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Best small business credit cards of November 2020

CardRatings' picks for best small business credit cards offer a variety of rewards, perks, features, intro APR rates and more, all designed to help small business owners maximize their time and money and take their business to the next level.
Jennifer Doss, CardRatings Editor Last Updated, November 10, 2020

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

small business credit cardsTrying 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 from our partners 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.)

LIST OF WINNERS

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.

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.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE

Not sure you qualify for a small business card? Check out our "Who can apply for a small business card" section below.

BEST CASH-BACK REWARDS CARDS FOR BUSINESS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If your business tends to concentrate its biggest purchases in just one or two areas, Chase's broader Ink line of small business credit cards could hold a good offer for you. The no-annual-fee Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores (including computer, hardware, and software purchases) and on internet, cable and phone service purchases each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Chase has been aggressively courting new business customers to its Ink brand, so new cardholders currently have the opportunity to earn $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first three months of account membership – it's the highest bonus we've seen on this card.

The Bonus: Earn $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The Annual Fee: $0; add employee cards at no additional cost.

The Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account year at office supply stores (including big ticket items such as computers or hardware) and on internet, cable and phone services. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each year at gas stations and restaurants; and earn 1% cash back on all other purchases with no limits on the amount of cash back you can earn.

More Details: With the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, users will also enjoy fraud protection, travel and emergency assistance services, zero liability protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection and auto rental collision damage insurance.

PROS:

  • This card awards $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account.
  • You can also earn 5% cash back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone service purchases each account anniversary year and 2% cash back on your first $25,000 combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchases earn 1%.
  • If you need to make a large purchase for your business, you can get an intro 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable).

CONS:

  • There is a foreign transaction fee, which will cost you if you need to use the card for business outside of the U.S.
  • There is a fairly low cap on the highest earning categories (5% and 2%) of $25,000. If your business spends more in any of those categories each year, those purchases will only earn 1% cash back.
  • There is no annual fee, but if your rewards earning is limited by either the categories or the cap on the categories, you might earn more with a card that charges an annual fee.

Read our full Ink Business Cash® Credit Card review.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

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 $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months of opening an 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% cash back on every purchase made with the card.

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.

PROS:

  • This card offers a $500 cash bonus when you spend $4,500 in the first three months of opening your account.
  • You also earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase you make with the card, which means you don't have to keep up with categories or caps in order to earn maximum rewards for your business.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees and a $0 intro for first year; $95 after that annual fee.

CONS:

  • After the first year, there is an annual fee, so you want to make sure you're using the card enough to fully offset that fee with rewards and perks.
  • Although you get 2% cash back on all of your purchases, you might earn more with another card if your purchases fall primarily in a few particular categores such as travel or office supply store purchases.
  • There aren’t a lot of extra card perks or benefits with this card, except the new cardholder bonus and rewards program.

Read our full Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business review.

 

NO ANNUAL FEE, STILL REWARDING

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% 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 (This card is not currently available on CardRatings).

BEST TRAVEL REWARDS CARDS FOR BUSINESS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: The No. 1 feature of this card is that it happens to have the largest signup bonus opportunity of ANY of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards on the market – it's a bonus worth as much as $1,250 in travel! When it comes to value for the annual fee, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card from Chase rises to the top of our list. 

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

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% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 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.

PROS:

  • This card offers a hefty signup bonus worth as much as $1,250 in travel. Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account.
  • You can also earn three points per $1 on the first $150,000 you spend on combined purchases each anniversary year in travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising with social media sites and search engines. You earn one point per $1 on all other purchases and once you reach the cap in the bonus categories.
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

CONS:

  • The bonus categories are capped at a combined $150,000 each anniversary year. If you spend more in these categories, you need to use a card that awards more than one point per dollar after $150,000.
  • The bonus categories are somewhat limited. If your business spending is in other categories, you would likely earn more with a card that awards those categories.
  • Although the annual fee of $95 is reasonable and in line with other business rewards cards, you still need to be sure you use and earn enough with the card to more than offset it.

Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card 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 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points (details below). Those points are sure to get you started on the right foot, but if that's not enough, you 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. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: $595; add employee cards at no additional cost.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com; an extra half-point (or 1.5 points total) 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% of the points back. Or get 35% of the points back when you book a flight in any class with your pre-selected qualifying airline. With the 35% Airline Bonus benefit, you can get up to 500,000 points back per calendar year. 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 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.

PROS:

  • New cardholders can earn a bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $15,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership.
  • You can earn five points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 points on purchases of $5,000 or more. All other purchases earn one point for each dollar you spend.
  • This card includes tons of valuable benefits such as access to airport lounges, a $200 airline fee credit, and a credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is $595, which is among the highest you find with any business card. This can be expensive if you aren’t able to use the extra benefits that come with the card.
  • The bonus categories are only flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, or 1.5 points if you spend $5,000 or more on a purchase. If your business purchases are any other category, you only earn one point per $1 spent, which might make it tough to offset that annual fee.

Read our full review of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

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 on everyday purchases and five miles per $1 on certain travel purchases (details below).

The Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in the first three months.

The Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that; add employee cards at no additional cost.

The Rewards: Earn an unlimited two miles per $1 on every purchase, plus earn five miles per $1 on car rentals and hotel bookings through Capital One TravelSM. 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. Receive up to a $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.

PROS:

  • You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 within the first three months.
  • This card awards unlimited two miles per $1 on every purchase and five miles per $1 on car rentals and hotel bookings through Capital One Travel℠. You can also receive up to a $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.
  • There is an intro annual fee of $0 for the first year and no foreign transaction fees.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, so you need to be sure to earn enough rewards to make the annual fee worthwhile.
  • You can earn two miles for each $1 spent and five if you book car rentals and hotels through Capital One TravelSM. However, if your spending is primarily in a category such as office supplies or advertising, you could earn more with a different card and rewards program.
  • This card is primarily for travelers and not for those who prefer to earn cash back or rewards that aren't travel-focused.

Read our full Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business review.

 

NO ANNUAL FEE, STILL REWARDING

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 (plus 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel™) and a 20,000-mile bonus once you spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months of card membership (This card is not currently available on CardRatings).

BEST NO-ANNUAL-FEE SMALL BUSINESS CARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card offers a strong 2% cash back on all your purchases up to $50,000 spent each calendar year (then, 1%). Add in that there's no annual fee to worry about and you have a solid cash-back rewards small business credit card.

The Bonus: There isn't a traditional bonus offer, but you can take advantage an introductory no interest on purchases for 12 months (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable), which could save you a ton of money if you have some big expenses coming up.

The Annual Fee: No annual fee

The Rewards: Rake in 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1%. Your cash-back rewards are automatically credited to your statement.

More Details: 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 and in not unlimited – it adjusts based on your card use, payment history and more).

PROS:

  • This card offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable).
  • This is one of only a handful of business credit cards that do not charge an annual fee and offer a rewards program.
  • You can earn 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year, then 1%. There are no categories to keep up with, so you can just do your regular business spending and know you're earning solid rewards.

CONS:

  • There is no annual fee but there is a foreign transaction fee, which will cost you more if you have to use your card for purchases outside of the U.S.
  • There is a cap of $50,000 in spending on which you earn 2% cash back. If your business spends more annually on any category, you can earn more rewards from those purchases with other cards.

Read our full American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

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% 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 $750 in bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 in the first three months from account opening. Plus, take advantage of an introductory 12 months no interest on purchases (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable)

The Annual Fee: $0

The Rewards: Earn a flat and unlimited 1.5% 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.

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.

PROS:

  • There is no annual fee for this card so you won’t have to worry about earning enough rewards with the card to offset the fee.
  • This card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months (then, 13.24% - 19.24% Variable) which can help you save money on interest if you need to make a large purchase.
  • You can earn a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. New cardholders can earn a $750 cash back bonus after you spend $7,500 in the first three months of opening the account.

CONS:

  • Although there is no annual fee, there is a foreign transaction fee, which is not ideal if you need to use the card for purchases outside the U.S.
  • Although it’s convenient to not have to worry about purchase categories for rewards, you might earn more with a card that awards specific purchases.
  • There is a 0% introductory APR on purchases but not on balance transfers. If you need to transfer a balance to save money on interest, you need a card that offers the 0% intro APR on balance transfers.

Read our full review of the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.

BEST BALANCE TRANSFER/INTRO 0% APR CARDS FOR BUSINESS

U.S. Bank Business Platinum

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

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 20 billing cycles (then 9.99%-17.99%* Variable). 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 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR of 9.99%-17.99%* Variable will apply.

Balance Transfer Fees: 3%

The Annual Fee: $0*

PROS:

  • This card offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for 20 billing cycles (then, 9.99%-17.99%* Variable). If you need to make a large purchase right away, this gives you nearly two years to pay it off without interest.
  • You also get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 20 billing cycles (then, 9.99%-17.99%* Variable) which can save you some money on interest if you are currently paying down a balance at a high interest rate.
  • There is no annual fee for this card, so it won’t cost you every year to carry it.

CONS:

  • There is no annual fee but there is a foreign transaction fee. If your business will use the card for purchases abroad, you need a card that does not charge this fee.
  • There is no rewards program. This is no-frills card that can help you save money on interest payments but you won’t earn anything extra when you use the card.
  • There is also no bonus offer for new cardholders, which can often be worth hundreds of dollars with other cards.

Read our full U.S. Bank Business Platinum review.

BEST SMALL BUSINESS CARDS FOR AIRLINE REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If you're looking for an airline card for your small business, you obviously have airline travel expenses; however, those likely aren't the only expenses your business has. That's why we like an airline card that offers solid rewards on purchases outside of those directly with the airline.(Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

The Bonus: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within your first four months of account membership.

The Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months; add employee cards at no additional cost.

The Rewards: Earn two miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on every $1 spent with telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. Earn one mile per $1 on everything else.

More Details: CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® members also receive 25% savings when you pay for American Airlines in-flight WiFi with your card and can check your first bag for free.

PROS:

  • There are no foreign transaction fees, which will save you money if you need to use your card for foreign purchases or your business trips end up abroad.
  • That 65,000-miles welcome bonus opportunity is substantial and could translate into several round-trip flights depending on your itinerary.
  • Spend $30,000 in a card membership year and renew your card and you earn an American Airlines companion certificate (redeeming the certificate costs $99 plus some additional fees, but could still save you a lot of money if you use it for an expensive flight).

CONS:

  • This card does charge an annual fee, so you'll want to ensure it's the best option for your business' specific needs. Specifically, are airline miles really the best rewards currency for you or would a more general travel rewards card be better?
  • While it's nice to earn bonus miles on an airline card beyond just with that airline, you still need to consider whether the earning categories are right for your business.

Read our full review of the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: While not technically a small business credit card, if you are a regular business traveler (or personal traveler, of course) and American Airlines is the preferred airline for your travel plans, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® may be a great traveling companion. 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.

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.

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.

PROS:

  • Save money when you travel abroad – this card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.
  • New cardholders can 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 every year you make at least $40,000 in purchases. You can earn two miles for each $1 spent on American Airlines purchases and one mile on other purchases.
  • This card also comes with several travel benefits such as Admiral's Club® airport lounge access, priority check-in, first checked bag free, and a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee credit.

CONS:

  • This card has an annual fee of $450 with up to 10 authorized users free. This annual fee is at the top end of annual fees so you need to be sure you can take advantage of the benefits and rewards the card offers.
  • This card awards double miles on American Airlines purchases and just one mile on all other purchases. If your business spending varies or even if you fly different airlines, you earn more for those purchases with other cards.
  • This is primarily a card for travelers and not specifically for businesses so there aren’t any business-related benefits. In order to get the most out of it, you or your employees should be frequent flyers with American Airlines.

Read our full review of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.

BEST SMALL BUSINESS CARDS FOR HOTEL REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

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.

The Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of card membership.

The Annual Fee: $95; add employee cards at no additional cost.

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.

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; the American Express® Business App, 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.

PROS:

  • There are no foreign transaction fees, which can save your business money if you need to travel abroad or make foreign purchases.
  • You can earn 130,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months.
  • Other benefits include complimentary airport lounge passes and complimentary room upgrades.

CONS:

  • The annual fee for this card is $95. If you won’t earn enough points or use the benefits offered with the card, you should instead use a card with no annual fee.
  • This card covers a lot of different purchase categories, but the best redemption will be for Hilton hotel stays. If you prefer other hotel brands or earning cash back, this card is not your best option.
  • This card is primarily for travel. If this is not for your business, there are other cards that offer rewards in the non-hotel categories offered by this card but aren't specifically travel-related.

Read our full The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

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.

The Welcome Offer: For a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months; earn $150 in statement credits during the first six months for purchases of U.S. advertising with select media; take advantage of Platinum Elite Status for one year, Feb. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022 (offer ends Jan. 13, 2021).

The Annual Fee: $125.

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.

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.

PROS:

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees, which will save you money on foreign purchases.
  • For a limited time, you can earn a 100,000-point bonus when you use your card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first three months (offer ends Jan. 13, 2021).
  • This card awards six points on Marriott Bonvoy hotel purchases, four points at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. shipping. You also earn two points on all other purchases.

CONS:

  • This card has a $125 annual fee, which can add up if you don’t earn enough awards.
  • It is also primarily a travel card with benefits for people who frequent hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. If this is not you, a card with other business benefits and a different rewards focus would be a better option.

See our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

BEST SMALL BUSINESS CARD FOR FAIR CREDIT

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business helps to build business credit with responsible use. There's no annual fee, 1% cash back earned on every purchase, no foreign transaction fees, and employee cards at no extra cost.

The Welcome Offer: NA

The Annual Fee: $0; add employee cards at no additional cost

The Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on every purchase.

More Details: Enjoy business benefits including year-end summaries, employee cards at no additional cost, and experienced small business customer service.

PROS:

  • A small business card for those with fair/average crdit is rare. This card can help business owners build business credit with responsible use.
  • There is no annual fee for this card, so you don’t have to worry about paying for it every year just to carry it. There is also no foreign transaction fee.
  • You can earn a flat rate of 1% cash back on every purchase. If you don’t like dealing with purchase categories or categories that rotate, this might be a great option for you.

CONS:

  • There is no welcome offer with this card. Other cards offer new cardholders bonuses worth hundreds of dollars just for using the card, but it is for Fair/Average credit, so this isn’t entirely unexpected.
  • The flat rate of 1% cash back is convenient, but it is also the lowest rate awarded by most cards. It’s typically what you would earn from purchases in the “other” categories, with bonus categories earning as much as 5% or more. You could likely earn more rewards with another cash back card, though, again not necessarily with fair credit.

Read our full Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business review

WHY DO YOU NEED A SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?

The most relevant answer to this question will vary based on your situation. Maybe your primary need is to build a business credit history so you can qualify for a traditional small business loan in the future. Perhaps you're looking for a way to give employees spending power without handing over your personal credit card or going through a reimbursement process when they use their own personal cards. Maybe you just need a better way to monitor your business expenses.

Only you can judge what is most important to you about having a small business credit card.

In general, however, there are a few key reasons a small business credit card could be a good idea for you and your business:

1. Increase your business cash flow with the equivalent of an interest-free small business loan

Consider this: If you use your card for your expenses throughout the month then pay off the balance IN FULL before the due date, you've basically borrowed money for your expenses throughout the month. This comes in particularly handy if the bulk of your business' revenue tends to come in once or twice a month rather than spread out evenly throughout the month. Freelancers or contract workers who are paid irregularly certainly understand this situation.

Furthermore, a number of small business cards out there offer introductory zero interest periods on purchases and balance transfers. That means that business owners who have some big expenses on the horizon, whether startup costs or some kind of significant capital expense, could snag themselves months of interest-free time to pay off those purchases.

You can learn more about balance transfers with our Balance Transfer FAQ.

Please note that this interest-free cash flow situation only works if you pay off your balance COMPLETELY every billing cycle (or by the end of the introductory period). If you don't, the interest you pay will cut into your business' bottom line.

2. Separate your personal and business expenses

You have enough details to keep up with if you're running a small business. Trying to separate your business and personal expenses on a single credit card statement doesn't have to be one of them.

A small business credit card allows you to easily segregate your business expenses from your personal expenses. Now, this may not seem like a big deal when you think about, say, separating your grocery bill from your office heating bill. But what about buying your kids' school supplies at an office supply store and buying your business' office supplies at an office supply store? Suddenly, those charges get a bit more difficult to tell apart on a credit card statement.

"We think it is important to keep these two types of finances separate," said Brent Reinhard, chief marketing officer for business banking at Chase. "When we talk to small-business owners we hear that they spend a lot of time managing their business' finances. Why would you make that job more difficult by co-mingling your business and personal finances? If you really want to spend time analyzing your business' finances, it's much easier if they are confined to one place."

Besides making your life easier throughout the year, you'll especially appreciate having all your business expenses separate from your personal expenses come tax time (and your accountant will appreciate it, too). Think of it this way, every time you swipe your business credit card, you're potentially looking at a tax deduction; a business-expenses-only credit card statement will help you organize and maximize those deductions when the tax man comes calling each year. Some small business cards even offer special tools to further help you stay organized such as integration with QuickBooks or other accounting software.

3. Earn rewards or cash back on your business purchases

You know the saying, "You have to spend money to make money"? Well, it's true. Every business has expenses. A small business credit card, however, can soften the blow of those expenses with rewards or cash back based on what you spend.

Business credit cards can allow the owners of businesses both large and small to quickly generate rewards points, which they can turn into free airline miles or healthy cash-back bonuses. Even freelancers and work-from-home-contractors have expenses, so you might as well rake in rewards for what you have to spend anyway. Small business credit card rewards come in a number of forms including a flat rate for all your purchases or tiered rewards in certain categories, many of which are designed specifically with common business expenses in mind – think travel, shipping, office supplies, advertising, etc.

As an added, well, bonus, many small business credit cards offer healthy signup bonuses for new cardholders. Many of these bonuses equal a few hundred dollars in cash back or enough miles or points for a round-trip flight or two.

Read about the tax implications of rewards and business expenses

4. Enjoy features/perks specialized for small business cards

As we mentioned earlier, small business credit cards are specifically structured to meet the needs of small business owners/officers. That means the reward tiers tend to focus on common business expenses and features like free additional cards for your employees are pretty standard.

In addition, however, small business cards also tend to come with higher credit limits than personal credit cards do, a tool that cash-strapped business owners can use to purchase needed equipment and supplies to help their businesses.

That said, business owners and entrepreneurs must still keep a tight rein on their spending. As mentioned above, don't make the mistake of thinking that misusing your business credit cards will have no impact on your own personal credit scores.

Many financial institutions have policies stating that when cardholders pay late or miss payments on business credit cards, their financial miscues will be reported to the three national credit bureaus. This means that entrepreneurs who skip payments on business credit cards taken out in their names will see their personal three-digit credit scores fall.

Ultimately, your credit limit will depend on several factors. Banks will look at your personal credit report and, if you have an established business, they'll also look at the revenues of the business, how long it's been operating and how healthy it is.

Additional advantages of many small business cards include access to specialized expense tracking software and, in some cases the option to spend above your credit limit penalty-free or extend your billing cycle.

One thing small business credit cards DON'T come with is the same protections offered to consumers under the Credit Card ACT of 2009. A lot of the consumer-friendly aspects of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 don't apply to business lines of credit, so don't expect the same protection in terms of rate increases, which fees a card can charge, how you're billed and when you're expected to pay.

5. Build a credit history for your business

This is pretty basic, but definitely something to note. If you plan on being in business for years to come, you're going to want a solid credit history for your business. Sure you can work toward that by paying your utility, rent and other bills on time, but having a small business credit card will also help you along that path. That's assuming, of course, that you use the credit card responsibly and never miss a payment.

WHO CAN GET A SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?

Let's acknowledge one thing right off the bat: Today's labor market is not your grandfather's labor market (or maybe even your father's). Being "in business" now means something completely different than it did even 10 years ago.

Given the explosion of the gig economy in the past 10-plus years, everything from rideshare drivers to Airbnb landlords to more traditional freelancer and contractor roles, it's safe to assume a large percentage of the population finds themselves some part of this new way of doing business.

How do does this relate to small business credit cards? Well, for starters, many of those "alternative workers" are probably eligible for a small business credit card. That means freelancers, self-employed individuals, small business owners (or authorized officers of small businesses), entrepreneurs and more could all qualify.

Who can get one

Most credit card companies define "business" quite broadly when it comes to considering applicants for small business credit cards. In many cases, you can provide a social security number instead of a federal tax ID (EIN) on your small business credit card application. And while many applications will ask for information about your business' revenue, credit card companies are also aware that small business owners or entrepreneurs launching businesses do not yet have revenue streams. Those issuers want to get in on the ground floor of your startup business so, assuming your personal credit history is in good shape, that could go a long way in helping you get approved for your first small business card.

To qualify for a business credit card, you must be an "authorized officer" of a company. Basically, this means that you must have the legal right to enter into borrowing arrangements with financial institutions on behalf of a business.

If you are the owner of a sole proprietorship business or the sole owner of a small business, you are already an "authorized officer." You are, after all, the only owner of the company. It can be more complicated determining who ranks for businesses that have multiple owners. In general, though, most owners are also "authorized officers."

So what do banks actually consider when deciding who qualifies for a business credit card? If your business is new, your personal credit history is likely what will be considered.

This means that entrepreneurs with a history of missing their personal credit-card payments or making late payments to their mortgage lenders could struggle to qualify for a business credit card.

Banks also consider the type of business that applicants are either starting or running. If an applicant has an established business, expect the bank to consider at your balance sheet.

It's worth noting that obtaining a business credit card will likely require a personal guarantee, which means you, as an owner or primary shareholder, are typically personally liable for the debt. Likewise, card activity might be reported on your personal credit history and will definitely be reported if you default.

So now that you know who can qualify for a small business credit card, it's important to next ask:

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR A SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?

Now that you know you could qualify for a small business card, you're clear on why you want one and you've done the research to narrow down the options to the one for which you want to apply, it's time to gather everything you need to submit that application.

You'll need a lot of the same info you'd need to apply for a consumer card, but if you have an established business, you'll also want to have some basic info on hand about your business: Your annual revenue, how long it's existed, the business address and more.

What do you need to apply

If you don't have full business info yet but still want a small business credit card, go ahead and apply. But – and this is a big but – DON'T lie! As we mentioned earlier, banks understand that startups need credit cards, so don't stretch the truth trying to create business details that don't yet exist just to qualify for the card.

Don't panic over the info and try to keep in mind that not having a business history doesn't automatically disqualify you from getting a small business card. The bank will just look at your personal credit history to determine whether you are approved. (Frankly, they'll likely look at your personal history even if you do have an established business). If you have any questions or doubts about your application, call the issuer's customer service number and speak with someone directly.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT CARD?

As with the search for personal credit cards, when you're researching small business credit cards there are a number of factors to consider before signing your name on the application line (or clicking "submit" online, as the case may be).

Don't neglect taking the time to honestly consider the state of your business, the reasons you're considering a small business credit card and the most important features you're looking for in the card.

Beyond those general considerations, you'll also want to think about where you do the bulk of your business spending; whether you are willing to pay an annual fee (in general, you should only pay an annual fee if you're earning enough rewards to offset it); and whether cash back, points or travel rewards are most appealing.

How to chose

Small business credit cards can make a big difference for your business, whether you own a small storefront somewhere or drive for Uber. Do your homework and narrow down your options, then pick the best small business credit card for you.

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); American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card (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.

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