May 06 2016

Feeling flush for no good reason

My company sent me to the US on a video shoot in March, but it took me until today to get around to filing my expense report for the trip.

Between the multiple nights in the hotel in Anaheim, California, and the numerous cab rides to and from two major airports, it worked out to be a pretty decent chunk of change. When I saw the total that would soon be deposited in my bank account, I reflexively announced to my Facebook friends that “drinks are on me this weekend!” Not a particularly appropriate reaction considering that this is not in any way “found money.”

I’m not sure if this is a “Swedish thing” or not (I have no memory of it working this way with my US employers), but basically when I travel on business, only the airfare is paid for immediately by the company. (This was true of my previous Swedish employer as well.) Everything else falls on the employee to cover with a credit card provided by the company. BUT … and here’s the rub … the employee is personally responsible for paying that credit card bill and claiming the expenses back from the company, using travel reporting system that everyone except the most hardened accounting type absolutely HATES. (Also true of my former company’s system.)

Adding insult to injury … even though you’ve paid for everything with a “company” credit card and therefore have an automatic electronic record of everything you spent, you still have to submit a physical paper receipt for every single expense. In 2016. Gaaaaaaahhhhh!!!

Now to ensure that the employee can get the money for the expenses they’ve laid out *before* the credit card bill comes due, these “corporate cards” typically give you extra time to pay the balance … 60 days instead of the usual 30, for example. But because the travel expense reporting system is so complex (and in my case, as a relatively new employee, requires the support of another colleague to navigate), I HARDLY EVER manage to get my expenses claimed before I have to pay the bill. And it’s hard for me to imagine that I’m alone in this situation.

Of course I also realize that I’m pretty darn lucky to be in a position to essentially “loan” my company the money necessary for me to travel for work. If I had to claim the expenses back in order to pay the “corporate card” bill, I would have screwed up my personal credit rating a long time ago.

On second thought, the drinks are still on me this weekend!  😉



  1. Pat Tibbs

    Sharon, in the days when I was in sales & had a company car & expense account I had to advance my expenses with a personal credit card & then present documents for reimbursement. Needless to say I filed my expenses promptly.

    I suspect you’re required to document t expenses as a guard against employees padding their expenses. If they’re required to affirm the the credit card charges, on paper, they’re not likely to use the card for personal benefit. Of course it may be a legal requirement of your IRS equivalent.

  2. Shazzer

    We don’t have to submit the credit card statement at all, Pat. Just the receipts. And given the way Dr. D & I have our personal finances set up (we pay bills out of shared “service” account expressly for that purpose), using the company card requires the extra administrative step of moving the balance due from my personal account into the service account in order to pay it. The reimbursement from the company then goes back into my personal account via direct deposit.

    But if I use my personal card (which functions as both credit and debit), the money is pulled directly from my personal account where the reimbursement will land once I get around to filing the expense report. Much less hassle. The only catch is that I have to be sure I have enough $$ in my personal account to cover the expenses!

Feed my ego!

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