The Wallet Size Multi-Tool for Business

If you admire gadgets or clever design, then you will most likely have one of those nifty little tools’ which have dozens of attachments enabling you to; cut, bend, clamp, squash, saw or sew. They come in a range of colours and sizes, from pink micro versions to hang off your keys to the bulkier silver numbers designed for a holster on your belt….but….have you ever considered the value of the super thin plastic version?

Perhaps one of the smartest (and most common) multi-tools on the market for business is the 2.8mm thick plastic credit card you are carrying around in your purse or wallet.

Like its hardware equivalent, the credit card is small, easy to carry and able to complete a multitude of different tasks in the moment. The ability to complete these tasks as and when you need to, enables significant efficiency savings.

So with efficiency and convenience top of mind, check out the following list of "attachments" to challenge whether you are getting the most out of your card.

- the Portal - providing simple semi-secure access to your nominated accounts and allowing the on-demand withdrawal of cash globally.

- the Supplement - giving access to a line of credit for short to medium term use to supplement your working capital cycle. Credit cards are marketed to the small business market as a viable replacement for overdrafts and some small loans.

- the Replacement - the all currency, all weather, hard wearing, pin secured alternative to having to carry cash. The physical characteristics of the card compared to cash are fantastic, as is the convenience of always having enough cash with you. 

- the Insulator - historically when businesses took cheques for payment, there was always the question whether the cheque would bounce. When card transactions are processed correctly, risks of fraud or getting stuck with a bad debt are dramatically reduced.

- the Importer - facilities are available which enable you to use your cards credit limit to undertake overseas imports - at a business level! For those small businesses or infrequent importers, this can avoid having the need for a specific finance line which chews up finite property or business security. 

- the Securer - if you lose cash whilst travelling, file a police report and just move on - as the chances of having it found or replaced are one in a million. Lose a credit card - pick up the phone to the card issuer - the card is stopped, arrangements are made for a temporary card (especially helpful if you are overseas) and you have the ability to get on with things with only minor inconvenience.

- the Governor - enabling (with the correct business card) restricted and tracked spending for petty cash transactions. Some cards allow blocks to be put on the account which only enable purchases through certain merchants (fuel, stationery - but not hospitality or cash advances etc) and then, only up to prescribed expenditure limits. Output reporting is to the desktop, providing all manner of oversight and governance.

- the Virtual - enabling the virtual presence to complete a currency transaction anywhere in the world. The ability to utilize a common medium for the payment of goods has been around for a long time, starting with phone/mail order transactions, but these days its predominantly via the web. Language (mostly) and currency are no longer barriers for these transactions, with the clever cards able to cope with the currency conversions seamlessly.

- the Prepaid - covering those who want an isolated card for web transactions, or to give to a son/daughter for "emergencies", these cards provide a popular option. Purchased over the counter and operating much like a phone prepaid card, they can be recharged and used like any other credit card.

- the Generator - whilst I don't believe you get anything for "free", I acknowledge that some loyalty schemes can be good to have and can provide some nice extras along the way. So long as you buy wisely in the first instance, you can pick up some nice additional benefits as you spend.

- the Insurer - insurance protection can attach with some cards to provide cover for items being purchased. Whilst you should always check the policy fine print, this can be a quick and easy way of ensuring coverage for those "on the go" purchase items.

- the Bond - used for small hire requirements and hotel accounts, the "imprint" (mostly virtual these days), means that you can use equipment or have access to facilities, without having to pay down a cash bond. If you wreck it, then naturally you will pay for it, but for the 98% who don't then, you never need to "fund" the bond. 

As with any finance facility, the credit card multi tool is just that, a business tool. Used correctly you can draw some great benefit, but equally - you need to maintain control. It is important to review the features of your card to make sure that it will deliver what you need. Check the terms and conditions carefully to avoid surprises and fee shock along the way.

Your financial multi tool is a very versatile and hard wearing business tool, so work it hard and reap the benefits. As the old marketing line goes, "I never leave home without it".