Key takeaways

  • If your employer gives you a company credit card, you’ll want to make sure you understand your company’s use policy to avoid exceeding limits or making unauthorized purchases.
  • Save your receipts and any written purchase authorizations you receive from a supervisor, and make sure to submit expense reports promptly.
  • Keep a personal card with you as a backup — and if you do accidentally use a business card for a personal purchase, repay the charge and tell your employer immediately.

Your company just gave you a credit card to use for job-related expenses. That can make daily life and business travel a lot more convenient. At the same time, it’s important to make sure you use the card in the way your employer intends.

That starts with understanding how corporate cards work, as well as your employer’s company card policy. If you work for a small business, you may be added as an authorized user to your employer’s business card, which works a bit differently. In that case, the card you’re given to use may function more like a personal credit card, not a corporate card.

Either way, you’ve been entrusted with a credit card connected to your employer’s business, and it’s important to use it properly. Here are some general guidelines to follow and actions to avoid when using your company’s credit card:

5 ways to use your company credit card responsibly

Using your company credit card the right way can show your employer that you can be trusted with it in the long run. To help you use your card responsibly, keep these tips in mind:

1. Know the credit card use policy

When you first get assigned a company card, your supervisor might walk you through the restrictions or give you a document listing all of the company’s rules. You might even have to sign something stating you read those rules. Either way, make sure you know your company credit card use policy on what can and can’t be charged on your credit card. You may be held responsible for any charges that are not authorized by the company.


Bankrate’s take: Some companies don’t have clear written policies about how to use a company credit card. When in doubt, ask your supervisor. You’re better off inquiring about the unwritten rules than getting surprised that you’ve broken them later.

2. Understand your spending limits

Stay current on the spending limits your company has placed on specific types of spending, such as on booking hotel rooms, entertaining clients and paying for meals while you are traveling. Some companies set spending limits for certain categories of purchases with their credit card company, and you may be held responsible for paying the difference if you overspend. Others don’t set such limits.

3. Save your receipts

Make sure you keep good records — even for minor purchases like a cup of coffee or a short Uber from your hotel. Your company will probably require you to submit receipts for your purchases. If you think you will lose the receipts, take photos on your phone or use a free tool like CamScanner.

4. Have a backup card

When traveling on business, have your own card ready — preferably a card that earns rewards — for unexpected expenses your company doesn’t cover. You don’t want your company credit card to be your only backup if you have to pay for something like a trip to the pharmacy for medication you forgot or clothes to wear if your luggage gets lost.

Similarly, you might have to make a business purchase on your personal card in some situations and get reimbursed for the purchase later — but make sure you’re following your company’s reimbursement rules if that’s the case.

Keeping a rewards credit card as your backup card is also a good way to ensure you maximize the rewards for those purchases yourself while you’re away on business — especially if you’ll get reimbursed for a business-related purchase at the same time.

5. Be prompt with expense reports

File your expense reports on time. It will be easier for your employer to stay on top of paying the card in a timely way if you provide the information the accounts payable team needs upfront. This can also help you stay in good standing when it comes to your company’s use policy and avoid discrepancies from piling up.

7 pitfalls to avoid when using your employer’s credit card

Having a company credit card can make your job a lot easier, but not if you’re consistently using it the wrong way. Some common pitfalls you should avoid when using your card include:

1. Starting to spend immediately

Don’t use the card until you know what the company’s rules are on using it. As stated previously, you’ll likely be walked through those rules by a supervisor or given a document listing them out. If you’re not given any documentation, it’s a good idea to ask for a copy of the rules so that you can revisit them if you haven’t used the card in a while.

In addition to not using the card before you know your company’s use policy, you might have to simply wait because of accounting restrictions. Maybe your employer gave you the card but wants you to wait until the beginning of next month to start using it, or maybe it’s only for use while on business trips. Paying attention to these details can help you avoid starting off your company credit card journey the wrong way.

2. Making large unauthorized purchases

Avoid making large purchases without getting approval from a supervisor in writing, even if your company has no official policy on this. It’s always best to avoid surprising your employer with unexpected bills, especially if the purchase comes close to maxing out your credit limit.

3. Exceeding the spending limit

Speaking of your spending limit — if you’re getting close and think you may need to exceed the limit on a business trip, ask as soon as possible. Your company may be able to raise your spending limit without penalty or ask you to put some charges on your personal card and submit them for reimbursement.

4. Using a company card for personal purchases

Never use your company card for personal expenses, unless it’s a real emergency. To avoid that scenario, always have another payment card available for your personal expense. If an emergency comes up and you do have to use it, notify your supervisor proactively, so there are no misunderstandings.

5. Keeping mistakes secret

Communicate with your employer about mistakes. Making personal purchases on a business credit card likely violates the terms and conditions of the card agreement, which can have serious consequences. If you accidentally use your business card because you mix it up with another card in your wallet, repay the charge immediately and notify your supervisor.

6. Using rewards points you earn

Never assume the rewards points from your business card belong to you. Your company may have a policy in which the points belong to the company. Ask about the policy if you’re not sure.

7. Being lax about security

Even if it’s a corporate card, it’s your responsibility to report fraudulent charges to the card company and notify your employer. If you notice any charges you don’t recognize, or if your card gets lost or stolen, notify your company immediately. This way, they can take appropriate action to prevent future theft. Keep any business card as secure as you would keep your own card.

The bottom line

Corporate cards perks and tools that can be valuable to any employee, saving you from the burden of having to put business purchases on your personal credit cards and maxing out your credit. However, it’s also a big responsibility, and you’ll want to make sure to use your card exactly as your company intends.