Best small business credit cards of 2019 from our partners
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 finding the best credit card for your small business could (and should!) become one of the best business moves you can make.
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 effectively put money back toward your bottom line. 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.)
If you're not already using a small business credit card to get bonus rewards for your company's routine purchases or save you money on things like rental car insurance or warranty protection, you're leaving money on the table. With the right credit card as your partner, you can enjoy travel perks, smoother cash flow, and access to specialized service professionals.
Still not sure you'll qualify for a small business card? Check out our "Who can apply for a small business card" section below.
BEST SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS
Whether you're just getting started or you're looking for new ways to boost your spending power, there are an abundance of small business cards to compare. Below are a few business credit cards we think entrepreneurs, freelancers and CEOs alike should consider.
Why We Like It: When it comes to value for the annual fee, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card from Chase rises near the top of our list. With this card you'll have the opportunity to rack up three points per $1 spent in popular categories like travel and select business purchases, with a relatively high spending cap (up to $150,000 annually spent in the highest bonus categories). Once you reach the cap, you'll still earn one point for every $1 spent. What's more, just to get you started on the right foot, Chase is offering 80,000 bonus points to new cardholders who spend $5,000 within the first three months from account opening, which if redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, is worth $1,000 in travel or $800 when redeemed for cash back.
The Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
The Annual Fee: $95; add employee cards at no additional cost.
The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year in the following categories: travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines. Earn one point per $1 on all other purchases (and once you reach the cap in the bonus categories) with no limits to the amount you can earn. Points are worth 25 percent more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 towards travel. Read our full Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card review.
More Details: With the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, users will also enjoy fraud protection; trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance; zero liability protection; purchase protection; extended warranty protection; auto rental collision damage insurance; no foreign transaction fees; and cell phone protection, which includes coverage of up to $600 per claim for the primary user and all the employees listed on the monthly cell phone bill when you pay your cellular bill with your card.
Why We Like It: All around, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is just a solid business credit card to have on hand. There's no annual fee for the first year, and then it's just $95 a year each year after that; employee cards are free, and the welcome offer is solid. While no one of its features truly stands out, taken together the perks and features make for one really decent small business credit card.
The Bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 on your new card in the first three months of opening your account.
The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that; add employee cards at no additional cost.
The Rewards: Earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase made with the card. Read our full Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business review.
More Details: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business cardholders will also enjoy purchase security and extended warranty protection, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver insurance, no foreign transaction fees, quarterly and year-end summaries, and more. Plus, receive up to a $100 credit for one Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.
If you like the idea of this card but are looking for a card with no annual fee, Capital One also offers the no-annual-fee Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business card, which offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and a $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months of card membership .
Why We Like It: Although this card doesn't let you carry a balance beyond a single statement cycle (it's a charge card), it offers business owners and entrepreneurs a comprehensive suite of benefits that far outweighs its higher-than-typical annual fee. To start, new cardholders can earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points (details below). Those points are sure to get you started on the right foot, but if that's not enough, you'll quickly have the opportunity to earn even more points. Furthermore, the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express offers a number of premium benefits and travel perks, which certainly help to cancel out the cost of the annual fee. (Terms apply; American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)
The Bonus: Earn up to 75,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and another 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership. Terms apply
The Annual Fee: $595; add employee cards at no additional cost. Terms apply
The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com; 1.5 points per $1 on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; and one point for each $1 you spend on everything else. Plus, use your Membership Rewards® to Pay with Points for a first class or business class flight with any airline available through American Express Travel and you receive 35 percent of the points back. Or get 35 percent of the points back when you book a flight in any class with your pre-selected qualifying airline. With the 35 percent Airline Bonus benefit, you can get up to 500,000 points back per calendar year (Terms apply) Read our full review of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.
More Details: Cardholders of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express receive access to 1,100-plus airport lounges in more than 500 airports around the world; a $200 airline fee credit with a pre-selected airline to use for things like checked bag fees and in-flight refreshments; a fee credit every four years to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fees; complimentary travel benefits like room upgrades, daily breakfast for two people, late check-out, complimentary WiFi, and a unique amenity such as a food and beverage credit or a one-way private sedan transfer when you book your travel through FINE HOTELS & RESORTS; as well as a number of other elite shopping and travel benefits. Terms apply
Why We Like It: Just like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business credit card, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business credit card is a good card to have in your wallet – it just focuses on miles earned instead of cash back earned. This card touts a low annual fee. And you can add employee cards for free and earn all the rewards from their purchases. Plus, it maximizes rewards for cardholders by offering two miles for every $1 spent no matter the type of purchase.
The Bonus: Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 on your new card in the first three months.
The Annual Fee: ; add employee cards at no additional cost.
The Rewards: Earn an unlimited two miles per $1 on every purchase made with the card. Read our full Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business review.
More Details: Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business cardholders also enjoy purchase security and extended warranty protection, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver insurance, no foreign transaction fees, quarterly and year-end summaries, and more.
If you are looking for a card with no annual fee, Capital One also offers the no-annual-fee Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business credit card, which offers 1.5 miles per $1 spent and a 20,000-mile bonus once you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months of card membership .
Why We Like It: Even with fantastic perks, the true beauty of this card lies in the decision-making power of the cardholder, and the flexible payment option can help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.* Terms apply.
The Welcome Offer: Earn 35,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on your new card in the first three months. Terms apply.
The Annual Fee: ; Terms apply.
The Rewards: Get 4x Membership Rewards® points on the two select categories where your business spent the most each month. (4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*) You also get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. (Terms apply) Read our full review of American Express® Business Gold Card.
More Details: With the American Express® Business Gold Card, users will also enjoy purchase protection, extended warranty, travel accident insurance, baggage insurance, premium roadside assistance, car rental loss and damage insurance, no foreign transaction fees and more. Terms apply.
Why We Like It: The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Travel Rewards responds to your travel habits. In any given month, if you spend more at gas stations with airlines or stayed close to home and spent more on office supplies, you'll earn 2x the FlexPoints for that particular category. We also like that you can get the annual fees (for you and your employees with company cards) reimbursed to your account if you spend at least $24,000 annually.
The Bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus FlexPoints (worth about $375 when redeemed for hotel stays, air travel, car rentals and more) when you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first four months of account opening.
The Annual Fee: $55*. Each employee card is $10. These fees can be credited back to you if you spend at least $24,000 on the card in a year.
The Rewards: Earn 2X FlexPoints in the category where you spend the most each month (gas stations, office supply stores or airlines). Also earn 2X FlexPoints on cellular providers. Lastly, earn one FlexPoint per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
More Details: With the this card, cardholders will also enjoy zero fraud liability, 24/7 dedicated service, customizable spending controls, online reporting and more.
Why We Like It: This card offers a strong 5 percent back in popular business categories and also offer cardholders the chance to choose where they'll earn 3 percent back from among a list of categories that include everything from gas stations to shipping. Add in that there's no annual fee to worry about and you have a nice, flexible cash-back rewards small business credit card. Terms apply.
The Bonus: There's no traditional bonus right now, but you can take advantage an introductory no interest on purchases for 15 months (then, 14.49% - 21.49% Variable), which could save you a ton of money if you have some big expenses coming up. Terms apply.
The Annual Fee: No annual fee; add employee cards at no additional cost. Terms apply.
The Rewards: Rake in 5 percent back on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year on wireless telephone service purchased from U.S. providers and office supply store purchases. Earn 3 percent back on the first $50,000 spent each year in a category of your choice from a list of eight (airfare purchased directly from airlines; hotels stays purchased directly from hotels; car rentals from select rental companies; purchases at U.S. gas stations; purchases at U.S. restaurants; U.S. purchases for advertising in select media; U.S. purchases for shipping; and U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made from select providers). Earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases and once you hit the spending cap in the 5 and 3 percent categories. (Terms apply) Read the full review of the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express.
More Details: Set individual employee card limits; earn rewards on spending above your credit limit (amount over limit is due in full each billing cycle in addition to your minimum amount due); access financial tools like Spend ManagerSM and the opportunity to assign a trusted Account Manager; rest assured with rental car insurance, purchase protection and a baggage insurance plan among many other business-friendly perks and features. Terms apply.
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card is best viewed as a complement to other cards in the Chase Ink family, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card or the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. That's because it offers a flat 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases, which means you can rake in a half-percent (or half-point if you prefer to think in those terms) more per $1 spent on all the purchases that don't fall under a points bonus category with the other Ink cards.
The Bonus: Earn $500 in bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, take advantage of an introductory 12 months no interest on purchases (then, 15.49% - 21.49% Variable)
The Annual Fee: $0;
The Rewards: Earn a flat and unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. Those rewards accumulate as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, a common currency among numerous Chase rewards cards. If you have other Chase rewards cards in your wallet, you can combine Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned on those other cards into a single bucket as needed in order to redeem your points more quickly or, in some cases, for more value. Read our full review of the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card.
More Details: Cardholders are also covered with fraud protection, travel and emergency assistance services, zero liability protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and auto rental collision damage insurance.
Why We Like It: The U.S. Bank Business Platinum makes a great credit card for business owners because it has an intro offer of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for a whopping 20 billing cycles (then 12.24%-20.24%* Variable). Twenty billing cycles is a lot when it comes to 0% APR offers, especially for a business card. This perk is great as it's no secret that running a business can be expensive. You have to spend money to make money, right? Having a grace period for interest-free purchasing is an excellent perk as it gives business owners a bit of extra time to pay off large purchases. Just be sure to pay off the balance before the introductory period expires.
The Bonus: There's no traditional bonus, per se, however, we'd argue that the 0% APR intro offer is a pretty great bonus in and of itself. Plus, there is no annual fee, which makes this perk all the better.
0% Interest Details: Enjoy an introductory offer of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first twenty billing cycles. After that, a variable APR of 12.24%-20.24%* Variable will apply.
Balance Transfer Fees: 3%
The Annual Fee: $0*
Why We Like It: While not technically a small business credit card, if business mandates you or your employees fly frequently, and American Airlines is the preferred airline for your travel plans, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® may still be a great card for your needs. It makes sense to collect points and miles for what you're already doing and with this card you can earn a nice welcome offer plus enjoy ongoing perks and features that an avid business traveler truly values, such as Admirals Club® access, priority check-in and boarding privileges and free checked bags. (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)
The Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within your first three months of account membership. You can also earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles each year you make at least $40,000 in purchases.
The Annual Fee: $450; add up to 10 authorized users for free
The Rewards: Earn two miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and one mile per $1 on everything else. Read our full review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.
More Details: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® members also receive a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee credit; Admirals Club® airport lounge access (or a prorated refund of your Admirals Club® membership fee if you're already a member); priority check-in, priority airport screening, and boarding privileges for you and up to eight traveling companions on the same reservation; and first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation.
Why We Like It: If you travel often, the only disadvantage that stands out with The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is the $95 annual fee, but considering the perks that are offered with the card, like hotel stay rewards and some complimentary airport lounge passes, a healthy welcome offer and extreme point-earning ease, that annual fee doesn't seem too bad. Truly the most striking thing about this card is the huge number of points that can be earned on purchases. With that kind of point-earning potential, traveling for work might suddenly feel kind of fun. Terms apply.
The Welcome Offer: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
The Annual Fee: $95; add employee cards at no additional cost. Terms apply.
The Rewards: Earn 12 points per $1 at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio; six points at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, on U.S. shipping purchases, at U.S. restaurants, on flights booked directly with airlines or with AmexTravel.com, and on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; and three points on all other purchases. (Terms apply) Read our full The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review.
More Details: Cardholders of The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card also receive complimentary room upgrades; the chance to earn weekend reward nights; 10 airport lounge passes each year; no foreign transaction fees; year-end summaries; Spend Manager access, a feature which helps you to manage your card expenses by allowing you to add receipts and notes to your transactions; extended warranty coverage; purchase protection; and a number of other travel and shopping perks and business management tools. Terms apply.
Why We Like It: Free hotel stays are always a nice perk, and with this card, you're eligible for a Free Night Award each year after your account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. Also, new card holders can earn a 75,000 point bonus, which could go far with over 6,700 Marriott brand hotels in 129 countries and territories. Terms apply.
The Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Terms apply.
The Annual Fee: $125. Terms apply.
The Rewards: Earn six points on purchases made at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, four points at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping, and two points on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.
More Details: Receive one Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees. Terms apply.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR A SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?
The good news is that just about anyone can apply for a small business credit card. You don't need to be incorporated or be an LLC or even have a certain number of employees. Sole proprietors, freelancers and "side hustlers" can often qualify.
If your business is new, you might worry about your lack of business credit. But you will find that is not a roadblock, especially if you have good personal credit. Often, a credit card company will require that you, as an individual, take on ultimate liability for the debt incurred on your company's business credit card. This not only protects the credit card company, it gives you a chance to "invest in yourself" and build your business credit on the foundation or your good personal credit history.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR A SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?
You'll need much of the same information to apply for a business credit card that you need to apply for a personal credit card. Here's a look at the list of information to have on hand:
Your business information – All the basics, such as address, how long you have been in business, what type of business, number of employees, annual revenue, etc. will likely be required. This should go without saying, but just in case it doesn't: Don't lie! That's fraud and it can land you in serious hot water.
Credit card companies know that new business owners, entrepreneurs and others without lengthy business histories are going to apply for credit cards, so your business' youth shouldn't be a big deal.
Your Federal Employee Identification Number (Tax ID number) – It should be noted that if you are a sole proprietor or an LLC without an EIN number, you can just use your Social Security number.
Your personal information – This will include Social Security number, date of birth, rent/mortgage payment, address, etc.
Remember that credit card companies are likely going to be using your personal credit history to determine whether you're a good risk for a small business credit card. That means you'll want to be quite sure you care for your business credit card the same way you would a personal card – both have the ability to help or hurt your credit.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD
As with personal credit cards, the best small business credit cards on the market might not be the best fit for YOUR business. Applying for or using the wrong cards can prove to not only be a waste of time and money but a squandered opportunity to rack up the kinds of rewards – or take advantage of the kinds of perks – that your business truly needs.
So here are some things to consider as you shop the small business credit card market and before you fill out an application.
1. Don't swing for the fences (unless you're Babe Ruth, of course). Know your business and personal credit scores and shop for a card you have a chance of being approved for. If you are a new business, the companies will evaluate you on your personal credit score. If you only have fair credit and you apply for cards requiring excellent credit, you'll likely be rejected; not only is this waste of your time, the rejection can damage your credit score even more.
Be patient. Even if you need to start with a lower end card, it will provide you the opportunity to build a clean business credit score, which will lead to better credit card and small business loan opportunities.
If, on the other hand, you have an MVP-award-worthy personal credit score and an impeccable credit history, you should certainly take a look at the small business cards for higher end credit scores – often those are the ones with the best features and rewards.
2. Audit your spending habits. Rewards programs for small business credit cards vary. Some offer bonus points for travel expenses, while others encourage spending on office supplies and equipment and still others reward expenses like dining out.
As you begin to research small business credit cards and their rewards programs, it will serve you well to know where your company does most of its spending. That will help you maximize your rewards.
Rewards also vary greatly from card to card. Take a good look at the rewards a particular card offers. Is it straight cash back? Travel points? Loyalty points for a particular hotel or airline? Notice which rewards type best fit the needs of your company. Don't try to change your spending habits to fit a credit card's rewards program; instead, find the rewards program that already matches where you spend your money.
3. About those fees. Successful business people are ones who know where every dollar is being spent,so take some time to examine the fees charged by a credit card company. Will the rewards your earn offset the fees you pay? Or will the reward structure even add to your savings?
Some companies offer a $0 annual fee. That's always a good thing but make sure you know if that is an introductory fee for the first 12 months or if it's the ongoing fee. Don't immediately write off a card that charges an annual fee as those are often the ones that offer top rewards. It's quite possible the perks and rewards of the card will more than offset that fee for you.
Also, the APR on small business credit cards can range dramatically from 0% introductory periods to much, much higher percentages depending on the card and your creditworthiness. Interest payments can add up quickly, so make sure you know what you're signing up for if you intend to carry a balance on your card.
On the other hand, some cards offer an introductory 0% APR on purchases and/or balance transfers for a certain period of time. If you are planning some significant purchases in the near future, this might save you a considerable amount of money in interest payments. If not, this feature might not be a big selling point for you.
4. Look for added perks. Some credit card companies offer tools that are "value added" for small businesses. Look into free company account cards for employees and if you can place spending limits on those cards. You should also ask about tracking and budgeting tools, as well. This can help a small business, especially a new business, keep a tight leash on spending.
Furthermore, you'll want to look at the fine print protections and features offered by your card so that your business doesn't end up paying for something that your credit card offers for free, such as car rental insurance or free checked bags or even statement credits to cover incidental travel expenses.
The bottom line when shopping for a small business credit card is to know what you're looking for and then spend some time figuring out what's available to you. Be honest about your credit, you business' needs and your expectations with your credit card. Chosen wisely, a small business credit card could lighten the administrative load for your business (no more employee travel reimbursement checks!) and even add a little extra back to your bottom line.
For rates and fees of American Express cards mentioned in this post, please see the following links: American Express® Business Gold Card(See Rates and Fees); The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (See Rates and Fees); Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (See Rates and Fees)
Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.