter of minutes. Fast forward to today: they create a unique virtual card for every vendor, meaning they never have to leave their primary card on file again, protecting them from exposing their primary account information. 

The results have been transformative. 

Not only were they able to reduce fraud hassles, but they prevented wrongful billing by setting exact spending limits on each card, and increased oversight when reconciling charges with original orders. 

Added bonus? They can continue to earn rewards for every transaction from their preferred card program.

Want to experience a similar success story? 

Leverage virtual cards for enhanced security in your business

Shifting to virtual credit cards is a strategic move to ensure safety and control over your company's financial transactions. 

From preventing fraud and overspending to increasing security, virtual cards are simply a better choice for today’s fast-paced and digital-first environment.

Learn more about how to implement virtual cards in your business. 

Beyond plastic cards: The ultimate guide to business virtual credit cards

As your business expands, you need to stay attuned to the future. Within the realm of business finances, this translates to reassessing the way you make and manage payments and the tools you use to do so. If you still rely on traditional physical credit cards, checks, or ACH payments — there’s a better way. 

With the rise of online transactions and the increasing need for secure payment methods, the business virtual credit card has become indispensable for companies of all sizes. More than just a payment method, virtual cards are a strategic asset for businesses seeking to streamline expense management and establish an overarching spend management strategy. 

But what is a virtual credit card, and how does it differ from a traditional physical card?

Whether you're a startup exploring new payment methods or a well-established corporation looking to streamline processes, understanding the power of virtual credit cards is essential for the future of your business. 

In this guide, I’ll delve into the mechanics, benefits, and best practices of using virtual credit cards for business. 

Let's get started. 

What is a virtual credit card?

A business virtual credit card is a digital version of a traditional corporate credit card. Each virtual card consists of a unique 16-digit number, security code, and expiration date, and although they’re typically associated with your main credit card account, they stand alone in their functionality. 

Virtual cards were initially created to enhance security around payments since they safeguard real account information and protect against data breaches and fraud. However, the benefits of virtual credit cards have since expanded beyond just security. Today, virtual cards offer businesses a comprehensive suite of helpful features, from real-time expense tracking to on-demand payments.

You can use virtual cards for one-time or recurring payments and easily deactivate or modify them to fit your company's needs. This adaptability makes them a preferred choice for businesses looking to modernize their payment processes without overhauling their existing financial infrastructure.

How do virtual credit cards work? 

Diving deeper into the mechanics of virtual credit cards, it's essential to understand their operational framework. How do these digital tools function in the vast ecosystem of business finances? Well, much like their traditional counterparts. 

You can use virtual cards for various transactions, whether you make them online, in-app, on file, and, depending on your issuer, in person via mobile wallets. Through a virtual card app, which you can use via your desktop or mobile device, you can create and distribute as many virtual cards as you need in a matter of minutes. 

This means you can instantly equip your team with a payment method when they need one and gain even more control while doing so — thanks to spend limits and custom expiration dates. 

For instance, let’s say your team needs to charge various expenses for an upcoming project. Simply create a virtual card with a precise spending limit and a set duration, and distribute it in seconds. Once the project wraps up, you can easily deactivate the card, ensuring no unexpected charges crop up. 

Every transaction you or your team makes with a virtual credit card is logged in real-time, giving you an immediate snapshot of your expenses. This instant tracking keeps you updated and helps you spot any irregularities or potential fraud. Notice something off? You can take immediate action, showcasing the proactive nature of virtual cards. 

Why should you use virtual credit cards for business? 

Embracing virtual credit cards in your business is not only about transitioning to a more effective payment method; it's a strategic move to future-proof your financial operations. As industries become more interconnected, the demands for swift, transparent, and secure transactions will grow, and agility and adaptability will be even more critical. With virtual credit cards, you can instantly gain the security, flexibility, control, and real-time insights to navigate the complexities of payments.

6 Benefits of using business virtual credit cards 

Beyond serving as a modern payment method, virtual cards for business offer many advantages that allow you to get more out of your business credit card, enhance security, and provide unparalleled control over transactions. 

Enhanced security 

One of the primary reasons businesses gravitate toward virtual cards is the enhanced security they bring to the table. Each virtual card has its own unique card number, and you can use it for specific transactions, contractors, or employees. So if a virtual card number is compromised, you don’t need to worry about jeopardizing your entire credit line. Simply deactivate the virtual card and create a new one, rather than having to close down your entire credit card account and start from scratch. 

Simplified vendor management

Navigating vendor payments can be a hassle for any business, and let’s not talk about the pain of having to update cards on file with Every. Single. Vendor. That’s the drawback of traditional payment methods; they may work, but they’re also cumbersome and time-consuming. With virtual cards, vendor management becomes notably simpler. You can tailor each virtual card for a specific vendor, ensuring precise payment amounts and schedules. This reduces the risk of overpayments or missed transactions and provides a clear audit trail for every vendor interaction. By using virtual cards, you can instantly centralize and streamline payments while gaining a more efficient and transparent approach to vendor management.

Increased control over expenses 

With the ability to set custom expiration dates and specific spending limits on each card, you can ensure employees adhere to budgets and spending policies. With real-time tracking, you can also gain immediate oversight of all transactions, making it easier to spot and address any discrepancies and keep a tight grip on expenses. Not to mention, with a clear view of where and how company funds are spent 24/7, you can proactively manage and optimize tedious yet necessary finance processes, like expense management and reconciliation. 

Improved flexibility and convenience

Gone are the days of waiting for plastic cards to arrive in the mail or the logistical challenges of distributing physical cards to team members. With virtual cards, everything is instantaneous. Need a card for a new vendor or employee? Generate it in seconds. Concerned about a specific transaction? Deactivate the card immediately and create a new one. The digital nature of virtual cards ensures that your business can respond to financial needs promptly, making the entire payment process more streamlined and efficient.

Cost savings

Ditching your plastic and using virtual cards will also translate to tangible savings for your business. 

Virtual cards help you do this in a couple of ways. First, with spending limits, which ensure your business stays within budget and eliminates unexpected overspending. Second, with real-time tracking, since you can easily spot suspicious transactions or fraud and instantly deactivate a card, safeguarding your funds from further unauthorized charges. Third, with streamlined vendor management, which puts you in a better position to negotiate favorable terms and discounts, ensuring you only pay what's necessary. And lastly, think about the hours you'd save on manual reconciliation thanks to the clear transaction trails. That's not just time saved; it's money saved from reduced labor and minimized errors.

Faster processing

Let’s face it, waiting days for transactions to clear can be a hindrance, especially when paying vendors or freelancers. Unlike traditional payment methods that can be bogged down by longer processing times, virtual cards offer near-instant transaction approvals. Whether you're settling an invoice or making a purchase, the speed of virtual cards ensures you don't miss a beat. This swiftness not only enhances your business's agility but also strengthens vendor relationships, as payments are received promptly. By reducing the waiting period associated with payments, you're ultimately boosting your business' productivity and financial fluidity. 

Best practices to manage business virtual credit cards

Learning how to use virtual credit cards is only the beginning. Follow these best practices to maximize their benefits and seamlessly integrate them into your business operations. 

Develop a clear policy 

First, define who can create, request, and approve virtual cards. Whether it's only executive management, specific departments, or every team member within a budget, clarity is vital. Next, set spending limits based on roles or project needs to ensure your business stays within budget. It's also essential to outline the approval process for exceptions to these limits. Incorporate guidelines on when and how to use virtual cards for recurring payments, one-time transactions, or vendor-specific purchases. By doing so, you not only enhance security but also ensure that all team members are on the same page, reducing the risk of unauthorized or fraudulent transactions. Remember, a well-defined policy is the foundation of effective virtual card management, ensuring you reap all the benefits.

Use a centralized platform 

Consider your current and future business needs when choosing a virtual card provider. A good virtual card provider will offer a centralized dashboard that integrates with your existing financial infrastructure, including ERPs, CRMs, and accounting systems. This interoperability ensures you can work seamlessly between platforms without compromising visibility into your expenses. Moreover, it minimizes manual data entry errors and enhances security by enabling quick card modifications. With all virtual card activities consolidated on a single platform, you not only streamline your operations but also foster a more transparent and efficient financial environment. This holistic approach ensures that your business remains agile, making informed financial decisions with ease and precision.

Train employees 

A good virtual card provider will equip you with educational resources and dedicated customer support to help employees grasp the ins and outs of the platform, from generating virtual cards to setting spending limits and monitoring transactions. But if you want to take it a step further, consider organizing in-house training sessions to delve deeper into the nuances of your company's specific virtual card usage and policies. This can also be a good time to review virtual cards' security advantages, such as their role in safeguarding against data breaches and fraud. When employees understand virtual cards' inherent value and safety, they’ll be more inclined to use them responsibly and effectively. Make sure to encourage open communication throughout this learning phase and establish a feedback mechanism where team members can voice their experiences, challenges, or suggestions. This not only aids in promptly addressing concerns but also in refining your company's approach to virtual card management. After all, well-informed employees act as a robust line of defense against potential financial discrepancies and unauthorized transactions.

Implement spending controls

Begin by analyzing your company's past spending patterns, identifying areas where overspending is common, and setting limits that align with your budgetary goals. Then, leverage spending limits when issuing virtual cards. However, if you need to administer funds within various projects, departments, or campaigns, create a pre-determined budget where your team can create, distribute, and use multiple virtual cards accordingly. This not only keeps expenses within your company's budget but also provides a clear audit trail, simplifying reconciliation. When assigning virtual cards to employees, consider their roles and responsibilities. For instance, a team member procuring office supplies might have a different spending limit than someone handling multiple marketing campaigns.

Regularly monitor expenses 

With the advanced features of virtual cards, you're equipped with real-time insights, but it's essential to actively leverage these tools to stay on top of payments. Make sure to consistently pull and review reports to get a clear view of monthly spending, identify trends, spot anomalies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your budget. Regular oversight helps prevent unauthorized or fraudulent transactions and ensures that your spend management strategy aligns with your business goals. Remember, the power of virtual cards isn't just in their use but in the strategic insights they provide, enabling you to drive financial efficiency and growth.

How to get virtual credit cards with Extend 

Staying attuned to the future of finance means embracing tools that redefine how you make business payments. If you're ready to move beyond traditional payment methods and harness the power of virtual credit cards for business, there's no better time than now. 

Learn more about the virtual card features you can instantly start benefiting from, or if you’re ready to get started, we’re here to help!

Corporate credit card expense management: Best practices to track company spend

You need to keep an eye on what your business is spending so you can manage costs and cash flow, but traditional corporate credit cards can make expense management time-consuming, inefficient, and slow.

Oftentimes, finance teams spend countless hours gathering receipts, managing reconciliations, and entering data, only to end up with an out-of-date picture of business expenses.

What if there’s a better way? 

By incorporating modern financial tools into your accounting processes, you can dramatically reduce the time and cost of managing expenses while improving control, safety, and transparency.

Let’s explore how you can turn your corporate credit card into a powerful spend management platform and streamline expenses before they even occur. 

How are virtual credit cards essential for your business expense management?

When it comes to corporate credit card management, more businesses are turning to virtual cards. A virtual card is a unique generated card number associated with an existing account. Aside from the obvious security advantages, like safeguarding your real account information and preventing unauthorized charges with spend limits and custom expiration dates, numerous other benefits have companies locking up their plastic and opting to go virtual.

Save time

In most businesses, the more cards in circulation, the more work for finance teams to oversee the essential back-end management of expenses. Virtual cards enable you to automate and streamline many of the traditional processes associated with card payments. 

Since virtual cards are fully digital, you can significantly streamline reconciliation and expense tracking by managing payments through the virtual card platform. You can also integrate your corporate credit card management software with accounting, personnel accounts, approvals, and other solutions, to give your team full control. Some virtual card providers integrate spend management into an easy-to-access app right from your phone.

Easily manage team expenses

Using a virtual card platform enables you to manage all your team members’ spending needs from a single system. Your finance team can easily create and send virtual cards to individuals, as well as allocate budgets, track cards issued, and monitor spend across the organization. There’s no need to chase people down for expense reports or receipts—and in the case of Extend, you can attach receipts to every transaction and even manage receipt reminders through the platform to streamline requests and approvals.

Control approved vendors

Many businesses establish agreed-upon rates or service-level agreements with certain vendors, but the reality is that educating every employee about those rates can be time-consuming. With virtual cards, you can significantly reduce the risk of overspending by setting pre-determined spending limits, making it easy for your employees and vendors to spend funds for approved purposes only.

Manage payment restrictions

Virtual cards give you granular control over what your team is spending and how. Unlike issuing physical corporate credit cards, with virtual cards, you can set spend controls with card limits and date ranges to avoid overspending and mistaken payments.

Simplify the separation of personal and business expenses

By making it simpler to issue and track employee credit cards, you can reduce the need for employees to front the money for a client or business purchase. You’ll create a better work experience where employees won’t wait for reimbursements. New hires or even interviewees can likewise use a virtual credit card for expenses like travel and accommodations. Plus, capturing expenses on the corporate credit line versus reimbursing employees means more reward points for the company that you would have otherwise missed. 

Request purchases before transactions happen

By centralizing approvals within a single system, your team can request expense approvals well in advance. Not only does this help you ensure that your team is buying the right things through built-in approvals, but you can also project your cash flow with more visibility over upcoming costs.

Limit fraud

Traditional credit cards are ripe targets for fraud and can be easily stolen or lost, but virtual cards are far more secure. Purchases made with a single-use number not only mask your actual account number but also can be disabled after one transaction. 

8 best practices for a corporate virtual credit card policy 

While technology like virtual credit cards can streamline many of the traditional aspects of corporate credit card expense management, you still need the right internal policies to keep your expenses on track. Implementing the following corporate credit card policy best practices can help you build foundational knowledge within your team to get the most out of your spend management system.

1. Issue a corporate card only when necessary

The simplest way to control spending in your business is to monitor who can actually spend. By setting internal benchmarks for which roles are eligible for a corporate card, you can make sure purchasing power stays in the hands of employees with the knowledge and responsibility to use them wisely. For other purchases, consider using single-use virtual cards or escalating purchases to an individual with the right approval status.

2. Create a policy for expenses

Ambiguous spending rules can lead to confusion and frustration among employees and a higher level of risk. That’s why you need a corporate credit card policy with clear rules for eligibility and responsibilities of the user, processes for submitting proof of receipt, and rules for violations. Leveraging a virtual card and spend management platform makes it simple to enforce this policy and improve control and visibility.

3. Set spending limits

Large, unapproved purchases can leave a hole in your budget and your employees’ wallets if they have to foot the bill. By setting clear limits on the amount that can be spent, either in a single transaction or in recurring ones, you can limit your risk exposure on a per-employee basis. You can manage limits by seniority or department to tailor purchasing power according to need while also ensuring peace of mind for the business. 

4. Set departmental budgets

Departmental budgets give you macro-control over spending per team while helping you track expenses by cost center. Not only does it empower departments to manage their own spending, but it also helps you assess margins and efficiency by department according to spend. 

5. Streamline expense reporting

Unclaimed expenses can cause uneven cash flow issues and damage your business. Therefore, make it easy for employees to submit expenses and for you to track spending in real-time while getting full visibility into what your team is buying, whether it’s with a receipt-tracking app or a digital purchasing solution.

6. Define personal versus company expenses

Making it clear what counts as a personal or company expense removes ambiguity for your team and helps avoid awkward discussions once an employee has already spent out of their own pocket. 

7. Set expense categories

Expense categories give you additional control and help you mitigate the risk of misusing virtual cards. This makes tracking and managing payments within various budgets easier while reducing confusion for your team.

8. Monitor spending habits of employees

Corporate cards give you detailed visibility into your employees' spending habits, helping you understand how they work and where you can support them. By understanding the big picture, you can also more effectively spot outliers and opportunities for reducing overspending and fraud.

Features of Extend and corporate credit card management

Extend is designed to give businesses end-to-end visibility, control, and clarity across their expenses. Combining simple software, user-friendly tools, and reliable data, you can take the pain out of corporate credit card expense management while helping your business run more efficiently.

Virtual cards

Extend lets you create unique virtual credit cards for complete control. From one-time use to multi-use and auto-refill cards, you can issue, track and manage your whole corporate expense system from a single platform to keep your team accountable and your business moving.

Spend controls 

Eliminate ambiguity and avoid fraud with spend management functionality. Virtual cards put you in control – you can set card limits, expiration dates, and auto-refill rules and change them anytime. Deactivate and reactivate cards as needed so you’re always on top of your spending.

Real-time visibility over spending 

Bring your reporting into real-time with end-to-end data visibility. Add custom reference codes to match your general ledger and other internal classification of your choice so you can track cost centers and overheads while integrating with other core systems, from accounting to business intelligence.

Easy invoice capture

Streamline your expense reporting by digitizing receipts and invoices and easily attaching them to virtual cards, card requests, and individual transactions. This eliminates the need to chase employees for paperwork, making it easier for you to track your spending and for them to purchase what they need when they need it.

Automated reconciliation

With Extend, there’s no need to reconcile transactions manually. You can attach reference codes to each virtual card and transaction to automate reconciliation in the back end, saving your team time and eliminating ambiguity. 

Extend can help you track company spend with virtual cards

Corporate credit card expense management should help your business stay on track, not slow you down. 

Extend is the only virtual card and spend management platform you can set up in minutes using the credit card you already have. There’s no switching, opening new accounts, or time-consuming contracts. We help you get up and running fast so you can get your expenses under control.

Get in touch to learn how to make your expense management work for you. 

How to avoid going over your business credit card spending limit with virtual cards

A business credit card spending limit can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers a sense of security by establishing a “spending cap” within a particular account, but in reality, a credit limit isn't absolute, and exceeding it, whether deliberately or unintentionally, can have detrimental consequences on your business and cost you more than you might realize. 

These repercussions expand beyond immediate monetary implications and can also affect your business’s reputation in the long run. Therefore, small business owners must not only be aware of their credit card limit but proactively seek methods to extend the payment capabilities within those means. 

In this blog post, I’ll go over business credit card limits, what you can expect if you exceed them, and how virtual cards can help you not only adhere to your limit but extend credit line access across your entire organization. 

What is the average business credit card limit?

As a business owner, having access to sufficient credit is essential, particularly during your business's early stages of growth. Different credit cards cater to diverse needs and financial profiles. For instance, some cards are designed for small businesses or startups, while others are targeted toward larger enterprises with a demonstrated ability to handle higher credit lines. While a high-limit business credit card would offer you more spending power, convenience, flexibility, and rewards, it may not be immediately accessible to every small business owner. 

Ultimately, your business credit card spending limit will depend on multiple factors, including the card issuer, the nature of your business, and its credit history, creditworthiness, revenue, and financial health. But on average, business credit card limits typically range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. 

How does going over your credit card limit affect your business? 

Whatever business credit card limit you can secure for your business, keep a close look at it to avoid surpassing it; doing so can have serious consequences for your company.

Let’s go over some of the most common repercussions:

Fees, fees, fees 

When you surpass your credit limit, financial institutions will often impose penalty and over-limit fees, which can be substantial. These fees can quickly add up, leaving you with unnecessary debt that will significantly burden you and your business finances. 

Damaged credit score 

Going over your business credit card limit can also decrease your credit score and limit your credit availability. A lower credit score makes securing future loans or credit extremely difficult, affecting your ability to grow and expand your business. 

Increased interest rates 

You can also experience increased interest rates on your outstanding balance if you exceed your credit limit. This, in turn, can result in higher monthly payments and make it harder to pay off credit card debt.

Reputational damage 

Continually exceeding your limit will also hurt your borrowing reputation, potentially leading to loan and future credit applications getting denied. This leaves you in bad standing with creditors and can even trigger legal action from debt collection agencies, tarnishing your company’s public reputation and financial stability. Not to mention this information could also raise concerns among suppliers, partners, and customers, affecting who decides to do business with you down the road.

Whether through fees, a bad credit score, or strained relationships with credit card issuers, these repercussions can ultimately limit your spending power and lead to higher borrowing costs — costing you even more every calendar year to not only run your company but to stay in business. 

The good news is that by integrating virtual credit cards into your business processes, you can achieve more with your traditional business card and avoid any financial mishaps that could harm your company’s bottom line, such as exceeding your business credit card spending limit. 

What are virtual credit cards? 

Virtual cards are digital versions of your physical business credit card. They essentially extend the capabilities of your existing card and safeguard your real account information since they have their own unique card numbers, security codes, and expiration dates. This means you no longer need to wait for physical credit cards to arrive in the mail; instead, you can easily create and distribute virtual cards to your team in a matter of minutes. 

Unlike traditional physical credit cards, virtual cards are a great option to manage spend, enhance security measures around payments, and, most importantly, stay within your budget and credit limit. This makes virtual cards perfect for business owners who need quick access to cash but want more control over their company spending. 

How virtual cards help you avoid exceeding your business card limit 

Now, let's explore how virtual credit cards can instantly help you better manage expenses, adhere to your business credit card spending limit, and benefit you as a business owner with a range of other valuable features

Set spending limits 

One of the key advantages of virtual credit cards is the ability to set customized spending limits. This feature empowers you to define the maximum amount that can be charged to each virtual card, thereby preventing overspending. By setting spending limits according to specific needs, projects, client accounts, or departments, you can maintain tighter control over your spending and minimize the risk of exceeding your business credit card limit.

Streamline expense management 

With virtual cards, you instantly gain access to on-demand spend management functions that streamline expense management and simplify tracking and monitoring of all business transactions. For instance, with a spend management platform like Extend, you can easily categorize expenses, attach receipts for eligible purchases, manage expense reports, generate comprehensive reports, and more. This not only centralizes payments in your business but reduces the time you have to dedicate to reconciliation every month. Not to mention you also gain valuable insights into company spending patterns, helping you make more informed decisions regarding budget allocation and cost optimization—resulting in enhanced financial processes and a more proactive approach to managing your business finances.

Monitor transactions in real-time 

Real-time monitoring is another helpful feature small businesses benefit from when using virtual cards. No matter the date or time, you can always stay informed of every transaction and eligible purchase placed on virtual cards. This added visibility, through real-time notifications and customized reports, allows you to promptly detect any unauthorized or suspicious activities and minimize the risk of fraudulent charges or misuse across the organization. You’re always in the loop about where your cash is going, what it's being spent on, and how much remains in order to stay within your business credit card spending limit.

Choosing the right virtual credit card provider for your business

When it comes to selecting the right virtual credit card provider for your business, there are a few key factors to consider.

Security measures

Look for virtual credit card providers that prioritize robust security measures, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and tokenization. These features ensure your financial information remains secure and protected from unauthorized access.

Integration options 

Consider virtual credit card providers that integrate your existing financial management systems. This will streamline your expense tracking and reporting processes, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing potential errors.

Customization and control

Opt for virtual credit card solutions that provide flexible customization options and granular control over virtual cards. This will allow you to tailor virtual card spending to your business needs and maintain strict control over expenses.

Convenience and ease of use 

Many new virtual card providers operate away from traditional financial institutions and require you to completely start from scratch in order to benefit from virtual card issuance. With a platform like Extend, there’s no need to leave your bank or open new lines of credit. All you have to do is sign up via the desktop or mobile app on iOS or Google Play, add your business credit card, and in a matter of minutes, you can create and send virtual cards to anyone in your organization through an easy and intuitive interface. 

Ready to go virtual? 

Managing your business credit card limit is essential for maintaining financial stability and avoiding unnecessary fees and penalties. And with virtual credit cards, you can gain a powerful solution to help you stay within your limits while providing enhanced security and expense management capabilities in your business.

Learn more about the virtual card features you can leverage in your business, or if you’re ready to go virtual, get started here.

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