If you’ve got a business — new or old, big or small — you should consider getting a small business credit card. Here are the best business cards from our partners.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — Best for travel perks
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — Best for sign-up bonus
- American Express® Business Gold Card — Best for flexible rewards earning
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card — Best for office supplies
- Capital One Spark Cash Plus — Best for unlimited business cash back
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express — Best for no annual fee
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business — Best for everyday business spending
- United℠ Business Card — Best for United Airlines flyers
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card — Best for Southwest flyers
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card — Best for Delta Air Lines flyers
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card — Best for Hilton business travelers
- Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card — Best for customizable business cash back
- Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card — Best for freelancers
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card — Best for Southwest flyers who want a lower annual fee
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — Best for Marriott business travelers
- 5X Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- 1.5X Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else. Cap applies.
Why we chose it
The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a great card for frequent travelers looking to add a touch of luxury to their business trips. While the card does come with a high annual fee, you’re also getting a ton of valuable benefits in return. They include generous annual travel credits, unparalleled lounge access that includes Amex Centurion Lounges and more.
- 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- 1X Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases – with no limit to the amount you can earn
Why we chose it
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card’s sign-up bonus is among the highest we’ve seen from Chase. Plus earn points across the four bonus categories (travel, shipping, advertising and telecommunication providers) that are most popular with businesses. The card comes with travel protections, shopping protections and will also have primary coverage when renting a car for business purposes for you and your employees.
- 4X Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month.
- 1X 1X is earned for other purchases. **
- 25% Airline Bonus: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
Why we chose it
The Amex Business Gold card is a solid choice for high-spending small businesses with the flexibility to earn 4x points in the two categories where you spend the most. The card is ideal for businesses who value simplicity above all.
- 5% Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
- 2% Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- 1% Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
Why we chose it
The Chase Ink Business Cash is an excellent no annual fee card for small business owners. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on office supplies and select utilities, as well as 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations.
- 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere—with no limits or category restrictions
Why we chose it
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a business cash-back card that offers 2% on all purchases. If your business spends more than $7,500 annually and doesn’t want to keep up with multiple bonus categories, this is the perfect card for you.
- 2X Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners
- 1X 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter
Why we chose it
The Blue Business Plus is a great card for small business owners who want to earn lucrative Membership Rewards points on everyday business spending. It was created specifically for sole proprietorships and start-ups with limited revenue who would appreciate a card with an introductory interest rate and expanded buying power.
- 2X Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions, and miles won't expire for the life of the account.
Why we chose it
The Capital One Spark Miles for Business offers a simple way to earn rewards on every business purchase, no matter the category. Those miles can then be easily redeemed for travel purchases or by transferring to partners.
- 2X Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting.
- 1X Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The United Business card offers a plethora of travel benefits that will benefit business owners who prefer to fly United — all for a reasonable $99 annual fee.
- 3X 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
- 2X 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services.
- 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card is ideal for business travelers and loyal Southwest flyers interested in hitting A-List status or earning a Companion Pass.
- 3X Earn 3 Miles on every dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta.
- 1.5X After you spend $150,000 on your Card in a calendar year, you earn 1.5 Miles per dollar (that’s an extra half mile per dollar) on eligible purchases the rest of the year.
Why we chose it
The return to business travel has come back quicker than anticipated — and if you’re a business owner who’s also a loyal Delta customer, you’ll want to consider this top-tier co-branded card. The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business is best suited for businesses with lots of expenses, as you’ll earn 3 SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases, 1.5 SkyMiles per dollar on all other purchases after you spend $150,000 on the card in a calendar year and 1 SkyMile per dollar on everything else.
- 12X 12X at hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio
- 6X 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases
- 3X 3X on all other eligible purchases. Terms & Limitations Apply.
Why we chose it
For business travelers who stay with Hilton, there is a lot to love about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. You’re getting a solid return when you use the card on eligible Hilton purchases, and it comes with a nice array of perks.
- 3% 3% cash back in the category of your choice (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year), 1% thereafter
- 2% 2% cash back on dining (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year), 1% thereafter
- 1% Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Why we chose it
The Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Back is great for small businesses and self-employed individuals who don’t want to pay an annual fee for a card but have a varying amount of spend each month.
- 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business
Why we chose it
The Ink Business Unlimited’ sign-up gives you a generous $750 cash back spending $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening plus unlimited 1.5% cash back on every business purchase. It fills in rewards gaps not covered by the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. You can maximize this card by pairing it with cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Business Preferred.
- 2X 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Why we chose it
The Southwest Premier Business card is ideal for Southwest loyalists who value airport and inflight perks and the ability to add employee cards at no additional cost.
- 6X 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
- 4X 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
- 2X 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
Why we chose it
The Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business is a solid pick for small businesses card that want the benefits that come with Bonvoy properties around the world. It comes with a great welcome offer and better rewards and benefits than Marriott’s consumer version.
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|Card||Best for||Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus||Earning Rate||Annual Fee|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Best for travel perks||120,000 points||
|American Express® Business Gold Card||Best for flexible rewards earning||70,000 points||
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Best for office supplies||$750||
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Best for sign-up bonus||100,000 points||
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||Best for everyday business spending||50,000 miles||
||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Best for no annual fee||15,000 points||
||No annual fee|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Best for Southwest flyers||80,000 points||
|The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card||Best for Hilton business travelers||Up to 180,000 Points||
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card||Best for Marriott business travelers||125,000||
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||Best for unlimited business cash back||Up to $1,000 cash bonus||
The best business credit cards of October 2021
The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for travel perks
Annual fee: $595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022) (see rates and fees)
Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $2,400.
Why we like it: If you’re after travel perks, the Amex Business Platinum card is for you. The Business Platinum features a 5x bonus category for airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, along with 1.5x points on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year. Cardholders will enjoy automatic Gold status in both the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs, along with numerous other benefits. Enrollment required for select benefits.
With this card you can earn up to $1,000 per calendar year in statement credits on select purchases, including up to $400 with Dell Technologies in the U.S., up to $360 with Indeed (up to $90 per quarter), up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on purchases made directly from U.S. wireless telephone providers (up to $10 per month). Enrollment required.
Cardholders get access to airport lounges, including Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club (on same-day Delta flights) — TPG values this access at $325. Also, the card comes with up to $200 in annual airline fee statement credits and a 35% points rebate for flights booked through Amex Travel in first or business class on any airline (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year), or in any class on the airline of your choice each year. Enrollment required for select benefits.
- Redeem points directly for first or business class, or any seat on the airline of your choice, and get a 35% points rebate
For more details, check our American Express Business Platinum Card review.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for travel insurance
Annual fee: $95
Current sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $2,000.
Why we like it: If you spend a lot on business travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to keep earning significant points with the Ink Business Preferred card after the sign-up bonus. The card earns 3x bonus for the first $150,000 in combined travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.
TPG’s most recent point valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories. If you spend the full $150,000, you’ll take home 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points (which are worth $9,000 based on TPG’s valuations).
You also get great value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to 10 airline and three hotel loyalty programs. Plus the card gives you 25% more value for the points you earn when you redeem them for travel at a fixed value in the Ultimate Rewards portal, a perk also available on other Chase credit cards.
- Cellphone insurance, extended warranty protection and purchase protection
- Travel protections including primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance
- Employee cards at no additional cost
For more details, check our Chase Ink Preferred Card review.
American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for flexible rewards earning
Annual fee: $295 (see rates and fees)
Current welcome offer: Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $1,400.
Why we like it: If you’re looking to maximize earnings on business expenses, the Amex Business Gold has the potential to be quite lucrative.
You’re earning 4x on selecting two categories where your business spent the most each month (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year; then 1x). Bonus rewards are given automatically based on where you spend, so you don’t have to activate or remember to switch your selections. Eligible categories include the following:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
While the card doesn’t come with statement credits to help offset the $295 annual fee, you could earn up to 600,000 Membership Rewards points with these bonus categories each year. You’re also getting access to the Membership Rewards program and its array of transfer partners, along with Amex Offers and a 25% rebate when you pay with points on eligible flights.
- 25% rebate when you use points to pay for all or part of an eligible flight booked through Amex Travel (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year).
- The Hotel Collection includes an up to $100 hotel credit to spending on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities and room upgrades upon arrival when available on stays of at least two consecutive nights at participating hotels and resorts.
- Global Assist Hotline
- Travel and shopping protections, including trip delay insurance, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty and purchase protection.
- Enrollment required for select benefits.
For more details, read our Amex Business Card review.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for everyday business spending
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Current sign-up bonus: The Capital One Spark Miles card has an intro offer of 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $850.
Why we like it: Capital One miles transfer to 15 airlines and four hotel partners, including Avianca, Flying Blue, Air Canada and Wyndham. And because this card earns at least 2x miles on every purchase, it’s a great option for business owners who want to maximize their everyday purchases.
TPG values Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, so you’re getting a return of at least 3.4%, regardless of what category your business expenses fall into. You also have the option to use your miles to cover travel expenses at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece, so you’re guaranteed to get an effective return of at least 2% on every purchase.
This is also one of the few cards without a massive annual fee that comes with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100 every four years). The $95 annual fee is even waived for the first year.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines flyers
Annual fee: $99 (fee waived for the first 12 months)
Current sign-up bonus: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $910.
Why we like it: The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card comes with some solid bonus categories for an airline credit card, and miles earned can be redeemed not only on American Airlines but on the carrier’s Oneworld alliance partners.
You’ll also get a free checked bag for you and up to four companions when you have this card, even if you don’t charge the airfare to it. Best of all, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months.
- Free checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions
- Earn a companion certificate for domestic main cabin economy travel after spending $30,000 or more each membership year and after the card is renewed (account must remain open at least 45 days after anniversary date)
The information for the CitiBusiness Platinum Select card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best for Hilton business travelers
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Current welcome offer: Earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. Earn 130,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $1,080.
Why we like it: If you frequently travel for business and stay at Hilton properties often, the Hilton Business Amex could be a great option for you. The Hilton Gold elite status that comes with the Amex Hilton Honors business credit card gets you several perks, including a 20% point bonus on qualifying spending, a fifth night free on standard room award stays of five nights or more, room upgrades and free breakfast at most properties.
You’ll also earn 12x Hilton Honors points for eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in Hilton’s portfolio; 6x points at eligible U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers, U.S. shipping companies, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; and 3x on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and the ability to spend to Diamond status
- 10 passes per year for Priority Pass lounges without restaurant access (valued by TPG at $75)
- Complimentary employee credit cards (see rates and fees) and expense-management tools help you track and organize expenses
- Enrollment required for select benefits.
For more details, read our Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review.
Blue Business Plus Card from American Express: Best for no annual fee
Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)
Current welcome offer: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Why we like it: The Blue Business Plus has a solid earning rate of 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x). If your small business spends less than $50,000 each year in purchases, the Blue Business Plus can be a good no-annual-fee option that provides an effective 4% return on spending based on TPG’s valuations. For those just getting started with their business or looking for an everyday spending card to cover the expenses that may not fall under the bonus categories of other business credit cards, this is a great option.
- 0% intro APR (see rates and fees) on purchases for the first 12 months of account opening (13.24% – 19.24% variable APR applicable after) (see rates and fees)
For more details, read our Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express review.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Best for Southwest flyers
Annual fee: $199
Current sign-up bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, the full bonus is worth $1,200.
Why we like it: The Southwest Performance Business credit card is a perfect fit for Southwest fans. It comes with plenty of perks that will make business trips on the airline more comfortable than ever, especially for those who don’t yet have A-List or A-List Preferred status. The card earns 3x on Southwest flights and its hotel and car partners, 2x on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1x on everything else. Plus, the sign-up bonus gets you much closer to earning the coveted Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.
You’ll get four priority boarding positions each year, which normally cost $30-$50 each, so that perk alone can offset the annual fee. Cardholders also receive a 365 days annual Wi-Fi credit that comes with the card, worth $8, which means you can have free internet service on Southwest every day of the year if you need it.
- Four priority boarding positions per year (valued by TPG at $120 annually)
- Up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year ($8 covers an all-day pass, valued by TPG at $200 annually)
- Up to $100 every four years to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- 9,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points after every cardmember anniversary (worth $135 based on TPG’s latest valuations)
- Employee cards at no additional cost
For more details, read our Southwest Performance Business credit card review.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Best for Marriott business travelers
Annual fee: $125 (see rates and fees)
Current welcome bonus: 125,000 Marriott bonus points & Two bonus free night awards after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Each bonus free night award has a redemption level up to $50,000 points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021. The full bonus is worth up to $1,800 based on TPG’s valuations.
Why we like it: If your business is loyal to Marriott when you travel, Marriott Bonvoy elite status is likely on your radar. The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex’s current offer is a great opportunity to supercharge your Marriott Bonvoy points balance. Of course, the card also comes with several benefits for business travelers. You’ll get 15 elite night credits annually (which can be stacked with a Marriott Bonvoy consumer card, meaning you could earn up to 30 elite night credits from your credit cards alone). The card also comes with a free-night award (up to 35,000 points) and the potential to earn a second after eligible spending each year valid at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
The card also earns 6 points per dollar spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on purchases made from merchants in the U.S. for shipping and 2x on all other eligible purchases
- 15 elite night credits each year, granting you automatic Silver elite status (or Gold status if you also have 15 nights from a personal Marriott card)
- Free-night award each year (up to 35,000 points in value), plus the ability to earn a second night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year
- Enrollment required for select benefits.
For more details, read our full Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex card review.
Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for office supplies
Annual fee: $0
Current sign-up bonus: Earn a $750 bonus after spending $7,500 in the first three months from account opening.
Why we like it: The Ink Business Cash earns 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, plus 2% back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. For business owners who spend primarily in those categories, this is a great option.
If you also have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — the Ink Business Cash’s rewards can be combined in a single Ultimate Rewards account. That means you could potentially earn up to 5x (a 10% return) on business expenses.
- Purchase protection and extended warranty
- Car rental coverage, travel and emergency assistance services and roadside dispatch
- Employee cards at no cost
For more details, see the full card review for the Ink Business Cash card.
Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Best for unlimited business cash back
Annual fee: $150
Current sign-up bonus: Earn up to $1,000 in the first six months — $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first six months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first six months.
Why we like it: The Spark Cash Plus is a simple yet rewarding business card option. You’ll earn 2% cash-back rewards on all your purchases, guaranteeing that you’re earning a solid return no matter the purchase. As long as you keep your account open, your rewards never expire. You can also redeem your cash back in any increment, helping you keep your operating expenses low and adding more value year after year.
- The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a charge card, meaning there’s no preset spending limit. This is great for business owners who may have to charge lots of expenses on their card or need to go above their typical credit limit.
- No foreign transaction fees.
For more details, read our Capital One Spark Cash Plus review.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Best for Southwest flyers who want a lower annual fee
Annual fee: $99
Current sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Why we like it: If you’re a business owner and Southwest loyalist but can’t justify an annual fee greater than $100, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business is the card for you. There are excellent Southwest perks, such as four upgraded boardings per year upon availability, up to 365 inflight wifi credits and a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit (worth up to $100) every four years.
- You’ll earn tier qualifying points toward your Southwest A-List elite status.
- You’ll earn 6,000 bonus Southwest points every card anniversary.
For more details, read our Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business review.
There are many credit cards geared toward small businesses, so narrowing down the list to the best ones can be challenging. Here are the criteria we used to choose the cards listed above:
As you can see, the bulk of the first-year value comes from the sign-up bonus itself — I used our latest valuations to calculate a dollar amount for each offer. Other solid business cards — such as the Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi — aren’t included because they don’t currently offer a sign-up bonus and are bested by other cards in terms of first-year value as a result.
From there, I factored in annual travel credits, like the up to $200 annual airline credit offered by the Business Platinum Card from American Express (enrollment required). As the Amex Business Platinum also offers various lounge access types through the American Express Global Lounge Collection, I assigned a value of $325 for these perks. Additionally, if a card waives its annual fee for the first year, I didn’t subtract that from the value of the welcome bonus and other perks since this post is focused on how much you’ll get from the card as a new applicant.
More and more business credit cards offer tiered bonuses based on your business spending in the first three to six months. In the past, I focused on the value you’d get by meeting only the lowest spending requirement, but many business credit cards require higher tiers of spending. That said, given the ability of businesses to put large expenses on credit cards, I’m now including the maximum number of bonus points you can earn — assuming your business meets all the spending requirements.
How to choose a small business credit card
There’s no single best business card. Instead, the best business card for your small business depends on various aspects. For example, do you prefer earning cash-back rewards, airline miles, hotel points or transferrable currencies? Are you willing to pay an annual fee? What categories does your business spend the most in each year? Do you or your employees travel frequently, and if so, would there be a benefit in having hotel elite status or a checked bag allowance when flying?
Which rewards are important to you
You should also take into consideration the kind of spending you make. For example, if you spend a lot of money on travel for business, then The Business Platinum Card® from American Express might be the best card for you, as it offers 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. In other words, the more you spend on travel, the more you’ll be rewarded.
It’s also a good idea to check out possible reward expirations, minimum redemption amounts and earning limits for cards before making your final decision.
The most important thing to consider is whether you’ll likely need to carry your balance over a month-to-month basis, as this would mean you’d need to consider a card with a 0% intro APR period or a fixed low-interest rate.
Or, if you plan on paying your balance each month in full, then you might consider going for a card that has the biggest sign-up bonus and the most lucrative rewards.
Does the card have business-friendly benefits?
You may notice that on closer inspection, some business credit cards offer extra little perks like itemized end-of-year statements, employee cards and in-app functionality for uploading photos of receipts to match with card purchases.
Pros and cons of getting a business credit card
A business credit card can help you maximize your purchases, separate your expenses and save money on interest each year. These business credit cards offer bonus rewards on categories popular with small businesses, such as office supplies, airfare, advertising and gas.
In fact, business-specific bonus categories are one of the main ways that business credit cards differ from personal credit cards. For more information about the best personal credit cards on the market, be sure to check out our best credit cards, best rewards credit cards and best travel credit cards pages to find the perfect partner to pair with your new business card.
But you need to do your research before applying for a small-business credit card. While business cards often offer tailored bonus categories and additional benefits for business owners, they also have fewer consumer protections than personal credit cards.
How to get the most out of your business credit card
Your card’s arrived and you’re all excited. But what next? There are several ways to make sure you’re making the most out of your card — here are some key habits to adopt.
Use it as often as possible
The more you use your card, the more points and rewards you’ll earn. It can be strange to switch up spending habits, but try to switch to using your business credit card as your go-to option rather than cash, debit, bank transfers or other payment methods.
Earn your sign up bonus
The sign-up bonus is one of the most, if not the most, lucrative ways of earning lots of points or air miles and for the least amount of effort.
Sign-up bonuses are usually in the form of spending a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. Remember, if you don’t think you’ll hit the spending limit, you may want to reconsider taking out the card in the first place.
Claim interest and fees as tax deductions
Some credit card fees and interest are deductible from your tax returns as business expenses. If you’re not sure how this works, check with your accountant.
Pay statement on time
Pay today, don’t delay. No, this is not a commercial, it’s the single most important rule that should stop you from running into any issues with credit and interest.
If you cannot make your card payments on time, don’t take out the card.
How to apply for a business credit card
If you own a small business or just do freelance gigs, you could be eligible for a business credit card. You don’t necessarily need a tax ID or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to qualify for a business credit card; if you’re a sole proprietor with a small business or side gig, you can usually enter your Social Security number (SSN) instead.
Information you’ll need to provide
When filling out an application form for a business credit card, there are some extra pieces of information required in addition to what you might provide for a personal credit card application.
This is likely to include:
The name of your business
If you’re the sole owner of your small business, you might not even have a designated name for it. If this is the case, don’t worry, you’re allowed to use your own name instead.
Similarly, if you don’t have a separate business contact number and mailing address, you can also use your own here too.
A Taxpayer Identification Number
There are two numbers you could use for this, depending on how your business is set up. If you’re the sole business owner, you can use your Social Security number. Or, in the instance that you employ staff or have a more formal business structure, then you should use your business’s Employer Identification Number. You can easily get an EIN on the IRS website.
It’s up to you how you want to describe your business; you can either use more rigid categories like travel, food and drink, or retail, or you can describe the exact service you provide should your business type not fall into those categories.
How long you’ve been in business
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
Revenue and expenses
This is the part where you enter how much money your business makes and how much your outgoings were to run your business.
What you do not need
A specific business type
Whether you have a structured company, LLC or partnership, or you operate without a formal or legal business structure, you’re still perfectly eligible to apply.
Business credit history
In most cases, your small business credit card would be guaranteed by you personally and not the business itself. This means that you won’t be required to include an existing credit history for your business.
Check out the following guides to applying for small-business cards for issuer-specific strategies:
- How to fill out an Amex business card application
- How to complete a Chase business credit card application
- How to complete a Capital One business credit card application
Business credit versus personal credit
Business credit is similar to your personal credit in that it allows potential creditors to judge what kind of credit risk your business poses. A higher business credit score could mean you’ll have better access to loans and lines of credit, lower interest rates, and cheaper insurance premiums for established firms.
Having business credit helps keep your business and personal finances from affecting each other in the long run.
An important thing to remember when considering both business and personal credit is that making payments on time is crucial to avoid damaging your credit score.
Credit reporting bureaus are companies that generate both business and personal credit scores. They gather information about a person or a business’s debt and use it to decide how risky lending money to them would be. The higher your credit score, the lower the risk, and the more likely it is you’ll be accepted for more credit.
When you’re just starting, you won’t have a business credit score, at least until you open a business credit card or secure a line of credit from a vendor that reports to the business credit bureaus — such as Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet. For personal credit, the main bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
If you’re looking to build up your business credit, we advise taking extra care when deciding which vendors and business suppliers you do business with, as not all of them report your financial activity to the business bureaus.
Credit score range
Credit scoring systems differ for business and personal credit. For business scores, the range is commonly from zero to 100 and for personal scores, you’ll likely see a range of 300 to 850.
Access to score
Getting access to your personal credit score is relatively easy. Federal law entitles you to a copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the main three bureaus, for free.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for access to your business credit report and score as the major bureaus’ charge for this.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between a small business credit card and a corporate credit card?
The main difference between the two cards is where the responsibility lies for the card’s debt. Additionally, each card has a different credit check process during application.
For small-business owners of credit cards, the business owner is personally responsible for paying the debt. Once you’ve applied for the card, issuers will check your own personal credit history as well as that of your small business. That’s in addition to a guarantee that you agree to repay any debt.
However, for corporate cards, it’s the business itself that is responsible. This means that should the company run into financial difficulties; it would not fall on the owner(s) to pay the debt. The credit history for only the business and not the owners is the only requirement for credit checks.
How do I check my business credit score?
Dun and Bradstreet offers a free service called CreditSignal, which gives you alerts when your scores or reports change but doesn’t give you access to the full reports themselves. Here’s what the fine print on the website says:
“CreditSignal only indicates that your D and B scores and ratings have changed and alerts you when your business credit file has been purchased. To view actual scores and ratings and learn about what industries are purchasing your D and B file, we recommend that you upgrade to one of our business credit monitoring or credit building solutions.”
Can I use a business credit card instead of a business loan?
Yes, but you should take into account your specific business needs. Business credit cards are faster and allow you to use only what you need — though if you aren’t able to pay your balances in full and on time every month, you may be hit with big interest charges. If your business cycle is a few months between incurring the expenses and receiving payment from a customer, a business loan may be a more cost-effective solution.
Do I need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to get a small business credit card?
When applying for a small-business credit card, you’re likely to be asked for the business’ tax identification number. This doesn’t have to be an EIN, but you can use it if you have one.
Instead, if you’re the sole business owner, you’ll have to use your Social Security number.
Either an EIN or Social Security number will be required to prove which entity will be guaranteeing the debt.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Daniel Ross.
Featured photo by Roman Chazov/Shutterstock
For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, please click here.