Consulting Firm Credit Card Use Changes

Consulting firm credit card use is changing. It used to be that a consultant could wrack up thousands of reward points a year on airline tickets alone, not to mention hotels, ground transportation, and food. Credit card reward points are still to be had, but not in quite the same way that they usually have been. Listen to Jenny Rae as she describes not only the changes, but her take on the rationale as to why firms are making this change.

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YouTube Transcription:

Consulting credit cards. This is a key thing but we get asked about, especially in new hiring seasons right before summer internships and full-time hires start. Which credit card should you get in order to maximize your points while you’re on the consulting game? Well, today we’re not gonna talk about what the credit cards are, what their perks are, or anything like that…but we are going to talk about some changes that we’re seeing in the consulting industry. These are related to how expenses are utilized and what you’re able to put on your credit cards.

Changes in Consulting Firm Travel Policy:

Namely, in 2019 there are some pretty big changes. For the first time in many years, corporate credit cards are being used by McKinsey, BCG, and other firms, to mandatorily pay for airfare. Now, airfare has been historically one of the biggest bonus categories for cards. So if you got an Amex card that was with Delta and you commonly flew on Delta, you would get a astronomical number of points from those purchases. And if you had a more generic card, then you would get still points on all of your airline purchases. They’re usually in the favored category status, so you’re getting maximum points when you’re booking airfare.

Taking away that airfare spend means that even though you’re gonna have a lot of spend on other areas, it will shift which kinds of credit cards you probably want to have signed up for, or that you’re utilizing when you’re on the job.

Mitigating Risk:

Now, so far, they haven’t said “corporate credit cards for everything” – and we think there’s a reason for this. We think that it’s a way that they manage risk. If you put something on to your personal credit card and it’s a $700 dinner at Per Se when you’re at a client, and they say – “Uh, hello, excuse me, that’s way over budget” – or – “that’s just unreasonable”  – they’re able to not take the risk on for themselves.

Airfare is pretty standard, and they’re able to audit how many times you’re traveling, where you’re traveling, in what class you’re traveling…that’s a pretty easy internal audit for them to do. It’s the same kind of process they would go through if it was on your personal credit card.

So, fundamentally this change will make a huge difference for the kinds of credit cards to pick – specifically related to the airline
bonuses or the airfare bonuses that you get when you’re purchasing on those cards. And that’s going to change some of our strategy that we recommend as we think about that going forward.

Still Scoring Credit Card Points:

Ultimately, you’re still in pretty good shape because you’re going to have lots of expenses that you’re not going to pay for, that you’re going to get points for. And those points are going to add up, you’re going to be able to use them in multiple different places for travel or other kinds of benefits in the credit card perk space.

But fundamentally, if you’re going to one of these firms, make sure you clarify upfront which expenses are going to be on your card before you sign up for specific cards.

Let Us Know:

We hope that you enjoyed this video. If you’ve got information about your firm’s travel policies or what credit cards you absolutely love, or credit cards that you haven’t found valuable, we would love to hear about them.

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Filed Under: consulting travel