Why are prepaid expense cards becoming so popular in the construction industry?

Date: August 14, 2018
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The construction industry is ever-growing, with output increasing 2.9% from April to May this year, it is continuing the upwards trajectory since 2011. In 2016, 35% of the construction output was maintenance and repair, and month on month growth took this to 7.3% in May 2018 [1], with the industry needing to make up for lost revenue and time due to the exceptionally harsh winter.

New sites are booming throughout the UK, with builders registering plans to start over 160,000 new homes at the beginning of 2018 [2], the highest number since 2007, with the number of construction firms in the UK in excess of 296,000 as of 2015 [3]. With all of these new houses and building development, construction workers are commuting across the country and are often expected to pay for travel, and then claim back their expenses after they have finished. For expenses to qualify as “business” there are five criteria [4] that HMRC state must be met in order to be accepted:

  • The expense would have been incurred whoever was doing the job.
  • The expense was necessary to carry out the work.
  • The expense was incurred “in the performance of duties”.
  • The expense was incurred and paid.
  • The expense was “wholly and exclusively” for work.

For example, if a job is too far to commute each day, hotels can be arranged for overnight stays, but if they have been reserved or a deposit made via a company credit card, payment of the balance is required on arrival, it has to come out of the employee’s pocket. It is just not realistic for them to carry business credit cards, and companies are often reluctant to hand out cash. When staying overnight, employees require an allowance for sustenance, and again are often expected to pay for themselves and then claim back on their return to the office rather than use a company credit card or cash.

Universal Card offers a prepaid expense card which could be a solution to all of these challenges. We understand that companies don’t want to hand out credit cards to employees, it just isn’t practical but the prepaid card eliminates this problem. Our prepaid expense card is not linked to a bank account and can be loaded with an amount to suit you depending on your requirements, therefore there is no need to worry about overspending, and employees don’t need to worry about footing the bill themselves and waiting to be reimbursed. The cards offer the convenience of a credit or debit card whilst allowing you and your company to budget in advance the funds spent on the card.

Universal prepaid cards can be branded exclusively for your company and spent in over 36 million outlets globally, giving ultimate choice and flexibility as it can be spent anywhere that accepts MasterCard, giving you peace of mind that both your company and employee are taken care of.


[1] – https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/constructionindustry/bulletins/constructionoutputingreatbritain/may2018

[2] –  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-homes-new-numbers-high-construction-a8177061.html

[3] – https://www.statista.com/topics/3797/construction-industry-in-the-uk/

[4] – https://www.freeagent.com/guides/expenses/employees/