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Charge it to the company card?

By Janna Herron ·
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Question: When is it wrong to use a corporate card for personal expenses? Answer: When you're running for political office.

Just ask Sen. Marco Rubio.

The Florida senator -- also a contender for the Republican vice-presidential candidate -- cleared up some financial habits he engaged in while serving as the state's Speaker of the House on Monday night in a Fox News interview.

Rubio acknowledged that he used a Florida Republican Party's American Express charge card to pay for personal expenses, but said he paid his portion every month to the issuer. (The monthly balance of a charge card must be paid off in full, unlike a credit card that requires just a minimum payment.)

"At the end of every month, we would get those statements, we would see what was on there that was party-related, and the party would pay that. If it wasn't party-related, I would pay that, directly to American Express," Rubio said on Fox News. "It wasn't like I reimbursed the party; I paid it directly to American Express at the time."

He said that at times, a travel agent billed the card on file, which was the charge card. Other times, he accidentally pulled out the wrong card from his wallet.

A 2010 investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald found that Rubio's personal charges included groceries and family reunion expenses. Rubio eventually had to pay the state GOP $2,400 for double-billed airline flights as well. A spokeswoman from the state GOP told the two newspapers at the time that party charge cards shouldn't be used for personal expenses.

This brings up a good point for everyone who carries a company card. Know your employer's policy regarding personal expenses: Some businesses allow those charges (if they are paid back) and some don't. The same advice goes for charging business expenses on your personal credit card and seeking reimbursement later from your company.

(For more on corporate cards -- such as how they can affect your credit score -- check out Bankrate's article here.)

While it seems Rubio has squared away his charge card mess, the senator offered a few words of wisdom Monday night.

"But, look, I shouldn't have done it that way. Lesson learned."

Have you made any corporate card goof-ups?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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