Skip to main content
Limit employee spending with Divvy merchant controls
Expense Management

Limit employee spending with Divvy merchant controls

10 min read


  • Divvy merchant controls use merchant category codes to allow you to limit the kind of purchases that employees can make. 
  • These merchant controls give you the ability to keep employees from spending company money in the categories you might want to avoid, such as gambling or bars.

Divvy cards make spend control easy to manage so that employees won’t spend more than they are supposed to or on things not in compliance with your expense policy. Now, with the addition of merchant controls, you can also make sure that the money they do spend won’t go to products and services in non-compliant spending categories.

In order to see how Divvy’s merchant controls work, it helps to understand merchant category codes. 

What are merchant category codes?

A merchant category code (MCC) is a four-digit code used by credit card companies to classify businesses. The code broadly describes the business category, not the individual purchase. For example, buying candy at a gas station might fall under a “fuel and gas” MCC, just because that is the MCC used for the business overall. 

Where to find a merchant category code

Looking for a specific code? Your credit card processor (such as Visa or Mastercard) knows the MCC for each business—you can reach out to them to find details. You could try searching their website, or even giving them a call at their customer service phone number. 

Merchant category code list

Below you’ll find some examples of common merchant categories and their corresponding codes as described by Visa

  • Advertising: 5964, 5965, 5966, 5967, 5968, 5969, 7311
  • Alcohol and bars: 5813, 5921
  • Books and newspapers: 2741, 5192, 5815, 5942, 5994
  • Cleaning supplies: 5169
  • Electronics: 5732, 5997, 7622, 7993 
  • Fuel and gas: 5172, 5541, 5542, 5552, 5983
  • Gambling: 7800, 7801, 7802, 7995
  • Jewelry: 5094, 5631, 5944, 7631
  • Landscaping: 0763, 0780, 5261
  • Office supplies: 5021, 5044, 5111, 5943
  • Parking: 7523
  • Pet: 0742, 5995
  • Political organizations: 8651
  • Restaurants: 5462, 5811, 5812, 5814
  • Taxi/ride share: 4121

Why is it important to know your MCC?

Business owners need to be familiar with MCCs so they know whether they can report some payments on their Form 1099-MISC. Also, some credit card companies use MCCs to determine transaction fees. 

In addition, MCCs can affect credit card rewards. For example, a credit card company might offer double points on restaurant spending. 

What are merchant controls?

Many business owners have employees that need to spend. They might purchase office supplies, go on a business trip, or pay for a business software subscription. But if employees spend company funds on personal expenses, tracking down that discrepancy and correcting it can take extra time and effort. 

That’s why Divvy’s merchant controls give you the ability to stop employees from spending company money in the categories of your choosing. 

Divvy’s proprietary merchant categories are created based on the most used Visa merchant category codes by our customers. By using a merchant category, we can make sure that the purchase is aligned with the kind of products and services you want employees to buy. 

You can enhance and customize the control of your budget by blocking or allowing entire merchant categories that are most aligned to that budget’s purpose. When an employee swipes their Divvy card at a merchant that is blocked based on merchant control rules you set, the transaction will be declined at the point-of-sale.

Choose categories for a budget

Here’s how it works: let’s say you have some employees that need Divvy funds to purchase cleaning supplies—and nothing else—for your company. Divvy allows you to not only set a specific budget for the approved amount, but also make sure they can only spend that budget on items in that category. 

If they try to spend their budget at a restaurant, or any category other than cleaning supplies, their Divvy card will be automatically declined. 

Or block certain categories 

Alternatively, you could choose to just select a few categories that a given budget can never be spent on, such as gambling or bars. This way, an employee traveling to Las Vegas for a conference could purchase airline tickets, dine in restaurants, and pay for a taxi, but they wouldn’t be able to use their company card on the casino floor.

The benefits of merchant controls

With these controls, you can: 

  • Increase security because fraudulent transactions are minimized. 
  • Save time with easier transaction approvals. 
  • Rest easy knowing your employees can’t spend outside of approved categories.

Essentially, merchant controls make it easier to know where your company money is going, and help control employee spending. 

How to use merchant controls

Divvy’s merchant controls are set at the budget level. This means any card tied to a certain budget will be impacted—and limited—by the controls you choose to set. 

You can set merchant controls on the Divvy dashboard, and you can manage these settings at any time. Merchant controls are only available for customers on Visa, but some controls are available for Mastercard®. Reach out to the Divvy support team for further details.

Ready to control employee spend? Try Divvy today

The information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to constitute legal or financial advice and is for general informational purposes only. The content is provided “as-is”; no representations are made that the content is error free.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu