What can happen if you use a company credit card for personal reasons?

When your employer promotes you or decides that they trust you enough to give you a company credit card, you are able to cover appropriate business expenses without needing to pay out-of-pocket and then asking for reimbursement.

Providing select employees with company credit cards can be a fast and convenient system that allows businesses to have centralized expense tracking and make work-related spending easier for those employees. Sadly, it’s also a recipe for quick and easy embezzlement for those with a company credit card.

Using a company card for things like accommodations during business trips and dinners with clients is reasonable and appropriate. Unfortunately, some people may feel tempted to use a business card for personal reasons. When they do that, they potentially open the door to allegations of embezzlement by their employer.

Embezzlement involves the misuse of company funds rather than overt theft

In the minds of many people, the term “embezzlement” conjures images of someone who pockets money from the company’s petty cash drawer or transfers funds from a company account either into their own account or accounts that can benefit them, such as to a creditor’s account so that they have a zero balance on their student loans.

Embezzlement can also involve the misuse or misappropriation of company assets and funds. Using a company credit card to pay for personal expenses easily falls in to this category. There can be some gray area here, but if you are uncertain about whether an expense is a valid use of the card, you may want to review your employer’s policy.

It’s better to clarify things with your employer rather than run afoul of their policy. Anyone facing embezzlement allegations because of their use of company assets may need to explore their options for criminal defense.