If you own a business or do freelance work, you can keep track of your expenses and earn valuable rewards with a business credit card, all while keeping any spending and earning you do separate from your personal accounts. With countless options for rewards available, the task of picking the right card for you can be a challenge.
Here is our roundup of business credit cards that offer the best rewards programs, most manageable terms, and most exciting opportunities for business owners.
Best Business Credit Cards
50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus; 5 Points on Office Supply Purchases; 2 Points on Gas and Hotels; Airport Lounge Access
Chase offers a line of three business credit cards, each providing slightly different rewards and benefits. Chase Ink Plus is the only one with an annual fee, but it quickly makes up for that with a number of extra benefits that are dependent on your business spending. It’s a great option if you spend more than $25,000 per year on office supplies, phone, Internet, gas, and hotel accommodations. It also offers a huge sign-up bonus, and is one of the few business cards that does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
- Sign-up Bonus. Chase Ink Plus awards you 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. If you redeem these points through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, this is enough for $625 worth of travel.
- Fees. The Chase Ink Plus card carries an annual membership fee of $95 which is waived the first year. Of the business cards that charge annual fees, this is one of the lowest. There is no foreign transaction fee, and balance transfer fees are $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
- APR. The APR is 15.24% and varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. The Chase Ink Plus card awards 5 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores and on phone, Internet, and cable TV services. It awards 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and hotel accommodations when you purchase directly from the hotel. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar with no annual cap. If you spend $10,000 on office supplies, you would earn 50,000 points, which could be redeemed for $500. If you redeem those points through the Ultimate Rewards program, you would receive a 20% discount on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises, bumping their value up to $625. Points can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, travel, and gift cards from as low as 2,000 points for $20 cash or statement credit. Points do not expire.
- Business Perks. As a cardholder, you receive lounge club membership, which features two complimentary visits each year to more than 350 VIP airport lounges worldwide, including Aspire Lounge by Servisair in London and Kal Business Class Lounge in New York. You also receive access to the Jot app for organizing receipts and Chase Blueprint – a feature that allows you to categorize purchases and choose how to pay them off. Another perk of the Chase Ink Plus card is the ability to transfer points earned at a rate of one-to-one to other travel programs such as United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards, without any fees.
See our Chase Ink Plus Business Card Review for more information.
2 AAdvantage Miles on American Airlines Purchases, Office Supplies, Telecommunication Companies, and Car Rentals; In-Flight Discounts; Companion Ticket
The CitiBusiness AAdvantage World MasterCard is a business card that rewards purchases with airline miles and benefits. It also rewards business expenses such as office supplies, telecommunication costs, and car rentals – which is convenient if you want to earn rewards on more than just airline purchases.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of cardmembership, you are awarded 30,000 AAdvantage bonus miles, which is enough for a round-trip domestic MileSAAver flight.
- Fees. The annual membership fee of $95 is waived the first year. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3%, and balance transfers are 3% or $5, whichever is greater.
- APR. The APR is 15.24% and varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. The CitiBusiness AAdvantage World MasterCard awards 2 AAdvantage miles for each dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, as well as on purchases made at certain office suppliers (standalone merchants that sell stationery and office supplies); telecommunication companies that sell telephones, fax machines, pagers, and cell phones; and car rental merchants that provide car, truck, or van rentals. Plus, you receive 1 mile for each dollar spent everywhere else. As an example, if you spend $30,000 at eligible office supply stores and car rental agencies, you would receive 60,000 AAdvantage miles, which is enough for two round-trip domestic MileSAAver flights (available for as low as 25,000 miles), or at least one round-trip flight to Europe (starting at approximately 40,000 miles). Each year you renew your membership, you also earn a 5% AAdvantage mileage bonus based on purchases made during the anniversary year. You can earn unlimited miles, and they never expire.
- Business Perks. You receive priority boarding with “group 1″ privileges. Your first checked bag as well as the first checked bags of up to four of your traveling companions are free, and you get a 25% discount on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases made with your card. Each year you make $30,000 or more in purchases and also renew your cardmembership (by paying your annual fee), you are eligible to receive an American Airlines Companion Certificate valid for travel on flights within the 48 contiguous United States. However, you do have to pay a $99 ticketing fee plus $21.60 to $43.20 in taxes.
See our CitiBusiness AAdvantage World MasterCard Review for more information.
3. Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
2 Points on Travel; 1 Point Everywhere Else; 30% Anniversary Bonus Each Year
The Blue for Business card from American Express rewards you for purchases made through AmericanExpressTravel.com. These rewards can be redeemed for statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, and travel.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you make your first purchase in the first 3 months of membership and are enrolled in the Membership Rewards program, the Blue for Business credit card awards you a bonus of 10,000 points, which is worth approximately $100 in gift cards.
- Fees. There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers are not accepted.
- APR. An introductory APR of 0% is applied to purchases for the first 9 months. After that, the APR is 11.24%, 15.24%, or 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and variations in the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. Blue for Business is powered by the American Express Membership Rewards program, which is free to join. You earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel booked with AmericanExpressTravel.com, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. Your points can be redeemed for statement credit, gift cards, merchandise, and travel. Points are worth approximately half a cent when redeemed for statement credit or merchandise, but can be worth approximately one cent each when redeemed for retail gift cards. There are no point caps or maximums.
- Business Perks. The Blue for Business rewards program allows you to transfer Membership Rewards points to other airline and hotel programs such as Hilton HHonors, JetBlue, and Starwood Preferred Guest. You also receive a 30% relationship bonus each anniversary year on purchases that were charged to your card during that year. Membership in the OPEN Savings Program, which provides access to discounts and special rewards opportunities with partners such as FedEx, OfficeMax.com, Hertz, Hyatt, and HP, is also included. Retailers that are part of the OPEN Savings Program offer up to a 10% discount or up to 4 additional Membership Rewards points for each dollar that you spend.
See our American Express Blue for Business Card Review for more information.
5% Cash Back at Office Supply Stores; 2% Cash Back at Gas Stations and Restaurants; 1% Cash Back on Other Purchases
The Chase Ink Cash Business credit card is similar to the Chase Ink Plus card but does not carry an annual fee. It does impose a foreign transaction fee, and offers a much smaller sign-up bonus. Furthermore, the spending cap for earning points is half that of the Ink Plus card, but the Chase Ink Cash is still one of the best business cards available.
- Sign-up Bonus. As a new cardholder, you earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account.
- Fees. The Ink Cash Business card does not impose an annual fee. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3% and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.
- APR. There is an introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. After that, the APR rises to 13.24% and varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. Points can be redeemed for cash back at a rate of 1% per point. You earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent annually at office supply stores, cable and Internet providers, and phone companies (excluding equipment purchases), 2% on purchases made at gas stations and restaurants on the first $25,000 spent annually, and an unlimited 1% on all other purchases. You can redeem your points for statement credit, check by mail, direct deposit, or for gift cards, merchandise, and travel – starting as low as 2,000 points for $20. However, the Ink Cash card does not award the 20% discount through Ultimate Rewards that you would receive with the Ink Plus card.
- Business Perks. Your cardmembership includes access to the Jot app for organizing receipts, as well as access to Chase Blueprint, a feature that allows you to split up how you pay off your purchases.
See our Chase Ink Cash Business Card Review for more information.
3 ThankYou Points in Rotating Categories; 1 ThankYou Point on Other Purchases; Anniversary Bonus on Points Earned
Rewards cards generally focus on miles, cash back, or hotel stays. The CitiBusiness ThankYou card, however, rewards the dollars you spend with ThankYou points, which can be redeemed for your choice of travel certificates, gift cards, merchandise, or cash back. It is because of its flexible rewards program with no annual fee that the CitiBusiness ThankYou card is considered one of the best options for small businesses.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account, you receive a bonus of 15,000 ThankYou Points, which can be redeemed for $150 in gift cards.
- Fees. There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%, and the balance transfer fee is 3% with a $5 minimum.
- APR. There is a six-month introductory APR of 0% on purchases. After that, the APR is 13.24% and varies with the prime rate. This introductory APR does not apply to balance transfers.
- Rewards Program. You earn 3 ThankYou points for each dollar you spend in quarterly rotating business categories such as restaurants and entertainment, office supplies, and airlines. You are automatically enrolled in these quarterly categories and do not need to activate or sign up for them. You also earn 1 ThankYou point for each dollar you spend outside of the rotating categories. Points can be redeemed at a rate of approximately one cent each for gift cards or travel certificates, 0.625 cents for statement credit, and as low as one-half cent each for merchandise. You can earn an unlimited number of points and they do not expire.
- Business Perks. The greatest benefits of this card are its unlimited earning potential and automatic enrollment in bonus categories. Many credit cards not only impose caps on the amount of rewards that can be earned in bonus categories, but also require that you to sign up for them each quarter. An additional perk is the anniversary bonus which awards a 1% bonus on the ThankYou points you earn from purchases for the first year, 2% for the second, and 3% each year thereafter.
See our CitiBusiness ThankYou Card Review for more information.
6. SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express
5% Cash Back at Office Supply Stores; 3% Cash Back on Gas Purchases; 1% on Other Purchases
The American Express SimplyCash Business card rewards business and office-related purchases with cash back that can be applied as statement credit. If your business spends less than $12,000 per year on office supplies, telephone service providers, and gasoline, you can earn a significant amount back on those purchases.
- Sign-up Bonus. You get a $250 statement credit after spending at least $3,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. In order to qualify for this offer, however, you must be approved for the card by April 28, 2014.
- Fees. There is no annual membership fee, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%. The American Express SimplyCash Business card does not accept balance transfers.
- APR. There is an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 6, 9, or 12 months, depending on your creditworthiness. After that, the APR is 12.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24%, and varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. The American Express SimplyCash business card awards 5% cash back on the first $12,000 spent at U.S. office supply stores and on monthly wireless telephone services. You also receive 3% cash back up to $12,000 for gasoline purchases and an unlimited 1% for all other purchases. Once you have reached $12,000 in the other categories, you earn 1% cash back for purchases in that category. You can then redeem your cash back as a rebate that is credited to your account on the second statement after the purchases appear.
- Business Perks. Membership in the OPEN Savings network is included and allows access to retailers such as FedEx, AirTran Airways, Marriott, and OfficeMax that provide discounts up to 10% and up to 4 Membership Rewards points for each dollar spent. You can redeem these points for merchandise, dining, travel, and gift cards.
See our American Express SimplyCash Business Card Review for more information.
2 Points With Southwest Airlines, Hotels, and Car Rentals; 1 Point Everywhere Else
Southwest Airlines is known for its low fares and minimal fees. The business version of the consumer Southwest Airlines card offers opportunities to earn points on purchases that can be redeemed in the Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. You can use these points for any flight without blackout dates or other restrictions. If you fly Southwest Airlines frequently, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business card can reward you most for those business trips.
- Sign-up Bonus. Earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 with your card in the first 3 months. Roundtrip Wanna Get Away fares with Southwest Airlines are available for 25,000 points or lower, making the sign-up bonus enough for one round-trip ticket. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card occasionally adjusts the sign-up bonuses between 50,000 and 25,000 points.
- Fees. The annual fee is $99. The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, whichever is greater. There is no foreign transaction fee.
- APR. The APR is 15.24% and varies with the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. As a cardmember, you earn 2 points for each dollar spent on purchases with Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, and hotel and rental car partners such as Alamo, Budget, and Hertz, and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. You are also awarded 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 spent with the card, which can be used toward A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass elite statuses. These offer special perks and benefits such as bonus points on purchases, priority boarding, and free in-flight Wi-Fi. Points do not expire as long as you have flight or partner activity every 24 months, and they are worth approximately 1.65 cents each. 25,000 points can be redeemed for either a round-trip Wanna Get Away fare or $400 toward any other flight without blackout dates or restrictions.
- Business Perks. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business card also awards 6,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary, which is exactly enough to cover the annual fee in reward travel. You also have the opportunity to earn 1 point per dollar on balance transfers made within your first 90 days, up to 15,000 points (or $15,000). There are no flight change fees, and first and second checked bags are free.
$150 Sign-up Bonus; 2% Cash Back on All Purchases
The Capital One Spark Cash Business Visa is a low-fee card that awards a flat percentage on all purchases without any special spending categories. This makes it an especially convenient card to carry if you don’t want to keep track of bonus categories that may change every 3 months.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, you earn a $100 bonus. You also earn an additional $50 bonus when you sign up for one or more employee cards, as long as you do so within the first 60 days of opening your account.
- Fees. The annual fee of $59 is waived the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee or balance transfer fee.
- APR. The APR for the Capital One Spark Cash Business Visa is 13.9%, 16.9%, or 20.9%, based on your creditworthiness and the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. You earn 2% cash back on all purchases, all the time. Your rewards do not expire and you can earn an unlimited amount, without any spending caps. You can redeem your cash back at any time for a statement credit or a check, and also set up an automatic redemption preference to have your rewards redeemed at the same time each calendar year or when you reach a certain threshold, such as $25, $50, or $100.
- Business Perks. The Capital One Spark Cash Business credit card features business-friendly perks such as fraud alerts for unusual activity, downloadable purchase records to common formats such as Quicken, QuickBooks, and Excel, year-end summaries, and access to customer service representatives who are trained to work with business owners.
9. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
Up to 25,000 Starpoints at Sign-up; 5 Starpoints per Dollar at SPG Hotels; Bonus Starpoints When Transferring to Frequent Flyer Programs
For consumers, the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card is widely known as one of the best all-around travel rewards cards available. If you travel or frequent Starwood properties and hotels, the business version of the card offers a low-annual-fee opportunity to earn the same valuable travel rewards as its consumer counterpart.
- Sign-up Bonus. Your first purchase with the card earns 10,000 Starpoints. You can earn an additional 15,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 within the first 6 months of opening your account.
- Fees. The annual fee of $65 is waived the first year. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express does not accept balance transfers.
- APR. The APR on purchases is 15.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24% based on your creditworthiness and the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. You earn 2 Starpoints for each dollar you spend on hotels and resorts that participate in the SPG program, and 1 point per dollar you spend on other purchases. If you have Starwood Elite Preferred Guest status, you are awarded 5 points per dollar spent on hotels and resorts participating in the SPG program. Your Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights at SPG properties – 2,000 gets you a weekend night in a category 1 property, and 35,000 gets you a high-season night at a category 7 property. There are no blackout dates or capacity restrictions on free night awards. You can also choose to transfer your Starpoints to frequent flyer programs which include over 30 airlines. If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints in one transaction to participating airlines, you receive a bonus of 5,000.
- Business Perks. In addition to Receipt Match, which matches receipts to purchases on your statement, you receive access to the OPEN Savings network which includes merchants that offer either a 10% discount or up to 4 points per dollar spent. Partners in this program include FedEx, HP, and OfficeMax.com.
See our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card Review for more information.
5% Cash Back on Office Supplies; 2% Cash Back on Gas; 1% Everywhere Else
The Discover Business card offers an opportunity to earn cash back on common business purchases such as office supplies and gasoline. This is a great option if you are looking for a business card with very few fees and no rotating quarterly categories. In the past, Discover charged a foreign transaction fee on its business card, but it no longer does so on any of its credit cards.
- Sign-up Bonus. There is no sign-up bonus.
- Fees. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The Discover Business credit card does not accept balance transfers.
- APR. The APR on purchases is between 12.99% and 19.99%, based on your creditworthiness and variations in the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. You are awarded 5% cash back on your first $2,000 spent on office supplies and 2% on your first $2,000 spent on gas each year. You also earn a full 1% after you make $5,000 in purchases annually and 0.25% on the first $5,000 in warehouse purchases. Rewards do not expire. If you use ShopDiscover.com, Discover’s online portal of retailers, you can earn an unlimited 5% to 20% cash back, depending upon retailers’ offers. Popular merchants such as Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, and Walmart offer goods via this portal. You can redeem your cash back for gift cards, donations to charity, statement credit, or an electronic deposit to your bank account. There is a $20 minimum for partner gift cards, Discover gift cards, or donations to charity, and a $50 minimum for an electronic deposit or statement credit.
- Business Perks. Discover offers a number of resources for small businesses including money and finance information, marketing, and web strategy. For example, helpful information such as how to get a patent, tips for search engine optimization, and steps for building a business website are available.
11. Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
2 Miles on Delta Purchases; 1 Mile on Other Purchases; 1 Companion Ticket Each Year; Bonus MQMs for Elite Statuses
The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business credit card provides miles for free flights, plus exclusive benefits such as priority boarding and a 20% in-flight discount for business owners who frequently fly Delta. You are also able to earn Medallion Qualification Miles to help gain elite statuses that include exclusive benefits such as bonus miles on purchases, as well as discounted and complimentary membership in Delta Sky Club airport lounges.
- Sign-up Bonus. After you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account, you receive 35,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), which count toward elite statuses. You also receive a $100 statement credit after your first Delta purchase with the card within the first 3 months. One-way domestic Saver flights start as low as 12,500 miles.
- Fees. The annual membership fee is $150, and the foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers are not accepted on this card.
- APR. The APR on purchases is 15.24%, 17.24%, or 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and the prime rate.
- Rewards Program. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card awards 2 miles per dollar spent on all Delta purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. In addition, earning MQMs helps you gain elite statuses which include upgrades and extra privileges such as priority check-in, priority boarding, bonus miles, and SkyTeam Lounge Access when you fly Delta. After you spend $25,000 in a calendar year, you receive 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles. If you spend an additional $25,000 within the same year, you receive an additional 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles. You can earn an unlimited number of miles.
- Business Perks. As a cardholder, you receive benefits including a 20% in-flight savings on food, beverages, movies, and headsets. You also receive priority boarding privileges, your first checked bag free, and a domestic companion economy ticket each year you renew your card. The companion ticket requires payment of taxes and fees which may range from $22 to $68.
Credit Cards vs. Charge Cards
The first cards that people carried functioned like bar tabs. Customers made purchases and were expected to pay their balances in full every month. Only later, when banks started including a method of financing with these products, did the concept of a credit card emerge. Today, the original concept still exists and is known as a charge card. With a charge card, customers must pay their balances in full and on time, or risk account delinquency. Like credit cards, charge cards can feature a range of benefits and rewards.
Credit cards, on the other hand, function more like loans. Cardholders can carry a balance on a credit card, and typically pay interest on the amounts they owe on their credit cards. For those who never incur interest on their cards, the differences between the two types of cards are negligible.
As a business owner, it is important to manage finances and select the best business card for your specific needs. First, consider whether a charge card with no preset spending limit is best for you, or if a business credit card that allows a little flexibility along with rewards on business purchases is best. You must also determine what types of rewards you most need. Do you spend a lot on travel? Are the bulk of your purchases on office supplies? Keep in mind that whichever choice you make, if you want to maximize your earning potential, it’s important to always pay your balances in full and avoid those hefty interest payments.
Which credit card do you use for your business?
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.