Citi AAdvantage Business Credit Card Alternatives
Use this guide to determine whether the Citibank AAdvantage or Costco cards meet your company’s spend management needs.
What should I look for in a business credit card?
The core purpose of any spend management solution should be to make your life easier. The right business payment card could help you by:
- Simplifying the payment process
- Reducing administrative tasks
- Providing real-time visibility into total spend
- Preventing over budget or out of policy spend
- Providing useful rewards and perks
Citi offers two credit cards: the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard and the Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card. We’ll take a look at what these cards have to offer and whether they make your life easier.
Do the Citi business credit cards simplify the payment process?
Citi offers physical chip-enabled cards that can be issued to employees for no extra cost. Unfortunately, Citi doesn’t offer virtual cards for their business credit cards, which means you miss out on benefits such as an added layer of security and the flexibility of issuing, freezing, or closing cards instantly.
Bill pay is offered through their online banking platform but only via a Citi checking account.
Do the Citi business credit cards reduce admin?
Citi allows an unlimited number of employee cards, so in theory, you could issue them to every employee to eliminate the reimbursement process. However, you wouldn’t do so unless the card offered robust controls on how the money can be spent—otherwise, the risk of out-of-policy spending or overspending is much too high. Citi’s cards only allow for spending limits to be set, so a company-wide rollout isn’t really an option.
Citi does offer some assistance in expense reporting and spend analysis via their Online Expense Organizer tool. This tool allows you and your employees to select specific transactions to add to a report and add comments to them. It is a manual and time-consuming process as you’ll still need to individually select transactions and then export the results to conduct any analysis.
More innovative features such as receipt capture and OCR document scanning are not yet offered by Citibank. Although Citi doesn’t offer integration with travel management systems, you are able to access 24/7 help with travel, hotel, and dining arrangements via a personal business assistant (similar to a concierge service).
Do the Citi business credit cards give you real-time visibility into total spend?
If you are enrolled with CitiBusiness Online, you can view daily transactions and balances in real-time. However, for spend analysis, you’ll have to wait for the quarterly or annual account summaries that show expenses by employee, spending category, or by amount. For more frequent reports you’ll have to run a manual export of your transactions and categorize the data yourself.
There is also no visibility of payroll or accrued expenses such as invoices, so you will need another solution for a holistic view of total spending.
Can the Citi business credit cards prevent over budget or out of policy spend?
You can set a credit limit and cash advance limit for each employee card, however, the controls end there. There are no mechanisms to set transaction limits, approved spend categories, or allocate budgets to cardholders. In order to make sure all employee spending adheres to policy, you’d have to run a manual approval process before each transaction is made.
Do the Citi business credit cards empower your team to manage their own budgets?
The right spend management solution should arm your budget owners with real-time data to make informed strategic decisions.
Unfortunately, you can’t run budget to actual reporting on a Citi credit card, so your department heads will have to export transactions into another software solution or excel to categorize their team’s spending and compare it to budget.
What are the Citi business credit card fees?
The most important fee to consider is the interest charged on your credit line. Variable APR credit cards can be dangerously expensive, which is why it’s so easy to get access to these cards.
How do I qualify for a Citi business credit card?
Businesses ranging from sole proprietors or self-employed individuals up to corporations can apply. Citibank will look at your annual business revenue, line of business, years of operation, amongst other criteria to make a decision on your creditworthiness and determine an appropriate credit limit. You’ll be able to access higher credit limits the more mature and profitable your business is.
It’s recommended that you have an excellent credit score, as they will check your credit score during the application process.
The Citi Costco card also requires an active Costco membership.
Citi business credit card perks that don’t matter
Perks vary across the two Citi business cards. The AAdvantage provides a sign-on bonus, but it’s important to note that these bonuses are provided because they generally pay for themselves via high interest costs throughout the life of the card.
While it may seem appealing to use a credit card to provide easy access to 30 days of “float,” the fees above can rack up quickly and the high, variable APRs make it easy to end up buried under high interest charges.
While cash back and savings may provide some relief, they’re unlikely to outweigh the time and effort required to effectively manage your spend via manual reporting. Plus, overspending or out of policy spending can only be caught after-the-fact when it’s already too late.
Let’s take a look at the specific benefits of the Citi business cards:
Citibank vs Lola.com
Who is a good fit for Citi?
Citi AAdvantage offers strong travel benefits, while Citi Costco offers strong cash back rewards. These cards are good for companies looking for access to a 30-day credit line and have high-value yet simple spending needs (i.e. large transaction sizes within a narrow breadth of categories/vendors). The lack of controls, visibility and spend analysis tools would not support businesses with more complex spending requirements.
Also if you need a little extra support on monthly payments to manage cash flows, Citi’s credit cards can be a sufficient option, especially if a lower interest option isn’t available.
Who is a good fit for Lola.com?
Lola.com is a good fit for any companies that truly want to manage their spending.
With both physical and unlimited virtual cards, businesses can quickly deploy cards across the business, create single-use cards, and freeze or cancel cards with a few clicks. A company-wide issue of cards eliminates the need for reimbursement and streamlines expense reporting, saving your finance team’s valuable time.
Lola.com will keep your spending in check by offering granular controls around how money can be spent, providing real-time visibility over total spending, and enabling budgets to be assigned to teams or individual cardholders.
It also has a fully integrated travel management platform to book and manage travel expenses in one place.
Want to know more? Let’s chat.