Expense accounts by industry, from cheapest to fattest

Time to think about a career in tech?
Time to think about a career in tech?
Image: Reuters/Edgar Su
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Frustrated with flying coach? Jealous of the business travelers in first class, or the suits sitting court side at NBA games? If you want a fat expense account, you might consider changing not just your job, but your career.

According to data from Coupa, a software company that manages corporate expenses, there’s a clear difference in which sectors let the good times roll, and which are tight with a buck. Generally, where margins are wide, like in tech, the more lavish the expense accounts—particularly if costs can be charged back to clients, as in management consulting. In mature industries like retail, where margins are narrower and expenses more closely monitored, business travelers are more likely to fly economy and dine at Applebee’s. Coupa’s analysis was based on anonymized and aggregated expense reports from more than 90 companies in the US last year.

Update: The post as been updated to clarify how many companies were used in compiling Coupa’s data, and that it’s limited to US companies in 2017.