Why do businesses need a corporate payment card? Corporate cards make it easy to pay for things such as travel and dining without using our personal credit card, of course.
And startups have unique needs when it comes to their corporate cards. Because they don’t have significant credit histories, recently funded companies need their spending limits to be based on something else. Ramp and Brex are widely considered to be two of the best cards for startups because they analyze a startup’s funding, performance, and bank balance to determine the organization’s credit limit.
Here at Quolum, we’re very familiar with both cards and their related services because we’re a fintech startup ourselves. We even used one of these two options when we were newly funded. This makes us uniquely qualified to share thoughts on Brex and Ramp, make some critical comparisons, and provide insights about how leaders at any startup can select the appropriate card for their situation.
Underlying Philosophies of Brex vs. Ramp
Brex was founded in 2017 by Henrique Dubugrs and Pedro Franceschi, Brazilian entrepreneurs in the online payments space. They recognized how difficult it was for startups to get corporate expense cards because they don’t usually have established credit histories. Brex solved this problem by providing credit cards for startups based on funding and bank account balances. Through an API, Brex can connect with a bank to check the balance behind the scenes on an ongoing basis.
Ramp was founded in 2019 by Eric Glyman, Karim Atiyeh, and Gene Lee. They basically borrowed the playbook of Brex, but with some key changes. They chose to focus on stellar customer service, hoping to differentiate themselves in an area in which Brex had experienced some challenges. The user interface is also slightly better, and Ramp started to add features like vendor management.
Both of the two cards are basically siblings of each other, except that the older sibling can do more (in this case, Brex provides other business banking capabilities). Both companies have done a good job with integrations, and Brex eventually pivoted to become more like a full financial institution. This shift of focus away from the card program at Brex has helped Ramp gain ground in recent years, even as the young startup follows in the footsteps of its older sibling.
Ramp vs. Brex: Feature Comparison
We use this sibling analogy because the cards from these two companies share many similar features. Both companies are built specifically to provide credit cards for funded startups, offering generous spending limits with no personal guarantee required.
Both credit cards make it simple to integrate with and sync to other tools, simplifying the bookkeeping process. The similarities are visible across several key features, with only a few differences that might drive a startup toward one option or the other.
|Price||Brex Premium costs $49 per month with unlimited users||Free|
|Rewards||Tiered rewards system with emphasis on critical expense categories for startups||Simple 1.5% cashback for all purchases, no points program|
|Expensify Sync||Yes||Ramp replaces Expensify|
|Spending Controls||Spending limits and alerts on unusual spending||Extensive controls to manage spend across 40+ categories|
|Instant, Easy Signup||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile Expensing Workflow||Brex App||Simple flows via email and texting|
|Support||Live support via phone, chat, or email||Email-only, but generally well-reviewed by users|
|Virtual and Physical Cards||Yes||Yes|
|Additional Business Banking Functions||Yes||No|
Price and Rewards
Brex Premium costs $49 per month with unlimited users after the 30-day trial, while Ramp is always free. For most businesses, the yearly cost of just under $600 is not going to factor heavily into the decision. It can be hard to determine which rewards program is truly better, too. Brex offers some great partner perks like AWS credits, QuickBooks discounts, and higher rewards points on categories that matter to startups (travel, rideshare, restaurants, etc.). Ramp’s rewards program is a lot easier to understand: 1.5% cashback on all purchases, with no exceptions.
Netsuite and Quickbooks Integrations
Both of these options integrate easily with Netsuite and Quickbooks.
Brex allows Expensify to pull transactions in automatically, reducing the manual effort required. Unfortunately, though, Brex users will still have to upload receipts through the Expensify app or website, so there is still some work required. Ramp handles expense reports internally, so it completely eliminates the need to use Expensify, touting itself as a better alternative.
Signup and Support
Both of these options make it easy to sign up within minutes. From there, Ramp offers support via email only. Brex offers support via phone, chat, or email, which gives users more options for immediate responses. Even so, Ramp has a reputation for offering more attentive customer service.
Brex prides itself on offering an app because there is no Ramp app. Ramp prides itself on offering easy mobile expensing via email and text, which eliminates the need to use an app. The truth is that mobile expense reporting is relatively easy no matter which you choose, and most employees will be able to get used to it quickly.
Expense Card Access
Brex and Ramp both offer virtual cards as well as their physical cards. This makes it easy to make any and all types of purchases. Neither one allows businesses to carry a balance, and the card’s spending limit is determined by bank account balance.
Business Banking Replacement
Ramp is focused exclusively on providing the card as well as some spending controls. Brex, on the other hand, also offers ACH, wire, check, and bill pay capabilities. Even though Brex does offer the ability to accept deposits, it is not actually a bank. The company partners with FDIC-insured banks to store uninvested cash deposits, offering some potential as an all-in-one business finance account.
Comparing Brex and Ramp Features
Even after a head-to-head comparison of the key features, there isn’t much to separate these companies. These two fintech companies are lookalikes in many ways, but the choice might come down to how the card is used as opposed to any specific feature.
When to Use Brex vs. Ramp
One of the biggest benefits of Ramp is that the company addresses some common issues with other expense cards. The newer company has started to roll out thoughtful vendor management features (though they still need some refinement to catch up to SaaS management tools and other tracking software).
Thanks to more sophisticated spending controls, Ramp credit cards might be better at handling international travel and related situations. It would be hard to say this with complete certainty, though, because the company has grown so much in the last two years while travel was restricted. It simply hasn’t been tested by many instances of real-world, travel-related fraud.
Brex, on the other hand, is much more established and has a more mature product. It can even serve as a replacement for a business bank account, making it a more comprehensive solution for multiple aspects of business banking. The company bills itself as an all-in-one account that simplifies business finances by combining everything into a single dashboard.
Brex vs Ramp: Best Card for Startups
While both of these companies have their strengths and weaknesses, both are strong options for startups that need cards for all types of purchases (both online and physical). The best card for startups ultimately depends on the specific situation, but the simplest way to look at it is this:
If you need a full bank, go get Brex. If you just need a card, get Ramp.
These are two clear leaders as far as general expense cards for startups, and many companies are also starting to see the benefits of designated cards for specific purposes.
Managing SaaS Spend at Startups
While many credit card companies continue to focus on rewards programs above all else, innovators in the space are addressing more modern needs. Brex and Ramp both serve a valuable purpose for startups that need general expense cards. For the SaaS management piece of the puzzle, Quolum offers a more customized solution.
As the world’s leading expense card designed specifically for SaaS purchases and renewals, Quolum Cards are purpose-built to manage recurring expenses, track consumption, and control spending. With pre-defined spend control rules for each card and the entire organization, these cards are only to be used at white-listed SaaS vendors. Consolidated billing gives business leaders access to superior reporting, tighter spending controls, and easy SaaS cancellation.
The Quolum SaaS card is built around and supported by the Quolum Saas management tool to include the most vital features for SaaS expense management. To learn more about how the Quolum card regulates SaaS spending and monitors consumption (or to get free access), contact us online.