The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express is the travel equivalent of the American Express SimplyCash Card. This card provides extra points for travel purchases and an annual bonus for spending. However, it’s questionable whether it stacks up to other business credit cards or travel cards that offer both more earning opportunities on business-related expenses and better options for point redemption.
- Sign-up Bonus. As a new cardholder, you receive 10,000 bonus points after making your first purchase while enrolled in Membership Rewards within the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is worth up to $100 in gift cards. You receive the bonus approximately 6 to 8 weeks after the qualifying purchase is made.
- Fees. There’s no annual fee for the Blue for Business credit card. The cash advance fee is $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, and the foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
- APR. There’s a 9-month introductory APR of 0% on purchases. After the introductory period, the APR increases to 11.24%, 15.24%, or 19.24%, depending on your credit, and varying with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. The American Express Membership Rewards program offers you 2 points per dollar spent at AmericanExpressTravel.com, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Qualifying purchases include airfare, Lowest Rates Guaranteed hotels, Complete Trip (flight and hotel packages), American Express Vacations packages, and cruise reservations.
- Redemption. Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, and travel. The value of the points depends on your choice of redemption. If you redeem points for statement credit, the points are worth about one-half cent each, but if you redeem points for retail gift cards, each point is worth about one cent each.
- Transfer Points. In most cases you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to airline or hotel programs at a rate of one to one. This gives each point a value of one cent per point. Transfer partners include Virgin Atlantic, Delta, JetBlue, Hilton, Starwood, and Priority Club.
- Annual Bonus. Each year you remain a cardholder, you are eligible to receive relationship bonus points equal to 30% of eligible purchases charged to the card. For example, if you spent $30,000 on your card, you would receive a bonus of 9,000 points, the equivalent of up to $90 in gift cards. This is in addition to the points earned from the purchases themselves. So if you had spent the $30,000 at AmericanExpressTravel.com, you would have already received 60,000 points, or up to $600 in gift cards on top of the 9,000-point annual bonus. The anniversary year is based on 12 billing periods.
- OPEN Savings Program. The OPEN Savings Program features partner retailers that provide special discounts and rewards to cardholders. These partners include FedEx, OfficeMax, Hertz, Hyatt, and HP, just to name some. Cardholders receive up to a 10% discount or up to four additional Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent with any OPEN Savings Program partner.
- ReceiptMatch. The American Express Blue for Business card includes ReceiptMatch, a service that enables you to upload images of your receipts to be matched to transactions on your credit card statement for future viewing.
- No Annual Fee. Many business rewards credit cards carry annual fees of at least $49 per year. There is no annual fee for the American Express Blue for Business credit card.
- Introductory APR. The 0% APR on purchases for 9 months is convenient if you’re a small business owner who needs to make a large purchase. This way, you can save money in interest payments after opening the account.
- Relationship Bonus. Each year, the relationship bonus is awarded for simply keeping your account open and in good standing. This reward can add up significantly, depending on how much your business spends throughout the year.
- Options for Earning are Limited. Unless you actively use the OPEN network and book travel through AmericanExpressTravel.com, you only earn one point per dollar spent on purchases. To earn greater rewards on business purchases such as office supplies, the Chase Ink Classic Card rewards 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores, and 2 points per dollar spent at hotels and gas stations. Similarly, American Express’s own SimplyCash business card rewards 5% cash back on office supplies and 3% cash back on another chosen category.
- Low Redemption Value. Most of the point redemption options for Membership Rewards are less than one cent per point unless redeeming for gift cards or transferring rewards to other programs. If you prefer to receive rewards as statement credits or checks you can deposit into your bank account, the Chase Ink business card supports these options for at least one cent per point redeemed.
- Foreign Transaction Fee. If you frequently travel outside the United States, this card charges an additional 2.7% fee on all foreign transactions. While the Chase Ink Bold Card has a $95 annual fee, it does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Depending on how often you travel abroad, you may want to consider a card that doesn’t charge foreign fees.
If the majority of your business’ purchases are travel-related, the American Express Blue for Business credit card offers a no annual fee option to earn rewards on travel with an added annual bonus. However, options for point redemption are limited, and if most of your business expenses fall into other categories, such as gas or office supplies, other business credit cards might earn you more points. This card’s foreign transaction fee also makes it a poor choice for a company that regularly does business abroad.
The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express is the travel rewards version of the American Express SimplyCash business card. If most of your expenses are travel-related, you may find value in this credit card.
4.0 out of 5 stars: This card includes a no-annual fee, 0% introductory offer, as well as rewards for travel purchases. If you don’t travel frequently or would like broad options for point redemption, however, other cards are more likely to meet your business’ needs.
Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, or airline. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.