Practice Management

Using Dash Debit Cards for Purchases

Written by Donny Shimamoto

Near the end of SleeterCon 2015 (now Accountex), Dash came on-stage and provided an offer. If we signed up for their Dash card, they would provide a “free” $100. My firm has been looking for an easier way to manage our inventory purchases (we resell software licenses and some IT equipment). Currently, we have to be careful about hitting the credit limit of our corporate credit card if several employees make large purchases at one time. The employee who hits the limit has to wait for us to post a payment to the account before he or she can complete their transaction. Dash appeared to give us a way around this, so we decided to give it a try.

Donny Shimamoto will be presenting the sessions, Modernizing Accounting Services: Architecting Your Strategy and 8 Keys to Optimizing Your Tax Practice, at Accountex 2016.

The Dash card is a prepaid MasterCard. The basic premise of the card is simple. The company (your business or your client’s business) transfers cash into a “Funding Account” and issues Dash Cards (debit cards) to each employee who makes business purchases. You can either schedule regular funding of the card (i.e., automatic transfers), for example $500 each month, or you can require employees to request funds via the Dash app. As you fund cards, money is moved from the “Funding Account” to each Dash Card.

Requesting Funds

The requesting of funds is pretty simple. Log in to the Dash app, press “Request Funds,” and then fill out a simple form with the dollar amount and a reason for the request. In our case, we’ve instructed our staff to put the purchase(s) that they want to make with the card in the Comments so that we can tie the request back to our approvals process for purchases.


When an employee submits a request, the approver receives an e-mail letting them know the amount requested and reason:


From there I can go into the Dash app or website to approve or decline the request. If I approve the request, then funds are immediately transferred to the Dash card of the requesting employee and they can make their purchase. An e-mail notification is also sent to let them know their request was approved.


If I decline the request, it simply disappears, and neither the requesting employee nor myself could figure out how to see the declined request in the app. The requesting employee also didn’t receive any notification that I had declined her request.

Making Purchases

Making purchases with the Dash card is just the same as using any other card. However, unlike many other bank debit cards that can operate in both debit and credit card modes, the Dash card appears to be truly only a debit card. We received invalid card messages on several sites (ones that were probably set up to only accept credit cards). So you need to ensure that the vendors with whom you plan to use the card actually accept debit cards.

The Dash app does keep track of transactions well (see screenshot). I can see if a transaction was declined (due to lack of funds), if it was authorized (transaction completed but funds not released yet), and if it has been settled (funds released to vendor).


Once a transaction is authorized, the available balance on my card is reduced, so there is protection from overdrafts. I’m also able to go in and categorize and put comments on a transaction, as well as upload or capture an image of a receipt.


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About the author

Donny Shimamoto

Donny C. Shimamoto, CPA.CITP, CGMA, is the founder and managing director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC, a CPA consultancy focused on helping small businesses manage their technology-related risks and providing the know-how to leverage technology and realize business value.  An active CPA, Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Donny is a recognized national expert in IT management and international author/speaker on business intelligence initiatives.  Donny helps many small businesses by helping them make better technology decisions and improve the efficiency of their back-office by leveraging right-sized business software solutions.

Donny was recognized as one of Accounting Today's Top 100 Influential People in 2013 & 2014, Top Thought Leaders in Public Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor in 2012, 2013 & 2014, received the 2009-2010 President’s Award from the Hawaii Society of CPAs, was named to CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 list in 2007, 2009, & 2014, and was also a Hawaii Top High Tech Leader in 2004.  Donny is  a past chairman of the AICPA's Information Management & Technology Assurance Executive Committee, and is a former member of its Governing Council and Assurance Services Executive Committee.


  • It seems the zero balance between transactions requirement is restricting workflow. We use a similar product with one of our clients called PEX cards, and we just set up different funding rules for each card. For instance, when a card’s available funding drops below $100, transfer funds to get that card up to $300, or reload with $200 each time. The risk is still lower than providing a credit card with a monthly limit of say $1,000, but you also communicate to your cardholders that you trust them, which I think is important for culture. If they need to wait on approval for each purchase, they’re not free to do their work efficiently.

    I think this prepaid debit solution for business is just beginning to go mainstream, and we’ll see more kinks worked out so there are multiple players in the “prime time” space.

    • Hi Shane, you are correct about restricting workflow. In our case we keep tight controls on those purchases. Dash does support a flow where users can get “auto approval” for up to a certain dollar amount each month. So for the scenario you mention, you could set an auto-approval of $300.

      I agree with you that this is probably the way of the future and I like your comments about using the issuing of a card like this as an impetus to have a discussion about trust–which I agree is an important value to include in a company’s culture.

  • While checking the Dash web portal for the functionality described by Shane above, I noticed that Dash changed the look of their web portal. The export for XLS and CSV and sync to Xero are now available in the Transactions screen. When I tried to sync with Xero it took me to Xero, had me sign in and select my company, and then I got a 401 Unauthorized error.

    The web portal, while now designed for a full web browser (rather than mobile app), also does not appear to have all of the functionality in the mobile app. For example the Auto-approve I described above is only available in the mobile app, not in the web portal.

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