How to choose the best corporate card for your business

Seven factors to consider when choosing a corporate card.
Author
Justin Wolz
Updated:
February 21, 2024
Head of Marketing
Reviewed by
Updated:
February 21, 2024

Corporate cards can be an effective cash flow and spend management tool whether you’re an LLC owner or a midmarket corporate finance team. 

You want to ensure you’re selecting your company's best business credit card, but thousands of options are available today. 

In this blog post, we cover seven qualities the best corporate cards share to make the corporate credit card evaluation process easier so you can pick the right one for your business. 

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1. Spend controls

Corporate credit cards are an effective spend management tool, but using a corporate card without spend control can lead to significant headaches for your finance team. 

You want to empower your team to participate in your corporate finances and make the necessary purchases without exposing your company to needless risk.

To manage employee spending, businesses typically write expense policies that cover everything from what types of expenses can be approved to how reimbursements from personal credit card purchases are handled. 

However, without proper spend controls, employees could use corporate cards in a non-compliant way. 

Legacy corporate card issuers like American Express, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are financial service providers first and foremost. 

They have strong brand recognition but lack technology that can control how employees spend using their cards. 

On the other hand, spend management technology companies like Rho provide corporate cards (with built-in spend controls that stop non-compliant spending before a card is swiped – while supporting the next big consideration: streamlined accounting. 

For example, you can create a virtual Rho Card with a fixed amount that can work like a gift card where you assign a value where a card can no longer be accepted once that amount of spend is reached.

Look for a corporate card option that issues unlimited physical and virtual cards for your entire team but allows you to watch carefully through preset category restrictions, automatically enforced spending limits and customizable permissions.

These capabilities aren’t a warranty against non-compliant spending, but they go a long way in helping finance teams spend less time enforcing expense policies and more time on higher priority items. 

2. Easy accounting and transaction reconciliation 

The work doesn't end there once you issue employee cards with spend controls that digitize and enforce your expense policy. Your finance team is still responsible for reconciling all your transactions when it comes time for month-end close. 

The best corporate cards support a smooth reconciliation process during month-end close. 

How? Inquire about the credit card issuer’s process for reporting card transactions. 

For example, old-school corporate credit card providers may offer enticing travel rewards programs and other perks (like airport lounge access) but rely on outdated statement-based systems that slow down credit card transaction reconciliation. 

Before working with Rho, Northpoint Roofing Systems would have to wait until 15 days after the end of the month to code expenses.

Others may offer a bank feed integration that sends your card transactions to your accounting software via a bank feed, but this option only sends a limited data set, including the transaction amount and memo field. 

Additional data, such as merchants and receipts, aren’t synced. As a result, transactions cannot be mapped automatically to your books and reconciled with speed.

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 to your accounting software, including merchants, notes, receipts, and additional attributes. 

Not only does this help finance teams automate everyday transactions, but it also creates a clear end-to-end audit trail for maximum oversight. 

Even if your business is smaller and you work with a third-party accounting service or have a fractional CFO, you want to ensure your corporate card isn’t costing you thousands of consulting fees. 

3. Real-time integrated budget and expense reporting

Today, the most advanced corporate cards can report and categorize expenses as they occur, automate your most time-consuming tasks, and integrate seamlessly with your other banking and accounting software.

You can get as comprehensive or granular as possible with real-time company spend visibility.

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.

4. Higher, stable extended credit limits

It is common for corporate card providers to apply a one-size-fits-all underwriting approach to evaluating companies for a line of credit. 

Applying for the Amex Business Platinum Card, Capital One Spark Cash, Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card, or another legacy option means you will be asked for annual revenue data, often requiring a personal guarantee or collateral before issuing a corporate card. 

This can be challenging for newer businesses like startups experiencing rapid growth but lacking historical financial information to the degree these legacy providers ask for. 

Newer fintechs like Brex and Ramp that offer corporate charge cards strongly emphasize current cash balance, which may cause you to experience a limit cut if you experience seasonal increases or decreases in activities. 

You don’t want to be caught in the holiday shopping season or in another critical time for your business and experience an extended credit limit surprise. 

The best corporate cards – particularly for high-growth companies – approach underwriting more holistically, using multiple data points, including operating cash flow generation, credit history, and founder history, to understand your business better.

They understand your company’s cash conversion cycle evolves monthly and let you choose the best payment terms to accommodate your changing needs each season. 

In our latest post, you can read about how Rho’s unique underwriting model supports higher, more stable extended credit limits. 

5. A competitive cashback card rewards program

Corporate credit cards can be a powerful spend management tool, but why not earn rewards when you pay for business travel or office supplies in the process? 

The right cashback rewards program can help you offset costs for business expenses like cloud computing or employee bonuses at the end of the calendar year. 

Some corporate cards offer points-based rewards, while others provide cashback. Some may prefer the benefit of rewards points earned to book travel, yet while points are the longest-running option, they aren’t necessarily best for your business. 

Beyond travel, it's common for points to be redeemable at retailers, either for purchases or gift cards. The downside is that many teams find redeeming points overly complicated and time-consuming.

The benefits of cashback are more straightforward and preferred by many businesses: 

  • You can apply cash rewards toward any type of future eligible purchase
  • Unlike bonus points, you won't have redemption restrictions such as brand requirements or blackout dates
  • Cashback gives you greater flexibility and more options even if you decide to use your rewards on business travel
  • Cash never expires

Cashback rates and bonus offers are important factors to consider when evaluating corporate cards, but they shouldn’t be your only ones, especially if you view them primarily as a spend management tool. Instead, weigh cashback as one of many factors. 

For example, suppose a corporate card offers you 2% cashback on purchases but leads to your finance team spending hours every month to reconcile data, or you need help enforcing expense policy compliance. In that case, a more technology-forward solution is preferable. 

Powered by Mastercard, the Rho corporate credit card offers spend controls and accounting automation that keep business spending in check and save finance teams hours, it also offers businesses up to 1.25% cashback, issued monthly as a statement credit. Terms apply.

Interested in how Rho Rewards compare to Chase Ultimate Rewards and other membership rewards programs? Check out our Rho Rewards page. 

6. No personal guarantees or liens on business assets

Small business cards – such as the Chase Ink Business Preferred or the American Express Blue Business Plus Credit Card or the Business Gold Card – often require a personal guarantee on a line of credit. 

This means business owners are legally responsible for repaying their company’s debt and stand to lose their 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 hinder 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 credit cards can be a great option for smaller companies (and small business owners) with less than five employees, you will want a corporate card that leaves personal finances out of the equation as your business scales.

The best corporate cards for growing businesses are those without strict personal guarantee requirements, but decide if you’re willing to ante up your private assets when more sensible options are on the table. 

Rho does not require a personal guarantee, consumer credit report (personal credit check), or personal credit score pull, meaning business owners are not personally liable for their business accounts.

7. No annoying annual fees or other charges

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 fees for international business purchases
  • Further penalties if a minimum level of spending isn’t regularly met

High-interest rates and annual fees can lead to debt build-up and affect your business credit score.

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) your team members are spending or where—the best corporate cards make all transactions fee-free and 

That means zero charges for issuing cards across your team, making any payment, and doing business anywhere you like. 

Depending on your business needs, you may prefer corporate charge cards like those provided by Rho that don’t come with expensive late payment fees, because you must pay off the balance every month (or day, depending on credit terms) via balance transfer. 

Wrap-up: Apply for the Rho Card today!

Choosing the right corporate card business isn’t as easy as picking the option that provides a 0% intro APR; their effectiveness as a expense management tool can vary depending on the type of card you choose. 

Rho’s fee-free, unsecured corporate cards offer flexible terms, a competitive cashback rewards rate, and high, stable credit limits to better meet business challenges in our modern world. Apply for Rho today!

FAQs: Corporate credit cards 

What is a corporate card?

A corporate card helps companies manage their business expenses and budgets. It's often used for expenses like travel, digital ads, client entertainment, cloud computing, SaaS software subscriptions, and more.

One of the first concepts you’ll encounter when evaluating different corporate cards is the personal guarantee.

What is a personal guarantee?

A personal guarantee means that if your business fails to pay its corporate card balance, the business owner can be held financially liable for the debt. Some corporate card providers require a personal guarantee to limit their risk exposure.

Others elect not to require a personal guarantee, instead balancing risk by relying on cash-based or more dynamic underwriting models.

Can I apply for a Rho corporate card if my business is a sole proprietorship? 

No. Rho is open to businesses incorporated in the United States with the exception of sole proprietors, freelancers, or unincorporated businesses. 

What are the requirements for a Rho Account?

All Rho applicants are required to provide business information and key documents. Typically, required documents include:

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Company bylaws
  • EIN letter
  • Beneficial owner information
  • Additional documents and information where applicable

For companies applying for Rho credit, our underwriting team will require additional financial information prior to account opening. 

Who is Rho’s credit card issuer? 

Our banking services provided and no-fee credit cards issued by Webster Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.

What is a credit card issuer? 

A credit card issuer, often a credit card company or a bank, provides consumers with credit or debit cards, enabling them to make transactions. 

These issuers, which include companies like Visa and Mastercard, manage the card’s functions and regulate its transactions.

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