Navigating Small Business Rewards Cards

By Linsey Knerl. Last updated 26 April 2010. 0 comments
Photo: iStockphoto

With more cards available to small business owners than ever, it can be difficult to choose the rewards system that will be most beneficial to your business. Will you go with cash? Credit on your account? Airline miles? Gifts? Picking just one way to go isn’t always easy (or possible).  Luckily, there are practices you can follow to be sure you are getting the most from your rewards card.

1. Ask about rewards.

Rewards change all the time, and while you may have signed up for a card years ago with the intention that you will always be redeeming them for airline miles, new products and offerings are being developed each day. The next time you find yourself on the phone with your card’s customer service rep, ask them if they have any new rewards options that may help meet your small business goals. You may not even have to switch cards to get them.

2. Prioritize your needs.

How would you like to see your rewards work for you? Would you like them to be directly returned to your bottom line? Or are you more interested in seeing them shared with the organization in the form of incentives for employees?

Popular options for putting those rewards back into your pocket include:

  • Applying cash rewards directly to your next month’s charge account.
  • Applying cash rewards directly to purchase orders for vendors you use regularly.
  • Earning percentage discounts for future purchases with your most regular vendors.

Small business owners with an interest in rewarding employees directly like to:

  • Use reward points for merchandise and gift cards to be given as employee incentives.
  • Use airline miles and travel bonuses for company anniversary recognition gifts.
  • Give cash rewards as bonuses for high-performing employees.

(Note: among the American Express OPEN Cards for small business, the Plum Card is best if you prefer cashback, while the OPEN Business Gold and OPEN Business Platinum cards are best for getting rewards like airline miles, exclusive event tickets or access to business lounges around the world.)

3. Build opportunities to earn.

Since some employees will try to use their own credit cards for business expenses (thus having the chance to earn rewards through their own cards), it is beneficial to communicate a company-wide policy on how expenses will be reimbursed and how using company-issued charge cards are preferred. If there is no set policy on such practices, devise one that not only ensures that employees consistently use the company account (and help build the rewards that will keep charging profitable), but that also pays back a little to employees who follow good policy and turn in expense reports in a timely manner.

As card companies flex to compete for your business, there is always an opportunity to earn more value for your expenses. Ask your credit card what they can do for you, and keep looking for the perfect partnership that will help grow your company.

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