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It takes money to make money. Even one-person freelancing operations have overhead to get the wheels spinning, from pens and pencils to technology purchases. And while a small business loan can work for certain situations, ongoing expenses are almost always better taken care of with a credit card to help you keep track of them for tax purposes.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a personal card is the best way to finance your business expenses. Using a separate business credit card allows you to earn rewards specific to your operation, as well as separating your personal expenses from professional ones. So if you’re looking for a great credit card to fund your freelancing enterprise or small business, here are some of this year’s best options.
Chase’s Ink Business Preferred offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on shipping, social media/online advertising, travel, internet, cable and phone services. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar spent. Freelancers who promote their business through Instagram and Facebook ads can easily take advantage of this 3x bonus.
This card also comes with a hefty sign-up bonus of 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 or more during the first three months. That equals $1,000 worth of travel if you redeem the points through Chase’s travel portal, or potentially even more if you transfer your points to one of Ultimate Rewards’ 13 partners, which include airlines like Southwest and United and hotels such as Hyatt.
That’s why Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents each based on TPG’s most recent valuations, which means 3 points per dollar spent is equivalent to a 6% return on those bonus categories.
The Ink Preferred has a $95 annual fee, and small businesses with multiple employees can request unlimited free employee cards.
This card is incredibly valuable for those with large business expenses who travel frequently. Currently, you will earn 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first three months, and an additional 25,000 points by spending an additional $10,000 within the same three months.
If you can spend $20,000 in three months, you will earn at least 95,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after meeting the requirements (worth $1,900 based on TPG’s latest valuations).
The card offers the following spending categories:
- 5 points per dollar on airfare and prepaid hotel rooms on amextravel.com
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
This card also earns 1.5 points per dollar on purchases greater than $5,000 (up to an additional 1 million points per year). Another unique feature of this card is the 35% rebate when you redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for air travel.
The card does have a $595 annual fee (see rates & fees), but comes with an incredible suite of perks geared toward travelers, including:
- Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck reimbursement ($85)
- 10 free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes
- Gold status with Hilton Honors
- Gold status with Marriott Bonvoy
- Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges
- Warranty Protection (up to two additional years on US manufacturer warranties of five years or less)
- Complimentary year of access to WeWork locations
- Up to $200 annual travel credit
- Up to $200 annual Dell statement credits (up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell)
Lastly, this is a charge card. This means that you must pay your monthly balance in full. Be sure to choose diligently whether a charge card or credit card is best for your freelancing business.
Need to make a few big purchases for your business, but can’t afford to pay them off right away? The Ink Business Cash Credit Card is perfect for the freelancer who is just getting started and has to purchase equipment, but needs time to adjust to self-employment. The card has a 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases, then after the 12 months, the rate changes to 15.49% – 21.49%, depending on your credit history. The 0% introductory offer will be voided if any payments are late.
The Ink Business Cash now comes with a $500 bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months after account opening. This cash-back card also has a set of useful bonus categories, including:
- 5% back on all office supply stores and internet, cable and phone services, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year
- 2% on gas stations and restaurants, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year
- 1% on other expenses.
Chase charges no annual fee with this card, but there is a 3% foreign-transaction fee.
The real advantage of this card is that all the cash back — including the sign-up bonus — comes in the form of points. So while you can redeem those points for cash back at a fixed value of 1 cent each, you can get even more value for them if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred) that allows travel redemptions and transfers to airlines and hotels
Transfer partners? Check. No annual fee? Check. (See rates & fees) In fact, there’s very little not to like about the Blue Business Plus card. It’s simple, it’s powerful and has no annual fee — a perfect trio for the budding freelancer.
To be fair, there is a minor downside to the card. You’ll want to avoid using it for overseas transactions because the card carries a 2.7% foreign-transaction fee (see rates & fees). You’ll also need to keep in mind that there’s a $50,000 annual cap on the 2x multiplier for all purchases, after which you’ll only get one point per dollar. But with the Blue Business Plus, you’ll have access to Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners at no annual cost. And there’s no fee for additional employee cards either.
This is one of the easiest business cards for freelancers to manage, since you won’t have to worry about transferring or redeeming points. You simply get cash back on your spending. New card holders can earn a $500 cash bonus when they spend $4,500 during the first three months from account opening.
The Capital One Spark Cash for Business earns 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on how much you can earn. That’s perfect for freelancers who’d rather not keep track of categories that offer extra rewards, and who prefer a one-stop card in their wallet for all their business expenses. Redeeming rewards is also easy — customers can choose between redeeming for account credit, gift cards or a check in the mail. You can also set up an auto-redemption so you never forget to cash in your points.
Employee cards are free, and Capital One doesn’t charge any foreign-transaction fees, so you can give this card to employees who are traveling overseas on behalf of your business. The Capital One Spark Cash for Business comes with a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year.
If you want to earn cash back on your own terms, the American Express SimplyCash Plus Business Card may be your best choice. The card provides 5% cash back at office supply stores and on wireless phone services, as well as 3% cash back on up to $50,000 spent in one category that you pick from a list of eight which includes restaurants, hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels, gas stations, shipping, and several others; then 1% thereafter. The card has no annual fee (see rates & fees), and it charges a 2.7% foreign-transaction fees (see rates & fees).
While this list is mainly dominated by options from American Express and Chase, Citi cards are incredibly valuable for many reasons. One of the largest reasons is its purchase protections are among the best in the credit card business. The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard offers up to $10,000 per incident in purchase protection for more items purchased with the card that are damaged or stolen in the first 90 days of purchase. So if you’re purchasing a laptop, camera or another piece of expensive equipment for your freelance business, this card could be a smart option.
The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum is currently offering an elevated sign-up bonus of 70,000 American miles (worth $980 based on TPG’s valuations) after you spend $4,000 in the first four months. You’ll receive your first checked bag free on domestic flights, preferred boarding and a companion certificate for a flight after you spend $30,000 in a calendar year (account must remain open 45 days after account anniversary).
You will earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines flights, as well as at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. The card has a $99 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months).
Whether you’re a long-time freelancer or just starting out, having a solid credit card for your expenses is extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your books in order. Along with this, you can earn valuable points, miles or cash back on your spending.
Additional reporting by Brett Holzhauer.
Featured image by Paige Cody via Unsplash.
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Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, 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.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 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.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees