Numbers up: spending data from corporate card providers paints a picture of business travel's recovery in 2022

The story of business travel's recovery can be captured to some extent in the spend recorded by corporate card providers – and data from American Express does just that.

Total second-quarter spending on American Express corporate cards in 2022 was $153.1 billion, up from $135.7 billion in the first quarter and up 28 per cent year-on-year.

Average second-quarter spending per Amex's Global Commercial Services division cardholders also increased to $9,512 in the second quarter, from $8,682 in the first quarter, and up from $8,180 in the second quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, the number of corporate cards in force increased 11 per cent year-on-year to 16.4 million.

Travel and entertainment-related spending during the second quarter made up 26 per cent of volume on all Amex cards worldwide, up from 23 per cent the prior quarter. Airline-related spending comprised 6 per cent of all second-quarter volume, up from 5 per cent in Q1.

Read on for further insight from its Q2 2022 earnings report.

Mixed picture: Spending on travel and entertainment among SMEs surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of the year but was down 40 per cent among large and global corporates – more evidence that it was the more agile small business sector that spearheaded business travel recovery post-Covid

Contrast: Restaurant spend recovered to pre-Covid levels in Q2 2022 but outlay on airlines and accommodation remained down on 2019 levels – albeit markedly up compared to a year prior, unsurprisingly, when international travel restrictions were widespread

Rates of recovery: Restaurant spend on corporate cards returned to 2019 volumes as early as mid-2021 but accommodation and airline spend are taking longer to recover. Nevertheless, airline spend closed the gap to accommodation spend in the second quarter of 2022.