CITY NATIONAL BANK'S JEN MURPHY EXPLAINS KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Are you receiving all the value available from your business credit card program? In this Q&A, Jen Murphy, Vice President and Commercial Card Product Manager at City National Bank, explains what businesses should look for in a commercial credit card (also known as a business credit card) and how they can benefit most from it.
Q. What are the advantages of a business credit card?
A. Murphy: One of the biggest benefits is improved cash flow. You can make a purchase and wait to pay for it by the payment due date on the credit card bill. This gives you additional cash on hand that you wouldn't ordinarily have. The other benefit is online access. Look for a credit card program that offers this service at no charge. You should be able to see your transactions as they occur in real time, download all activity into a single report, upload data to your accounting programs, and easily manage expenses for both you and your employees.
Q. What should you look for in a business credit card rewards program?
A. Murphy: Most importantly, points earned should be redeemable for everything from travel to merchandise to gift cards to charitable donations. There should be no cap or expiration date on points as long as your account remains open. Look for a program that makes it easy to book a trip — using rewards points to reserve travel, lodging and rental cars — all in the same transaction. You also should be able to combine your points from personal and commercial credit cards into the same rewards account, as long as the cards come from the same financial institution.
Q. What other elements are important when selecting the right business credit card program?
A. Murphy: Look for a financial institution that will assist you in learning the benefits of the business credit card and the functions of the online platform. The institution's implementation team should be able to help you understand the features and benefits of the business credit card program, learn its nuances, master the online platform, and generally how to use the card to its utmost. Many credit card programs don't provide this one on one service, or they charge for it if they do. So, look for one that will provide personalized service, regardless of the size of your business.
Q. What are the pros and cons of having your employees use business credit cards?
A. Murphy: It's much more convenient than giving your employees cash or checks to make purchases. And, you can earn more points if you have a business credit card account that has a rewards program where points earned from spending on your employees' cards can roll-up to your rewards account. But, make sure you can control the spending amount on the cards issued to your employees. For example, if an employee needs to travel on business, you might want to increase their spending ability for just the time they're traveling and control the kind of merchandise they can purchase with the card. You should be able to specify the type of merchants they can use and those they cannot use. For example, you can allow purchases at office supply stores or gas stations, but not restaurants.
Basically, you need to be able to limit how and where your employees may use their cards and the amount they can spend. You should also be able to view transaction authorizations and declines in real time, so you can always monitor what employees are doing with their cards.
Q. What else should be considered when providing cards to employees?
A. Murphy: It is important that you address the proper use of the business credit card with your employees. Also, look for a card that offers a liability protection program that provides coverage against employee misuse of card privileges.
Q. Why not use a personal credit card for business expenses?
A. Murphy: It's a good idea to separate business expenses from personal expenses — this can greatly simplify pulling records together at tax time. And, commercial credit cards come with a variety of online accounting features that categorize expenses by type, improve expense reporting and integrate with business accounting software.
Q. In your view, what are the three most important things to look for in a business credit card?
A. Murphy: I think you should look for competitive pricing, a valuable rewards program and a comprehensive online platform.
The City National Visa® Commercial Card gives you convenient buying power, an easy-to-use online platform for card monitoring, expense management, and spending controls, as well as complimentary personalized training so that you can take full advantage of the advanced online account management tools. It also provides a premier credit card rewards program, City National Rewards®, that offers the ability to combine points from both business and personal City National Bank Visa credit cards. Learn more or call (800) 773-7100. Also take a look at this demo of our Commercial Card online platform.