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The Best Small Business Credit Cards [2019]

By Bryce Warnes on October 2, 2019

The best small business credit card for your company is one that helps you boost your spending power, earn rewards, and build credit.

Here’s how to choose the best small business credit card for your needs—and avoid some common pitfalls along the way.

What exactly is a small business credit card?

Small business credit cards work just like any other credit card: buy stuff now, pay for it later. But they also have features just for small business owners—things like travel benefits, bonus rewards for business purchases, and ways to track and manage spending.

Why should you get a small business credit card?

1. Keep your business expenses separate

The most obvious benefit of having a dedicated business card: keeping your business expenses distinct from your personal expenses. It means at tax time you won’t have to spend hours sorting everything into business and personal buckets for your accountant.

2. Track and manage your expenses

There are few tasks more tedious than tracking expenses. Fortunately some cards have associated apps that let you tag purchases as you make them and even attach a picture of your receipt. These features, along with integration with bookkeeping software, make monthly tracking (not to mention tax time!) that much easier.

Many small business cards also make it simple to issue employee cards, as well as to monitor and limit the spending on them. Bonus: you’ll earn rewards that you’d miss out on if employees used their own cards.

3. Cover the cash flow crunch

Credit cards can save your butt in a cash flow crunch. Like when you have to pay the bills today, but your invoice won’t get paid until next week.

In that case, you could pay the bills with a credit card today, and pay it off next week when you get paid. Business credit limits are way higher than personal credit cards (usually starting around $50,000 or more). And a credit card is easier to get than a line of credit.

Some business cards come with flexible payment terms or introductory offers, such as 0% APR financing for new accounts—which means you may not need to pay interest for a year or more. If you know you can pay off a large purchase within the introductory period, it amounts to a free loan.

4. Bask in the rewards

Banks are competing for your business, which means business cards often have killer perks.

Some help you earn points faster, including welcome offers and bonus rewards on big purchases or things like office supplies, plane tickets, Facebook advertising and office WiFi.

Others can make travelling easier, letting you speed past security lines, relax in airport lounges, or get free hotel stays or upgrades.

And, of course, there are cash-back cards, which earn you money that goes back on your card or directly into your bank account.

5. Build credit for your business

It may not be as sexy as travel perks, but having a good credit score has real-life impact. Paying your credit card bill on time each month is the most important factor in building credit—which, in turn, determines whether your business qualifies for loans, good vendor terms, office or equipment leases, and low business insurance rates.

6. Get automatic insurance on things you buy

You take on enough risk as a business owner. Having a business credit card can reduce it in at least one area. When you pay for things on your business credit card, they’re often automatically protected against things like theft and damage. Sometimes you even get an extended refund or warranty period. This comes in handy for big purchases like laptops or equipment for your business.

Many cards also carry insurance for trip cancellations, delays, accidents, lost and delayed baggage, and car rentals. One less thing to think about.

Types of cards

You might use the terms “corporate card” and “business card” interchangeably, but they are actually quite different: small business cards are issued to a specific individual—usually the business owner—who provides a personal guarantee. Corporate cards are issued to big corporations; the corporation, rather than an individual, is on the hook if they fail to pay.

We’re rooting for you to one day reach corporate card status (if it’s in your long term plan), but in the meantime, you have a couple alternative options as a small business owner: a credit card or a charge card. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between the two:

Credit Card Charge Card
Has a pre-set spending limit. If you go over, you’re on the hook: you’ll get a fee or your card will be declined. No pre-set spending limit. Gives you the flexibility to make larger purchases without requesting a credit increase.
Lets you carry a balance from month to month, as long as you make the minimum payment. If you carry a balance, you’ll be charged interest and it may affect your credit score. Requires you to pay your balance in full every month. If you don’t, you’ll pay a steep penalty (usually 3% of the balance) and your issuer may suspend your credit.
Easier to qualify for. More difficult to qualify for.

2019’s best small business credit cards

Haven’t got the time to spend hours on Google comparing credit card offers? Here are a few of the best small business credit cards according to reviews.

Best small business credit card for cash back

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Cash 2019-min

  • Sign up bonus: $500 bonus cash back if you spend $3,000 in three months
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants each year; 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No annual fee

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Capital One Spark Classic 2019-min

  • Sign-up bonus: $500 cash back if you spend $4,500 in three months
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases so you don’t have to remember bonus categories
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 annual fee after the first year
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Best small business credit card for travel

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Chase Business Preferred 2019 VISA-min

  • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel, shipping, social media advertising and internet/cable/phone services each year; 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Points can be redeemed by transferring them to many different airline and hotel partners
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 annual fee

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

American Express Business Platinum 2019-min

  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points if you spend $10,000 in the first three months; another 50,000 points if you spend an additional $15,000 in the same period
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel; 1.5 points per dollar on purchases over $5,000; 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • A host of other travel perks, including an annual $200 credit for airline fees, airport lounge access, and rebates on the application fees for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $450 annual fee
  • Note that this is a charge card, requiring you to pay the full balance each month

Best small business credit cards for hotel stays

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy 2019-min

  • Annual fee: $125
  • Sign-up bonus: 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening an account
  • Earn six points per dollar spent at select Marriott Bonvoy hotels; four points per dollar spent at US restaurants and gas stations, on US shipping purchases, or for US mobile service; and two points per dollar for other eligible categories.
  • Get a free hotel stay on the anniversary of your card purchase, and another free night’s stay after you spend $60,000 within one calendar year.

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

American Express Hilton Honors 2019-min

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Sign-up bonus: Get 125,000 Hilton Honors points when you spend $3,000 within your first three months of signing up.
  • You earn 12 points per dollar spent at hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio, and six points per dollar on select business and travel purchases. On all other eligible purchases, you earn three points per dollar.
  • As a cardholder, you get Hilton perks, such as late checkout, continental breakfast, free wi-fi, and room upgrades.

Best small business credit cards for fair credit

The Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Capital One Spark Classic 2019-min

  • Annual fee: $0
  • For average to fair credit scores—580 or higher.
  • A relatively high interest rate, at 25.24% variable APR
  • Late payment fees can cost up to $39
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases

The Kabbage Card

Kabbage Card 2019-min

  • Technically not a credit card—a line of credit linked to a card
  • For borrowers who don’t have great credit, but have established businesses
  • Your business has to have been running for 12 months or more, and report $50,000 or more annual revenue
  • Up to $250,000 in credit
  • $0 annual fee
  • No credit card rewards

Best small business credit card for 0% APR

The US Bank Business Platinum Card

US Bank Business Platinum 2019-min

  • Get 0% APR on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months
  • After that, it’s a 12.14% – 20.24% APR (variable rate)
  • Regular balance transfer fee is 3%
  • $0 annual fee

The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express

Blue Business Plus 2019-min

  • Get two membership points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 per year; after that, it’s one point per dollar
  • 0% APR introductory offer for the first 12 months
  • Regular 14.99% – 20.99% APR (variable rate)

Best small business credit cards for balance transfers

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

US Bank Business Cash Rewards 2019-min

  • Get 0% APR on purchases and transfers for the first 15 months
  • Regular APR is 14.24% - 25.24% (variable)
  • $0 annual fees
  • Introductory offer: Get $500 back if you spend more $4,500 or more on eligible purchases within the first 150 days of opening
  • Must have excellent credit to apply

Chase Slate®

Chase Slate 2019-min

  • Get 0% APR on purchases and transfers for the first 15 months
  • $0 annual fees
  • Regular APR is 16.99%–25.74% (variable rate)
  • No introductory offer
  • Must have good or excellent credit to apply

Best small business credit card for specific airlines

Southwest Airlines: Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Airlines Credit Card 2019-min

United: United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

United Airlines Credit Card 2019-min

Delta: Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Delta Credit Card 2019-min

American Airlines: CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

American Airlines Credit Card 2019-min

Avoid these common pitfalls

Read the terms and conditions

You know that small print? The text that makes your eyes glaze over? In this case it actually matters. Business credit cards aren’t regulated by the consumer protections offered under the federal Credit CARD Act of 2009—so keep an eye out for changing interest rates, due dates, or fees.

Pay your balance (yes, every month)

Avoid a world of pain by diligently paying off your card each month. Penalty fees on charge cards and interest on credit cards will quickly eat into your bottom line—unless, of course, you’re still within an 0% APR introductory period. That said, if you do end up paying interest for a balance on a business credit card, you can claim it as a business expense on your taxes.

Carrying a balance will also hurt your business’s credit score, which will hurt your ability to secure financing in the future. It can also hurt your personal credit score. Though some issuers only report seriously sketchy activity to consumer credit bureaus, others (like Capital One), report all business credit activity.

Manage employee cards

If you’re giving cards to employees, only give them to people you trust, who have frequent expenses.

Set some simple, clear rules around spending. What’s the limit on meals? Hotel rooms? If employees have alcohol with a meal, can that go on the card as well? The policy can be different depending on the needs and seniority of the employee, but it should always be written down—and each card-holding employee should sign it.

Some cards will trigger a text or email each time an employee makes a purchase (or a certain type of purchase). Others will allow you to cap expenses on individual cards—like limiting gas to $50 per day. Regardless, you or your accounting department should review each statement and quickly pull cards from employees with any suspicious activity.

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This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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