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Looking for the best business credit cards of 2018?This guide will review all the small business credit card offers and explain how to maximize the benefits. Businesses need access to credit and these specialized business credit cards can be valuable tools. As with my list of the top personal travel rewards cards, I’m compiling the business picks based on which bonuses are the most valuable.
If you are a small business or even if you just do some freelancing gigs, a business credit card can help you maximize your purchases, separate your expenses and save money on interest each year. Business credit cards offer bonus rewards on categories such as office supplies, airfare, advertising and gas. Here are the best business credit cards.
Best Small Business Credit Cards based on my valuations:
- Overall Points Value: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- Great for Airfare: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
- Small Business Travel: Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- Bonus Anniversary Points: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Best for United: United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
- Non-Standard Travel Expenses: Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- Flat-Rate Cash Back: Capital One Spark Cash for Business
- Best for Delta: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Elevated Cash Back Rates: Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
- Annual Companion Certificate: Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Best for Earning Points in the New Marriott Program: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express ⭐
— a star (⭐) indicates a limited time offer with the highest ever publicly available welcome bonus.
How I Picked the Best Business Credit Cards:
Bonus Value: As you can see, the bulk of the value comes from the welcome bonus itself — I used my latest valuations to calculate a dollar amount for each offer.
Travel Credits: From there, I factored in annual travel credits, like the $200 air travel credit offered by the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN. As the Amex Business Platinum also offers Centurion Lounge access plus Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta, I assigned a value of $250 for these perks. Additionally, if a card waives its annual fee for the first year, I didn’t subtract that from the value of the welcome bonus and other perks, since this post is focused on how much you’ll get from the card as a new applicant.
Bonus Requirements: Also, a few of these cards offer tiered bonuses. For these cards, I focused on the value you’d get by meeting the lowest spending requirement. As an example, the Business Platinum Card’s welcome offer has a high minimum spending requirement of $10,000 in the first three months — and that’s only the first year; to earn the full 75,000-point bonus, you’ll have to spend $20,000 in the first three months.
Before diving into the list, make sure to check out these posts for information on how applying for new cards affects your credit score, what to know about credit scores, mistakes to avoid and more. Keep in mind that applying for multiple cards and using them responsibly can actually boost your credit score in the long run, but you definitely need to know what you’re doing before just applying for every appealing offer that comes your way.
- 5 Things To Understand About Credit Before Applying For Cards
- 3 Key Considerations for Improving Your Credit Score
- Debunking Credit Card Myths: Does Applying For A Card Permanently Impact My Credit Score
- Avoiding Late Payments and Other Silly Credit Card Mistakes
With that out of the way, here’s my detailed list of the best business credit card offers available right now. As always, head to the All Cards Hub to see every credit card currently available.
Here’s how each of these cards stack up against each other:
The Best Business Credit Cards 2018: Full Details
|Credit Card||Bonus Offer||Bonus Value**||Perks Value||Annual Fee||Total Value|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months||$1,680||N/A||$95||$1,680|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN||Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.||$950||$200 air travel credit, $250 worth of lounge access ($450 total). Terms Apply.||$450||$950|
|Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN||50,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Terms apply.||$950||N/A||$175*||$950|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express||100,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Offer ends 10/31/2018. Terms apply.||$900||N/A||$95*||$900|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card||60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months||$900||N/A||$99||$801|
|Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express||60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first four months. Terms Apply.||$720||N/A||$95*||$720|
|United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card||50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months||$700||N/A||$95*||$700|
|Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express||70,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.||$840||N/A||$195||$645|
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||50,000 miles after you spend $4,500 in the first three months||$500||N/A||$95*||$500|
|Capital One Spark Cash for Business||$500 after you spend $4,500 in the first three months||$500||N/A||$95*||$500|
|Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card||$500 cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months||$500||N/A||$0||$500|
*Annual fee waived the first year.
**Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.
Individual Business Credit Card Details:
Now, let’s take a look at the details of each of these cards and offers.
Current Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Current Bonus Value: $1,680
Standout Benefits: Get 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, social media advertising and internet/cable/phone services each account anniversary year, plus 1 point per dollar on everything else. This card also offers cell phone insurance when you use it to pay your (and your employees’) cell phone bill, and primary rental car insurance. You can get employee cards at no additional cost, and there are no foreign transaction fees. Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $95
Why it’s worth it: The Ultimate Rewards program may not have the most transfer partners (it has 11 compared to Amex Membership Rewards’ 20), but they can get you outsized value when you redeem points for free flights with carriers such as British Airways and United, or for award stays at Hyatt properties. For example, I put my Ultimate Rewards points to great use by redeeming them for a first-class flight on Korean Air’s A380 — that itinerary would have cost me thousands of dollars if I paid in cash. And if you spend a lot on travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to keep earning significant UR points after the sign-up bonus thanks to the 3x bonus category for the first $150,000 in combined purchases made each year.
Apart from the large stash of Ultimate Rewards points you will get with the Ink Business Preferred‘s current sign-up offer, this card stands out for its unique cell phone insurance benefit. It offers up to $600 in protection against covered theft or damage, for up to three claims per year with just a $100 deductible. Even better, this covers employees’ cell phones too, though remember that you need to pay the respective bills using this card to get coverage. Primary rental car insurance is another great perk as well.
For the reasons outlined above, I consider this one of the top two business credit cards currently available. The Ink Business Preferred can be an even more powerful tool if you also hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, since you’ll then be able to redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal.
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.
Current Bonus Value: $950
Standout Benefits: Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare and on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel, 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. As a cardholder you’ll enjoy 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. Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $450
Why it’s worth it: I’m still disappointed that the points rebate for flights booked through Amex Travel has dropped to 35%, but this remains a lucrative benefit, allowing you to get 1.54 cents per point in value when you redeem for airfare. With the 35% rebate, I can book my favorite premium domestic seat, JetBlue’s Mint, for fewer than 39,000 points one-way. Like the personal Amex Platinum, the Business Platinum recently received some new benefits, including a 5x bonus category for airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel. And unlike the personal Platinum card, this card’s annual fee is staying put at $450. If your business can hit the steep spending requirements, the opportunity to earn up to 75,000 points is definitely worth considering.
Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $950
Standout Benefits: Get 3 points per dollar on one category of your choice from a list of five options and 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. This card waives foreign transaction fees. Read the full card review here.
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $175 thereafter.
Why it’s worth it: This card is my go-to for small-business expenses, especially since I can really maximize that 3x category since I choose US purchases for advertising in select media from the list of five options. Since I can max out the $100,000 spending limit each year, I net 300,000 points on these purchases alone! I also love that the $175 annual fee is waived the first year, which gives you time to test out the card and see if it’s worth keeping open. And as far as redeeming goes, you have plenty of great transfer options via the Membership Rewards program, such as booking a first-class award on Lufthansa through Aeroplan.
Current Bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Offer ends 10/31/18.
Current Bonus Value: $900
Standout Benefits: Get 6 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG properties; 4 points per dollar at US restaurants and gas stations and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers and on US purchases for shipping; and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. Receive one free award night every year after your account anniversary — good for stays costing up to 35,000 points. Get complimentary Silver elite status in the new Marriott program, and if you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year ($35,000 starting in 2019), earn Gold status. Also starting in 2019, get 15 elite credits toward the next level of elite status.
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
Why it’s worth it: In early August, the business and personal Starwood Amex cards launched high welcome bonus offers, and the business version’s is particularly attractive, as it’s 25,000 points higher than the personal Starwood Amex bonus. Keep in mind the Starwood Preferred Guest program is on the cusp of combining with Marriott — the official switchover date is August 18 — and the points you earn on this card and from its welcome bonus will be the Marriott rewards currency, not Starpoints. Still, the bonus is worth an estimated $900 based on our valuations. Also note the application restrictions starting on August 26, which prevent you from earning the welcome bonus on the Starwood Business Amex if you have or have had a Marriott business card in the last 30 days or if you’ve had a personal Marriott card welcome bonus in the last 24 months. But if you are eligible for this bonus, 100,000 points is a great start to unlock some solid redemptions in the combined program’s new award chart.
Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $900
Standout Benefits: Get 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, get 6,000 points after your cardmember anniversary. Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points toward Southwest elite status for every $10,000 you spend on the card annually (up to 15,000 TQPs). No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $99
Why it’s worth it: The business versions of this Southwest card is offering an elevated sign-up bonus, giving you the opportunity to score 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. This is a good time to sign up if you want to boost your points balance for an upcoming award booking. And if you’re working toward A-List or A-List Preferred status, the card can earn you Tier Qualifying Points when you meet certain spending thresholds.
Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 SkyMiles when you spend $3,000 in the first four months.
Current Bonus Value: $720
Standout Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Get a first bag checked for free (maximum nine waivers per reservation), Zone 1 boarding and 20% off in-flight purchases on Delta flights. Access to the American Express OPEN program for businesses, which includes savings on select purchases. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: This card could make sense if you’re looking for extra SkyMiles to fund an upcoming award trip on Delta or one of its partners. It also offers a few perks that mimic those you’d get with elite status, including a free checked bag and priority boarding.
Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months
Current Bonus Value: $700
Standout Benefits: You’ll get 2 miles per dollar on United purchases and at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. As a cardholder you’ll have access to enhanced award availability and will enjoy priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation. Plus, get two United Club passes each year. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: Just as the Citi / AAdvantage cards make sense if you frequently travel on American, this co-branded option can make your life easier if you often fly with United. Also like with those American cards, the business version of the United card is currently offering an elevated sign-up bonus (50,000 miles vs. the standard 30,000) so now’s an ideal time to add it to your wallet. One of the most appealing benefits is the extra United award seat availability you get access to, letting you book seats that non-cardholders can’t. Another solid perk is the ability to waive the Premier-Qualifying Dollar (PQD) requirement for United elite status (excluding Premier 1K) when you spend $25,000 on the card (or across multiple United cards) in a calendar year.
Current Bonus: Earn 70,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $840
Standout Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. Receive a domestic main-cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon card renewal. Get a first bag checked free, priority boarding and 20% off in-flight purchases on Delta flights. Earn additional MQMs toward elite status for meeting spending thresholds. No foreign transaction fees.
Annual Fee: $195
Why it’s worth it: This card has a higher annual fee than the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express, but it also offers additional perks. One of the best benefits is the annual companion certificate, which you’ll get each year when you renew your card and which will only cost you up to $75 in taxes and fees. This card could also make sense if you’re hoping to lock in Delta elite status, since you’ll earn MQMs from the welcome bonus plus an additional 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 redeemable miles if you spend $25,000 on the card in a calendar year (and another 10,000 of each if you spend $50,000).
Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $500
Standout Benefits: Earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases with no minimum for redeeming. No foreign transaction fees. Free employee cards.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: Fixed-value point credit cards usually aren’t at the top of my list when it comes to travel rewards card recommendations, since you can get much more value out of transferable loyalty currencies like American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Still, if you value convenience over the potential to get much more than 1 cent per mile in value, a card like the Capital One Spark Miles for Business could make sense for you. The sign-up bonus is worth $500 toward travel (you can also redeem miles for gift cards, but at a less favorable rate), and Capital One miles can come in handy for covering bed and breakfasts and other non-standard travel expenses that you can’t pay for with other loyalty currencies.
Current Bonus: Earn a $500 cash bonus after you spend $4,500 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $500
Standout Benefits: Get an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. Employee cards at no additional cost.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Why it’s worth it: Though fixed-value points function like cash in the sense that you know exactly how much value you can get out of them, some prefer earning straight cash back, since there aren’t the same restrictions on how you can redeem your rewards. With the Spark Cash for Business, you’ll earn 2% back on every purchase, with the cash back awarded either in the form of a statement credit or a check. 2% back is pretty standard as far as cash-back rates go, but if you could use the sign-up bonus and value simplicity over tracking bonus categories, this is a solid choice.
Current Bonus: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Current Bonus Value: $500
Standout Benefits: Get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. Get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year at gas stations and at restaurants. Get an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.
Annual Fee: $0
Why it’s worth it: While the Ink Business Cash card is billed as a cash-back option — and it does offer a solid return with the 5% and 2% bonus categories — it can be even more valuable if you transfer your earnings to another account for a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, since you could then transfer your rewards to Chase’s 11 airline and hotel partners and get more than 1 cent per point in value. I also like that this card offers some solid travel and purchase protections despite not charging an annual fee.
Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.
Feature photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy
Here is a review of the Best Business Credit Cards of 2018:
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
- Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express ⭐
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business
- Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
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.
- You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
- You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees