Commercial cards and corporate cards are two of the most issued business card types. Companies give these to their employees for purchasing supplies and other business assets. Employees with these cards are authorised to spend business funds on behalf of the company.
These two cards may sound the same but are different in more ways than one. This article will give you an overview of each card's capabilities that differentiate one from the other.
What is a Commercial Card?
A company issues a commercial card to an employee for purchases on the company’s behalf. This card can be used to pay for travel expenses, equipment rentals, and office supplies, to name a few. Commercial cards can come in the form of corporate cards, small business cards, purchase cards, or travel and entertainment cards.
Some commercial cards are co-branded with retailers. Here, the holder is limited to purchasing from a particular brand or store. The partnership allows the company to enjoy discounts and other benefits from the retailer.
Suppose an employee is travelling for a business meeting. The employee can use the commercial card to purchase gas and meals at partner retailers without spending from their own pockets.
What is a Corporate Card?
A corporate card is a type of card issued by a corporation to an employee, which they can also use for business purchases. They come in the form of a credit card or debit card.
Because corporate credit cards utilise a line of credit for card spending, factors like card usage and payment history can influence the corporation’s business credit score, which can be an advantage to businesses looking to secure loans or credit for additional funding.
A corporate debit card, on the other hand, gives businesses and their decision-makers more control and visibility over corporate expenses incurred by their employees. Unlike a credit card, a debit card is linked to a corporate account–allowing budget owners to top up the debit card balance when necessary, reducing overspending instances.
Commercial Card vs Corporate Card: What’s the Difference?
While both cards offer perks like reward points, cash back, and travel benefits, there are a few differences between them.
Credit card eligibility is a big hurdle for small businesses that would like to offer employees the convenience of using a corporate credit card.
Traditional banks are strict with their requirements, and as a small business owner, you may not have the time or resources to comply with these rules.
For starters, businesses should have a minimum annual income of S$30,000 and a good credit score to qualify for traditional bank cards.
As such, companies applying for a corporate credit card might be subject to credit checks. Banks would also request documents such as company board resolutions and audited financials. In addition to this, you need to pay the necessary annual fees on top of card repayment in order to sustain card use. This can be quite difficult for most companies that do not fall under these thresholds.
A payables software like Spenmo allows companies to issue physical and virtual corporate cards to their employees in under 30 minutes without any hassle or tedious paperwork required by banks.
The way that businesses use employee cards is largely the same. The difference lies in where you're getting the cards from.
A business can issue employee cards from traditional credit card providers, such as banks. This approach typically requires businesses to implement an expense reporting procedure on their end, which is a time-consuming process.
On the other hand, a corporate debit card tied to expense management software means budget owners can top up an employee card's balance for corporate expenses, giving businesses more control over when, how, and why money is leaving their company.
Access to Expense Data and Reporting Tools
Commercial cards offer direct data feeds with basic expense tracking and reporting tools. These include linking data feeds to the company’s accounting software, which allows finance teams to monitor all business expenses regularly. The ability to track card usage helps prevent financial fraud and unauthorised spending. You could also use the card data as a reference when checking for false or questionable reimbursement reports.
Meanwhile, corporate debit cards linked to software have these same features and more. Aside from automated reconciliation to accounting software, some payment management systems that offer corporate cards also provide robust management capabilities that track real-time spending and consolidate the data in one dashboard. They also include security features such as spending limits and merchant lock features that are vital in controlling corporate spending.
Traditional corporate credit card providers would send a billing statement, which lists an employee’s card purchases at the end of the billing period. This lack of visibility on expenses at the point of sale increases the risk of employees committing fraudulent and non-compliant purchases.
Depending on the type of commercial credit card, businesses may need to shoulder the liability on their own or share the liability with authorized employee cardholders. Business owners typically have sole liability for small business credit cards and are responsible for all repayments.
Meanwhile, corporate credit card owners may share the liability of card repayments with the company they work for. In most cases, employees will need to shoulder the repayments on their credit card bills and submit an expense report to reimburse card purchases made on the company’s behalf.
Debit cards operate differently because finance teams have more control over the money being spent by each department. With this set-up, teams are given an assigned budget to spend on and are encouraged to stick to that budget lest they request the finance team to top up their debit card balance.
Rewards and Perks
When choosing a card with a rewards program, it's essential to consider what you're looking for in a reward and how much you need.
Commercial cards are usually co-branded with other retailers, therefore offering more perks and rewards from a particular brand or store. Businesses benefit from such partnerships if they need discounts from certain retailers.
Corporate cards also offer rewards from certain retailers or cashback on card spend. However, these perks are usually kept by the company. They also offer a higher level of customer service, oftentimes providing 24/7 assistance to their customers.
Empower Your Employees with Spenmo’s Corporate Cards
Both commercial cards and corporate cards are issued to employees for business purchases. However, each has its own capabilities and differs in terms of eligibility, usage, expense tracking features, liability, and rewards.
Consider availing of Spenmo's physical and virtual corporate cards if you’re planning to use business cards. Setting up an account only takes 30 minutes. You’ll also receive your cards instantly!
Spenmo’s smart cards allow you to freeze and unfreeze spending with just one click and set merchant locks for better control and visibility over spending. You can also assign pre-approved funds to prevent overspending.
Book a demo today to know more about Spenmo’s corporate cards!
*Disclaimer: This article is for general education purposes only. Spenmo does not make any representation, assurance, or warranty, express or implied, as to its services or products offered in this article. For the avoidance of doubt, Spenmo does not purport to issue any credit cards and issues only business corporate cards, which function as debit cards.