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With at least 14 business rewards credit cards, including several co-branded ones, it’s safe to say that American Express offers a pretty wide selection of options for business owners looking to separate and track expenses. While you may have heard about cards like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express or the newly launched American Express® Business Gold Card, there’s one card in Amex’s lineup that’s often overlooked and forgotten: The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express.
The Blue Business Plus doesn’t get much attention, but it is the single most rewarding card for everyday non-bonus spend. In addition to a simple rewards-earning structure, the card offers some valuable benefits for small businesses, and it doesn’t carry an annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
Who Is This Card For?
First things first, it’s important to understand that this is a business card so not everyone will be able to apply. That being said, you don’t necessarily need to have an actual brick-and-mortar shop to be eligible. You may qualify just by selling items on the side online or doing some freelancing gigs. American Express created this card specifically for small businesses like sole proprietorships and start-ups with limited revenue that could benefit from a 0% intro APR and expanded buying power (more on the card’s perks later).
The Blue Business Plus is also great for those close to or above Chase’s 5/24 rule, as applying for it doesn’t impact your count. (If you have no idea what 5/24 means, read this.) Just keep in mind that you may be limited to five American Express cards at one time, not including charge cards.
The only bummer with the card is that it doesn’t offer a welcome bonus. We saw a 10,000-Membership Rewards point welcome bonus on the card over the summer, but that’s not a big enough of a bonus to necessarily hold off on applying for the card now considering we don’t know when or even if that bonus will return. The card doesn’t carry an annual fee, so the low/nonexistent bonus isn’t much of a surprise.
Earning points on the Blue Business Plus is very straightforward. You’ll earn 2 points for every dollar you spend up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). There are no bonus categories you need to keep track of, which is great, but that also means that you may be forgoing rewards on certain purchases if you don’t get another card to complement it.
The 2x on all spending is the best earning rate for everyday purchases on the market today — equal to a 3.8% return based on our valuations. However, if your business books a lot of flights, you’ll want to consider pairing the Blue Business Plus with The Business Platinum Card to earn 5x points, a return of 9.5%, on flights purchased through Amex. Likewise, if you spend a lot on office supplies or internet services, you’ll want the Ink Business Cash Credit Card to earn 5% cash back, or a return of 10% when paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
Since the Blue Business Plus’ 2x points bonus only applies to the first $50,000 spent each year, you’ll want to use a card like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, which earns 2x miles on all purchases, after you reach that cap.
The Membership Rewards points you’ll earn with the Blue Business Plus are the same as what you earn with cards like the Business Platinum Card and can be transferred to 21 travel partners, consisting of 18 airlines and three hotels.
If you max out the card’s annual bonus points earning cap and earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll have enough points for redemptions like four round-trip economy flights to Hawaii, a round-trip business-class ticket to Japan or a round-trip business-class ticket to Europe.
Though you’ll generally get the most value from your Amex points by transferring them to a travel partner, you can also use points toward cash back, Amazon purchases, Uber rides, gift cards and more. Alternatively, you can use points to book travel directly through Amex, but if it’s that type of redemption you’re after, you’ll want to pair the Blue Business Plus with the Business Gold Card or the Business Platinum Card to get a 25-35% rebate on airfare booked with points.
- Expanded Buying Power — This benefit is allows you to spend beyond your credit limit to help pay for larger purchases. This additional spending must be paid in full by your due date, while the amount up to your credit limit can be carried from month to month. Note that this does not mean that American Express will grant you unlimited spending power — the amount adjusts based on a variety of factors, including your use of the card, payment history and credit history.
- 0% Introductory APR (See Rates & Fees)— While you shouldn’t be focused on earning points and miles if you can’t pay off your credit card on time and in full every month, the Blue Business Plus offers no interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening. After that, you’ll pay a 13.49% to 21.49% variable APR, (See Rates & Fees) based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
- Free Employee Cards — American Express allows you to get up to 99 employee cards, making it easy to rack up rewards through your employees’ per diem spending.
Which cards compete with the Blue Business Plus Card?
Though there are many small business credit cards out there, the closest card to the Blue Business Plus is the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card. The card earns 1.5% cash back, or a return of 3% when paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, on all purchases and also offers a 0% intro APR for 12 months (then a variable rate of 15.49% to 21.49%). Though this card doesn’t carry an annual fee either, it does offer a generous $500 (or 50,000-point) welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
The other obvious competitor is the Capital One Spark Miles for Business. Like the Blue Business Plus, it earns 2x on all purchases, though there are some differences. The card doesn’t have a cap for the 2x earnings, but it carries a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and the miles have a fixed value of 1 cent apiece. There’s also the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, which is practically identical, but earns straight cash back.
If you’re the owner of a small business and want to earn lucrative Membership Rewards points on your everyday business spending, you’ll want to consider the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express. It’s a bummer that the card doesn’t offer a welcome bonus, but its industry-leading return of 3.8% on the first $50,000 spent each year makes up for it. Depending on the types of purchases your business makes, it might make sense for you to pair this card with one which offers bonus categories, such as the Business Gold Card, to earn the highest rate of return on all of your spending.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
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