What Is the Best Points-Earning Business Credit Card?

by on March 16, 2014 · 19 comments

in Business Rewards, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Business Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

TPG reader Cory is thinking of changing up his business credit card and tweeted me the following question this wee:

“I have a quick question and that is which is really the best card that I should have. I spend about $20K month on company expenses and I have the Platinum Delta card but it’s not really giving the best bang for my money. I have seen that you talk about the Citi cards. Can you tell me which one is the best to have?”

Thank goodness you realized that Cory! Admitting it is the first step. The problem with putting all your spend on a single card like the Delta one you mention, you’re just putting all your points in one basket, but what you really should be doing is diversifying your points-earning – especially with monthly spending like that.

So now that you know you want to get a different business credit card, the question becomes, which one? If you still want to be able to accrue Delta miles, keep in mind the program is a 1:1 instant transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which you can rack up on the Business Gold Rewards card. Right now the sign-up bonus is just 25,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months. However, the bonus has gone up to 50,000 and even 75,000 points in the past, so you might want to wait and see if one of those offers comes around again.

Amex Business Gold feat

The Business Gold Rewards card is a great choice.

The Business Gold Rewards card would be a great choice because it gives you 3x points per $1 on airfare as well as 2x points per $1 on advertising in select media, at gas stations, select computer hardware, software and cloud computing providers, and shipping and 1x points on other purchases. Now, I don’t know exactly what you’re spending that monthly $20,000 on, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to rake in some bonus points in some of these categories.

There are 10 great travel transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards.

There are 10 great travel transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards.

In my opinion, the best all-round business cards are the Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold. The current sign-up bonus on each of those is 50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and their $95 annual fees are waived the first year. They also earn 5x points per dollar at office supply stores and on telephone and internet bills, and 2x points per $1 on hotels and gas. The issue you might have is that, though Chase points are very valuable and can be transferred to any of 10 travel partners like United and Hyatt, Delta is not one of them. So if you want to stick with Delta miles, you might want to think twice. However, Korean Air is a partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, so you could always make redemptions through them.

I would probably go with the Ink Plus because it’s a credit card, but if you need a charge card where there is no set credit limit and you are sure you will be paying off the balance each month, then you might want to go with the Ink Bold. The Ink Plus gives you a little more flexibility to pay off your balance if you need to carry one, and won’t slam you with huge late fees like a charge card typically will. For more on differences between the cards, check out my post on Which Chase Ink Card Is Best For You.

I launched a new small business - so it was time for another Ink Plus!

The Chase Ink cards are great business credit card choices.

My final business card recommendation is the Starwood Preferred Guest business card. The current sign-up bonus is 25,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 6 months. You don’t get any category spending bonuses (except 2 points per dollar at Starwood), but even earning 1 Starpoint per dollar on most purchases is worth it to me because Starpoints are extremely valuable thanks to great hotel award redemptions as well as the ability to transfer them to over 30 airline partners (including Delta) and to get a 5,000-mile bonus on 20,000-point transfers. Amex’s business cards also offer savings through the OPEN program, like discounts at Fedex, Hyatt and Hertz, and

So those are three of the best business cards out there, and then I’ve listed a few more below. You’ve got the right idea, though – you should diversify your points and put your spending on a card that will earn you the most depending on what purchases you make. For more information, check out my post on the Top 10 Reasons To Get a Business Credit Card.

Business Platinum Card from American Express: Welcome Offer: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months and 1 point for each dollar spent on eligible purchases. While the Business Platinum card has a hefty annual fee of $450, there are several benefits that will bring you much more value than $450 like the $200 airline rebate, airport lounge access, and reimbursement for Global Entry.

Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership with the provided link. You will also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at certain office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants. With this card the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

The new Hawaiian Airlines credit cards offer calendar year spending bonuses.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard: Earn 35,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii & North America on Hawaiian Airlines. Earn 2 points per dollar on purchases directly from Hawaiian Airlines and 1 point per dollar on all other transactions. You can earn up to 10 points per dollar with participating partners and receive a bonus of 40,000 miles when you spend $100,000 or more on your card in a calendar year. This card has no foreign transaction fees although it has an $89 annual fee.

United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card: Earn 50,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. $95 annual fee waived the first year. Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores and on tickets purchased from United. First checked bag free. No foreign exchange fees.

Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa: Earn 85,000 Bonus Points, 50,000 of which will be earned after the first purchase and the remaining 35,000 will be earned when you spend $2,500 within 90 days. You will earn 10 points per dollar spent at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels and 5 points per dollar spent everywhere else. Although there is a $60 annual fee, Club Carlson cards come with Gold status and a bonus award nightRead this post to find out more about these two great perks.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, tweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • ATLJason

    Quick fact check: The minimum spend for the Ink and Bold cards is $5000 in THREE months (not six).

  • Justin

    $20k x 12 months is about $240k. We spend about double that but it’s across all of our employees (30 Visa + 20 AMEX) so I’m not sure what would be best. I’m assuming if we had to pick one to rack up points it would be Ink but AMEX seems to have its own rewards. Unless we issue both to employees and tell them what to spend where but that seems like a lot to ask our mobile employees to remember. This isn’t easy.

  • Rob

    One would think that as Chase employee reciting Chase credit card benefits 20 times a week he would know that..

  • ATLJason

    TPG corrected the typo. :-)

  • Graydon

    It’s not that hard Justin. What kinds of spend do the employees make most of the time? Also how are the rewards that the company earns used? Would you prefer points or cash back? One consideration is what kind of fees are associated with the current cards – are all 50 AU cards free or do they cost additional? I know that Ink cards do not charge for additional users and that’s a nice feature for a bunch of UR earning cards.

    Post some more details and I am sure you will get some creative ideas.

  • Justin

    Thanks Graydon. We spend on everything from gas (currently with Mobil for that with some discount) to travel ($100k/yr on average sales and install/service teams to jobsites) to office supplies and IT expenses on cc (most of our spend is done via P.O.’s but we could change that so $500k is based on last year’s numbers.)

    We currently run with BofA for cash back but it doesn’t seem to pay off vs the amount of travel reimbursement we could get via points. We also have an AMEX biz mgmt account with 20 cards issued to various departments (sales, project management, service, install, IT, front office, programming, etc) but the MR are non-transferable (we could redeem within MR but they don’t seem to be as lucrative based on the numbers we’ve run vs being able to transfer out to redeem for employee travel.) We’re trying to make it easy on the employees for usage so as not to overwhelm them with options.

    Also currently our corp plans don’t require employee SSN’s to issue cards so we’d be interested to note if they are required when issued from other banks.

    Thanks your thoughts are appreciated. It’s been dropped in my lap so I’m trying to make as informed a decision as possible. We don’t pay for additional cards currently with BofA or AMEX (I’m still reviewing the accounts but from what our statements look like there’s no charges here for additional cards.)

  • Graydon

    I’m a small business guy myself with just 5 employees so I can only give you advice based on my experiences. That said get away from the BofA product, Chase Ink would be much better. I made the move to Chase and do about 50% of my business spend ($150K on average with Chase) on Ink cards and the points really pile up. I transitioned to 100% cc spend for all business expenses except building rent and have not regretted it at all. Chase does not require ssn for employee cards. They ask but I decline and it’s never an issue. I would be calling Chase on Monday to see what they can do.

    I have a business Amex or two and adding employees to those can get a bit expensive. I work in entertainment so I can cover those expenses no problem so I added a couple of the installers to the Platinum account so they have lounge access and SPG gold perks. Honestly they don’t care so when the AF is due again I might just cancel and let them shift spend back to 100% Chase. We do value MR points but the fee to play is getting old.

    Bummer about the Amex Biz management and the MR points not being of much value. Not sure how your employer is set up but there should be an option to do business with Amex and gain transferable MR points. I mean $500K is a very good annual spend to be shopping and I assume would get larger if you stop using a bunch of POs. Perhaps someone else will chime in on this type program.

  • Justin

    Thanks I really, really appreciate the input and you taking the time out to give me some information I can wrap my head around.

    I had a feeling Chase would be the best place to start. I also plan on calling AMEX to see what they can do about restructuring how our account is setup. They have some variety it looks like for corporate accounts based on what I’ve seen on their website (the only thing with them is the AF’s for cards with more benefits but that’s where we can determine if the AF is offset by what we use and get out of it.)

    Thanks again.

  • John

    I’d like to know whether you ever get a non credit card related question? I find it hard to believe that all your readers are experts in redeeming miles.

    I have not seen a question such as: “I’m want to make a trip to XXX, which airline, FF flyer, how many miles and which business class seat is best?”

    Maybe because providing that kind of information does not compensate you?

  • Brian C. Lee

    If you haven’t seen non-CC related questions, you’re not paying attention. He regularly answers non-CC related questions. Click on “Sunday Reader Questions” under topics and you’ll see plenty of them. Or perhaps you’d rather just bash him.

  • Hunter Anderson

    I applied for the Chase Ink card yesterday and got the needs further analysis email (read: declined).

    I called up the reco line and had them review everything and she processed the approval manually. Small line to start but it gets our foot in the door and with our spending habits, Im sure they’ll increase our line pretty quickly.

  • Justin

    I just found out that we actually aren’t earning anything for our spend with BofA. No rewards, no cash back…yikes.

  • thepointsguy

    I do answer non-credit card questions all the time, but my most popular posts in terms of comments and traffic come from credit card related questions

  • thepointsguy

    Further analysis doesn’t necessarily mean declined, but calling to move it along greatly helps. Congrats!

  • thepointsguy

    With that kind of spend, I think you’d make out like a bandit with Ink cards4

  • thepointsguy

    YIKES indeed.. switch that immediately!

  • Justin

    Thanks Bri! Do you have any thoughts on the AMEX corp crop of cards? We have the 20 cards issued but with the nontransferable MR points it kind of boxes us in. Looks like we can shift the cards into Biz Plat and Biz R Gold’s but those AF’s are pretty heavy. Would like to hear your thoughts for a company like ours when you’re issuing 20 or more cards (we have 75 employees total..2/3 will carry some type of employee cc.)

  • Justin

    Well we applied but our revenues are over double what’s listed as acceptable (up to $10m) so I don’t know they’re going to be very hospitable to us without bumping us up to Commercial (and I didn’t see anything regarding Commercial cards…so I’m worried.) We’ll wait to see what they say I guess.

  • Designguy

    So here’s a question for you. I’m a freelance interior designer that works for a very small firm. I currently charge around $100,000 a year on my personal card and get reimbursed for it. I’m leaning towards having the owner apply for a corporate card and getting an employee card for me (to avoid liability if something were to happen). Is there a airline card out there where the person using the card (me, the employee) will get the airline point benefits and not the “authorized officer” that applies for the card? I count on these miles to travel to Europe every summer in business class. Any info you can give me would be much appreciated!

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