A new service from MasterCard is intended to help unify the convenience and savings benefits of online credit card affiliate shopping networks, concierge services, and online management in one succinct package.
The MasterCard Business Network, still currently in beta, is designed to improve efficiency for small businesses in the United States.
It is slated for a full launch in the next few weeks, with better integration and more updates to functionality soon. Basically, the network offers three areas of benefits: purchases, travel and dining, and auxiliary expenses.
As you might expect, the purchase module of the MasterCard Business Network has received the most exposure. This is the aspect of the service that gives all business owners within the network discounts on more than 650,000 products. These products include everything from office supplies to construction materials to electronics, so it should be quite easy to take complete advantage of the service.
Of course, in order to know for sure whether or not the service provides a valuable savings over other online networks, you will have to look closer. Thus, here are three items from popular shopping categories with price comparisons between Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, and the MasterCard Business Network. As you will quickly determine, MasterCard’s new system is not necessarily always the best value.
- Dell Lattitude E6520 Notebook: $977.60 at MasterCard Business Network vs $785.00 at Amazon.com and $940.00 at NewEgg.com
- Post-It 3×3” Pop-Up Notes, Ultra Collection, 100 sheets per pad multipack: $16.57 vs $10.50 vs N/A (not available at NewEgg.com but Staples sells it for $18.99)
- Porter-Cable PC700D ½” Corded Drill: $74.65 vs $66.98 vs $78.94
Fortunately for MasterCard, their business network also offers exclusive discounts on travel and dining experiences, with all accounting needs as well. This allows business owners who carry a MasterCard to get help with planning business trip itineraries, booking flights, reserving hotel rooms and tables at local restaurants, and, perhaps at best, ensuring that employees who utilize the company card follow travel policies. Obviously, this could come in quite handy.
Furthermore, the expense module of the program is two-tiered, offering both a basic and an upgraded version. The upgrade allows for complete expense reporting, importing of transaction data to form business reports, and the ability to scan and upload receipts for easier record keeping and year-end reporting.
Michael Germanovsky, the editor-in-chief at Credit-Land speaks to the services that MasterCard already provides to their customers, with special reference to their travel assistance, travel protection, auto rental and insurance, and concierge services. He says,
The travel planning and entertainment infrastructure that MasterCard has built over the years allows them to deliver an excellent level of service, when it comes to planning and organizing good times for cardholders.
MasterCard Worldwide’s Ed Glassman, who is group executive with MasterCard’s global commercial products group says that their new network will better assist business owners when they need to purchase much needed supplies, book travel reservations, entertain their clients, or simply to organize their finances. “Through one, integrated site,” Glassman says,
the MasterCard Business Network is designed to help them grow by delivering some of the critical infrastructure capabilities that can help them save time and money.
What is, perhaps, most interesting is that MasterCard is not necessarily doing anything new, as the “business network” concept is already in use with other credit card companies. Furhtermore, Germanovsky persists that he is not impressed with the prices they offer, especially when you consider that MasterCard is not the only credit card company offering such services.
He does affirm that MasterCard offers better prices on office supplies when compared with “big-box” stores like Staples, but they are not keeping pace with online retailers like Amazon.com.
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