For some corporate trekkers, travel expenses are taking a toll on their personal bottom line.

That’s the takeaway from a recent study by human resources provider TriNet. Its survey of 1,000 business travelers found that 53% said they had not sought reimbursement for a business expense because they didn’t want to deal with the expense report. More than half – 36% – aid they had made that decision numerous times.

“I’d say for the average, honest employee, they’re losing money on their expense reports,” said Dan Fritcher, division chief technology officer for TriNet Cloud.

Waiting for reimbursements to land in their bank accounts is putting some workers in a potentially precarious position. Among those polled, 60% said they’d experienced problems paying a personal expense because they were waiting for their company to pay them back for a business-related item.

“Let’s say I have a $5,000 credit limit, and I’ve got $2,600 in expenses on my personal credit card for work,” Fritcher explains. “Maybe I can’t pay a utility bill or something along those lines because my card is already maxed out with work expenses.”

Among those polled, the longest wait to get paid back by the company averaged five weeks, many days longer than the usual 30-day credit card billing cycle. And the heftiest tab workers had to bear before getting reimbursed averaged $2,604.

Even small bills can add up. USA TODAY Road Warrior Bill Terry, who contracts services to prisons and maintains homes in Tampa and Phoenix, says that he personally absorbs about $100 a year in business expenses. “Tips, fees, tolls are sometimes too much of a hassle to submit,” he explains. “We have to have receipts no matter how small the amount.”

Some business trekkers will even forgo attending an off-site gathering where they could hone their professional skills. Among survey respondents, 53% had decided to take a pass on such an event because of concerns about having to carry a credit card balance after paying for travel or conference registration.

A slow payment turnaround by a company is particularly tough on workers who don’t have a corporate credit card, or prefer using their personal card to accumulate loyalty points and other perks, Fritcher says.

“When you do have a corporate card, you still have to turn in the expense reports,” he says, “but the employer is carrying the burden of . . . the balance.”

Fritcher says that equipping employees with certain tools can expedite the submission of expenses. TriNet, for instance, utilizes a mobile app that allows employees to snap a photo of receipts as they’re traveling, “so your expense report can be just about done as the expense is occurring. You just have to finalize it and submit it at the end of the trip,” he says.

Steve Alhart, a broadcasting maintenance engineer who lives in Mills River, N.C., says that his company’s use of technology has made the expense process painless.

“My employer uses the ConCur app which has eliminated the need to (ship) receipts and paper documents to world (headquarters) for processing,” says Alhart, another member of USA TODAY’s frequent traveler panel.

And sometimes, the expense process would be less onerous if the employee remembered to get certain expenditures approved ahead of time.

USA TODAY Road Warrior Louis Leclerc, a senior director in IT consulting, who lives in Smyrna Ga., once had to pay about $400 out of pocket.

“The expense was for a team dinner which had not been pre-approved,” he says, noting that if he had gotten it authorized beforehand, the company very likely would have paid. “After a couple of iterations to get approval post-event, I gave up.”

Source: USA Today