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The top 4 credit cards for tech professionals (and why you need one)

By , CardRatings contributor
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    As tech professionals, very often you ARE your own business. Whether you're a consultant, freelance developer or content provider or perhaps you run a small business that helps connect those people in the tech industry, you know that working in the tech world comes with a unique set of business needs and expenses. You benefit from your status as a "small business" at tax time when your deductions add up, but in terms of purchases and expenses, you're probably not going to generate the volume needed to take advantage of the same discounts from various vendors that the big guys get.

    Still, that term "small business" can come in handy. As a category, it denotes that you deserve respect in the business world, even if you aren't really competing with the industry giants. It allows vendors to set lower levels for benefits and discounts, thereby giving you the opportunity to be rewarded when you wouldn't ordinarily. It can also make a big impact on your bottom line.

    Plus, "small business" means something pretty broad to credit card issuers, which means you could very well be eligible for a card that offers a number of perks and benefits available to people like you.

    Some of the benefits afforded your small business by credit card issuers include:

    • Separate business and personal expenses: Come tax time, this separation makes it easy to file – and do it accurately, thereby minimizing your risk of audit.
    • Track expenses for you and your employees: If you have other employees, you can get them their own cards, with separate limits.
    • Earn rewards: Who doesn't want to earn cash back or travel rewards for simply using a card?
    • Increase your cash flow, interest-free as long as you pay in full each cycle. 

    But where do you start? Well, you could jump right into our Small Business Credit Cards comparison table, or you could let us help you narrow things down a little more. The following four credit cards  offer various levels of benefits tailored to businesses of all sizes, but we've looked specifically at those that could prove especially beneficial to those in the tech profession. Happy card comparing!

    The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

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    The first card suggested for tech professionals is actually a charge card, which means its entire balance is due in full each month, giving cardholders the perfect motivation to stay on budget. It's the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, and it's the 2018 CardRatings Editors Choice pick for Best Small Business Credit CardTerms apply. See Rates and Fees

    Aside from introductory benefits that would make any small business owner take notice – 50,000 Membership Rewards® points if you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases in the first three months – this card targets you as tech professionals directly. There are bonus rewards available specifically on U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers; also on advertising in select media.

    This card, in fact, provides cardholders with a lot of agency when it comes to how they will earn rewards. You'll choose one category in which you'll earn three times the points from this list:

    • 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

    You also pick up two times the points on the other four categories that you don't choose for your three times points. All your other purchases earn one point per $1 spent. (Both the three times and two times the points rewards apply to the first $100,000 spent in the categories annually).

    American Express also establishes no pre-set spending limit, instead evaluating your account constantly based on your habits, needs and credit report. One benefit to it being a charge card is that no balance carrying means no need for an interest rate. The card does come with a $175 annual fee (waived for the first year), but with all that flexibility and those perks, there are plenty of opportunities to offset that fee. 

    Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

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    Our next suggested card is the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card from Chase, featuring the chance to earn three Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on the first $150,000 in annual combined travel expenses; shipping costs; internet, cable and phone service purchases; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Earn one point per $1 spent on all your other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn. Notice that bonus earning opportunity for several tech services and advertising-focused categories?

    After spending $5,000 on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in the first three months of opening the account, new cardholders receive 80,000 bonus points. That's in addition to three points for every $1 spent on travel and other select purchases (as discussed above) and one point for every $1 spent on everything else. Points can then be exchanged for cash transfers, gift cards or, for 25 percent more value, can be redeemed towards airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Put in perspective, 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points are worth up to $1,000 in travel, or $800 in cash. Alternatively, points can be transferred to participating travel programs at a full 1-to-1 value, meaning one Chase Ultimate Rewards® point equals one partner point or mile. And, as you would hope, there are no foreign transaction fees.

    Though there is a $95 annual fee, the rate at which rewards are earned could by far make up for it depending on your business' spending habits.

    Lastly, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers cell phone insurance up to $600 per covered incident for the primary phone on the account (as long as you pay your cellular bill on your card) as well as any other phones on the account. That perk alone helped make this card the CardRatings 2018 Editor's Choice runner up pick for Best Small Business Credit Card

    Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

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    The final card is the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business credit card. It features no annual fee, as well as a flat-rate rewards earning of 1.5 percent on all your purchases. That means even if you don't buy at office supply stores, etc., you'll still earn. Big box store too expensive? Head online and watch that cash add up.

    Many rewards credit cards offer bonus rewards at places like office supply stores or on travel, but that means purchases from specialty stores or purchases of specialty services are often left in the "1 percent back" rewards category. With the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business  credit card you'll beat that typical cash-back amount by earning 1.5 percent back even if you ARE buying from specialty tech-based vendors.

    Furthermore, tech consultants don't always limit their clients to U.S.-based companies, so it's important to avoid the fees associated with international transactions. Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business comes with no foreign transaction fees.

    Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

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    If you want to maximize your rewards and you don't mind paying an annual fee, you may want to apply for the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business instead. It offers a flat, 2 percent cash back on all purchases with a $0 introductory annual fee for first year; $95 after that.

    Capital One makes things easy by requiring no signups or caps to keep track of and the no-annual-fee card even offers a 0 percent introductory APR on purchases for nine months. Both cards provide custom, itemized reports (quarterly and year-end) of your spending that can help you simplify planning, budgeting and tax time for your business. Capital One's business specialists can also issue extra cards for each of your employees, for free, with you controlling not only their purchasing limits, but the types of transactions they can complete, as well.

    The bottom line is, as a tech professional, you are an entrepreneur, and as such, could reap some amazing benefits just from what it takes to run your business day-to-day. Compare your options and shop around for the card that best meets your needs.

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