Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses
Starting a small business can be a rewarding endeavor, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t come with its challenges. When I started a small arts company out of college as a sole proprietor, one of the major concerns I had was how to pay for expenses as they came up while not always getting income from a project until a month or two later. While a small business loan was an option, I didn’t want to pay interest and determine a lump sum, only to need less money or get enough income in a month to cover all the business expenses I’d accrued that month.
A much better solution was opening a credit card for my small business since it offered a lot more flexibility—and some extra perks, too! From a welcome bonus upon account opening to bonus points and bonus miles, there’s a lot that small business credit cards offer that personal loans don’t. For tax purposes, it was better to have a business credit card than use one of my credit cards for the company, too.
So, how do you find the best credit card for your own company as one of the many small business owners in the United States? Whether you have excellent credit or just good credit, here are the best credit card offers for business spending.
- Overview of the best credit cards for small businesses
- The best credit cards for small businesses
- Summary table of the best credit cards for small businesses
- Why should (or shouldn’t) you use
- The bottom line
Overview of the best credit cards for small businesses
|Credit card||Best for|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||Business owners with well-rounded perks and protections|
|Brex||Startups with limited credit history|
|Ink Business Cash||Fee-averse business owners who want access to Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|Blue Business by American Express Business||Business owners interested in flat-rate cashback and exclusive discounts|
|Capital One Spark Cash||Responsible credit users hungry for unlimited cashback|
|Hilton Honors||Frequent travelers interested in free nights|
The best credit cards for small businesses
Chase Ink Business Preferred
If you’re a small business owner who travels frequently and is interested in leveraging credit card points from qualifying purchases on travel perks, then the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card is worth looking into. The Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card offers 3x points on every dollar you spend on travel purchases as well as other business purchases, making it an ideal option for business travel. Best of all, if you use Chase’s own rewards program, known as Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth an additional 25% than if you’d chosen to use your travel rewards outside of their program.
Another big perk of the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card is its generous welcome bonus. As a sign-up bonus, once you’ve spent $15,000 over the first three months of being a cardholder, you’ll get an additional 100,000 bonus points. Those points can be applied as a statement credit or redeemed for other rewards like gift cards.
There’s also a nice layer of protection you can take advantage of when using the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. From real-time fraud monitoring to zero liability, you can have peace of mind that unauthorized use of your business rewards credit card won’t come back to bite you. Plus, with purchase protection, anything you buy for your company is protected up to 120 days from theft and damage (some terms apply), which is generally more generous than a manufacturer’s warranty.
All of these perks are a significant boon for any startup company that requires frequent travel to conferences, tradeshows, and other business functions. After all, paying for rental cars, gas stations, lodging, and plane tickets is likely to be more expensive in your company’s budget than costs from office supply stores. Even so, an annual fee of $95 might not be something you’re interested in budgeting for right out of the gate.
Brex is a different kind of business card, thanks to the fact that it evaluates your credit card application based on your company’s finances (think of it as your business credit score) rather than your personal credit history. This is different than the way most credit card issuers function, pulling your personal credit report or requiring a guarantee before you can open a business card. As a result, a Brex credit card may offer you ten times as much credit as a traditional card.
Brex has a hard-to-remember but appealing rewards structure when it comes to eligible purchases and bonus categories. Offering 3x points on Apple products, 4x points on travel through Brex, and 2x points on software subscriptions, there is a lot of value provided by their rewards tiers—and that’s before you factor in a whopping 7x points on rideshare services like Lyft and Uber!
The Brex business credit card also has a tiered welcome bonus, offering either 30,000 extra points or 50,000 extra points depending on spending $3,500 or $9,000 respectively in the first month of card use.
Brex aims to simplify your accounting workflow, too, with its seamless integration with popular accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks. While it doesn’t have any intro APR deals, the higher spending limits, $0 annual fee, and ability to apply with an employer identification number rather than a social security number make the Brex card an attractive option.
Ink Business Cash
Another business credit card offered by Chase, the Ink Business Cash Visa gives cardholders access to generous sign-up bonuses as well as competitive interest rates. Unlike the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, the Ink Business Cash credit card does offer a promotional intro APR for the first year.
In the first three months of card usage, if you can spend a total of $7,500, you’ll qualify for $750 in cashback as a bonus. You’ll also earn 5% cashback on eligible purchases up to $25,000 each calendar year in categories like office supply stores, as well as internet and phone services. Purchases at gas stations and dining can earn you an additional 2% cashback each year on up to $25,000 of qualifying purchases. Like the other Ink Business credit card, these bonuses go even further when applied as part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards plan.
Just like the other Ink Business credit card, the Ink Business Cash credit card offers zero liability as well as fraud protection. However, the lack of purchase protection may be a bit of a downside for business owners who buy a lot of expensive technical equipment such as computers.
While you won’t pay an annual fee with the Ink Business Cash card, you will pay foreign transaction fees, as well as balance transfer fees of the greater of $5 or 5%. The rewards rates of 1% to 5% can help counteract some of those fees, but they still require a certain level of spending and effectively make some of those benefits moot.
Blue Business by American Express Business
If you’re tired of trying to compare one rotating rewards category against another card’s cashback categories, the Blue Business credit card by American Express Business is here to simplify things. The American Express Business Gold Card gets a lot of attention, but with a 2% flat rate for cashback on all purchases—utilities, marketing campaigns, printer paper, you name it—the simplicity offered by this Blue Business credit card is worth considering.
Of course, being an American Express card, there’s a bevy of other AmEx perks and rewards worth weighing when you’re considering this business card, too. For example, shopping at partner stores can help you access extra discounts and savings, ensuring that your dollar goes a bit farther to keep your business running smoothly.
Speaking of stretching your dollars, the Blue Business credit card by American Express Business also lets you increase your spending limits with a feature called Expanded Buying Power. While this penalty-free way to boost your spending ability isn’t going to be something you can use again and again, it can help you out when you’re in a jam and waiting for an invoice from a high-paying client to clear.
Another major perk of the Blue Business credit card by American Express Business is that it doesn’t cost you a cent to get employee cards. If you don’t want to deal with the headache of reimbursing staff members for purchases, this can be a major help to your accounting process. The fact that this business card has no annual fee is just the icing on the cake.
Capital One Spark Cash
While the $150 annual fee may seem a bit hefty, it’s essential to look at what it offers you as a business owner before you count the Capital One Spark Cash card out. For starters, you earn a flat 2% cashback on every purchase—with no ceiling to the amount of cashback you can earn.
As if unlimited cashback wasn’t enough of a reason to consider this card, the Capital One Spark Cash business credit card also gives cardholders the ability to keep rewards and cashback for the life of the account to be spent when and how you want. For card members who hit $200,000 of spending in a year, you’ll earn $200 as a cash bonus that can pay for the annual fee itself, and then some. You can also earn a $1,000 welcome bonus if you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the card and then $50,000 within the first six months.
One thing that’s unique about the Capital One Spark Cash business card is that there is no APR because your bill is due in full each month. This also means it doesn’t have a credit limit and will instead adapt based on your credit history and other spending behavior.
Although the Capital One Spark Cash card does have an annual fee, employee cards can be made for $0. Best of all, you can earn 2% unlimited cash back on all employee purchases, too, maximizing your cashback potential.
If you travel a lot for business, opening a Hilton Honors American Express Card for your travels can make a lot of sense. After all, keeping your travel expenses separate from other business expenses can help you with your accounting each year and ultimately gives you access to perks you’d otherwise be ineligible for.
So, what makes the Hilton Honors American Express Card worth opening when compared to other business cards on this list? For starters, the welcome bonus alone could net you several free nights in a Hilton hotel just for hitting $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of usage and $5,000 in purchases in the first six months.
Beyond the welcome bonus, you can also earn an impressive amount of bonus points when using the Hilton Honors American Express Card. From 7x points on properties and resorts within the Hilton portfolio to 5x points at restaurants and gas stations and 3x points on everything else, you can earn a lot just from everyday usage on business trips. With some savvy planning, your earnings get even better.
In addition to its high number of reward offerings, you’ll automatically get Hilton Honors Silver status just for having a Hilton Honors American Express Card. You also won’t need to pay an annual fee with this card, so even if you only have one major conference you attend each year, it could be worth having in your business’ wallet.
Summary table of the best credit cards for small businesses
|Credit card||Annual Fee||Intro APR||Regular APR||Recommended Credit Score|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||$95||No||15.99% - 20.99% (Variable APR)||690+|
|Brex||$0||No||None (Bill due in full each month)||300+ (business finances used)|
|Ink Business Cash||$0||No||13.24% - 19.24% (Variable APR)||690+|
|Blue Business by American Express Business||$0||0% for 12 months||13.24% - 19.24% (Variable APR)||690+|
|Capital One Spark Cash||$150||No||None (Bill due in full each month)||690+|
|Hilton Honors||$0||NO||15.74% - 24.74% (Variable APR)||690+|
What’s the best credit score to get a business card?
Most of the best business cards require at least a good credit score (meaning 690 or higher) to qualify for them. If you’re concerned about your personal credit history impacting your eligibility, you may want to look at options like Brex, where your startup’s income is considered in your application instead.
Is a business credit card the best way to fund my business?
It depends! If you’re someone who can use a credit card responsibly, will take advantage of bonuses through everyday business use, and doesn’t want to pay interest on a small business loan. A business credit card could be a great choice for your startup.
Why should (or shouldn’t) you use
The flexibility offered by business credit cards is much better than a small business loan in many cases. In your first year of operation, month-to-month expenses may fluctuate, so being able to cover an unexpected cost with a higher credit limit may be better than needing to go through the application process for yet another loan if you need access to capital quickly.
Just like regular consumer credit cards, however, it’s possible to spend beyond your means with a credit card. Responsible credit card use is even more important when the card is connected to your business because it may ultimately be the difference between you being able to keep your doors open and having to shut down. Even if you’ve opened a card on this list with excellent perks, it’s crucial to have a game plan for how to responsibly use your business credit card, rather than chasing perks just to eke out a $200 bonus here or there.
The bottom line
As you can see, corporate cards help with more than just cash flow. From cashback rewards and membership rewards points to higher credit limits, introductory APR, and lounge access, business cardholders can get a lot of value when they take advantage of the right card offers. Perhaps best of all, many of the qualifying purchases you’ll need to make to earn these sorts of perks are incidental expenses of running a business anyway, such as office supplies or software subscriptions.
Ultimately, the best credit card for you and your company is the one you’re going to use. As such, if any of the above options from our list of best small business credit cards seem like they would offer your business some extra value, they probably are worthwhile.
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