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Mar 29, 2021

The Most Popular (And Atypical) Business Expenses of 2020

Kelly Soderlund

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Ever wonder what companies spend T&E money on when the “T” is on pause?

When TripActions launched its fintech payments solution, TripActions Liquid™ in February of 2020, nobody could have guessed how interesting the year would become.

As COVID hit and employees were sent home to work remotely, most finance teams ventured into new territory, but lacked the tools to fully grasp where employees were geographically—or what they were spending company money on—only until after they submitted an expense report.

In response, TripActions accelerated the Liquid product timeline, secured $500 million in credit line, and expanded the types of expenses we could manage beyond business trips. The resulting product provided HR and finance teams with complete, real-time visibility and control on a wider spectrum of spend for customers, right when business travel was easing and the economy was shifting. By extension, TripActions expanded its TripActions Liquid™customer base, which now includes customers such as Zoom, Lyft, Wayfair, Foursquare, and Toast.

Now, as data starts to roll in, the new suite of reporting tools from Liquid is providing a fascinating look at how customers spent money during a unique year for businesses. While some of these purchases may surprise you, they were approved and within that company’s policy. That’s because TripActions’ dynamic policy controls (a trademark of the technologies pioneered by TripActions) allows the company to adjust spend policy controls for different employees, facilitating a wide range of authorized expenses.

At the one-year mark of the pandemic, here’s a look at the popular and atypical TripActions’ customer expense trends of the pandemic era.

Top Expensed Items (non-travel):

  1. Restaurants*
  2. Computer software
  3. Miscellaneous
  4. Courier services
  5. Computer programming
  6. Durable goods
  7. Electronic stores
  8. Gas*
  9. Bookstores
  10. Non-durable goods
  11. Grocery stores/supermarkets
  12. Real estate agents/rental management companies
  13. Cleaning products
  14. Telecommunication services
  15. Temp agencies
  16. Computer accessories
  17. Advertising
  18. Fast food
  19. Misc. business services
  20. Parking garages

Most Popular Monthly Subscriptions

Individual purchases are just one part of the TripActions Liquid platform. The technology also helps manage payments for recurring subscriptions as well as spot purchases. Here’s how this category broke down over the past 12 months.

The Atypical Expenses of the Pandemic

Not all business expenses fall under the restaurant and courier categories. Some companies have other needs. While some of the expenses below may surprise you, they were all submitted within the policy guidelines set by the respective company’s finance managers within the product.

  • Country club memberships
  • Aquariums
  • Orthodontia
  • Fraternal association dues
  • Freezer and locker meat provisioners
  • Detective agency
  • Arcade games
  • Drinking places
  • Cable
  • Garden supplies
  • Sewing supplies
  • Dry goods
  • Florists
  • Lab tests
  • PR consultants
  • Cigar stores
  • Pet supplies
  • Charitable and social service organizations/ fundraising
  • Tolls/Bridge fees
  • Warehouse stores

How TripActions Liquid Works:

TripActions is modernizing legacy spend management by leveraging fintech infrastructure via virtual and physical corporate credit cards, in order to completely automate and eliminate manual expense management.

  • Employees swipe the card and policy is automatically applied.
  • Employees no longer need to file expense reports, as details are captured at the time of purchase.
  • Finance teams no longer need to check if expenses are within policy, since that policy is applied up front.
  • Finance teams no longer need to manually upload and reconcile all of the data.
  • Finance teams no longer need to audit receipts and compare them to details entered by employees to catch fraud, since TripActions automatically captures the credit card transaction details.

Using a spectrum of tools like smart cards and spend management dashboards, TripActions has built the ability to eliminate expense management, by tying spend policy to an employee’s itinerary and automatically recognizing and filing reports as a function of swipe. So if a traveler goes to New York one week and Omaha the next, the TripActions Liquid™ suite of technologies knows to allow the employee a higher spend limit on hotels and dinner based on dynamic pricing of that location. On the East Coast versus in the Midwest, for example, the platform would automatically recognize the traveler and spend when the expense comes in.

Combined, Liquid’s data, optimization, and fintech innovations—on top of the cloud-based unified platform—create a powerhouse of corporate travel and spend management technologies that is reimagining legacy T&E systems.

Want to learn more about how TripActions Liquid dynamic spend management solution can help your company save time and money? Sign up for a demo below.

Methodology: TripActions analyzed expenses processed via TripActions Liquid over the past 12 months.

*Restaurants/gas included, as they’re not limited to on-trip expenses

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