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business travel

Business travellers using company cards for personal purchases

According to research commissioned by global travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), four in 10 business travellers admit to using corporate cards for personal purchases – 46% of American and European travellers, and 38% of travellers in Asia Pacific.

“Travel managers need to address the misuse of company cards – and also work out why travellers don’t follow the rules,” said Christophe Renard, vice president of CWT Solutions Group, the consultancy arm of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

The practice is rife, even though 63% of Americans, and 58% of Europeans, say their company has a policy against using corporate credit cards for personal purchases, with an enforcement ratio of 85% in both regions. Among Asia Pacific travellers, 69% said their company has such a policy, with an enforcement ratio of 87%.

Overall, six in ten global business travellers said their employer provides them with a corporate credit card. Those in Asia Pacific were likeliest to have one (67%), followed by those in the Americas (61%) and those in Europe (56%).

While corporate cards are used to make personal purchases, the findings show that personal cards are also often used for business travel expenses. 

Globally, 49% of business travellers always use their personal credit card when travelling for business. Travellers from Asia Pacific were significantly more inclined to do so (55%) than those in the Americas (48%) or Europe (44%).

“The use of personal credit cards for business expenses means companies find it difficult to track spend – and that makes it a lot harder to enforce policies,” said Renard. “If companies don’t want to issue credit cards to all employees – which is understandable – virtual credit cards are a useful compromise. Travellers don’t have to use their personal cards for business expenses, and companies know exactly how their money is being spent.”