How do I pay for travel management services?
Managing the administration of paying for business travel can often be a time consuming process, especially when travellers are paying via different methods and claiming costs back via expenses. To make this easier, travel management companies offer their customers a range of payment solutions so they can spend less time reconciling and more time doing something more productive.
Most business travel agencies will offer you some or all of the following options and you should be able to mix and match these methods for different booking types to meet your requirements.
#1 – Credit Account
Credit accounts have been a staple of most travel management companies for years. With a credit account, you can purchase all travel services without having to worry about individual credit cards and expense claims because all travel purchases will be automatically charged to your account and paid for by direct debit. A credit account provides the following benefits:
- A number of days interest free credit (this will vary by TMC)
- A consolidated invoice to help you keep track of your spending
- Detailed data for each transaction to ensure smooth processing through your financial systems
#2 – Lodge card/account
A lodge card is a credit card exclusively used for corporate travel expenditure. Providers such as Diners or BarclayCard. All business travel transactions will be charged to your lodge account and paid by BACS or direct debit. A lodge account provides the following benefits:
- Up to 56 days’ interest free credit which gives you more time to reconcile expense information
- Online statement account information with booking and payment information already reconciled
- All information needed to process the expense is attached to each charge, such as cost centre, reason for travel, project number, etc
- Statement is easy to download and import into your expense systems, making data capture quicker and easy.
#3 – Credit Card
As well as credit accounts and lodge cards, most travel management companies will also accept standard credit cards. Your travellers may have their own company credit cards and most TMCs will be able to accommodate multiple credit cards if this your preferred method of payment.
One thing to remember if using any kind of card solution is that merchant fees apply to your credit card or lodge card payments. Ask your travel management company to explain when merchant charges will apply and what the charges will be.
If you’re not sure which payment option is best suited to your organisation, your TMC should be able to advise you on the best solution, whether it’s a single option or a combination of all of the above. Once you’ve decided on your preferred method of payment, make sure you detail this in your business travel policy so travellers are familiar with the process.