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There are many reasons to have a small business credit card. You can use it to turn everyday business expenses into free travel. You can use it as a way to manage the expenses of your employees. It can be used as working capital to finance your business. Or, you could just use it to get into an airport lounge.
Before selecting a small business credit card, you really need to figure out why you want one. There is typically not a single credit card that solves all of your problems. And, as a growing business, you will probably want to have a few of these cards anyway. We have organized our recommendations based upon how you are going to use the credit card. Here are our top picks in 2017:
Best for Travel Rewards:
- If you don’t have a favorite airline: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
If you are loyal to an airline:
Best for Earning Cash Back:
- If you spend a lot on gas: Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
- If you spend a lot on office supplies: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- If you just want a flat 2% on every purchase, everyday: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
- Best for Luxury 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more.
- Best for Borrowing The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Why you would want a travel rewards card for business
If your primary objective is to turn your small business spending into free travel, consider a card where you can earn travel rewards. If you are loyal to a particular airline, jump ahead. Otherwise, consider our top travel rewards choice — the SPG from Amex.
If you don’t have a favorite airline: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
If you want the flexibility of being able to earn miles in most of the airline programs on a single card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card is for you. With this card you can transfer your points to over 30 popular airline frequent flyer programs (mostly on a 1:1 basis). Since you have the flexibility of transferring points to numerous frequent flyer programs, you will have an easier time selecting flights on trips. If you had a card exclusive to one airline, you would be limited to the availability that airline has when traveling. But with the SPG credit card you will have a wide selection of airlines to choose from and will benefit from easier flight bookings.
And every time you transfer 20,000 points to a participating frequent flyer program, you'll get a bonus of 5,000 points. When redeemed this way, each dollar spent will effectively earn you 1.25 points — higher than the one point most airline cards offer. This card comes with additional benefits that can come in handy during business purchases and trips, such as extended warranty, travel accident insurance, 24/7 global assist hotline, and more.
As a business customer, you benefit from Amex OPEN Savings®, which gives Amex business card holders added benefits for shopping with select partner retailers. That benefit includes either a 5 percent discount on your purchase or two additional Membership Rewards® points for each eligible dollar spent at OPEN Savings merchants. This card is great for businesses that frequently travel and want a card that will earn them versatile travel rewards. With no foreign transaction fees on international purchases, you have peace of mind when traveling anywhere.
If you’re loyal to an airline
If you fly a lot with one particular airline, it can make a lot of sense to just “top up” your mileage balance by using an airline credit card. If you often find yourself short of enough points to cover a flight, an airline credit card is a great way to earn those extra points. You will typically earn one point per dollar spent on all purchases, and points will be redeemable through the airline’s frequent flyer program. By spending with an airline credit card, you will see your rewards balance accumulate faster. In addition, the airline credit cards typically have benefits that can be very useful while traveling — like a free bag allowance. Here are cards dedicated to the biggest airlines.
Cash Back Rewards
Why you would want cash back rewards
A cash back card is a great way to earn money back from everyday business purchases. Business cash back cards typically offer a higher cash back rate on categories where you regularly spend, while some cash back cards offer a flat rate for all purchases. The following cards provide a great way for your business to earn cash back that can be applied as a statement credit or deposit. If you have higher spending in certain business categories (gas, office supplies), there are great options that will earn you a higher cash back rate in these categories. If you simply want a flat-rate cash back card, skip ahead.
If you spend a lot on gas: Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
The Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card is a great cash back card for small businesses that consider themselves “road warriors.” This card offers a high 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 each calendar year, 1% after that), 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants, 1% cash back on all other purchases. If your business is a big spender in gas — spending $20,833 or less a month — you will benefit from the high cash back rate on all purchases in this category. Spending $20,833 a month on gas will earn you $625 cash back a month, totaling a fantastic $7,500 cash back at the end of the year.
You are able to redeem your cash back starting at $25 in the form of a statement credit or deposit into your BofA small business checking or savings account. This card has a $0 annual fee, allowing you to enjoy the cash back you earn at no yearly cost. In addition to cash back, this card offers a good intro period on purchases (0% for 9 billing cycles) that will benefit businesses looking to make a big purchase and avoid interest charges while they pay off their purchase. If you are looking for the best intro period, see our section below. BofA also gives business customers cash flow management tools that allow you to monitor spending, and travel and emergency services that add a layer of protection when traveling. Take note that this card is not for businesses that travel abroad as you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee on all spending.
If you spend a lot on office supplies: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
If your business typically spends at least $2,084 a month ($25,000 per year) at office supply stores, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card will provide you with the highest cash back rate for these purchases. With this card you earn an incredibly generous rewards rate – Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.. This is a fantastic reward that you can redeem for cash back, travel, gift cards and more.
In addition to a great cash back rate for office supplies, the intro bonus for this card provides you with the chance to earn extra cash back. Earn $300 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This is a great way for you to earn bonus cash back on top of the cash back rewards you earn. Added benefits of purchases you make on this card include purchase protection and extended warranty protection. This card also offers a long intro period at 0% for 12 Months, though you can get a longer one. Named as “A Great Card for Small Businesses” by Kiplinger's Personal Finance in 2016, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card will earn your business great cash back if you’re a big spender at office supply stores. The other Chase Ink Business card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, earns rewards — not cash back — and is better suited for businesses that travel and don’t mind an annual fee.
If you just want a flat 2% on every purchase, everyday: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
As a small business owner, you have a lot of tasks to juggle and may not have the time to keep up with the various different cash back rates and caps for special categories. That’s where a flat-rate cash back card can earn you a great cash back rate on every purchase. The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card offers a great 2% Cash Back on every purchase, every day. This is a fantastic rate that will earn your business consistent cash back on all purchases. Spending $60,000 a year ($5,000 a month) will earn your business $1,200 cash back. You are able to redeem cash back for any amount at any time, and cash back rewards won't expire for the life of the account.
This card comes with quarterly and year-end summaries as well as Visa® Business Benefits, including travel and purchase protections. This card does have an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. Each year you spend $4,750, you will earn enough cash back to pay for the card. Currently, there is a One-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. If your business doesn’t spend a lot in a particular category, you are better off with this flat-rate card, and you will enjoy great cash back and benefits.
Luxury credit cards are a great way for your business to enjoy the best rewards and benefits. They typically come at a high annual fee, but if your business can support the fee, the benefits you will receive will outweigh the fee. Luxury credit cards provide first-rate benefits, including lounge access, travel and purchase protections, travel credits, versatile rewards and more. Whether your business wants to enjoy airline credits, travel insurance, or simply access an airport lounge — a luxury credit card is a great choice that will allow you to travel comfortably.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
The The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is the most prestigious luxury credit card on the market. Although it comes with one of the highest annual fees of any card at $450, if your business spends enough to fund this card, the top-notch rewards will outweigh the fee. You’ll earn Membership Rewards® points on all your purchases — 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1.5 Membership Rewards® points on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more..
The best perks of this card come in the luxury travel benefits, and as any business worker knows, traveling is stressful. With Amex, you can rest easy with the numerous benefits they offer to make your traveling a breeze. You can enjoy access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ — more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries, including Centurion®, Delta Sky Club® and Priority Pass Select lounges.
When you select a qualifying airline and charge incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments, you will receive up to $200 a year in statement credits. No need to worry about being charged foreign transaction fees or how to get Wi-Fi access when traveling — you receive complimentary internet access with 10 Gogo single flight segment internet passes annually and unlimited Wi-Fi at Boingo hotspots.
Want to avoid the long security checks at the airport? Apply for Global Entry or TSA Pre√®, and Amex will give you a fee credit. Booking any first- or business-class flight through American Express travel will get you 35 percent of your Membership Rewards® points back later, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year. Additionally, when you book travel through American Express, you’ll enjoy baggage and travel accident insurance, room upgrades, late checkout, food and beverage credit, SPG and Hilton Honors™ Gold status, and more to make your business’s travel experience the best. Amex also has 24/7 concierge service ready to assist you at all times. If business travel is a large part of your small business and you plan on maximizing your purchases to earn the seemingly endless benefits that this card offers, the annual fee is worth it.
As a small business you may need to carry a balance from time to time. Though carrying a balance isn’t ideal, there are options for your business to save money on interest payments. If you have an existing balance on a credit card, you can transfer it to a credit card that offers a long intro period with 0% intro APR. This way you will be able to pay off your balance over several months (usually nine, 12, or 15) at no interest. Note that most balance transfers come with a 3 percent fee, but this is negligible compared to the amount of money you’ll save on interest. Borrowing cards are also great if your business is planning on making a large purchase. Compared to making the purchase on an existing credit card and being charged interest when you don’t pay in full, purchases on a 0% intro period card won’t accrue interest during the intro period, allowing you plenty of time to pay off your purchase. Whether you need a borrowing card for a balance transfer or for a large purchase, you will have the opportunity to pay off your balance interest-free during the 0% intro period.
The best small business credit card for borrowing: The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
The The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great choice for businesses that have existing debt on a credit card or are looking to make a big purchase. With this card you will receive the longest intro period we could find for a small business card — 0% for 15 Months on both purchases and balance transfers.
And, there is a $0 annual fee. This is a great length of time for you to transfer an existing balance from another card and pay it off interest-free. Or if you plan on making a large purchase that you’re unable to pay off within a month, this card offers over a year for you to pay it off, without accruing any interest. Keep in mind balance transfers will be charged a fee — Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.. But the interest you will save from making the transfer often outweighs the fee.
In addition to a fantastic intro period, this card will earn you Membership Rewards points and offers a lot of other benefits, including travel and purchase insurances, extended warranty, purchase protection, access to the Amex OPEN Savings® program and more. If your business is racking up interest charges on overdue balances or planning on making a large purchase, this card provides you with the time to pay off your balance.
Just watch out for international spending — the card comes with a foreign transaction of 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars..
What makes a good business credit card?
A good business credit card should have a variety of features that set it apart from personal credit cards and business loans. Business credit cards are a good way for your business to build credit, track spending and earn rewards. When searching for a business credit card you should choose a card with the following benefits: Free employee cards Intro bonus and intro 0% APR period Rewards program Business spending reports Free credit score and credit monitoring tools Business credit reporting No foreign transaction fee
Are credit cards geared toward small businesses?
Yes, there are numerous credit cards that are geared toward small businesses. The cards in this post are all designed for small businesses, unlike standard personal credit cards. Most small business credit cards offer features that allow you to earn high rewards on business purchases, offer travel perks, and monitor spending.
What credit level and spending is required for a business card?
Although this is a small business card, both your personal and business credit score will be considered. Business cards typically require an average or better credit score. If you are new to credit or have bad/fair credit, you will not qualify for a business card. Business cards approve applicants for higher credit limits than personal cards. This is due in part to the large volume of purchases businesses make. There is no minimum spending required annually for a business card.
How does this affect my personal credit score and history?
Business credit cards are a personal liability for business owners. Any unpaid balance that is a result of your business card will appear on your personal credit history and lower your personal credit score. This means you are liable for all purchases on your business card, including employee spending. To prevent issues, frequently monitor your account, limit employee spending, and set up autopay.
Should you have more than one business card?
If your business is new to credit, it’s best to start with one business credit card so spending doesn’t get out of hand. This is important since you, as the business owner, are personally liable for all purchases made on the business card. As you build credit and your business’s needs grow, you may want to have multiple credit cards to maximize your rewards and benefits. You may want a travel rewards card to pair with an airline’s frequent flyer program, a cash back card for high-spending categories like office supplies and gas, a borrowing card if you have an existing balance or plan on making a large purchase, and a luxury card if you want to travel with ease. Keep in mind taking out an additional card will add to your personal risk, and if you don’t want more liability, it is best to stick with one business card.
Are there benefits to a credit card over a business loan?
Yes, there are benefits that come with business credit cards that business loans do not provide. If you are looking to make ongoing purchases, a credit card is a better choice than a loan. Read about the benefits business loans can provide and see below for the unique benefits of a business credit card:
- Rewards that can earn you points on everyday business purchases
- Intro bonus offers
- 0% intro rates — allowing you to pay a large purchase interest-free or pay off a balance on another card
- Easier taxes by having all business purchases on one card
- No collateral required
- Revolving line of credit helps easily manage recurring payments
- Ability to build business credit
- Automate recurring expenses
- Monitor employee spending
*Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MangifyMoney.com and CompareCards.com