Disposable payment cards: a one-off solution for one-off expenses

October 21, 2021 by Mark Davis

Dealing with one-off expenses can be a pain in the neck for companies. Traditional solutions have been archaic, paper-heavy and a drain on your time, as is usually the case whenever expense reports and paper receipts are involved.

At last, the process is being dragged into modernity.

If an employee who doesn't usually need a business payment card finds themselves having to make a one-off purchase, let them do it with a one-off card. Create a disposable or 'burner' card that, like the instructions in the Mission: Impossible films, will "self-destruct" once it has served its purpose.

Just as virtual cards have brought more simplicity and security to the way a business manages its spend, disposable cards are doing the same for occasional expenses. They allow you to provide any employee with a payment card so that they can make a unique, one-off purchase. You set the budget in advance, the employee buys what they need and the virtual card keeps everything nice and safe by expiring as soon as it has done its job.

At Qonto, we wanted to go even further down this path of simplicity and security and that's what led us to the Flash card. It gives its user a pre-determined budget to be spent over a pre-established period of time. If a mission demands that several team members all need to pay for something, you can give each of them exactly what they need for exactly the time that they will need it. Then, when the mission is finished, so is the Flash card. More about that later.

Let's start with the disposable cards. Want concrete examples of how they can help you? Well, just scroll a little further...

5 ways disposable cards help you and your teams with their spend

When you need to buy equipment to get a job done

Imagine you've got an employee who works remotely and needs a second computer screen for their home office. It doesn't matter if that home office is in France or in Papua New Guinea, disposable cards can be used from anywhere (although an internet connection certainly helps for online buying!). The employee in question finds a screen that will cost €199.99, so you set them up with a 'burner' card with €199.99 on it. They make the purchase and as soon as that's done, the card 'burns out'. All the employee has to do is wait for the screen to be delivered to their door.

You've managed the expense before the expense has even been created. You don't have to worry about the logistics of sending the screen and the employee doesn't have to worry about filling in an expense form.

The same applies for any team member who doesn't have a permanent company payment card. Whatever their one-off need is and wherever they are, the disposable card gets the job done.

When you need to book a ticket for a conference

This purchase may apply to just one individual or a whole team. If it's a group booking, each team member can have their own disposable card.

For example, let's say most of the team will just need a one-day ticket at €75 but two of the team will need a two-day pass for €140. Each conference-goer can be given a card with the exact amount they'll need to book their seat.

With Qonto's Flash cards, you can even take this one step further. If, say, the team leader needs extra money to attend an exclusive after-show event, you can adjust his or her budget accordingly.

When you need to pay for a business trip

A disposable card also comes in handy for work-related travel expenses. As seen above, it can be used when an employee needs, say, €85 for a same-day return train ticket. The person in question can buy the ticket online without the need to pay from their own pocket and do the paperwork to get reimbursed later.

If you think the 'burner' card is practical, wait until you meet the Flash card. It's Qonto's new solution for occasional expenses that may require several payments. What a Flash card also does is take care of expenses for longer periods of time. For instance, if a member of your team is going on a five-day business trip to see a client or visit one of your warehouses, you can set the card to last for just five days.

  • If you know the total travel costs will be, say, €300, you put exactly that amount on the card.
  • If one of your project managers (who doesn't have a company card) will be moving around between different locations, you can calculate in advance what you think the maximum travel budget will be for all the journeys combined and then set that amount as the card's payment limit. The project manager can use the same card for all those expenses and you'll be able to see - in real time - the actual cost and date of the purchase.
  • If the trip includes multiple tickets that will cost the same every day (for example, an all-day ticket on the Paris Metro at €5.80 per day), you can allocate the exact amount needed each day for as long as the trip lasts.

For in-store purchases, the Flash card works via Apple Pay or Google Pay. If an employee buys lunch in a supermarket or restaurant, they would add the Flash card to their Apple Pay or Google Pay wallet on their mobile phone and hold their mobile next to the shop's contactless payment terminal.

What's more, unlike credit and debit cards, which have a €50 payment limit for contactless transactions, there is no single-purchase limit with a Flash card. Users can pay any amount without entering a PIN number, within the limits you set for the Flash card, of course.

When you're planning a team event

Your staff are back from their summer holidays and you want to treat them to a team-building excursion. Depending on what exactly you've got planned, the expenses (travel, food, accommodation, activities etc.) may apply to the team as a whole or each team member individually.

Let's imagine there are 10 employees attending a 2-day event and you set aside €80 per day for each of them. You just provide the team leader with a Flash card for the entire duration with €1,600 on it (€80 x 2 days x 10 people). Everyone's needs are met and there are no nasty surprises after the event because somebody has gone over budget.

At Qonto, your Flash card can be configured in whatever manner you decide is best for your company. It's a particularly attractive option for companies that face a growing need for occasional or one-off or occasional purchases.

When you want to give gifts (to your customers or to your staff)

Paying for gifts is a prime example of what Qonto's Flash cards can do that no other disposable payment card can. You can either:

  • set a predetermined budget for a gift that will be chosen later on (in the same way you buy gift vouchers to be used in certain shops or on Amazon, for example);
  • or you identify the gift in advance and set that price as the limit on the Flash card.

Either way, you make life easy for the card user, whether the purchase is online or in-store.

Flash cards are far more flexible than gift vouchers as they are payment cards that are accepted anywhere and not just in one particular shop or e-commerce site. There is, as they say, no accounting for taste, and the beneficiary of the card will no doubt appreciate being able to buy whatever takes their fancy (within the budget you set).

You can even cater for those people who like small treats on a regular basis rather than bigger, one-off gifts. Just set your Flash card's life span at 3 or 6 months (in fact, the period of validity is entirely up to you within a 12-month maximum) and let the lucky user dip in and out of that budget at their leisure. After all, who doesn't like a gift that keeps on giving? You can learn more about our Flash card services, which are unique in France, right here.

So, all of this goes to show what 'burner' cards (including Flash cards) can do in terms of making expense management that little bit easier. They're simple, supple and secure.

With Qonto's Flash cards, you get an added layer of flexibility. You can customize them however you see fit: for one or several purchases, to be made on one day or over the course of a year. Once you've set up the card, you can stop thinking about it. Forget about expense reports and paper receipts. Simply let the Flash card do its job and then self-destruct once its mission has been accomplished.

Your expense is managed before it is even created.

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