If you operate any sort of business, whether large or small, it’s essential to have a dedicated credit card. The primary reason is the simplest and most obvious: your card allows you to separate personal and business expenses. Mingling the two together is something the IRS really doesn’t like, and it’s one of the easiest ways to get audited.
The other reasons are just as practical. As your endeavor grows, you will find yourself needing more capital. Small businesses without a financial track record usually find it hard to receive bank loans, and a business credit card can help you buy the equipment you need to expand. A small business card is ideal for the entrepreneur who doesn’t yet qualify for a corporate card.
To apply for one, you don’t need to be Warren Buffet. For many issuers, it’s enough if you’re operating some sort of legitimate business activity, even if that business is a side gig or still in the startup mode. If you detail cars, run a babysitting service in your spare time or buy and sell merchandise on the internet, you’ll probably qualify. If you don’t yet file a Schedule C or have a company tax I.D., your Social Security number will suffice. Remember, though, that you’re personally liable for debts incurred on the card.
In many cases, accumulating points and miles isn’t your primary consideration when choosing a small business card: financial flexibility, cashback and low APR may be more important. If your business has reached the point where it requires you to fly or stay in hotels on a regular basis, there are cards that will maximize the benefits of that travel. First, though, let’s look at the best all-around cards and the reasons that make them desirable:
Chase Ink Business Preferred has a great deal going for it:
- Signup bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Your points are worth $1,000 when redeemed through the Chase portal, and transfer to ten airlines and three hotel programs.
- A low annual fee of $95.
- Three points per dollar on the first $150,000 in combined spending each year on travel, telecommunications (phone, cable and internet) and shipping.
- No foreign transaction fees, and free employee cards.
Also, consider the Chase Ink Business Unlimited and the Chase Ink Business Cash. Both are no annual fee cards, and both offer a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The Business Unlimited offers free employee cards and gives 1.5% cashback across the board; Business Cash gives 5% back on communications and office supplies, 2% at restaurants and gas stations.
Capital One Spark Cash for Business gives you unlimited 2% cashback, a $500 cash bonus after spending $5,000 in your first three months (and an additional $1,500 bonus when you spend $50,000 in the first six months) and free employee cards. The annual fee is $95, waived the first year.
Capital One Spark Miles for Business has a bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months (and an additional 150,000 bonus miles after spending $50,000 in the first six months); miles transfer to 15 airline partners. You receive two miles per dollar on every purchase, and five miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The annual fee is $95, waived the first year.
American Express Business Gold Card offers the ability to choose your reward categories. You earn four Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 in annual purchases in the two categories where you spend the most (restaurants, gas stations, shipping, advertising, technology or airfare). You earn a bonus of 35,000 points when you spend $5,000 in your first three months; the annual fee is $295.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN: The annual fee is sizable ($595), but so are the perks: Gold status with Hilton and Marriott; car rental status with Hertz, Avis and National; comprehensive lounge access (including the proprietary Centurion lounges), and a slew of travel benefits and protections. The signup bonus has ranged as high as 100,000 points. If you travel frequently for business, this could be the card for you.
If these two cards seem beyond your reach, consider alternatives such as the American Express Blue Business Cash or the Blue Business Plus. Both cards offer two points per dollar on annual spending up to $50,000. There’s no welcome offer, but there’s no annual fee either.
Bank of America Platinum Plus Mastercard: This no annual fee card gives you a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. There’s no APR for the first seven billing cycles, which allows you to painlessly finance major purchases.
Two other offerings from Bank of America are worth considering: Business Travel Rewards World Mastercard and Business Rewards Cash Advantage Mastercard. Neither card has an annual fee. The former gives three points per dollar on travel, plus a bonus of 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 60 days; the latter comes with a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in 90 days and gives up to 3% cashback on selected purchases.
Specific Miles and Points Cards: Depending on your travel and spending patterns, one of these may be part of your business plan if you’re loyal to a specific airline or hotel program:
- United Explorer Business Card
- CitiBusiness Platinum Select World Mastercard
- Gold or Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card from American Express
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier or Performance Business Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Finally, if your business is well-capitalized (to the tune of a $100,000 bank balance), you may want to consider the Brex Startup Card, a corporate card that doesn’t require a personal guarantee. Brex offers three different versions, and partners with Dun & Bradstreet to allow your company to build a business credit file.
Source: frugal travel guy