Jan 26, 2024
5 minutes

Five creative ways to maximize rewards on your corporate credit card

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Quick summary

Sixty-five percent of small and growing businesses use credit cards in the US. Why? For a start, they can offer great business benefits like cash flow management and flexibility. They also often come with other juicy rewards too, including cashback, air miles, or points. But as they say: ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch,’ and in this article, we dig into how much value the added benefits might offer — and how to issue and use them while keeping a tight grip on business spend.

Table of Contents

    With small and growing businesses spending over 20% more on corporate credit cards since the pandemic, credit cards are more popular than ever. But with "great spending power" comes "great responsibility" — as global spending on corporate credit cards rises, it becomes crunch time for robust spending policies and compliance.

    Check your corporate card policy before spending a cent

    Before you start dishing out corporate credit cards, you should go through the terms of the credit card provider with a fine-tooth comb to check who’ll receive the rewards and how to redeem them.

    You’ll also need to create (and implement) your own credit card policy to ensure there are no grey areas when it comes to using the cards or their rewards. Corporate credit card misuse is an ongoing risk. It’s worth checking if your credit card provider (or a connected expense solution) can offer you in-built customizable card controls and approvals to help make adoption and compliance easy for your spenders.

    In some cases, your company may insist that your people only use the rewards for business travel expenses, mileage, per diems and other company expenses. But in others, your business may view them as an added ‘personal benefit’ and let people use them however they want.

    It seems obvious, but be careful to check if any of your free benefits are actually ‘free’. If you’re paying a big premium for your cards, you’re paying for the rewards. No judgment here if that’s part of your plan for employee satisfaction and retention, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on, especially when juggling many other finance tasks.

    Discover the biggest benefits of smart corporate cards

    Five creative strategies to maximize rewards on your corporate credit card

    Using or choosing which provider? Here are five creative strategies to make sure you make the most of your corporate credit cards and their added benefits (without losing control of spend).

    1. Watch for sign-up bonuses

    Many business credit cards offer sign-up bonuses. These bonuses vary widely but typically include rewards like:

    • Cashback on purchases: Many corporate card issuers offer a percentage of cashback for any purchase made on a corporate credit card. Let’s say you spend $30,000 on a business credit card in a calendar year at a 2% cashback rate which means an extra $600 for your company
    • Reward points or Air Miles: Want to help your coworkers reach new heights? Your team can redeem accrued points or miles for travel, merchandise, gift cards, or other perks
    • Discounts or Credits: Card issuers often partner with businesses and brands. For example, if a card issuer partners with a SaaS provider, gym, or restaurant chain, your cardholders might benefit from better rates and discounts
    • Introductory APR Offers: Giving corporate customers a 0% APR for the first year can go a long way as it incentivizes business spending via a credit card and provides a pain-free credit line for business purchases

    2. Kick non-compliance to the curb (and take your time back)

    Any idea what takes corporate cards to the next level? Connected corporate expense management software that lets you set card controls, like spending limits and approvals, and auto-capture data for real-time reconciliation.

    Look for a solution (like Payhawk) that can support your corporate credit cards and also take care of bill payments, subscription management, multi-entity management, procure-to-pay, and more. Don’t make life harder by choosing a different tool for every purpose. Ride the second wave of digital transformation and discover spend all management – all in one.

    3. Redeem rewards wisely

    You can normally unlock credit card rewards at pretty much any time (observing restrictions, limits, and expiry dates). But, at times of high demand (holiday seasons, beginning of the fiscal year), you can likely save more on your corporate card purchases than usual.

    Let’s imagine your card provider gives a once-a-year 10% flight discount. You will squeeze the most value from it by waiting for the most expensive periods to cash in and take flight — summer, Christmas, etc.

    4. Stay tuned for promotions & regularly review terms and conditions

    Credit card issuers frequently offer limited-time promotions and bonuses to get people reaching for their plastic, with offers typically cropping up in the low seasons, like Spring or Autumn.

    Sign up to email notifications and check the issuer’s social media profiles to see if there’s anything new and stay ahead of the best offers.

    Card issuers also include these in their terms and conditions, notifying their users directly about the terms of the new offers. So, stay informed to reap the best benefits (even if that means occasional email you don’t need).

    5. Use cashback for reinvestments and time it right

    Often, corporate card issuers onboard a new client offer them a % cash back to sweeten the deal for the first few terms.

    With the right planning and forecasting, this can be really useful for your business. If you only get cashback for your first six months, consider stacking your utility payments or one-off outgoings in that period rather than monthly, as you’ll get more back for every buck.

    It takes careful planning, but it allows you to reinvest in your business for a short but impactful period.

    Read the fine print to understand limitations, restrictions and expiration dates

    There is no denying when it comes to Ts&Cs, the devil's in the details. As a financial professional, we know you'll cover every detail when it comes to the overall conditions of your credit card.

    But when it comes to the reward program, here are the three most important things to keep in mind:

    1. Limitations: There may be limits on how many rewards you can earn, how you can redeem rewards, or what types of purchases are eligible for rewards. For instance, many card providers limit their cashback to a specific cap. For example, a card may offer 2% cash back on all purchases, but there may be a maximum cap of $1,000 in cash returned for each year.
    2. Expiration Dates: Some reward programs have expiration dates for rewards, which means that if you don't redeem them in time, you could lose the value of the rewards. Write expiration dates in your calendar to redeem your rewards before it's too late.
    3. Restrictions: There may be restrictions on how you can redeem rewards, such as a requirement to redeem in a specific way or to use rewards for certain purchases, as well as "black-out" dates.

    By taking the time to understand the terms and conditions of your rewards program, you can get the most out of your business credit card and make the right choice of credit card provider.

    Ready to transform how you manage corporate expenses? Book a personalized demo with Payhawk today.

    Trish Toovey - Content Director at Payhawk - The financial system of tomorrow
    Trish Toovey
    Senior Content Manager

    Trish Toovey works across the UK and US markets to craft content at Payhawk. Covering anything from ad copy to video scripting, Trish leans on a super varied background in copy and content creation for the finance, fashion, and travel industries.

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