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 Bradley is in the market for a new small business credit card without foreign transaction fees. Here’s his question:
“I need to get a non-Amex no foreign transaction fee business credit card for my company which will have multiple employees using the cards. Which one should I choose? Do you suggest Chase Ink Plus or Ink Bold – or Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve? The card we all currently have is Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex but it’s not accepted everywhere and it has foreign transaction fees. As a movie production company owner – I am constantly around the country and world – mainly China and South America.”
Foreign transaction fees are one of my biggest credit card pet peeves. Many banks charge their cardholders between 1-3% for using their credit cards outside the US and that can mean negating the value of any points you earn on your purchases. As Bradley mentions the business Starwood Amex is one of those cards, so he’s looking for a new one for his business to use internationally.
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve is a great card that has benefits like automatic HHonors Gold status and Diamond status when you spend $40,000 per calendar year, as well as a current sign-up bonus of 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton worldwide when you spend $2,500 in 4 months and an additional free weekend night certificate every year you spend $10,000 in a year. However, it is not a business card – and one of the major perks to having a business credit card is that all your spending and transaction history on it will sit on your business credit report rather than on your personal credit report, so it won’t affect your personal credit score.
I think the Ink Plus and Ink Bold are among the best business credit cards out there right now. They currently come with a solid 50,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend $5,000 in 3 months, no foreign transaction fees, and they have really lucrative spending bonus categories including 5x points per $1 at office supply stores and on telecommunications, and 2x on gas and hotels. Plus the annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
You may want to look into the Amex Business Platinum (I know you already have the Starwood Business Amex) because it waives forex fees and gets you access to Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass lounges. There are a ton of other benefits like the $200 annual airline fee reimbursement and a statement credit for the $100 Global Entry application fee – a real plus if you’re traveling internationally a lot, as well as the added benefits of booking through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. The points you earn on the Business Platinum specifically are worth 1.25 cents apiece with Pay With Points, not to mention you can transfer points to Membership Rewards’ 17 airline partners as well as hotel partners and other redemption options and OPEN program discounts and savings. The sign-up bonus is currently 40,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months, and all those benefits combined can more than make up for the $450 annual fee on the card. Just make sure to check whether you might be targeted for a higher bonus in the mail or through your Amex offers when you log into your Amex account.
So points-earning-wise, I’d say the Ink cards would be my top choice, but for benefits and perks, I’d go with the Business Platinum. For more information and choices of business credit cards, see my post on The Best Small Business Credit Cards, and The Top Travel Credit Cards that Waive Foreign Transaction Fees. Here are some other choices.
The Business Gold Rewards card 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.
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership with the Citi Business AAdvantage World Mastercard. 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.
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 night. Read this post to find out more about these two great perks.
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