Small business owners have credit requirements and purchasing patterns and needs that are unique to them. In many cases, they will need a line of credit for business expenses, and of course not every business owner has the collateral that some banks require for larger lines of credit. And in almost all cases, business owners will have office supply needs well beyond what non-business owners experience.
Fortunately there are numerous credit cards offerings out there that are geared especially to small business owners. In fact, there are too many such offerings for a busy businessperson to evaluate, and that’s why we have prepared this review of the best ones out there. Even after weeding out the weaklings, we still have a full roster of seventeen business-oriented credit cards to look at. So let’s get to it.
- Ink Cash Business Card
JPMorgan Chase produced this card, which we rate as the best for cash back. During each year that you own the card, you will receive 5% cash back for the first $25,000 spent on telecommunications and cable, and on office supplies. And for the first $25,000 spent on restaurants and gas, you will get 2% cash back. For all other purchases, cardholders receive 1% cash back.
The promotional 0% APR rate lasts for one year, and is followed by a 13.24% rate thereafter. You can also receive $200 bonus cash back, provided that you spend $3,000 during the first three months of card ownership. There is, also, no annual fee. All in all, an impressive offering.
- Ink Plus Business Card
This card provides 50,000 bonus points, provided that you spend $5,000 using the card during the first three months of card ownership. You will earn 5 points per dollar for internet and phone services, and this includes both fixed and mobile, and that 5 point-per-dollar rate applies equally to office supplies and cable TV. There is, however, a $50,000 annual purchase cap on this 5 point rate.
A 2-point-per-dollar rate applies for all purchases at gas stations and for hotels, and a separate $50,000 annual cap also applies to this rate. You can transfer your points to most frequent flyer programs at a one-to-one ratio. Cardholders will also benefit from a waiver of primary auto rental collision damage, and trip cancellation or interruption insurance, provided that you pay for your car rental or your trip using the card. The annual fee is $95, but this fee is waived for the first year.
- American Express’s SimplyCash Business Card
The folks at American Express are offering, but only until February 24, 2015, the ability to earn a $250 statement credit after spending $5,000 on qualifying purchases with their SimplyCash Business card within the first six months of card ownership. You will receive 5% cash back on office supply shopping, and on your wireless services that are purchased directly from U.S. providers.
This card also offers 3% cash back on a purchase category of your choosing, which you can select from a list provided to you. A $25,000 annual cap applies to all of these 3% and 5% cash back offers, and you will receive 1% cash back on all purchases made above that cap. The introductory 0% APR rate extends for nine months on purchases. Thereafter, the APR rate is from between 12.99% and 19.24%, depending you the state of your credit. There is no annual membership fee.
- Capital One’s Spark Miles for Business Card
Consumers who select Capital One’s “Miles” offering in the small business category will receive a one-time bonus of 25,000 miles, provided that they spend $5,000 using the card within the first three months that they own it. An additional 5,000 bonus miles are offered to cardholders who apply for an employee card within the first 60 days.
The Spark Miles card earns its owners two miles per dollar spent on all other purchases. The miles that you earn are unlimited miles, and they never expire. When it’s time to redeem, you can select from travel purchases, cash back, gift cards, or merchandise. And when redeeming those miles, you can select any airline, and there will be no blackout dates. No foreign transaction fees are imposed, and the $59 annual fee is waived for the first year.
- Capital One’s Spark Cash For Business Card
Capital One has produced this card for consumers who prefer cash to miles. This card provides you with a one-time $250 cash bonus, provided that you use it to purchase $5,000 worth of goods and services within the first three months of card ownership. You also get a $50 cash bonus for obtaining an employee card within the first two months. The card provides 2% cash back for each purchase made, and the cash back is unlimited and will never expire. The annual fee is $59, but it is waived for the first year.
- Capital One’s Spark Miles Select for Business
The hits just keep on coming with Capital One, which actually has four card offerings in the business category. This one, Miles Select for Business, offers 1.5 miles per dollar spent, and a one-time signing bonus of 10,000 miles, provided you spend $3,000 using the care during the first three months that you own it. The card also features 0% APR on purchases until August 15, 2015, and thereafter the variable APR will be between 12.9% to 20.9%. Miles earned are redeemable for cash, of course, but also for gift cards, air travel bookings, and other options. Business people need to keep records, and Capital One recognizes that, providing holders of this card with an annual, complimentary, itemized report on their spending.
- Capital One’s Spark Cash Select for Business
This is the fourth and final Capital One offering, and provides a one-time $100 bonus, provided that you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three month that you hold the card. This card will get you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The cash back will not expire and is unlimited. A 0% introductory APR is available until August 2015, and after that a 12.9% to 20.9% variable APR will apply. There is no annual fee for the card, and no annual fee for additional employee cards.
- American Express’s Business Platinum Card
AmEx’s offering in the business space includes a promotion that allows cardholders to earn 40,000 rewards points by spending $5,000 on the care during the first three months of card ownership. You will also receive complimentary access to over 700 airport lounges worldwide, along with forty other premium benefits. You’ll get one point for every dollar you spend, on eligible purchases, and your points will not expire. There is also a 20% travel bonus for using Membership Rewards Pay with Points. The card’s premium features include complimentary, unlimited “Boingo” Wi-Fi usable at over 1 million Boingo hotspots throughout the world. The price for all these premium benefits is a hefty $450 annual fee, but if you can afford it, this card will get you pampered and privileged treatment around the world.
- American Express’s Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card
This business card enables you to earn 25,000 membership rewards points once you have spent $5,000 in purchases on your card within the first three months of Card Membership. You can receive three points per dollar on a product category that you can select, and two points per dollar on the remaining for categories.
Each category has a $100,000 cap, which won’t affect most of us, but should be noted by those with higher incomes. Earn one point on other eligible purchases. The annual fee is $175, but this fee waived for the first year.
- American Express’s Blue for Business Credit Card
This is a rewards credit card for businesses, and it provides 10,000 Membership Rewards points, provided you make your first purchase using the card within the first three months of card ownership. That comes to $100 in gift cards at certain identified retailers. An annual 30% “relationship bonus” is also available on eligible purchases each year. For other eligible purchases, you will receive one point per dollar spnt, and you will get an additional point per dollar spent when booking travel using the card.
The card as a promotional 0% APR for nine months on purchases, with a variable 11.24 to 19.24% APR on purchases thereafter. There is no annual fee for the card or for additional employee cards.
- U.S. Bank’s Business Edge Cash Rewards Card
This offering by U.S. Bank allows you to earn 3% cash back on gas purchases at the pump, and also on cell phone services and office supplies. You will earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. The rewards you earn with this card are unlimited and will not expire. Also, at each anniversary year, you will receive a 25% annual rewards bonus of up to $250, which is equal to 25% of the cash back you received in that year.
The 0% promotional APR period lasts for nine months and applies to purchases and balance transfers. Thereafter, a variable 11.99% to 17.99% APR rate will apply. There is no annual fee so long as you make at least one purchase on the card per year.
- U.S. Bank Business Edge Select Rewards Card
U.S. Bank also offers a Select Rewards card that permits you to earn 10,000 bonus points, provided you spend $5000 on the card during the first 90 days of card ownership. You will also earn three points per dollar spent in the category you choose, and the choice is from among the categories of auto, travel, entertainment, or day-to-day expenses.
Beyond that, you will also receive one point per dollar on your other purchases. The points that you can earn are unlimited, and an introductory 0% APR applies for purchases for nine billing cycles. After the introductory period there is an 11.99%-17.99 variable purchase APR, based on your credit. There is, in addition, no annual fee on this card.
- American Express’s Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card
This card allows you to earn 30,000 bonus miles, provided that you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card during the first three months of card ownership. You can also receive a $50 statement credit after making a purchase with Delta Airlines, using the card, within that same three-month period. The card will let you earn two miles per dollar spent on qualifying Delta purchases, and you will earn 1 mile per dollar spent on your other eligible purchases.
Cardholders will also receive other travel advantages including free first checked bags and priority boarding. While in the air, you will get 20% off eligible in-flight purchases, received in the form of statement credit. Since they know you’ll be traveling, no foreign transaction fees apply, and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
- American Express’s Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Business Credit Card
After you make your first purchase with this card, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus points, and you’ll qualify for another 15,000 points by spending $5,000 using the card within the first six month that you own it. Above that, you can get two Starpoints for each dollar spent on eligible purchases charged directly to “SPG” participating hotels and resorts. The annual fee is $65, but it is waived for the first year.
- Citibank’s AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
Citibank has designed this card especially for businesses that have a strong and established credit history. Cardholders, for a limited time, can earn 50,000 American Airlines Aadvantage bonus miles, provided that they spend $3,000 on the card within the first three months of card ownership. After that, you will get two AAdvantage miles per dollar that you spend on eligible American Airlines purchases (including codeshare flights booked through AA). You can also get two AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on select car rentals, telecommunications, and office supplies. For all other purchases, you will get one AAdvantage mile for each dollar you spend.
And this card offers plenty of additional perks, including Group 1 Boarding, free first checked bags for yourself and up to four traveling companions whose tickets were purchased with this card, provided you are all on the same reservation. You will save 25% on in-flight food and drinks (again, provided that you buy them with the card) on AA and US Airways flights. The annual fee is $95, but it is waived for the first year.
- U.S. Bank’s FlexPerks Business Edge Travel Rewards Card
This card offering by U.S. Bank gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 20,000 enrollment Flexpoints by spending $3,500 on the card during the first four months that they own it. You will also get three points per dollar for qualifying charitable donations, and two points per dollar on the category of your choice, to be chosen from among office supplies, airline bookings, and gasoline. That two-point rate also applies to cell phone service charges. A one point-per-dollar rate applies for all other eligible purchases.
An airline allowance of up to $25 per ticket is also offered, and this can be used toward in-flight food and drinks, or baggage fees. The annual fee is $55, but it is waived for the first year, and it is also waived if you spend over $24,000 per year on the card.
- Citizens Bank Everyday Points Business MasterCard
Citizens Bank has a rewards card offering that provides some unusual benefits that bear examining. For example, the card offers 24/7 online account management and $0 liability for unauthorized purchases. You also receive travel assistance services, and enrollment in the MasterCard Easy Savings Program will get cardholders up to 20% in automatic rebates for purchases at participating stores, including DHL, AVIS, and Fuelman. And if you sign your employee cards up to the Easy Savings Program, they will enjoy those rebates as well.
Cardholders will receive rental car insurance, and will earn 3,500 bonus points for their very first purchase, and two points per dollar they spend on business purchases. When it comes time to redeem, these points can be traded for cash back, travel, office equipment, or other benefits. The card has an accessCARD Command feature that places before you on your computer screen all of your related credit, employee card limits and usage, and business purchases and expenses. Other cards do provide higher rewards and features, but the Citizens Bank card, which has no annual fee and many unique and attractive features, is definitely worth a look.
Advice for Business Credit Card Shoppers
If you are a small business owner, you may be able to reap additional benefits by owning more than one of these cards. This will allow you to maximize the benefits that each of them has to offer. Business owners may wish to use one card with a 0% APR to carry balances, which using another card for expenses that are repaid fully each month.
Such an approach will let you make full use of the strengths each card has to offer. Business cards will also allow business owners to strengthen their credit ratings and build a credit history that can be critical at times when a loan is needed to facilitate business growth. Separating you business credit history for your personal credit history is another valuable advantage that these cards offer.