GE CONSUMER FINANCE'S Corporate Payment Services unit has added a third kind of credit card to the roster of payment solutions it markets as a way that companies can track and control meeting expenses.

For years, the Salt Lake City company has offered two fairly traditional credit products that allow meeting transactions to be tracked and, if desired, restricted to certain kinds of merchants or dollar amounts:

  • a high-limit, centrally billed MasterCard, typically geared to a full-time planner, that can handle dozens of transactions in a day without being blocked.

  • a Controlled Value Card, which works with a declining balance. Spending limits decrease as the card is used and do not refresh. These cards are typically used to manage a single event. The card limit can be refreshed for subsequent projects.

The new “card” is actually not a card at all. Called vPayment On-Demand, it's an online payment system that is intended for the nonprofessional meeting planner who doesn't justify a corporate credit card, but who can use the system to get meeting bills paid — and have them properly tracked as meeting expenses.

Here's how it works: An authorized user accesses the vPayment system via a secure Web site and requests an account number for a specific transaction, for a certain amount, in a certain time frame. The system returns a “card number” that offers a high level of control: If the merchant attempts to charge more than the amount allowed or attempts to charge to the account after the approved date, the transaction is declined. According to Michael O'Malley, marketing manager, GE Consumer Finance, the system was developed as a procurement tool back in 2001, and in the past year has taken on life in the meeting arena.