Electric Co-op Enjoys Easy Access To Account, Improved Expense Control With New Commercial Card From CoBank

The mere thought of switching from one commercial card to another to better track and manage the purchases and travel-related expenditures of co-op leaders didn’t really excite accountant Tyler Weldon all that much. At least not at first.

“In my experience, when you’re changing from one commercial card to another, the transition can typically be hard for everyone involved,” said Weldon, Accounting Supervisor with the Arizona-based Mohave Electric Cooperative (MEC).

Mohave Electric Cooperative sign
Mohave Electric of Bullhead City, AZ, began using CoBank’s new commercial card in early 2021 to manage T&E expenses. The co-op, headquartered approximately 90 miles south of Las Vegas, NV, provides its members with electricity over some 1,512 miles of energized line, with a service area stretching across three Arizona counties. Mohave, whose heritage dates back more than seven decades, supplies safe, reliable, reasonably priced electricity, and strives to provide excellent customer service.

Any apprehension about adopting CoBank’s new commercial card disappeared last January, she said, once MEC participated in a virtual training session with CoBank representatives. Her team quickly learned how simple the card was to use in managing Travel & Entertainment (T&E) expenditures and how the transition could save time for the staff and translate into cost savings as well.

“Staff shopped around for commercial card solutions, but we’re so glad MEC chose the new card from CoBank,” said Karin Shelton, MEC Project Accountant. “We really like the experience and working with the CoBank team. It’s so much easier to track purchases, and card maintenance is definitely easier. When a card needs to be activated or deactivated, we don’t even need to call in - it’s done completely and quickly online.

“Perhaps most important,” she said, “was the upfront education CoBank gave us on how to navigate their website, which made our conversion to the new card platform seamless. Since then, in the rare instance we’ve had an issue, it’s been immediately addressed.”

CoBank commercial card
Using the CoBank Commercial Card primarily for T&E expenses, Mohave enjoys the comparative ease of access via ActivePay® for card administration and reporting. Card spending details are uploaded to their National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) accounting system, a platform that is used by many electric distribution cooperatives. ActivePay supports the ability to add post-charge accounting and tracking details for inclusion in export files.

In years past, Mohave accountants could spend a minimum of four hours per month to reconcile managers’ purchasing and travel-related expenses. Now that the co-op uses the CoBank card, reconciliation is easier to manage so that the same process only takes one hour a month at the most, Shelton added.

“Tracking all of the purchasing data and keeping it updated used to be a bit cumbersome as a once-a-month exercise for our accountants,” she said. “Now we can access the same information anytime we want. Accessing the data is a snap… we can have it all within three minutes. That instant access makes a big difference.”

Mohave is the latest in the growing list of cooperatives that use CoBank’s new commercial card to maximize efficiencies. By incorporating industry-leading technology into the payment mix, the card can improve co-op spend management, minimize fraud risk, and reduce administrative costs. Among the card’s benefits:

  • Increased cash flow – 22 days additional float on average
  • Reduced costs – card transactions have no initiation cost
  • Rebate with minimum annual spend of $250,000
  • Enhanced payment detail vs. addenda records
  • Ability for administrators to easily activate and deactivate cards
  • Easy access to dispute external fraudulent charges

For more information about adopting CoBank’s new commercial card as an efficient solution to your co-op’s purchasing and travel-related expenses, contact your relationship manager or call 800-542-8072.