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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
Every month, I post a list of the top travel credit card offers. That list usually includes both personal cards and business credit cards, since they frequently offer lucrative sign-up bonuses of their own, as well as other perks like category spending bonuses, discounts at partner merchants, and an easy way to separate your personal and professional expenses.
Staying on top of business credit card offers and taking advantage of good ones when they come along is one of the best ways to boost your points and miles balances and create a more powerful rewards portfolio for your specific travel goals. So today, I’ll share what I think are the best bonuses available for business credit cards, and explain how you can take advantage of them.
Why Get a Business Credit Card?
First, a few words on who can get a business credit card and why you might want one. Let’s dispel the biggest misconception out there: you don’t need to have a formal business in order to qualify for a business credit card. In fact, most credit card issuers allow you to apply for a business credit card using your Social Security number in place of the Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). That’s because many small businesses (at least when they start) might not have their own federal tax number, and what counts as a business can vary widely.
Maybe you just launched a new website that’s not making any money yet. Perhaps you sell things on eBay or Amazon. Or maybe you’re just getting a business credit card to keep your professional expenses separate from your personal ones, which is a good idea in general. Whatever the reason, whether you actually have a formal business or not is no roadblock to applying for a business credit card.
Secondly, those sign-up bonuses are a huge factor to keep in mind. Card issuers have adjusted their terms lately to make it more difficult for applicants to earn a bonus more than once for any given card. However, business cards are separate products entirely, so even if you already have the personal version of a card (like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express), you can still apply for the business version and thus double your bonus potential.
There are a host of other reasons to think about getting a business card, so I encourage you to read more about the key differences between personal and business credit cards and determine whether it might be useful to you.
With all that in mind, here are the top 10 business credit card sign-up bonuses currently available.
Current Business Credit Card Offers
Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, and on cell phone, land line, internet and cable TV services (on up to $50,000 in spending annually), and 2 points per dollar spent at gas stations and on hotel accommodations (again, on up to $50,000 in spending annually). No foreign transaction fees. Ability to transfer points to 11 travel partners, including United, British Airways, Southwest and Hyatt.
Annual Fee: $95
Analysis: The 5x and 2x category spending bonuses make this card a great option not only for small business owners, but also for savvy shoppers. I list Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece in my most recent monthly valuations, so I value the sign-up bonus at $1,050.
For more information, see these posts:
- 10 Chase Ink Benefits You Might Not Know About
- Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
- Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Maximum Value
- Top 10 Ways to Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
2. Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
Current Bonus: for a limited time, earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. This offer expires on September 14, 2015.
Benefits: Earn 2 points per $1 at Starwood properties. Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. No foreign transaction fees on international purchases. Every year, get automatic 2 stays/5 nights credit toward elite status, and get SPG Gold Status when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year.
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year.
Analysis: Starpoints have topped my valuations since I began the monthly series back in May of 2014. The current value (2.4 cents apiece) comes not only from free night redemptions, but also from the long and growing list of airline transfer partners, and the 5,000-mile bonus you receive for transferring 20,000 points. The sign-up bonus alone is worth $720, and between this card and the personal version, you’ll be well on your way to SPG elite status thanks to those stay/night credits.
3. United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
Current Bonus: 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.
Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on United purchases and on select business expenses, including restaurant, gas station and office supply store purchases; earn 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Get employee cards at no extra cost. Earn 10,000 bonus miles when you make $25,000 in net purchases on your card each year. Other perks include your first checked bag free (for cardholder and companion on the same reservation), priority boarding, 2 United Club passes per year and no foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year.
Analysis: This card normally comes with a sign-up bonus of just 30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. So although you have to spend an additional $1,000 to earn the bonus, you get 20,000 extra miles — more than worth it, in my opinion. Unlike the personal version of the Explorer card, this card offers bonus spending categories that can give you a solid return on your spending. Now that United has changed its mileage-earning structure to a revenue-based program, devalued partner earning, and raised the requirements for elite status, having a United co-branded credit card and actually spending on it should become more central to your mileage strategy if United is your carrier of choice.
4. The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
Current Bonus: 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
Benefits: This card comes with the same benefits as the personal The Platinum Card from American Express, including airport lounge access through Priority Pass and to a slew of new Centurion Lounges, a statement credit for the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee, a yearly $200 airline fee rebate, complimentary SPG Gold status, access to Fine Hotels & Resorts program, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi at over one million hotspots worldwide, and OPEN Savings discounts and bonuses.
Annual Fee: $450
Analysis: While the card does incur a hefty annual fee, the benefits can outweigh the up-front cost, especially in year one, since you can claim the $200 airline fee rebate both in the calendar year you sign up and the following year. Check out my recent post about why I love the Business Platinum Card for a detailed discussion of its various benefits.
5. CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
Current Bonus: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at certain office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants. Get a $99 domestic economy companion certificate when you spend $30,000 within a cardmember year. Get the first checked bag free for you and up to four traveling companions, enjoy Group 1 Boarding and receive a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases.
Annual Fee: $95, waived for the first year.
Analysis: Check out this detailed review of this card for more information. The sign-up bonus alone is worth about $850, in my estimation, since I value AA miles at 1.7 cents each. While the office supply/telecommunications bonuses aren’t as noteworthy as those on the Chase Ink Plus, it’s nonetheless a great option if you value AAdvantage miles; if you use the card for a lot of purchases, that companion certificate can come in handy.
6. Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
Current Bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months (though higher targeted offers may be available — see below.)
Benefits: Earn 3 points per dollar in a category of your choice from a list of 5 categories, earn 2 points per dollar in the 4 remaining categories and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. Categories include airfare purchased directly from airlines, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases at gas stations, US purchases for shipping, and US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers.
Annual Fee: $175, plus $50 for the first additional card, both waived for the first year.
Analysis: Taking into account that American Express has recently had much higher targeted bonuses for this card, the 25,000 Membership Rewards points currently being offered isn’t very exciting. However, I value Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so the sign-up bonus is still worth $500. That’s not bad, but not great for a $5,000 minimum spending requirement.
The additional flexibility on the earning side (with your choice of 3X bonus category) makes this card particularly attractive to anyone who spends a lot in one of the five available categories. I’d probably choose airfare, but each has its merits depending on your personal needs. For help deciding which category to select, check out my post from last year on Maximizing Credit Card Bonus Categories.
7. Club Carlson Rewards Business Visa
Current Bonus: 85,000 Gold Points — 50,000 points after your first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days.
Benefits: Earn 10 points per dollar spent at Carlson Rezidor properties worldwide, and 5 points per dollar everywhere else. You’ll also enjoy automatic Gold Elite status, and 40,000 Gold Points each year when you renew the card.
Annual Fee: $60
Analysis: This card comes with the same benefits as the personal Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature. The only differences involve the business-related benefits and services such expense tracking and merchant discounts, and the annual fee is lower on the business version. The sign-up bonus is worth $340, and the value of the anniversary bonus ($160) is well above the annual fee.
8. Ink Business Cash Credit Card from Chase
Current Bonus: Earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Benefits: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. Also, earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% cash back on everything else.
Annual Fee: $0
Analysis: This card is a good choice for folks looking to get a basic, cash-back business credit card with a great 0% APR introductory offer for 12 months; 14.49%-20.49% variable APR after that, (if you think you might carry a balance) and no annual fee, so keeping it over time in order to build your credit history won’t cost you anything out of pocket.
9. Hawaiian Airlines Business Mastercard
Current Bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus miles with your first purchase.
Benefits: Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for round-trip coach travel between Hawaii and 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 also 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.
Annual Fee: $89
Analysis: This is a solid airline business credit card thanks to various perks and benefits like the companion discount and the annual spending bonus. If your travel takes you to Hawaii often, this is definitely a card to consider.
10. SimplyCash Business Card from American Express
Current Bonus: For a limited time, earn a one-time $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 or more in qualifying purchases on the card within the first 6 months. To be eligible for this offer, your application must be received by April 27, 2016.
Benefits: Earn 5% cash back at US office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers, 3% cash back on the category of your choice and 1% cash back on all other purchases. 5% and 3% cash back earning applies to purchases up to $25,000 per rebate year, after which you’ll earn 1% cash back. This card is a smart choice for your business because it comes with no annual fee.
Annual Fee: $0
Analysis: If you’re looking for a solid cash-back card, this no-fee option from Amex is a great choice. The sign-up bonus equates to 5% cash back, and you can continue earning at that rate with specific merchants, and at 3% in a category of your choice. This card doesn’t come with any bells and whistles, but when used strategically, you can earn a decent return on your purchases. The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.