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American Express offers a wide variety of cards marketed toward the small-business owner for separating and tracking expenses. With all of the options available, one of the most frequent questions we receive at TPG is “Which card is right for me?” Today, I’ll give an overview of what several Amex Business cards offer and then based on your own situation, help you decide which card could be the right one for you and your business.

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American Express Business Card Basics

Even if you don’t have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you can still take advantage of these cards. While I now have my own LLC with an EIN, previously I had a Chase and an Amex business card as a sole proprietor to separate my own travel and business expenses from personal finances. In addition to separating finances and expenditure tracking tools, these products give you access to bonuses that may no longer be available to you on the equivalent personal card. In 2014, American Express began restricting welcome bonuses to new cardholders, adding the following statement to the terms and conditions of many cards:

“This offer is not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

This means that if you previously held a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express, but you were then targeted for a big welcome bonus (like those we saw through the Card Match), you wouldn’t be able to earn the large bonus even if your first account had been closed for years. Fortunately, you can apply for the business version of the card and still be eligible for the bonus, since it’s treated as an entirely separate product.  All Amex business cards participate in the Amex OPEN savings program, but Hyatt unfortunately is no longer a part of OPEN.

Enjoy the Centurion Lounges as a cardholder of the Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.
Enjoy the Centurion Lounges as a cardholder of the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.

Let’s look at several Amex small business cards and discuss the bonus, ancillary benefits and bonus spend categories for each:

1. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Current offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases in the first three months of cardmembership.
Benefits: Earn 1 point per dollar you spend on eligible purchases, 1.5 points per dollar on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more and 2 points per dollar on eligible purchases made when booking on the American Express Travel website. Enjoy complimentary access to over 700 airport lounges, including Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (though without guest privileges and only when you’re flying Delta) and Priority Pass lounges. You can also stay connected with unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide and 10 complimentary GoGo Inflight internet passes every year. You’ll also receive a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year, as well as a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every five years. The card also incurs no foreign transaction fees, and includes automatic Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status (and therefore Marriott Gold status) as well as Hilton HHonors Gold status. Amex will now offers 35% points back when you redeem for a flight through Amex. Note that you’ll only be able to earn this points rebate on economy flights when you make a purchase with your selected airline, and when you purchase a business- or first-class ticket with any airline.
Annual fee: $450
Authorized user details: Additional cardholders cost $300 each, though they’ll enjoy many of the same benefits (including lounge access, a separate Global Entry credit, their own set of GoGo passes and SPG Gold status).

Get this card if:

  • You you can meet the hefty $25,000 minimum spending requirement to earn 100,000 points with the current welcome bonus.
  • You routinely travel and value Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass Lounge access.
  • You want to redeem your points toward paid airfare to take advantage of the tremendously valuable 35% points rebate.

2. The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Quickly earn enough MRs with the Business Gold card to enjoy Singapore
Quickly earn enough MR points with the Business Gold card to enjoy Singapore’s new SFO-SIN route aboard the airline’s A350.

Current offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of cardmembership (worth $950 based on TPG’s latest valuations).
Benefits: Earn 3 points per dollar in one category of your choosing out of five options (airfare, advertising, US gas stations, US shipping or US computing) and 2 points per dollar in the other four categories (up to $100,000 in purchases per category per calendar year). You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on eligible purchases from the American Express Travel website and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You can utilize a variety of included tools to manage business expenses. This card has no foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $175 (waived for the first year)
Authorized user details: $50 for the first employee card (waived for the first year) and no fee for additional cards .

Get this card if:

  • Your company spends large amounts of money on airfare, advertising, gas stations, shipping or computing.
  • You don’t travel that often and can’t justify the higher annual fee of the Business Platinum Card.

3. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Current offer: $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase at participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotels in the first six months.
Benefits: Earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent at participating Starwood and Marriott hotels, and 1 Starpoint per dollar spent everywhere else. Earn SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 or more in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. You also get 2 stays and 5 nights toward SPG elite status each calendar year just for holding the card. Pay no foreign transaction fees, and access Boingo’s American Express Preferred Wi-Fi plan. You’ll also enjoy complimentary premium internet access at all SPG properties and free access to Sheraton Clubs when you book rates eligible to earn Starpoints.
Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
Authorized user details: $0

Get this card if:

  • You are just shy of SPG status and could use the bonus elite-qualifying stay credit.
  • You stay at Sheraton hotels often and enjoy lounge access.
  • You’re worried about it no longer being available — I’d consider getting this card in 2017, as there are no guarantees that it will stick around.

4. Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

If you frequently fly Delta, one of the airline’s co-branded business cards could make sense.

Current offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months, and get a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within the first three months.
Benefits: You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. The card gets you a free checked bag on Delta flights, along with Zone 1 priority boarding and a 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases. You can also use the card to get out of Delta’s Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement by spending at least $25,000 in a calendar year. In addition, all Delta Amex cards now waive foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
Authorized user details: $0

For additional MQM-earning opportunities you can apply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card, which is currently offering 5,000 MQMs and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. There’s also the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express, offering 10,000 MQMs and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. These offer many of the same travel benefits as the Gold version, but include additional perks like companion certificates (both), bonus MQMs for hitting certain spending thresholds each year (both) or even complimentary Sky Club access (Reserve card). In line with the additional benefits, these cards come with higher annual fees ($195 for the Platinum and $450 for the Reserve).

Get one of these cards if:

  • You’re just shy of MQMs for a high-level Delta status.

Otherwise, I’d still recommend the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card or Business Platinum Cards over these, as you can transfer points to Delta and maintain the flexibility of earning transferable points.

5. SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Current offer: None
Benefits: Earn 5% cash back at US office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers (on up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1%). You’ll also earn 3% cash back from your one category of your choice out of eight options: airfare, hotels, car rentals, US gas stations, US restaurants, US advertising, US computing or US shipping (also capped at $50,000 in purchases; then 1%). The card also gives you 1% cash back everywhere else. Unfortunately this card charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
Annual fee: $0
Authorized user details: $0

Get this card if:

  • Your prefer cash back over earning points.

I’d highly recommend earning points over earning cash back. The points will often far exceed the fixed value of any cash back you earn and give you the opportunity to redeem toward award travel.

6. The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Current offer: No welcome bonus
Benefits: Earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases for the first $50,000 you spend each calendar year (earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases thereafter). This card also grants you access to discounts through the Amex OPEN Savings program. There’s a 2.7% fee on foreign transactions.
Annual fee: $0
Authorized user details: $0

Get this card if:

  • You want to earn a solid return on everyday, non-bonus category spending for your business (based on TPG’s valuations, the 2x earn rate equals a 4% return on the first $50,000 spent each year).
  • You can’t justify the high annual fee of the Business Platinum Card.

Bottom Line

Use your new found Membership Rewards stash from your business card and transfer to Air France/KLM Flying Blue for cheap Hawaii award tickets.
Use your newfound Membership Rewards stash from your business card and transfer to Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program for cheap Hawaii award tickets.

If your business doesn’t book a lot of travel, doesn’t have significant expenses in the Business Gold Rewards Card’s 3x bonus categories and doesn’t want to pay a $450 annual fee, you should strongly consider the Blue Business Plus Card. If you max out the 2x earning rate on the first $50,000 spent each year, you’ll walk away with 100,000 Membership Rewards points.

That said, the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN is still the best Amex business card in my opinion — and it’s only getting better with the recently added points rebate (even though the decrease to 35% is disappointing). Redeeming your points for flights with the 35% rebate gets you 1.54 cents toward airfare. These tickets are then treated as paid airfare by the airlines, meaning you’ll earn elite-qualifying miles and redeemable miles on those tickets. It’d be hard for any business or sole proprietor to pass on the opportunity to use points in this manner on top of earning a 75,000-point welcome bonus.

What’s your favorite business card, and why?

Featured image courtesy of Hero Images via Getty Images.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

LIMITED TIME OFFER. Aside from the 100,000 points welcome bonus (available until 8/8/18), Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.