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How long do debit cards last?

Learn how company debit cards work, how long they last, and how to choose
the right supplier for your company.

Table of contents

A prepaid card looks and works just like any other corporate payment card. It has the same cardholder name and number on the front, and the magnetic strip and CVC on the back.

A debit card works and looks just like a company credit card in the eyes of the user. It has a card number, expiration date, CVV, PIN number, and other crucial card information needed for transactions. 

Employees use them just like they would their personal card, which makes purchases at work easy and natural. Pay online, make contactless payments, and in some cases get cashback rewards.

The key difference between debit cards and traditional corporate cards is that debit cards have a fixed balance - you can't go into credit. For this reason, companies can feel reassured that they're not going to run up significant debt and have issues down the line. 

Virtual vs physical cards

Not all debit cards are physical. Many providers also offer virtual debit cards for online spending. As we'll see, these either have a limited lifespan or can be used repeatedly.

Virtual cards are built specifically for online shopping, where companies don't want to share the same account number on multiple sites. Virtual cards offer a secure alternative to traditional cards, because each transaction has its own debit card number. 

With virtual cards, stolen card details aren't such a risk. In most cases, the card was created for a single purchase and is no longer valid. And for recurring purchases, cancelling and creating a replacement debit card takes seconds, and won't impact your other payments. 

But the best aspect of virtual cards is the fact that employees don't need a physical debit card to make a payment. They can create a safe, secure card from anywhere, with set limits and budgets according to their role in the company.

How long do debit cards last?

As explained above, there are two kinds of business debit cards. Physical cards are virtually identical to your existing ATM cards. These plastic cards typically have an expiry date of a few years, and can be used any of number of times until they expire. 

Virtual debit cards are different. These come in two key types: 

  • Single-use-cards,​​​​ best for one-off online payments

  • Recurring cards, for ongoing subscriptions and other recurring payments

As the name suggests, single-use cards can only be used once. After a payment is completed, the card number, CVV, and other details become obsolete. Companies love this because it eliminates most scams - old card details are completely useless.

Recurring virtual cards last for as long or as short as you want them to. When creating a transaction, you decide whether payments will be weekly, monthly, or yearly. You also decide when the card should expire. If you want to pay for six months and then stop, you set up the card this way. All virtual cards do have an eventual expiry date - usually a few years, just like a physical credit card.

Key benefits of company debit cards

Every team member can have one

Corporate credit cards let some team members spend company money when necessary. But most employees lack access to funds, which leads to awkward conversations and messy expense policies. 

Debit cards solve this accessibility issue by giving employees safe access to funds, but keeping finance teams in control. Since they're not connected to the main bank account, and because they don't go into overdraft, companies can trust that employees will stick to the rules and stay on-budget.

Safer online shopping

Virtual cards really are a lifesaver for companies that shop online regularly. But too few companies use them. 

Because they have unique card numbers, expiration dates, and CVVs, you don't increase your risk exposure every time someone purchases online. In the unlikely event that a subscription card's details are stolen, you can simply cancel and replace it in a few clicks. No calls to the bank and lengthy waiting periods.

Virtual cards also eliminate the risk of internal abuse, because every payment is logged against the person who made it. Unlike with company credit cards, you always know exactly who made a transaction, why they made it, and who approved it. 

Get replacement cards easily

Shared company credit cards come with an often unexpected downside: if the card is stolen or lost, whole teams are affected. But debit expense cards are different - they're designed to be replaced at the drop of a hat. 

Order new cards whenever an employee joins the company, and cancel them instantly whenever one leaves. New debit cards are typically delivered within a week, activation is also quick, and virtual cards are created instantly. 

Plus, your teams never have to share cards amongst themselves, so the chances of losing them is far lower.

Perfect for travelling employees

Business travel always leads to expenses for employees. Some pay out of pocket and rely on expense reports, while a lucky few have their own company credit card. Prepaid cards let companies give travel money to teams in a safe, trackable manner. 

Give your teams Mastercard or Visa debit cards, accepted worldwide. They no longer have to use their own money for corporate expenses, and the finance team can rest easy, knowing that every purchase is approved and accounted for. 

A connected mobile app

Every employee gets their own debit card, and a mobile app to help manage it. They can block or freeze their card, create a new PIN (or check the one they have), request top-ups for larger purchases, and track their spend against the team budget. 

Team members can also submit receipts via the mobile app, simply by taking a photo. Lost receipts are one of the biggest issues with expense management, and this simple mobile app solves the problem instantly. 

Benefits for finance teams

More control over all spending

You may worry that giving every employee a company card will turn expenses into the Wild West. But it's exactly the opposite. Finance teams get more granular information and real-time spend data, which is impossible with traditional credit cards. 

Prepaid debit cards (and spend management software) show you all transactions in real time. You don't have to wait to check the account balance at the end of the month - track spending as you go.

Higher receipt collection rates

Collecting receipts is one of the worst part of a finance team's job. The last day of the month can feel like climbing mount paperwork. And traditional credit cards don't make the process any easier. 

Debit card software (and the app) lets employees submit receipts on the spot via their mobile phones. Plus companies can set rules about the number of late receipts permitted, and the amount of time allowed before a receipt is considered "late." This, plus gentle nudge reminders, ensures that receipts arrive on time, in proper order. 

Better company budgeting

Tracking budgets in real time is always challenging. But waiting for card statements and expenses to trickle in leaves you guessing. 

Employee debit cards give you a complete overview of spending the moment it occurs. You can monitor costs by employee, team, or department, and you always know exactly who has spent what in real time. All without moving an inch or leaving your desk.

Benefits for employees

Avoid out-of-pocket spending

Most companies use expense reports because not every employee can have a corporate card. But you can easily offer them Mastercard or Visa debit cards to spend safely within carefully set rules.

Employees love this because they never have to spend their own money on work purchases. They feel trusted, valued, and empowered to do their best work.

Follow rules easily

Most employees want to follow the company expense policy. The problem is that they're busy, and learning the rules takes time and practice. 

Employee debit cards have the rules built in, so everyone stays on policy by default. There are no steps to learn or routines to follow. The built-in rules keep them on-policy, so they can relax.

This helps teams work confidently and quickly, without needing extra guidance.

Eliminate expense admin

Some business teams dedicate Friday afternoons (and evenings) to claiming expenses. Which is a waste of time for everyone, and costs the company precious resources. It's no fun for anyone. 

Because debit cards remove the need for most expense claims, your teams get their Fridays back. And since they upload receipts the moment they spend, there's no expense admin at the end of the month. They can focus on closing deals and executing projects.

Get the perfect prepaid card for your business

Give your finance team the right tools to manage spending, with Spendesk cards.

Define individual budgets on debit cards

Re-imagine the on-the-go spending experience with smart debit cards.

Last update: August 13, 2021