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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Learning the ISO lingo


GS Online: 4.2 million and climbing ...

MWAA 2007: Security, depth and rock-and-roll

VeriFone corners NYC taxi business

Who's minding the small-business store, Visa wants to know

TMS, AMS settle their grudge

Congress grills warring parties on interchange


David E. Hanlin Jr.

Dark cloud shrouds ATM ISOs in Sunshine State

Missy Baxter

Prepaid cards: An obsolescent evolution?


On queue: Self-service card payments come of age

Paul Rasori

Breached security: The buck stops where?

Grant Drummond


Street SmartsSM:
Demand defrays doubts about costly cash advance

Dee Karawadra
Impact PaySystem

Perfect storm of acquirer liability averted

Theodore F. Monroe and Bradley Cebeci
Attorneys at Law

Size up your sales pitch

Marcelo Paladini
Cynergy Data

P-cards: The payoff is palpable

Aaron Bills
3Delta Systems Inc.

Small shops under the PCI gun

Michael Petitti

Company Profile

Money Movers of America Inc.

New Products

It's hues to you

POS Supply Solutions Inc.
Colored paper rolls

Outsource the chargeback confusion

ChargebackAudit LLC
Chargeback Dispute Management System


You are the sunshine of your life



Industry Update

Resource Guide


A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 13, 2007  •  Issue 07:08:01

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P-cards: The payoff is palpable

By Aaron Bills

Purchase cards, also known as p-cards and corporate credit cards, are used by buying organizations to streamline purchasing and payment procedures for low-value transactions. They often entail guidelines and spending limits for employees who use them.

The p-card market has seen tremendous growth in recent years. According to a study by Aberdeen Group, a key reason is that p-cards lower corporate costs by about $20 per transaction. This amounts to a 75% reduction compared to the traditional procurement process, which typically involves purchase orders and multiple levels of bureaucratic approvals.

However, for p-cards to be used by more businesses, they must be accepted and processed by more merchant suppliers. That's where you come in, as ISOs and merchant level salespeople. This article answers basic questions about the use of p-cards to help you better understand the p-card context, as well as provide strategies for building a base of business-to-business (B2B) merchants who accept p-cards.

Who is using p-cards?

P-card use is widespread, even if it is not highly visible. Most midsize and larger corporations have p-card programs in place. Universities and utility groups also use them. P-card systems are offered by many commercial banks and other financial institutions.

Annual U.S. p-card spending grew from $80 billion to $110 billion between 2003 and 2005. Recent studies suggest this volume would increase eightfold if all B2B transactions below $2,500 were paid with p-cards. This is a vibrant, growing arena, and p-card users need a strong, capable merchant base.

How do p-cards work?

P-cards may be used in a variety of ways. But for routine purchases, they are issued to authorized cardholders, enabling them to place orders and make payments directly and efficiently on behalf of a buying organization. In other cases, p-cards are used in conjunction with purchase orders and e-procurement systems to make large payments. As transaction values increase, so does the need to have accurate and detailed information about purchases.

Because of this and the need for financial accountability, p-card users often require that merchants provide them with level 3 data, the highest level of transaction detail. Per the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals ( the levels include:

Payment detail is delivered electronically to the buying organization's p-card reporting system, where it can be reviewed daily and automatically entered into the company's accounting and finance systems.

What about p-cards and interchange?

P-card transactions have tiered interchange rates and are priced differently than standard consumer and business card transactions. MasterCard Worldwide and Visa U.S.A. have created special interchange rates to encourage supplier participation in p-card programs. This reduces merchant transaction costs if level 3 line-item detail information accompanies financial settlements.

This is the key to obtaining the best interchange rates. You can bring substantial value to merchants by helping them qualify for lower-cost level 3 rates. This is even more important if the transaction sizes are large. Why should merchants care about p-cards? Merchants who accept p-cards benefit in the following ways:

What's the best way to approach p-card sales?

Proposing the right processing solution begins with determining what a given merchant's requirements are. Merchant processing parameters may be influenced by:

Aaron Bills is Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of 3Delta Systems Inc. E-mail him at or visit , for more information on secure data storage solutions.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | Simpay | USAePay | Impact Paysystems | Board Studios