Survey Shows Sluggish Card Mandate for T&E

There are many cons to not mandating card usage for employees’ travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses. Yet, new survey results from AP Now reveal only 43% of card-using organizations have such a mandate. In 2016, it was 41%, so the needle has hardly moved in the right direction. What does your travel policy say on this topic? If you are among those that make Commercial Card usage optional, or if you require employees to use their own cards, you should reconsider. Take a look at the list of cons below and share with your internal decision makers. Some of them might be resistant to a policy change because they want to earn rewards associated with their personal cards. However, lack of a mandate could be costing your organization.

Source of above statistics: AP Now’s Accounts Payable in 2020 Survey,

Cons to Not Mandating Card Use for T&E

Fraud Risk

I have previously written about the types of games employees can play for their own financial gain when requesting reimbursement for out-of-pocket travel expenses. Two examples are:

  • Submitting the same expense more than once; for example, after making an airfare reservation and again after the trip is complete

  • Altering a receipt to receive more back than what is truly owed

In addition, while not outright fraud, an employee may take more business trips than what is necessary in order to earn more rewards through their personal cards.

All of the above amount to financial hits to your organization.

Lack of Visibility into Expenses

When employees use their own cards, you cannot view or verify their expenses. This hampers fraud prevention and detection efforts. Further, lack of visibility means your organization cannot easily identify expenses ideal for strategic sourcing initiatives.

Tedious Expense Reimbursement Process

Instead of making one monthly payment to the card issuer, accounts payable (AP) has to make separate payments to each employee. Depending on your organization size and the number of business travelers/trips, this could amount to hundreds of payments each month. A card mandate could save your organization time and money.

Losing Out on Potential Rebate 

Commercial Card programs of all types are often eligible to earn revenue sharing incentives (i.e., rebates). When there is not a mandate to use the cards, spend is not maximized. If you have a card program today, work with your card issuer to estimate what your rebate could be if all travel expenses shifted to the cards.

Employee Hardship

Finally, when a company card is not available at all, it can be a real problem for any employees who do not have the means to pay for their travel expenses up front. It creates an embarrassing situation for them and more work for your organization to find a solution.

Related Resources

Lack of a mandate for Commercial Card usage for travel expenses can cause numerous headaches for your organization, including financial hits.

Lack of a mandate for Commercial Card usage for travel expenses can cause numerous headaches for your organization, including financial hits.

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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