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8 ways the smartest corporate cards cut through the noise and add real value to your growing business
Picking the right corporate card is an important part of meeting a growing company’s financial goals and effectively managing team spend. But with such a wide range of cards on the market, it can be difficult to know which factors to consider as you evaluate your options.
In this guide, we outline eight ways the best corporate cards help you optimize your cash flow, minimize costs and liabilities, and take greater control over your company’s finances.
Let’s take a closer look into each key point of comparison before assessing how some of the top corporate cards measure up.
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High credit limits
Many corporate card providers take a rather limited approach when calculating credit limits.
Traditional providers, for example, underwrite your business by looking at years of operation and revenue base. On the other hand, newer startups focus solely on your cash balance and neglect all other metrics, meaning your credit limit fluctuates—and often decreases—as you spend.
The best corporate cards—particularly for high-growth companies—leverage the latest financial technology to approach underwriting more holistically. They conduct research from multiple angles and using multiple data points, including cash flow generation, expansion of gross margins, and founder history to gain a deeper understanding of your business.
A modern, holistic approach to underwriting yields several immediate benefits. Most importantly, it finds your company the highest possible, stable credit limit that scales along with your business as it grows.
With these methods at your disposal, there’s no reason to let your credit limit waver with your cash balance and plummet unexpectedly when you most need support. Rather, use a high, stable limit to fuel your business’s expansion—and spend your way to growth.
More cash back
Most corporate cards offer some form of reward with every purchase, either as cash back or as points that can be put toward major business expenses like travel. Prioritizing one redemption over the other is usually a question of weighing their relative pros and cons against your particular business needs. Cash back is by far the most simple and straightforward option, but points can potentially land you great deals on partnering flights and hotels.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however—and with the growing popularity of remote work across the globe—the significant drawbacks of accruing points have become clear.
As travel has slowed and the majority of meetings and conferences have shifted to virtual platforms like Zoom, points that would have been applied to business trips have become all but useless. Instead, they’ve just accumulated in corporate accounts and may have even expired due to inactivity.
As the saying goes, cash is king. It can be used on anything, anywhere, and it never expires.
Every business is different and follows its own development, production, and sales rhythm throughout the fiscal year. And as more startups, e-commerce brands, and gig platforms join the mix and experiment with alternative business models, it’s unreasonable to expect all companies to adhere to the same rigid credit terms when it comes to their spending.
Businesses need the flexibility to adjust their credit terms regularly to account for seasonality and meet shifting demands.
The best corporate cards understand that your company’s cash conversion cycle evolves from month to month and let you choose the best payment terms to accommodate your changing needs each season. Look for cards that offer one-day settlement plans with higher cash-back rewards and extended payment options that allow you to stretch and maximize your float.
You’re running a business, so we don’t have to tell you that every dollar counts. Still, many issuing banks continue to impose damaging fees for using their credit cards.
When selecting a corporate card, read the fine print in the terms and conditions to see if they charge:
An annual service fee
Late repayment and interest fees
Extra price tags for each new card and cardholder
Foreign transaction (FX) fees for international purchases
Further penalties if a minimum level of spending isn’t regularly met
These are usually in addition to the banking fees, ACH and wire fees, and interest rates charged by most financial institutions—costs that can add up fast for a growing business.
It shouldn’t matter who (and how many) members of your team are spending or where—the best corporate cards make all transactions fee-free.
That means zero charges for issuing cards across your team, making any kind of payment, and doing business anywhere you like.
No personal guarantees or liens on business assets
Small business cards - such as the Amex Plum Card or Capital One Spark Card - often require a personal guarantee on a line of credit, meaning business owners are legally responsible for repaying their company’s debt and stand to lose their personal assets if a balance goes unpaid.
Many lenders also place a lien on business assets, giving them legal claim to all of a borrower’s business holdings if a loan goes into default.
These policies aren’t just a financial burden; they can serve as a barrier to growth and innovation. Business owners may be reluctant to take chances on new opportunities and experiment with new business models if they know their personal finances and professional gains are on the line.
While small business cards can be a great option for smaller companies with less than 5 employees, as your business scales, you will want a corporate card which leaves personal finances out of the equation.
The best corporate cards don’t impose a lien on your private or business assets.
When choosing the right corporate card for your growing company, be sure to check if a personal guarantee is required—and then decide if you’re willing to ante up your private assets when more sensible options are on the table. And if you don’t know where to look, many companies have a knowledge center that can help you find this information quickly and easily.
Real-time, integrated reporting
Today, the most advanced corporate cards are able to report and categorize expenses as they occur, automate your most time-consuming tasks, and integrate seamlessly with your other banking and accounting software.
With real-time visibility into company spend, you can get as comprehensive or as granular as you like.
To make the most of your financial tools, opt for a card that offers:
A centralized dashboard where charges are displayed and organized in real time
Digital receipt upload for all purchases
Auto-syncing with accounting services like Quickbooks for instant reconciliation and easy expense reporting
Streamlined, automated workflows for expense requests and approvals
The ability to track team spending across different channels and entities
Budgeting tools that compare team performance to departmental budgets
The Rho Card offers all of these features to not only grant you deeper insights into your corporate finances, but also make your finance team’s job a breeze.
Of course, none of these benefits can deliver true value to your business if it’s offset by poor security and limited oversight.
You want to empower your team to participate in your corporate finances and make the purchases they need without exposing your company to needless risk.
Look for a corporate card option that issues unlimited physical and virtual cards for your entire team but allows you to keep careful watch through preset category restrictions, automatically enforced spending limits, and customizable permissions.
Corporate finance can (and should) be a team sport—with the right protections in place.
When it comes to integrating with your accounting, many traditional card providers take the old-school approach and send all card transactions to your accounting software via a bank-feed.
The challenge is that the bank feed only sends a limited data set including only the transaction amount and memo field—additional data such as merchants and receipts are not synced. As a result, transactions cannot be mapped automatically to your books and reconciled with speed.
The best corporate cards write directly to your GL, helping you automate your accounting and save precious time.
To close your books faster, look for a card provider that integrates seamlessly into your accounting workflows and writes transactions directly to your General Ledger—already coded and categorized. Unlike the bank feed, this is possible because you can send and map enriched transactional data, including merchants, notes, receipts and additional attributes to your accounting software.
Not only does this help finance teams automate everyday transactions but it also creates a clear end-to-end audit trail for maximum oversight.
How do the top cards perform?
Taking all of these factors into account, let’s take a look at how the most popular cards on the market measure up—from more traditional players like Amex and CapitalOne to newer players like Rho, Brex, and Divvy.
Plotting our differentiating elements along a simple, comparative chart, it’s clear that innovative card startups are taking a more well-rounded approach to the modern financial landscape.
As you consider which corporate card is right for you and your business, be sure to keep these factors front of mind and to leverage the features that will best fuel your company’s growth.
For high-growth companies, the data speaks for itself: the Rho Card is likely to be the best corporate card option across the board.
If you’re looking for a way to get started, Rho’s expert team is always here to help.
Want to learn more about the Rho Card?
Our fee-free, unsecured corporate cards offer flexible terms and high, stable credit limits to better meet the challenges of doing business in our modern world.
Read up on our physical and virtual corporate credit cards or chat with one of our specialists to learn how you can make the most of your business banking.
*Information, including the rate of return, in the snapshots pictured above is for illustrative purposes only. Your actual returns, if any, will vary based on a variety of facts and circumstances, including, without limitation, your assets and investment policy selection.