Best Credit Cards for your Business

A business card can help to separate personal and business expenses; it can give your employees a card that’s connected directly to the business account and if you choose the right card, you can earn cash, points, and miles every time it is used.

A business credit card is available to businesses of all shapes and sizes, from LLCs and partnerships, to sole proprietors. In fact, the vast majority of businesses in the United States, and the majority of business card owners, are sole proprietors, so don’t assume you can’t just because you don’t have a formally structured company complete with several dozen employees.

The Best Business Credit Card

The size of your business will dictate which card is right for you. We have looked at several key factors, including cash back rates, foreign transaction fees, account opening offers, and more to highlight the best credit cards for business owners and their employees, all of which are listed below. 

Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card from AmEx tops our list despite having the highest annual fee. It has an endless list of perks, rewards, and benefits, including extra points earned on qualifying purchases. For instance, cardholders can get 50% more points on eligible purchases up to $5,000, as well as travel-related spending categories with no spending limit.

There are also a number of benefits and discounts for select business purchases, including access to airport lounges, bonus miles for business use, and more.

  • Credit Card Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $595
  • Regular APR: Varies
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Rewards: Up to 5x Membership Points
  • Sign-up Bonus: 75,000 membership rewards points

Discover It Business Card

The Discover It Business Card was always going to be included on this list as we’re big fans of the Discover It series and have highlighted the benefits of these cards many times. With the Discover It Business, cardholders can secure a fixed, unlimited cash back rate of 1.5%, which applies to all purchases.

There are no bonus categories or rotating bonuses; every purchase qualifies. And as with the other Discover It credit cards, the Discover It Business card matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year, effectively doubling your earnings.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Discover
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.49% to 22.49% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% purchases for first 12 months
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: Double cash back at the end of your first year

Capital One Spark Cash

There are a few Spark cards, two of which have made this list while another (the Spark Classic) came very close to doing so. The Spark Cash card is one of our favorites and offers a wealth of benefits, including free employee cards, a low interest rate, and an unlimited 2% cash back on all business purchases.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year and you’ll need to spend just under $5,000 after that to offset the cost.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived for first year)
  • Regular APR: 18.49% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: $500 welcome offer when you spend $4,500 in first three months

Capital One Spark Miles

If you like the idea of the Spark Cash Card, but want something more suited to travel, something that can give you miles instead of cash back, the Spark Miles is ideal. You can get an $85 TSA Pre credit or a $100 GlobalEntry credit, and you can transfer your points to save money on airfare with 10 different providers.

As many as 5x miles can be earned through car rental and hotel purchases, and in addition to paying for airfare, these rewards can be redeemed for hotels (Hilton, Marriott) rental cars, and other travel-related expenses.

There are also free employee cards available, all of which can earn 2x travel rewards.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived for first year)
  • Regular APR: 18.49% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Rewards: 2% miles on all purchases
  • Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 air miles welcome offer when you spend $4,500 in first three months

Ink Business Cash

The Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers up to 5% cash back on money spent at office supply stores, online, and on select phone services. There is a maximum spend of $25,000, after which an unlimited 1% rate kicks in. Cardholders can also get 2% cash back (up to $25,000) when spending money at gas stations and restaurants.

Employee cards are provided at no additional cost and bonus cash can be earned when you spend just $3,000 over the first three months.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR:  14.74% to 20.74%Variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 12 months
  • Rewards: Earn 1%, 2%, and 5% cash back rates
  • Sign-up Bonus: $500 when you spend $3,000 in first three months

Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Business Card is provided by Visa and is part of the Chase ultimate rewards program, with a $1,000 bonus offered for a limited time. This bonus is released as 80,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, and you can get the maximum conversion rate when redeeming these points through Chase.

You’ll get 3x points for money spent on specific bonus categories, with a high limit of $150,000 for every calendar year. The annual fee is somewhat of a deterrent, but if you spend a lot of money every year it could be worth it.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR:  17.49% to 22.49%Variable APR
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Rewards: 3x points on specific categories with high redemption rates when using Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Sign-up Bonus: 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in three months

The Brex Startup Card

The Brex Startup Card is a little different to the others on this page as it doesn’t require a personal guarantee (more on that below). This eliminates some of the risks for small business owners and is therefore ideal if you want to put some distance between your personal finances and your business finances.

The Brex Startup Credit Card looks at a company’s finances and cash flow to determine how likely they are to make the repayments and how high the credit limit should be. The Brex startup also has a great rewards scheme and offers stacks of rewards points after just a few months of card membership.

You can get up to 7x points for money spent on rideshares; 4x on eligible business travel purchases; 3x at restaurants; 2x on software subscriptions, and 1x on everything else.

It’s one of the best small business credit cards because of all these great perks, but you will need to have a balance in the 6-figures to apply, and that’s a target that many startups will struggle to attain.

  • Credit Card Issuer: Mastercard
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR:  Varies
  • Intro APR: N/A
  • Rewards: Earn between 1x and 7x points for varying categories
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

AmEx Blue Business Cash Card

The American Express Business Cash card is ideal for small business owners with expenses of no more than $50,000 per annum. It has a fixed 2% cash back rate for all expenses up to this amount, after which it drops down to 1%. If you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, it likely isn’t the best option for you, but it’s ideal if your expenses are under or just over this amount. 

There is no welcome offer here, but there is a built-in feature known as Expanded Buying Power, which allows you to go above and beyond your credit limit.

  • Credit Card Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR:  14.74% to 20.74% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% on balance transfers and purchases for first 12 billing cycles
  • Rewards: 2% cash back up to $50,000; 1% thereafter
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

AmEx Blue Business Plus Card

If you spend much more than $50,000, neither the AmEx Business Cash or the AmEx Blue Business Plus will be a good fit. You’ll get some extra cash for business use, but you’ll likely find a better a more suitable rewards card elsewhere.

This card is basically a carbon copy of the above, only instead of paying cash back it releases rewards as points. These are released at the same rate, with 2 points for every dollar up to a spend of $50,000 and 1 point per dollar thereafter. These points can be redeemed in a number of ways, including gift cards, AmEx Travel, statement credit, and more.

  • Credit Card Issuer: American Express
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR:  14.74% to 20.74% Variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% on balance transfers and purchases for first 12 billing cycles
  • Rewards: 2x points up to $50,000; 1x points therefore
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

How to Apply for a Small Business Credit Card?

Applying for a business credit card may require a few additional steps, but essentially, it’s the same process as when you apply for a personal credit card. 

Find and Compare

Browse through the many credit cards above to find the right one for you. Focus on interest rates if there is any doubt that you won’t clear the balance in full, look for membership rewards if you will and balance transfers if you’re looking to move your current debt onto a new card.

If you have accounts from the previous year, calculate those expenditures against your shortlisted credit cards to discover how much each of them would have earned. The card with the highest rates or lowest fees isn’t necessarily the one that’s best for you, as different types of expenses and budgets can change things significantly.

Personal Guarantee

A business credit card often requires you to sign a personal guarantee, which means you will be responsible for the debt if anything happens to your business. Creditors understand as well as anyone that the majority of businesses will fail. They also know that many failed businesses will take their debts with them and allow the business owners to escape.

The personal guarantee will prevent this from happening and force liability onto the individual. 

Complete the Application

A business card application is similar to that of a personal card, but with a few key differences. The credit card issuer may request all the following:

  • Name of Business: If the business has a name, this is what you need to enter here. If you are a sole proprietor, you can simply enter your name.
  • Contact Info: This should be your business contact information. However, if you run the business from home, you can include your personal data.
  • Length: How long have you been in business? As a professional, this is the length of time that you have been earning money on your own. If you have an actual company, it’s the date that the company was registered.
  • Industry: What do you do, how do you make your money? This doesn’t need to be exact and specific. For instance, if you’re an online writer, artist or coder, then listing your industry as “professional services” should suffice. If you are a driver, then you’re in the transportation sector.
  • Income and Expenses: What are your annual profits; how much do you spend and how much do you earn? The creditor needs to understand how likely you are to meet those monthly payments and how big your credit limit should be.
  • Taxpayer Identification Number: If you run a company, you should have an Employer Identification Number. If you’re a sole operator, you can enter your Social Security Number.

Business Credit History

Businesses can have credit histories and credit scores of their own. These aren’t necessary to apply for a business credit card, as you can sign a personal guarantee to become personally responsible for the debt, in which case your finances and credit score are taken into consideration. 

However, a strong business credit history can help you if your business grows and you acquire more credit, more debt, and more responsibilities.

Business credit reports are completed by credit reporting agencies and updated with every new account and every new payment, late payment or default. The credit bureaus involved with business credit histories include Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet.

The range on a business credit score is 0 to 100 and just like consumer scores, a business credit score can differ greatly from one agency to another, due to the way that information is reported, and algorithms are calculated.

Also, just like consumer credit reports, you can request a free copy of your report from all major bureaus once every 12 months. However, while personal reports are private and can only be accessed by a number of companies, mainly those tasked with giving you credit, a business credit report is public and available to anyone willing to pay the necessary fee.

Comparing Business Credit Cards

With so many different cards available, finding the right card for you can be difficult. You’re spoilt for choice; bombarded with perks, rewards, redemption options, interest rates, and more. So, how do you know which business credit card is right for you? 

To help you make the right choice, these are the things you need to look for and compare.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is key. The lower it is, the better, that should go without saying. However, it only applies if you fail to pay your balance at the end of the month, in which case that balance rolls over, interest accumulates and compounds, and you’ll be stung with a larger bill next month.

In addition to the ongoing APR, which is the regular rate you will pay, there is also an introductory APR, which is fixed for a specific time period and is often as low as 0%. This means that any purchases you make and balances you accumulate during that time period will not accrue interest. But if you have a large balance when the introductory period ends, you’ll be hit with the full force of that interest and will suffer the consequences.

Annual Fee and Other Fees

Many personal credit cards don’t charge an annual fee, with an exception for secured cards and bad credit unsecured cards. Business credit cards, however, are a different story and annual fees are commonplace here, with the average being below $100.

The annual fee can probably be deducted from your taxes, which is a huge benefit, but it’s still important to find a credit card with a fee that suits your spending. For instance, if you’re only spending a few hundred bucks a month and have a 1% rewards rate, you likely won’t earn enough to cover the fee.

However, if you spend upwards of $10,000 a month and get a rewards rate of between 2% and 3%, you can afford to pay anywhere up to $1,000, as you’ll earn more than that in rewards. There are other fees to consider as well. If you have an international business with a lot of foreign expenses, for instance, you’ll want low or zero foreign transaction fees.

Rewards

Credit card rewards come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to business cards a rewards program is all about fixed-rate rewards and bonus rewards. With the former, you earn a fixed percentage of cash or points every time you make business purchases. With the latter, you earn a higher rate, one that is often fixed to specific bonus categories and reward limits.

Bonus Points, Benefits, and Perks

Some business credit cards may offer you additional perks, benefits, and bonus points. These include discounts and freebies that are geared towards businesses, allowing them to save money on the things they buy all the time.

These perks aren’t always listed clearly on the credit card offers page, so make sure you dig through the terms before you decide if a particular business credit card is right for you.

How to Use Your Business Credit Card

Keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of your new business credit card and keep those rewards and benefits flowing:

Use Your Card When Possible

Where possible, use your business credit card to pay for business expenses and encourage employees to do the same with their employee cards. Rewards will come thick and fast if you use these cards to cover all expenses, especially where eligible purchases are concerned.

However, it’s important to avoid using the card when it will incur additional expenses, charges, and penalty APRs. You should also refrain from building a balance if you have no intention of clearing it in full at the end of the month.

The rewards you earn will likely not be enough to cover the money that you pay in interest and fees when you don’t cover the balance. And the more billing cycles that pass without payment, the greater than balance will become and the more damage you’ll do to your credit score, your chances of acquiring additional credit, and your hopes of keeping your business alive.

Secure the Sign-up Bonus

Plan ahead to make sure you will meet the requirements of the Welcome Bonus and secure that cash bonus or those extra rewards. This bonus may be more than you earn for the rest of the year, so if you want a business rewards credit card to be beneficial, don’t miss out.

Monitor Your APR

Many credit card users go all-in during the promotional period, spending like crazy and accumulating a large balance that they then forget about. Once they do this, the balance rolls over the interest kicks in, and they go from owing nothing to owing a small fortune.

Make sure you know exactly when your promotional period ends and clear your balance before it ends. That way, you can avoid costly and unnecessary expenses.

Don’t Forget About Tax Deductions

You may be able to deduct business credit card costs on your taxes, which means you can offset some of the costs associated with fees and interest. Check with your local tax laws, consult your accountant if you have one, and include every single cent when it’s time to file your taxes.

Business Credit Cards and Your Personal Credit Score

When you apply for business cards, a hard inquiry will appear on your credit report and could reduce your personal FICO score by between 2 and 5 points. This is true for all credit cards that you apply for, as rate shopping doesn’t count here. It’s important, therefore, to get all the information you can in advance, leaving the actual application until you are good and ready.

Your business payment history may also show on your consumer credit report. However, this isn’t always the case and it depends on the creditor and whether they report just to commercial bureaus or to both commercial bureaus and consumer bureaus.

If you’re concerned, pull a copy of your personal credit report, look to make improvements where possible, and monitor it closely. And whatever you do, keep making those payments every month, otherwise, derogatory marks may start appearing.