The prepaid business card market is an emerging sector with innovative new brands helping businesses manage expenses better than ever before.
The cards allow your employees to buy what they need using funds loaded into their account, stopping overspending before it happens. It also stops your staff from wasting time ringing the office for authorisation.
The better providers take prepaid business cards to the next level by combining them with expense tracker software. Allowing companies to limit spending whilst tracking when and where employees spend money in real time.
With an increasing number of options to choose from, picking the right prepaid card for your company can be hard. If you’re not sure which one to choose, keep reading.
We road tested five major card providers all the way from account creation to transaction export, so that you can find the best solution for your company.
Top 5 business prepaid cards
- Pleo — best for user experience
- Spendesk — best for managing subscriptions
- Soldo — best for managers
- Equals — best for international travel
- Expensemate — best for managing cash flow
Best for end-user experience: Pleo
As one of the first prepaid card providers to offer a fully integrated spend management platform, Pleo has had a bit of a head start over the competition.
It is no surprise then that its feature set is up there with the best, standout tools include Apple Pay, email receipt finder (called Fetch), virtual cards, and quick accounting integrations.
When you use the product, whether it’s the app or portal, the countless hours of testing and development are self-evident.
To get started with their product, we had to fill out a short application, complete a company verification form, read some terms and conditions, upload some documents, take a selfie, create a passcode, and load some funds.
Unfortunately, getting a demo was more difficult. The first available demo was one week away. The representative was ill, so we had to wait another week. But when we managed to get a demo, the agent was friendly, and they showcased the product well.
Pleo’s marketing tends to focus on the end-user. So, it’s no surprise that it has a slick app and portal, and that it’s easy to register expenses. All you must do is create an entry, add an amount, upload your receipt, and write a short description and you’re good to go.
It harder to use the app as a manager. Managers must use user notes to assign categories to expenses. So, it can be unclear what category expenses fall into. Plus, if your business has a lot of expenses, manually categorising them can take time.
Additionally, Pleo don’t include an account manager as part of their basic package and getting onboarding support is expensive.
Overall, Pleo has an attractive app and portal in addition to some great features. The platform is generally straightforward to navigate. It’s especially easy to use for end-users, but less so for managers who must categorise expenses manually.
Best for managing subscriptions: Spendesk
Spendesk is another big player with a host of nifty features including Xero and Slack integration making it easier to manage both your books and projects. Conveniently, you can pay for and manage all your SaaS subscriptions in the portal using virtual cards and send all your email receipts to it using an email address. Spendesk comes at a comparatively high price, costing over £100 for its standard package.
Getting started with Sendek took several hours, as there were a lot of compliance checks. The product demo was quite thorough. Rather than feeling inconvenienced, we felt like we were getting a lot of help and support to use the product. It took over a week for our card to arrive.
Activating and using our card was relatively straightforward. We received a push-notification on the app after spending, reminding us to register our expense and upload our receipt. All we had to do was enter the supplier, description, and VAT amount into the entry. However, once we registered our expenses it disappeared so there’s no way to go back and change it.
Spendesk wants to put finance teams first, but its user interface needs work. The portal is basic and hard to navigate. And it’s difficult to apply category restrictions to cards. Though applying spend limits to cards is easier. If you want to update your account balance you need to manually top up your balance via bank transfer. On the bright side, setting up new users and ordering cards is simple.
The mobile app also has a basic user interface but it’s easier to use than portal. We could use the app to request a card top-up from our manager but we couldn’t see our card limits.
Best for manager experience: Soldo
Soldo is known for its standout user interface that’s easy to navigate with plenty of user feedback. It even includes an in-portal guide to help you get to grips with the system.
Setting up an account is quick and easy, but we had to speak to customer service to trial the product. We completed a form and a company verification process, before receiving our login details. It wasn’t a true free trial as we had to pay £5 for the card. On the bright side, it only took a couple of days for our card to arrive.
Activating and using our card was straightforward, all we had to do was input the card’s CVV into the portal. To register our expense, we just uploaded a picture of our receipt and entered a tax rate and category for the purchase. Unfortunately, we struggled to register expenses with multiple tax rates on the same receipt.
The portal and app are great. We could do everything we needed to do in one place including requesting funds, turning contactless on and off, and setting specific spend categories. It also syncs with Quickbooks, Xero and more, so exporting our spend data was effortless.
Its customer service is less impressive. Speaking to agents felt impersonal and scripted. Instead of having our questions answered, we were frequently directed to other resources. We also felt that deceived because our free trial cost £5, a reasonable price, but communication could be improved. Plus, we couldn’t get a demo at the time.
Ultimately, Soldo shows what a great interface can do for a product. It might not have the advanced features of Pleo and Spendesk or Expensemate’s great customer service, but it’s certainly worth a look if you have a knack for picking things up.
Best for international travel: Equals
Equals is a standout expense solution specifically designed to support businesses with regular international travel, including dedicated sections for currencies and transfers. Unlike its competition, Equals lacks category restrictions.
The ability to contact card users and upload pdf receipts to the app is also absent, though these can be added using the portal. There’s also no Google Pay or Apple Pay functionality. While the price is reasonable overall, at £10 a month per card Equals is an expensive choice for larger businesses.
Getting started with Equals was straightforward. We filled out a short form to register our interest. Afterwards, we had a call from a representative and had a brief conversation about our business needs. We then received a full application and an excel card order form. They were relatively simple to complete, but applicants who are less familiar with excel might struggle. We received our card around 10 working days later.
Downloading the app and activating our card was relatively easy. The app is basic but with a clean design. It allowed us to view our statements, request more funds, pause our card, and report it as lost or stolen. We could add notes and upload a picture of our receipt to our expenses, but we didn’t need to do it. It worked without bugs and included fingerprint authentication, and the ability to view all our company’s cards as a manager and issue top-ups.
The portal was equally accessible. We found it easy to view transactions, load funds and order cards. It also features a rewards scheme with discounts and cashback when you use certain brands. Equals doesn’t sync with any accounting packages, so we needed to export our spend data as a csv file.
Sadly, once we activated our account there was virtually no onboarding support. Instead, we received some user guides, which looked uninviting and time consuming to work through.
Best for credit: Expensemate
Expensemate is the only end-to-end expense management solution that offers credit. Which is perfect if you are used to using credit cards, have a fast-growing business or work in an industry with lengthy payment terms.
As a newer entrant to the market, it lacks some of the more advanced features associated with its competitors such as virtual cards for subscriptions. But it champions live customer support and dedicated account managers as part of its standard package.
It also includes a separate user journey for fuel expenses, capturing details like fuel type and odometer readings. Which is both unique and handy for fleet managers who want to fill up vehicles at a wide range of retailers.
Setting up Expensemate is simple. We filled out a short online form, had a call to book our demo, underwent a company check, ordered our cards, and completed our live portal training. Altogether, it took less than 2 hours to get set up with a prepaid account that was fully configured. Getting a credit account involves more checks so it takes slightly longer.
It took around 5 working days for our card to arrive. Activating the card was straightforward, we simply downloaded the app and entered the code on the card.
Likewise, using the card and registering expenses was breezy. We bought what we needed, had a push notification from the app and then registered our purchase. To do this, we simply uploaded a picture of a receipt, added a category, tag and group.
The Expensemate portal and app have stripped back functionality, making them uncluttered and easy to use. It doesn’t sync with any accounting packages, so you’ll have to export your spend data as a csv and then open it using your software.
Overall Expensemate is a great option if you want credit, extra support to get started with a prepaid business card and a functional package for a reasonable price.
The best expense management system for you depends on your company and its needs.
If your business is newer and you’re focused on making life easier for employees then Pleo is a great option. Providing you are happy to pay extra for customer support.
On the other hand, if your company has a lot of SaaS subscriptions then Spendesk is an obvious choice. Allowing you to manage all your subscriptions in one place while simplifying your expense management.
Soldo has the best user interface. So, if you want to simplify your expense management process sooner rather than later, it’s a clear winner. But it that lacks some of the more advanced features you see in other systems.
If your business has a lot of international travel, then Equals is for you. It allows you to send money to your team in over 140 currencies at any time.
Finally, if you want help with your cash flow, have a fleet of vehicles or you have a more traditional business that might benefit from more customer support than Expensemate is ideal.
If Expensemate sounds right for your business, you can try it for free with our 30-day trial.