There’s no doubt that running a small business comes with a multitude of expenses. When you are required to travel to conduct business, expenses can balloon if not properly managed. Without proper management, such expenses can detrimentally affect your business. This guide gives six quick-saving tips for you to keep in mind when traveling for business.
Tip 1 – Create and stick to a travel policy
Prior to diving into other tips, it is vital that you set a travel policy for your small business. A good travel policy should outline the business travel guidelines for your employees (and you!) to follow. This should also list amounts for certain expenses, such as accommodations and dining.
Tip 2 – Be smart when booking flights
As the adage goes, the early businessman catches the cheaper flight. When considering business travel expenses, airfare is generally one of the larger costs. However, by being a bit savvy, a small business owner can catch a flight for a steal. While airfare is prone to fluctuation at any time, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when trying to book a cheap flight:
- Book your flight 50 days (circa seven weeks) in advance.
- The best time to buy airline tickets for domestic flights is usually Tuesdays at around 3 pm EST.
- The cheapest days to fly for domestic are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
- The cheapest flights are usually early morning flights.
Tip 3 – Travel light
Cut your travel expenses by traveling with just a carry-on bag. If your small business requires frequent travel, traveling with just a carry on bag can lead to substantial savings over time.
Not only will this save your business money, but this can also save you ample time and stress, by cutting the need to check in a bag and collect it post-flight. Ultimately, this streamlines airport travel and removes any potential travel hiccups such as misplaced bags.
Tip 4 – Rethink your accommodation
Accommodation is another large cost associated with business travel. Travel expenses can add up drastically when employees need to travel multiple time per year, especially when there is a group traveling.
There are numerous ways to rethink and save upon accommodation costs. Multi-room apartments, or even whole houses, can be rented on apps such as Airbnb for a fraction of the price of decent hotels.
However, if you’re keen on staying in hotels, a hotel rewards card can save you a significant sum on your travel costs. In most cases, hotel credit cards are branded and relate to a specific chain (e.g., Hilton). If you have a preference for a specific chain of hotels and frequently stay at this chain, a hotel credit card can bring you huge value through rewards and benefits.
Tip 5 – Take advantage of travel reward credit cards
On the topic of credit card rewards and bonuses, travel rewards cards can offer substantial value and savings for a traveling small business owner. Travel rewards credit cards come in numerous types including:
- General travel credit cards – The benefits and rewards associated with these cards are usually general rather than centered on a specific brand, such as a hotel or airline company. Rewards include points or miles on travel costs such as accommodation, airfare, and dining. Travel credit card benefits such as travel-related insurances, expedited security screening, and lounge access can all make business travel much less stressful. If you are a small business owner who does not stick with one hotel or airline, a general travel card can be a fantastic addition to your wallet.
- Airline credit cards – Airline cards are usually branded, meaning they confer rewards and benefits for a specific airline, such as Delta. If you are a small business owner who is willing to travel with a specific airline, it is worth looking into an airline credit card.
- Hotel credit cards – As previously mentioned, hotel cards are often branded, giving the cardholder rewards and benefits for a specific hotel chain. The rewards and benefits on such cards can be excellent, so if you are someone who frequently stays with a well-known hotel chain, it could be worth researching a hotel credit card.
The right travel credit card can be a huge boon to a traveling small business owner. When choosing a travel rewards card, match your most common expenses and choose a card that rewards you for them. Also, compare the benefits of different travel credit cards and ask yourself what benefits would bring your small business the most value.
Tip 6 – Take advantage of tax deductions for travel expenses
You can deduct certain business travel costs from your taxes as business expenses. Deductible travel expenses include all manner of transportation expenses, dining expenses (within reason), lodging, and equipment rentals.
Note that there are certain limitations to what you can deduct. For example, if you bring family members on a business trip, these expenses do not qualify. Always remember to keep your receipts for travel expenses also, as this will make things far easier when it’s time to file your taxes.
Business travel can be costly. However, following these six tips can help you and your small business save money. When planning your next business excursion, plan accordingly and keep these tips in mind to keep money flowing in the right direction.
Oliver Browne is a Financial Industry Analyst at Credit Card Insider. Credit Card Insider’s goal is to provide educational information on various personal finance topics and help people make informed decisions around credit. With an educational background in Law and Business, Oliver Browne writes about a range of commercial topics including finance, business law, and small business development.
These views are made solely by the author.