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Oct 18, 2021

What is a "Smart" Corporate Card?

The TripActions Team

Insights & TrendsReturn to blog

Corporate cards were once coveted status symbols, carried by senior staff with the authority to make company purchasing decisions. To provide security, the conventional corporate card is embedded with a smart chip that processes and stores information. In this sense, corporate chip cards have become quite standard. They provide safety, security, and even contactless payment for financial transactions, but not much to get excited about.

Powered by intelligent technology, a truly "smart" corporate card provides a host of additional benefits and automation that revolutionizes how companies spend and budget. Paired with a software platform, smart corporate cards provide a comprehensive spend management solution with greater spend visibility and control so all employees can spend responsibly on behalf of the business.

Smart corporate cards offer an outsized return on investment. Here’s six ways how:


  1. Painless Enforcement of Spending Controls

What is the best way to avoid an awkward conversation about rejecting an employee expense that’s out-of-policy? Prevent the transaction before it even happens.

Most employees don’t spend working hours reading the company expense manual, which is probably not the best use of their time anyway. A smart corporate card flags out-of-policy expenses in real time, providing immediate clarity for employees and eliminating questionable spending. Embedded policies are rule-based but flexibly built according to expense category, role, or other criteria.

With spending policies and limits easily added to smart cards, companies can let the policy do the work instead of babysitting employees.

2. Automated Approval Workflows

Nearly half of companies still manage expense reports manually and don't track the costs of processing expense reports. Spreadsheets may have worked as a patch solution, but with hidden costs.

Data entry errors are the Achilles heel of any manual process; taking human error out of the equation improves efficiency and outcomes. Automated expense tracking leads to faster approvals and reconciliation. Finance teams will enjoy not having to frequently chase employees down to question erroneous transactions.

When transactions on smart cards are sent through automated workflows, companies remove manual expense approvals and free up manager bandwidth.

3. Eliminating Expense Reports

It’s time to retire the expense report.

No one enjoys filing expense reports, even if the system is electronic. Filing reports is a tedious, time-consuming process that can be tripped up by lost paper receipts, delayed report submissions, and errors in data entry.

By having a centralized spend management platform with a smart corporate card, the entire process is streamlined, without needing expense reports.

Out-of-pocket expenses that don’t occur on the smart card are still possible, but spend platforms can also capture those transactions and reimburse employees quickly. About a third of companies need 8 days or more to process and reimburse expenses, with 11% of organizations requiring more than a month. Intelligent spend platforms can process expense reimbursements sooner.

4. Rewards and Perks

Consumers are conditioned to expect rewards like loyalty points, miles, or cash back. Corporate smart cards are no exception, and businesses generally can count on rewards programs that automatically accrue according to spending. Smart card rewards ideally incentivize business travelers to make travel decisions that are aligned with the company.

5. Generating Real-time Data

Smart cards collect crucial data about company expenses, making it possible to satisfy audit and compliance requirements while identifying patterns and trends. Given that raw data, spend management platforms can glean insights that provide cost savings and efficiencies.

With real-time data and automated reconciliation, books can close faster. Better clarity on spend processes enforces a virtuous cycle of improved planning and cost management.

6. Smarter Cards Integrated with a Smarter Platform

According to an IDC survey of executives, around 80% of a finance manager’s time is spent on transaction-oriented tasks like invoice matching and vendor management. Spend management tools free up time for value-added strategic activities.

Smarter cards also mean that executives no longer have to be exclusive card carriers. Distributed teams are now empowered to spend while companies retain control.

TripActions Liquid™ perennially ranks #1 on G2 for expense management based on the quality of support, ease of use and setup, as well as overall satisfaction, on the back of the following features:

  • Built-in policy compliance: Proactive policies and limits programmed into the purchasing process itself
  • Employee and company aligned rewards: Points accrual program that encourages employees to spend company money like their own
  • Immediate spend visibility: Real-time spend data from day one that generates analytical reports, leading to more efficient processes and better quality decisions.
  • Customer support: 24/7 customer support available via chat, phone, and email.
  • No expense reports needed: Automatic categorization, reconciliation, and even reimbursement as soon as the smart card is swiped, so companies can banish the dreaded expense report.

TripActions Liquid combines spend management software with built-in automation to get rid of manual expense reports and approvals, easing the administrative load of travel. Schedule a demo today.

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