Is it better to use a corporate card or personal card for business travel?

chase-marriottA corporate card sounds easiest for new business travelers, but is the the best choice? Reader M asks….

I just started a new job and have my first business trip next month. Thanks to your advice I know what to pack, but I have another question. My company has offered me a corporate card if I want it but I don’t  have to take it. It seems like it would be easier to use a company card rather than use a personal card and try to get reimbursed. What do you think? Thanks, M.

Congratulations on the new job, M!

There is absolutely no question in my mind–it is far, far better to pay using your own credit card even though a corporate card sounds simpler. Not only will you get points for all of your travel-related purchases (in addition to the loyalty points you will get from your airline, hotel, and  rental car company). But there are tons of credit cards with fantastic sign-up bonuses that can pay for free travel. In fact, there are plenty of people who travel for free regularly simply from credit card bonuses, signing up for a new card as often as their credit allows. I don’t do this now, since I don’t have enough brain power to juggle everything (thanks kids!) but I know plenty of people who do.

Of course, there is a catch. Can you qualify for a card with a high enough  credit limit to pay for your travel? Can you commit to doing your expense reports every month so you don’t have interest payments? Is your company quick enough with expense reimbursements that you won’t have interest charges? If the answer to all of those questions is yes, then go for it!

The card I use the most is the Chase Southwest card. When I signed up for it I got 50k bonus points, which got me halfway to a Companion Pass. A few months ago I received an offer for a Marriott card that had 80k bonus points (and apparently it’s still good! Dang. I might need to  sign up for that one). Do your research and get the card that rewards you where you need it! Just remember, be sure to read the fine print. You almost always have to spend a certain amount in the first few months to qualify for the bonus.

Readers, do you use a corporate card or a business card for business travel? What are your favorite credit cards right now?

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Comments

  1. Find out if your finance department allows employees to keep the points associated with their corporate card. I’ve worked places where you can keep the points if you pay the card’s annual fee. That way the expense reporting/bills getting paid process is easier and you don’t miss the perks of having to travel a lot.

  2. I completely agree – I’m one of those who uses my personal cards to accumulate miles and points to fund some amazing personal travel that I would otherwise have to forego. If you decide to go this route, do a couple of hours of research to see what offers are currently out there. Look at FlyerTalk or google something like “miles and points blogs”. I found that even when I had a corporate card, I still needed to complete expense reports on a timely basis and pay the bill for the corporate card myself.

  3. If you are able to answer yes to the 3 questions in the post, I agree to use your own! I currently have to use my corporate one but in the past when possible, I always used my own. I had one card with good rewards points that I used exclusively for my corporate charges to keep them separate.

    One point to consider – your own card effects your credit score while a company card typically does not effect it. If you can’t float enough money to pay the bill monthly while waiting for reimbursements, using your own is not the best. You don’t want to effect your credit score negatively!

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