Expense reports biggest pain point in expense process for business travellers

20 June, 2023

The amount of time spent creating expense reports is the biggest pain point in the expense process for business travelers, according to a recent BCD Travel survey.

The survey of 1,349 business travellers worldwide about payment and expense in business travel looked at payment methods travellers use while traveling, pain points they experience, and tools at their disposal to make their life easier.

Staying within reimbursement policy is paint point for business travellers…

In terms of payment, staying within the reimbursement policy (29%) is the biggest pain point, followed by the need to pay for travel expenses out of their own pocket (20%) and the necessity to have cash in the local currency (20%), according to the survey.

…and creating expense reports is a particular pain

Travellers encounter far more challenges when it comes to expenses. More than half of the respondents report the time spent creating expense reports (63%) as the biggest pain point.

Other key obstacles are collecting paper receipts (54%), collecting receipts in different formats (52%), keeping receipts after the trip is over (51%) and expensing complex categories, such as hotel stays with meals and other incidentals paid separately (50%).

Opportunities for process automation in expense reports

Looking at expense tools, the most valuable features for business travellers are all related to process automation, such as travel receipts automatically attached to their expense reports (76%), credit card transactions automatically matched to their trip expenses (72%), and expense reports automatically pre-populated with trip data when booking their trip (67%).

Corporate card remains dominant payment method

When it comes to payment methods, over three-quarters (79%) of travellers use a corporate credit card. Other payment methods include personal cards (26%), personal cash (12%) and direct company payments to travel suppliers through bank transfers or lodge cards (16%).

Only 1% use a virtual card, even though around a quarter of travellers (26%) are familiar with this method. The survey also found that one in six business travellers have fallen victim to credit card fraud on a business trip, despite the measures taken.

Payment automation of virtual credit cards could prove benefit in future

Companies looking for ways to simplify payment for their travellers should explore the benefits of payment automation enabled by virtual credit cards, says Ajay Singh, vice president, Digital Payment and Expense Products at BCD.

“Virtual payment automation makes it easier to centrally pay for hotel or car bookings. It automatically generates a single-use virtual card number for each transaction and matches all charges to a specific booking. This not only makes the payment process easier for travellers, it also greatly reduces the risk of fraud,” he explains.