December 2, 2019 Financial Management en_US We’ve rounded up the best small business credit cards in several different categories, as well as criteria to help you apply and choose. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A5ItIwOc8/Best-small-business-credit-cards.jpeg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/financial-management/best-small-business-credit-cards/ Best small business credit cards: 5 categories, 9 cards, and how to choose the one that’s right for you
Financial Management

Best small business credit cards: 5 categories, 9 cards, and how to choose the one that’s right for you

By Kat Boogaard December 2, 2019

Pick a card, any card.

It’s a beloved line of any sleight-of-hand magician, but it’s a sentiment that doesn’t apply when selecting a credit card for your small business.

With seemingly endless options, confusing jargon, and varying rewards programs, finding the right card for your business can feel as challenging as pulling a rabbit out of a tophat.

Fortunately, this guide shares everything you need to know about small business credit cards—including the best choices on the market, what criteria you should consider, and what you should know about eligibility.

Best small business credit cards: Reviews

Category #1: Best small business credit card for making a balance transfer

1. American Express Blue Business® Plus Credit Card

If you look through the below options that offer introductory 0% APR, you’ll see that they only applies to purchases. Balance transfers are excluded, where you move your existing debt from one credit card to another—presumably with a lower interest rate.

That’s not the case with this American Express Blue Business® Plus credit card. For the first year, you’ll receive an introductory 0.0% APR that applies to purchases and balance transfers.

You’ll love this card if: You’re looking to make a balance transfer right away.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0.0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after opening your account. After that first year, APR is a variable rate (currently 14.99% – 20.99%) based on your creditworthiness and other factors determined when you open your account.
  • Introductory offer: No introductory offer, with the exception of the 0.0% APR.
  • Rewards: 2X Membership Rewards points on everyday business purchases up to $50,000 per year, with no category restrictions. So, you’ll get two points for every one dollar. After $50,000, you’ll get one point for every one dollar.

Category #2: Best small business credit cards for universal cash back

2. Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

As far as business credit cards go, the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card through Chase Bank is pretty straightforward.

You’ll get a sizable introductory bonus offer and 0% starting annual percentage rate (APR), along with a respectable cash back percentage on all of your purchases. You can also get cards for your employees at no additional cost.

You’ll love this card if: You want a no-fuss card that offers introductory low APR and flat-rate rewards with no annual fee.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months after opening your account. After that, APR is a variable rate (currently 15.24% – 21.24%).
  • Introductory offer: $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase you make.

3. Discover it® Business Card

The Discover it® Business Card is really comparable to the above Ink Business option, with the same cash back percentage, and similar APR. The key difference here is the introductory offer. Rather than a starting bonus, Discover it® does a cash back match.

At the end of your first year, you’ll receive a dollar-for-dollar match of any cash back you earned. So, if you’re due $400 cash back, you’ll get $800 for that first year only. It’s also worth noting that Discover it® touts their 100% US-based customer service.

You’ll love this card if: You anticipate high spending during your first year with the credit card (so you can make the most of that cash back match!).

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, APR will be a variable rate (currently 14.99% – 22.99%).
  • Introductory offer: Automatically at the end of your first year, receive a dollar-for-dollar match of all of the cash back you earned.
  • Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

4. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Compared to the Ink Business UnlimitedSM option above, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card offers a higher cash back percentage on all purchases (2% compared to 1.5%).

However, be aware that there’s no introductory APR, and after your first year with this card, you’ll be paying an annual fee of $95. You’ll need to crunch some numbers to see if it’s better for your business to have no annual fee or a higher cash back percentage.

You’ll love this card if: You want generous rewards and don’t mind an annual fee to get them.

  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $95 every year after that.
  • APR: 19.24% for purchases and transfers, and 25.24% for cash advances.
  • Introductory offer: One-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchase within the first three months from opening your account.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.

Category #3: Best small business credit cards for cash back in specific spending categories

5. Ink Business Cash Credit Card

This card seems almost identical to the other Ink Business option in the cash back category—there’s the same introductory offer and APR. However, the Ink Business CashSM card offers a greater percentage of cash back, but only in very specific categories.

If you know where you do most of your business spending (and it’s a match with those categories), this is a better option for you.

You’ll love this card if: You do the majority of your spending on office-related equipment and internet, cable, and phone expenses.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months after account opening. After that, APR is a variable rate (currently 15.24% – 21.24%).
  • Introductory offer: $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account.
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases in office supplies stores and internet, cable, and phone services each anniversary year. 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases in restaurants and gas stations each anniversary year. 1% cash back on all other purchases.

6. Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard Credit Card

If you know what makes up the bulk of your business spending, the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard gives you more control over your cash back rewards.

You’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases in your choice of one of six categories (more on that below!), and 1% back on everything else. If you know you spend a lot in one specific area, this is worth it.

You’ll love this card if: You want control over what type of spending you get rewarded for.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first nine billing cycles after account opening. After that, APR will be a variable rate (currently 14.24% – 24.24%).
  • Introductory offer: $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days after opening your account.
  • Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following six categories: gas stations (set as the default), office supply stores, travel, telecom and wireless, computer services, or business consulting services. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Category #4: Best small business credit cards for travel points

7. Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

cash back is a popular reward option for credit cards, but it’s not the only one. For those who do a lot of travel, a card that offers travel mile rewards is a more suitable choice.

This Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business card offers a generous one-time bonus to start, and the ability to earn double miles on every purchase you make with your business credit card—not just on travel-related purchases.

If you spend $40 on your business card, you’ll earn 80 miles. However, it’s important to note that you need an excellent credit rating to be eligible for this card.

You’ll love this card if: You do a lot of traveling for business or pleasure.

  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, $95 every year after that.
  • APR: 19.24% for purchases and transfers, and 25.24% for cash advances.
  • Introductory offer: Earn a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months after opening your account.
  • Rewards: Unlimited 2X miles on every purchase with your business credit card, with no blackouts, seat restrictions, or required minimum to redeem.

8. Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® Credit Card

With no annual fee and an introductory APR rate, this Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card might seem like a more reasonable option.

In terms of rewards, it offers a competitive rate of three travel points for every dollar spent.

However, there are more restrictions to be aware of. You’ll only earn three points for every dollar spent when you book travel (car, hotel, or airline) through Bank of America’s Travel Center. Otherwise, you’ll only receive 1.5 points for every dollar spent—making this reward rate actually lower than the Capital One® option.

You’ll love this card if: You do a lot of traveling for business and pleasure, and you’re willing to book through a specific platform.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • APR: 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first nine billing cycles after account opening. After that, APR is a variable rate (currently 13.24% – 23.24%).
  • Introductory offer: Earn 25,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in net purchases within the first 60 days after opening your account. This can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Rewards: Earn three points for every dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America Travel Center powered by Expedia. Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every one dollar you spend on all other purchases. Points don’t expire.

Category #5: Best small business credit card for new businesses or bad credit history

9. Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Are you just getting started with your business and don’t have a lot of history to back up your application? Or, do you have a few blemishes in your financial past?

This card is primarily targeted to brand new businesses or those who have previous credit challenges.

Be aware that this level of accessibility means you won’t get quite as many extras. There are no introductory offers or discounted APR to start, and the rewards option is pretty standard.

You’ll love this card if: You don’t have established business credit history, or have had credit challenges in the past.

  • Annual fee: $25
  • APR: Prime interest rate (which is a base interest rate that is set nationwide and is currently at 5.25%) plus 11.90%.
  • Introductory offer: No introductory offers.
  • Rewards: Choose either a cash back or a rewards points option. With the cash back selection, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every one dollar spent. With the rewards point selection, you’ll earn one point on every one dollar spent and 1,000 bonus points when your company spend is $1,000 or more in any monthly billing period.

How to compare business credit cards and pick the right one

There are dozens of small business credit card options out there, and you’ll see that there isn’t one that immediately jumps out as the “gold standard”—it depends on a variety of factors that are unique to your business.

To evaluate which one might be best for you, you’ll want to think through the following four criteria:

1. Your credit history

Much like any other credit card, business cards will have a certain credit score range you need to meet in order to qualify for that card. Some are forgiving and target people with poorer credit histories, while others will require a “very good” or “excellent” mark on your credit report (which is typically a score above 740).

Be aware that if your business itself doesn’t have a long track record or credit history (or even if it does!), the card issuer might pull your personal credit score as an indicator of your financial responsibility.

Know roughly where your business and personal credit score falls, so that you aren’t wasting time considering cards that aren’t a fit for you. We’ll talk more about your business credit score and credit card eligibility in later sections.

2. Your typical amount of spending

With some cards, the more you spend, the more you’ll be rewarded. That’s great for business owners who have a lot of expenses, but frustrating for those with really low operating costs.

If you’ve been in business for a while, comb through your accounting software to get a grasp on how much you spend during a typical month—and how much of that spending you intend to do on your future credit card.

If you’re new at this and don’t have any history you can look back on, think through what you’ll need to keep your business running—from equipment to materials to office supplies—and do some research to find out what you can expect that to cost on a regular basis.

This will give you an idea of whether you should look for a card that offers big bonuses for major spending, or one that offers respectable rewards for more modest purchases.

3. Your typical categories of spending

As you can see from the above card options, not all rewards are created equal. Some cards offer a flat cash back rate on all purchases, while others reward spending in specific categories.

As you’re analyzing your own spending history, pull out a trend for where you do most of your spending. Is travel a major expense for you? Or are you dropping the most coin on office supplies?

Knowing this will help you choose the card that rewards the type of spending you’re already doing.

4. Your desired rewards

Finally, consider what type of rewards you want. Rewards fall into two major buckets:

  • Cash back
  • Travel miles

It’s important to note that cash back can come in two different forms: money in the form of statement credits or actual cash, or points (where you’ll rack up points that you can use to purchase prizes, gift cards, and more). Some people have a strong preference for one over the other, so know where you stand.

It should be relatively obvious to you whether cash or travel points a better fit for your goals and your lifestyle. But, it’s still smart to keep this in mind as you’re perusing your options.

Business credit score 101

Much like your personal credit score, a business credit score is a numeric value that represents just how credit-worthy (read: financially responsible) your business is.

If you’re just getting your business started, haven’t previously used a business credit card, or haven’t taken out any loans under your business name, then you probably haven’t established any business credit yet—you’ve just been relying on your personal credit score for things like loan applications.

However, once you start using (and paying off!) a business credit card, you’ll begin establishing a business credit score that will be entirely separate from your personal credit score.

While the basic premise is the same as a personal credit score, NerdWallet notes that there are several key differences between a personal and business credit score, including:

  • Range: Personal credit scores range from 300 to 850, while business credit scores range from zero to 100.
  • Standardization: Personal credit scores are typically calculated using FICO’s algorithms, while business credit scores don’t have a set industry standard and can vary depending on which bureau is pulling them.
  • Data: Personal credit scores are based on your personal history, while business credit scores will include accounts under your business name. Be aware that many card issuers do still consider your personal score when you apply for a business card (and some will even make you sign a personal guarantee that means you’re personally on the hook if your business can’t pay).
  • Access: You can get your full personal credit report and score for free every 12 months from three major consumer credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian), while you’ll have to pay for your business credit report and score from one of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet).
  • Privacy: Your personal credit score and report is only available to you and select parties, while your business credit report and score is public (provided people are willing to pay for it).

The higher your business credit score, the more you’ll enjoy benefits like lower interest rates and lower APR, lower rates for insurance policies, and easier access to financing. Much like with your personal score, the best way to boost your business credit score is to pay off all balances on time—or, ideally, early.

Applying for a business credit card: Eligibility

This might come as a surprise, but you don’t actually need an established business to obtain a business credit card. Anyone who sells products or services for a financial profit can be eligible. For example, freelancers who operate as sole proprietors are just as qualified as a brick and mortar business with 20 employees.

To get a business credit card, you’ll fill out a straightforward application that asks for some details about you and your business. Fundera explains what you can expect to be included in that application:

  • Business legal name: If you’ve already registered your business with your state, put down the business name you registered with. If you’re a sole proprietor, just put down your personal legal name.
  • Business contact information: Write down a mailing address and phone number. If you work from home, your home address is sufficient.
  • Industry type: In many cases, you’ll be asked to select your industry from a dropdown menu. Select the one that’s the best match for your business.
  • Business entity or legal structure: Are you a corporation? An LLC? A partnership? This is where you’ll list the legal structure of your business. If you’re a freelancer or don’t have an established business entity yet, you’re a sole proprietor.
  • Time in business and number of employees: If your business is brand new, select the lowest time range available. And, make sure to count yourself as an employee. So, if your business is just you, you’d list “1” for number of employees.
  • Annual revenue and monthly spend: Here’s where the numbers come in. If you’ve been in business for a while, look back at your financial records to get a grasp on your annual revenue and monthly expenses. If you haven’t yet earned any money through your business, don’t panic! Card issuers will look at your personal income (which comes in a little later) instead.
  • Federal Tax ID: You’ll also hear this referred to as your Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you don’t have an EIN for your business, you can list your personal social security number here.
  • Total annual income: Add up all of your income streams—whether they’re through your business or not—and list that number here. This gives card issuers a better sense of your financial standing (especially if your business is new), so they can understand your means for paying off your credit card bill. This is important, especially when most credit card companies will have you sign a personal guarantee.
  • Legal name, contact information, and social security number: This is the personal information of you as the business owner. You might have already listed these elsewhere on the application, but make sure to do so here again.

Aside from that nuts and bolts information, different credit card issuers might have credit score eligibility requirements and are generally transparent about what you’ll need to qualify for specific cards.

Capital One, for example, lists which category (“excellent credit,” “average credit,” or “rebuilding credit”) you need to fall into in order to qualify for that specific card directly on their credit card promotional pages.

If you’re uncertain about the requirements for a card that you’re interested in, contact their customer support department to learn more about eligibility.

Business credit card vs. personal credit card: Key differences

Business credit cards and personal credit cards have more in common than you might think. Many offer similar reward programs (granted, they reward different spending categories) and APR. That said, there are a few notable differences that you should be aware of.

1. Business credit cards aren’t covered by consumer protection laws

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (often called the Credit CARD Act of 2009) was signed into law to prevent shady practices by credit card issuers—such as randomly raising APR overnight or charging ridiculous fees.

This is a consumer protection law, which means it doesn’t cover your business credit card. That gives credit card issuers the legal wiggle room they need to be deceptive.

The good news is that many credit card companies do extend these same provisions to businesses as a polite gesture—but not all of them do. That’s an important thing to keep in mind as you’re evaluating your options and reading the fine print.

2. Business credit cards can impact business and personal credit scores

The connection between your personal credit card and personal credit score is clear: how you handle your personal credit card payments will directly impact your personal credit score.

Things become a little murkier with your business credit card. Undoubtedly, your business credit card impacts your business credit score—but it can impact your personal score too.

Some (but not all) credit card issuers will report on your business activity to consumer credit bureaus, which will then be factored into your personal FICO score. You can get the details of whether or not your card issuer reports to consumer bureaus by calling their customer service department.

3. Business credit cards have higher credit limits

Finally, a positive difference: because many businesses tend to have higher expenses than individuals, the credit limits on business credit cards are usually higher.

A report from Experian revealed that small business owners had an average total credit limit of $56,100, while consumers had an average credit limit of $26,900.

Pick a card, not just any card

Getting a credit card for your small business is a big step, and it involves plenty of careful consideration.

While there’s no shortage of options out there, this doesn’t need to be an overwhelming task. As long as you start the process feeling informed and prepared, you’ll be able to confidently assess your choices and know exactly what you’re in for.

Use this as your guide, and—abracadabra!—you’ll land on the card that’s the best fit for your business, your credit history, and your goals. Now that’s magic.

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard is a freelance writer specializing in career, self-development, and entrepreneurship topics. Her work has been published by outlets including Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider, TIME, Inc., Mashable, and The Muse. Read more