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 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. The card does come with a significant annual fee ($295), but with all that flexibility and perks, there are plenty of opportunities to offset that fee. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser. See Rates and Fees
To start, new cardholders can earn 35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Aside from benefits that would make any small business owner take notice – 25 percent of your 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 – 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.
There is also a flexible payment option that can help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more. Access expense management tools: Connect to Quickbooks, access the American Express® Business App, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.
This card, in fact, provides cardholders with a lot of agency when it comes to how they earn rewards. You'll earn 4x the points in the two select categories where your business spends the most each month list (4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year):
- 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
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 $15,000 on the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card in the first three months of opening the account, new cardholders receive 100,000 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, 100,000 Ultimate Rewards® points are worth up to $1,250 in travel, or $1,000 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.
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.
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 (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) instead. It offers a flat, 2 percent cash back on all purchases with a $0 introductory annual fee for first year; $95 after that.
The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business also has a nice bonus for new cardholders. Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within three months from account opening.
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.
See Rates and Fees for the American Express® Business Gold Card