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Corporate card holders expense fast food, says survey

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Business travelers with corporate credit cards aren't expensing big steak dinners and fancy wines.  Instead, they're hitting Starbucks and McDonald's for lattes and Big Macs.

A survey released Tuesday by Certify, a company that sells expense management software, shows that the top five restaurants on expense reports are Starbucks, McDonald's, Subway, Panera Bread and HMS Host--the highway and airport food-service company that has major retail food chains.  

While the average meal from the top-expensed restaurants was $18.72 in Q3 (compared to $16.72 for Q2), travelers spent nearly 5 percent of all their food expenses for coffee fixes at Starbucks, at an average of  $9.51 a purchase.   

The survey shows people spent about 3 percent at McDonald's, for an average purchase of about $7.45.  

But  they spent more than three times the money per meal at Panera, ($35.35 on average), than at the other stores.

In fact, business travelers spent almost as much at Panera on average as they did at more expensive restaurants, such as Longhorn Steakhouse ($36.94), Bonefish Grill ($47.85) and Cheesecake Factory ($38.95).

The survey looked at receipts and expenses of Certify clients in Q3.