Best Business Credit Cards of 2018

Review the best business credit cards to help take your business to the next level.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: September 3, 2018

Note from the editor: Our research, news, ratings, and assessments are scrutinized using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, our company may receive compensation from partners listed on our website. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

The market for business credit cards has become extremely competitive over the last few years. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, banks and businesses seemed to recede into credit purgatory where there was little appetite for lending or borrowing. Both have emerged from the crisis stronger, and their resurgence has led to more demand for credit and a deluge of new business credit card options.

For growing businesses, credit cards have become an essential financial management tool. The issuers have been raising the bar and many business credit card offers now include cash back, benefits, and rewards as they compete in the ever-expanding business credit card market. Compare the best business credit cards below.

LendEDU’s 11 Best Business Credit Cards of 2018

Note: We are not affiliated with any of the following credit card issuers.

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

$0 annual fee $500 bonus credit for spending $3,000 in first three months

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

  • $500 bonus credit for spending $3,000 in first three months
  • Earn 5% cash back on office supplies, cell phone and landline services, and Internet and cable services
  • 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas and restaurants as well as 1% on all other purchases
Show More
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

Regular APR

14.74% - 20.74% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers the same cash equivalents of 5% on office supplies, cell phone and landline services, and Internet and cable services as the Ink Plus. It also awards 2% on gas and restaurants as well as 1% on all other purchases. However, the awards on the 5% and 2% categories are capped at $25,000 of spending each year. There is no limit on the 1% awards. Hitting the spending caps in the 5% and 2% categories equates to $1,750 in rewards each year.

APR & Fees

In addition to the sign-up bonus of $500 for the first $3,000, the Ink Business Cash card offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, which is rare for business credit cards. The low end of its APR range of 14.74% is among the lowest available for a quality business credit card that offers rewards.

As with the Ink Plus card, the Ink Cash card offers additional employee cards at no additional cost along with access to the online card management systems for setting spending limits and tracking expenses.

Bottom Line

The Ink Business Cash is an ideal card for businesses that spend less than $2,500 a month in the 5% and 2% categories, and are more concerned with keeping costs down.

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card From American Express

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card From American Express

$0 annual fee $250 after spending $5,000 within first six months

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card From American Express

  • Sign-up bonus of $250 after spending of $5,000 or more within the first six months, and an additional $250 if you spend $10,000 more in the first year
  • Earn 5% cash back on office supplies and utilities
  • Earn 3% cash back on select niche categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Businesses will benefit from having access to American Express OPEN, with its discounts at select merchants and providers such as FedEx
Show More
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 15 months

Regular APR

13.99% - 20.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express is another card with no annual fee and with a robust rewards program. It might have the edge over the Ink Plus® due to the fact that, in addition to 5% cash back on office supplies and wireless telephone services, it pays 3% cash back on a category of the cardholder’s choice. The categories of choice include airfare, hotels, gas, restaurants, computer hardware, software, and cloud computing services. It also includes advertising and shipping, both of which can be a significant cost for many companies. The cash back is earned on up to $50,000 of spending. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

This business credit card comes with a number of added benefits like purchase protection, baggage insurance, car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, and roadside assistance. Businesses will benefit from having access to American Express OPEN, with its discounts at select merchants and providers such as FedEx. Combining the 3% cash back in the shipping category with the 5% OPEN discount at FedEx can net a business 8% in total savings. OPEN includes one of the better account management systems for setting spending limits on authorized users, managing employee spending and tracking expenses.

APR & Fees

What makes this card especially rewarding is the no annual fee. It also pays a sign-up bonus of $250 after spending of $5,000 or more within the first six months, and an additional $250 if you spend $10,000 more in the first year. It also charges foreign transaction fees of 2.7% and a $38 late payment fee.

Bottom Line

The SimplyCash card is a great choice for businesses that want more choice in their rewards categories. High-tech companies and businesses that do a lot of shipping and advertising would also benefit from the SimplyCash card.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card

$0 intro annual fee, $95 after first year $500 credit for spending $4,500 in first three months

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card

  • Sign-up bonus of $500 for spending $4,500 within the first three months
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Additional benefits include collision damage waiver coverage for car rentals purchased with the card
Show More
Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0 for first year, then $95 per year

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

For businesses that would prefer not to have to manage a rewards program based on different spending categories, Capital One Spark Cash is a good all-encompassing card that pays 2% on all purchases with no spending limit. This could pay off better for businesses that spend more than $50,000 a year. You can also earn a sign-up bonus of $500 for spending $4,500 within the first three months. Additional employee cards are free, but Capital One does not offer an account management system for setting spending limits or managing employee expenses.

APR & Fees

There is no 0% introductory period for the Spark Cash card, but a $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that. There is a $10 or 3% fee on cash advances, no foreign transaction fees, and $39 late payment fee.

Bottom Line

The Spark Cash card is not nearly as flashy as some of the other business credit cards, but for businesses that want a no fuss, above-average, cash back credit card, it can be a great choice. For businesses that would prefer not to pay the $95 annual fee (starting in the second year), Capital One offers a very similar no annual fee card, Spark Cash Select, which pays 1.5% cash back on all purchases. However, if your business spends more than $20,000 a year, it might be better off paying the annual fee on the Spark Cash card.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Credit Card

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Credit Card

$0 intro annual fee, $95 after first year 50,000 bonus miles for spending $4,500 in first three months

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Credit Card

  • Sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles for spending $4,500 within the first three months
  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on all purchases - no spending limit
  • Spark Miles redemptions receive preferred booking during peak travel periods and can also be applied as a travel statement credit
  • The annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year
Show More
Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.74% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​​​$0 for first year, then $95 per year

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

For travel-minded businesses, the Capital One Spark Miles card would be a good choice, offering two miles for every dollar spent – with no spending limit. The miles are equivalent to 1 cent each, which is the industry standard, and they can be used to book travel through Capital One’s travel site, which is operated by Orbitz. Spark Miles redemptions receive preferred booking during peak travel periods and can also be applied as a travel statement credit. The only downside is miles cannot be transferred to other loyalty programs.

The sign-up bonus is 50,000 miles for the first $4,500 spent within three months after the account is activated. All of the other features, benefits, and terms of the Spark Miles card are the same as the Spark Cash card. For a travel rewards business card, businesses may be disappointed with the lack of any travel perks such as priority boarding and lounge passes.

APR & Fees

The annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year, so a business would have to consider how much they spend on the card to determine if it pays above the fee. The card has a $10 or 3% fee on cash advances, no foreign transaction fees, and $39 late payment fee.

Bottom Line

For businesses that appreciate a straightforward travel rewards business card without a lot of frills, the Spark Miles card can pour on the miles. Capital One also offers the Spark Miles Select card for businesses that spend less money and would prefer no annual fee.

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

$0 annual fee $200 credit for spending $500 in first 60 days

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

  • $200 statement credit for making just $500 in purchases within the first 60 days of opening the account
  • Earn 3% cash back on gas station and office supply purchases
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% introductory rate on purchases for nine billing cycles for new cardholders
  • Additional employee cards are free and can come with preset spending limits
Show More
Apply Now

on Bank of America's secure website

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 9 billing cycles

Regular APR

12.74% – 22.74% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Excellent

Card Highlights

By most measures, the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard would rate as an upper-tier rewards card for businesses. The card pays 3% cash back on gas and office supply store purchases, 2% on restaurant purchases, and 1% on everything else. But, what makes it stand out is its high annual spending cap of $250,000 in combined purchases. For businesses with very high office supply or fuel expenses, that can be more beneficial than business credit cards with higher cash back rewards but lower spending caps. Outside of that, the rewards would be considered about average.

New cardholders can earn a $200 statement credit for making just $500 in purchases within the first 60 days of opening the account. For account management, additional employee cards are free and can come with preset spending limits. The card includes an online services dashboard to track expenses, print financial reports, and download your transactions to QuickBooks. Additional card benefits include purchase protection and rental collision coverage.

APR & Fees

This card has the advantage of no annual fee, which helps to boost the value of its cash-back rewards. For new cardholders, it offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases for nine billing cycles. The card has a $10 or 4% fee on balance transfers and a $49 late payment fee.

Bottom Line

The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard can be a good all-around business credit card ideally suited for businesses with big gas or office supply budgets.

U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard

U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard

$0 annual fee 25% annual cash-back bonus

U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard

  • 25% anniversary bonus on the cash back earned throughout the previous year
  • Sign-up bonus of $150 for spending $500 within 90 days of opening the account
  • Earn 3% cash back on cell, gas, office supplies purchases
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% introductory period of nine months for purchases
Show More
Apply Now

on U.S. Bank's secure website

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 9 months

Regular APR

13.74% – 24.74% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard is another high rewards business credit card that emphasizes select categories. For businesses with big budgets for office supplies, gas or cell phone services, the card can pay off handsomely with 3% cash back, especially since there is no spending cap. In addition, the card pays an additional 25% anniversary bonus on the cash back earned throughout the previous year. For every $1,000 of cash back earned, that means an extra $250 credited to your account. The card also offers a sign-up bonus of $150 for spending $500 within 90 days of opening the account.

This card offers additional benefits such as MasterAssist Travel Assistance Services as well as upgrades and special deals to luxury hotels and resorts. Businesses can manage their credit card account using online budgeting tools along with ScoreBoard to track and monitor expenses.

APR & Fees

This business credit card also offers a 0% introductory period of nine months for purchases. With no annual fee, the rewards can pay off quickly. The card has a $5 or 3% fee on balance transfers, 2% fee on foreign transactions, and a $39 late payment fee. Additional employee cards are free, and the rewards earned on employee spending are pooled with the business’ account.

Bottom Line

The U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard can be a good fit for businesses that spend significantly on office supplies and gas. Businesses might appreciate its straightforward program for earning and redeeming rewards. And, for businesses that periodically carry a balance, the card’s APR is competitive.

CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

$0 intro annual fee, $95 after first year 70,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 in first four months

CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

  • Sign-up bonus that awards 70,000 miles for spending at least $4,000 within the first four months of opening an account
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on business category and American Airline purchases
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all regular purchases
  • The annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year
  • Cards for additional employees do not charge a fee
Show More
Apply Now

on Citi's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.49% – 25.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0 for first year, then $95 per year

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The CitiBusiness/AAdvantage PlatinumSelect World Mastercard can pile on the airline miles quickly, which is great if your business flies primarily with American Airlines. If not, this card may not be ideal for you. But, as an airline rewards card, it is one of the best. Cardholders receive two AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines and certain business categories, including office supplies, car rentals, and telecommunications services. One mile is earned for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

New cardmembers can take advantage of a sign-up bonus that awards 70,000 miles for spending at least $4,000 within the first four months of opening an account. Miles can be redeemed for American Airlines flights, and they qualify for reduced mileage redemption of 7,500 miles on select flights. The dollar value of an AAdvantage mile works out to be between 1.35% and 2.7% in cash back on airline bookings. Cardmembers enjoy a number of airline travel perks, including one free checked bag on domestic flights for the traveler and up to four traveling companions, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases.

APR & Fees

There is no introductory APR, but the annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year. The card also has a $5 or 3% fee on balance transfers. Cards for additional employees do not charge a fee and miles earned by employees are credited to the main account.

Bottom Line

With the 7,500-mile redemption discount, the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard can be very rewarding for businesses that take more than a few American Airlines flights each year. Beyond that, the business-related benefits are minimal. This card does not come with an account management system. Businesses do receive a quarterly statement that includes card transactions and miles earned from all sources, which is fairly standard in the industry. Businesses that use multiple airlines for their travel might want to consider the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card.

American Express Business Platinum Card

American Express Business Platinum Card

$450 annual fee Welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points

American Express Business Platinum Card

  • The Amex Business Platinum Card offers a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points
  • You can get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on flights and prepaid hotels
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more and 1 point per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • You can also get a $200 airline fee credit
Show More
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$450

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The American Express Business Platinum Card is a charge card, not a credit card. There is a 19.99% APR charged on balances. As long as the balance is paid off in full before the end of the grace period, the interest rate will not be applied. The Amex Business Platinum Card offers a welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points. You can get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months. You can also get a $200 airline fee credit.

This business card comes with a number of helpful benefits for small businesses and especially for new cardholders. For starters, it offers five points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels through AmexTravel.com, 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and one point per dollar on other eligible purchases.

APR & Fees

The card has a steep annual fee of $450, but the potential to earn big rewards might make it worth it for you. There are no foreign transaction fees with this card. This charge card serves small businesses that generally experience few issues with cash flow. If your company struggles to meet monthly bills, you might want to explore credit cards instead of charge cards because charge card balances must be paid off in full each month. Otherwise, you face an interest rate of 19.99% on the remaining balance.

Bottom Line

The Amex Express Business Platinum's rewards program is focused almost exclusively on travel benefits, which means businesses that log a lot of airport and travel time will reap the most rewards. Stationary businesses may want to consider a more flexible loyalty program.

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

$0 intro annual fee, $175 after first year 50,000 points for spending $5,000 within the first 3 months

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card

  • Sign-up bonus of 50,000 points if you make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months
  • Earn 3 points per $1 for items you buy from 1 of 5 categories
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on the remaining 4 categories and 1 point per $1 on other purchases
  • $175 annual fee waived in the first year
Show More
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Annual Fee

​​$0 for first year, then $175 per year

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Business Gold Rewards Card from Amex is a charge card, which means balances must be paid in full each month to avoid the 19.99% APR. Like most business cards, the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card has a large sign-up bonus. It offers 50,000 points if you make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months.

When it comes to rewards, you can choose one of five categories from which you’ll earn three points per dollar, then you can get two points per dollar on the remaining four categories. The categories include airfare, advertising, gas, shipping, and computer software, hardware and cloud computing purchases from preferred providers. You get one point per dollar on other purchases.

APR & Fees

The card has a $175 annual fee that is waived in the first year. The card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.

Bottom Line

While the Platinum card is a powerful tool for internationally minded businesses, the Gold card has a more flexible rewards program that is less focused on travel. Again, it’s a charge card, so you'll have to consider if a credit card is better for your business’ cash flow. Plus, if you use the services of one or more of their approved suppliers, you’ll reap even more benefits from the rewards program. Some of the preferred suppliers on their list include computer hardware and software companies.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card From American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card From American Express

$195 annual fee 35,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card From American Express

  • Sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spent $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Delta and 1 mile per eligible $1 spent on other purchases
  • Other perks include priority boarding, free checked baggage, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Delta also offers a companion fare voucher every year on your card renewal and an annual points boost if you spend $25,000 annually
Show More
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99% – 20.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$195

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business is a credit card built for frequent business travelers. It comes with many travel-specific benefits, including priority boarding, free checked baggage, and no foreign transaction fees. The more money you spend on the credit card, the more points you earn toward free flights. Delta also offers a companion fare voucher every year on your card renewal and an annual points boost if you spend $25,000 annually.

The sign-up bonus for this Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business card is 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, plus an additional 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new credit card within the first three months. You can earn two miles for every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta and one mile for every dollar spent on eligible purchases.

APR & Fees

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express offers three different interest rates, dependent on creditworthiness: 16.99%, 18.99%, and 20.99%. It has a relatively cheap annual fee of $195. The card charges a cash advance fee of $5 or 3%, but does not have any foreign transaction fees.

Bottom Line

As opposed to the American Express charge cards, this Delta credit card offers a bit more flexibility. It might be a good choice for small business that may need more leeway in paying off their bills every month. It can also be beneficial for frequent flyers, because of the extensive travel perks associated with the loyalty program. Finally, unlike some other business credit cards, additional bonus miles have a comparatively low spending threshold.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

$99 annual fee 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

  • 60,000-point sign-up bonus for businesses that spend $3,000 or more within the first three months of membership
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Earn an additional 6,000 bonus points on your first card anniversary
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get two free checked bags on all Southwest flights
Show More
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

17.49% – 24.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee

​​$99

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

This is a business credit card with travel perks focused almost exclusively with Southwest Airlines, issuing two times rewards points per $1 spent on Southwest flights and associated purchases. It also offers 1 rewards point per $1 on all other purchases. This card also allows for two free checked bags on all Southwest flights. Currently, the card has a 60,000-point sign-up bonus for businesses that spend $3,000 or more within the first three months of membership. Plus, on your first anniversary, Southwest awards another 6,000 points.

APR & Fees

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card has a variable APR, ranging from 17.49% to 24.49%, depending on creditworthiness. For the business owner, Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card only has an annual fee of $99. That annual fee is very competitive. This card charges a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% and cash advance fee $15 or 5%.

Bottom Line

The rewards associated with this credit card work well for business owners who need a little wiggle room each month for payment. Unlike a charge card, monthly payments can roll over with a card that has generally low interest rate. The travel rewards cover Southwest routes exclusively in the U.S., Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. If your business tends to travel outside those destinations, it might be better to find a credit card that accommodates that.

The Best Business Credit Cards for 2018

Card Bonus Offer Annual Fee
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card $500 bonus credit for spending $3,000 in first three months $0
SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card From American Express $250 bonus after spending $5,000 or more within the first six months $0
Capital One Spark Cash for Business Credit Card $500 for spending $4,500 within the first three months $0
Capital One Spark Miles for Business Credit Card 50,000 miles for spending $4,500 within the first three months $0
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard $200 statement credit for making $500 in purchases within the first 60 days of opening the account $0
U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard $150 for spending $500 within 90 days of opening the account $0
CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard 70,000 miles for spending at least $4,000 within the first four months of opening an account $0 intro annual fee, $95 after first year
American Express Business Platinum Card 50,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first three months $450
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card 50,000 points if you make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months $0 intro annual fee, $175 after first year
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card From American Express 35,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles if you spent $1,000 in the first 3 months $195
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card 60,000-point sign-up bonus for businesses that spend $3,000 or more within the first three months of membership $99

How Business Credit Cards Benefit Businesses

Many people would have a difficult time managing their finances without credit cards, and businesses that need to cover brief shortfalls and manage cash flow are no different. It’s especially important for small businesses to establish credit so they can have access to the financing they need to expand.

When used effectively, a business credit card is an essential cash management tool and helps a business establish itself as a legitimate member of the business community. Here are some additional reasons why a business credit card can be essential for businesses, including small business owners.

Keeps Personal and Business Finances Separate

If you really want to annoy the IRS or your accountant, try presenting them with business records that mix business and personal expenses. It's one of the quickest routes to an audit and can complicate your life. Carrying one of the best business credit cards can help keep these finances separate, while rewarding you for doing so.

Flexibility, Control, and Convenience

In today’s digital world, it’s nearly impossible not to use the internet to make some purchases. So you need a credit card. Plus, you never know when you’ll need to make a sudden purchase that requires short-term financing. Having a business credit card can ensure your business makes purchases efficiently, and will enable the business to better control expenses, especially with employees.

Cash Flow Management

Making purchases with a business credit card can help the business keep cash flow positive throughout the billing cycle. Payments to a credit card can be timed to customer receipts, allowing the business to stay liquid by holding cash and leveraging credit. And, because business credit card accounts provide daily transaction records and monthly spending breakdowns, business owners can better manage and control cash flow.

They Can Be Very Rewarding for Small Businesses

The best small business credit cards have cash back and travel rewards programs that can truly reduce the outlay for supplies, equipment, and travel. Reward points are typically higher on business-related purchases such as supplies and travel, so they can be used to reduce costs.

Give Your Business Some Credit

When you do need extended financing, the bank will look at both your personal credit history and your business credit history. A business credit card can be an efficient way to build a credit history for your business.

What Should the Best Business Credit Card Have

Today, businesses of all sizes have a growing number of choices in business credit cards – from small businesses trying to establish credit to larger companies looking to maximize rewards. While there are many similarities between business credit cards, a business should consider the key factors that will most impact their cash flow and their capacity to manage credit.

Annual Percentage Rate and Account Balances

Generally, the annual percentage rate (APR) for business credit cards tends to be higher than for personal credit cards, making them less attractive for carrying monthly balances. The best use of a business credit card is as a cash alternative, spending no more than what is budgeted each month. Although some businesses, in a planned strategy, may make larger capital expenditures that could require several months of cash flow to cover the expense.

If a business anticipates carrying a balance, it should only consider business credit cards with the lowest possible APR for which it can qualify. It is important to note that, although new regulations prevent credit card issuers from raising the APR on personal credit cards before they are 60-days delinquent, that doesn’t apply to business credit cards. If a business has trouble managing its credit card payments, issuers can increase the APR almost immediately. It can become very costly to carry a balance under those circumstances.

Business credit cards that offer a rewards program tend to have higher APRs. Considering that the average rewards rate among these business credit cards is about 2%, businesses that carry a balance for even a few months will see any advantage from rewards erased by the costs of interest. If businesses anticipate the possibility of carrying a balance, it’s ideal to choose a card with the lowest possible APR versus a card with a tempting rewards program.

Conversely, businesses with a strong cash flow and the ability to pay the balance in full each month could benefit more from a credit card with a good rewards program. The APR tends to be higher, but it won’t matter if the business doesn’t incur interest charges.

Fees

With business credit cards, there is almost no way to avoid fees. Most cards, especially those with rewards programs, charge an annual fee that can run as high as $100 per year or more for some of the premium cards. Higher annual fees should be weighed against the value the business expects to receive from rewards.

There are exceptions, however. The amount of the fee is sometimes dictated by the APR offered or by the number of other benefits offered. Low-fee or no-fee cards may be harder to qualify for or may have a lower rewards rate. Consider other fees as well, including late or returned payment fees.

Employee Cards

Most businesses have multiple employees authorized to use company credit cards. This is when having a business credit card can really pay off. The best business credit cards not only offer additional cards for employees, they also enable the business to dictate the spending levels on multiple cards, which can give more control.

Most business credit card issuers will offer additional cards at no extra cost, but only up to a certain number. Credit card fees for extra cards can quickly eat into the value of having employee credit cards, so be clear about card policies up front. The value of having employee credit cards can also be diminished if there is no way to manage the account and track spending. So, ask your issuer about online account management tools as well.

Rewards Program

Frankly, many businesses choose their business credit card based almost exclusively on the rewards program – and with good reason. Some rewards programs can be very beneficial, especially if they are directly aligned with the company’s spending habits. There is also a significant difference between programs that pay cash back and those that award points, and businesses will benefit differently by having either one depending on their activities. Here are the main spending categories to consider when choosing a rewards program.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Hotels

Businesses that require their employees to travel frequently should look closely at travel rewards business cards. Programs focused primarily on travel tend to offer the highest rewards for air travel and hotels, and are often the best business credit cards for gaining the most value. Many travel rewards business cards also offer additional travel benefits, such as airport lounge access, complimentary baggage fees, free companion tickets, and other perks that can offer great returns to frequent travelers. For businesses with just one or two people who only travel periodically, other cards that focus on spending categories like office supplies or gas may be better options.

Office Supplies, Utilities, and Gas

Many rewards programs emphasize business-related spending categories, such as office supplies, cable, and phone services. Some also include dining and gas as main spending categories. Businesses that have a large, local sales team that wines and dines clients could use those rewards to offset entertainment expenses.

Businesses that have larger expenses in any of these categories would benefit from these alternative rewards programs over travel rewards programs. The cash-back programs may be preferable because they offer more flexibility in how the rewards can be redeemed. Cash back is usually paid as statement credits that can be used for any purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions About Business Credit Cards

Are Cash-back Rewards or Points Better for Your Business?

The deciding factor between cash back and points is how your business would use the them. For example, travel and hotel points are good if you and your employees are avid travelers. Cash back is a great option for businesses, especially because with incentives based on meeting certain spending goals that many cards provide. For example, some business credit cards offer 3% cash back if you spend a certain amount after opening your card. Annual cash back options may have some restrictions, so confirm the details on the program.

What is the Difference Between a Business Credit Card and a Business Charge Card?

There are three main differences between business credit cards and business charge cards: spending limits, monthly billing, and overall effect on your credit score. Credit cards almost always have a spending limit, based on credit history and clients’ business needs. Charge cards have no spending limit, meaning you can theoretically spend as much as needed each month. On a credit card, your balance rolls over from one month to the next, but charge cards require full payment every month. Finally, because your charge card bill doesn’t roll over into the next month’s billing period, credit score is reported differently than it is from a credit card.

Does It Make Sense to Pay an Annual Fee for a Business Credit Card?

Yes. First, the annual fee can almost always be offset as a business expense during the end-of-year taxes. This is good news for your tax return and helps offset the costs associated with business credit cards. Second, most cards with an annual fee come with more perks than those without a fee. If you already have researched the rewards program and other perks of the card, weigh that against the annual fee to see if it pays off.

What are Some of the Non-financial Perks Offered By Business Credit Cards?

Beyond the rewards points and the cash-back options offered on almost all business credit cards, most cards extend other lesser-known, non-financial perks. Some credit cards offer extended insurance for damage or loss of baggage during travel, as well as insurance for cell phones and extended rental car insurance.

Most credit cards also offer extended warranties beyond the standard factory warranty provided on goods and services. Which means if you buy a computer monitor with a one-year limited warranty, most credit cards will automatically extend that warranty for two more years. If you travel a lot, you may also want to find credit cards that offer free or extended roadside assistance, trip cancellation, or trip delay insurance.

Do Business Credit Cards Earn Rewards on Employee Purchases?

If the primary business card is a points or rewards card, then all secondary account holders will also earn rewards. Whether it's the employer or the employee making the purchase, points accumulate through all of the credit card’s users.

There is some debate as to whether the employee or the employer has a right to those points, so outline the rules regarding point ownership before handing over a company card to an employee. In general, if the company pays for the annual membership, the company would own the points. On the flip side, if it’s the employee paying the yearly fee, then they would accumulate the points.

Some employers rely on credit card points programs to give bonuses to their employees. That can be a good incentive program for the employee, and a cost-saving tool for the company.

Do You Need a Business Credit Card That Integrates With Your Accounting Software?

For a business, you need to account for all business expenditures. That’s likely part of the reason why you’ve signed up for a business credit card in the first place. Separating your business and your personal accounts is only the first step to getting your business financials in order. The next step connecting all business accounts to your accounting software.

All major credit cards should connect easily to whatever accounting software your business relies on. Having all transactions automatically reported saves hours of manual entry, as well as reduces the risk of error. It saves the hassle of tracking down every card-holding employee each month.

Can You Get Approved for a Business Credit Card If Your Personal Credit is Fair or Bad?

Personal credit scores are separate from business credit scores, except if the card requires a personal guarantee. Credit scores, whether personal or business-related, are a way for the banks, credit cards, and other lenders to determine creditworthiness. In a properly structured business, a business owner’s credit doesn’t factor into the business's financial standing.

Your personal credit score will influence your business’s ability to secure business credit card if your personal and business finances are intertwined, or your business has little credit history. Incorporated businesses, with good standing, should have no issue getting a business credit card, even if the owner has poor or bad credit.

Are There Any Business Cards That Do Not Require a Personal Guarantee?

Small businesses with few assets, little savings, and only recent financial history have a high risk of lapsing on bill payments. Business owners know this, banks know this, and so do credit card companies. Because of the potential for risk, many credit card companies require businesses to sign a document called a personal guarantee. These documents provide legal assurances in the event the company cannot pay its credit card bills. If the company falls behind in payments, the responsibility then falls on the cardholder.

When a personal guarantee is warranted, the applicant must submit their own credit information credit along with the history of their company along with. When credit cards require personal guarantees, their credit reporting influences both the credit profile of the business and the primary cardholder.

Even if you’ve carefully structured your business to protect yourself from personal liability, a personal guarantee on a credit card may make you liable. If the company fails, the personal guarantee has allowed creditors to go after personal assets. A credit card requiring a personal guarantee should always be approached with caution.

Can Business Owners Earn Sign-up Bonuses on Cards?

Absolutely! The best business credit cards often advertise sign-on bonuses to potential customers. There is fierce competition between credit card companies to win your business. As each card company vies to get your attention, they often offer lucrative sign-on bonuses.

The competition is so fierce that the sign-on bonuses are sometimes even better than those offered on personal credit cards. Shop around to explore the various sign-on bonus options, and don’t be afraid to speak with a representative to try to negotiate a better deal. While a sign-on bonus shouldn't be the primary reason for choosing a card, it can be a deciding factor in the final decision.

Do Certain Business Credit Cards Offer Incentives for Making Large Purchases?

Credit card companies love to see large purchases on credit cards because more it often means they can earn more money from the subsequent monthly interest. Because credit card companies want to encourage larger purchases, they often offer incentives, like more points, or a higher cash-back rate. For example, AMEX platinum credit card gives 1.5 times points on purchases above $5,000.

Many cards, like the Business Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, issue tens of thousands of bonus points if you spend over a preset amount within a given time frame after opening. For the Chase credit card, this could equal rewards worth upwards of $1,680. Read the fine print on these rewards bonus because there is often a cap on their total.

Do Rewards Earned on Business Cards Expire?

Typically, rewards points earned on business credit cards don’t expire. However, every rewards program is different so confirm with the company directly. Before signing up for a loyalty program, read the fine print to determine if and when the points expire. In the rare case that the loyalty points do have an expiration date, there are usually easy ways to circumvent it, including accessing the points program once every year or making at least one purchase per year.

Often it is an unused card that triggers the rewards expiration. If you don’t use your card within a year, you may lose the points. Some common travel rewards points that do have expiration dates are AAdvantage, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and MileagePlus.

For more general points, there are some business cards with points that do expire. Some Citi Bank, Wells Fargo, and US Bank business credit cards may expire. Speak with your credit card’s customer service department to find out if your rewards expire, and when.

What Happens to Business Rewards Earned If You Close Your Business?

There are typically two types of rewards points programs offered by business credit cards: points programs that are operated by the card company itself, and third-party points programs, such as travel and hotel rewards programs.

Credit-card specific programs are inherently tied to the credit card itself. Therefore, if you close the card, you’ll lose the access to your points.

Usually, credit card loyalty programs offer points exchange programs. That means if you transfer your points to, for example, AirMiles, you can ensure you don’t lose your rewards. If you are expecting to terminate a business credit card in the future, speak with a customer service representative for advice on how best to manage your remaining points.

If your business credit card uses an associated travel rewards program, such as points for travel or hotel bookings, these points are generally not lost if and when you terminate your card. A third party usually operates travel and hotel rewards, so they hold the points under a separate account from the credit card. Essentially, if you close down the card, you should still have access to the points program. Clarify these rules before closing the card to ensure you save your points.