The Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses
You work hard as a business owner—shouldn't your credit card work just as hard? Here's our look at some of the best business credit cards and bonuses available.
Owning a business is a pricey endeavor.
While there are definite perks to being your own boss, it's those monetary rewards that are ultimately what keep your business in the black.
To boost that bottom line, you'll need a steady stream of income, but you'll also have to budget carefully so that all those hard-earned bucks aren't flying out the door as soon as they come in.
While it may be some time before you're flying first class as a big-time entrepreneur, that doesn't mean you can't start earning and redeeming rewards as a business credit card holder.
Whether your small business is meant to stay small or scale new heights in the industry, business credit cards make paying for all the stuff you and your staff needs so much easier.
Just as you chose carefully with what you have in your own wallet, it makes sense to spend some time deciding which credit cards will work best for your needs as a small business owner.
Consider the Perks
You'll get tons of personal perks with the right credit card for business purchases
Here's some good news—no matter which business card you choose, there are plenty of rewards and perks to come along with it.
The real decision is what you want those rewards to do for you.
Airline miles for travel?
A good rate on a balance transfer?
Cashback rewards that you can funnel right back into your biz?
Just think—you'll rack up all those sweet small business-friendly rewards that much faster when you get cards issued for select employees.
The more spending you and your staff do, the more rewards you'll reap in the end.
Match your small business credit card to your perk preferences
It's all well and good to get a ton of airline miles with your business credit card sign-up bonus, but what if business is booming and you need to stay close to home?
You can, of course, save your points for a well-deserved vacation in the future (most cards' points don't expire as long as the account is active), but perhaps a cashback credit card is more applicable to your current needs.
Good news about business credit cards:
You have flexibility when choosing rewards.
Whether you want those airline and travel miles, balance transfer options, or cashback benefits to use however and whenever you choose, there are plenty of options for >business credit cards.
What About Bonuses?
Consider whether big-bonus cards are a help or a hindrance to your bottom line
We know what you're thinking—aren't more credit card rewards and bonuses a good thing?
Well, yes... Yes, they are.
But those flashy sign-up bonuses often come with big-time annual fees or high-spending thresholds.
Depending on how business is treating you these days, you may want to opt for a credit card issuer that offers smaller rewards and fewer frills (read: one that doesn't cost you anything to use).
Don't get us wrong—we often sing the praises of credit cards with higher annual fees because the perks far outweigh the costs.
But because cash is king, especially if you're just getting started with your small business, we made sure to include no- and low-fee cards on this list that still offer good rewards for your credit limit and spending habits.
Big bonuses and plenty of perks push these business credit cards over the top
As with consumer cards, there are a wealth of options out there for business credit cards.
Rather than waste your precious time running your company, we did the grunt work and waded through the benefits and fine print for you.
We came up with four cards we think are great picks for staff spending.
1. Amex Business Platinum card
Earn luxury travel perks with the American Express Business Platinum card
It's hard to ignore the privilege of being an American Express cardholder, especially since the newer metal chip cards look and feel like a million bucks.
And as we said before, there are certain cards which have sign-up bonuses that make their sky-high annual fees worth every penny. The Amex Business Platinum card is one of 'em. Here's why:
Lower annual fee. While $175 for the lower-tier Amex Business Gold Rewards card is still a nice chunk of change, it's not nearly the $450 required to keep the Platinum version of this card in your wallet.
Pay in full or over time. Amex is traditionally a charge card, which means you should pay off the balance each month.
But for eligible cardholders, the Pay Over Time feature allows you to carry a balance like you can with a regular credit card, though a 19.24% APR does apply.
And since that number hurts just looking at it, we'd suggest skipping this feature and paying that balance off each month.
A super sign-up bonus means that work trip or vacation is already in the bag
For a limited time, you can earn 75,000 points total—50,000 for the initial $10,000 spend and another 25,000 for another $10,000 charged.
The exact value per point varies depending on how you redeem those points, but typically Amex can transfer 1:1 for most traveler loyalty programs.
Keep in mind, though, that the spending has to take place in the first three months the card is open, so this one is best suited for successful business owners confident in their cash flow.
This card is also best for jet-setting entrepreneurs—or at least those who aspire to be, thanks to some rather incredible travel perks that have become synonymous with this credit card issuer:
Say bye bye to baggage fees and hello to luxurious layovers
Amex offers a $200 airline fee credit each year. And with your Priority Pass membership, you've got access to countless airport lounges, including Delta SkyClubs and Amex Centurion Lounges.
Upgraded status with Hilton. Before you even book a room, you'll get an automatic upgrade to Gold status in the Hilton Honors program.
Access to the express lane. Enjoy a free credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, renewable every four years.
Stay connected. Wifi is on Amex , thanks to the 10 Gogo passes you'll get each year.
Lucky, a blogger over at One Mile at a Time, loves this card.
"To me, the Amex Business Platinum Card is about the awesome perks you get, rather than the return on spend. The great thing is that the Amex Business Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, so you can pool any points you earn on this card with the points you earn on other cards."
So if you've got other Amex cards for personal use in your wallet, that means you can combine all of the points into one huge pot to redeem at your leisure.
If that sounds good, head over to the American Express website to apply and get a decision in less than a minute.
2. Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business
Start small and grow big with this business credit card
If you're launching a small business, you might think you need a ton of cash and a sky-high credit score to even carry a business credit card.
Not so at all.
Enter the Capital One Spark Cash Select card, which can get you and your business off and running on a small budget.
Earn on all purchases. Get 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend.
Roam and redeem freely. There are no blackouts or seat restrictions when you book travel. And there's no minimum point amount to accumulate, so redeem whenever you want.
Easy-to-achieve sign-up bonus. Earn 20,000 points ($200 in travel) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening your account. This is a rather conservative spend when it comes to business cards, which is why it made our list.
Go interest-free for a while. Skip the interest for the first nine months on all purchases. After that, it's 13.99-21.99% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness.
Avoid the annual fee. It won't cost you a thing (besides your monthly payment, of course) to be a cardholder. This card is looking better and better!
Protect yourself against fraud. If someone snags your card for a shopping spree, you're not responsible.
Taylor of Gordon of the Magnify Money blog is a fan of this small business credit card, but she does share this one credit score caveat.
"The only real con of this card is its eligibility requirements. If you don't have excellent credit, you'll have to work on building it before you can apply."
If you're already there with your credit score and like the perks of this card, head over to the Capital One website to apply.
3. Chase Ink Business Preferred
Rack up big bonuses and rewards with the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card
The Chase Ink Business Preferred card is a worthy contender for your company spending (wait until you see the sign-up bonus!).
And since Chase also offers excellent business banking options like loans and merchant services (think credit card processing), it's not a bad idea to also add a credit card to your Chase cache.
Even if you choose to bank or do your credit card processing with another institution, here's why we think you should consider Chase:
Enjoy a staggering sign-up bonus. We're still floored by this offer—earn 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of opening the account.
That's $1,000 in travel bucks when you redeem through the easy-to-use Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Triple your points. You'll get three points for every dollar you spend (capped at $150K each year) for travel, shipping purchases, online advertising, and internet, phone, and cable services. All other purchases earn you one point per dollar—and there is no limit on that spending.
Redeem points for big bonuses. When you're ready to give yourself a little treat, redeem your points and get a 25% bonus. If you don't own an accounting firm, we'll do the math for you — 80,000 points transforms into 100,000 points, or $1,000 in travel.
Enjoy a low annual fee. For all you get with this card, we think the $95 annual fee is money well spent.
We also like this card for its other perks:
Protect your phone. Pay your phone bill with your card, and you'll get up to $600 per insurance claim if your phone is damaged or stolen.
Go point for point with other rewards programs. For every point, you'll get a point with most leading frequent traveler programs.
Alex Miller over at the Upgraded Points blog calls this card "The King of Business Credit Cards" and offers this high praise.
"This is a business card that's very hard to beat with a huge sign-up bonus, as well as earnings of 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 in so many various business categories. One to beat!"
Ready to snag that sign-up bonus? Visit the Chase website to apply for this card.
4. CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
Get set for travel with this card of perks
The bank's website touts this card as "one of Citi's best business credit cards for earning travel rewards."
Based on the sign-up bonus alone—60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles—we've already got vacation or perhaps an upgraded business trip on our minds.
Here are a few other things you can look forward to when you open this business credit card:
Easy-peasy initial bonus. You'll net those 60,000 AA miles after spending only $3,000 in the first three months you have this card in hand.
That's just $1,000 a month—even a brand new business owner could likely swing that.
Be free of fees. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. Plus, there's no foreign transaction fee, which is especially helpful if you're thinking of going global with your business.
While it's always important to read the fine print of any credit card you consider, even Citi makes sure to draw your attention to the following card caveat:
There's no second chance with this card. If you had this card in the past but closed it, you're out of luck if you're thinking you can reapply to snag this bonus—you'll have to wait a full two years before you are eligible for miles again.
If you travel often for business, and if you book with American Airlines more often than not, this card is for you.
Some will say that redeeming AA miles can be a bit tricky, but others will say it's totally worth it.
Case in point, Zila, a commenter on The Points Guy site, has nothing but love for AA.
"I reserved a B class from MIA to SCL for the saver award for 57K, which would have cost me thousands. I also used it for a flight from BOS to LHR last year, also in B class... I am quite happy with them."
If the thought of a ton of AA miles makes you happy, apply for this card on the Citi website.
Pick the card that's best for your bottom line
It's none of our business how you run your business—but we will always advise you to pick out the best credit card for your company's spending habits.
And boy, do you have options when it comes to the rewards you'll get based on your spending.
Of course, just as you would monitor your credit limit on your consumer cards, you'll want to do the same for your business credit cards.
It's simply not worth the future of your business endeavor to drive yourself into debt, even though the travel points you'll get for spending a ton of money could get you a first-class tropical vacation.
Be as savvy about your spending as you are about your industry, and you'll go far—perhaps literally!
Are you a small business owner who uses credit cards for business-related expenses?
How has it worked out for you?
Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below.