You're On The Hook With Corporate AmEx

Rob works for a company asking him to get a corporate American Express card to put his expenses on. Should he do it if they are going to reimburse him? Dave explains why this is a bad plan.

QUESTION: Rob in Kalamazoo works for a company asking him to get a corporate American Express card to put his expenses on. Should he do it if they are going to reimburse him? Dave explains why this is a bad plan.

ANSWER: Let me tell you what the problem is. When you sign on a corporate American Express card, you become liable for the whole account. If they don’t pay their bill, you’re liable. I’m not signing up for that. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think your company realizes what they’re asking you to do. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, and I don’t think it’s with bad intent, but American Express has lied for so long in the marketplace. We see the other side of it. There are people who actually work for American Express who don’t believe American Express will hold the employees liable for the corporate account, but they do every day. We deal with it.

I would never sign a corporate American Express. You’re signing up for your entire company’s liability. If they can’t figure out a way to just give you an expense check reimbursement with proper documentation and you can’t work this through with them, for me, that’s a deal breaker. I’m not going to sign a corporate American Express because I don’t want you to have $150,000 or $200,000 in debt. If your company goes into Chapter 11, you’re held liable.

You’ve got to decide how you can work this through. But it would seem to me if you’re a valuable team member, they can figure out a reasonable exception and you use your personal debit card and some of your personal cash and become reimbursed for your travel. That’s fairly typical. Most people will do that, but if they’re just bent on being more loyal to American Express than their employees, then you’re going to have a make a decision whether you want to be liable for that entire company’s account, because that’s what happens when you sign on it.