Do You Treat All Cardholders Equally?

Word gets out if you treat cardholders differently—particularly if you allow some to get away with breaking the rules. One risk is cardholder resentment, which can shine a poor light on the program. Even worse, it can lead to card misuse and abuse by the “favored cardholders” who know they can likely get away with it. As such, it is critical to consistently enforce card program policies and procedures, regardless of an employee’s job role/position. This requires some planning, so following are three action items to support this Commercial Card best practice. 

Three Action Items

1. Determine the Consequences for Non-compliance

To prevent a debate over what to do every time a rule is broken, identify the appropriate action up front. Consistent consequences are part of consistent enforcement, but they should be based on the severity level of a particular infraction. Consider the different types of issues, which vary widely. Examples include:

  • ordering a higher quality good than what is allowed
  • using a non-approved vendor
  • late reconciliation of transactions
  • missing or vague receipts; some organizations offer a “missing receipt form” for cardholders to complete, but be aware that receipt issues could indicate fraud
  • personal use of the card that the cardholder presents as a legitimate business transaction; in other words, fraud

Some things might warrant a warning and/or additional training, but it could depend on whether it is a cardholder’s first offense or part of a repeated pattern. Fraud should be grounds for termination and never tolerated.

Ensure you also decide how to address the “approving manager” associated with a non-compliant cardholder. After all, they fulfill an oversight role. Their sign off on cardholders’ transactions represents that the transactions are legitimate and comply with program policies and procedures. 

2. Create Template Email Language

Besides ensuring a consistent message when communicating an issue, having a ready-to-use template speeds up the process since you will not have to start from scratch. The tone of the email should align with the severity of the issue, as well as your organization’s internal culture. Before finalizing the template, obtain approval from management. 

3. Establish a Way to Track Infractions

Finally, tracking infractions by cardholder provides documentation to support the consequences. In addition, the ability to review and filter infractions organization-wide can help instigate change by highlighting: 1) possible gaps in the training and/or 2) unclear/vague policies and procedures.

See more card program management content from Recharged Education.

 Do your communications with different cardholders all add up to be the same, consistent messages?

Do your communications with different cardholders all add up to be the same, consistent messages?



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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

When P-Cards are NOT the Best Option: A Real-life Example

Purchasing Card, Virtual Card, or other payment method? A company for which I did some consulting work was initially planning to adopt P-Cards for certain orders under $2,000. After all, this is where P-Cards traditionally excel. However, a review of the facts revealed otherwise in this case. My ultimate recommendation to them was to back away from their P-Card plan and instead consider Virtual Cards. Keep reading to see why and how this case might align with circumstances within your organization. 

The Situation

The company thought it was spending too much time on low-dollar purchases. Specifically, buying departments had too many invoices to approve and, subsequently, accounts payable had too many invoices to pay. It sounded like a great P-Card opportunity until they mapped out the related purchase-to-pay (P2P) process for these orders. The purchases in question utilized an eInvoicing model for which the suppliers, in conjunction with invoice submission, electronically provided various order details requested by the company. The P2P process was quite slick. The main drawback was the invoice volume; orders under $2,000 comprised approximately 55% of the activity.

Changing to a P-Card process would have actually complicated everything, negating the benefits of P-Card usage. They had cost analyses to prove it. Ironically, the company had a separate P2P process (not their eInvoicing model) that could have benefited from P-Card adoption.

A Better Solution

In their eInvoicing model, Virtual Card payments could have helped by retaining the existing process efficiencies, but providing a secure, electronic payment option. Low-dollar invoices could be consolidated into fewer payments for AP to make and tweaks to their invoice approval process could reduce the burden on buying departments.

Key Takeaways

When contemplating a change to your payment strategy, be sure to:

  • specifically identify the pain points you are trying to solve
  • revisit your P2P requirements, as perhaps some simple tweaks could resolve the pain points
  • document today’s P2P process cost and what it might be after implementing a particular change
  • research various options before making any decisions
 Every new payment strategy plan deserves another look before pursuing. You might find that a Plan B would be better. 

Every new payment strategy plan deserves another look before pursuing. You might find that a Plan B would be better. 



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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

Open Up Your Card Program Communication Plan

What’s left to do after you have perfected your Commercial Card training options? Answer: Maintain the momentum. Training should not be left as isolated events that occur pre-card issuance and annually. Supplement those efforts with a broad communication plan that goes beyond email. Below are eight ways to keep the learning opportunities open.  

Communication Strategies

Many of the following options are quick additions, but others take more time. Before you add anything to your to-do list, evaluate the cost versus benefit and whether a particular initiative could have a positive impact on your program. 

1. On-demand training

Make any electronic-based training that cardholders and managers have already taken accessible on demand in case anyone wants to review again.  

2. “Cheat sheet” of key points

For example, some cardholders might appreciate a summary of what to use their cards for (and what is prohibited). For manager-approvers, a list of what they should look for when reviewing cardholders’ transactions could be helpful.

3. Post-training follow-up

As described within a past post on extending training, consider scheduling a 15-minute meeting or call with a new cardholder a couple days (or even a week or two) after they complete the initial training. This gives them the chance to ask questions and share their early experiences with card use.

4. Newsletters

Some organizations have had success with quarterly or monthly Commercial Card program newsletters. See one end-user’s experience and acquire related tips.

5. Short videos on specific topics

In our YouTube-centric world, quick “how to” videos accessible through your Intranet can make cardholders more comfortable, boost compliance, and reduce FAQs. For example, demonstrate how to order online with your office supplies vendor and/or how to reconcile transactions. 

6. Online links to submit a question

Within each section of your online policies and procedures manual, consider adding a link or contact form, so employees can easily submit a question about the content they are looking at. 

7. Alerts within the program technology

Can you add an eye-catching message within the login screen or home page of your card program technology? If yes, do so when you need to announce an important change or reminder, but avoid overuse, which can make readers oblivious to such messages.

8. Meetings with individual departments

Such meetings allow you to address the unique needs of each department. It helps build rapport, which can motivate program participants to maximize card usage.

In Case You Missed It

Is your P-Card training 5-star worthy? The previous post offered four attributes of effective training and related questions to help you assess where you can improve. Access the post...

 Keeping the learning opportunities open contributes to a well-managed Commercial Card program.

Keeping the learning opportunities open contributes to a well-managed Commercial Card program.


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About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more