Best business credit cards of 2020

Sep 19, 2020

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If you’ve got a business — new or old, big or small — you should consider getting a small business credit card. Small businesses need access to credit, and these specialized business rewards credit cards can be a great way to fund purchases, manage spending and help save money and/or earn rewards over time. This guide will review the best business credit cards, broken down by categories, and explain how to maximize the benefits of each card.

Remember, small business credit cards aren’t just reserved for large businesses with multiple employees and traditional brick and mortar storefronts. You can qualify for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, which means your freelance or independent contractor gig could make you eligible. As a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security number as your business tax ID and your name as your official business name on your application. If you need help applying, reference our guide to applying for small business credit cards.

Related: Credit Card Chronicles: How a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom maximizes points and miles

TPG’s best business credit cards

The information for the Capital One Spark Cash, Capital One Spark Miles, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card, Alaska Airlines Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Here’s how these small business credit cards stack up against each other in terms of the total value you can obtain in your first year. Note that for bonuses that have two spending tiers, we’re factoring in the rewards you’d earn for meeting both tiers. And for cards that offer select perks that we can assign a discrete value to, we’re also factoring those in.

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In This Post

Comparing business credit card offers

Credit card Best For Bonus value* Annual fee Total first-year value (including select perks)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express Travel perks $1,500 $595
(see rates and fees)
$2,250
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Sign-up bonus $2,000 $95 $1,905
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business Business cash back $500 $95, waived the first year $500
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Everyday business spending $700 $95, waived the first year $800
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
American Airlines flyers $910 $99, waived the first year $980
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Hilton business travelers $780 $95
(see rates and fees)
$760
Blue Business Plus Card from American Express No annual fee $300 $0 (see rates and fees) $300
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card Southwest flyers $1,500 $199 $1,721
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card Alaska Airlines flyers $720 $50 for the company plus $25 per card $645
Ink Business Cash Credit Card
 
Office supplies $500 $0 $500
American Express® Business Gold Card

 

Flexible rewards earning $700 $295 (see rates and fees) $405

*Bonus value is an estimate based on TPG’s monthly valuations and is not provided by the card issuer. Note that the bonus valuations listed below are based on TPG’s latest valuations and are not provided by the card issuers.

Here’s a detailed rundown of the best business credit cards, with each card’s standout benefits and why it could be worth it for your small business.

The best business credit cards

The Business Platinum Card from American Express: Best for travel perks

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $595 (see rates and fees)

Current welcome offer: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $1,500.

Why we like it: If you’re after travel perks, the Amex Business Platinum card is for you. The Business Platinum features a 5x bonus category for airfare and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, along with a 1.5x earning rate for eligible purchases over $5,000 (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year). Cardholders will enjoy automatic Gold status in both the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs along with numerous other benefits.

At the airport, cardholders get access to lounges including Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta). In addition, the card comes with up to $200 in annual airline fee credits and a 35% points rebate for flights booked through Amex Travel in first or business class on any airline (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year), or in any class on the airline of your choice each year.

Standout benefits:

  • Redeem points directly for first or business class, or for any seat on the airline of your choice, and get a 35% points rebate
  • Up to $100 in Dell statement credits between January and June and up to $100 in Dell statement credits between July and December for U.S. purchases made on an enrolled card
  • Limited time perk: Up to $320 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. purchases for shipping (up to $20 per month on each) from May through December 2020

For more details, check our American Express Business Platinum Card review.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for travel insurance

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $2,000.

Why we like it: If you spend a lot on business travel or social media advertising, you’ll be able to keep earning significant points with the Ink Business Preferred card after the sign-up bonus. The card earns 3x bonus for the first $150,000 in combined travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.

TPG’s most recent point valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’ll get a fantastic return of 6% on purchases in these categories. If you spend the full $150,000, you’ll take home 450,000 Ultimate Rewards points (which are worth $9,000 based on TPG’s valuations).

You also get great value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to 10 airline and three hotel loyalty programs. Plus the card gives you 25% more value for the points you earn when you redeem them for travel at a fixed value in the Ultimate Rewards portal, a perk also available on other Chase credit cards.

Standout benefits: 

For more details, check our Chase Ink Preferred Card review.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for business cash back

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

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Current sign-up bonus: Earn a $500 bonus after spending $4,500 in the first three months from account opening.

Why we like it: The value in the simplicity of cash-back business cards can’t be overstated. Although earning transferable points can be more valuable, it can be time consuming to extract that extra value. Also, when it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the rewards can often only be used for travel. Sometimes, your business needs that extra cash for other expenses.

What makes this card one of the best cash-back credit cards is that it earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. You don’t need to juggle multiple cards as you try to maximize specific bonus categories. Simply swipe the card and enjoy a straightforward return on every purchase.

Standout benefits:

Related: The best Capital One credit cards of 2020

Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Best for everyday business spending

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

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Current sign-up bonus: The Capital One Spark Miles card has an intro offer of 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $700.

Why we like it: Capital One miles transfer to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners including Avianca, Flying Blue and Air Canada. And because this card earns at least 2x miles on every purchase, it’s a great option for business owners who want to maximize their everyday purchases.

TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each, so you’re getting a return of at least 2.8%, regardless of what category your business expenses fall into. You also have the option to use your miles to cover travel expenses at a fixed value of 1 cent apiece, so you’re guaranteed to get an effective return of at least 2% on every purchase.

This is also one of the few cards without a massive annual fee that comes with a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100 every four years). The $95 annual fee is even waived for the first year. Plus, if you spend a lot on hotels or rental cars, you can earn 5x miles when you book with the card through Capital One Travel.

Standout benefits:

  • Limited time perk: Redeem your miles at a fixed rate for not only travel, but also food delivery services, takeout and phone services through Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Related: Credit card showdown: Capital One Spark Cash for Business vs Spark Miles for Business

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Best for American Airlines flyers

Annual fee: $99 (fee waived for the first 12 months)

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $980.

Why we like it: The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card comes with some solid bonus categories for an airline credit card, and miles earned on this card can be redeemed not only on American Airlines but on the carrier’s Oneworld alliance partners. And through December 2020, spending on this card will count toward your Million Miler balance.

You’ll also get a free checked bag for you and up to four companions when you have this card, even if you don’t charge the airfare to it. Best of all, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months.

Standout benefits:

  • Free checked bag for you and up to four traveling companions
  • Earn a companion certificate for domestic main cabin economy travel after spending $30,000 or more each membership year and after the card is renewed (account must remain open at least 45 days after anniversary date)

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Best for Hilton business travelers

(Photo by Meghan Hunter/The Points Guy)
Use your Hilton points to visit the Hilton Grand Wailea. (Photo by Meghan Hunter/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

Current welcome offer: Earn 130,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $780.

Why we like it: If you travel frequently for business and stay at Hilton properties often, the Hilton Business Amex could be a great option for you. The Hilton Gold elite status that comes with the Amex Hilton Honors business credit card gets you several perks, including a 20% point bonus on qualifying spending, a fifth night free on standard room award stays of five nights or more, room upgrades and free breakfast at most properties.

You’ll also earn 12x Hilton Honors points for eligible purchases at hotels and resorts in Hilton’s portfolio; 6x points at eligible U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers, U.S. shipping companies, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; and 3x on all other eligible purchases. Terms apply.

Standout benefits:

For more details, read our Hilton Honors American Express Business Card review.

Blue Business Plus Card from American Express: Best for no annual fee

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

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Current welcome offer: Earn up to $300 in statement credits after making eligible purchases at Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx (up to $100 in statement credits at each merchant) in the first three months.

Why we like it: The Blue Business Plus has a solid earning rate of 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x). If your small business spends less than $50,000 each year in purchases, the Blue Business Plus can be a good no-annual-fee option that provides an effective 4% return on spending based on TPG’s valuations. For those just getting started with their business or those who are looking for an everyday spending card to cover the expenses that may not fall under the bonus categories of other business credit cards, this is a great option.

Standout benefits:

  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (13.24% – 19.24% variable APR applicable after)

For more details, read our Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Best for Southwest flyers

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $199

Current sign-up bonus: Up to 100,000 bonus points — earn 70,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus, an additional 30,000 points after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first six months. Based on TPG’s valuations, the full bonus is worth $1,500.

Why we like it: The Southwest Performance Business credit card is a perfect fit for Southwest fans. It comes with plenty of perks that will make business trips on the airline more comfortable than ever, especially for those who don’t yet have A-List or A-List Preferred status. The card earns 3x on Southwest flights and its hotel and car partners, 2x on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1x on everything else. Plus the sign-up bonus gets you much closer to earning the coveted Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.

You’ll get four priority boarding positions each year, which normally cost $30-$50 each, so that perk alone can offset the annual fee. The 365 annual Wi-Fi credits that come with the card mean you can have free internet service on Southwest every day of the year, if you need it.

Standout benefits:

  • Up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year ($8 covers an all-day pass, valued by TPG at $200 annually)
  • Up to $100 every four years to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • 9,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points after every cardmember anniversary (worth $135 based on TPG’s latest valuations)
  • Employee cards at no additional cost

For more details, read our Southwest Performance Business credit card review.

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card: Best for Alaska Airlines flyers

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

Annual fee: $50 for the company and $25 per card

Current sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles and a companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Why we like it: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles can be exceptionally valuable thanks to the program’s slew of valuable partners. Alaska also allows free stopovers (in hub cities) on international award flights. This opens up all sorts of sweet spots with Alaska miles. You could fly from the U.S. to Fiji in Fiji Airways business class for 55,000 miles one way, or you could stopover in Fiji on your way to Australia or New Zealand for the same price.

With the Alaska Airlines business card, you also get an annual companion fare every year you renew the card. The companion fare is valid for any Alaska Airlines coach flight and it only costs $99 plus taxes and fees (from $22). I conservatively peg the value of this fare at $100, but it would be hard to save any less than that. You and the companion will also earn Alaska miles on the flight, and if you have Alaska Airlines elite status, you and your companion are both eligible for upgrades.

Of course, you’re also getting 3x on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else.

Standout benefits:

  • Free checked bag for the cardholder and up to six guests traveling on the same reservation
  • 20% back on inflight purchases (food, beverage and Wi-Fi)
  • 50% off Alaska Airlines lounge day passes when you pay with your card
  • Companion fare every year after account renewal

Related: How to earn miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for office supplies

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

Annual fee: $0

Current sign-up bonus: Earn a $500 bonus after spending $300 in the first three months from account opening.

Why we like it: The Ink Business Cash earns 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, plus 2% back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. For business owners who spend primarily in those categories, this is a great option.

If you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Ink Business Cash’s rewards can be transferred to become Ultimate Rewards points. That means you could potentially earn up to 5x (a 10% return) on business expenses.

Standout benefits: 

  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Car rental coverage, travel and emergency assistance services and roadside dispatch
  • Employee cards at no cost

For more details, see the full card review for the Ink Business Cash card.

American Express® Business Gold Card: Best for flexible rewards earning

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $295 (see rates and fees)

Current welcome offer: Earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months of account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, this bonus is worth $700.

Why we like it: If you’re looking to maximize earning on business expenses, the Amex Business Gold has the potential to be quite lucrative. You’re earning 4x on the select two categories where your business spent the most each month (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each calendar year; then 1x). Awards are given automatically based on where you spend, so you don’t have to activate or switch categories. Eligible categories include the following:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases made from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions

While the card doesn’t come with statement credits to help offset the $295 annual fee, you could potentially earn up to 600,000 Membership Rewards points with these bonus categories each year. Not to mention, you’re getting access to the Membership Rewards program and its array of transfer partners, Amex Offers, a 25% rebate when you pay with points on eligible flights.

Standout benefits:

For more details, read our Amex Business Card review. 

Research methodology

There are a lot of credit cards geared toward small businesses, so narrowing down the list to the best ones can be challenging. Here are the criteria we used to choose the cards listed above:

Bonus value

As you can see, the bulk of the first-year value comes from the welcome bonus itself — I used our latest valuations to calculate a dollar amount for each offer. Although I did include a couple of cards without a welcome bonus such as the Brex Corporate Card for Startups, other solid business cards such as the Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi aren’t included because it doesn’t currently offer a sign-up bonus and are bested by other cards in terms of first-year value as a result.

Related: The best cards for each business credit card category

Travel credits

From there, I factored in annual travel credits, like the up to $200 annual airline credit offered by the Business Platinum Card from American Express. As the Amex Business Platinum also offers various types of lounge access through the American Express Global Lounge Collection, I assigned a value of $325 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.

Related: Top credit cards for cash-back rewards and statement credits

Bonus requirements

More and more business credit cards offer tiered bonuses based on how much your business spends in the first three to six months. In the past, I focused on the value you’d get by meeting only the lowest spending requirement, but with many business credit cards requiring higher tiers of spending and the ability of businesses to put large expenses on credit cards, I’m now including the maximum number of bonus points you can earn assuming your business meets all the spending requirements.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

Pros and cons of getting a business card

A business credit card can help you maximize your purchases, separate your expenses and save money on interest each year. These business credit cards offer bonus rewards on categories popular with small businesses, such as office supplies, airfare, advertising and gas.

In fact, business-specific bonus categories are one of the main ways that business credit cards differ from personal credit cards. For more information about the best personal credit cards on the market, be sure to check out our best credit cards, best rewards credit cards, and best travel credit cards pages to find the perfect partner to pair with your new business card.

But you need to do your research before applying for a small-business credit card. While business cards often offer tailored bonus categories and additional benefits for business owners, they also come with fewer consumer protections than personal credit cards.

Related: The best business and personal credit card combinations

Requirements to apply for a business credit card

If you own a small business or even if you just do freelance gigs, you could be eligible for a business credit card. You don’t necessarily need a tax ID or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to qualify for a business credit card; if you’re a sole proprietor with a small business or side gig, you can usually enter your Social Security number (SSN) instead.

Check out the following guides to applying for small-business cards for issuer-specific strategies:

Related: 5 ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it

Are business credit and personal credit the same?

Business credit is similar to your personal credit in that it allows potential creditors to judge what kind of a credit risk your business poses. For established firms, a higher business credit score could mean you’ll have better access to loans and lines of credit, lower interest rates and cheaper insurance premiums. When you’re just starting out, you won’t have a business credit score, at least until you open a business credit card or secure a line of credit from a vendor that reports to the business credit bureaus such as, Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet.

Related: Credit card showdown: Amex Platinum vs. Amex Business Platinum

How do I check my business credit score?

Dun & Bradstreet offers a free service called CreditSignal, which gives you alerts when your scores or reports changes but doesn’t give you access to the full reports themselves. Here’s what the fine print on the website says:

“CreditSignal only indicates that your D&B scores and ratings have changed and alerts you when your business credit file has been purchased. To view actual scores and ratings and learn about what industries are purchasing your D&B file, we recommend that you upgrade to one of our business credit monitoring or credit building solutions.”

Related: The best no-annual-fee business credit cards

What is the best business card to get?

There’s no single best business card. Instead, the best business card for your small business depends on various aspects. For example, do you prefer earning cash-back rewards, airline miles, hotel points or transferrable currencies? Are you willing to pay an annual fee? What categories does your business spend the most in each year? Do you or your employees travel frequently and if so, would there be a benefit in having hotel elite status or a checked bag allowance when flying?

This being said, many businesses that are looking for simplicity will opt for the Capital One Spark Cash card to earn 2% cash back on all purchases or the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express to earn 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x). And, business travelers may opt for the American Express Business Platinum Card due to the various travel-related benefits offered by the Amex Platinum — especially if they aren’t loyal to a specific airline or hotel brand.

Related: How to choose the right credit card for you

Can I use a business credit card instead of a business loan?

Yes, but you should take into account your specific business needs. Business credit cards are faster and allow you to use only what you need — though if you aren’t able to pay your balances in full and on time every month, you may be hit with big interest charges. If your business cycle is a few months between incurring the expenses and receiving payment from a customer, a business loan may be a more cost-effective solution.

Related reading: Small-business credit card vs. corporate credit card: Which is right for your business?

Featured photo by Castleski/Shutterstock

For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold, please click here. 


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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.

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