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Best Business Credit Cards for Startups

Best Business Credit Cards for Startups

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This article was last updated Jul 22, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

When you’re getting a brand-new company off the ground, you need spending power, perks and flexibility. That’s why choosing the right credit card is key.

A card serves as a convenient payment tool for startup purchases, from a shiny new website and logo design to a flight across the country to woo prospective clients. However, a business credit card also allows you to finance big business expenses in a pinch, build business credit and keep company purchases separate from your personal spending.

It’s crucial to keep business and personal expenses separate from the start, as putting all your startup expenses on a business credit card will help you stay organized at tax time, head off headaches with the IRS and easily track expenses.

Credit cards are also the most popular financing product for small businesses, including startups, that have no employees. About 45% of businesses without employees and 27% of businesses with employees applied for a credit card in the previous year, according to the 2018 Small Business Credit Survey by Federal Reserve Banks in 12 U.S. cities.

“It’s important to look at the benefits and find the card that best matches your business,” said Justin Goodbread, a financial advisor and business strategist.

Because startups typically haven’t yet built business credit, a business infrastructure or a steady cash flow, a founder should pay special attention to the interest rate and check to see if a card has a low APR or introductory rate, Goodbread said.

“A startup is typically running on a shoestring budget and may need to use that credit card as a float while getting that business off the ground,” he said.

Weigh business needs before deciding on a business card

The best small business cards for startups offer great value for the cost, flexibility and tools that make life easier for a new small business owner.

However, choosing the best one for your business will come down to your needs, goals and spending habits. Here are three choices you’ll need to make when shopping for a business credit card:

  1. Cash back or travel rewards? If you prefer simplicity and flexibility, you may want to opt for cash back. But if your business has you flying all over, staying in hotels and renting cars, a travel rewards card could be the way to go.
  2. Annual fee or no annual fee? While cards that offer the best perks and rewards tend to charge an annual fee, the good news for business owners is that business credit card annual fees are tax deductible. If you’re considering a card with an annual fee, add up the dollar value you get from the card, including perks and rewards, to make sure the benefits outweigh the cost.
  3. Charge card vs. credit card? Business charge cards are no longer common. In fact, American Express® is the only major issuer that still offers these cards. A charge card has no spending limit and may offer rich rewards, but you must generally pay the bill in full each month, unless you opt into an extended payment plan that some American Express business cards offer.

Before you apply, it’s also important to know your credit score. Some business cards require excellent credit while others accept average credit. For startups, the company  will typically look at the founder’s personal credit, Goodbread says.

“Sometimes the founder of the company will have super-duper credit, and the credit card company will offer a sweetheart deal,” he said. However, that’s not always the case.

A credit card can be a stepping stone to the ultimate goal, which is to build a good business credit history for the small business. “At that point, you’re going to have a lot more options available to you in the credit card arena,” he said.

Need help choosing a business credit card? We’ve done some of the work for you by checking the offerings and choosing the best card in each category. To select the best business credit cards for startups, we combed through the details of business card offerings from top U.S. credit card issuers. We compared the cards offered in each category, looking at: fees, sign-up bonuses, APR, 0% introductory offers, rewards structure, quarterly or yearly maximums on rewards earnings, travel and insurance perks.

Best cash back business card

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

  • 2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere

  • Earn a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Redeem cash back for any amount at any time

Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount

See additional details for Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

More Info

This card offers an unlimited 2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, so it’s great for busy business owners who want to get rewarded for their spending without wrangling with a complicated rewards program. The card also boasts an introductory offer that allows you to Earn a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, and the $0 intro for first year; $95 after that annual fee is very reasonable. If you decide the fee isn’t worth it after the first year, you can easily downgrade to the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business, which has a $0 annual fee and gives you 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.

Highlights of the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Purchase go-to APR: 19.24% (Variable)
  • Rewards program: 2% Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere
  • Special benefits: Free employee cards; purchase security benefit that will replace, repair or reimburse you for eligible items purchased on the card in the first 90 days; extended warranty protection up to 1 year
  • Introductory offer: Earn a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.

Best no-annual fee business card

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

  • 0% for 12 months

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%

  • 15.24% - 21.24% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • From workflow to inventory to floor plans, your business is constantly changing. That’s why you’ve got the power to spend beyond your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power§.
  • Just remember, the amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 15.24%, 18.24%, or 21.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.

See additional details for American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

More Info

The American Express® Blue Business Cash Card offers a straightforward approach to earning cashback rewards and no annual fee, making it a winner for busy startup owners who don’t want the hassle of dealing with bonus spend categories. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.

But perhaps the coolest perk is Expanded Buying Power, which can help your business deal with unexpected costs and pay for larger purchases. The feature lets you spend beyond your credit limit — with no overlimit fees — and earn cash back on those purchases.

Highlights of the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

  • No annual fee
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 15.24% - 21.24% Variable
  • Rewards program: Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%
  • Special benefits: Free employee cards, account management tools, car rental loss and damage insurance, Global Assist hotline, extended warranty, purchase protection  and dispute resolution. Terms apply.

Best business card for office expenses

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • 0% for 12 Months

  • $500 bonus cash back

  • Earn 5% cash back in select business categories

Highlights
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone 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
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

See additional details for Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

More Info

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is perfect for new business owners who purchase office supplies and services. Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone 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. The card also offers both a sign-up bonus and an introductory APR on purchases: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The introductory offer for purchases is 0% for 12 Months, then a 15.24% - 21.24% Variable APR applies, which is great for startup owners who want to finance a computer or other large purchase without getting socked with interest during the introductory period.

Highlights of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 12 Months on purchases, then 15.24% - 21.24% Variable
  • Rewards program: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone 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.
  • Special benefits: free employee cards, purchase protection; access to Avis rental car discounts and free upgrades
  • Introductory offer: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Best small business 0% intro offer on purchases

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

  • 0% for 12 Months, then 15.24% - 21.24% Variable

  • Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases up to the annual cap

  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card

Highlights
  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 15.24%, 18.24% or 21.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

More Info

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express offers an intro 0% for 12 Months on purchases and an intro 0% for 12 Months on balance transfers. After the promotional periods end, a 15.24% - 21.24% Variable APR applies. This is perfect for a startup founder who wants to pay for a big purchase on credit in a smart way, or who wants to get some breathing room on high-interest debt from another card.

Highlights of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Intro APR: 0% for 12 Months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 15.24% - 21.24% Variable APR applies
  • Rewards program: 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Special benefits: Extended warranty up to 2 years, purchase protection for 120 days after purchase. Terms apply.

Best business card for fair credit

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases

  • No foreign transaction fees & complimentary fraud coverage

  • 25.24% (Variable)

Highlights
  • Enjoy no annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase
  • Build business credit with responsible use
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy business benefits including Year-End Summaries, employee cards at no extra cost and experienced small business customer service

See additional details for Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

More Info

It can be tough for startup owners with less-than-perfect credit to find a card that isn’t secured. The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business  is a non-secured card that offers business owners with average credit a simple way to make purchases for the business, get rewarded with a modest amount of cash back and build credit at the same time. Because the APR is on the high side, you will want to try to pay your bill in full and avoid financing purchases on this card.

Highlights of the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase go-to APR: 25.24% (Variable)
  • Rewards program: 1% Cash Back on every purchase
  • Special benefits: Purchase security for 90 days, extended warranty up to 1 year
  • Introductory offer: None

Best small business travel card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points

  • Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

See additional details for Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

More Info

It’s difficult to pick one best small business travel card since so much depends on your spending habits, location, preferred airline, travel habits and rewards goals. However, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is a solid choice for traveling business owners. For a relatively modest annual fee of $95, it offers a big sign-up bonus. New cardholders can Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn extra rewards for travel spending with an array of travel partners to which you can transfer rewards. The sign-up bonus is worth $1,000 in travel value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

Highlights of the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Purchase go-to APR: 17.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Rewards program: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • Special benefits: Purchase protection for 120 days, extended warranty of an additional year, cellphone protection up to $600 per claim when you pay your bill with your card, auto insurance coverage, trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Introductory offer: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

A business credit card is a key tool to make life easier for a new business owner and to patch over ebbs in cash flow. Taking the time to choose the business credit card that’s right for your needs can help you launch and grow your fledgling enterprise.


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