Trying to juggle your personal expenses and your business expenses on a single credit card is just one of those things no business owner has time for, which is why a business credit card could become your favorite business partner.
Beyond the organizational simplicity of separating your personal and business expenses, the best business credit cards offer rebates and bonus rewards for typical business expenses so your everyday purchases actually earn you cash back. Even if you are self-employed or a freelancer, there are still plenty of reasons to open a small business credit card. (Don't believe us, check out what this freelancer has to say about why she needs a small business credit card.)
So if you're not already using a small business credit card to get a rebate or bonus rewards for your company's routine purchases, you're leaving money on the table. With the right credit card as your partner, you can also enjoy travel perks, smoother cash flow and access to specialized service professionals.
Whether you're just getting started or looking for new ways to boost your spending power, there are an abundance of small business cards to compare. Here are a few business credit cards we think entrepreneurs, freelancers and CEOs alike should consider.
Best Business Credit Cards
Our editor's take:
Earn higher cash-back rates in popular business spending categories, 1 percent on other card purchases, and pay no annual fee.
On the other hand, if your business tends to concentrate its biggest purchases in just one or two areas, Chase's Ink line of small-business credit cards could hold an even better offer. This card offers 5 percent cash back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, Internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
Your first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year will net 2 percent cash back. Earn 1 percent cash back on all other card purchases, with no limit to how much you can earn. Chase has been aggressively courting new business customers to its Ink brand, and new cardholder deals currently include an opportunity to earn $300 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's on a card with no annual fee.
Our editor's take:
If you find yourself driving to a lot of business dinners, this card's bonus cash back for gas and on restaurant purchases could add up fast.
Even beyond gas and restaurant purchases, you have the opportunity to earn bonus cash back in popular business spending categories so even your everyday purchases can snag you some cash back. You'll earn 3 percent back on gas station and office supply store purchases up to a $250,000 spending cap annually; 2 percent back at restaurants; and 1 percent back on all your other purchases.
You can redeem your rewards in $25 increments as statement credit or as deposits directly into your eligible Bank of America small business accounts, so your purchases actually help your business' bottom line. In addition, new cardholders also receive a $200 statement credit after spending $500 within the first 60 days, not a difficult target to achieve.
And if you're a new business with a bit of start-up overhead to cover, the 0 percent intro APR on purchases for nine billing cycles could certainly come in handy.
Our editor's take:
Top-tier business rewards for those spending on travel and who pay their balance each month.
Although this charge card doesn't let you carry a balance beyond a single statement cycle, it offers business owners and entrepreneurs a comprehensive suite of benefits that far outweighs its significant annual fee of $450. Get Membership Rewards points on purchases. New cardholders can earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. This is a LIMITED TIME OFFER that expires January 25, 2017. Terms and restrictions apply.
The Business Platinum Card's premium benefits include world-class platinum service, travel benefits, rewards that can help reduce expenses and access to one-of-a-kind events. With this cards Membership Rewards® Program you can get 1.5 points per dollar on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year. This Card offers a 50% Airline Bonus -- use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 30% of the points back. There is an Airport Lounge Access Program with complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide. You can also enjoy inflight and on-the-ground internet access with Gogo® and Boingo on 6 airlines at over 1,000,000 hotspots. Of course, Terms and Restrictions apply.
Our editor's take:
Earn 3 percent cash back on your cellular, gas and office supply store net purchases while paying no annual fee.*
As U.S. Bank spreads its footprint across the country, it's stepping up with stronger offers for small-business owners. This version of its small-business credit card boasts no annual fee, a middle-of-the-road APR range on purchases (variable APR is currently 11.99-17.99 percent, based on creditworthiness), and enhanced spending reports. However, most business owners will love this card's 3 percent cash-back rewards on qualifying purchases with cellular phone providers, gas stations, and office supply stores. All other net purchases earn 1 percent cash back throughout the year, with no caps. Earn a new cardmember bonus of $150 after you spend $500 in net purchases on your card within the first 90 days of account opening.
Keep your account in good standing and U.S. Bank will kick in an annual bonus equal to 25 percent of your previous year’s cash-back earnings, up to $250. An additional online shopping portal, Visa SavingsEdge, enables cardholders to save up to 15 percent on business purchases with participating hotel chains, restaurants, and technology manufacturers.
Our editor's take:
High-return rewards card for businesses that require frequent travel, and use their credit cards frequently.
Once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months
This card touts a low annual fee ($0 intro for first year; $59 after that) and the ability for your whole team to earn miles (add employee cards at no additional cost). This card maximizes rewards to cardholders by mimicking the popular 2 miles per every dollar spent program designed by Capital One® Venture®. Even more enticing, cardholders can earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles ($500 in travel) after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rewards can be redeemed for a variety of categories like: travel, cash back, gift cards, and more.
With this dedicated small business credit card, you won't have to worry about separating your personal purchases from your business expenses on the same account; Capital One® sends a custom, itemized report of spending quarterly, which leaves the opportunity for more rewards (and organization) for you. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business doesn’t cap points, and miles never expire.
Our editor's take:
Because bonus point earning opportunities are capped after 100k in spending annually, this card is a good option for small businesses versus a larger corporation.
Even with fantastic intro perks ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year ($175 after that) and 50,000 membership rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership), the true beauty of this card lies in the decision-making power of the cardholder. The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN offers a tiered reward system with 5 categories to benefit from: Airfare purchased from airlines, advertising in select media, gas stations, shipping, or computer hardware, software and cloud computing from select providers. Whichever category meets your spending needs closest earns 3x points, the other categories earn 2x points. All other purchases receive 1x points. A potential downside to the points system is the cap. After $100,000, annually, all categories are reduced to 1x points.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is a charge card, so the balance must be paid in full each month which actually helps businesses with expense management like: planning, spending, and reevaluating limits on a monthly basis. To help reinforce the value, the card uses ReceiptMatch, a mobile app, which syncs with Intuit Quickbooks. This technology allows business owners to access to track your expenses and monitor spending personally, and on employee cards.
Our editor's take:
Take advantage of the fantastic sign up bonus and first year waived annual fee.
If business mandates you or your employees to fly frequently, and American Airlines is the preferred airline for your travel patterns, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® may be a great card to consider. After all, it makes sense to collect points and miles for what you’re already doing, and it doesn’t hurt to know the $95 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months.
Because this card is designed specifically for American airlines you’ll see perks an avid business traveler truly values: Cardholders can earn 30,000 bonus miles after $1,000 in purchases are made within first 3 months of their account opening. Cardholders earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants - and at gas stations. For other purchases, cardholders earn 1 mile for every $1 spent and there is no cap to the miles you can accumulate. Additional highlights: first checked back free on domestic itineraries and boarding privileges on American Airlines.
Don't have a small business credit card yet?
If you're not already carrying a small business credit card, you're missing some of their biggest benefits:
- Prevent commingling of funds. If you're using the same credit card for both business and personal expenses, you can leave yourself vulnerable to accusations of embezzlement or to a potential IRS audit. Even if those awful things don't happen, you're still giving yourself an extra headache when you attempt to manually log your business purchases every month. In fact, many banks now include free receipt scanning to help streamline your bookkeeping process.
- Earn cash back, rewards and VIP status. If your work requires at least some occasional travel, many of the best small business credit card offers include fast-track access to elite status with frequent-flier programs, hotel loyalty programs, and purchasing discount programs.
- Delegate routine purchasing. As your small business grows, you're rarely going to be the person who handles office supply refills, catering orders and travel reservations. Many of the best business credit cards offer dedicated employee cards for free or at a nominal fee. While nearly all cards will let you set spending caps for specific employees, some accounts let you restrict purchases to authorized retailers or vendor categories. Best of all, you can earn rewards and cash back on all of your employees' purchases, something that won't happen if you're reimbursing them for expenses submitted on their own accounts.
- Protect against price changes, theft, or damage.In our opinion, the best business credit cards include comprehensive purchase protection programs, capping your potential damages if a clumsy intern spills coffee on a new laptop. Likewise, many business cards include access to special concierges who can facilitate special purchases, refunds, or travel reward redemptions.
Although most business credit cards require company owners to have been in business for two years or longer, many banks offer scaled-back versions of their best cards for startups and solo entrepreneurs. Just as your personal credit score helps determine the quality of your credit card offers, a strong business credit profile will help you earn invitations to enjoy better deals and bigger discounts.
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