You've probably seen them when you've lined up at the office supply store or at the airport. They're credit cards that look a little bit like those you're already carrying in your wallet, but with a little extra sparkle. 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 bank 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, here are a few business credit cards we think entrepreneurs and CEOs alike should consider.
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Our editor's take:
No-nonsense cash-back card gives you 2 percent cash back on all purchases.
Although Capital One offers an entire suite of business credit cards for varying types of customers, this easy-to-track version of their Spark card offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases.
Cardholders have a couple opportunities to earn additional cash-back bonuses – new cardholders can earn a one-time $250 bonus after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months with the card, and you can also receive a $50 cash-back bonus by signing up for one or more employee cards. You can redeem your cash-back rewards automatically, or request a statement credit online at any time. There's no minimum cash-back reward, no spending cap, no quirky quarterly categories, and no foreign transaction fees. You will pay an annual fee with this card -- $0 intro for the first year and $59 after that. If your company credit history doesn't quite qualify you for this card, you might still get accepted for Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, a no-annual-fee card with 1 percent cash back on every purchase.
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 a cash-back bonus of $200 after you spend $3,000 in purchases within your first three months with the card. That's on a card with no annual fee.
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. Earn Membership Rewards points on purchases, points that won’t expire. New cardholders can earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months with this card. Earn a 20 percent travel bonus when using Membership Rewards Pay with Points. Terms and restrictions apply.
With this card you’ll also gain complimentary access to more than 700 airport lounges worldwide, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi at more than a million Boingo hotspots, and access to more than 40 benefits to help boost your business. Plus, cardmembers can get expert advice and peer guidance online at the OPEN Forum.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
Our editor's take:
American Airlines and US Airways loyalists can earn some enticing perks when booking business travel with this card.
Want a business travel card that won’t charge a triple-digit annual fee? If you and your team frequently travel to destinations served by American Airlines or US Airways, this card can help you rack up rewards travel and perks while saving a significant amount of money on travel expenses, all with an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first 12 months. As the two airlines inch toward completing their merger, they've already consolidated their routes and rewards programs. This elite version of Citi's business credit card for travelers offers tremendous incentives to pick the new AA over competitors with potentially cheaper fares.
Earn two AAdvantage® miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, including US Airways codeshare flights booked through American Airlines. You’ll also earn two AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent on purchases at certain office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants, and one AAdvantage® mile per dollar spent on other purchases. You’ll save money with a free checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions. Save time and stress with Group 1 boarding and enjoy 25 percent savings on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases. You can also earn an American Airlines companion certificate each year after spending $30,000 or more.
US Bank Business Edge™ Cash Rewards Card
Our editor's take:
Earn triple cash on your business expenses 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 mobile 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.
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.
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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