Know Before You Go – Your First Business Trip
Going on your first business trip as a young professional is exciting. You are trusted to represent your company; you’ll have new experiences and might even experience a new city. As exciting as it is, it’s still work and your company will only pay for business related expenses.
You need to follow company guidelines when booking travel and monitor your spending since you may be using your own money until the company reimburses you which could take several weeks. If you haven’t been given travel guidelines, you can ask your manager or human resources to provide them to you. Some companies may reimburse you for travel expenses while some may pay directly for larger expenses like airfare and hotels.
Credit vs Debit Card
If you are going to be traveling for work often, it’s recommended to use a credit card for the expenses so your bank account isn’t out the amount of your trip. You have to remember to pay the credit card as soon as possible so not to incur late fees or interest, which are not reimbursable.
If you use a debit card, you need to pay careful attention to your cash flow so that you can still pay your bills on time. If you use a debit card at a hotel or car rental, there is the possibility that they will put a “hold” on your account for a set amount, and you will not be able to access those funds for several days.
An expense report is the document you submit to your company in order to receive reimbursement of travel or other work-related expenses. Each company will have their own document and process for expense reports, but it is generally best to submit them as soon as possible since it could take weeks to receive the reimbursement.
You will be expected to attach receipts for all your expenses in order to receive reimbursement. The receipt should have the name of the vendor you paid, date, amount and detail about the service or product. A screen shot of the charge on your card statement will not generally be accepted. You should speak with your manager about what is expected on an expense report before you incur expenses.
Have fun on your first business trip, but remember it’s not vacation. That comes later.