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One thing that makes business rewards credit cards so attractive is their flexibility when it comes to earning those rewards. Business cards actually offer even more bonus categories to choose from than their personal credit card counterparts. The trick is finding the card that matches your business spending.
You’ll, of course, find plenty of business cards that reward you handsomely for spending on airfare and hotels. This may be ideal for some small business owners, but if your business has a tiny travel budget, rewards for booking a plane trip may have little value.
In that case, a card that offers top-shelf rewards when you purchase office supplies or pay for your phone service may be the right call.
Here’s a look at the best business credit cards for each of the major spending categories. Many of these cards offer excellent returns across multiple categories, so be sure to find the one that offers the best combination of rewards for how you spend.
Office Supplies — SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Return: Earn 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers on up to $50,000 in purchases during a calendar year, then 1% thereafter. What’s more, American Express allows you to choose another category of spending that earns 3% cash back on up to $50,000 in annual spending (then 1%). Pick from one of eight categories — airfare purchased directly from airlines, hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels, car rentals purchased from select car rental companies, US gas stations, US restaurants, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases for shipping and US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other eligible spending.
Current bonus: None
Benefits: What this card lacks in a welcome bonus it makes up for in its generous rewards and features. Enjoy a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 15 months. (After that it will be a variable of 13.99% to 20.99% APR.) If cash flow is a problem or you have a big one-time expense, you can spend above your credit limit — and earn rewards while doing it. The amount you can spend above your credit limit will be based on your payment history, credit record, available financial resources and other factors. You can designate a trusted employee or business partner, who will be allowed access to and can manage your card account. And get access to Spend Manager, an expense management feature that allows you to add receipts and notes to your transactions either via computer or smartphone.
Annual fee: None.
General Business Expenses — Ink Business Cash Credit Card
Return: This card offers a broader definition of office expenses that includes both spending on supplies and some utility services. 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 (then 1%). Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year (then 1%) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. While this is a cash-back card, Ink Business Cash rewards become considerably more valuable if you transfer those earnings to another Chase credit account — say the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve — that earns Ultimate Rewards points. Utilizing the transfer option means you could effectively earn a return of 10.5% percent (based on TPG’s valuations).
Current bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after account opening.
Benefits: This card comes with a 0% introductory APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. (After that it will be a variable 14.99% to 20.99% APR.) You’ll also enjoy an extended warranty and purchase protections, a nice feature on a card that comes with no annual fee. Purchase protection covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account, while the warranty protection extends the US manufacturer’s warranty by an extra year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
Annual fee: None
Return: This card actually offers higher returns on gas purchases (with a ceiling on maximum earnings) than it does on dining, but this is a fine all-around business rewards credit card — if your business spends heavily at Costco. You’ll earn 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter), 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You have to be a Costco member to be eligible for this card, and while this is a cash-back card, you can’t earn statement credits or redeem your rewards at any time. Instead, you’ll receive a reward coupon annually, redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses.
Current bonus: None
Benefits: Citi recently eliminated foreign transaction fees on the business and personal versions of the Anywhere Visa, meaning you’ll no longer be charged 3% on purchases made abroad or through an international retailer’s website. This change makes the Anywhere Visa Business a more appealing card, particularly if you travel frequently outside the US.
Annual fee: None, but you have to pay your annual Costco membership fee.
Return: Earn 6 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties, 4 points per dollar at US restaurants, US gas stations, US wireless telephone services purchased directly from US providers, and US purchases for shipping. Earn 2 points per dollar everywhere else. Points are worth 2.7 cents each, according to TPG’s latest monthly valuations, which means you could get a return of up to 13.5% when you book a hotel. Points can be redeemed for free nights and upgrades at more than 1,300 resorts and hotels. Free nights range from 3,000 to 35,000 points depending on the hotel category. You can also redeem points for travel on more than 150 airlines with no blackout dates. The transfer rate is typically 1:1.
Current bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Offer ends 10/31/18.
Benefits: This card charges no foreign transaction fees and offers complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at once, plus complimentary premium in-room internet access. You’ll also get free access to Sheraton Clubs when you book rates that are eligible to earn Starpoints. Additional employee cards are free and earn points at the same rate. This card comes with American Express OPEN benefits, which includes a 5% discount at FedEx, Hertz, Hewlett Packard, 1-800 Flowers and Barnes & Noble. For every 20,000 points you transfer to a travel partner, you get a bonus 5,000 points added to that transaction.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Return: Like the SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card, this American Express offering allows you to choose which category of spending will earn the highest rewards. This is another great all-around card, but we like the potential for top returns on airfare. Get 3 points per dollar on one category from a list of five options — 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 made directly from select providers. Earn 2 points per dollar on the four remaining categories, on up to $100,000 in purchases in each of the five categories each year, then earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents apiece, which means you get a 5.7% return on your chosen 3x category and a 3.8% return on the other four. You’ll get the most value when you transfer your points to a travel partner.
Current bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Benefits: This card waives foreign transaction fees. Like the Starwood Preferred Business card, Business Gold Rewards also comes with American Express OPEN benefits. This is a charge card that comes with no preset spending limit, although you must pay your balance in full each month. This card is eligible for the Pay Over Time program, which allows you to finance some charges.
Annual fee: $175 (waived the first year)
General Travel — The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
Return: Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare and on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million extra points per year) and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Redeem points directly for first or business class, or for any seat on the airline of your choice, and get a 35% points rebate. Again, since American Express Membership Rewards points are worth 1.9 cents each, according to TPG calculations, you’ll earn a 9.5% return on airfare and hotel purchases.
Current bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 in the first three months and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 also within the first three months from account opening.
Benefits: Cardholders get access to Centurion and Priority Pass lounges, plus Delta Sky Clubs when you’re flying Delta. You also get a $200 annual airline fee credit and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application rebate. There are no foreign transaction fees. This card comes with access to Platinum Travel Service concierge counselors who can create custom itineraries based on your preferences. You’ll also get 10 Gogo in-flight internet passes annually and unlimited Wi-Fi at Boingo hotspots. Cardholders also receive purchase protection, which covers items up to $10,000 in value if they’re stolen, accidentally damaged, or lost within 90 days of purchase. Like the Business Gold card, Business Platinum is a charge card, but is also eligible for the Pay Over Time program. Reminder: If you don’t pay your card in full each month, interest charges can wipe out the value of the rewards you earn.
Annual fee: $450
Return: Earn 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (up to $250,000 each calendar year, 1% after that), 2% on purchases at restaurants and 1% on all other purchases. The Costco card offers a higher return on gas purchases, but has a lower cap on maximum spending and also is less flexible when it comes to redemption options. You can redeem your Business Advantage rewards as a statement credit or check, or have the cash deposited into your Bank of America checking or savings account.
Current bonus: Get a $200 statement credit when you make at least $500 in net purchases within 60 days of your account opening.
Annual fee: None
Non-Bonus Spending — Capital One Spark Cash for Business
Return: If you want a business rewards credit card but you don’t want to track category spending, this no-fuss, no-muss card could be your answer. Earn 2% cash back on all purchases. It’s that simple. You’ll sacrifice some of the huge bonuses other cards offer on specific categories, but if office supply spending isn’t really a concern you’re not missing out on much.
Current bonus: Earn a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within three months from account opening.
Benefits: Employee cards are free, and you’ll earn rewards from their business spend.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Featured photo by waewkid/Getty Images
Though the Business Gold Rewards card doesn’t have the benefits package of the more premium Business Platinum Card, it also doesn’t have that card’s $450 annual fee. In fact, the $175 annual fee on this one is waived the first year, so getting it is like a risk-free trial of its benefits plus it comes with appealing bonus spending categories like 3x on the category of choice and a range of 2x spending categories as well.
- Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership
- Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories
- Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases
- 3X and 2X apply to the first $100,000 in purchases in each of the 5 categories per year, 1X point per dollar thereafter
- Track, organize, and stay on top of your business expenses with powerful expense-tracking tools
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
- Terms and limitations apply
- See Rates & Fees