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A business credit card is much more than just a convenient payment method; it’s a way for you to earn rewards and benefits for your company.
The best business credit cards offer features like purchase protection, membership rewards, travel insurance, and some even pay you cash.
Your next big purchase could result in a free flight, a free night in a hotel, or even a few hundred dollars back into your pocket. You can’t get these types of benefits if you’re using checks or ACH transfers for business purchases—credit cards are the only way to access these perks.
But all business credit cards are not created equally. Navigating the waters and trying to find the best option for your business can be tough, especially with hundreds of choices to consider.
Which one is the best? It’s tough to name just one, but I’ve narrowed down the top five that I can recommend with conviction.
How to Choose the Best Business Credit Card For You
Not every business has the same needs when it comes to purchasing. It’s important to find a card that’s designed to reward you the most for your spending habits. So as you’re shopping around and evaluating different cards, keep these considerations in mind:
The very best business credit cards typically require a minimum credit score to apply. If you have a new business and haven’t established a long history of business credit quite yet, it could be tough to get these cards.
The business owner’s credit score is also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration here. If your personal score is high, then you should be able to get these cards, even if your business is new.
For those of you with poor business credit and a low personal credit score, you might have to apply for a secured credit card until you can boost your score.
Never apply for cards if you don’t meet the minimum qualification terms. If the credit company pulls a hard credit check and rejects your application, it could lower your score even more.
Type of Rewards
Nearly every business credit card offers some type of membership rewards. These can come in the form of cash back, points, travel perks, and more.
Which type of rewards do you want? There’s really no right or wrong answer here.
Some businesses prefer cash back because it’s easier to understand. Others like to accumulate points and then redeem those points for other types of benefits.
How much will the business credit card cost you?
Generally speaking, the higher the annual fee, the better the rewards. But with that said, most businesses won’t necessarily need rewards that justify an expensive yearly fee.
There are plenty of great free business credit cards to consider. Other cards might cost up to $600, while the majority fall somewhere in between.
My rule of thumb is this—only pay an annual fee if you can justify it with the rewards that you’re actually going to use.
It’s common for business credit cards to offer better rewards in certain spending categories. Examples include food, gas, or travel.
Let’s say a card offers you 5% cash back in the travel category (flights, hotels, Uber, etc.). That’s great; but if you only travel for work once per year, it might not be enough of a reason to get that card.
But if you have a fleet of 20 vehicles on the road and all of your drivers will have an employee card, it makes sense to have a card that rewards you for gas purchases.
This shouldn’t make or break your decision. But most business credit cards will offer you a significant bonus for signing up.
For example, if you spend $10,000 in the first three months using a new credit card, you could get 100,000 points—or something along those lines.
This can be a great opportunity to rack up points, cash back, or get other benefits. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy things that I don’t need. But if you have a big purchase coming up, consider putting it on your new card so you can redeem the bonus offer.
Just understand that this is a marketing strategy the card companies use to entice new sign-ups. So don’t let an appealing bonus offer distract you from the annual fees or other factors in your cardmember agreement.
The Different Types of Business Credit Cards
Before we get into the reviews of my favorite business credit cards, I want to quickly explain the different types of cards that you can choose from.
Cash Back Rewards Cards
Cards that offer cash back are pretty straightforward. Depending on the card, you can get a certain percentage of your card spending credited back to your account at the end of each month. This is usually applied automatically.
Some cards offer a fixed cash back percentage on all purchases, such as 2% or 3%. Others will have higher percentages on specific categories, like 3% on gas, 2% on travel, 1% on everything else.
You might even find cards that change the cash back percentage based on your annual spending, such as 4% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in a calendar year, and 2% on everything after.
Points Rewards Cards
A business credit card that rewards you with points is a little bit more complex. But these can be extremely advantageous if you know how to use them properly.
Unlike cash back rewards, you’ll need to manually redeem your points to get the benefits. You could potentially save your points for one big purchase and get something for free, or use them periodically to get discounts every month.
In some cases, you might even be able to redeem your points for cash back as well.
Airline Affiliate Credit Cards
Certain credit cards are associated with specific airlines. Your perks will be even better when you travel with that airline.
For example, you might get free checked bags, lounge access, double rewards points on all purchases through that airline, and complimentary upgrades. These cards make sense for those of you who travel frequently and are loyal to a particular airline.
Just make sure that the airline has a hub in your closest airport and flies to the places you frequently travel for work; otherwise, it won’t be worth it.
Hotel Affiliate Credit Cards
Similar to the airline credit cards, a hotel affiliate card will give you extra rewards for being loyal to a certain hotel chain. You might even get rewarded with one or two free nights every year, included with your membership fee.
These types of cards are perfect for people who frequently travel for work. It’s common for hotel rewards cards to offer benefits like free wi-fi, free breakfast, and free upgrades. Depending on the card, you might automatically qualify for a membership status with that hotel as well.
Employee Credit Cards
Some business credit cards will allow you to get extra cards for your staff. Most do this for free (because they want to encourage spending), but others might charge a small fee.
If you want to distribute cards to your employees, look for a business credit card that will give you some control over that spending. I’m sure you trust your staff, but you don’t want them to run wild and spend erratically. So you can potentially set spending limits on those employee cards as a way to control how those cards get used.
Secured Business Credit Cards
If you have poor credit or no credit, you might have trouble qualifying for a traditional credit card. But secured business credit cards are an excellent way for you to build credit. Here’s how they work.
You’ll deposit money into an account, and that amount essentially becomes your credit limit.
If you fail to make your payments, then the card company can just take the funds from that account. But by making on-time payments every month, you can build your credit and ultimately apply for a regular credit card, without having to secure it with a deposit.
You can apply online and get a decision in as little as 30 seconds.
Earn 2x points on your first $50,000 in purchases every year; then unlimited 1x points on everything after—no category restrictions.
Free employee cards and rewards points based on employee spending
Up to $300 in statement credits for Dell, DocuSign, and FedEx
Expanded buying power for purchases above your spending limit
Vendor pay features by Bill.com
Set up account alerts
Manage everything directly from the Amex mobile app
Expense management tools, year-end summary, and online statements
American Express has the best customer service team in the industry, which is another great perk of this card.
For those of you who prefer cash back instead of rewards points, the Amex Blue Business Cash card is essentially the same thing (with 2% and 1% cash back). So that’s another option to consider with no annual fee.
Even if you’ve recently defaulted on a loan or have a limited credit history, you should be able to qualify for this card. Here’s an overview of its benefits:
No annual fee
Unlimited cash back on all purchases
Free employee cards (with ability to track employee spending while earning rewards)
Zero fraud liability
Automatic fraud alerts via text, email, or phone
Ability to pick your own monthly due date
Automatic payments so you don’t have to worry about forgetting
No foreign transaction fees
Roadside assistance for auto emergencies (like jumps, tows, and tire changing)
Free extended warranty and protection on eligible purchases
When it comes to cards with no annual fee for businesses with bad credit, you won’t find a better option than the Spark Classic card from Capital One.
Before you apply for a business credit card, make you follow the methodology and buying guide that I explained earlier.
When it comes to finding the best option for your business, I strongly recommend the cards reviewed in this guide. Regardless of your situation, I’m confident that one of those options will suit your needs.