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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
1. You Don’t Have a Business Credit Card
2. Your Business Puts a Bunch of Money on Cards
You might be earning a great return on your business spending and still be missing out. That 2% or better return you’re getting on most spending is helping you put money back into your business. But here are two areas where you might not be taking advantage of what big spending can do for you: Earning welcome bonus rewards and rewards and benefits for meeting annual spending targets.
Amex’s Business Platinum card, which we mentioned at the top of this post, is offering a 75,000-point welcome bonus. You’ll have to complete some pretty heavy spending to capture the full bonus, but if your business has a large budget, this should be no problem. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points with the Business Platinum 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. The full welcome bonus is worth $1,425, based on TPG’s most recent valuations of American Express’ Membership Rewards.
Use your monthly spending to your advantage by picking up a credit card that offers extras (like elite airline or hotel status) when you accrue $10,000 or more in annual spending. Here are some examples:
- Earn up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points each calendar year at a rate of 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you make in purchases on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. You need 35,000 Tier-Qualifying Points (or 25 paid one-way flights) in a calendar year to qualify for Southwest’s A-List status.
- You’ll automatically get Hilton Honors Gold status when you hold the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, but you can bump yourself up to the top-tier Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.
3. Your Business Has Changed
- Your client base was mostly local, which meant you had reason to expense the occasional client dinner or night at the ball game, but you weren’t getting on planes very often. Now your customers are spread throughout the country and you have to travel frequently. Even if your cash-back business card is great, you’re probably not taking full advantage of the rewards available to you. Consider a business card that offers top rewards on travel-related purchases. The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express pays 3x Membership Rewards points on one of five categories you get to select — 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 — and then 2x on the remaining four, with a limit of $100,000 in purchases each year in each of the five categories. Spend $5,000 annually on airfare and you’ll see a return of 15,000 Membership Rewards points, worth $285 based on our valuations.
- You were Employee No. 1 when you started out. There was no employee No. 2. Now you manage several (or more) people, some of whom you have given spending authority. Is your credit card prepared for this? Are you prepared to pay the sometimes big annual fees attached to authorized user cards? If not, find a business credit card that offers free employee cards. There are a bunch, including the Capital One Spark Cash for Business and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.
4. You’re Not Taking Full Advantage of All Your Spending
You found a great card to pay for business travel, and you opened a card like the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, which offers top rewards on purchases like office supplies. With this card, you 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 during a calendar year, then 1% thereafter. Earn 3% cash back on up to $50,000 in annual spending (then 1%) from one of eight categories you pick from — 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.
But you’re still getting just a 1% return on your non-bonus spending, which is low. You’ll need a card that pays big on everyday purchases like the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card or the Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express.
You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with the Ink Business Unlimited Card. Because you can transfer your rewards to a Chase credit card account you own that’s part of the Ultimate Rewards program, that 1.5% becomes 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points worth 2.1 cents apiece, according to TPG’s latest valuations. Your return is worth up to 3.15%.
Blue Business Plus offers an even better return: You’ll earn 2x Membership Rewards points on all purchases for the first $50,000 you spend each calendar year, then 1x point thereafter. Since Amex points are worth 1.9 cents each, according to TPG valuations, you’re looking at a return on all spending of almost 4%.
5. Card Perks You Love Have Changed
6. Your High Annual Fee Is No Longer Worth It
7. Your Card’s Interest Rate Is High
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card, which offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then 15.49% – 21.49% variable. Pay $5 or 5% of the amount transferred on balance transfers, whichever is higher. There is no annual fee.
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then 13.49% to 21.49% variable (See Rates & Fees). Pay $5 or 3% of the amount transferred on balance transfers, whichever is higher. There is no annual fee (See Rates & Fees).
8. You Need to Make a Big Business Purchase
You may have your budgeted expenses covered by a business credit card that offers solid rewards in the bonus categories for which you spend the most. But what about expenses that aren’t in your budget or are one-time large needs?
You’ll want to look for a credit card that offers a few sound features, like the ability to charge more than your credit limit (or, even better, a card that has no set spending limit). Charge cards don’t come with a set spending limit (that doesn’t mean you have unlimited spending), and you’ll want to look at the American Express portfolio of small business cards if the need financing for large purchases. You’ll have to pay off your bill in full at the end of the month, but you can also take advantage of extra rewards on a card like the Business Platinum, which pays 1.5x points on a single purchase of $5,000 or more.
Otherwise, consider a card like the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, which allows you to spend above your monthly credit limit as long as you repay the account balance above the credit limit in full (plus your minimum monthly payment) by the bill’s due date.
If you need to carry a balance for more than 30 days, The Plum Card® from American Express gives cardholders 60 days to pay off a balance before accruing interest (See Rates & Fees). You’ll have to make your minimum payment — 10% of the balance from new charges plus any previously deferred balance in full — by the due date to avoid interest. In months where cash flow isn’t a problem, you can also enjoy a 1.5% discount on the portion of eligible charges you pay off within 10 days of your statement closing date.
You may be completely satisfied with the credit cards you’re using today to help finance your business. And that’s great. But as you look for ways to keep your budgeted expenses in check, don’t forget to look at how credit cards can play into the equation. You may just find that adding a new business card can improve your firm’s bottom line — or increase the rewards and free travel you and your employees can enjoy.
Feature image by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.
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