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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express
Yesterday, Chase launched a historically high sign-up bonus offer of 70,000 points for the Ink Plus business credit card. However, if you already have the Ink Plus or were thinking of applying for another business credit card, there are some other great offers available at the moment. To help you decide, here’s a rundown of what I think are the top business card offers available heading into October.
Why Get A Business Credit Card?
Business credit cards are useful not only as tools for small business owners, but also because they can provide great sign-up bonuses and the opportunity to earn points, miles or cash back. There are several great reasons to get a business credit card, including that they help you separate your personal and business finances, business card activity doesn’t remain on your personal credit record, they can help you establish a business credit history, and many offer value-added benefits and perks.
These cards are designed for small business owners. However, many card issuers will let you sign up as a sole proprietorship (a business owned and operated by an individual) and use your personal social security number to apply. Just be aware that some credit card companies (Citi, for example) may request more documentation of your business. In general, though, if you have a good credit score and a reason to get a business credit card (which can be just the thought of opening your own business), you stand a chance of getting approved.
Before you go applying for every business credit card out there, be aware that if you do apply using your social security number, the applications will trigger an inquiry on your personal credit report that tends to reduce it in the short term by 2-5 points per inquiry, just like applying for a personal card. On the positive side, once your business credit line is open, its activity shows up on your business credit report and should remain separate from your personal report. So if you run balances (like many businesses do periodically ) or make large purchases, your personal credit score should be unaffected. However, if you default on a business card, expect the issuer to pursue you personally, since these cards are guaranteed by your personal credit.
As I mentioned, business credit cards can be a great way to maximize your spending and keep your finances in order. Many offer huge sign-up bonuses (bigger than personal cards in many cases) and spending category bonuses that differ from those of personal credit cards, since they’re tailored to different spending habits. This can help you boost the points and miles you earn from spending categories you might otherwise get little out of, like phone bills or shipping expenses.
You can generally get a personal and business card on the same day from a given credit card issuer and have it count as a single hard inquiry on your credit; this strategy can help you minimize the overall impact that card applications have on your credit score. Most issuers will also let you link your personal and business credit cards together so you don’t have to manage multiple accounts, while your points accrue into one central account.
Without further ado, if you’re in the market for a business credit card, here are my picks for the current top offers.
Ink Plus Business Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 70,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, and 2 points per dollar at gas stations and on hotel accommodations (when paid for directly through the hotel). Bonus points for both categories are capped at $50,000 of spending annually. Receive complimentary Lounge Club membership and 2 free visits each year with access to over 350 VIP airport lounges.
Annual Fee: $95
Why Get It?
As I mentioned above, this is the highest sign-up bonus I’ve seen on this card. It has only been available at 70,000 points once before for a limited time, so if you’ve been waiting to get this card, now is the time.
It comes with some great perks geared specifically toward small business owners, including the lucrative category spending bonuses of up to 5 points per dollar, as well as airline lounge passes and a host of Visa Signature benefits. Ink Plus earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to any of the program’s 11 travel transfer partners including United, Southwest, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott and more.
Detailed Look at the Benefits of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus Cards
Top 10 Benefits of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus Cards
Can You Get Both The Ink Bold and Ink Plus?
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Business Platinum Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: This card comes with the same benefits as the Platinum Card from American Express, including Priority Pass membership, entry to Delta SkyClubs, a $200 annual airline fee rebate, fee refunds for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application and more.
Annual Fee: $450
Why Get It?
This card is loaded with perks. Although it no longer provides access to US Airways and American Airlines lounges, the card does still give you access to Delta lounges and Priority Pass Select (as well as Amex’s cushy Centurion lounges), and American Express occasionally adds new features, like unlimited Boingo Wifi and a statement credit for TSA Pre-Check, in addition to the existing $100 Global Entry application fee rebate and $200 in airline rebates.
The Business Platinum also offers a the option to redeem your Membership Rewards points for travel through Pay With Points at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece (as opposed to the 1 cent per point offered by the personal Platinum card). The Business Platinum card also comes with the benefits of the Amex OPEN Savings program, including discounts at Hyatt and Hertz, as well as FedEx and Barnes & Noble.
The sign-up bonus periodically climbs to 75,000 or even 100,000 points with targeted offers. We haven’t seen any of those in a while, but if you’re not in a rush, you might want to wait a bit longer to apply for this card.
For more information, see these posts:
The Amex Platinum Card Review
Is the Amex Platinum Still Worth It With No American/US Airways and Restricted Delta Lounge Access?
Maximizing the Amex Platinum $200 Annual Airline Rebate
Understanding the Amex Platinum Lounge Access Benefit
The Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts Program
My Experience Getting Refunded for the Global Entry Application Fee With My Amex Platinum Card
My Father’s Day Present: An Additional Amex Platinum Card For Dad
Amex Platinum Losing AA/US Lounge Access
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of cardmembership.
Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at certain office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year).
Why Get It?
There’s still a sign-up offer available for 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 3 months, as linked to in the FlyerTalk thread above. That’s as high as the bonus on this card normally goes, so if you’ve been wanting an American Airlines business card, there’s not much reason to hold out for more. It doesn’t come with many perks, but the sign-up bonus alone is substantial – especially given the major devaluations in the past year from American’s legacy competitors, Delta and United.
Among the other benefits are reduced mileage awards that can save you money and miles on your award redemptions.
The New Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard
Current Sign-up Bonus: 35,000 bonus miles after first purchase.
Benefits: Receive a one-time 50% Off Companion Discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii & North America on Hawaiian Airlines. Earn 2 miles per dollar on direct purchases from Hawaiian Airlines, 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Earn up to 10 miles per dollar with participating partners. Earn 20,000 annual bonus miles on your account anniversary when you spend between $50,000 and $99,999 in net purchases within an anniversary year, or 40,000 annual bonus miles when you spend at least $100,000 in net purchases within an anniversary year. This card also lets you share miles for free, so you can bank Hawaiian miles from separate accounts into one to make redeeming easier. No foreign transaction fees. SmartChip technology.
Annual Fee: $89
Why Get It?
Barclaycard launched this card back in January, and it has some great benefits for folks who want to or already do travel to Hawaii, including discounted award tickets, companion discounts, annual bonus miles based on spending, and the ability to transfer HawaiianMiles to others.
Club Carlson Rewards Business Visa
Current Sign-up Bonus: 85,000 Gold Points, 50,000 after your first purchase, plus 35,000 more once you spend $2,500 within the first 90 days.
Benefits: Earn 10 points per dollar spent at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels and 5 points per dollar everywhere else. Club Carlson cards come with Gold status and a bonus award night. Read this post to find out more about these two great perks.
Annual Fee: $60
Why Get It?
This card offers the same bonus terms as the personal version, but the annual fee is $15 cheaper. It also offers all the same benefits, including award night discounts, automatic Gold status, an anniversary bonus of 40,000 points and a favorable earn rate of 5 points per dollar on everyday purchases. I’ve been giving Club Carlson a closer look lately due to its expanding portfolio of hotels, decent elite perks, and lucrative promotional bonuses. If you have been too, it might be time to apply for this card and give the program a whirl.
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Current Sign-up Bonus: 25,000 Starpoints – after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of cardmembership
Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on Starwood purchases, 1 point per dollar on other purchases. 2 stays/5 nights credit toward elite status qualification. Earn Gold status when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year.
Annual Fee: $65 (waived the first year).
Why Get It?
Starwood Preferred Guest points are among the most valuable points currencies out there, since you can use them not only for high-priced Starwood hotel redemptions, but also for transfer to any of SPG’s 31 airline partners (most at a 1:1 ratio). Since transfers of 20,000 points get a 5,000-point bonus, you essentially earn 1.25 airline miles on everyday purchases. This card also gives you elite night/stay credit every year, and the means to spend your way to elite status with a calendar year spending threshold bonus.
If you’re not in a rush, you might want to wait and see if American Express ups the bonus to 30,000 points (as they do periodically). As with the Business Platinum card, this card is part of the Amex OPEN Savings program.
For more information, check out these posts:
Maximizing Starwood Cash & Points Awards
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers
United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
Current Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months – note the current public offer is 30,000 miles, but FlyerTalkers at the link above report being able to get the 50,000-mile offer still.
Benefits: Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores, and on tickets purchased from United. First checked bag free. No foreign exchange fees.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year).
Why Get It?
Though there still seems to be a public offer of 50,000 miles available, some readers have reported being unable to apply for it, so if you’re interested, you might want to walk into your local Chase branch and see if it’s available there. You could also try logging into your MileagePlus account to see what you’re offered.
Given United’s recent award chart devaluation and its transition in 2015 to a revenue-based program, you should consider having one of their cards in your wallet for a few reasons. First, if you’re not going to make elite status, it confers many of the same perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding. Second, earning miles on everyday spend will be more important than ever, and you’ll get an extra two miles per dollar on United purchases. Third, if you fly enough to make elite status, but don’t spend enough on United tickets, this card can help you avoid the new revenue requirements with its Premier Qualifying Dollar waiver when you spend $25,000 or more in a calendar year (for all but 1K status).
Ink Plus® Business Credit Card