Whether you own a business, work for yourself, or just charge expenses that your company reimburses, you should use a business credit or charge card.
You can use business credit cards to separate your personal expenses from those that you claim for your work. In addition, you can earn great rewards for using business credit and charge cards.
In this article, we’ll go over the main differences between credit cards and charge cards, and then list out of the best business cards currently available, along with their features and benefits.
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.
For those searching for a new business card, below is a list of our ten favorite business credit cards and five favorite business charge cards:
Top 10 Business Credit Cards
This is the business version of the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card for consumers. This card features:
- Sign-Up Bonus. You receive 20,000 bonus miles after your first purchase, and 5,000 miles count towards elite status. You can also add two authorized cardholders to receive an additional 5,000 miles.
- Spending Rewards. Earn one mile for each dollar charged to the card, and earn two miles per dollar for all Delta purchases. You can also earn another 20,000 elite qualifying miles throughout the year by reaching certain spending thresholds.
- Other Perks. You receive a 20% discount on all in-flight food, beverage, and entertainment purchases when you use your Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card while flying on Delta. When flying on the same itinerary, you and up to eight additional passengers receive priority boarding, priority check-in, and one free checked bag. In addition, you also receive a free domestic economy class companion certificate each year upon renewal.
- Fees. There is an annual fee of $150, and a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
See our American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card Review for more information.
This card offers tremendous rewards and generous benefits with no annual fee. The card’s features include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. Cardholders earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $1,000 on the card within the first three months of opening an account – enough for one round-trip domestic flight.
- Spending Rewards. You earn one mile per dollar spent on most purchases, with two miles per dollar spent with American Airlines and on purchases at certain office supply stores, telecommunications purchases, and car rental agencies. Additionally, you get another 5% mileage bonus of the miles you earned that year when you renew your card.
- Other Perks. When you make purchases using this card, you receive extended warranty coverage that doubles manufacturers’ warranties, and retail purchase protection against damage or theft. You also receive travel and emergency assistance and travel accident insurance. You also enjoy priority boarding on American Airlines and your first checked bag is free for you and up to four companions.
- Fees. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
See our CitiBusiness AAdvantage World MasterCard Review for more information.
Frugal business travelers prefer Southwest Airlines for their low fares with few additional fees. The business version of the consumer Southwest Airlines credit card offers points in the Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program, which you can use for any flight without blackout dates or other restrictions. Features of this business card include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. For a limited time, new cardholders receive 50,000 bonus points, worth more than $800 towards any Southwest flights, just for signing up for this card.
- Spending Rewards. For each dollar charged to this card, cardholders receive a single point. Cardholders receive double points for all purchases from Southwest Airlines and their hotel and rental car partners.
- Other Perks. Cardholders earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, but they can only earn 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points in one year. Cardholders also receive 6,000 standard Rapid Rewards points each year that they renew their cards. The 6,000 standard points are valued at $99, the amount of the annual fee.
- Fees. There is an annual fee of $99, and a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
This card starts off business owners with a generous sign-up bonus as well as an introductory financing offer. This credit card’s features include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. You receive a $250 cash back bonus: $100 after your first purchase and $150 after spending $5,000 within three months of opening your account.
- Spending Rewards. You receive 1% cash back on most purchases (no limit), and 2% cash back on gas and dining (on the first $25,000 spent annually). You also earn 5% cash back when you purchase office supplies and use the card to pay for telephone and cable services (on the first $25,000 spent annually).
- Other Perks. This card features a 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. Ink Cash from Chase cardholders can also sign up for the Chase Blueprint payment program. This program helps you manage your spending and borrowing, and can dramatically lower your interest rates.
- Fees. There is no annual fee, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
See our Chase Ink Cash Business Credit Card Review for more information.
Capital One now markets all of their business cards under the Spark name. This card offers industry-leading cash back rewards, low fees, and a sign-up bonus. This credit card’s features include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. You receive $100 bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first three months after opening an account, and another $50 for requesting at least one employee card.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders receive 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limits. This is the highest cash back rate of return offered by any card for all purchases, outside of special promotional periods.
- Other Perks. This card offers cardholders additional security with a range of travel insurance and purchase protection policies.
- Fees. There is an annual fee of $59 that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
The consumer version of the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card is widely regarded as the best all-around rewards travel card on the market. The business version offers cardholders many of the same benefits. The features of this credit card include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. You can receive up to 25,000 Starwood Hotels Preferred Guest program points, called Starpoints – 10,000 after your first purchase, and an additional 15,000 points when you spend $5,000 in six months.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders earn one point per dollar spent on most purchases, and up to five points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels.
- Other Perks. You can redeem Starpoints for any room, with no blackout dates or capacity restrictions. Cardholders can transfer these points to airline miles with more than 30 different airlines.
- Fees. There is an annual fee of $65 that is waived the first year, and a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
See our American Express Starwood Business Card Review for more information.
On the other end of the spectrum is the American Express Simply Cash Business Card. This card offers tremendous value with no annual fee. Credit card features include:
- Sign-up Bonus. You get $250 (as a statement credit) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (must be approved for the card by 4/28/14 to qualify for this offer). Additionally, you get a 0% introductory finance period of 9 months.
- Spending Rewards. You receive 1% cash back on all purchases, 3% cash back on a category of your choice (airlines, hotels, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising, or shipping), and 5% cash back on wireless bills and office supplies. The 3% and 5% cash back categories are limited to the first $25,000 in annual purchases. In addition, you can also receive discounts from many businesses with the American Express OPEN Savings program.
- Other Perks. This card offers purchase protection, travel assistance, extended warranty coverage, and identity theft assistance.
- Fees. There is no annual fee for this card, but there is a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
See our American Express SimplyCash Business Credit Card Review for more information.
The Discover cards have a loyal following among their users, and the Discover Business Card offers generous cash back with few fees. The features of this credit card include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. This card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus, but applicants receive a 0% introductory rate on purchases for six months.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders receive 1% cash back on all purchases, 2% cash back for their first $2,000 of annual gasoline purchases, and 5% cash back for their first $2,000 spent on office supplies each year.
- Other Perks. This card includes travel and purchase protection insurance. In addition, cardholders can request cards for their employees and set individual spending limits on employee purchases.
- Fees. There is no annual fee, but this card has a foreign transaction fee of 2%. However, Discover recently announced they will soon eliminate all foreign transaction fees.
Business Charge Cards
This offer is not currently available.
The standard American Express Platinum Card card offers a number of features to cardholders. The American Express Business Platinum card is essential for anyone who travels internationally for work. This charge card’s features include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. American Express Business Platinum Card sign-up bonuses vary but might include waiving the annual fee for the first year, a $450 value, or 25,000 Membership Rewards bonus points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). These offers change constantly and vary based on when you apply for a card.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders earn one point per dollar spent with the American Express Membership Rewards program. In addition, cardholders earn two points for each dollar spent on travel purchases with the American Express travel agency. You also earn Membership Rewards points when employees use their cards.
- Other Perks. This card features an incredible number of perks, including airport lounge club access through Priority Pass Select. In addition, you receive membership in the premium car rental programs for Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental, and a $200 annual airline fee credit. Cardholders also receive a complimentary international business or first-class companion ticket with the purchase of a full fare ticket. This card includes comprehensive travel insurance and purchase protection policies.
- Fees. There is an annual fee of $450, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
See our American Express Business Platinum Card Review for more information.
Chase is aggressively pursuing the rewards card market with its Ultimate Rewards program. Cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel, gift certificates, and unique dining and entertainment experiences. Charge card features include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. This card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points: 25,000 points after your first purchase and 25,000 points after spending $10,000 within 3 months.
- Spending Rewards. For each dollar spent on phone, Internet, and cable TV expenses (up to $50,000 annually), cardholders receive five points in the Ultimate Rewards program. For gas and travel accommodations, you get two points for every dollar spent, and then one point per dollar spent thereafter.
- Other Perks. You can order additional cards for authorized employees with individual spending limits (at no cost).
- Fees. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
See our Chase Ink Bold Business Card Review for more information.
Business Preferred World MasterCard cardholders receive WorldPoints program points and can redeem them for cash back, gift certificates, and travel purchases. Features of this charge card include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. New cardholders earn 10,000 bonus points after their first purchase and double points on hotel and airline charges for the first year.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders earn one WorldPoint for each dollar charged to the card. In addition, cardholders receive 10,000 anniversary bonus points each year when the card is renewed.
- Other Perks. Companies can order additional cards for authorized employees and set individual spending limits.
- Fees. There is a $125 annual fee that is waived the first year. Bank of America also waives the annual fee every year for customers with Bank of America business accounts.
This is the business version of American Express’s iconic green card. With a $95 annual fee, it is also the least expensive charge card they offer. Features of this charge card include:
- Sign-Up Bonus. New cardholders receive 5,000 Membership Rewards points after their first purchase.
- Spending Rewards. Cardholders earn one Membership Rewards point per dollar charged to the card, and two points per dollar spent on travel booked through American Express.
- Other Perks. Like the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, cardholders receive purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, and baggage insurance.
- Fees. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year. There is also a 2.7% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States.
When you run a business, effectively managing your finances is a critical component of your bottom line. By selecting the best business credit card or charge card for your needs, you can earn the most rewards with the fewest fees. Use the information here to find a business credit card or a charge card that helps you earn rewards, receive special travel perks, and manage your business spending. When you find the right business credit card or charge card for your spending habits, you can maximize rewards, while receiving the best terms.
What kind of card do you use for your business? What are its benefits and drawbacks?