5 Tips for Using Corporate Credit Cards

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Employees lucky enough to earn company credit cards no doubt know the importance of using them carefully. After all, any abuse of a corporate card would reflect poorly on the employee. But even the most cautious company cardholder might miss these easily-overlooked tripwires.

1. Know the rules on personal use. Some companies may allow company credit cards for personal use and some don’t. Make sure you find out what side of the fence you’re sitting on before you ever use your company card for personal use. If you are eligible for personal use, be extra cautious where you use the card — if you pull your corporate card out at a strip club, for example, you’re asking for trouble.

2. Watch your limit. Most corporate cards come with maximum limits attached. If you exceed that limit, especially on a regular basis, you’re sending a message to your company that you’re careless with house money. Always know what the card limit is, and stay below it.

3. Ask for card benefits. Companies are institutions, and can’t always benefit from things like frequent flier miles or cash-back rewards. Ask your firm if you can have your name on the credit card, and if you can be the beneficiary of frequent flier miles and other card benefits. Companies will usually go along with handing over benefits to valued employees, but it’s always preferable to ask before the fact — not after you’ve been receiving them.

4. Watch out for fraud. If you’re lucky enough to be using a company credit card, don’t press that luck by using the card in dubious areas. Such areas include Web sites that don’t use secure servers and any point of transaction that doesn’t give you a receipt. Credit card scammers are everywhere and the last thing you need is to be called on the carpet because you were the reason your company’s credit card was compromised. Good tip — when you get the monthly statement, give it a good read to make sure the card hasn’t been misused. If you see a discrepancy, report it immediately to your employer.

5. Be careful with cash advances. Some situations may arise when you need a cash advance — not every retailer, especially small restaurants, may take your card. Just let your accounting department know that you’re taking a cash advance. Otherwise a cash advance without notice may raise the wrong eyebrows.

It’s usually best to look at your corporate card as a privilege and not a right. If you mishandle it in any of the ways listed above, it can be taken away. And that might leave a black eye on your career.

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