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Can a Startup CEO use the Company Credit Card for a Big Personal Purchase if the CEO will Reimburse the Company?

Vanessa Kruze Kruze Consulting

Vanessa Kruze

CEO and Founder of Kruze Consulting

No. Don’t commingle personal funds and credit cards with the startup’s credit cards and accounts. Even if you are going to miss out on points or convenience, it’s a bad idea to commingle.

This is a thing that the IRS would look at if they ever audit your startup. The IRS really cares about money that goes from the corporation to the founders/owners/executives - they want to make sure the Treasury is getting their piece of the action, if you will. So you don’t want money moving back and forth and getting mixed up between a personal and business expense.

Secondly, if you are like our clients, you are going to raise capital from outside investors. Professional investors won’t want your personal expenses mixed in with the company’s expenses. 

It will also make accounting a lot harder. And heaven forbid something looks off to one of your venture capital investors; you don’t want anyone to ever doubt that you are doing the right thing for the startup’s finances. Even if you are not doing anything odd, introducing doubt is a bad idea. Remember that as CEO, you are a fiduciary for your investors’ capital and the business. Don’t put the business at risk.

As we mentioned, there are now a lot of great tools to help you manage your startup’s finances - including some tech-forward (and tech company friendly) credit card companies like Brex and Ramp. These tools give CEOs and VPs of Finance a lot more control over who uses the corporate card for what expenses. Plus, they have startup-focused points. Plus, the founder does NOT have to take on personal liability for the company’s card balance. 

So the days of a Delaware C-Corp that has raised professional funding using a founder’s personal card are basically over. Don’t mix your company’s expenses with your own; don’t get an old-school card that puts the liability onto you. 

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