American Express Co. and GE Capital are among the first credit card issuers seeking to help business travelers file expense reports.
These competitors in the corporate card business - American Express is the perennial leader and GE is the biggest MasterCard corporate card issuer - are offering programs for cardholders to file expense reports electronically.
GE Capital, which has 100,000 corporate cards in force, is partnering with a Redmond, Wash., start-up called Portable Software Corp. that since last fall has been marketing QuickXpense, a Windows-based program, to individual business travelers and companies. It enables employees to complete and file expense reports from any location by using a personal computer equipped with a modem and the software.
In GE Capital's case, credit card transactions are updated and entered every 24 hours in a file that the employee accesses. The program matches a record of the cardholder's card transactions with the company's expense report, sorting the various expenses into categories like car rental, airline, hotel, and meals.
Cardholders can also request a list of their purchases on a specific day.
Cash expenditures and any special notes about the trip are entered into the report manually by the employee. QuickXpense also prepares all necessary totals and subtotals.
Similarly, American Express' program, Expense Manager, sorts and totals card transactions.
Holders of the corporate card are hooked up to their employers' e-mail systems, which stores the expense form.
Expense Manager uses a split-screen approach that displays card charges on the right and the expense form on the left.
Either the cardholder uses the cursor to put expenses in their appropriate categories or a special feature called "wizard" automatically sorts the charges.
Both GE Capital and American Express expect to formally launch their products by the fourth quarter.
American Express is also offering a special service to companies that do not have Windows-compatible e-mail systems.
This service, called Pre-Completed Expense Report, provides cardholders with an expense form by mail, with the card charges entered. Customers enter noncard expenses manually and calculate the totals.