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 bonus cash back in multiple business expense categories and a standard 1 percent on everything else, plus enjoy unusual perks like cell phone protection.
When it comes to value for the annual fee the Ink Business PreferredSM Card from Chase rises to near the top of our list. With this card, your business will rake in three Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for every dollar spent (up to $150,000 annually, then 1 point per $1) on travel; shipping; internet, cable and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Those are fairly broad categories ranging from the traditional to the more unique and a relatively high spending cap under which you'll earn at that 3 percent rate. You'll also earn 1 point per $1 on all your other purchases.
What makes that earning power even better is the flexibility of Chase Ultimate Reward® points, which can be redeemed for everything from cash back to travel and more. In fact, if you redeem your points for travel, and they're worth 25 percent more. And, 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.
Lastly, this card offers a rare perk among all credit cards, whether consumer or business: cellular telephone protection for the primary phone number as well as employee phones on the same account (the account must be paid with the card to qualify).
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 (and maybe doesn't spend up to the $150k mentioned above), Chase's broader Ink line of small-business credit cards could hold an even better offer. This card, for instance, 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:
For the business travelers out there, it's nice to have a home away from home. It's even nicer when it pays to have a home away from home, which is exactly what happens when you use this card.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers plenty in the way of value, especially for the business traveler who lays their head on a hotel pillow on a regular basis (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser). This card rewards all that travel with up to five Starpoints® per $1 spent at participating Starwood hotels, two points per $1 spent at participating Marriott hotels and one point for every $1 spent on your other purchases. That means this card can benefit you even during your not-travel-heavy seasons. Plus, new cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points after using your card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
Beyond that intro bonus, points will add up quickly for road warriors, but the additional perks like free Wi-Fi via more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide and no foreign transaction fees mean you'll potentially save money on some incidental fees just by having this card in your business toolbox.
But let's focus on those points, which are worth talking about. Redemption isn't restricted to simply claiming free nights at one of more than 1,300 hotels. Starpoints® can be transferred to more than 30 frequent flyer programs for reward tickets on more than 150 airlines. Plus, each time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints® to a frequent flyer program, you'll receive an additional 5,000 points.
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 bonus reward system with five categories to benefit from and choices for the cardholders when it comes to where you'll earn the most. Here's the deal:
Cardholders choose one of the following categories in which you will earn three times the points:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
Cardholders earn two times the points on the other four categories and one point per $1 spent on all your other purchases. 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:
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. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser). Get Membership Rewards points on purchases. New cardholders can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $10,000 (for the first 50,000 points) and then an additional $10,000 for the other 25,000 points within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN offers premium benefits that include world-class platinum service, travel benefits, rewards that can help reduce expenses and access to one-of-a-kind events. With this card's Membership Rewards® Program you can get 1.5 points per dollar on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more, for up to 1 million additional points per year. This card offers a 35% Airline Bonus -- use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back. There is an Airport Lounge Access Program with complimentary access to The American Express Global Lounge CollectionSM worldwide. You can also enjoy in-flight and on-the-ground internet access with 10 in-flight Internet passes annually and access to 1 million Boingo hotspots around the globe. Terms apply.
U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Cash Rewards World Elite™ MasterCard®
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, 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; $95 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 won't expire for the life of the account.
Our editor's take:
Take advantage of the solid signup 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 (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser). 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: For a limited time, cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases are made within the first three months of account opening. Cardholders earn two miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and on purchases on telecommunications, at car rental merchants and at gas stations. For other purchases, cardholders earn one mile for every $1 spent and there is no cap to the miles you can accumulate. Additional highlights: first checked bag free on domestic itineraries and boarding privileges on American Airlines.
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 (then, 12.24% - 22.24% Variable APR on purchases) could certainly come in handy.
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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