my company makes me front thousands of dollars on my personal credit card

A reader writes:

I am a junior staff member at a prestigious consulting firm that prides itself on bending over backwards for clients. I joined the firm about a year ago and have since developed serious concerns about my boss’ expectations for business expenses.

I’m often expected to pay vendor fees on behalf of our clients from my personal credit card and then submit the expense to my firm for reimbursement. When I first learned of this expectation, I expressed mild surprise and concern to my colleagues but they assured me it was standard practice within the firm.

The problem is, this amounts to thousands of dollars for me each month. On any given month, I am submitting $1,000-$2,000 worth of expenses to cover clients’ printing costs, etc. Recently, I fronted $8,000 of my own money to pay for a vendor fee and I am still waiting to be reimbursed from my firm. By the time my boss approves an expense report and our accounting team processes it, it can take weeks to receive reimbursement. (I should note that I am getting reimbursed fast enough that I’m not incurring any interest charges — usually within 3ish weeks — but I have to expend a lot more energy monitoring my account balance than I typically would as a result of my own spending.)

My colleagues don’t seem to think twice about this protocol, but I also handle more fee-heavy projects than anyone else on our team. Since it is a regular and apparently expected part of our job, it seems strange to me that we don’t have a company card or account that we can charge such expenses to. Instead, I’m frequently anxious that I won’t have enough cash flow available in my personal account to cover an unexpected client expense. It has also caused me to keep extra cash on hand in my account that I would otherwise be able to move into my investments or savings.

My senior colleagues make much, much more money than I do and they seem unfazed by this practice, but it’s a lot of money to me. I’m afraid that if I speak up about this issue it will somehow imply that I’m not responsible enough with my own money to handle the responsibilities of my job, when really I just feel that my firm is taking advantage of its employees and maybe even breaking the law. Should I say something?

Yes, speak up.

This is surprisingly common, but it’s a really bad practice. Your company is making employees front them money rather than paying expenses directly themselves. It’s impacting your own cash flow and credit usage and understandably causing you anxiety. If financial crisis befell the company, would you be stuck with thousands of dollars on your credit card that they hadn’t reimbursed you for yet? What if your credit is already maxed out, or you don’t qualify for credit or prefer not to have credit cards at all? Or what if you end up needing your credit card in an emergency and you can’t use it because it’s maxed out with your company’s expenses?

If this were a matter of a few bucks here and there, that would be one thing. It’s understandable not to want to issue company credit cards to every employee who occasionally needs to expense 40 bucks for office supplies. But you’re talking about regular, ongoing expenses of thousands of dollars. It’s ridiculous to ask you to put those on your personal card. Given how often you’re covering expenses, they should provide you with a company credit card and/or set up direct billing arrangements with the vendors you’re using.

Again, it’s a common practice so you might not be able to get it changed … but it’s worth at least asking. Talk to your boss, point out that you handle more fee-heavy projects than most people, explain you can’t afford to carry such high expenses on your personal card, and ask if you can use a company card instead. Tell her it’s impacting your cash flow and your credit and causing you real hardship. If you want, you can also point out that you’re more junior than most people who are asked to do this and thus your salary is lower, making this more of a hardship than it might be for others. (Although for the record, they shouldn’t be asking it of others either.)

That’s not going to make you look irresponsible. You’ve been handling it all perfectly responsibly  up to this point — although even if you hadn’t been able to before now, that wouldn’t indicate any irresponsibility on your part. Your finances could be tight for many reasons, none of which are your employer’s business, and professionalism doesn’t mean “be able to carry the company’s expenses on its behalf.” Really, it doesn’t.

Your company is asking you to take on personal financial hardship to front their own expenses, and that’s not right.

Update: After writing this response, I heard from the letter-writer that in addition to having to put expenses on her personal credit card, she’s had to pay some vendors with personal checks — meaning that real money is gone from her account for weeks and not available for her own use. That’s beyond unacceptable — it’s far worse than the credit card — and it makes this all the more urgent to address. If nothing else, it’s worth telling your boss that you need another arrangement for the vendors who won’t take credit cards, and that pulling money from your bank account is not possible.

{ 491 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    Oh my good Lord. I would not be able to do this: both from a financial and mental perspective. I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that I had that much on a credit card. OP, please, push back because this isn’t right.

    1. Amethystmoon*

      I would not be able to afford it with my current wages. I hope OP is being paid extremely well to make up for it.

      1. Ominous Adversary*

        I could afford this; I still would not do it under any circumstances. If the business wants me to front them money, they can make me a part owner.

        What happens to the LW if the company has trouble paying its bills or declares bankruptcy?

        1. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

          Also, the company doesn’t have to run into financial troubles for this to bite the LW in the butt. She says her boss has to approve all expenses. What if he has a sudden heart attack or something and ends up in the hospital? Are there others who can approve this and see that LW gets reimbursed? Or is she stuck with her 3 week waiting period turning into months, accruing interest and fees?

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Or worse, what if her boss decides not to approve the next $8,000 expenditure? What recourse does she have at that point?

            1. Amaranth*

              And these expenses are on the behalf of clients. What if the client defaults on payments to the company? Does OP have to wait on their accounts to be brought up to date?

            2. Pony trekker*

              Just to be clear. YOU are signing the charge receipt so YOU are on the hook for expenses. Whether it is a corporate card or a personal card.

          2. Diahann Carroll*

            Or if something happens to the people in accounting where they get backed up for weeks at a time and are told to only process reimbursements for upper level employees first until they work through their backlog. (This actually happened at one of my prior employers once.) OP could then be hit with substantial interest charges and late fees if her credit card bill isn’t paid in full in a timely fashion.

          3. Adele*

            I had something similar happen to me years ago. Before we had business credit cards, I paid a VERY large required deposit for a conference site overseas that wouldn’t accept a purchase order and needed payment faster than I could get a check written in our notoriously slow to move institution. I immediately put in a reimbursement request and then…nothing. I waited for a few weeks and then asked the person to whom I submitted it and she said she had sent it on. I called our Travel group and our Financial group and they said they had never seen it. This was so long ago that everything needed hard copy originals and these were sent through interoffice mail. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage or any other bills, I was in a panic and jumped quite a few levels and they granted me a retro-active travel advance (which our larger department refused to grant people).

            I can’t remember how I finally discovered that the reimbursement request had been sitting on someone’s desk for over three months. My program was so niche and the circumstances so unusual for our larger unit that she didn’t know what it was or to whom to give it for a final sign off (or so she said) so she just let it stay at the bottom of the in-box. JFHC, it had all the details and receipts and had my name and contact info on it! That horrible person went on (and on) to bigger and better positions but I forever after hated her and did my best to avoid anything in which she was involved.

            My heart is racing just remembering this.

          4. EchoGirl*

            Even if the company is always 100% reliable, spending that much on your credit card can be a (thankfully minor, but still) detriment against your credit score. I’m actually at a point of trying to shuffle some things around because since I started doing the family grocery shopping, I’ve been exceeding the recommended credit percentage (I think it’s 30% of total credit?) monthly, and it’s shaved a few points off my credit score. I honestly think it’s silly that they calculate it that way (they really should distinguish between a high balance that’s paid off in full every month, vs. having a high balance because you *don’t* pay it off in full every month) but that’s the system we’re in.

          5. LW*

            LW here. This happened recently, boss went on vacation and wasn’t available to approve the reimbursement for a few weeks. Appreciate all the good advice and support in this thread! I’m going to schedule time to discuss this with my direct supervisor.

            1. The Rules are Made Up*

              So glad! It should fine to say “I cannot afford this.” They really aren’t entitled to any more information than that. My job also has a habit of asking us to/assuming that employees can put charges on our personal card to be expensed every now and then. I did it in emergencies (like on a holiday where nobody in our finance dept across the country was still in the office to purchase it) for things not exceeding like $200. Anything over that when someone said “Can we go ahead and purchase X?” I’d just look at them and cheerfully/matter of factly said “Sure. What payment info should I use for this?” And if they asked if I could put it on my card and get reimbursed I just told them flat out I can’t afford to put that on my card. You work there for them to pay YOU in exchange for your services/skills/expertise. Not for them to use you as a petty cash dispenser. I hope your direct supervisor is helpful and stops this entirely. Good luck!

        2. Tabby*

          Right?! Absolutely not. Fite me, Company. Or in this case, fire me, but hell to the absolutely no, I am NOT paying company expenses on my personal moneys. Nope, nope, not at all, nope. If it’s not my company, I’m not spending money to keep it afloat.

      2. Silly Season is just Beginning*

        This practise is totally ridiculous and unacceptable whether or not one can afford it! Shame on them. I think OP should start looking for a new job. I am upset and it is not even me.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      I would not be able to front $8k on my credit card, it’s above my limit.
      Now, I can get approved for the higher limit, but it’s neither here nor there.
      Also, wouldn’t it screw up your credit if you apply for a loan at a wrong moment? Because this will screw up your utilization/available credit ratio.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Exactly. If you apply for a new rental unit or a mortgage, your credit history will show that you have a high debt-to-income ratio–and that it repeats itself continually. That seems as if it might impact your FICO score very negatively, that you are putting your own credit history at risk of looking bad by continuing to run up your charges and then pay them off.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          This! And most credit cards nowadays let you see your credit score for free on their website, so OP should be checking this regularly.

          That said, if you have a company card issued in your name, that also affects your personal credit. My husband has one: his personal credit rating affects his credit limit, and his behavior on his company card affects his personal credit rating.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            Just a comment of; not always the case. I had a company issued credit card that had my name on it at one time but it was not tied into my credit at all.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Same. My name was on the card and all bills came to me, but that card wasn’t on my credit report.

              1. Anon for the Day*

                I think it depends on how your accounting department sets up the cards. Apparently there are codes that they can set up on the account that denote the type of purchases allowed (travel, office supplies, etc) and if you try and deviate from that (say you want to get a haircut), the purchase is declined.

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              TooTired, this is true in my experience. My hubby has has two different company issued cards – one showed on our credit report and the other didn’t. Hubby never used the company card that showed on our report because it had an insanely low credit limit for a corporate travel card ($1500, good luck paying for any serious travel on that limit).

              (Fortunately this company had a legal dept that mandated 72 hour turn around on all expense reports.)

          2. Sparkles McFadden*


            At my old job, we had a corporate card but we, as individuals, were responsible for paying the bills. So I’d charge as required, expense it, and get reimbursed. The reimbursement wouldn’t happen in a timely way, so I’d pay the bill to avoid interest charges and late fees, and replenish my checking account after the fact. It was difficult but doable.

            Then, they moved to a system where we’d charge to the card, submit expense reports, and my company would pay the credit card company directly. Good, right? Nope. The company told us we were still personally responsible for late fees and finance charges…and there were often such charges because my company would take a very long time to pay the credit card company. So, each and every month, I would submit the accumulating interest charges as an expense, because I wasn’t about to pay out of my pocket when I submitted my expense report immediately. At one point, the credit card company froze my card. That was fun. I got to say “No, I cannot charge anything right now. My card is frozen because T&E hasn’t paid the bill.”

            Eventually, everything got paid, but yes, this took a toll on my credit rating.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This thread here is making me think what OP could say. “Oh, I had to use my card for something and I know this size bill will not be approved for my card.”
        Eh. I’d say it even if it weren’t true.
        There no way in h3ll I’d write a check for my company on my personal account.

        OP, I am surprised you are still with this company. And I am surprised that Alison says it’s so common. I once put a company bill on my card. It took EIGHT months for them to pay it. During that 8 months I had plenty of time to think about how I had been told over and over the finances were on shaky ground at that company.

        What is so hard about getting a company card and a company check book? If this were an individual person we’d call it “adulting”. The company needs to be responsible and grow up.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          Agreed! That’s what bothered me most about this. The company is putting responsibility for their finances on their employees.
          I would never agree to anything other than a company card where the company is fully responsible for payment. If that makes me a bad employee, tough!

        2. Clisby*

          I’m also surprised to hear it’s common. Both my husband and I have had cases where we charged a hotel room or a rental car (for us, not for clients) while attending a conference, or visiting the main work site. That was part of our personal expense report, and it was always paid promptly. Paying clients? That sounds so weird.

          1. Nicotene*

            The only thing I will say is that some employees like this because they are accruing credit card points. Especially if you’re regularly charging 8K and then paying it off, you could get some great airline miles or hotel nights or whatever with those kinds of expenses. When I had to cover company charges I opened a separate card just for those expenses to make it clearer, and I ended up earning a ton of money that way. However, on the whole it’s short sighted and not a good idea. Ultimately I was glad to leave that job.

            1. Time For A Different Username*

              Yes to the credit card points thing. When I worked at a company with similar practices this is how people tried to justify it. It’s one of those things that works if you can get your expense reports reimbursed quickly and you have available credit to spare, but it can go wrong really easily.

            2. scmill*

              I always used my personal card for everything when I was traveling on business nearly every week to get the cashback credit and was eventually able to buy a car with the points! Eventually the company made me put my airfare on my company card, and by the end, I had to use to company card for everything. Sigh… I miss those days!

            3. LW*

              LW here. This is the rationale cited at my workplace too and it works in theory, but only when you get reimbursed on a timely manner. Opening a separate card for those expenses makes sense. I’m exhausted from having to constantly sift through what I’ve paid, expensed, and been reimbursed for.

              1. Nicotene*

                Plus sometimes there are good signup bonus if you (your work) spends enough, so shop around!! … which is not to detract from the fact that yes, this sucks and shouldn’t be happening … :D

          2. Amaranth*

            I’ve either had a company card or could usually submit a PO to a huge list of vendors who would get payment within 30 days from the company. For large recurring purchases, I’d probably suggest the company set up some relationships — if the client wants printing done, go to one of these three printers.

          3. Name (Required)*

            Agreed about travel. I had a company that would have us do this for travel to avoid having to give anyone (including some of the owners) company cards. I guess since I had an airline CC for this, it didn’t bother me because I would take the miles happily.

            But the few times you’d travel with someone new that doesn’t have an international credit card, I’d end up covering those expenses as well. So…after a few weeks overseas, I would get home and NOTHING work related would be done until my expense report was turned in an approved. Because those numbers start adding up.

            But to pay clients or other expenses? That is weird.

        3. Alice's Rabbit*

          Agreed. I have never been asked to front money for any company I’ve worked for. It is not common. And it’s not okay.
          It’s one thing to do this in an emergency, like if Claire has the only company card and she’s in the hospital. But not as a regular course of action.

          1. TechWorker*

            Just cos you haven’t run into it doesn’t mean it’s not common! My company effectively does this (you can either front it or have a ‘company card’ that still comes from your personal account, eg you have to expense things and get reimbursed. If things go to plan you never actually front it, but if there’s any problems with the expense or you put it something wrong you end up having to front it.

            This is a multinational with tens of thousands of employees. On occasion where someone has raised concern about not being able to front it this was ‘resolved’ by a personal loan from someone more senior.

        4. The Rules are Made Up*

          I wouldn’t even tell them all that lol. Their job isn’t owed an explanation of why they don’t have unlimited access to her personal credit. In a normal environment it should occur to them that asking an employee to put an $8,000 expense on their personal card is ridiculous but an “I can’t afford to put this on my card” should suffice.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Possibly. Others do it (in the financial services industry) because they want to make sure you’re not susceptible to fraud and embezzlement in the form of stealing money from the employer, or your employer’s customers, to pay off your debts.

      3. jenkins*

        Yeah, I don’t even have that much credit available to me. I could get close by maxing out two different cards but…!

    3. Dadolwch*

      Right? Just reading this gave me major anxiety. These kinds of practices also disproportionately impact people of color and other minority groups, who may not have access to higher lines of credit. But to expect you to use your own checking account to pay the company’s expenses?! That’s outrageous!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The only check I see reasonable to write on a personal bank account for business to repay would be a college course.
        OP is being taken advantage of.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I just paid for one of my classes in my graduate certificate program with money from my savings account (it was only $1254). Once I successfully pass the course, my company is reimbursing me for the cost – but the course isn’t over until December. I was not putting that charge on any of my credit cards because I’d have to pay interest every month, and my company doesn’t reimburse interest charges under the tuition reimbursement umbrella.

          If OP was doing something like this, I wouldn’t see the problem because ultimately, she’ll be the one benefiting from the additional education (and can take it wherever she goes). OP doesn’t benefit from paying vendors herself at all.

          1. Summersun*

            My grad school allowed deferred tuition payment with written proof of my company’s “reimbursement upon proof of grade” policy. May be worth enquiring in the future.

          2. Time For A Different Username*

            Everywhere I’ve worked has been like this as well (I had one employer reimburse my professional certification tuition/licensing fees and a later employer reimburse my Master’s tuition). I agree that it wouldn’t really be controversial, not only because OP would be the beneficiary but also because it’s the kind of arrangement that you know about up-front before enrolling. Your employer randomly being too broke to cover operational costs probably isn’t an actual company policy.

        2. I Need That Pen*

          Majorly being taken advantage of. I would not care what anyone thought of me if I went into the boss’ office and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have room for that on my credit card.” Even if my balance was zero. Let the double entendre fall where it may.

        3. EchoGirl*

          I think there are other types of reimbursements as well (I’ve heard gym membership reimbursements are a thing)? But yeah, a technically personal expense that the company reimburses is different from a directly work-related expense.

    4. HoHumDrum*

      Yeah when OP was like “It’s a lot of money to me” I was like “$8,000 is a lot of money for *everyone* or at least it should be”.

      IME though, many people with a lot of money seem to truly believe that everyone has that much available to them, and the rest of us who claim we don’t are just being miserly or have poor judgement. I could give many examples of this type of thinking IRL that boiled my blood, but a lighter example might be the “Just dip into your trust fund!” scene from Derry Girls.

      My advice for this situation is probably not good advice: I’m not ashamed of how little money I have and thus I am not afraid to tell people “Yeah I can’t do that, that is way more money than I have lying around”. In my view, if you have a ton of money while the rest if us are without maybe it’s *you* who should be embarrassed, not me. I try not to go straight to class warfare at work though, but I’m not going to pretend like I’m a trust fund baby when I’m not. If you want $$$ spend on clients then you better get me that $$$ because I certainly don’t have it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1 to your last paragraph. I claim broke all the time at work, and I have no shame in doing so. None of these people are going to pay my very expensive rent or my student loans, so no, I will not be putting upwards of $8k on my own cards or (god forbid) pulling it out of my own checking account.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I also recall my parents when I was a kid saying things like “that’s not in our budget” which often literally meant we didn’t have the money, but can also just mean that since you haven’t budgeted for it, you don’t want to/aren’t going to pay for it.

      3. I'm Not Phyllis*

        This may be my favourite comment of all time.

        LW, there is no reason to be embarrassed. Your company already knows what they pay you and ought to know that it’s not enough to have you charging $8000 in client expenses or writing personal cheques. Like Alison said, even if they were paying you much more, this is not reasonable for any business. Personally I would be worried about my credit rating and how it could be impacted, I’d be worried about what would happen if the company fell into financial difficulty (are you in a position to know if this were the case?), the mental health and stress component, and a lot of other things, but really … it’s as simple as these are business expenses that employees should not be expected to front.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        While I am not a trust fund kid, I could charge a bit. I think the biggest purchase I have ever charged was 4k. That was only because the place would not take personal checks. Other than that a “big bill” for me would be in the hundreds of dollars range. I just plain refuse to charge things like that. I don’t do it in my personal life and most certainly I am not going to be willing to do it for an employer who has access to funds in a way that I will probably never be accustomed to in life. I think this is bs.

      5. Summersun*

        I’ve done the same. I would much rather people think I’m broke, they never ask to borrow money that way. “I don’t have the money for this.” Doesn’t mean I don’t have any money at all, the money just…isn’t for this.

      6. Alice's Rabbit*

        I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of how much money they have, regardless of if it’s a lot or a little… or nothing. I’ve had nothing. I’ve been on the street. And I am not ashamed of that. Now, I’m doing well for myself, and I am not ashamed of that either. I’m also happy to help folks who are struggling.
        However, if my company wants my money, even temporarily, they had best put up shares as collateral. Or something else tangible. I’m not floating their expenses, whether I could afford to or not.
        So the discussion here really shouldn’t be whether or not the letter writer can afford to put $8,000 on her card. It’s that this company is ridiculous for asking this of any employee, entry level or executive.

      7. The Rules are Made Up*

        EXACTLY. I do the same thing. No hesitation “I can’t afford that expense.” People who do this need to be confronted with their assumption that everyone has extra money just because they do. And hopefully that person thinks twice in the future before they assume what someone else can/can’t afford. This is slightlyyy unrelated but I do this for everything, including social plans. When friends (who make more than me) send a restaurant suggestion where plates are $40 a person? “Can we choose another? I can’t afford that.” We don’t need to be ashamed of this. I was never a person secretive/embarrassed about money so it’s probably harder for some who grew up with that notion but I wish this was the norm.

    5. Not A Girl Boss*

      Right? This is the stuff of nightmares. Literally, I will have nightmares about this tonight.

      I have exorbenant student loan debts that have really crippled my ability to have “good grown up person” credit, savings, etc. It makes me feel really irresponsible and ashamed, even though I know logically that past debt is not really a reflection of my current maturity or responsibility level.
      Having to get into the embarassing details of that debt with my employer in the hopes they will take pity on me and stop making me spend all my available money on business expenses? Total nightmare.

      Plus there’s the fact that your company is basically doing this because it helps *their* cash flow and allows *them* to appear more customer-service-oriented is just pretty gross.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Well, Mr. Employer, here’s the story. I took on tens of thousands of dollars of debt, so that I could get a degree and work here for $20k per year. You are already benefiting from my willingness to take on debt for you. I don’t feel the need to take on more debt for you.”

        No. I’m not ticked off here… /s

      2. Mine Own Telemachus*

        God, yeah! One time, my work decided to send me on a business trip, to San Francisco (from the midwest) for a week and asked me to front the hotel expense. It was right after I’d moved apartments, too. I just straight up refused.

    6. allathian*

      Yeah, this. I’m glad that in my location, asking employees to front for business expenses is severely frowned upon. Reputable employers don’t do it.

  2. RCB*

    I used to do this for one of my jobs, but it was $15,000-20,000 a month, but was always paid back promptly and I used a miles card, so my husband and I got a great free trip to Asia by doing it, so it can definitely work out beneficially for some, though I understand it’s not ideal for everyone.

    1. Zett*

      Yes! I did this at my previous company for travel expenses. Putting them all on a travel-related card did help me gain a ton of points. But it was a program we could opt-into, not by mandate. When I finished at that job earlier this year I was astounded how much more money I had in my account month to month – having travel money constantly “out” of my pocket did definitely take a toll, even if it ended up even in the end.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        But I don’t understand why this is exclusive to personal credit cards? I have a credit card with my name on it, through my company. I still get to keep the travel points I earn on it. But it doesn’t affect my credit or my cash flow.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            ^ Many companies with company cards have arrangements that allow them to pool those benefit points to use for company expenses such as board travel.

    2. Just J.*

      And this may be why the company is doing it. At one of my previous jobs, I was given a company credit card. However, all of the perks (travel miles) went to my boss. Which pissed me off. If I was doing the travel and booking the business, I wanted to get the perks.

      However, this is not OP’s case. I strongly suggest talking to your boss. They probably do not even realize you have a concern.

      1. Anononon*

        That’s extra shady because even if the company is directly paying for the travel, the miles can still go to the traveler, not the company.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          Which is how a company I used to work for handled this: it was a company card but the employee got to keep the miles.

          Expecting employees to front thousands of dollars worth of expenses – especially on a regular basis, but even once – is crappy. Using points/miles as an excuse is crappy too.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I had a corporate card once with miles and when it was presented to me, my boss said, “And we let you keep the miles!” I was like, “Uh… yeah?” Because I had never had a situation where I couldn’t keep them. I have heard these stories about companies keeping the miles and yes, I think that’s shady.

          1. Venus*

            If the company is paying for the travel then why is it shady that they use the bonus (miles) to fund more company travel?

            I think it is most reasonable for the employee to keep the bonus as a benefit, but ‘shady’ seems like the wrong way to describe a company that keeps them.

            1. Anon Anon*

              I agree. Where I work, if you pay for the flight/hotel via a corporate card and the card earns points, they belong to the company. Now the points earned from flights belongs to the staff member. And, if the staff member uses a personal credit card to pay for the flight (and gets reimbursed) then they get to keep the points. But, if I’m not paying for flights/hotel and my company is, I don’t see the big deal of them keeping those points. Where I work we use those points to pay for flights and hotels for staff for other trips to reduce our overhead.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Because some places the accrued miles DON’T go to future company travel. They go to the personal travel-rewards program of someone in management.

              1. Courageous cat*

                I’m confused though – if they’re paying for it, isn’t that their prerogative? The benefit to the company card is that you don’t have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed for it, not that you should get some sort of perks for what is, essentially, doing your job.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah, this. I work for the government in the Nordics and they’re very strict about this, you can use any travel points for your own business travel in the future, but not for private travel. The company card also allows for late check-in at any hotel without a surcharge.

                  My husband works in the private sector. He travels quite a lot and he carries a hotel bonus card that includes electronic vouchers for meals in a hotel chain’s restaurants. But because he’s a buyer, his vendors often pay for his business lunches and dinners, so he doesn’t use the vouchers on business. But he can use them to pay for meals when we go out as a family, and I think that’s a really nice perk.

            3. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Maybe “shady” is the wrong word, but I think it’s better– and more common in my experience, though of course that’s not universal– to expect that keeping the miles is the perk offered for basically being on-call for days at a time while traveling. In my roles where I’ve traveled, traveling for business includes not just the immediate business/project but also handling everything that I would handle in the office, like managing my other projects. Plus all the additional stuff that comes with business travel like client meals/entertaining. It’s a bit of an extra when you don’t get comp time or commission or anything.

              1. allathian*

                That’s a fair point, and honestly one I hadn’t considered before. My job doesn’t involve frequent travel, so I’m not really fussed, as long as I’m not expected to front for travel expenses. I basically travel for work between once and three times a year, and that’s mostly for networking and training that my employer’s decent enough to pay for. I do read my email on the road, but that’s it.

          2. GS*

            I work for a government entity and we are explicitly not allowed to keep points for anything on our credit cards, nor to use personal credit cards with points, when we travel/spend money for work.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              In the 90’s I worked for a govt. office where the employees pitched in for coffee.
              The office wasn’t allowed to just buy a coffeemaker and coffee because it would have been paid with tax dollars and you know what the media could do with that!
              Your agency’s rule is probably for a similar reason.

            2. JKP*

              If they want you to pay with a personal card and reimburse you, how can they insist that you not use a personal credit card with points? I literally don’t have one without points. All of my cards have some sort of reward system, that’s why I chose those cards.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I was given a company credit card. However, all of the perks (travel miles) went to my boss.

        This is a terrible policy. I’ve worked for two companies in two totally different industries that gave me a corporate card for travel and work-related expenses. Both places had a policy that any perks and travel miles earned belonged to the employee named on the card.

      3. Alex*

        I worked for a company like this once, too. At the time I didn’t travel enough to need my own card, but the policy was you had to apply for a specific credit card under your own name as if you were just applying for a personal credit card. The company would only reimburse expenses charged to this card, but the reward points for all charges accrued to the company, even personal charges you paid yourself. Any interest was your problem, even if they didn’t pay your expense report in time. I remember there being a vague warning that if you didn’t qualify then you were more or less ineligible to have expenses reimbursed at all.

    3. Generic Name*

      That’s cool you enjoyed the points as a perk, but many people, especially young college grads, who haven’t built up a ton of credit aren’t able to even get cards with credit limits that high. This is a great example of why this practice is standard and why more people don’t push back on it. The high-earners who can swing fronting the company this kind of money and who benefit from the common practice are the ones who make the decisions and aren’t considering that not everyone has $20k in excess credit to pay business expenses.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        Seconding! My credit limit is around $5k — I have an excellent credit score, but I’ve never sought out a higher credit limit because I prefer to pay up front for things. I literally could not afford to work at OP’s company.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1

        I have a card with a $20k limit and another with $17,500, and I still wouldn’t front my company that kind of money. They are for emergencies, and my company’s vendor payments are not that, lol.

        1. Atalanta0jess*

          Right, this is the other thing isn’t it? Even if you can swing that kind of line of credit and/or have the cash, those are YOURS. They are there for emergencies, for investing, for filling your bathtub with hundies, for whatever you want to do with them – and if you’re constantly fronting them for clients, you can no longer do those things.

          And if the company decides not to reimburse for whatever reason, you’re in a really weird and vulnerable position.

          1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

            Yes; sometimes my emergency is “I need to swim in a pool of Benjamins”- I still am not okay with fronting $8000 to my company. (Note: I do not swim in bills, but I am very proud of the fact that I’ve gotten us to paying off our credit card every month after years of grad school.)

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Lol my emergencies are sometimes “I really need to buy this bag/pair of shoes/dress RIGHT NOW” (well, pre-COVID anyway) – and yes, some of my wardrobe purchases can get into the thousands.

            2. Not A Girl Boss*

              Yes, this is important. I am SO NOT getting into it with my company about what I “should” and “should not” be spending my own dollars on so that I have a free $8k hanging around. Its not that I can’t front the money, its that I don’t want to, and that reason should be good enough, full stop.

        2. Tidewater 4-1009*

          If you ever use your 20k and 17k cards, watch the interest and fees!
          I have a card with a 20k limit and ran up a balance of vet bills for geriatric cats. Long before it reached the limit it was eating me alive. I had to take out peer-to-peer loans to pay it down.
          I’ll never run up a balance on that card again. If I have to in an emergency, I’ll get a loan right away and pay it off. It’s a predatory card and a big name everyone has heard of.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            My interest rates are very low for credit cards on both (14 and 15%), and if I really have an emergency, I would probably just borrow against the cards in the form of a personal loan (which both banks allow me to do). The interest rates on personal loans for both are even lower than the credit card interest rates (don’t remember exactly how much lower).

      3. Anon Anon*

        I think it can be a cool perk, if it’s really framed as a perk, not a requirement. The default should always be that a company credit card is provided.

        I remember going on a business trip with my boss in my late 20’s or so, and I got to the hotel and they asked me for a credit card to pay for the room. All I had was a debit card and I couldn’t afford for the hotel hold. It was embarrassing, and I had to ask my boss for her company credit card. It didn’t occur to my boss (who made 4 times what I did) that paying for an expensive hotel room was something that was a burden. Although that experience is the major reason that I tell my direct reports that they shouldn’t ever expect to use their own credit card or debit card for work purchases.

        1. Anxious cat servant*

          This. I’ll use my personal card for business expenses when it gives me extra points but it’s optional. And it’s never more than $400 and I know I’ll be repaid within a few days.

          Because of all that it’s a perk. THOUSANDS of dollars and it’s the default? Not a perk. At all.

      4. anon for this*

        Yes. Not everyone has the credit score, cash flow, skillset to navigate putting lots of charges on a corporate card. This is the kind of “perk” that can keep a company filled with people who look the same and have the same backgrounds. When I was in my late 20s I had a job that assumed I’d be able to front-load charges on my personal card and submit monthly reimbursements. I didn’t have the credit limit, was trying to pay my balance down, and didn’t want to raise it. I felt like I couldn’t afford to do my job – totally confused and ashamed. It dented my confidence when I’d interact with other people at the company. And I’m white and grew up upper-middle-class, so I at least shared a background and many frame of references with most of my coworkers. Imagine being POC/queer/poor/disabled/etc working super hard to get that high-flying consulting job only to find out your first week that being able to front thousands of dollars a month is an unspoken additional job requirement.

        1. Cj*

          I just had to pay $375 for a continuing ed class and submitted it for reimbursement to my firm. I thought *that* was bad! There is no way I could handle $8,000.

          I was out of work for over a year, and started this job last October. While I can handle the $375 at this point, last fall I couldn’t, and I had to time it so that I registered for the class the last day of the month, submitted it that day, and we get reimbursed on the 2nd of the month. I could not have a job that required this amount of credit/cash outlay.

      5. Thru-hiker Wannabe*

        When i got out of college, I had to use my own money as collateral in order to get a credit card since I had no credit. I was lucky enough to be able to pay off my loans right out of college. I had minimal savings and this would not be doable.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I work for a small company that split into two even smaller companies a couple of years ago. During our transition period I didn’t have access to a company credit card, so I was putting expenses on my personal credit card until the new account was set up and had cards issued. It ended up working out pretty well for me, too. I had signed up for a new card with great cash back benefits for the first year (plus no interest for a year) so I ended up with a pretty nice pay back pretty quickly. I used some of that money for a vacation as well.

      Definitely not ideal for everyone! If I was worried about interest or not being reimbursed quickly I wouldn’t have done it. It’s not the norm for our company, though; we typically are given company cards.

    5. Anon Anon*

      I do that as well for expenses. But, it’s a choice. I know that I can always use a company credit card if I need to. And I definitely could not have managed it in my 20’s or early 30’s, when I was paid less, and my credit limits were far less.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I think the key thing here is that if you’re going to make an employee front the expenses, you have to reimburse them immediately (or promptly, as you say).


      By the time my boss approves an expense report and our accounting team processes it, it can take weeks to receive reimbursement.

      is not acceptable.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        We don’t know how many weeks she’s talking about, though. My company reimburses employee expenses on the payroll schedule, so depending on when you traveled and completed your expense report, you’d have to wait two to three weeks for a direct deposit. That hasn’t been a problem for me yet seeing as though they always get my money back to me before a bill comes due.

        Two companies ago, my employer didn’t issue payment on company cards for four to six weeks – something like that would be completely unacceptable when talking about reimbursing employees.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          She said three weeks in the letter. Regardless, it’s absurd to be asked to front thousands of dollars to a company from your personal account.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Three weeks isn’t absurd though. Usually, in that timeframe, the bill hasn’t even arrived yet and the due date is a couple weeks out from that. That being said, constantly putting between $4-8k on your own card is ridiculous.

              1. nom de plume*

                So, then, the timeframe is egregious given the amounts. In three weeks, and assuming you’ve put out *your own money* mid-month, rent becomes due, as well as other bills. This is exploitative BS: employees are not piggy-banks! Enployees are NOT personally responsible for company expenses. I’m really shocked at the number of people normalizing this policy in this sub-thread. Y’all have lost your compass – I assure you this isn’t okay.

                1. Diahann Carroll*

                  I don’t think anyone is normalizing this or saying it’s okay – we’re recognizing the fact that many companies operate this way, and many employees don’t push back on it for reasons.

              2. Zweisatz*

                To add another perspective, my company reimburses cost in a matter of days, even if it is below 100 $. It is a business expense and should therefore put as little burden on the employee as possible.

                It’s not like “it’s tied to the pay period” is set in stone. The company could change that if they wanted.

            1. LW*

              LW here. The problem for me is multiple expenses stacking up month to month I.e., 3 weeks later i’m still waiting for reimbursement on one 2k expense when I have to front another expense that will also take 3 weeks to be reimbursed for. Tracking that, and making sure I have enough to cover the CC bill and rent, etc. becomes really stressful. If it were a one time deal I wouldn’t be as concerned.

            2. lüpl*

              My credit card balances itself every 15th of the month against my checking account, your 8k on the 10th of the month that you intend to pay off a month later are going to kill my checking account. Pay your own bills or go out of business if you can’t.

        2. Time For A Different Username*

          It’s interesting that you mention direct deposit. In my experience, firms that have the kinds of cash flow issues that the OP is describing may not even have direct deposit set up for payroll to begin with much less for anything else.

          Most forms of electronic deposits are going to have less float time than dealing with actual cheques, so a business that can’t regularly ensure funds at least a few days in advance of a deposit is going to have trouble with a lot of (but not all!) payment processors. OTOH, writing post-dated cheques and/or using stop payments to deal with cash flow emergencies is easier to deal with. This doesn’t really matter for solvent businesses, but businesses with problems like what the OP describes might just avoid playing Russian roulette with direct deposit for anything.

    7. kittymommy*

      My friend does something similar (with her points card) but reimbursement is just a matter of her walking the check into her bosses office for a signature. I absolutely would not be able to do this (and neither would she if the process took longer).

    8. Sue*

      Last time I researched credit cards (awhile ago) there were quite a few options for benefits besides miles; cash back, points to use elsewhere, etc.
      I hope they’ll fix this for you but if you aren’t able to get this changed OP, at least set it up for your benefit as much as possible (especially since you are providing a pretty big benefit to them by doing this). Get the best card for you, put it on autopay, have direct deposit from your employer, etc to minimize the effort and maximize any benefit to you.

    9. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. Like people are saying, if you can take the cushion and the company pays it all off promptly, it can be incredibly beneficial to the employee. The credit card points are sweet, but also using and paying off large sums will skyrocket your credit score (meaning you spend thousands less in interest for things like house loans).

      That being said, it’s not for everyone so you should definitely have a chat if it doesn’t work for you. But before you do, take a look at what you’re actually getting in point and improved credit score to see if it’s worth it to you. You should also get a new credit card (try Capitol One) exclusively for your work expenses. Keeps the calculations clearer.

      1. LDF*

        Credit score is negatively impacted by high utilization even if you pay it off every month though, and “high” generally means “over 30%”.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Utilization is generally only calculated by what you leave unpaid at the end of the month (apart from a hugely unusual spike in spending) so since they’re always paying it off, it’s not a problem here.

          1. EchoGirl*

            Not necessarily. I’ve been dinged recently for high utilization and I always pay it off in full.

            I think it depends how the company runs the bills. With the card that I use the most (because it has better rewards), if I make a purchase in September, that goes on the statement I get in October, the payment date for which is November, so between October and November, that purchase (and all other September purchases) are recorded as used credit that impacts my credit score. With my backup card, if I make a purchase in September, it’s paid off on the immediate next payment date, so either September or October, and that one I don’t think is reflected in my credit score. (And yes, I should probably try to start using the other one more, but the problem is that because of the aforementioned delay, it means a higher payment than usual in the month I make the changeover, and I’m not sure I’m in a position to front that).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This almost makes me laugh. Don’t give me something and expect me NOT to use it. Not a lot of thinking going on there.

          IRL, I very seldom use 7% or more of my credit limit.

      2. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I had a Capital One card. Somehow the balance never went down even though I made payments. Other cards went down, it did not. I cancelled it and I will never use them again.

    10. Ominous Adversary*

      That’s fine if you CHOOSE to put those expenses on your personal cards and carry the risk of not being reimbursed. That’s not what is happening here. The LW isn’t volunteering to use her personal card to buy plane tickets to a conference so she can get reward miles.

    11. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      The practice is bad, but I was like this.

      Not quite as big amounts, but it was great running big expenses that I could easily pay back.

    12. Tidewater 4-1009*

      If the company had filed bankruptcy one day – and I’m sure they wouldn’t have given you advance notice of it – could you have paid off that $15,000 – $20,000 without hardship? Most of us couldn’t.

  3. Hula-la*

    I had that happen at my school (I teach Home Ec, and buy groceries and other supplies weekly). It sometimes took forever to get reimbursed. The rationale is because one teacher once used the district credit card to buy a flight. They finally changed it, and now I have a district credit card that I can use. My bank account is happier for it. Please try to push back on your company’s policy, and good luck!

    1. HoHumDrum*

      When my partner worked for state government the process for getting reimbursed was so intense and over the top- many hours of paperwork that had to be reviewed line-by-line by no less than 3 supervisors (going up the chain). I frequently thought that after you calculate how much these people were being paid and how much time they spent reviewing the smallest charge, the state would have been better off making the system simplistic and occasionally eating the odd accidental or fraudulent charge.

      At least as a taxpayer I would rather state workers and teachers and such just had the supplies they need with some moderate oversight vs paying for an army of people to comb over every receipt multiple times. It’s crazy how much money we all waste when we decide that public workers are just corrupt leaches looking for any excuse to steal from the government.

      1. KR*

        I feel the same way about the time clock software my work uses. Its such a royal pain in the butt adding overtime that most of the time it takes 15 mins to a half an hour of additional overtime just to add the overtime in. It’s so nonsensical.

      2. Mona Lisa*

        My previous (university) employer was like this with the added bonus of a final approval in the travel department, and their employees all interpreted the rules differently, which meant I could turn in several expense reports formatted in the exact same way and have one get rejected. They also would stop at the first “error” and reject it repeatedly for each subsequent issue one of the new agents found. By the time it went through all of the supervisors and multiple agents several times, I would be 6-12 weeks post-travel. Fortunately I had the money to front the expenses so I didn’t incur interest on my cards, but unfortunately the grad students I sometimes helped did not.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s upsetting because if there’s really corruption involved, it’s often on a very high level and difficult for the “average” government worker to do a damn thing about it.

        But don’t mind me, I just saw a new American Greed about the JUDGE who was working with the lawyer to take advantage of the disability program and a bunch of truly disabled people are getting screwed royally for their crimes.

      4. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I’ve always thought it’s because of the media. They could take a wasted $1.00 and make it into a huge scandal. Politicians want to avoid looking bad, and here we are.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          It’s because of right-wing trash rags like the Boston Herald, which run shrieking front-page headlines about how it’s outrageous that (low-wage) city transit workers get… transit passes.

      5. Not So NewReader*

        If the taxpayer only knew what was going on. State audits seem to involve asking the same questions five times. “Is your internet wired or wireless?” Well, it’s wired just like it was yesterday and the day before and last week. Oddly, it still remains wired.” It’s weeks of this. Our tax dollars hard at work.

      6. Pete*

        The problem is the amount of BS that the public sector management gets dragged into if a local reporter finds ANYTHING noteworthy in a public records request.

        If a private employee buys an overpriced meal and it slips through the expense system – the CEO can say with a straight face that it’s not worth spending hundreds of manager-hours to stop $60 worth of overcharging. He will then move on and not only will not analyst ask about it again, they’ll prod the guy who did ask why he posed such a stupid question.

        If a public employee does the same thing, the mayor will hear about it when the local paper headline reads “City staff dine on lobster while our roadways crumble!” and it will come up once a month for a year. His opponents will mention it, reporters will ask about it, there will be calls for the head of that division to resign, town council members will have an excuse to bloviate and hire attorneys to “investigate”, and reporters will immediately start digging for other nickle/dime overcharges that would cost more to prevent than they do to just pay…. until you factor in the blowback from getting caught paying for them.

        I’d like to suggest a better solution than “choose between wasting time treating employees with suspicion or managing an idiotic media circus”… just need to find one first.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Ooooh hell no, OP.

    This is horrifying. Please let us know what happens after you speak with your boss.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This is horrifying.

      I came to post exactly this. My company doesn’t have corporate cards for individual employees either (and I side eye that to this day since the last two companies I worked for gave me a corporate card within the first couple of months of working there), but many of us aren’t regularly charging thousands of dollars to our personal cards. There’s no way in hell I would be charging upwards of $8k on my card every month and writing personal checks for vendors – I would have claimed poor the first time they asked me to. In fact, I have no problem telling people I’m broke because, in comparison to other people in my company, I am.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I worked at a company like this. The partners (who had six-figure salaries in the 1980’s) thought it was no big deal. It was, but they didn’t care. It was just one sign of their cavalier attitude towards junior people.

      OP, is this isolated or part of a pattern of poor business management? If the latter, you shouldn’t stay long at this job.

    3. EPLawyer*

      I fall hard on the Oh Hell No line of this. If the company can’t or won’t issue company credit cards or set up corporate accounts with the usual vendors that is on them. It’s not responsibility to loan the company money interest free.

      This IS affecting your credit. One of the things that is considered is how much available credit you have. If it is constantly being used up by the company – YOU wind up paying higher interest when you go for a loan. That is not acceptable just to make the clients happy.

      As for personal checks — that is a double hell no. It’s YOUR money not the company’s. They need to stop treating you as their personal piggy bank.

      They want to keep the clients happy, they need to find a reasonable way to do this without trashing the employee’s finances.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This IS affecting your credit. One of the things that is considered is how much available credit you have. If it is constantly being used up by the company – YOU wind up paying higher interest when you go for a loan. That is not acceptable just to make the clients happy.

        Yup. Credit card utilization is a factor in determining your credit score. If it’s too high and you have other debt like student loans, your score could go way down, which not only affects what kind of interest rates you get on loans, but also things like where you’ll be able to rent (if you rent).

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m not a financial expert but I imagine this could have some serious negative impacts on OP if she applies for a mortgage or a car loan at some point.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Actually the opposite – so long as it’s getting paid off each month. Credit card debt is bad, but borrowing and fully paying off is good. The more you borrow and immediately pay off, the more banks will trust you with.

          Basically if they see you charge $100 a month and pay it off, you’re small potatoes and they’re nervous about trusting you with a big loan. But if you’re charging and paying off a few thousand a month, they have more confidence that they can trust you with a larger line of credit.

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “Actually the opposite – so long as it’s getting paid off each month. Credit card debt is bad, but borrowing and fully paying off is good. The more you borrow and immediately pay off, the more banks will trust you with.”


          2. Snow globe*

            Paying off every month is a positive for your score, but a high utilization rate is a negative. It’s hard to say what the net impact would be, but there is reason to be concerned.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Utilization rates are generally calculated on what remains unpaid each month. So long as it’s paid in total each month it’s not (or barely) counting against your utilization rate.

              1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

                It depends on when you pay in relation to the close date on the card. I just moved across the country, which has entailed charging 5 figure sums on my credit card that I will pay off before any interest accrues, however, because the cycle ended with my utilization high, my credit dove by 50+ points this month. It will come back as soon as the cycle closes next month and I have lower utilization, but for now it looks like I’m using a large proportion of my credit (because I am), even if I will pay it off in full before the due date.

                1. Traffic_Spiral*

                  That’s a single spike, vs. the consistent large amounts that LW is charging, and even in your case it’ll drop the minute you pay it off.

              2. jleebeane*

                Utilization rates are calculated based on whatever date the credit card company reports it to the credit bureau. That’s likely to be a consistent date each month but isn’t necessarily related to the payment date or due date (especially true if the CC company lets you pick your due date but still reports to the credit bureau on the same day for all customers).

                Your utilization could reflect your balance on the due date but it might not. The only way to know is to ask the credit card company what date they report to the credit bureau.

  5. Almost Empty Nester*

    Hard no on the cash up front. I could maybe see using a credit card where you can earn miles and would be separate from your personal expenses, but if that’s objectionable to you to do, you have every right to push back on it. It’s not ok for the company to use you as a loan service.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Exactly! It shouldn’t be incumbent upon the employees to fund any project with personal money!!! Geez!

    2. LDF*

      For me a credit card would be worse because if it’s at the point where OP has to monitor things to avoid going over, she’s going to tank her credit score because it sounds like utilization is much more than 30%.

    3. Ominous Adversary*

      You shouldn’t even have to push back on it. The company should make paying its own damn bills the default. It might allow an employee to volunteer to use a credit card and get reimbursed (if someone wants the miles or reward points). But it is absolutely unacceptable to say that employees are required to front the company money unless they object.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Odd that we never hear of companies paying the employees’ bills for them. It would be interesting for the company to explain why not and then throw their own words back at them.

  6. Retro*

    I agree that this situation is completely unacceptable and untenable. There may be real benefits for the company to have employees front money, because they can keep their money for longer which they can put towards other things or accrue interest. I’m not sure that’s entirely what’s going on, that’s they’re consciously doing it. It could just be management not being in touch with best practices. But I wanted to drop in a comment for OP to be aware that this could be something they are doing on purpose.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Not an accountant, but how does that work, since isn’t the compnay paying the $$ out anyway (to the employees)?

        1. MissBliss*

          But a debt would look different than an expense. Also, presumably they are getting reimbursed by the clients for the cost of whatever the purchase is. So for the company it’s an expense, but it’s balanced by a reimbursement. By keeping it on the employees’ cards, they don’t even have to worry about it looking like they’re carrying large amounts of debt, even on a short term. Money would just come in and go straight back out.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I’d want documentation from here to Tuesday so things were abundantly clear for IRS purposes. Yet another reason why this is a big NO for me.

  7. Dave*

    We don’t have individual company credit cards but there is an ‘office’ card that can be used and you call accounting for the card number every time. Something like that might be a compromise.
    I would refuse the check thing immediately . My personal checking account only allows so many checks a month without fees so you may try that as a starting reason for the change to anyone that doesn’t see the big picture absurdity of this.
    I have used my personal card (usually when calling the office is a major pain when waiting in line at the office store) and figure at least I get credit card rewards, but the most has ever been $1,000 once in over five years and I am not a junior employee and we get reimbursed within 11 days.

    1. PennyLane*

      This was going to be my suggestion. They don’t have to necessarily give the OP a card, but someone must have a company credit card that can be used. Or, if they don’t, then ask one of the higher ups to use their personal credit card for these expenses since they seem to be ok fronting the costs.

      You should definitely speak up OP and you’ve been given many good reasons to take to your company by Allison and in the comments about how this negatively impacts you (and how bad it could be if something goes wrong with the company or reimbursements).

      This is not ok to expect of an employee, no matter what they make.

    2. Aeryn Sun*

      My company has a similar system, except that each office has what amounts to a debit card. There is a certain amount on it every month for routine expenses and then if someone is traveling or needs to order a new computer or whatever, we contact finance to get approval for the extra expense and they add that money to the office debit card. There is usually a cushion on it (our office never uses up the routine monthly allowance) and it’s been a good compromise to giving everyone credit cards vs having us pay it and get reimbursed.

    3. consultinerd*

      Agreed. I work for a mid-size professional services firm and while we front travel expenses (or did pre-covid) and minor incidentals (a few office supplies, etc) on personal cards we would never pay vendors personally–those should all be invoices going to your accounts receivable folks or on a company card. Let alone personal checks for thousands of dollars! This is bizarre.

      1. Lynn*

        Same here. When I was full time travel (I worked onsite with clients and flew home on weekends), we would front travel expenses (excluding airfare, which the company paid through accounts payable to our travel agency) and some minor things. But we would never have been asked to front a vendor payment.

        We were carrying a lot of expenses, depending on how expensive hotels were in a given area, as we are paid bi-weekly so can have a couple of weeks out plus the current week. The company, however, is diligent about paying out in a timely manner. And not turning in your expense reports is one of the few sure-fire ways to get disciplined and/or fired. One of the few, as the company is not great with firing folks who need to be fired sometimes.

    4. Lizy*

      Right, but it sounds like this is an often occurrence (I read it to assume more than once a week, if not almost every day), and how is it supposed to work if she’s out in the field with a customer/client? Is she supposed to call accounting in the middle of a client dinner to get a credit card number? And this is assuming the place takes cc over the phone in the first place!

    5. CatLadyInTraining*

      We have a company credit card. You just ask for it if you want to use it. If you do have to use your own cash you just go to HR and give them the receipt and they’ll either cut you a check right then or reimburse you on the next payday. People certainly wouldn’t be expected to spend that much on their own debit card or credit card. One department did get in trouble because they used the company credit card to buy lunch almost everyday and they would use Uber Eats and Grub Hub to get food delivered which gets quite pricey with the delivery fees. Or they would go out and get all you can eat sushi. So HR told them to reel it in. And some people grumbled because they had to use their own money to buy lunch or shop for something to bring. Keep in mind the owner of our company is well known for bringing a packed lunch to work everyday….
      As it is our company is pretty generous with providing food. They cater meetings, we do catering for birthdays, etc. When we have a busy week, they often bring in stuff and many of our vendors also bring food for everyone as well. But there is no need for a department to use the company credit card for lunch everyday. Sometimes only one or two people would get lunch using the company car on a random day when they didn’t bring lunch. It was a shit show and im glad they put a stop to it.

      OP, your situation is appalling! Can you talk to HR? You shouldn’t have to put up with it

  8. MsMaryMary*

    This is unfortunately common in a lot of consulting/professional service organizations. Here are some specific suggestions to try:

    At my current job, anyone who reaches a certain amount of client expenses qualifies for a corporate credit card. It’s a pretty high level ($10,000, I think? But if OP just paid $8,000…) but makes sense for anyone with a high volume of expenses.

    If the organization won’t authorize a corporate credit card for OP personally, ask if there is one available for large expenses. Old Job wouldn’t give individuals a card but accounting had one we could use for anything excessive. Personally, I think it would be absolutely fair to ask to use it for anything over $1,000, but they may want a higher limit.

    It would be more cost effective for certain services to set up a corporate account that invoices your organization directly. If you’re regularly spending a couple thousand on printing or shipping it’s time to centralize those expenses and run them through accounting.

    Good luck!

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I don’t think staff should be required to front money ever. They might want to, for convenience, but if someone doesn’t want to charge $15 to their personal card, the company should have a way of dealing with it. A typical approach is that the head of a team or department has a corporate card, and small expenses are charged to that.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        Oh, I agree! I just think it’s unlikely OP is going to get their employer to do a complete 180 from what they’re doing now.

    2. LW*

      LW here. Thanks, this is good advice. I will print out a summary of my total expenses over the last year to show my Supervisor the real volume. Funny thing is usually the top executives (who actually have disposable income) are the only ones with access to a company card yet the lower level staff are always the ones to front expenses.

        1. virago*

          LW, I hit “submit” too soon — I meant to say that the practice of expecting lower-paid lower-level staff to front expenses is what makes no sense to me at all.

          Your plan to submit a summary of your total expenses over the last year to your supervisor sounds like a good one.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Also, as a very minimum get a separate card for business expenses. That way you can print the statement and tick off that you expensed everything and also can clearly demonstrate the need for a company card.
        We often run expenses (e.g. hotels) through our personal cards; flights are billed directly to the company. I once forgot to expense a hotel bill over $1200; fortunately I still could correct the oversight several months later.

  9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Personal checks takes it right over the line. If your company can’t write proposals and do budgeting such that these vendor fees are planned for and handled in a normal way, that’s a really bad sign.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      This blows my mind as well. If I am a client and I see my sales rep paying with a check I’d want to know why the company isn’t solvent enough to have the cash at that moment.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        Yes, that is disturbing! I can’t believe clients see it happening and keep hiring this company! Besides being unfair to employees, it just seems really, really sketchy.

    2. BadWolf*

      Maybe the clients are sort of flaky/at a whim? Like suddenly they want to book something now and the OP has to pay for it now to maintain the “We bend over backwards” plan. Still, the company could work this with other options than the OP using a personal check.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I read it as a bad sign also.

      As an individual, if I had to ask someone to foot my bills for me I would be super embarrassed. I would have to be entirely down on my luck for that to happen. But this company seems to keep operating as if everything is sunshine and roses, meanwhile they are leeching off their employees.

  10. AvonLady Barksdale*

    The credit card thing is pretty bad but I’ve been in situations where I’ve done it, and as long as reimbursement is quick enough– and it sounds like it is– then in the LW’s situation I would switch to a card offering some kind of benefit (like miles as someone suggested above) and grumble while still asking for a company card.

    But the PERSONAL CHECKS???? NO. Nononononono are you freaking kidding me? How is that even do-able? I cannot even imagine this practice. As Alison noted, that is absolutely the hill to die on, is much more urgent, is much worse, all that stuff. This is not normal.

    I don’t see a solution, I’m just horrified. LW, please, please, PLEASE speak to someone today and say this is not tenable and there has to be another way.

    1. AnonInTheCity*

      I’ve had a company card in the past, and I actually prefer paying expenses on my own card and getting reimbursed (assuming the reimbursement is timely) because 1) I have a card with a high limit and I like getting the points and 2) because the couple of times I accidentally pulled out my company card for a personal expense it was a Royal Pain to get it fixed. But the amount of money the OP is describing is way above what I’d be comfortable with and the PERSONAL CHECKS thing is just over the top ridiculous. I don’t mind fronting a limited amount of credit, but heck no to actual cash.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup, I feel exactly the same way. Granted, when I’ve had to do this (paying upfront and waiting for reimbursement), I’ve had a pretty high limit too, which certainly made it less of a blow.

        The whole accidentally paying for something personal with the company card… such a pain. I get why, but still, that’s usually a coffee or something and I can just give you three bucks.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          The whole accidentally paying for something personal with the company card

          I did this once before (paid for an expensive personal meal and an extra night in a hotel while on business/leisure travel), and it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The expense reporting system we had allowed you to mark a charge as “Personal” and then the company would just ignore the charge and write the credit card company a check for the total bill amount less the personal expense. Then, the credit card company would send you a bill for the balance, which you could then just pay yourself. That’s what I ended up doing.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            We can’t do that– that would be a great thing! My partner can, though. I work for a really small company and got to listen to one of the senior execs deal with paying back a pretty small expense once, and from my vantage point, it was amusing. Had I been in that situation, I would have been frustrated beyond belief! It was somewhat worse at the huge company I used to work for; small purchases, like coffee, were ignored, but for big ones you had to go through huge hoops. Which I understand, it’s just a pain.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yeah, that sounds frustrating. My last company gave me a card, and I just had someone else do my expenses, lol. I hate dealing with all of that.

      2. aebhel*

        Yeah, that.

        I have, in the past, fronted small cash/personal check expenses for my job, when they were sorting out our credit cards after a theft. I think I even paid for a couple of things outright, just because it was less of a headache than dealing with tax-exempt paperwork and submitting the expenses for reimbursement. But we’re talking like… $25 worth of craft supplies, not eight freakin’ grand.

  11. BlueWolf*

    This must be a smaller consulting firm (at least, I hope that’s the reason). I work for a mid-sized law firm, and generally travel expenses are handled this way where the employee pays for the travel expenses and gets reimbursed, but not for vendors. All vendor invoices are generally handled through the firm and the firm pays directly by check or electronic payment, especially when you’re talking about invoices for several thousands of dollars. Definitely push back on this. If it’s an issue with vendors needing to be paid promptly, then that’s something your accounting department needs to address, it shouldn’t be on a junior employee.

    1. Willis*

      This is what I’m thinking. How “prestigious” is this place?!? Cause having your employees pay vendors with personal checks sounds like a small business with cash flow issues or some difficulty qualifying for the amount of credit they need. Travel expenses are not that odd to front, but vendor payments is weird. I can guarantee you the vendor doesn’t think it’s a prestigious company to work with if they’re getting paid by personal check from the employees…

      1. AnonForThis*

        I know of a big consulting firm in my field – big, prestigious, very well-known and respected – that does something similar. They claim they issue “company cards,” but the card is actually an individual’s card, on their personal credit, and each employee is expected to request reimbursement and pay off the expenses from their own bank account. I’ve been told, like the letter writer, the cycle is usually fast enough that they get reimbursed before the payment is due; and it does provide a card specifically for business expenses. BUT!

        I was shocked and appalled when I heard. Like you, I thought “How could such a giant firm be doing that?!” But they are. And clients don’t know. (OK, the personal check thing is a bridge beyond. But the credit card thing happens.) My very small consulting company issues each employee who travels or incurs expenses a true company card. I think sometimes small companies that are well managed can be more thoughtful about their employees as humans than the big behemoths are.

  12. Strictly Speaking*

    As Alison alluded to, one reason this harms the LW is that credit scores are partially based on how much of you’re available credit you’ve used up. If you are carrying a balance of less than 5% of your total allowed credit, that benefits your credit score, but as you eat up more of that with your balance, your score suffers. This could be making it harder for the LW to get loans later on.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        On the flip side, as long as the balance is paid off monthly, it could benefit their credit score by showing the debt is not carried over month to month. So that could be one silver lining if their score goes up. Definitely something to watch VERY carefully! If for some reason the LW’s score has gone down because of this whole situation, that’s one more argument in their favor why this arrangement isn’t sustainable!

        1. Strictly Speaking*

          Is that a factor in the credit score calculations of any of the big three? I thought they considered the diversity of your credit lines/loans, but not the amount you successfully paid off. Instead I thought large, paid-off credit purchases would indirectly benefit you by prompting your credit card providers to increase your credit limits, thereby reducing your % usage of credit even if you dollar amount usage stayed the same. But not a direct benefit as measured for credit scores.

          1. Librarian1*

            I’m pretty sure that paying off your full balance every month improves your credit score, but I don’t know how it’s weighted compared to the other things that affect your score.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              According to what I just Googled, payment history is 35% of your credit score. Credit utilization is 30% of the score. So there’s a huge chunk right there.

              I think there would be a lot of factors to consider in the LW’s situation. It doesn’t sounds like the $8000 payment to the vendor is a regular thing, so I’m assuming and hoping they’re not coming close to their limit each month with all expenses (company and personal) and that it’s paid in full before it’s due (or they’re carrying over some of their balance of personal expenses, but low amounts).

              Either way, they need to watch it like a HAWK!

              1. Strictly Speaking*

                I believe the “payment history” factor is just looking at whether you ever late making a payment of at least the minimum, not distinguishing whether you paid off all or most of the balance. So making the minimum payment without fail would appear the same (simply “no late payments”) as paying off the full balance, for that metric in the credit score calculation specifically.

                Paying off your full balance is still beneficial for plenty of other reasons, including the possible indirect benefit of getting the card issuer to increase your credit limit, but I haven’t seen anything indicating it’s directly factoring into your credit score. That said, there are several prominent credit score models out there and there may be some that do factor this in.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Oh it absolutely helps. Think of loaned money as responsibility – the more you’ve proven you cna handle, the more they’ll trust you with. So as long as it’s being paid off each month, it’s giving you a very impressive credit history that gives the banks confidence in your ability to borrow and repay money.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              I think that’s what really helped my credit score at one point. My company was in a transition and I was putting expenses on a personal credit card and being reimbursed quickly. During that time my credit line increased and my credit score went up like 50 points. It was only temporary, I was issued a company card about 6 months later, but it ended up being really beneficial to me (higher score, lots of points, etc). That’s not always the case for everyone, though :(

          3. Arvolin*

            Nobody outside the big three knows what the calculations are (and, I believe Fair Isaac). That’s done to impede people who try to game their score. It’s possible to observe and try to figure it out, but the companies can change their formulas to some extent.

        2. Ominous Adversary*

          The LW shouldn’t have to expend one minute of her time watching her credit very carefully on her company’s behalf.

          1. I'm Not Phyllis*

            This. If you’re doing it occasionally and you’re seeing a personal benefit (in miles, points, what have you) that’s one thing, but this sounds like it’s not occasionally. For a lot of folks, this system would work, which is great (though I would still argue that it should be optional and not expected). But if it doesn’t work for the LW, they should absolutely say something about it and fast.

    1. MayLou*

      My total available credit is under £8000 I believe. I mean, I could probably increase my limits, but I don’t want to. And I use my credit card as part of managing my personal finances, I wouldn’t be willing to lend it to my employer even if I had the credit available.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        This reminds me of the time my wife, who often had a couple thousand dollars in domestic work travel expenses on her personal card each month, suddenly needed to book a last-minute flight to Europe from the US and needed to call the credit card company for a limit increase to make it happen. We got reimbursed quickly and our credit was good and it was fine, but there are so many people who would have been in a real bind in that situation.

      2. GothicBee*

        Yeah, I have a couple of credit cards but I use them for specific purposes in managing my finances. One of them carries a balance that is currently interest free due to my balance transfer terms. Adding money on top of that (which would accrue interest) would throw everything off. Not to mention the risk to my credit score if something were to go wrong.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Hello Strictly Speaking!
      I’m working on helping a relative refinance their home. They need to raise their credit score by about 20 points to get the loan they want. Will reducing their CC debt to 5% of available credit help raise their score?

      1. Reba*

        It’s always a good idea to keep utilization low. I’ve heard under 30% as common wisdom; lower is better, but there is not a hard-and-fast rule or magic threshold.

        The impact on the credit score may not be immediate due to when the card companies report to the credit bureaus, and the extent of its impact depends a bit on the scoring model being used. (Some consider payments over time, some just take the snapshot.)

      2. Bear Shark*

        Thankful for AAM,
        There are credit score calculators out there that can model the effect of changes on your credit score – I think the one I have access to is a free one called Chase Credit Journey (no affiliation except as a user). Reducing CC utilization helps your score, but one of those calculators would help figure out how much they’d have to reduce CC debt to get a 20 point increase.

      3. Strictly Speaking*

        Probably it would raise their score, but it’s hard to say without more context (which credit score model/provider is being used and how much of the credit limit they are currently using up). I’ve seen both 5% and 30% as thresholds mentioned in my different score reports, and I’m not an expert on this by any means!

      4. nonegiven*

        There is a chart that was done showing utilization effect on various credit scores. Looks like the best is between $0 and 5%, like under 1%-2%, but it needs to be a decent score for that to help.

    3. fe-fi-fo-finance*

      I think you’ve got it a bit backwards here because of the details of how credit utilization scoring works.

      Basically: no major credit scoring model (FICO, FICO Bankcard, Vantage) takes utilization history into account – they just care about the most recent utilization when they run a score. If you have a history of high utilization, but want to take out a car loan or mortgage, then you can pay down your utilization and you’re good to go applying next month. From the lender’s perspective, that shift is a good thing – you’ve just shown that you’re definitely not overextended.

      By itself, that makes the utilization questions roughly neutral. But! You can also apply for higher-end credit cards, and limit increases. When they ask why you want them, you can just say “my job is having me run expenses through my credit card, and then reimburses me.” That’s typically enough to get past any human review or reconsideration – banks love to skim the fees on high business-travel expenses (which is why they offer those high-end rewards cards), and someone who’s paying big bills every month is highly reliable from a credit standpoint. So, you end up with access to more credit.

      When you leave a travel-heavy job, your credit limits don’t go down. End result: more available credit, same pre-travel expenses, lower utilization percentage, better credit score (and a better looking package for human review, too, because you’ve shown you can manage higher balances without issue). There are other reasons why you might not want to run personal expenses through a credit card, and the whole check-writing thing in this story is just a HARD no, but overall, putting other people’s money through your credit card can give you tools to boost your own credit file.

      1. GothicBee*

        That’s fair, but I’d still be worried about the risk. Especially with having to front $8k. Also, at a certain point if you have a high enough credit score, then there’s basically no benefit to you and the only thing you’re left with is the risk.

        Also, I imagine this is still discriminatory towards people who can’t get credit cards at all. I can’t imagine someone with really poor credit will get much leniency even if it is for business expenses.

      2. Strictly Speaking*

        Thanks for this, I used “later on” carelessly. It may be a problem for the LW as long as they are still having to front money for their company, but it won’t follow them in terms of credit score after that is over.

  13. Jack Be Nimble*

    Holy crap, that is BEYOND unacceptable. I’d be looking sideways at a company that expected me to wait for reimbursement for more than a couple hundred in fees (other expenses are different, but veondors’ fees??) but they’re seriously expecting you to pay UP TO $8,000????????????????????????

    In your position, I would literally be unable to do that. I have credit cards and good credit, but my limit is about half that. Please speak up, this is outrageous.

  14. Brett*

    This is going to be an audit nightmare if the OP also ends up taking any unreimbursed business expense deductions. It is bad enough blending business expenses into a personal credit card that is used for non-business purposes, but writing checks for business expenses too? (And likely against the same bank account that is receiving both paychecks and reimbursements.)

    1. I coulda been a lawyer*

      I was thinking of this benefit as well, but I am not mentally prepared to owe more on my credit card than I have in my checking account. To the point where I’ve found that purposefully keeping my checking account balance low helps me avoid buying things on credit that I don’t really need. Even if I know that I’ll get at least one more paycheck before the bill arrives.

      1. I coulda been a lawyer*

        Well this nested incorrectly ; I wrote it as a response to the airline miles comment. But I also have a comment re unreimbursed business expenses – no longer deductible. The only way you can write off business expenses from 2018 to 2025 (I believe those are the years) is if you are self employed.

        1. Brett*

          Oh wow. Didn’t realize that was gone temporarily. (Fortunately I only have to deal with business expenses for my spouse’s self-employment.)
          That just piles on to the risk that OP is facing in doing this.

  15. singularity*

    This practice is totally biased against people who don’t have huge lines of credit in their name and who don’t have access to cash upfront. It’s like Allison said, what would they do with an employee that didn’t have any credit cards and didn’t have access to that much credit? Not hire them? Shady as hell.

    1. Observer*

      Well, we did have a letter from a boss that wanted to know how to inform an employee that she was required to get a CC because it’s “unprofessional” to pay for a business meal for yourself with cash.

      Don’t worry, Alison told her off. But that tells you about the mind set of some people.

    2. Jay*

      That was a major reason for policies like this one, at least in the past.
      It let the Blue Blood senior executives keep everyone else out, especially women and minorities, without actually having anything about background, ethnicity, race, or gender in writing anywhere.
      Usually goes along with innocent sounding, but actually loaded, interview questions about things like fishing, boating, or any number of hobbies and activities that have both “rich person” and “poor person” versions.

      1. Absurda*

        I had a manager who always said when someone came in for an interview she looked at their shoes. Her reasoning: Most people would fork over money for a decent interview suit but wouldn’t spend money on good shoes. Their shoes were an indicator, to her, of their financial status.

    3. Eva Luna*

      My sister once started a new job (in conference planning) and her first week, they wanted her to front over $1k in travel expenses to a conference. She literally couldn’t (her credit is a train wreck, she is always broke, and she hasn’t had a credit card of any kind in ages), and when she asked for her employer to pay, they fired her. Luckily she had no issues getting unemployment benefits.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        WOW! If the ability to front that kind of cash to the company was a requirement of the job, they should have put it in the ad so people like your sister could opt out.

    4. aebhel*

      Yeah, I don’t have a credit card. I did for a while, but I have ADHD and keeping it paid off was a nightmare for me. I use cash or a bank card. I’m perfectly financially solvent, and I have a vehicle loan and mortgage in my name so I have good credit, but credit cards are just too much of a headache.

      This is some sticky-fingered, fiscally irresponsible nonsense on the part of the employer.

  16. Person from the Resume*

    Honestly, I find this CRAZY. I’m pretty blasé about fronting the cost for my own (extremely rare) business travel expenses, but it’s nearly always less than $500 and my own expenses.

    I see two things in this letter that shock me and I would not expect to be common: THOUSANDS (multiple with an S) of dollars and on behalf of vendor costs.

    Given the high value, you should not be covering the costs. Ask for a solution which is as easy as a company credit card.

    1. JustaTech*

      I had to do this for some company travel at the beginning of the year. The Power That Be waffled so long on if the trip was happening that my boss and I didn’t have time to get business travel cards before we had to book our international flights. And since we were booking international kind-of last minute it ended up being upwards of $10K (not first class, not direct, ugh). So I had to just float $10K on my personal credit card until I got back from my trip (no reimbursements until you’ve actually traveled).

      It’s a good thing my SO makes *considerably* more than I do, or it would have been a major issue. As it was I got a lot of points.

  17. IsItOverYet?*

    Did this in grad school – for tolls when driving students on weekly field excursions. Only made 20k a year and they would take at least two months to process repayment (and this was on top of sometimes screwing up our once a month paychecks all together). Department chair was an a** who didn’t get that $100 was a lot of money when don’t get paid much in the first place. He also didn’t get why we were so upset when we didn’t get paid on time because “we would just get double next month” – yeah well I have to pay rent this month. Hopefully your higher ups are just not thinking about it and will get you a company card once you outline the issue.

    1. kt*

      Yep, flashbacks to grad school, except flight to Europe on $18k salary and “you’ll get reimbursed within 2 months of your return to the US!”

      1. JustaTech*

        Ha, that reminds me of when I worked in academia. My direct boss and our one post-doc were barely off the plane and submitting for reimbursements.
        The big boss, who made plenty of money, had a terrible habit of waiting until the last possible minute then freaking out at the lab manager to get everything submitted. One memorable time that involved me, who is linguistically incapable, attempting to translate German to figure out what the heck he’d bought and if it was allowed. (It was an iPhone cable back when iPhone were brand new and the cables could only be bought at the Apple store.)

      2. Mona Lisa*

        Oof, this gives me flashbacks to working with grad students. I had one student who needed to book her conference registration and flight, but because of a university snafu, we were without a department credit card. She put everything on her own card, and the travel department wouldn’t reimburse her until after the trip concluded three months later. She didn’t have money to pay the credit card bill and was screwed with high interest rates, waiting for the reimbursement. I was livid when I finally got someone on the phone at the travel department, who told me she had de-prioritized this student’s request because “she shouldn’t have used her own card in the first place and should have used a department card instead.” The travel department was completely inept and lacking in empathy; I think they must have screened for draconian rule-followers (like the original Guacamole Bob) when hiring.

    2. carlie*

      Once in grad school the university was switching payroll systems and it meant a full month delay in paychecks, which they just announced would happen like it was no big deal. It took an uprising by the grad student body for them to offer zero interest loans to cover the gap for things like “rent” and “food”.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s interesting that I’ve seen the opposite, too. My in-laws (small business owners) refused to go to direct deposit for *years* because they were convinced that their employees couldn’t handle going from weekly to bi-weekly paychecks. (They did not *ask* their employees about this, they just assumed.)

        Finally my spouse suggested offering a zero-interest loan of one week’s pay to everyone for the new system rollover. The staff was thrilled to no longer have to go to the bank in person to deposit their paychecks, and were perfectly capable of managing their finances on a bi-weekly pay system. (And my in-laws were thrilled to no longer lose a half hour of work from all the staff every Friday as they took a long lunch to make it to the bank.)

  18. Kiki*

    This is surprisingly common and, in my experience, due to a lack of consideration by policy-makers who have always had a lot of money in the bank and high credit card limits. I would definitely push back on this because I’m sure other folks are silently being negatively affected by this as well.
    I likely didn’t handle this the best but I was put in a similar situation in my first job out of college. I was told to just put a $500 expense on my credit card. I said I couldn’t because my credit limit was only $400. The person I spoke to laughed and then realized I was completely serious and said, “I didn’t realize limits went that low.”
    If your office seems conscientious of diversity and equity, I would frame it that way– if the firm wants more diversity, they have to make the working conditions such that someone who doesn’t have access to thousands of dollars in credit can still do their job well.

      1. Kiki*

        It was not welcoming, but to this person’s credit, they became super considerate after this happened and pushed for more inclusive policies. I genuinely think they had never been close to a person who was not wealthy (they were in the boarding school => elite university => prestigious company pipeline), so meeting and working with someone who had a $400 credit limit and no familial wealth to fall back on radicalized them a bit.

        1. Kiki*

          It’s eye-roll-inducing that a person could be in their late 20s or early 30s before it occurred to them that non-wealthy people exist, but at least they became empathetic once it did occur to them

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Right. No matter the background, you can turn on the news or read a book and find that poor people exist.

        2. Phoenix from the ashes*

          You know, I’m really pleased to hear that the person was decent enough to learn from that. That’s not the way I expected the story to end.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, that’s definitely the right response: “it doesn’t go much higher on what you pay me, unfortunately.”

  19. AndersonDarling*

    How can a company expect employees to write personal checks? That is an accounting nightmare! And the potential for fraud is through the roof!
    I just can’t. I can’t even fathom this. How could any manager speak the words, “Just write them a check from your personal account.” It’s beyond the pale, through pastels, and into primary colors…it’s a full circle of crazy request.

    1. Observer*

      How can a company expect employees to write personal checks? That is an accounting nightmare! And the potential for fraud is through the roof!

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of that.

    2. ItalianBunny*

      Seriously an acounting nightmare.
      Was having my coffee break with a colleague of mine in Accounting and read them the letter.
      I swear when we got to the update i dropped his jaw and said: ” wish they won’t get audited. EVER.”
      But seriously, OP, please speak up.
      It is NOT fair for you to jeopardize your finances when they could easily set up a credit card or, better, set up agreements with the vendors for direct payments. If the vendors are always pretty much the same ones every time it could even open the doors to talk to the vendors about discounts and price rates and this could benefit your company, of course.

    3. Kiki*

      Right, in addition to being unfair to employees, it is also not even a good business practice! This is bad!

    4. Jaybeetee*

      I mean… how many people even still have chequebooks? I have personal cheques because my landlords were dinosaurs and I paid my rent that way, but even they’ve gone to direct debit now.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I still have checks because my landlords have online rent pay options that charge fees for using them, and I was determined to never pay a property management company or a third party service more than the agreed to in my lease. Unfortunately, COVID happened, and now my building management will not accept checks and requires everyone to pay inline. *sigh* My checks were real cute, too!

        1. florence*

          Once it’s all over, see if your bank does bill pay. My bank sends a check to my landlord every month.

          1. CircleBack*

            Seconding florence’s suggestion – everyone who needs a check from me is going to get it in the mail in 3-5 business days from my bank (Early on I learned I could “add a company” for bill pay and just put anyone’s name and address in)

            For the OP though: Start asking everyone you pay by credit card if there’s an option to invoice to your company. Every single one. Many places don’t make it easy, but if you ask, there will be an option. (For instance, hotels often have a pay-by-check option, though you have to pay in advance & it’s non-refundable. But the option is there!)

      2. florence*

        I have a checkbook. I do not CARRY my checkbook and haven’t in… 14 years? Something like that.

        I have used perhaps 5 checks in the last 5 years.

      3. Popcorn Burner*

        Exactly. Checking accounts don’t exactly come with free checks now. (In my experience with a national bank and with several local credit unions, it’s like $20/booklet.)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, and that amount is usually for basic checks. I wanted “cute” ones from my bank when I first started using checks to pay rent, and a box cost me $80! It was insane – I get very similar checks from for a fraction of that price.

      4. londonedit*

        I get the impression cheques are more common in the US, but I (in the UK) haven’t used a cheque for…I don’t know how many years. I have a chequebook somewhere, but I think it was issued to me in about 2009. I’ve probably used fewer than five cheques out of it. Everything here like utility bills, rent, etc (for most people, anyway) is done by direct debit (for utilities either you pay a fixed amount per month, or you authorise the company to take the amount of your bill when it’s due) or bank transfer (I get paid by bank transfer and have done for my entire 16-year working life).

  20. winter frog*

    Besides the personal impact to the OP, this also seems like an unwise arrangement for the company as well. Why would the consulting company want to risk its client relationship on the personal finances of its newest (and presumably lowest paid) employee, which the consulting company knows nothing about? It seems like an unnecessary business risk. Maybe it would help the OP to mention that having a company-issued credit card would also be a benefit for the company for this reason.

  21. Laura*

    As an auditor, I’m wondering if there’s some reason they are trying to get around having the invoices sent to them. For example, is printing only done at one vendor – and it’s owned by the CFO’s girlfriend? (Happened at a friend’s job)
    OP, 8,000×12= 96,000/year, are you even making that much? Is it effecting your credit rating at all? I would make a summary of what you are spending each month. Maybe they have never looked at it in total or think the points are helping you. I would research several different options (Corporate card or company account with the vendor, etc) and present to your boss that this is an issue and how does boss want to proceed?

  22. MmmmmmMMMmm*

    I mean, if a personal credit card has a typical limit of 10K, and they’re using 2-8K a month, that WILL have an effect on your credit score (not a lot, but most things I’ve read about credit is that you really shouldn’t go to your limit every month). Its reasonable to speak up and ask if you could get a company card.

    1. CDel*

      Using more than one third of your credit limit in a billing cycle will negatively impact your credit score, unfortunately. Why someone decided you can get approved for a certain amount but only access a third of it, who knows.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        True, *but* regularly charging and promptly repaying larger amounts will increase your credit limit – so it helps in the long game.

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    I can see them insisting this is actually a benefit for you, since you’re earning miles or rebates or whatever. I’d tell them you appreciate the opportunity, but you’d like to pass it on to them by using their card instead.

  24. The New Normal*

    Not acceptable. The business is using OP’s personal credit to get financed. This is not okay.

    OP – prior to the Great Recession, I worked in University Athletics. Our coaches would put travel expenses on their personal credit cards and then be reimbursed. However, one of our first and most problematic hits in the recession was cash flow. While the University technically had the money to reimburse coaches, they didn’t have it as cash, and thus were unable to cut a check for the refund. But coaching and travel didn’t stop. One of our coaches had over $60,000 in reimbursable expenses due to him at the end of the fiscal year. The university’s attempted solution was to have the coaches get a “university” credit card… but it was really an AmEx tied to the individual’s credit and they had to sign that they would make the payments if the school didn’t. There was huge pushback at that, and eventually the University had to put their foot down and insist coaches follow established travel protocol – meaning they had to plan in advance (which really isn’t always possible if you qualify for a tournament or post-season) and limit personal reimbursements. It’s still an ongoing issue, but I got the heck out.

    I would HIGHLY encourage you to talk to your boss and explain that while this system may work for others, it is causing too much of a negative impact to your personal finances and you need to stop using personal finances for company expenses.

    1. The New Normal*

      And YOU GUYS! When the University realized people were using their own credit cards to get miles and rewards, they made their own rewards accounts and required people to use it to offset their own bill.

  25. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

    This is really poor practice but as Alison says is sadly common.

    There may be sound control reasons why your company doesn’t want to issue company credit cards, but they should be finding an alternative if that’s the case. One thing it might be worth bringing up is a virtual card system? I don’t know if they have them where you are, but basically you have an online system which generates a virtual credit card with a fixed limit, which is valid for a short period of time – everything is then billed back to the company as with a physical card. The main advantage is that they are considerably less vulnerable to fraud and misuse, and the people in charge of the system can specify information like cost centres for each use.

    1. Observer*

      If conrol is the issue, what’s going on is even more insane. I can tell you that as much as our funders (non-profit) hate CC usage, staff reimbursements are worse. Much harder to control and document.

      1. Verde*

        There are options out there now for expense card management that didn’t exist before that are easy to use, provide controls, and allow the business to pay the business expenses. Older systems were a pain, but the new choices allow for a *lot* of flexibility and make control super easy. Been a life saver for my nonprofit.

        1. M. Albertine*

          Would you mind sharing the product you use? When we looked into company cards as a small business, everything we could find either required a huge amount of cash reserves as collateral or required being linked to the personal credit of one of the officers. We were stuck with the reimbursement method (we used Expensify to track and pay, which is great, but doesn’t help with the fronting credit problem).

  26. Ule*

    Yep. This is pretty common, though I have never written a personal check, I don’t think I would ever need to in my industry. I always use my own CCs to pay for work stuff though. I’m at a HUGE firm and even if you submit your expenses right away, it still takes 3 weeks. They don’t have the incentive to change because essentially their using your money for free for a certain period of time.

    I had a colleague several years back charge the company interest if the reimbursement went past a certain amount of time. You could try that. Her manager always approved it though.

    You could put your foot down and just say no I won’t make purchases for the company at all over $$$ dollars because I can’t cover it. You have your own month to month stuff to pay for!

  27. The Wall Of Creativity*

    Don’t get excited if you’re given a company credit card, expecting the company to just pay all the bills. This was how I always imagined company cards to work but I was wrong.

    In all my experiences with company cards, I had to pay the bills myself and claim back the individual expenses on the bill. You may, though, be able to claim the expenses after paying by card but before paying the card bill.

    1. CDel*

      True, this is really common, especially in larger companies. However, that would still be beneficial to OP because the expenses would not be counting toward the credit limit on their personal card. Also, they mentioned they are almost always reimbursed before the bill comes due, so having to pay it off themselves would not be much of an issue.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      I have never heard of that practice, ever, anywhere I have worked. That is not the norm. Yes, expense reports and receipts have to be submitted along with the reconciled statement, but I never heard of anyone being expected to pay the company credit card bill and then be reimbursed. NB: these cards were 100% for company expenses, zero personal. If you’re card is a mixed bag, the company will probably screw you on that by making you pay the whole thing upfront.

      1. CDel*

        It’s not uncommon for larger companies (like, thousands of employees large) to do this to cut down on the possibility of employees putting personal purchases on the company card and having them fall through the cracks. This allows employees to access a much higher credit limit because the card is opened through the company, but they have to pay the card off themselves and submit receipts for reimbursement. Good companies with this practice will reimburse within a few days so the money for the bill is available before the bill comes due.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’ve seen it both ways. At my first job out of college, executives who needed them got a Diners Club card and had two months to pay it off. They were usually reimbursed during that time, but I had one guy on my team who dragged his feet submitting his expense reports and then got angry when the company wouldn’t pay his late fees. But he was an outlier; for everyone else it generally worked, though why they still had Diners Club at the beginning of the 21st century, I will never know.

      3. WellRed*

        Yes, I don’t think that’s all that common. All our corp cards are part of one bigger account. I certainly don’t get my own individual bill.

      4. Malarkey01*

        This has been my experience with both the federal government and the large financial institutions I’ve worked for. You get an official card that comes with monthly statements sent to you personally. You voucher for your expenses, the money is reimbursed (directly into your bank account like a paycheck) and each month you pay off the card. If vouchering wasn’t approved timely the card didn’t incur interest or late fees but I believe the company lost some their “cash back rewards”.

        The benefit is that the cards come with high credit limits that were given to all employees regardless of their credit score and were a separate and central tracking of expenses. However with tens of thousands of employees it’s easier if each individual is handling their voucher and reconciliation.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m confused by your second paragraph. Do you mean you had to fill out your own expense reports and then send a check from your company back to the credit card company? Or did you get a bill for your corporate card and then had to use your own funds to pay the bill? Because the latter defeats the purpose of the card.

      I’ve had two company cards, and I’ve only ever had to fill out expense reports explaining and itemizing my charges, but then the company’s accounting departments would send the credit card company a check after my reports were approved.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        The latter is how my corporate card worked, back when we had them. I submitted a claim for my expenses, got a bill from Amex, and paid it with my reimbursement. In fact, IIRC, we could also use it for personal expenses, since we were the ones solely responsible for the bill. The purpose is simply that you don’t have to put business expenses on a personal card if you don’t want to (or can’t).

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          So your company reimbursed you before a bill even came to you? Wow – I haven’t seen that. At both companies I worked for that had corporate cards, you only turned in your expense report once an actual bill came to you so accounting could verify that what you submitted for reimbursement matched up to what the credit card company actually billed you for (and of course, we had to also submit receipts for anything over $25). And since that process could take weeks, the companies just sent checks directly to the credit card company – they weren’t charged interest for late payments (I know because I got the second and third notice bills when I worked for one company that was slow as hell at approving expense reports).

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            So your company reimbursed you before a bill even came to you?

            Theoretically. ;-) But the reimbursement was based on receipts, not on the statement. It was all fully verified before the bill showed up.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                You mean, if you had a hotel receipt that said you paid $500 for your room, they wouldn’t accept that until they got a CC statement that also said you’d paid $500 for your room? Yikes.

      2. The Wall Of Creativity*

        Yes – I had to pay the credit card bills out of my own funds. Only difference between this approach and just paying on my own card was (I guess) that the company card didn’t go onto my own credit record.

        It was so similar to using your own card that lots of people (but not me) used it as if it were their own card, buying their own stuff on the card and not reclaiming it as an expense. Or even not repaying in full and having to pay interest!

        Oh, I should say we couldn’t submit credit card bills as expense claims – it had to be all the receipts for individual expenses. The employer wasn’t interested in the bills – it was up to us to pay them.

        This was when I was with a UK Big 4 Consultancy. I can’t remember whether I had company cards in other jobs but if I did they worked the same way.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh okay, yeah – I can’t really blame your coworkers then, lol. Essentially your “company” cards were your own. (I still wouldn’t have done what they did because I’m a hardcore rule follower when it comes to stuff like this, but not everyone is.)

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, that’s how it’s worked for me as well. No checks, though, everything’s handled through electronic money transfers. I’ve never seen a bill for my corporate credit card. Our travel expense system has a cellphone app as well, so if the vendor can’t send an electronic receipt, I’ll scan the receipt with my cellphone camera and attach it to the expense report.

        I don’t travel much, but some of the employees at my agency travel on business nearly every day they’re working, so the system has to be reasonably easy to use, reliable, and fast.

    4. Thistle Whistle*

      Yes, but if even one employee doesn’t pay then all the cards can get put on hold. And you REALLY don’t want to be the accountant fielding the irate calls when the all travelling staff have their cards rejected at reception desks across the country.

    5. aebhel*

      Wha….? That has never been my experience. I just have to submit my receipts to accounting. It’s a company card, my personal finances don’t get involved at all.

    6. londonedit*

      I’ve never heard of that. I don’t have a company credit card but the way it is where I work is that the people who do have company cards use them for their work expenses, then when the bill comes they provide it and all the receipts to match the transactions to the Accounts department, and the company pays the bill. That’s the point of having a company card, so you don’t have to use your own money/credit to pay for work-related expenses.

  28. Alex*

    This is insane. It is not irresponsible to want access to your own credit.

    What if you wanted to make a large purchase yourself? Responsible people make large purchases all the time! I would frame it that way, not as a “I can’t afford this” but rather “This is impacting my financial life.” I’d say something like, “The company’s policy of employees using personal credit cards to pay for business expenses would be fine if it were once in a while or in small amounts. However, putting thousands of dollars on my own credit card is impacting my ability to use my personal credit for my personal finances. I’m being required to keep credit and cash available for the company’s use, rather than my own, which means I can’t freely make purchases or manage my savings and investments as I would like to. As a junior employee making ($Xk), $8k is a significant amount of money as to impact my personal life. Can we figure out another way to pay vendors?”

    1. CheeryO*

      Agreed, I don’t think it’s necessary to frame it as an issue of affordability. Just being uncomfortable with it is reason enough, let alone the potential impacts on your credit score and available credit. If it was a matter of hundreds of dollars, it might be easier to just suck it up and deal, but thousands? No way.

  29. CDel*

    The thing I thought of immediately is what this will do to OP’s credit score. Assuming they don’t have a credit limit upwards of $30,000, carrying that level of expense on their card is going to impact their score. For some random reason, using more than 30% of your credit limit at any given time negatively impacts your score, and it sounds like OP is holding large amounts every month. If this practice won’t change, definitely look for a new job, but in the meantime make sure your credit limit is as high as possible so holding these extra charges will have as minimal an impact as possible.

  30. cmcinnyc*

    When I was temping I worked for a giant bank that gave VPs company cards, but the limit was too low for them to work within (think $30-40K *every month* on a card with a $20K limit). People were carrying the balances on personal cards. For a multinational bank!!!! I was horrified but not one of them would speak up because they were being good little citizens. I was only a temp but I managed to negotiate a $45K limit per card for my department. This isn’t a sustainable way to work or live.

    (They offered me a job and I said hell no.)

  31. A Poster Has No Name*

    Wait, paying for vendor expenses with personal checks? I’m no expert on anything, but this seems suuuuuper shady. For the business not to write their own damn checks to vendors pings all kinds of wrong for me, as if the company is using that to dodge some sort of reporting or expense requirements or something along those lines.

    I mean, really, the vendors shouldn’t be paid for on LW’s credit card, either, for the same reasons, but adding in the check thing just brings it to a whole new level. I know people that have to put travel expenses and whatnot on their personal cards and get reimbursed, but for straight-up standard business expenses to have to go on a personal card? Something is very, very wrong about that.

  32. SMH*

    Overheard conversation between junior staff and VP.
    VP: “You will charge company expenses to your personal card and be reimbursed. It’s only a few thousand every few weeks.”
    Junior: ” That won’t be possible I can’t take on that kind of debt even for a few weeks.’
    VP: ‘Everyone does it, it’s no big deal. We’ll pay you back.”
    Junior: “Can you afford to take on an extra few thousand dollars in debt every few weeks?”
    VP: “Of Course.”
    Junior: “Great add me as a signer to one of your credit cards and I’ll use that for all company purchases.”
    VP just stared at her and then walked away without a word.

  33. Observer*

    As everyone has said, the personal checks are a LOT worse than the CC. I think you need to just “not have cash” for that.

    For one thing actually pulling cash out of your pocket is a far greater problem than the CC (which is saying something). But Beyond that, it’s 2020 – How is the business still working with vendors who don’t take CC.

    Not having cash in your checking account is not “irresponsible”, it’s the result of good planning – you’re putting your money into savings/ retirement / investment accounts, which are a MUCH better place for cash than wsitting in a checking account.

  34. OhNoYouDidn't*

    This is outrageous. The employees’ salaries should have nothing to do with whether or not this is an appropriate practice. I really hope we get an update on this one.

    1. JSPA*

      having it as an option is, or used to be, a perq. Flyer miles / loyalty bonuses, and all that. But making it a requirement is a not very transparent selection for “we prefer to hire only people who are already rich, and not very worried about best practices.” Good way to make sure rot goes unchecked. Also a good way to launder money (not that it needs to be happening, but it creates many opportunities).

      I’d be curious in what form OP is reimbursed. If it’s ever cash, that’s a separate red flag.

  35. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve worked in places where I’ve been expected to front expenses and then get reimbursed. And I’ve also worked other places where I’ve been given a corporate credit card. Any time I was expected to spend over $3000 on a regular basis, I was always given a corporate credit card. Asking an employee to regularly be racking up $8000 charges in her personal credit card is extremely unreasonable.

    And, yeah, the personal checks is just wildly unacceptable.

  36. hbc*

    Charging on your own card is pretty common, in my experience. Corporate cards can be difficult*, lots of people would rather earn rewards on their own card, and I’ve known a few people who absolutely could not have more than one card without screwing things up. But even in the places where the corporate card wasn’t offered for cases like the OP, there was some alternative. Heck, I used my personal card to charge flights for some other people. But if you’re that…simple with your financial set up on spending money, there’s zero excuse for being complicated and slow in your reimbursement process.

    As for the personal checks, no freaking way. They can give the OP a check and signing authority, or at absolute worst case cut a reimbursement check/deposit the same day. There is zero excuse for making (or even allowing) an employee to spend real, non-credit-delayed money for anything more than incidental tips, tolls, and vending machine purchases.

    *My company literally couldn’t get unsecured credit for years because it was too new and had out-of-country ownership. And even the secured limit was $5K, while we regularly were depositing 100x that in a month.

  37. Texan In Exile*

    I am confused by the company’s accounting practices. So the company doesn’t issue a PO? And the vendor doesn’t issue an invoice? And then the company doesn’t issue a payment for that invoice? How does all of this get tracked? It all goes through expense report reimbursements?

    This is insane.

    1. Ranon*

      Right?! In my world almost everything has a zillion pieces of paper associated with it and there’s a process and none of it is my problem.

      Of course, for non invoiced expenses I work at a tiny company and when we’re not working from home I just yell “hey, can I borrow the credit card” across the office…

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      A huge portion of companies do not issue purchase-orders. It’s not SOP for probably 75% of companies I have worked with over the years as a supplier.

      A receipt is produced instead of an invoice that’s submitted to accounting to pay.

      Its very easy to track. It’s the point of expense reports.

      HOWEVER it’s bad for pricing control and why many companies do a PO system.

      We have suppliers who invoice us and others we have to pay with a credit card. Only we have company cards because we’re not barbarians.

      What is even worse is when you invoice a company that expected some buyer to pay with a credit card, then they just throw out your invoice. That’s a fun frigging trip to go on! Then the buyer gets fired or leaves…yay for all the freedoms allotted to how you run a business *sobs*

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I worked somewhere that pulled all of their company cards and switched to a PO system, due to irregularities with the company cards. Vendors don’t want to deal with POs any more, so it really limits your ability to select vendors and purchase things in a timely fashion. So everyone ends up putting stuff on their personal card and filing for reimbursement anyway.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve got a variety of clients, some are strictly PO, some are a split between PO and credit card, some are no PO.

          The messiest part is that everyone thinks that THEIR system is “Standard” and that is what causes me more headaches, LOL. I had someone scream at me because we didn’t get PO, took a verbal PO and sent over a bill and “How dare we do that? We should know better! They require POs to pay!” yadda yadda yadda.

          I just want everyone in the world right now whos’ listening to understand “your company practices are not every company’s practices.” I am REALLY good at troubleshooting over the years and I can even figure out what’s going on a lot of times after I start digging. But I have had buyers flip their lids at me for not knowing their exact company protocols.

          Or what’s best is that some are contractors, so they have a different system than the ones who are employees of the same corporation.

          So Contractor Johnny has to use another system all together, while Employee Jimmy does it another way. So as a vendor, I cannot keep up.

          I have had some vendors require POs even though we don’t issue them, those are fun to work with as well. So I just dumby something up for them to put into their system, lol. Age old “Just use my name as the PO.” and then in my world, it’s FINE. But in other worlds, it’ll get kicked back from AP saying “This isn’t our PO number, we refuse this invoice.” *face desk*

          1. Popcorn Burner*

            > I have had some vendors require POs even though we don’t issue them, those are fun to work with as well. So I just dumby something up for them to put into their system, lol.

            I just have to say: Thank you for this. (Seriously.)

            When I worked in defense civil litigation in TX, we removed a ton of cases from county court to federal court. There are approximately 254 county courts in TX. (I think there are 2-4 counties that share a court? Don’t remember.) Federal Court requires a county court-provided cover sheet (“docket sheet”), but not all counties even *create* these cover sheets. County courts love making special exceptions for law firms. /s

        2. Observer*

          Vendors don’t want to deal with POs? That’s very, very weird. All of the vendors I work with can handle POs. And most of the B2B vendors I work with actually require the PO number are part of the order. Also, you can have a PO system for CC too, even though the vendor does not see that piece of it.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Correction: It is weird TO YOU. Many companies consider POs to be irresponsible, due to the number of companies who issue a PO, then do not actually pay the PO for months afterward, and act as though the issuance of a PO is the same thing as providing payment.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              It’s not “irresponsible”, any company that uses that word is not aware of the risks associated with all business transactions they decide to make.

              It’s okay to not extend credit terms, that’s a reasonable business option but the vast majority of companies do offer them and have internal controls to limit their loss rates. Including credit limits and collection teams.

              Everyone has different business techniques. I don’t know why you have to get so wound up and pull out a “TO YOU” on someone in this situation.

            2. Observer*

              No, no well run bussiness considers POs “irresponsible.” SOME businesses don’t extend credit, and some do. But even the ones who don’t extend credit will generally allow you to use POs (ie tie your purchase to a PO number) which should allow you to use a PO system internally for all purchases. That is what we do for the very few companies that won’t extend credit.

              ALso, and TMBL points out, extending credit is not necessarily “irresponsible”. It’s a choice that each business takes based on their business model, client base, etc.

          2. nonegiven*

            Every time we did work for a company or entity with POs, it just took us 60-90 days longer to get paid.

  38. Maj. Pothead, reporting for doobie*

    This is vile. Typical behavior of people that have completely forgotten (or most likely, have never known) what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck.

    “When I first learned of this expectation, I expressed mild surprise and concern to my colleagues but they assured me it was standard practice within the firm.” LOL, yeah I bet they did.

    I’m moderately established in my career and there’s no way in hell i would, or could, just float EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS for the company. I’m willing to bet you aren’t the only junior staffer with major heartburn about this.

  39. Perpal*

    The credit card at least, while nerve racking, in theory you could be making 1-2% back on it (Depending on your credit card). Personal checks are right out. Company needs to come up with a company credit card, this is redic.

  40. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Why on earth doesn’t a “prestigious firm” have an accounting department? They must be processing the payments at some point in order to bill them – why on earth are they adding this step?

    I can’t begin to imagine what their auditors think of this. It would look like money laundering.

    1. AngtheSA*

      Agreed. For us the reimburse you (because our auditors require it) I have to have legible receipts and a completed expense reimbursement form signed by the employee and their manager. Then I have to make sure they are coded and filed properly in our system. I absolutely hate it when I get a bunch of them because it takes up so much time to make sure they are perfect in case they are audited.

  41. Alex*

    Oh wow, I felt my blood pressure spike after I read the update. This is seriously not OK and the company is way out of line asking you to assume this kind of risk, to say nothing of the financial burden of constantly floating them short-term cash loans. Seriously, OP, are you looking for better employers? You should at least think about it. The fact that others seem to think this OK makes me skeptical they’ll change this any time soon.

  42. Verde*

    There are so many options out in the world now that provide excellent expense card services for companies that this practice is beyond archaic and out of whack. Back in the day, it was difficult to find an easy to manage expense card for businesses, that didn’t involve complicated setup and management.

    Now, you can get an expense card system that allows for incredibly easy management of employee spending from one dashboard – you can control how much someone has to spend, you can turn cards on or off with one click, approve expenses, track who spent what, and so on. This has been a huge save for us at our nonprofit – no more goofy reimbursements, no more “who has the credit card” or “who’s charge is this?”, no more scrambles for petty cash, and so on.

    1. Observer*

      Well, there is something clearly off kilter with the OP’s “prestigious” firm. Because who works with firms that still won’t take a CC?!

  43. chicka*

    I used to have fairly large work expenses as well, (client lunches & dinners mostly). I was happy about the credit card stuff (lots and lots of reward points!), but the personal checks?!?! That’s crazy!!! I’m somewhat surprised vendors will even take a personal check instead of a company check. Don’t they think it’s weird?

    Also — I do not think that 3 weeks is at all reasonable for getting reimbursed. My company reliably processed reimbursements within 2 days, and I used to file an expense report every 2 weeks. The money was often in my account before I even got my cc bill, never mind before the bill was due. However, everyone has different finances and it’s not doable for everyone. Especially if it adds stress to your life instead of being a plus!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Vendor’s don’t tend to care, both checks can and do bounce frequently enough. There’s nothing special about a business check, despite what some people have said over the years. I’ve had “business” checks bounce for $25.

  44. Thankful for AAM*

    Adding my omg to all the rest.
    But also, my adult son does not have personal checks and we (tail end baby boomers) just realized we ran out months or more ago and had to order some to be able to pay our contractor.

    Tell them you dont have personal checks.

  45. animaniactoo*

    Also, at a minimum, this is affecting your credit score. Because you’re using a lot of your available credit and that’s seen as a mark against you as a credit risk. So there is also an additional real-life impact that this is having on you, which is not completely visible. Among other things, you may not get or be able to ask for lower percentage rates on your cards or any other kind of loan you would want – including a mortgage – because your credit score is showing an inaccurate usage of YOUR financial picture.

    1. Sharon*

      Also, in the US at least, if you pay off your card balance in full each month, you don’t pay interest. BUT if you leave even one cent unpaid past the grace period date, not only your balance but all new purchases accrue interest. So the employee might end up paying interest on all these charges as well as on their personal charges depending on the timing of the reimbursements.

      It sounds like this company may not have the cash flow to support their expenditures and is trying to use their employees as a liquidity source/credit line.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup – the potential for getting hit with interest is enough for OP to start pushing back on this. I don’t even want to think about regularly getting charged interest for $5k, $6k, $8k charges! Then would the company reimburse her for that as well? Because I’ve worked for companies with expense policies that specifically said interest charges would not be reimbursed.

  46. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My accounting brains just exploded, this is a nightmare setup.

    I was pissed when someone actually asked one of our crew to do something like this, it was not our procedure. My response was “We don’t need any of our employees to give us a short term loan, da fuq is this nonsense idea?”. I’m sorry to everyone trapped in one of these places :(

    Writing personal checks…I can’t. Please keep pushing back that this isn’t a sustainable practice.

  47. JSPA*

    “Not having a huge disposable income and endless credit” should never be held against someone. But, OP, if you’re worried that they are perfectly comfortable firing people for not being rich, Covid gives you a really easy push-back that does not require you to bring up your personal finances.

    “Boss, putting things on our personal credit cards used to be more of a win-win, because we got miles or points, and the company got the ability to use our credit. But at this point, miles and points are just about useless. I can no longer justify the up front costs, and what carrying a balance does to my credit score. I’m not going to be able to do this any longer.”

    Why the tough wording? Add in the “paying with personal checks,” and there’s far too much risk that this is a company that’s either on the verge of going belly-up, or playing games with the books. If they go under, or get taken down for fraud, you lose your job (and quite possibly, useful references) regardless.

    The most obvious reason that they would not be able to allow you to have a company card are a) their credit is crap, so there’s no way for them to get a company card 9which doesn’t bode well for their future) or possibly, b) their money is moving through strange channels (money laundering, e.g.) which would make you complicit or remotely possibly, c) the ownership is based in another country, such that they don’t qualify or are blocked from getting a card in your country (which again, is a warning that if things go wrong, you get left holding that debt).

    If you have solid documentation and you have tax advice from a solid source (someone outside your field and workplace) telling you that you’d be OK taking it as an unrecoverable loan on your taxes, you might choose to ride it out (and that may be what your coworkers are intending to do). But if you’re not in a tax situation where this is helpful….and/or if you have the flexibility to look for a job elsewhere, and don’t want to be complicit in what’s arguably the predictable siphoning of taxpayer money for the benefit of companies with bad practices…I actually would make this a hill to die on.

  48. aunttora*

    I was once part of a remote trial team that spent weeks at a hotel in Texas. The day we departed, I was in the lobby when two partners started arguing about whose credit card would pay for the whole thing — more than a dozen rooms plus catering and who knows what else. In this case, they BOTH wanted to pay (for the miles, of course). It would have been probably $30k AT LEAST. (It wasn’t a luxury hotel.)

  49. midnightcat*

    I’m curious about whether you’ve said no, and what happened?

    If not, start doing that. Just say no, I can’t.

    1. DivineMissL*

      I work for local government. We were not allowed to have a petty cash fund, so for 12 years I fronted money to the municipality for minor purchases (food for a meeting, minor supplies, etc.) and had to wait to be reimbursed. I was told that there is no way for a municipality to have a credit card. Reimbursement means submit a purchase requisition, Finance creates a purchase order, PO must be signed by 3 people, it’s approved by the governing body at the next bimonthly meeting, then a check is generated. Total time 3-4 weeks. I don’t have a credit card, only a debit card, and $100 – $300 out-of-pocket for a month is a big deal to me! Finally two years ago, I just matter-of-factly said I wasn’t able to front money to the town anymore. Since then, I have received a check upfront for purchases (I just turn in the receipts and change afterwards) or other people have made the purchases on their cards; but once I made it clear that me loaning my personal money to the town was not an option, they suddenly came up with other options. But, I did have enough capital at that point to stick to my guns; as a new employee, it would be much harder.

  50. Cheesehead*

    Aside from the fact that this seems to be really taking advantage of the employee, I have to wonder why these clients aren’t paying up front for some of these fees, like a retainer for services to the company? Or maybe they are, and the company is just too lazy to use that money to pay their own bills promptly?

    Regardless, I’d start pushing back on anything over, say $500. That’s still ridiculous, but at least it’s not cold turkey. Just say that you can’t put it on your card and how does the company want to arrange payment? And wait for their response. If they question you further, just say it’s a personal credit card, and you’ve used it for, you know, PERSONAL expenses. Hopefully they wouldn’t question beyond that, because it’s none of their business what your personal expenses are. I mean, really, you could have just splurged on some new furniture or something like that! Or car repairs….whatever. You’re allowed to have personal expenses that would prevent you from floating the company a business loan on your personal credit card. And tweak the response that Alison so frequently suggests: “I’m no longer able to fund business expenses from my personal financial accounts.”

    And if it wasn’t one of the terms of your employment when you were offered the job that you had to be willing to regularly float thousands of dollars on your personal credit card, then I’d definitely start pushing back.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      As a client, most of the time we just get billed on a regular basis. Like with construction, they pay all the fees up front for the client and then will bill you out on a schedule. That’s a common standard practice.

      However the cost of doing jobs means that you have to “float” your clients money and then hopefully they pay you in full.

      Or there’s the kind of “business” who thinks that as a supplier, we can’t get paid until their client pays them for the project they did! Those people are F-U-N. I had someone who I had to finally sell to collections, they then burped up the money. With a sob story about how they were never paid for the project and they were dragging their feet because they didn’t want to pay for the parts because they never got paid for the project…argh. I’d be paranoid that companies who require their employees do this kind of thing that they’d find a way to wiggle out of payment at some point. “That project didn’t actually finish so we’re not paying you for it.” style. Barf.

  51. YetEvenAnotherAlison*

    My suggestion is letting your company know that you will need a credit card from the company to put company expenses on. Imagine that!! sarcasm……. and that you will no longer be able to place company expenses on your personal credit card. And then be quiet. Perhaps the company is banking, no pun intended, on your inexperience in not knowing this. I don’t care how much money you make OP – you are doing company business – no personal money is to be involved – period. Also, fronting money, acting as a company bank is placing stress on you – stress in a time where we already have enough stress – no, the answer is no to this practice.

  52. Cathie from Canada*

    I worked for a provincial government department in the 1980s. The deputy minister got fired and one of the stated reasons was he used his travel miles for his family instead of returning them to the government somehow.
    (Of course they wanted to get rid of him and this was just an excuse but still…)

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, in the mid-1990s Swedish government minister Mona Sahlin was forced to resign because she used her government-issued credit card for minor personal purchases, the total was something like $5,000. It’s often referred to as the “Toblerone affair” because her purchases included chocolate bars.

  53. Artemesia*

    If you can’t get this fixed be sure you are using a credit card that has a really good ‘miles’ type program. We put all our personal expenses on our Capitol One card with high % airline miles and have financed a lot of our extensive travel that way. If you have to do this outrageous thing to keep your job, at least finance your trip to Europe with the points you can accumulate.

    But it is pretty outrageous — and if they ever file for bankruptcy or otherwise stumble, you may find yourself out thousands. It is ridiculous.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, assuming that LW trusts the company and knows how to get a decent card, there’s some pretty sweet business class tickets to be had here.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Also, sites like Credit Karma and Nerd Wallet will help find a card with great rewards programs if they don’t know where to start.

        I flinched at this letter because my mom’s card provider just pulled a “Ooops no rewards anymore” on them with rona *sigh*

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Wow – your mom’s card company is a jerk. But yeah – LW has a small gold mine available to him, provided that he has the credit capability to use it. Get to Nerdwallet, LW, and get them points!

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I was PEEVED. It’s because it’s through a credit union though.

            With my CU the option was “If you want rewards, your interest level is 12%, if you don’t want rewards, your interest is 7%….”

            My major bank cards never pulled that kind of weird stuff! I’ve had the same 1%, plus quarterly promos @ 5% card for ages now. I love their 5% categories, they’re always ones you actually tend to use. Amazon, Grocery Stores, Streaming Services, Gas Stations! That wouldn’t help the OP here though since those are consumer geared but I know that there’s business expense related geared cards that the OP may be able to look into.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Ah, credit unions! The non-profits of the credit world. They may be doing good overall, but they can be awfully self-righteous about expecting you to take a hit for them because it’s all in the name of a good cause.

  54. Des*

    The more senior people at the company probably have better credit cards that give them back points or cashback for spending the money which, my guess, is why they don’t mind having that kind of thing happen. I know if I was spending 8k per month on client expenses on my credit card I’d be getting more cashback than I do now, that’s for sure.

  55. Lord Gouldian Finch*

    This reminds me of how in centuries past the British Army had purchased commissions to make sure only the “right sort” became officers. It’s a fairly diabolical form of discrimination. “We want only rich people, preferably of the Right Group, to join our consulting company, but we can’t openly discriminate, so let’s require all our employees to upfront large credit card balances and be reimbursed later.”

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      “We want only rich people, preferably of the Right Group, to join our consulting company, but we can’t openly discriminate, so let’s require all our employees to upfront large credit card balances and be reimbursed later.”

      This is exactly what this practice signals.

    2. florence*

      My favorite part of buying commissions is what happens when you leave. It’s called “selling out”.

  56. Ashley*

    I’m house hunting right now and charging up thousands of dollars, even when paid in full monthly, would negatively impact my credit score, my ability to get a mortgage or at least the terms I would qualify for.

    Your credit utilization rate has a big impact on your score. Also I’m a first time home buyer so I don’t have direct knowledge of the underwriting process but I would think that large credit card charges and large regular reimbursements could make underwriting hell.

  57. RussianInTexas*

    I work in customer service and deal with payments on a regular basis. My company is also a vendor that does not take credit card.
    We also do not take personal checks because it’s just too risky and can bounce. If you are a COD customer, we take wire payments, ACH, cashiers check.
    If you are a customer to whom we extend credit, we have a vendor agreement.
    Paying with a personal check is insane for both parties.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a personal decision on the owner/shareholders who setup a company when it comes to payment methods accepted.

      Lots of companies don’t do vendor agreements or contracts in place. It’s all about risk analysis. About how much bad-debt you’re willing to gamble on in the end. They say most companies end up writing off about 4% of their receivables due to inability to collect annually. That’s often because they extended credit to the wrong accounts. Sometimes it’s very much worth taking the gamble and having to write off loss in the end.

      I’ve never worked with someone who requires an electric payment like that and refuses credit cards! I have mega corps who are still sending checks, when I have asked if they have an ACH option, they’re like “nope sorry, we do not! Checks or GTFO!”

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I honestly don’t know why. My company is pretty behind technologically, so that is par the course.
        I imagine they do not want to pay the credit card fees, since we deal with sales ranging from $100 to $800,000. We also run on fairly small margins, being a manufacturer and a distributor of lets say, pens and pencils – not high price high margin items.
        At this point we basically do not extend credit to any company younger than 3 years in business, and smaller than say, city-wide distributor.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Small margins are a huge reason why most places like that don’t take a credit card! It’s an average of 3% annually for most merchant fees over all.

          That’s why the city attaches fees to using your card around here. Heck, they just charged me 85c for a ACH payment…when they refuse to take a physical check for taxes anymore, lol. It’s such a racket.

          1. nonegiven*

            I was writing a check for car registrations, then the local agency’s hours became unreliable. I started going online and dealing directly with the state. Their payment processor charges $2 to take your payment from checking, if you want to use a card it’s $2 + a % card fee.

  58. IndustriousLabRat*

    If I were a vendor being handed a PERSONAL check from a representative/employee of a ‘prestigious’ firm, for something that is clearly a business expense… I would have some serious questions about the solvency and/or ethics of that firm (and more than a little sideye to go along with!). On top of that, being handed a check drawn on the account of someone who is not named on the invoice would make our Accounting department do the whole stare-over-the-reading-glasses-like-you’re-nuts thing.

    For example, let’s say I send an invoice for completed work to Company X, and instead of a ‘normal’ official looking check cut from the Company X account, by the Company X Accounts Payable Department, I get back a handwritten personal check, not even from the Owner of Company X- but from an employee, relative, or other associate. I’d immediately assume they were having financial troubles!

    It’s a pretty bad look for the Firm, in my opinion; the vendor might not be peering closely enough to see details of a credit card, but you can bet your bagels SOMEONE has done a double take when they get back to their office and open the invoice envelope to find a random personal check!!!

    Perhaps the LW might consider leveraging that angle when bringing up the lunacy of this practice.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      We just don’t take personal checks, period. There are many other ways of paying that are acceptable from the accounting point of view, even if you do not take credit card.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Huh? If it’s a personal check, you still put the invoice number or account number on the memo line. I can allocate a personal check, I’m not that concerned on an accounting department level.

      I really have never put this much thought into cashing a check before and I’ve cashed a lot of business and personal checks over the last 15+ years.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My accounting does not take them. We have a lot of smaller customers and we had checks bounced, so they are verbotten.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I have had $25 checks bounce from business accounts before, I’ve had zero personal checks bounce though, lol.

          Usually on a personal level, they’re fearful of being caught for check kiting =X Whereas a business will typically take more risks because they’re sheltered by the personal liability being limited.

          It’s certainly up to the business if they accept checks though! Lots of stores don’t take them anymore unless they have ACH abilities at their tills. You can write a check at Walmart for example because they run it as an e-check. They’re not holding onto it and cashing it later that night or next day bank drop etc like a small mom&pop setup would.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            We take cash too (some smaller customers just bring checks).
            I remember my warehouse manager asking me to ask the customers to please don’t bring cash for orders higher than say a thousand, because that is way too much cash for anyone to carry around.
            Well, in that case, make it a policy!

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Oh the memories of the places who would take cash for payments. Cash regularly misses hitting the books in a lot of small businesses out there.

              I had someone pay their rent of about 1,200 in sweaty weed smelling 20s a few years ago. *sobs* I had to air out my office and the cash so that when I took it the bank they didn’t say anything. Everyone thought it was hilarious because it’s a hippie town so it’s not like anyone was shocked by it, it was so…trashy to say the least. It was before it was legalized but nobody cared one way or another.

    3. allathian*

      I’m in Finland and personal checks are no longer legal tender here, simply because no bank will issue them. The only exception is traveler’s checks, but I haven’t heard of anyone using them for years. They’re even phasing out cash in a lot of places, although there’s some pushback against this, because there are people who don’t have bank accounts for one reason or another. Such people are disadvantaged enough already that their lives shouldn’t be made any harder.

  59. Wilbur*

    I worked as contractor for a Fortune 50 company, my contracting company wanted me to handle travel this way. I asked if I would get any form of compensation for accepting the extra risk. They acted like this was weird, despite managers not being on top of things. I made them do a cash advance for the expected costs, and handled the difference . Later I found out my company was charging a 2% fee to the vendor because “they’re a business, and it’s an added service.” My boss couldn’t comprehend expecting to be compensated for loaning a Fortune 50 company $3k as an individual, but it made perfect sense for a company.

  60. Quill*

    OP, I have been working on getting my company to find new payment methods for a couple of vendors that previously only took personal checks for about 5 months. I believe that it will go through by the end of this one, so… best of luck!

  61. Matilda*

    On a broader note. Isn’t this rather limiting in the type people who can work for your company? You mentioned you were more junior, so to get a junior role you need to have a decent credit score (and not use much or your own credit regularly) and be prepared with money in your checking account to pay large company bills? What if an employee can’t get a credit card (or doesn’t want one)? What if they have large student loan payments every month? If you’re not pretty solidly middle class – with a semi-decent support network – I imagine this setup wouldn’t be feasible (or at the very least semi-terrifying if they were trying to make it work).

  62. mlem*

    My company does this with its implementation and service staff. The company gets repaid by the customers, so there are limits on what expenditures can and cannot be reimbursed … and the company ~never~ wants to be in the position of ~billing~ its employees if a charge is determined to be unsuitable! (That is literally their defense.) So they instead require fresh-out-of-school new-hires to be able to float loans to the company for weeks on end as they wait to be repaid. And then they act confused that those departments bleed staff. Yeah, mystifying.

  63. I don’t post often*

    OP. Run. Run now. Find a new job. This is not ok and sounds like a horrifying accounting nightmare. How in they world are they reconciling client expenses if you are using your personal credit card? How are they mitigating fraud? Nooooooooo. I have had a company card in the past that I was responsible for paying off. So, I charged travel to the card and then paid the card from a personal account. But only travel on that card would be reimbursed and it did not count against my credit because it was the company. And expense reports were paid out within three days. So as long as I wasn’t lazy about submitting the report, no issue. Our company changed the system a few years ago so company pays the card directly.

    If you can’t leave the job, then perhaps you simply “don’t have” a card with a high enough limit and the bank “won’t approve” you for a higher amount. Or oops you are completely out of checks and it will take a month to get more.

  64. Notinstafamous*

    It’s really interesting to read the comments, because this is very similar to how my big4 consulting firm works. How I manage it is by getting a second credit card with a much higher limit that I only use for work, and as I get reimbursed I pay it off immediately. It helps me keep finances separate.

    Our reimbursement system is also in the 2-3 week range, so as long as you’re on top of it (or your assistant it) you don’t get an interest charge. If you do, you can also expense the interest (but it’s a bad idea because it’ll impact your credit).

    That said – most people like this approach because you pick the credit card rewards system that you like (I do flight miles, we’ve gone on several vacations as a result) and if you’re building credit as a new professional making large purchases and paying them off immediately helps build your score.

    It also only works because we also have a department credit card anyone can use and there’s no questions asked!

    1. RubberDuck*

      Yeah, as a fellow consulting person, I had a similar reaction to yours. In our office the setup is that anyone who needs to can ask the office manager to use the company card to pay for a large expense (travel, reservation, etc) rather than take it onto their own card.

      Of course there are still limitations with this approach – some people still feel awkward about asking the OM for this help, for one thing – but there are definitely alternative options.

      Personal check thing is still bananas tho.

  65. thojepep*

    Years ago my husband worked for a Fortune 500 company & he traveled every single week. The company did provide an American Express credit card which, as you probably know, requires the balance be paid off every month. With his constant travel, it was regularly several thousand dollars (plane tickets bought less than two weeks out, rental car for a week, hotel for a week, gas, & per diem). My husband was billing on behalf of the company, so you’d think they’d do everything possible to make sure he could focus on making money for this very large, global company, but nope. At one point he had racked up six weeks of travel without getting reimbursed. I called & told him I’d need to take money out of our savings account in order to pay his corporate credit card. DH called his boss & said he was done traveling until he the money he was owed. What do you know, within days the money showed up.

    I just can understand how companies can be so thoughtless about their employees cash flow.

  66. aebhel*

    OH MY GOD, please say something.

    I work at a library, and I have a company card even though I rarely put more than a couple hundred dollars a month on it. This is *beyond* unreasonable, especially if you’re having to pay in personal checks; they’re basically expecting you to extend them an uninsured, interest-free loan on the regular. If it’s that important to go ‘above and beyond’ for their clients, then it’s important enough for you to have a company card, end of story.

  67. don't waste waste*

    Yikes- this is a terrible practice. If they aren’t able to provide a corporate credit card or set up a business account, the manager should offer to put the expense on their personal card.

  68. Pretzelgirl*

    Can anyone answer why this would be allowed to happen? I used to work in AP, many moons ago. I assist our pre-pay person. If someone had a large order that needed to be paid, before production would start they would submit a request and we would cut the check the same day. And we were a small company. This baffles me.

    1. AngtheSA*

      Agreed. Most people in our company have company credit cards and if they the vendor doesn’t accept that, I am notified immediately. We normally cut a check that day or set up the vendor to bill corporate and pay them directly.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It will depend on their accounting procedures and policies.

      I have submitted invoices to AP teams that will literally just throw them away if they don’t have a PO filled out. Or if we’re not set up as a proper vendor to be paid with a check, no go.

      It will often depend on the size of the company as well. Larger companies will let your invoices or requests rot more so than smaller ones tend to. It depends on how much they care about the vendor as well. Do you sell something they REALLY need? Or can they find it somewhere else easily?

      On a small business level, I can get a check prepared within five minutes. There’s no jumping through hoops for extensive approvals for starters. I have the knowledge to know that so and so is indeed our vendor and do indeed sell us that stuff, here you go. But other companies aren’t set up that way, they need a million approvals and check points.

      Heck I had one account on pre-pay that took weeks to get us a payment, even after following up with us constantly asking about if we received it…that’s how little communication they had with their AP person. [Spoiler, they’re pre-pay because their AP doesn’t respond to requests, either in writing or picking up their phone.]

  69. GothicBee*

    I would stop the personal checks immediately and tell your boss you need a different option for those situations because that is insane!! And definitely push back on the credit card thing too. It’s one thing to put small expenses on a personal card, but thousands of dollars? Heck no. And at $8k there should be some sort of billing process rather than relying on you for immediate payment.

    If you’re not monitoring the impact this is having on your credit score, please do. Sure it could help it in certain situations, but if your credit line is too low, it’s could absolutely be negatively impacting your credit score.

    Also, I would be worried about how this could impact things if/when you decide to leave this company for a new job. Will you feel free to accept a job offer at any time? Or will you feel limited by whether you need to be reimbursed for business costs?

  70. Sarra N. Dipity*

    Oh my GOD.

    I got my very first personal credit card last year. LAST YEAR. At 46 years old.

    I’m relatively junior in my career (mid-life industry switch), and travel has been put on hold for our company, so luckily I historically haven’t been asked to front any expenses (and we can ask the admin to book our travel for us, using one of the partners’ cards).

    I can’t imagine.

    Good luck, OP. I don’t have any additional advice beyond what’s been shared, just sympathy.

  71. BasicWitch*

    I am aghast. WHY ON EARTH IS THIS A THING?!? If a company doesn’t have it’s s*** together enough to front these costa they shouldn’t be in business. asking employees to act as company bank accounts is downright abusive in my opinion.

  72. Points person*

    From a credit card points hoarder perspective, this would be a gold mine (and you should look into opening multiple credit cards a year focus on business cards first then personals). I would personally push for a more expedient process from the your boss/the company to ensure I got paid within the due date (or ask for any interest charges to be covered on the next expense report if reimbursement does not come within a certain time frame).

    However, the personal checks is a big no go for me on that one.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, I’d laugh in the face of someone asking me to give a cheque for my company, but an extra couple grand a month on the right credit card? Ooh yeah, baby, someone’s flying business class next vacation and getting an extra star on the hotel!

  73. nnn*

    Back when I was early enough in my career to be called “junior”, I didn’t qualify for a credit limit anywhere nearly $8,000!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It depends on your person credit. When I first started, I couldn’t even get a credit card from my bank! I had to get a car loan and the only place that would do it came with a nasty interest rate but after that happened, I suddenly got approved all any card I wanted. And they quickly raised my credit limit over the course of months.

      Once you start building credit, with whomever will allow it, it opens a lot of gates for credit. It’s sadly how they also take advantage of low income folks, by pumping you full of debt.

  74. George*

    I know some jobs where this is a ‘perk’ (because of credit card rewards).

    However, they all are at a MUCH lower rate of expenses (like a couple hundred dollars a month or on occasion a thousand for travel expenses). Even there, when it’s travel related (read more expensive due to airfare and hotel costs), there is usually an option to have the company pay directly.

    OP might do well to say they are happy to do this for expediency, but they can’t do it for amounts more than X (or more than Y total a month/at a time). Sometimes these are driven by a desire to not have to go over credit card expenses with no documentation (to check for misuse) but if it’s only for big expenses, it won’t be lots of little things for Finance to deal with. Also, OP can offer to submit receipts for everything, which may make. The company more comfortable giving them a company card.

  75. gawaine42*

    I realize I’m in the minority, but I miss using my personal card for expenses. The miles and hotel nights I’d get used to be my way of paying for family vacations. The alternative is that it’s a corporate card – but corporate cards are still personal cards, usually, because until you’ve filed an expense report and someone has approved it.

    I had early-career friends who used their Discover cards for everything they could – not just travel, but where they could find reasons they could purchase things – because the cash-back ended up being a sizable amount of money for them.

  76. Girasol*

    I got surprised about four months after a business trip with a threat from a hotel that they were putting me in collections. I had paid them with my corporate AmEx card. The process was that you pay with your company card, send your expense reports to accounting, and everything is taken care of. Well, it wasn’t and no one told me. I solved the problem, of course, but in the process learned how an employee’s own personal credit rating can be affected by snafus with a company card that is forced on the employee by company policy. I found that alarming. How much more alarming that would be if I had to front the company out of my own personal funds!

  77. PX*

    This is a perfect just say no kind of situation. Just say no and request a company credit card. And just keep saying no until they gibe you a company card or come up with a better solution than them using you as a bank on the regular.

    This is so ridiculous I cannot even.

  78. AngtheSA*

    OMG OP. I read this with my mouth down to my chin. This is insane. I am the person at my job that handles reimbursements and I get upset when someone go out and buy very 30 dollars worth of equipment for a job and then forget to ask for a reimbursement. These are business expenses not personal not to mention… 8000 is insane for anyone to have to pay. I think my highest credit balance is 10,000. I would flatly refuses to put a company expense on my personal credit card for that amount. Please take Allison’s advice and talk to your boss immediately. This really isn’t acceptable for you to be covering business expense with personal money.

  79. Hanging with the furry freeloaders*

    OP, here’s a bunch of info about different kinds of corporate cards

    Travel & Expense cards (T&E) – this is what a lot of people in the comments have been talking about, and it’s the most common type of card issued. These cards are Individual Billed Individual Pay. Which means that the card is issued in your name, the bill comes to you, and you are responsible for ensuring it is paid. This card is somewhat backed by the company, and usually the expense reimbursement system will have the ability to flag the expenses as ones on the card, and the payment for said expenses will be issued directly from the Company to the card. You still have to submit expense reports, but it wouldn’t take away from your personal cash flow. This would be a positive step from where you are now, but still NOT how these kinds of expenses should be paid.

    Purchasing Cards (P-Cards) – these cards are often issued to a specific person in the company for typical expenses, like office supplies and the like. These cards are individual billed but company paid, which means that while the person assigned the card is supposed to submit expense reports, the company will still pay the balance on these cards every month even without expense reports. These cards are typically assigned out to office managers, administrative assistants, etc. While still not the option the company should pursue, finding someone with one of these cards who can work with you would be a MUCH better option for you personally. You would no longer have to worry about your finances being impacted and no longer be responsible for submitting the expense reports.

    OP – definitely start by talking to your boss. This situation is unsustainable. When you go in for that meeting, have firm amounts that you’re willing to front on your personal card. These things should be like $40 for a coffee run for everyone in your team or $100ish for pizza for people working late. You should definitely expense these things back to company. But going into a meeting with anchor numbers will help drive the conversation forward. I would also have an idea of up to $X per month, so you can push back if you’re asked to front that $40-100 too often.

    If the conversation with your boss does not end with a resolution, I would keep going up the chain. And I would repeat all the things from the previous meeting with my boss. “This is unsustainable”. “What happens when the vendor fees come up for renewal and I’m working for a different client?”

    Also, I would try to find out who in your company runs the program for corporate cards. Because they will rightfully be HORRIFIED that you’re doing this. And if you can’t get to this person, I would call your company’s helpdesk and log this as an issue. In fact, I would document all of it. How much you’re being asked to put on your personal cards, what it’s for, by whom, and when. Honestly, I’d probably email screenshots of my expense reports to a personal email address, so that I have documentation if the company were to come back saying that I didn’t pay for something.

    When I worked in consulting (for a Big 4 firm), the official expense policy was that the HIGHEST ranking person there would be the one to pay. Does your company have an official policy? If so, HR might be interested to know that it’s not being followed.

    Honestly OP, this sounds like it has the potential to be A LOT of money. I could see you hitting the $100k a year in company expenses, and that is straight up NOT OK and REALLY SKETCHY. You’re opening yourself up to potential future issues by doing this, and you need to push back hard.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Reading more of these comments I know that what you call a “T&E” is a thing that happens but it’s not a typical option.

      The one that everyone is actually thinking about is a corporate card that’s issued under a large umbrella account. Which is what we do. We have a line of credit and can open up cards under it, each person is issued a card and a limit. The bills are billed to the company and the company processes payments. The people holding cards are to submit their receipts for each purchase and expense report documenting what the purchases were for.

      And P-Cards are often used to by procurement departments, so they span much more than just office managers and administrative workers.

      And as long as they’re keeping their documentation, they aren’t running a huge personal risk, unless the company ceases to reimburse them. It’s certainly not okay and it’s crappy business practices but I’m not a fan of the alarmist wording of your last paragraph.

  80. AdAgencyChick*

    WOW. In my industry it’s expected that client dinners go on personal cards and get reimbursed. That’s bad enough — clients who are in a partying mood can put you out a couple of grand in one evening! But paying vendors?! Especially ones who don’t accept credit cards? Not cool at all.

    OP, I hope you’re successful with pushing back.

  81. Aphrodite*

    Does anyone here work with a credit reporting agency (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)? If so, would you please weigh on in how this yo-yo affect looks on your personal credit history and FICO score.

    1. Sharon*

      It would look like you are charging a lot and making the payments on time, the same as if you ran up high personal charges and paid it off every month. So it could actually help your credit as long as you are making the payments on time (documentation shows that you can borrow large amounts of money and pay it back.) But the part of your FICO score that is calculated using the % of available credit utilized could go down. However, your credit limit would probably get raised as a result of all this activity.

  82. juliebulie*

    This is definitely terrible. I once worked for a company that did this. Pilots were paying out of their own pockets to fuel airplanes. Then the company declared bankruptcy. I don’t know if all of the pilots were ever made whole. Don’t let something like that happen to you.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Jesus I’ve heard of a few cases where airlines got into financial trouble and either got behind on paying pilots, or expected pilots to pay for fuel or other expenses, or all of the above.

      That’s… not a job where you want people stressed put or distracted.

    2. Arvolin*

      IANAL, but as I understand it, there’s sort of a priority line for bankruptcy payouts, and unsecured loans are at the bottom. In practice, they’re never paid, because if there was enough money to get to them the company wouldn’t be going into bankruptcy. Unless there were unusual circumstances, those pilots almost certainly ate the whole cost.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        That just makes the whole thing even slimier. The company knew they were circling the drain, and the higher-ups chose to stick lower-level employees with as much of the bill as possible.

  83. Jaybeetee*

    Yikes on bikes!

    Some perspective: I have one (1) credit card with a $2000 limit, for a variety of reasons. What LW is doing would not he possible for me. Let alone $8000! That does not exist for me. That does not exist for most people I know (except possibly homeowners. I don’t think I know anyone who rents and has that kind of money or credit). Mind you, this might be another one of those “Not USA” things.

    I cannot believe this company is assuming junior employees have that kind of liquidity. WTF! That’s not even getting into the “personal cheques” stuff (who still uses those?) LW you gotta push back hard on this or quit.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Also meant to add, most Americans have less than $400 loose in the event of an emergency. Most of the country wouldn’t be able to work for this company.

      1. Ads*

        Yes but tbh a lot of banks in the US do still grant credit lines with 10s of thousands of dollars, even to someone just a couple of years of college with the corresponding credit history. So while there are obviously issues and systemic biases when assuming employees would have access to this kind of credit, it’s not super unexpected if it’s a prestigious consulting firm (which to my understanding tends to hire out of the ivy league and the like, say what you will about economic class biases there) and “that’s how it’s always been done”

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m a renter and I have high credit limits ($20k and $17,500 respectively) with exorbitant student loan debt (I’ve paid off a few federal and school backed loans over the years, but I haven’t even scratched the surface of the private loans *sigh*), and I absolutely agree with you that most people wouldn’t be able to work for this company. Even with my credit limits being what they are, I couldn’t work here because those cards are for my own private purchases and emergencies. They are NOT for making vendor payments on behalf of a company that has revenues that are a hundred times what I’d ever earn working there.

  84. Rebecca*

    “I heard from the letter-writer that in addition to having to put expenses on her personal credit card, she’s had to pay some vendors with personal checks” AND floating thousands of dollars on the OP’s personal credit card?

    This sounds like some sort of Ponzi scheme. I’m seriously concerned that the OP will drive up to the office one day to find it shuttered and she’ll be out thousands of dollars and have to put in a claim in bankruptcy court, and maybe get pennies on the dollar, and end up paying back all that money herself or risk ruining her credit for years to come. There are so many red flags here!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Honestly, this would be my fear as well if I were the OP (though she says the company is “prestigious,” so they may not be close to insolvency, just tone-deaf).

      1. Rebecca*

        Prestigious or not, apparently they don’t have the money to both pay their employees and pay expenses.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Or they do, but since they’ve operated this way since they were a start-up and no one ever pushed back on these practices, they just continued pushing the upfront costs to employees because “that’s the way it’s always been.”

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, I wouldn’t be so quick to believe they *can’t* pay their bills. More like “don’t want to.”

    2. Anon Lawyer*

      Personal checks are insane and she obviously shouldn’t have to do it. But if she works for a prestigious consulting firm, she’s probably working directly with clients who hire the firm and THOSE are the ones running up weird expenses, so it’s probably more of a red flag about those companies.

  85. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    At this point you’re just loaning money to your employer. Realistically you may not be able to win the war on both fronts here right now, but you can definitely push back on the personal checks immediately. A simple, “Nope, can’t do that anymore” or “Like everyone else COVID has resulted in some personal finance changes for me, I’m no longer able to write personal checks on behalf of the company.”
    In my case with my credit card I’d be making bank with the points & cash back in this situation, but I’d be majorly stressed out about being reimbursed on time to keep from having to carry a balance on my card.

  86. DammitMeredith*

    I would like to know what would happen if OP told her boss that she had to make some financial changes in her personal life and would be only using debit cards going forward, and was no longer able to wait for reimbursement, lest her personal finances and bills be affected. This is…horrifying. I wouldn’t have been able to work here, personally and would’ve had to tell them upfront that I absolutely could not charge up to a grand on my personal CC. What if someone had a low credit limit, or they didn’t reimburse her in time to avoid interest fees? This sounds like a lawsuit in the making to me.

  87. RussianInTexas*

    Boyfriend told me about a collegue of him who was of a religious believes that included not to use any payment methods that can potentially involve paying interest, like a credit card.
    That would be a no go in this company.

  88. TeapotNinja*

    Get yourself another credit card and max the credit limit on that one as high as you can / are comfortable with.

    Then call the bank on the credit card your company uses as a piggy bank and tell them to lower the credit limit to something like $1000, or whatever number you’re comfortable with.

    1. Ominous Adversary*

      You’re advocating that the LW open a line of credit for her employer. That’s ridiculous (not to mention the effect it will have on the LW’s own credit).

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I think they’re suggesting creating a “new” credit card for their own expenses, and reducing the limit on the existing one to $1000 so that that’s the only amount available to the employer. Presumably the employer won’t know about the “new” card..

  89. Georgina Fredricka*

    Real anxiety!! I would say something like, “look, I’m thinking of saving up for a major purchase (car, house, luxury toaster, whatever, doesn’t need to be real) and I need to make sure nothing messes up my credit score/I have finances available for that, so I’m going to need a company card.”

    Honestly in these COVID times, I’d also be worried about getting let go if the unexpected happens and then having to try and get your $5,000 back from a company you no longer work for.

    I also don’t like all of this because what if your vendor disputes the charge later, is that possible? And vendors definitely do all sorts of weird hijinks – are you the one left dealing with it>

    big financial risks can seem manageable until something goes wrong, and then you’re kicking yourself.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Honestly in these COVID times, I’d also be worried about getting let go if the unexpected happens and then having to try and get your $5,000 back from a company you no longer work for.

      THIS. This is a real concern right now.

    2. KB*

      Agreed! Though no one should have to give a reason they don’t want to do this. Their money (or lack thereof) is no one’s business, including their employer.

    3. Summersun*

      I’m also seeing a lot of talk on financial blogs/forums about Covid causing banks to tighten lending regulations based on behavior that was not previously seen as risky. Your spending limit could suddenly be cut below what you’re being required to front.

  90. Anonymous at a University*

    OP, they had to have a method of paying vendors who wouldn’t take credit cards before you joined the company. Can you ask that that method be used instead of having you write personal checks (WTF?)

    Unless you find out that it was a now-gone employee’s personal checks, of course, in which case, yeah, I would run, because that comes pretty close to, “We are cooking the books somehow”

  91. Anne Elliot*

    I had a state-agency job where once in a while a special fee had to be paid in an area where we generally did not pay fees (and thus had no mechanism in place to pay them). The expectation was that the employee would pay this fee and put in for reimbursement. Only managerial level employees were expected to do this, but the fee was several hundred dollars. The first time it came up for me, I just flatly told my boss: “I am not paying this so how would you like to handle it?” The obvious push-back was “but you’ll be reimbursed!” but I think it perhaps helped in my case that my attitude was not “gosh, I’d like to explain to you why I it would be inconvenient for me to do that,” my attitude was “That’s ridiculous and outrageous and I’m not doing it so what is our next step.”

    In the OP’s case, I think it would be fair to say “This no longer works for my budget so how would you like this handled?” Frankly, it’s ridiculous under these circumstances that the company hasn’t switched to company credit cards.

    1. Anne Elliot*

      And as far as the checks are concerned, I think it would be reasonable to say “I don’t use checks or have a checkbook,” even if that’s not true. I personally have a checkbook somewhere but honestly could not tell you the last time I wrote an actual check.

  92. Mimosa Jones*

    OP, I’m worried about the solvency of your employer. These are not great and potentially shady practices and a company does them because they’re clueless, in bad financial shape, and/or up to no good. Definitely push back, but meanwhile, get the best rewards card you qualify for (forget miles, go for cash back) and use that card exclusively for business expenses. Stash the rewards in savings and start arranging your finances to lessen the impact of losing your job. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but there’s enough signs here that you should be prepared.

  93. KB*

    I am gobsmacked by this! I am an EA and all of our senior management team has corporate credit cards for expenses. Only twice have I had to use my personal credit card to charge large expenses (due to fraud alerts on my corporate card on a Sunday) and my company reimbursed me by that Friday. I think it is really problematic when management pushes back and says people should be able to afford these expenses and wait to be reimbursed — you *never* know people’s personal financial situation regardless of their pay-grade (ailing family members, medical debt, etc) and, more importantly, I believe that companies shouldn’t use employees own money as “float.” I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but this sort of thing just drives me crazy.

  94. Lizy*

    I worked at a small CPA firm (20ish employees) and they only had 2 credit cards – one for the managing partner and one for the firm administrator. Employees were reimbursed for expenses, and it was ALWAYS within 2 weeks. However, this was a place where even the junior employees were making bank, it was never more than a couple of client meals for junior employees, and many employees simply got one of the cc’s if they needed to pay for anything online (continuing education or supplies or WHATEVER). And this was 10 years ago so their practices may very well have changed.

    I worked at a non-profit and now at a utility coop and had/have a company cc with both. The majority of the time, I have like $50 in expenses a month. There is literally no reason not to have a company cc.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I learned over the last couple of years that some companies aren’t eligible for a company card! They won’t even raise our limit without a ton of hoops now and we’ve been established for decades with the same bank, they can see our constant large balance, etc. Nope, very limited credit card options. Banks have stricter protocol for business accounts than individual backed consumer accounts.

      But usually at least there’s some option to work with, including the first setup, where only one or two people have an actual card then they let others use it as needed.

  95. How is This Practice Allowed?*

    Good grief, the classist implications here alone *should* make it worth systemically regulating this away. I work for an employer that handles going to work-related conventions and things like that in the same way (pay up front and “just get it reimbursed”). The obvious and painfully predictable outcome is that workers in (often artificially) higher-paid positions get advancement opportunities, while workers in… let’s call it “less-favored” work categories… never get these professional experiences, and that is then cited as a reason workers in these positions aren’t eligible to be promoted into the higher-paid positions that get these opportunities.

    I’m probably one of the most financially stable people I know right now, and *I* would be completely unable to handle just dropping $8000 (credit, check, whatever) and waiting a few weeks to get paid back. It would literally mean I have no money left for things like utilities or food, and that would be completely unacceptable. The notion that *anybody* is expected to do this, let alone a *junior* staff member, is absurd. It paints a clear picture that the higher-ups who get to make decisions in this firm have either forgotten what working a lower-level position is like, or worse yet were all so privileged as to skip the step altogether and have no idea that this is a *thing*.

    I could probably agree with Alison that sub-$100 expenses here and there are within reason in *most* cases (at least to the extent that I’d be comfortable with addressing when even that is a problem as an exception or edge case, not the general rule), but it says bad things when an employer that thinks approaching what are effectively 5-digit short-term, interest-free loans from employees hardly making that much is in any way acceptable.

    One last concern I might also tack on: don’t some business transactions tie things like refunds and ownership and stuff to the payment method used? Wouldn’t this create a *massive* logistical problem if anything went *wrong* with a purchase? I’m sure there are ways to fix this after the fact, but… how is it reasonable to have a single employee and not the business itself be the entity tied to these purchases? As if the classism layer weren’t bad enough, this *should* be a showstopper just at the point of handling ownership of purchases. Even temporary mix-ups should be unacceptable with such large (for the common human being) numbers.

  96. Anon Fed*

    My husband has a gov’t credit card but what’s super annoying is they still have to pay it off themselves. Their agency doesn’t pay it directly. So I still have to track reimbursements. If he books travel on it, he doesn’t get reimbursed until after the travel happens (lest he cancel and get a refund). They are required to pay it off monthly and are not allowed to carry a balance. So sometimes we get stuck fronting $1000 cash for a couple of months between when he books a flight and when he finally flies. It is nuts.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I can easily see the purpose of this setup and I still hate it. It’s to treat your employees as though they are not trustworthy. Instead of being picky about who gets a card and having a policy attached to the use of that, they make it a personal burden because at least in the end, worst case the company doesn’t have to pay for something they don’t feel like. It’s all on the back of an employer without employee accountability, yuck.

      1. Anon Fed*

        It’s terrible. I totally understand why they don’t want to reimburse until the travel occurs but I don’t understand why they can’t just pay the credit card off themselves instead of sending us a reimbursement. What’s the point of a company card if it has to be paid off out of your own pocket before your reimbursement comes in? The only thing it does is helps people with bad credit who couldn’t otherwise get a card.

  97. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Regardless of what you can and can’t afford, these are business expenses into the thousands of dollars that you should not be expected to front your employer. The fact that you have to expend this much mental energy figuring out how to talk to your employer about your personal finances makes this a hard no from me. My employer does not get to know that much about my personal checking account, credit card limit, etc. Just … no. I do a job, they pay me to do it and do it well, but the expenses of doing business are theirs and I shouldn’t be expected to loan them money to operate.

  98. Summersun*

    I’m always astounded at how lackadaisical some of my colleagues in field service are about their expense reports. One guy doesn’t bother filling his out more than once per quarter. Last fall (final quarter pre-Covid) they ended up owing him something like thirty grand. Either he’s way too casual about money, or I’m seriously underpaid.

  99. Roja*

    That’s completely unacceptable. The personal checks just puts it even more over the top. I know that credit cards can be leveraged for points so I know some like this system. But for the many who can’t pay it off quickly and float the company a loan, having that much extra could seriously impact your credit score because your credit utilization is so much higher.

    I’m so sorry, OP.

  100. Essess*

    If the company is delaying paying you, then they also need to be reimbursing you the interest that accrues on the balance on the credit card. Otherwise, you are ending up paying extra money out of your own pocket for the business expenses!

  101. Refried Beans*

    I had this problem at my previous job at a non-profit, where I travelled constantly and presented workshops in different cities. It started when I was a fellow on a stipend (I was also working evenings as a restaurant hostess just to pay my rent) and the business was having “cash flow problems”. At that point I wasn’t being reimbursed for months (and I got off easy – some of my coworkers hadn’t been reimbursed for years – a department head was owned something like $13,000 after fronting money for the business for several years). Reimbursements finally caught up to a more or less normal schedule (weeks rather than months) and I stayed on in a full time position and ended up fronting around $10,000 per year in travel and catering expenses. I spoke up several times and said that I essentially couldn’t afford to work there if this kept up, but it didn’t really change. We did end up getting a business card that covered $1,000 but were told not to use it too often or on big purchases (i.e. hotel rooms). That job was soul-destroying for many reasons, and when I left I made sure to point out how ridiculous this expense policy was in my exit interview.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this! It’s widespread, and I think this makes employers think it’s acceptable.

  102. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    I didn’t see it mentioned here, so just wanted to add in case — I would be especially careful about this if any of these fees (on the credit card presumably, not the cheques so much) are “recurring” charges for something like a software licence, subscription to a standard industry resource, etc. Hopefully the implications of that are obvious (increasing amounts over time, reliance on the company to pay every month or customer’s access to the ‘resource’ goes away, etc).

    I worked with someone who (in another job) had used a personal credit card to subscribe to a particular service (one of the cloud service providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud etc) who bill you monthly for the actual usage or for what you’ve subscribed to) during a development phase and it just sort of became “production” (anyone who works in or around tech will understand how that goes) — and after a management shake-up was finding it increasingly hard to get reimbursed each time! And they couldn’t just go into the “admin access” of the service and revoke their credit card, well they could have, but that would have brought down whole systems which were relying on the hosting provider, which as mentioned above were part of the functioning of the company at that point.

    (The situation was only ever resolved when due to evolution of the company and acquisitions etc, all of the “purchasing” and “contracts” type of functions were gradually consolidated under a global team, so all these ‘skunkworks’ contracts eventually got flushed out.)

    It may not apply to you OP but it’s something to think about…

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They could have cancelled the card *cough*

      Then whomever was in charge of the service would have gotten the “your card is not working anymore. Fix it. Get it fixed!!!” email from the service provider ;)

      Then whomever is in charge can just deal with plugging in a new card. Oh well, it’s natural consequences if they couldn’t figure that out. It shouldn’t have been on someone’s personal card!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yeah, I wondered about cancelling the card, but I guess they still needed to use it for their own personal stuff?

        The way it was set up was that the “admin” login was the individual’s account (work email) so those emails would have just gone back to the person! As I understand it, there was probably a generic “IT” sort of address, but that project was in the weird position of being “production” but not officially supported by the company, so it didn’t go through the usual support or approval channels etc. For example one of the ‘vendors’ they used as part of the project was a direct competitor of the usual vendor that the company as a whole used, because they had made that decision unilaterally. It was all a bit of a mess by their account (but I can’t say I’m surprised).

  103. No Longer Looking*

    I didn’t read every comment, but one suggestion I didn’t see yet:

    Request that the company front you $10,000 in Petty Cash, so you can out of that, and submit reimbursement requests to restore the petty cash pool to $10,000.

    I guarantee they won’t want to do so – pressure them to examine WHY they don’t, and perhaps it will help them to understand what they are asking of you.

    1. ev*

      This – bar the amount – was the way that we used to regularly handle things in a couple of companies I worked for in the UK.

      Bigger things went on a corporate card but the employee had a float (paid upfront) that was comfortably around 6 weeks of expenses. The floats were around the £500 mark and were there to cover things you’d usually buy in cash, meals whilst travelling, mileage or small things that they put on their own cards etc. Hotels etc got paid by the corporate cards.

      Submit the expenses at least once a month, reimbursement in 3 days and you’ve topped up the float and aren’t out of pocket. Two columns on the report for whether it was paid on the corporate card or out of your own pocket, the latter getting a reimbursement to you.

      Anything in thousands would definitely not be paid this way however!

      (Also this was a decade ago, where cash was more usual. )

      1. ev*

        But if they regular require OP to spend that kind of money they should give them that kind of float to use! It does mean OP needs to be careful to keep the float money and not spend it but as you say it should put pressure on them to change their ways and reduce the expenses employees pay out of their own pocket!

  104. Gertie*

    I had to do this on a smaller scale when I got my first job out of college that paid very poorly. I’d have to spend hundreds of dollars myself and wait a month to be reimbursed. It caused me so much stress. The most annoying part was if my boss had planned in advance everything could be paid by invoice, but she always waited till the last minute. It’s amazing how people can judge people for not having enough money-even if they’re the ones paying you peanuts. I just don’t understand how it doesn’t occur to them. I had to learn not to accept lunch invitations because they would pick an expensive place, I’d order the cheapest thing and they’d decide to split the bill evenly.

  105. Time For A Different Username*

    To provide some context, I was once a junior staffer and later manager at a firm like what the OP described. These kinds of firms aren’t quite like what comes to mind if you’re thinking of McKinsey/BCG/Bain or the consulting arms of the Big 4. Instead, they are often small yet high-profile consultancies that serve a niche field. These kinds of places aren’t household names except to their hiring pool or typical clientele. They do, unfortunately, tend to have cash flow issues because they often rely on tenders from notoriously-underfunded sectors, so much of what might take for granted in terms of having a functioning accounting department just isn’t there. OP, it’d be great if you can jump in here to confirm my suspicions!

    At the firm I was at, things never got as bad as writing personal cheques to clients (what the heck no don’t do that!), but there was definitely a tacit expectation that entry-level staff could float significant expenses on their personal credit cards because everyone wants travel points, right? Everyone above who’s suggested that these practices are held up due to class issues is bang on – so long as they keep hiring the sorts of people who have five-digit credit limits at a young age, they can get away with it. They shouldn’t be able to get away with it, though.

    At the end of the day, a lot of places like this are structured in a way that’s really about being in a state of almost being insolvent all the time. If it weren’t the credit card issue, it’d be something else equally bad or far worse, like having software licensing issues prevent you from being able to get your client work done, or having your paycheques bounce every now and then. I encourage you to push back against this, because it’s not only harmful to your finances but also looks really bad to clients. All that said, this is why firms like these have fairly high turnover; once you have enough experience to move to a more stable employer in your field, run and run fast.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I’m beginning to wonder if this is why some companies run credit checks on job candidates before they are hired.

        1. Time For A Different Username*

          It’s interesting that you mention that. The place that I worked at most certainly didn’t run credit checks before hiring anyone. The backdoor way of doing this is that most people would end up needing a security clearance to work on certain projects. Not immediately, usually, but typically a year into one’s tenure at most. So, staying employed and available for project work would be difficult if you had credit issues significant enough to interfere with a security clearance.

          1. Time For A Different Username*

            Also, I didn’t even think of this, but more often than not we’d hire people who had previously had a job or internship that’s likely to have required a security clearance. It’s a line of work where our entry-level candidate pool has a lot of people who would have dealt with the clearance process as students, so I don’t think anyone gives a second thought to what that means for candidates with credit issues.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s why states have laws regarding what you can use a credit check for. But yeah, it’s a loophole in some areas.

  106. Elizabeth West*

    If financial crisis befell the company, would you be stuck with thousands of dollars on your credit card that they hadn’t reimbursed you for yet?

    My first thought was that they are doing this precisely because they’re teetering on just such a precipice. D:

    1. kmg*

      I’m wondering if this is a thing with small companies. I worked at a three person firm for a few months and fronting minor expenses happened pretty often. Nowhere near the amount that OP has had to pay, but it was still a burden. Not sure where companies got the idea that their underpaid junior employees should be providing them with interest free loans

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s not a small company thing. Lots of folks here are confirming it’s actually a “very big company” kind of thing :(

        I’ve never fronted my boss a dime. When I was an EA, my bosses would give me their company card to go get whatever we needed or we’d order ahead, give them the credit card and I’d just do a pick-up if it’s a local option. From anything from machine parts to soda for the vending machines, etc.

        If a bill came in, I just wrote a check and the boss signs it because that’s how NORMAL business practices work. The only one floating you cash is a line of credit at a bank or a credit card provider or a supplier who bills you out.

        1. RubberDuck*

          At one Very Big Consulting Company I worked at, part of the issue was taking multinational accounting laws into account. I worked in the states but the company was headquartered in Europe, so there were multiple workflows that expenses would go through before they could be reimbursed. (This was an “Amex with your name but through the company” situation.) The end result was that you might have to pay off the expenses temporarily before they could actually be reimbursed due to the large backlog, many weeks of review, and potential iteration when you / the accounting team missed a receipt.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’ve learned over the years working with international links is that the different countries have different knowledge of how credit cards even work as well…

            Lots of our international clients straight up can’t use cards because they aren’t eligible for them through the banking system in the US and their countries don’t “do” credit cards. They are just like “I have to wire you money, it’s literally the only electronic option available!”

  107. Carolyn*

    oh no! I had it though not to this extreme at a previous workplace. One thing that helped push back on this OP was several of us came together and the biggest argument we had is that % of credit usage factors into your credit score (sometimes called a credit utilization rate). Our boss didn’t know this and was weirdly open to this line of reasoning!

  108. Spicy Tuna*

    I once had a job that required a lot of international travel. Airfare was always covered by the in-house travel agency, but all other expenses were put on the employee’s personal credit card. When we submitted expenses, we were required to submit them in local currency (not USD). The company would then use an exchange rate that they deemed appropriate, not the rate used by the credit card company. The rate the company used was always unfavorable to the employee, which meant that business travel ended up costing the employee. It was never a huge amount, just a couple of bucks here and there, but business travel should never cost the employee. It felt so nickel and dime-y. On top of that, the pay was really low for skills they required (everyone had an MBA or a CPA) and they even cut people’s pay at one point (that was when I left – it’s a job, not a volunteer event!).

  109. mgguy*

    At my last job(haven’t had any purchasing come up with the new job yet) we had cards freely available if needed-they were called “ProCards”(Procurement Cards) but for all intents and purposes functioned like a credit card and I think were handled through VISA.

    There were some issued to individuals, and some available for check-out in the department. The check-out ones were usually a fairly low limit-something like $500 or $1K-to keep people from going nuts with them. Some of the ones issued to individuals had ridiculously high limits. The lady in the office next door to me kept having hers raised, and I think it finally made it up to $100K before they said “no more.” At the same time, she had legitimate business reasons why she was spending $15-20K a week(individual orders in the $3-5K range were common…anything over $5K had to be done through PO) and she’d run out of credit because they’d only pay once a month.

    There were reimbursement processes, and I used them at times-for example-for per diems when traveling(as was policy). Sometimes too I’d buy stuff and not even bother-if it was a $5 purchase at a grocery store(not uncommon too) sometimes I’d get a card and go during the day, and sometimes I’d just stop on my way home or grab it during a regular grocery run and pay out of pocket. The reimbursement paperwork wasn’t worth a couple of dollars(and purchasing would pitch a fit if it was one item on a big receipt) but at the same time that was entirely at my discretion to do that.

    Even with travel, I’d get fussy sometimes about reimbursing what we had to do by policy since they would often take 2-3 months to get around to it. Fortunately, I didn’t travel often for work.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We run into issues with some procurement agents who don’t have the right limits on their cards. Some of their limits aren’t just monthly limits, they’re daily and by transaction! Or they have to be coded properly in the merchant services, I’ve had people get upset because our “code” isn’t what matches their card because of industry differences. [Credit cards classify us under a big umbrella industry and not particularly one that some firms want to see, so it causes card issues, sigh].

      I’m often playing games with P-Cards for people, “charge this TODAY instead of next week when it’s a new month, PLEASE.” when we always charge when an order is filled, not when it’s taken. Or “it won’t run today because I capped out, can you run it tomorrow first thing? But we need that stuff right away…can you play with your system and still release it but not charge us until my limit re-sets on Thursday?”

  110. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    I would never do this as an employee, and any more I refuse to do it as the owner of my own firm. I’ve had two separate clients that racked up purchases for consumable and non-returnable goods…and then split on the bill. Now I work with vendors to negotiate pricing and set up the purchase, then I help the client complete the purchase using their own form of payment.

    I’m loosing out on the card rewards, but I have much more security in the arrangement.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is 100% how you should do things, it’s for your own protection!

      So many people, especially when they’re not even owners but workers for a firm…don’t understand there’s really very little legal recourse for you if someone skips out on the bill. Sure you can sue them, good luck bleeding a turnip though! It’s rarely worth the costs in the end and you’ll go bankrupt before you recoup those losses if you do recoup them at all.

      Someone literally told me the other day “well Big Government Agency We All Know of” is always good for the bill at some point, it just takes a lot of work! No…no it doesn’t work that way. I’ve written off things from that agency prior to requiring a credit card for everything because people would buy stuff on “PO” and then not work there when the bill came due. Nobody else there, nobody in procurement or their accounting department would either entertain my inquiries because we just sounded like “scammers” to them. “Someone so and so totally bought this, look here’s the purchase request” “oh that’s not OUR purchase request, it doesn’t have our approvals that we require to actually release payment, so you’re ef’ed bro.”

  111. Sam*

    I was in a similar situation for work travel which resulted in the same people going on all trips and getting opportunities for advancement. I brought it up to the director of operations and he was really shocked (go figure, the people on the lower end of the pay scale unable to float a few grand). He immediately put in a place a policy where department heads can pay for travel for junior staff. I’d commend him for swift action but he was just excited about the airline miles he could rack up.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LOL, I won’t lie I am partly put out by this system because of how much the company is losing in rewards points. I make a point to use our cards as much as possible and we can get thousands of dollars back on the purchases!

      But to be fair, I use this to off-set our employee engagement funds so I can often triple the snacks we get because of my crafty nonsense. I’m spreading the wealth over here, I swear ;)

  112. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I hope you are still reading, you have a lot of support here.

    From my own life, I have had two organizations where I had to convert them into adulthood. This meant getting credit cards, setting up a Staples account and so on. One organization was about three years of arguing and pushing for them to modernize. The other organization was probably a year.

    It’s tough to argue with dead weight. Ever try to get a dog to go outside when it’s raining and he doesn’t wanna? omg. Somehow that 60 pound dog goes dead weight and it is more like pushing and dragging a 120 pound dog. So in the question of handling finances in a modern manner, I hit dead weight statements such as:
    “What do we need that for?”
    “No, we can’t have a credit card in the name of our org, it’s against the law.
    “No one will use it.”
    “We will end up with big bills.”
    “No one will give us credit.”
    “Oh did you mention this about a credit card before?”
    “Will you explain for the 17th time why we need to even THINK about this?”
    “NO. And we are not discussing this.”
    Three years, OP. Three very long years. The excuses were amazing in their variety and the vehemence behind the NO was daunting. It was totally exhausting. Worse yet, the main person fighting me was the VERY person I thought would be the first to support me.

    Upper management should all be embarrassed and hang their heads in total shame.

    When you go in on this one, bring a couple other people with you. As far as the checks are concerned, just say, “I am not able to do that.” Keep it to that one sentence, don’t veer from the sentence, just repeat it.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, when I read this letter I was sorely tempted to clamp my hands to my ears and sing “la-la-la-laaa” very loudly and extremely off key…

  113. Wondering*

    So….if someone wrote a check for, say, a new printer and paper for the office, and then got fired before being reimbursed, could they pack up all of “their” paper and the printer and take it home? Whose stuff is it? (Just imagining fun scenarios. Like if OP contacted whomever they write the check to and held the services/products hostage until they were paid…I know they won’t/shouldn’t do that, but…)

  114. Fabulous*

    Holy moly no. As a former Travel and Expense person who managed the reimbursements for people being forced to use their own funds for business expenses, this is severely out of hand. You should absolutely not be paying for vendors with your personal money. Vendors are in a separate category altogether and are 100% a business expense. They need to get you a corporate credit card STAT.

  115. Hank Stevens*

    I agree that writting personal checks is out there, but I must confess that I was fine using my personal credit card for a past company I worked in the past because I racked up serious reward points, which I was in essence getting for free.

  116. Genevieve B. Shockley*

    I know this is way out there, but in my uneducated brain this sounds like a great way to launder money.

    Also have to wonder it the IRS ever questions these policies?

  117. Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery*

    When we were applying for a home loan, we reduced our credit limits on cards as one of a number ways to get our finances “loan-ready”. And at the time, there was a lot of scrutiny on who loans – I think the bank even asked “what was this $60 purchase six months ago” (Answer “fucked if I know”). You could always add that as a shield – I may be getting a loan so I’ve reduced my credit limit and am minising the number of purchases I make so I can no longer put stuff on my card, sorry.”

    1. CI*

      Just FYI, but whoever told you to do that might have done you a disservice (and OP, not a good suggestion although if you want to lower the limits for other reasons go for it)–your debt to credit ratio, called credit utilization upthread, is a factor in scoring your credit in the US, and lowering the denominator isn’t great math.

  118. Orange You Glad*

    I assume your company has an AP department. In addition to pushing back to your boss, anything that requires a significant payment (more than a few hundred dollars) you should send the invoice to your AP dept to pay. It’s probably in the company’s best interest to have a paper trail that they actually paid the invoices instead of reimbursing.
    Don’t fret about how you look managing your finances. It’s not the norm to have $8,000 laying around to loan to your employer. If you get push back, make it a problem for them. “Oh you want that paid this week? Then you’re going to have to front the money because I need to pay rent.”

  119. GradBoss*

    OMG I hope you have a travel rewards card that you are putting all of these expenses on. If not, sign up for one right away and get your vacations paid for. Take a travel hacking course to make the most of the miles and points. So many travel hackers are reading this letter with jealousy in their hearts.

  120. NotTheSameAaron*

    From the sound of it, she should start the process of incorporating as a bank, because that’s what she is doing for them.

  121. Lisa*

    I am a lawyer and this happens at my firm too. Even the partners don’t have firm credit cards. It is a large firm too (100 lawyers). I have gone on trips to Vegas for marketing purposes and had to put the flights, the hotel, the meals for myself and the clients etc on my personal credit card. I agree with the poster that I am normally reimbursed prior to incurring interest but I am also blessed to have a credit line large enough to foot the bill for these costs. I mean what if you have bad credit, or don’t have a credit line of 20K or need it for your own use? I am well into my career now but I cannot imagine being a young associate doing this where I was barely making it by. I have worked at other firms and we always had a firm credit card with a 15K limit and/or the senior partner would pay. This is just how they do it and it is a common practice. I guess it’s sort of accept it or leave it. I will say that one firm I worked at years ago had petty cash and they would literally reimburse you once a day via checks or cash up to 1K. The managing partner and accounting would sit there and cut checks, so that was easy. The only benefit of this is you can earn points on your own credit card.

  122. Khlovia*

    Many years, or decades, ago, I was the department secretary for the Chemistry Department of an undistinguished four-year urban university, part of an undistinguished state university system, located in an undistinguished midwestern city. Faculty lunches were monthly or weekly, I forget. My boss, the Department head, a very nice man, told me it was part of my duties to provide the food for these lunches. He told me to just run over to the school cafeteria and buy sandwiches, and I would be reimbursed. (All these guys were pretty big eaters, especially since the food was free [for THEM]. Well, I could not afford to eat at the campus cafeteria myself, so ugh. But I wasn’t reimbursed for that first lunch I had to front the money for. Or for the next one, or the next one. Repeatedly I asked my boss if there could be a slush fund to supply the cash for these expensive fancy-sandwich runs. No, he said, just get them and you’ll be reimbursed The reimbursement process was, I stapled the receipts to a standard deparmental purchase order, shove the PO into a brown inter-office mail envelope closed with a string, and left it out for pick-up. The envelopes disappeared into the basement, where dwelt the lady in charge of disbursements, Kary(not her name). Her main job was keeping track of chemicals and disbursing them to teachers for classes.
    The reimbursement to arrive in the form of–I don’t know. I never found out how I would have been reimbursed (cash or check or a bump in my next paycheck) because I was never reimbursed.
    I would attach sticky-notes to the POs saying “Please tell me what I am doing wrong.” “Please tell me why you have decided I don’t deserve to be reimbursed. No response, and certainly no reimbursement. Kary was not a Karen; she was a nice lady. She’d stop by my office now and then and we’d chat. As far as I could tell she wasn’t hostile to me. I couldn’t figure out why she had decided not to reimburse me. I couldn’t ask her in person because that would have been pushy. It would have been an unpleasant and awkward conversation. She might have gotten angry. I felt the pleading sticky-notes should be sufficient. Oh well, if somebody thought I didn’t deserve to be reimbursed, who the hell was I to disagree? I was getting slightly above minimum wage, for a 40-hour week. My paycheck was of course direct-deposited into my checking account. Every Saturday before a faculty meeting was scheduled, I had to walk to my bank and withdraw enough cash to cover not only my own groceries for the week, but also the faculty lunches for over a dozen men. Sometimes my rent check bounced. Then of course I would get slammed by the bank with an overdraft fee. I did not possess a credit card, naturally; such things were for rich folks, not for the likes of me. After a couple of years on this job (which I otherwise loved) I gave up sending in purchase orders, and no longer bothered keeping receipts, since I knew it was futile. I started having to sneak out of my apartment building in the morning, for fear my landlady would leap out of her office as I crossed the lobby, demanding immediate coverage of the latest bounced rent check I tried cooking and baking at home for the faculty, since that was cheaper than buying prepared food, and lugging the stuff to campus on the bus. They complained. The food wasn’t fancy enough. Again I begged my boss to keep a slush fund in the office for this purpose. He again repeated the order to just buy stuff at the cafeteria and submit the receipt for reimbursement. Kary will reimburse you. Finally I burst into tears and blurted out: “No! She won’t! She never has! She won’t tell me why! I’ve begged her and begged her to tell me what I was doing wrong so I could fix it!” I went into a long wail about the bounced rent checks and the overdraft fees and fearing eviction and having to sneak past my landlady and so on. He marched me down to the basement to confront Kary. I was horrified and humiliated and guilt-stricken. Well, after some back and forth between him and her, she started rummaging through some mountainous piles of chaos on one of her great big tables. Eventually she unearthed a thick stack of brown inter-office envelopes from me. All unopened. Remember, her main job was to keep track of all the chemicals in the building, disbursing them to teachers for classes. She was as overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid as I was. Her prioritization process was to put out fires according to their size, proximity, and temperature. In other words, the faculty member who screamed the loudest at her got the swiftest service. Well, I was nobody, a mere lowly secretary, so mail from me got shoved under more important stuff. And because I would never have had the effrontery to scream at her in person, she concluded that whatever I kept mailing her about wasn’t a hot enough fire to bother with. She hadn’t decided that I “didn’t deserve” to be reimbursed. She hadn’t “decided” anything at all. Years later, looking back on this debacle, I realized that obviously she didn’t have the authority to decide whether I deserved reimbursement or not. Why had I assumed that she did? Because I thought that everybody in the world had authority over me, and had the right to judge me.And if they decided to deprive me of something I needed, well, who was I to have needs? They were right and I was wrong. My narcissistic mother had deliberately programmed me to be a doormat FOR HER, so I ended up being a doormat for everyone. The premise I operated on was: “To be assertive is to be pushy; to be pushy is to be self-seeking, to be self-seeking is to be selfISH, and to be selfish is to be evil, and I didn’t want to be evil. I finally got a check for the Purchase orders in that particular stack, but of course I never got reimbursed for all the food I had purchased without keeping the receipts, because I had given up hope of being reimbursed. and of course all the overdraft fees were just down the toilet. And if there were any POs from me buried anywhere else in her chaos, I never got reimbursed for those either.
    Moral of the story: Squeaky wheel, kids! Even if you’ve always believed you were evil for squeaking. Even if you’ve never squeaked before and you don’t know to squeak. Never got an apology from either Kary or Boss, either. Only after lurking on AAM for years have I realized that it was wrong of my boss in the first place to expect me to front the money for the faculty lunches.

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