As we approach the end of the year, medical offices get a whole new to-do list. Closing out the books, planning holiday parties, sending out cards, tax preparation and other seasonal tasks will join the important work of treating patients for the next two months.
Here’s one more essential item to add to the list: review your business credit card. It’s a lot less festive but a lot more profitable.
A business credit card is an essential business tool, allowing your practice to operate with confidence. When you have credit available, you can maintain operations in the face of pandemic lockdowns, revenue reductions or other things that can disrupt a healthy practice. You can also grow, buying new equipment and financing necessary expenditures.
But it is not a set-and-forget situation. Reviewing your card annually ensures that you are getting the best rates, maximizing cost savings and optimizing your power as a buyer every year. A card with the right features can save your practice thousands of dollars next year, and all you have to do is a year-end checkup.
How to Evaluate Your Credit Card
Start by understanding the card you have, including the credit line, the interest rate and features such as discounts or cash back. Most of this is available by simply logging into your account, but you can call a service rep if you have questions. Perhaps more important, take note of how you use the card. How much do you spend annually? Do you pay the balance monthly? Get a thorough understanding of the role credit plays in the financial life of your practice.
Then, in the spirit of the season, go shopping. The goal is to see if you can find a card that will allow you to save money in the coming year through a combination of lower fees, higher discounts and better benefits. Avoid focusing solely on interest rates, especially if your practice pays its bill entirely each month. If you are not carrying a balance, you are free to shop for cards based on cost savings. Here are some other important items to look for:
- Low or No Fees. Fees erode value. If your credit card company is charging you to do things, it’s time to make a change. Look first at annual fees. Unlike personal cards, where fees are sometimes low enough to overlook, fees on physician cards can run to hundreds of dollars. If your current card charges an annual fee, replace it. The same is true for cards that charge for additional cards. If giving your office manager a card costs a few hundred dollars, find a new provider.
- Better Cash Back. Cash-back systems offer real, tangible savings. Look for the highest percentage you can find on medical practice expenses. For example, a company that can give you 5% is an excellent choice, even if it is only available by using select vendors. You can shift vendors to maximize your savings. Also, make sure the rewards are unlimited. A card that offers high, unlimited rewards on your most common purchases is a smart financing option.
- A Card for Doctors. A card designed for medical practices is more likely to offer relevant discounts. Medical cards often partner with medical vendors to provide savings on the supplies doctors use. For example, if you buy $2,000 in supplies each month and your new card offers you a 10% discount, that’s $200 a month—$2,400 a year—back in your pocket, for supplies you already buy.
- Relevant Benefits. Cards often offer a myriad of benefits and some can be extremely valuable to a medical practice. For example, a free membership to Amazon Business Prime can save money on shipping. A free membership to Costco Executive can save money on office supplies. Savings like this can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.
- Time-Saving Features. Modern credit cards are business tools that can help streamline practice management. Many integrate seamlessly with bank accounts and accounting software and offer other time-saving features. For example, a card that offers receipt matching with automatic reconciliation, can save hours of manual work for your staff or your accountant.
Of course, those are just the basics. There’s a great deal that a business credit card can do to help your practice save money next year. To learn more, read Nitra’s Financing Medical Practice Expenses guide. Then, do some shopping that will put money back in your pocket.
To learn what the Nitra Visa Business Card can do for your practice, tour our services or call (845) 443-7752 to consult with a Nitra specialist about your needs.