The Emburse Prepaid Card, Reviewed for Your Small Business

Sally Lauckner

Sally Lauckner is the managing editor at Fundera. Previously, she was senior editor at SmartAsset, a Y Combinator-backed personal finance startup. She has a decade of experience in digital media and has held various editorial roles at the Huffington Post, AOL.com, and Glamour magazine. Sally has a master's degree in journalism from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Columbia University. Email: sally@fundera.com.
Advertiser Disclosure

Prepaid cards aren’t just for those who lack a traditional checking account. Corporate prepaid cards can help you control employee spending or access the convenience of a credit card if your credit score isn’t where you want it to be just yet. To use a prepaid card, simply load it with money and either use the card yourself or give it to a team member to use. Prepaid cards can be either physical cards that look like a debit card, or virtual cards that can be used for online payments.

In this review, we’ll walk you through the Emburse Prepaid Card. We’ll tell you about how the card works and what features it has. Finally, we’ll get into the kinds of small business needs this card can help meet.

How the Emburse Prepaid Card Works

Like other prepaid cards, the Emburse Prepaid Card is reloadable, which means it’s easy to set spending limits on the card. Unlike traditional corporate credit cards, corporate prepaid cards allow you to limit employees’ access to your business’s line of credit. That can be great when you’re working with a large network of team members.

With the Emburse Prepaid Card, the power to limit spending doesn’t just come from the ability to choose how much money you load on the card. Through the Emburse Prepaid Card dashboard, you can set spending limits within individual categories, and even set time restrictions on when a team member can use the card. Want to set a group budget for a specific team? You can designate cards as shared and set a budget across all the cards in a given group.

To set an employee up with an Emburse Card, all you’ll need to provide is the employee’s name and email address. Emburse can send either a physical card or a virtual card. Virtual cards can be used immediately—no need for your team member to wait for a card to arrive. The virtual card functionality allows for online purchases and is a convenient feature for business owners with lots of remote employees.

When your team members make purchases using their Emburse Prepaid Cards, Emburse automatically captures each transaction in real time and displays it on the account dashboard. That saves your employees the hassle of collecting their receipts and submitting reimbursement requests—and you the hassle of processing those requests.

Emburse’s dashboard lets you track transactions on each card and view spending breakdowns by category. You can generate and export reports to help you analyze your team’s spending and identify ways to cut costs. Exports are available to QuickBooks, or downloadable in .CSV, .PDF, or .OFX format.

Emburse Card Features

You already know that the Emburse Prepaid Card comes in physical and virtual forms, and has an account dashboard that lets you limit and monitor spending across all cards. What you might not know is that Emburse’s Roger Gu told Fundera that the cards are actually classified as credit cards at the point of sale. That feature lets your employees spend freely without fear of having their card declined, especially in the Travel and Entertainment categories, where merchants often require a credit card for a purchase.

The Emburse Prepaid Card operates on the Mastercard network and has the protection and security features that come with Mastercard debit cards. Plus, new prepaid card rules are going into effect in April 2019 that will improve user protections across the product category.

Emburse offers an API that lets you create expense cards at scale to customize your cards to your business needs. For example, say you run an agency with hundreds of clients. You can tie each client’s ad budget to a unique Emburse card and use that card to buy ads on social media. Each card can have a separate budget that you set and can adjust at will.

emburse card review

Emburse Fees

Curious about Emburse pricing? Emburse offers a free 30-day trial. After that, the amount you’ll pay will depend on how many cards you and your team plan to use. Emburse charges $45 a month for up to five active cards, $10 a month for up to 15 active cards, and $150 a month for up to 30 active cards.

The API pricing is $0.25/card with a $500/month minimum.

Why Small Business Owners Would Want the Emburse Prepaid Card

What kind of small business owner might want to use the Emburse Prepaid Card? If you have a lot of remote employees, the Emburse Prepaid Card virtual card option could be just what you need to help you manage your remote team members’ spending. The cards are easy to set up and require minimal personal information from your employees. The virtual cards can be ready to use immediately, and the real-time purchase information on the dashboard lets you track spending. Shared cards for groups and purchase limits that you can set by amount, category, vendor, and time make these prepaid cards a solid option for a business owner who wants granular control and visibility.

As we mentioned above, the ability to tap into the Emburse Prepaid Card API and customize cards at scale can be great for a business owner who works with hundreds of accounts, each of which comes with its own budget. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing that, as long as you configure the cards correctly, you and your team won’t be in danger of overspending.

In fact, if overspending has been a problem for your team, a prepaid card could be a great solution. That way, you limit the exposure of your business credit line, and you can easily set spending policies—and know that your employees will follow them.

If you don’t have the kind of staff capacity to handle employee reimbursement, prepaid cards are an easy workaround. With prepaid cards, there’s no need to allocate staff time to reviewing receipts and issuing reimbursements. If you’re running a lean team and your Finance or HR capacity is limited, prepaid cards can be a seamless, paperless alternative to traditional reimbursement practices.

Who the Emburse Prepaid Card Is Not Right For

Of course, prepaid cards aren’t for everyone. If you want to earn rewards for your spending, you’re better off using a business credit card. The same applies if you want to build your credit score so you can get access to higher-quality small business loans and business credit cards—and lower interest rates. If you have a small team and compliance with spending policies and budgets isn’t an issue for you, you might prefer to use a business credit card that lets you rack up points and miles or earn statement credits.

Some business credit cards allow you to set spending limits for the cards on the account, so you don’t necessarily have to choose between the control of setting card budgets that you would get from a prepaid card and the rewards you would get from a business credit card.

If you don’t want to have to pay the fees for the Emburse prepaid card, you can always look for a free business checking account that will issue you with free debit cards linked to the account. Or, you can opt for an Emburse Prepaid Card alternative such as the Bento for Business Visa Debit Card, which is free for up to two cards.

Is the Emburse Prepaid Card the Right Card for You?

To determine whether the Emburse Card is the right fit for your business, you’ll need to consider what you need—and want—from a card. If you have a large team that includes a lot of remote workers or a distributed network of offices, the Emburse Prepaid Card system, with its virtual cards and integrated dashboard, could help you feel more secure about the spending taking place across your team. The same applies to business owners who are having trouble managing the logistics of enforcing spending and reimbursement policies, or who want to save staff time for other uses. On the other hand, if earning rewards and building your credit are important to you, you probably would prefer to use the traditional business credit card option instead of a prepaid card like the Emburse Prepaid Card. That way, each transaction will earn rewards that you can apply to future business expenses or use to shave money off of your monthly statements.

Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.

Sally Lauckner

Sally Lauckner is the managing editor at Fundera. Previously, she was senior editor at SmartAsset, a Y Combinator-backed personal finance startup. She has a decade of experience in digital media and has held various editorial roles at the Huffington Post, AOL.com, and Glamour magazine. Sally has a master's degree in journalism from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Columbia University. Email: sally@fundera.com.

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