The top 6 business cash-back credit cards

Oct 2, 2020

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There are many different types of travel credit cards on the market today. Some allow you to earn valuable points that can be transferred to partners, while others offer specific benefits when traveling on a given airline or staying at a specific hotel chain. Today, I want to focus on the subset of small business credit cards that offer the best cash-back rewards.

Cash-back cards may seem less than exciting to the majority of TPG readers, given the incredible value and flexibility of currencies such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. However, business owners have a different set of priorities when it comes to setting a credit card strategy and may be more interested in the impact that cash-back can have on their bottom line.

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Now, let’s take a look at the best cash-back business credit cards (though be sure to refer to our guide on the best cash-back credit cards for personal use).

Best business cash-back credit cards:

The information for the Capital One Spark Cash, Capital One Spark Cash Select, Bank of America Business Advantage has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

In This Post

Comparison of the best business cash-back credit cards

CREDIT Card Bonus Annual Fee Earning rate
Ink Business Cash Credit Card Earn a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening the account $0 Earn 5% back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, plus 2% back on your first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% back on all other purchases
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card Earn a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening the account $0 Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Earn $500 cash back after spending $4,500 in the first three months after opening $95 (waived for the first year) Earn 2% back on all purchases
Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business Earn a $200 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months of opening the account $0 Earn 1.5% back on all purchases
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card Earn a $300 statement credit after making $3,000 in net purchases in the first 90 days from opening the account $0 Earn 3% back on your choice from the following categories: gas, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services. Earn 2% back on dining. 2% and 3% rewards are capped at your first $50,000 in combined spending. Earn 1% on all other purchases
American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card Earn up to $300 back: Up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase with your new card within the first 3 months of account opening. $0 (see rates & fees) Earn 2% cash back on your first $50,000 of purchases each calendar year, then 1%

 

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Earning rates: 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year); 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Additional perks: Free employee cards; primary car rental coverage (when traveling for business); 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases, then a variable APR of 13.24% – 19.24% applies.

Annual fee: $0

Cash back without an annual fee is great, but if you want the added flexibility of “playing the game” at a later date when it comes to your earning and redemption, the Ink Cash could be a great option for your small business. The 5% cash back at office supply stores and on telecommunications purchases can be incredibly rewarding if you have large expenses that typically come from those categories.

With 2% back on gas and restaurant purchases, it’s also lucrative for those with extensive travel and/or client meetings at lunch or dinner. However, what makes this card especially compelling is the fact that you can “convert” the cash-back points you earn on the card to full Ultimate Rewards points if you have any Ultimate Rewards earning card from Chase (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve). This unlocks valuable transfer partners like United and Hyatt — and when you add in the fact that the card carries no annual fee, it’s a solid value proposition all around.

Just be aware that the card does include a 3% foreign transaction fee, so be sure it stays in your wallet when traveling abroad.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Earning rates: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Additional perks: Free employee cards; primary car rental coverage (when traveling for business); 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases, then a variable APR of 13.24% – 19.24% applies.

Annual fee: $0

The Ink Business Unlimited is a business equivalent of the incredibly popular and recently upgraded Chase Freedom Unlimited, although with a much larger sign-up bonus, it’s sure to appeal to a wider audience. Other than that enlarged bonus and the fact that this is a business card and not a personal one, it has many of the features that make the Freedom Unlimited such a fan favorite. These include unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee, and the ability to convert your points into transferable Ultimate Rewards earning points if you hold the right combination of Chase cards. Based on TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, you’re really looking at an impressive return of 3% if you include the Ink Unlimited as part of a broader Chase strategy.

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Sign-up bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $4,500 in the first three months.

Earning rates: Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.

Additional perks: Free employee cards; no foreign transaction fees; primary car rental coverage (if your rental is for business purposes); and Visa Signature benefits.

Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)

Earning 2% back on every purchase is very solid, and with no fee for employee cards and no foreign transaction fees, this can be a great option for businesses with even a little bit of international travel. Just be sure to crunch the numbers and make sure that you can easily cover the card’s $95 annual fee (see next entry for this calculation). If not, the next card may be of interest.

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening.

Earning rates: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Additional perks: Same as above, but with a 0% APR on purchases for the first nine months; then a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.

Annual fee: $0

If you’re hesitant to incur the $95 annual fee on the regular Spark Cash card profiled above, the Spark Cash Select could be a great option. For no annual fee, you’re still getting a solid 1.5% return on your spending, and avoiding foreign transaction fees on a card that doesn’t cost anything is pretty fantastic. It’s also great that this card comes with the same Visa Signature benefits as the regular Spark Cash.

That being said, given that the Spark Cash has a higher sign-up bonus than the Spark Cash Select and no annual fee for the first year, I’d recommend going with that card and then potentially downgrading to this card later. I’d only consider staying with the Spark Cash Select if your small business has limited expenses (~$1,500 per month or less). That’s because the break-even point between the two cards after year one (removing the sign-up bonuses) is $19,000. At that level of spending in a year, you’ll earn exactly $95 more with the Spark Cash than the Spark Cash Select, since the earning rate is 0.5% higher. Here is the calculation:

$95 ÷ 0.005 = $19,000

If you typically spend more than this amount, you’re better off keeping the Spark Cash and incurring the annual fee, since the additional cash back you’d earn more than covers the fee. If not, stick with the Spark Cash Select.

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Earning rates: 3% cash back on purchases in one category of your choice, chosen from gas stations, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom and wireless, computer services or business consulting services; 2% cash back on dining (for the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Additional perks: Get a 75% rewards bonus on every purchase when you’re a Business Advantage Relationship Rewards Platinum Honors tier clients; deposit cash rewards directly into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Annual fee: $0

If you spend $50,000 in one of the 3% categories and are a Business Advantage Relationship Rewards Platinum Honors tier members, you’ll definitely want to crunch the numbers to see if this card works for you. For example, if you spend $50,000 per year at office supply stores, you’d earn $1,500 of cash back — or $2,625 if you’re eligible for the relationship bonus.

The other nice perk of this card is that the cash-back rewards can be deposited directly into a Bank of America checking or savings account, so if your small business is already set up with B of A, this seamless integration of accounts could help sell you on this card. Once again, though, be aware that this card will incur a 3% fee if used outside the country.

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn up to $300 cash back: Up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase with your new card within the first three months of Card Membership.

Earning rates: 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases made each calendar year, then 1% back.

Additional perks: No annual fee for employee cards (see rates and fees); ability to buy above your credit limit; 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening (see rates and fees), then a variable rate, 13.24% – 19.24% (see rates and fees), based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

The final card is another great no-annual-fee, cash-back small business credit card: Amex’s Blue Business Cash card, modeled on the incredibly popular Membership Rewards-earning Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. The simplicity of earning a fixed 2x points back on your first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x) without any bonus categories to worry about means you can spend more of your mental energy focusing on your business instead of your wallet. High-spending businesses who can max out the 2% cash back will walk away with an extra $1,000 each year, all from a card with no annual fee. The only downside is that the card comes with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees).

Research methodology

We chose the best business cash back credit cards by looking at this set of criteria for each credit card:

  • Rewards structure: When it comes to cash back cards, the rewards rate is the biggest long-term draw to any particular card. We looked at which bonus categories were offered and the multipliers on each to see which cards offered the best return for business cardholders.
  • Sign-up bonus: First-year value can be a big push for someone to decide to apply for a credit card. We compared each card’s bonus in terms of how large the payout and how easy it is to earn.
  • Annual fee: Most of the time, cash back cards don’t offer annual statement credits and other perks that help offset a larger annual fee. This means that in order for a card to be valuable, it has to strike a balance between solid earning rates and a manageable annual fee.
  • Business tools: Small businesses have a different set of credit card needs compared to personal credit cardholders. We also looked at what business tools — such as integration with accounting software — each card has to offer.

Why get a business cash back card?

Cash back is much simpler for a busy entrepreneur. You don’t need to worry about saving points for a dream vacation or spend time poring over award charts to find the best redemption. You can simply take the earnings from the card and plow them right back into growing your business.

You don’t need to have a formal business to get approved for the cards on this list. Many issuers allow individuals to apply for small business credit cards as a sole proprietor by simply using their Social Security number on the application. The good news is you become a sole proprietor simply by doing business, so in most cases, you won’t need to file any paperwork in order to become eligible to apply for these cards. This means that side hustles such as tutoring, consulting, driving for Uber or occasionally selling things on eBay or Etsy could help you get a card.

Bottom line

As you can see, there are a variety of cash-back credit cards geared toward small businesses that allow you to earn some solid rewards when you use them regularly. It’s also great that several of the cards listed above include an introductory 0% APR for at least twelve months, which can be huge for a business just starting out with large expenses and little revenue (though be sure to pay everything off before interest is tacked on or you’ll be violating the most important of the 10 commandments for travel rewards credit cards).

If your business is just getting off the ground, hopefully this post has highlighted how cash-back credit cards can play an important role in your success.

For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Cash card, click here.

Featured photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.