According to a Confederation of British Industry report, 34% of international business travellers said they are now spending the same amount of time abroad as before the pandemic, while a survey of 600 travel managers by the Global Business Travel Association reported that 78% expected their companies to go on more business trips in 2023 than the year before.
As a result, more employees will be heading abroad than for a few years, and with the way workforces have changed over that time, they may not be used to paying for products and services in foreign currency, or aware of how to claim expenses accurately when they incurred in a different country.
In this article, we look at some of the areas to look at so you control costs, don’t overpay and can make secure payments. Here are our top tips:
Exchange rate fluctuations can cost your business. By the time employees get around to making a claim, exchange rates can shift and the cost to your business can increase, because they are calculating the cost in sterling at a different time.
Then there’s Dynamic Currency Conversion, where the merchant offers to process a card payment in either GBP or in the local currency. If you opt for GBP, the exchange rate will be set by the merchant and their provider, which can mean less favourable rates.
With Allstar Plus, the transaction is paid at the existing rate at the point of purchase, and set by Visa, rather than a local merchant whose rate could be far higher, with exchange rates being more transparent for the business and employee.
Using cash to pay abroad is fraught with issues. Not only are fees usually charged for converting currency, and for taking cash out of a local ATM abroad (which also often come with less advantageous exchange rates too), you’re also likely to end up with notes and coins floating around that have to be accounted for, while the receipt trail isn’t always as clear with cash as it is with cards.
By using a company credit card, you can ensure fees are kept to a minimum and you don’t need to use cash for payments.
Getting and keeping receipts while on foreign travel is not always easy, especially if employees then have to try and work out at a later date what they are for. When it’s all in a foreign language, different currency and laid out in alternative ways, it’s not always straight-forward to work out what the receipt was for. This can lead to confusion when reclaiming expenses.
It's easier for employees to upload images receipts through apps on their phone, such as through, which save them having to bring lots of bits of paper home, and then try to make sense of it all. Not only does it automatically match with the transaction, but it also ensures any potential VAT could be reclaimed too.
Employees paying at home are used to processes. They understand better what the price of things are, and how readers and card machines work. But when they’re abroad, this isn’t always as clear cut: purchases, prices or currency rates can be displayed in other ways, and the way in which you pay for items can change too.
In order to put their, and your, minds at rest that payments are being processed in the right way, and that there is recourse should something subsequently go awry, it’s best to use a card within an international payment network and with clear reporting.
When abroad, it can seem much more difficult to keep in touch with employees, and manage what they’re up to, and what they are spending. The concern is that left unchecked, they could be overspending, or buying the wrong things.
Online portals that show spend in real-time and in-built card controls for each user can ensure you have control and oversight, whether your employees are in Birmingham or Berlin.
If your employees drive abroad, you need to be sure they have a fuel card that helps them wherever they are. In the UK, some businesses may have chosen a particular provider because the network here suits their operational purposes, but that might not be the case when they drive in other countries.
Instead, it pays to be using a card that has wide acceptance from a trusted issuer such as Visa, which makes journeys less stressful, transactions will be reported back, as well as converted at a transparent and competitive exchange rate.
Accommodation is often a major expense with foreign travel and so managing booking and costs is important.
Allstar’s partnership with Roomex addresses these issues because it brings hotel bookings and payments into one platform, as well as offering more than 1.2 million hotels from 35 sources.
That means it can help employees to find the right type of accommodation at the right price, while employers can implement their own policies and controls, as well as getting spend analytics and booking histories.
All travel purchases such as food, parking and WIFI made through Roomex can be put on the Allstar Plus card at the point of booking, keeping control over spending.
Travel can be an amazing experience, but it can also be stressful. That’s especially the case if employees are having to pay their own way for flights, hotels, transport, food and drink, and then claim it later.
Not only might they be having to dip into savings to find it, but then they have the pressure of working out at a later date what to reclaim, and trying to work that out based on exchange rates.
As we’ve said earlier, exchange rates move quite a bit, and so if they’re not aware of the rate at the point of purchase, it could result in them losing out if they use a different rate.
All of this could add to their stress, both mentally and financially, and make foreign business travel a challenge and a chore, rather than an exciting opportunity.
Monitor business expenditure and get detailed insight on costs with our online account management tool, Allstar Online.
Up to 44 days interest free**
Accepted worldwide wherever you see the Visa symbol
Security and anti-fraud controls to provide seamless and secure e-commerce.
Control spend type by card such as access to hotels, e-commerce and travel.
Create bespoke spend reports on every card.
*ExpenseIn is a separate product that can be added to support your Allstar Plus or Expense account. Applications are made directly with ExpenseIn and are subject to status.
**Subject to status and a full credit check. To be eligible for Allstar Plus, your company must be incorporated (e.g. a limited company)