The pitfalls of having a company credit card

February 24, 2010 6:19:13 PM PST
Do you have a company credit card? If so, it could affect your family's finances for years to come. Company credit cards are not all alike, and more workers are finding that out the hard way.

Don Burns worked for a start-up in the valley for three years with no problems, but when it came time to really get going, he was left holding the bag.

"I began to hire people, we began to ramp up. Charged the credit card to the limit, buy the furniture, buy the computers, buy the projectors and basically everything we needed to move in here," he said. "So I was left holding this huge balance."

A statement from one of his cards says he owes $38,655. Months ago, the funding partners quit fully funding.

So if you carry a company credit card, like Don, do you need to worry?

"If you were just an authorized user on a company credit card you generally will not be responsible for any of that debt. If however if you had to get that card in your name or you are a joint user then that will be something you are responsible for," Joe Ridout from Consumer Action said.

In this economy it is something to start thinking about.

Mark Britton is CEO of the legal website

"We have a lot of people in our question and answer forum who say 'I have a credit card and it has my company's name on it, but now the credit company is coming after me,'" he said.

Many employees who think they are using their employer's credit card with their name on it are actually using their own credit card with the employer's name on it. And there's even a third option -- a card in your name but under the control of your employer.

"Even though it's in the customer's name, the company has the right to cancel it, the company has the right to take it away and that the credit card bank cannot report to the credit bureau on the consumer's personal credit," Gail Hillebrand from Consumers Union said.

If the employer stops paying, the credit card company can't report it to your credit bureau.

"The first thing that you need to think and you need to do is think back. When I got this credit card, who brought this credit card to me? Was this presented from the credit card company? That's often a red flag," Britton said.

Also check your credit report. If the card is listed there, you're on the hook.

Check with your personnel division, call the credit card company, but make sure you understand who is on the hook and if it's you, check up on your company's finances.