The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses
It seems like most credit card users only consider half the products on the market. Consumer credit and charge cards are heavily advertised, with the link to the business version of these cards sometimes appearing the bottom corner of the webpage. Yet failing to consider business as well as consumer products is a fundamental mistake that many credit card users make. (See also: 250+ Tips for Small Business Owners)
Who Are Business Cards For?
Business cards are intended for small businesses, sole proprietors, or any consumer who wishes to divide his or her company’s spending with a separate card. For example, when I was a business traveler, I used a business card to charge my reimbursable expenses. I still had to apply for the card using my own credit, and I alone was responsible for payment. Using a business card allowed me to segregate my personal expenses from those my company was reimbursing me for. Eventually, I realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t use whichever card offered the best combination of features and benefits for my personal or business expenses. Today, I hold a variety of business and personal cards to maximize the features of each.
Business Card Rewards
Like personal cards, the market for business cards has been characterized by ever-increasing rewards and perks. Whether you are using a business card for actual business expenses or merely to compliment the personal cards in your wallet, those who do not carry a balance will want to generate the highest possible return on their spending. On the other hand, any person or business that uses a credit card to finance purchases should be almost exclusively concerned with the finance terms. Therefore, the selection criteria for these top five business cards have been weighted heavily towards the rewards offered.
Credit Versus Charge Cards
It is also important to note that this list contains both credit cards and charge cards, as many of the best business products fall into the latter category. With a charge card, all balances must be paid in full or the account holder will be considered delinquent.
The Five Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses
Here are my top picks.
1. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
With little or no difference from their consumer version, the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express is the ultimate travel rewards card. Rewards can be transferred to the mileage programs of many different airlines. Cardholders can also redeem their points for award nights at Starwood properties including Sheratons and Westins with no blackout dates or capacity restrictions. There is a $65 annual fee that is waived the first year, and a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.
Here are the latest offer details:
- Starpoints® bonus: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points
- Earn 10,000 Starpoints® after your first purchase on the Card and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- Starpoints® redeemable towards Free Hotel Nights at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide - with no blackout dates
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts participating in the SPG® program
- Earn 1 Starpoint® for each dollar of eligible purchases
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
2. Capital One® Spark(SM) Cash for Business
This is the credit card for those who would to receive the maximum cash back instead of loyalty points. The Spark card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits, the highest rate on the market. Cardholders who carry a balance will incur interest at a rate equal to the Prime Rate plus 10.65%. There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.
3. Ink Bold® Business Card
Chase offers a dedicated line of business products called Ink. Their top-of-the-line product is the Ink Bold® Business Card. While it is not a simple knock off of a consumer card, it bears a close resemblance to Chase’s excellent Sapphire Preferred product.
Like its consumer cousin, Ink Bold card members earn points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. New applicants will receive 50,000 bonus points as a sign up bonus, after spending $5,000 in the first three months from opening the account. That can be redeemed for $500 in rewards or $625 in travel (airfare, hotels, cruises and car rental). Thereafter, cardholders will earn five points per dollar spent at office supply stores, on cable, wireless, internet services, and landline communications. Two points per dollar are earned at gas stations and hotel rooms, with one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Once earned, points can be redeemed for one cent each towards cash back or a variety of merchandise options. Cardholders can also transfer points to the programs of several airline and hotel partners, as well as Amtrak Guest Rewards. Finally, this card includes complimentary airport lounge access to over 350 worldwide, with amenities like internet, phone and fax, snacks and drinks, conference rooms, and more.
This is a charge card, not a credit card, so there's no interest but balances must be paid in full. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, but there are no foreign transaction fees.
4. The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Although American Express offers its popular Platinum card with a wide range of benefits, customers must pay a huge annual fee for each card on the account. Just below that card in their product range is their Business Gold Rewards charge card, which has a much smaller fee but is superior in many ways. There is a $175 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, as well as a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. There is a $50 fee for the first additional card, but subsequent cards can be ordered at no additional charge.
Here are the latest offer details:
- Get 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first 3 months following approval of your new Card account
- Plus, get a statement credit for your initial Amazon Prime membership fee after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period
- As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items on Amazon.com
- Built with business-sized purchasing power and fast rewards
- 3X points on airfare purchased from airlines. 2X points on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping and at gas stations
- (New!) 2X points on US purchases made directly from select computer hardware and software providers
- Up to $100,000 in each category per year, then 1 point
- Terms and limitations apply
5. The Plum Card® from American Express OPEN
- Get a 1.5% discount for paying early or up to 60 days to pay without interest, or both each month.
- Do Business On Your Terms
- Pay no annual membership fee for your first year. Then, pay $250 annually.
- No annual fee for Additional Cards
- Terms & Restrictions Apply.
By carefully considering the best business cards on the market, you can choose the product that best meets your needs.