Do You Need a Virtual Payment Plan for Corporate Travel?

While virtual payment is a buzz phrase you’ve likely heard before, it may be becoming more relevant to you if your travel management goals include decreased fraud and/or increased payment efficiency.

If you aren’t familiar with virtual payment options, don’t worry, it’s still a fairly new process in managed business travel! At the core, virtual credit cards (VCCs) work the same way as a physical credit card however, these numbers only exist virtually AND there is a unique number for each specific transaction.

Typically corporate travel is paid for via a single corporate ghost card or individual corporate credit cards. While there are plenty of ways to use, protect and report these payment methods, the idea of VCCs and virtual payment automation solutions is to eliminate challenges like inconsistent manual data, payment for infrequent travelers and fraud.

Here are a few scenarios to consider:

Scenario 1: Travelers do not have individual corporate credit cards, but you don’t want to require your employees to put such large travel expenses on their personal cards either. So, you’ve been faxing individual credit card authorizations for every hotel stay which is time consuming, frustrating, and not a realistic long term solution.

Scenario 2: A group of new job applicants are traveling to your office for training and you want to cover their airfare and hotel expenses. These travelers don't have access to your corporate credit card or online booking tool, but you don’t want to bother with reimbursing later.

Scenario 3: You’ve had a bad experience with fraud or misuse on individual corporate credit cards so you want more control and oversight.   

Solution: For any of the above scenarios, virtual pay could be a great solution and the process is the same. Essentially, the traveler books travel through the agency booking tool or travel specialist following your desired policy and approval processes. Once complete and approved, the virtual payment interface auto-generates a one-time use electronic VCC number for the vendor to use as payment. A new VCC number is generated for each specific request (set dollar amount, vendor and matching dates) which prevents the numbers from being misused. Further, the virtual payment system is able to match the booking to the payment for easily reportable data in the same way using a physical card would occur. Not to mention, the handling of the account information is completely PCI compliant – as in, very secure and less risk of fraud.

Note: Being a great partner means being transparent. With that, we find it important to share that due to this being a fairly new process in our industry, it is not a perfect solution (yet). Until all vendors are familiar,  it will still require some manual checks and support. Don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for! However, if this sounds like something that could be beneficial for your organization, let our corporate travel specialists know! We’d love to help you incorporate virtual pay into your company’s managed travel strategy.