In the wake of the 2008 recession and the shrinking of the credit market, as many as two out of three small business owners still worry about cash flow, according to a 2011 study commissioned by American Express. But there is good news. After some much-needed regrouping, major credit card issuers have started courting entrepreneurs again.
Banks want to lend money to your business, not just because they received some extra support from government stimulus programs, but because business loans generally carry fewer risks for lenders than consumer loans. That's why you'll see some great offers, including these deals on six of the best business credit cards:
For traveling small business professionals:
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. If you're like most business travelers, you probably abandoned loyalty to a single airline the first time you saw ticket prices laid out on a travel website. This business card from Capital One lets your team earn two miles for every dollar of purchases. Just book employee travel using your favorite discount travel service, then request to trade miles from your rewards balance toward every dollar of airfare. This card offers a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year; $59 after that.
To improve cash flow without paying interest:
The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN. In television ads for the Plum Card, American Express celebrates the community impact of retail and service providers. Companies like those often need to float the costs of supplies and services before getting paid by their own customers. The Plum Card takes the classic American Express charge card back to the future, and offers up to 60 days to pay a balance without interest. Get cash into your till sooner, and a 1.5 percent early payment discount can help cover the flat annual Membership fee of $250. American Express offers new members, a $0 introductory annual Membership fee for the first year, then pay $250 annually. Employee cards do not have an annual fee. And if you travel for business take note there are no foreign transaction fees. Terms & Restrictions Apply.
If you spend big on client meals and office supplies:
Ink Cash® Business Card from Chase if you've been in business for a little while and you've got great credit, Chase would love to reward you with 5 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year. In addition you can earn 2 percent cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Any other purchase on the Ink Cash card earns 1 percent cash back. Your bookkeeper will love access to Blueprint, Chase's online tool that helps you plan the payoff schedule that will save you the most money. There is no annual fee.
To save on travel expenses and supplies:
TrueEarnings® Business Card from Costco and American Express OPEN. Plenty of small business owners already use the personal version of the TrueEarnings Card, since it doubles as a Costco membership card. If you're ready to move risk from your personal credit report onto your corporate profile, American Express will repay you with significant cash back rewards. This card offers 4 percent cash back on gasoline at U.S. gas stations, including at Costco, for purchases up to $7,000 per year (1% thereafter) and 2 percent on restaurant tabs at U.S. restaurants. Two of the biggest purchasing categories for road warriors. In addition you can earn 2 percent cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco and 1 percent on other purchases including at Costco. Cash back is earned only on eligible purchases. Your rebate arrives once every year as a voucher you can redeem at Costco, and there's no additional annual fee for this card with your paid Costco membership. Terms, limitations and restrictions apply.
For the business owner on the move:
U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards Visa. This one-time regional lender has grown into one of the top five banks in the United States, thanks to its dual focus on service and innovation. Cardholders earn 3-percent cash rebates when purchasing gasoline, wireless services and office supplies. All other purchases rack up a 1-percent cash rebate, which cardholders can redeem in $25 increments. There's no annual fee, as long as you make at least one purchase per year on the account otherwise the annual fee is $25. Best of all, you'll receive a 25% bonus on your cash back rebates on the anniversary of Cash Rewards enrollment up to the maximum of $250.
Although sole proprietors can always apply for business credit cards using their Social Security Numbers, you'll probably want to use your company's Employer Identification Number to request any of these accounts. Banks may require owners of newer businesses to post a personal guarantee against default. Although you'll get the maximum rewards by issuing business credit cards to each of your eligible employees, remember to use each lender's online reporting tools to keep an eye on your everyday expenses.