Since starting my small business in 2007, I’ve used a business card for several reasons. My business credit card easily separates personal expenses and business expenses. I use Quickbooks to track my revenue and expenses. It automatically imports all the charges from my business credit card, so these expenses are exceptionally easy to track. This makes preparing annual tax returns much easier.
Using a business credit card also helps my business build credit in case I should ever need to apply for a loan. If there’s a chance you’ll ever need a small business loan, this is definitely a point to consider.
With that said, some entrepreneurs don’t like business credit cards. Clark Howard, for instance, doesn’t like them because they don’t offer the same protections as personal credit cards. This is partially true. Business cards are generally exempt from the Credit Card Act of 2009. However, most major credit card issuers offer protections to business credit cards as well as personal cards. Just check the terms and conditions to find out.
|Credit Card||Best For|
|Ink Business Unlimited||Small business owners needing additional cards for employees
|Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||Frequent travelers
|Ink Business Preferred||Earning a big bonus on your small business purchases
|Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business||Easier accounting for small business owners
|Ink Business Cash||Earning excellent rewards on business expenses
|Business Platinum® Card from American Express||Businesses that charge a lot of expenses
|SimplyCash® Plus Business Card from American Express||Stocking your office supplies and simple rewards
Our Top Picks
All purchases earn a 1.5% flat cash back rate with no tier levels or spend requirements to worry about. Points do not expire as long as you keep your account open, however you will lose all of your points if your account status changes, or your account is closed for program misuse, fraudulent activities and other no-no’s (listed in the Rewards Program Agreement). Employee cards can be acquired at no additional cost!
There is no annual fee to own the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card.
Best for: Small business owners needing additional cards for employees. Because you can get them at no additional cost!
Our second top pick is the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. It’s the card I’ve used in my business for nearly a decade. There are two reasons this card earned our top pick:
- Spend $4,500 in the first three months of use, and you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles.
- Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on purchases.
Use these miles for travel, as I do, and you effectively earn 2% on every purchase. I’ve also found it incredibly easy to use these miles on the Capital One website. Just a few clicks of the mouse and you can pay for any charge with miles. And the annual fee is a modest $95, which is waived the first year.
Best for: Frequent travelers. You can earn miles instead of cash back and you don’t have to fuss with weighted or rotating categories.
You can get more details and learn how to apply online HERE.
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card earns one of our top picks for two reasons. First, you can earn 80,000 bonus points when you make $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. If used for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, these bonus points are worth $1,000. It’s the biggest credit card bonus available today.
Second, you earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year. Here are the categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, train tickets, and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
There is a $95 annual fee on the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, but the rewards more than make up for it.
Best for: Earning a big bonus on your small business purchases. It’s the biggest bonus you’ll find right now. If you know you’ll be spending $5,000 within three months of opening your account and if you want to use those rewards on travel, this is the card for you.
We Know Our Stuff
The editorial team here at Dough Roller has more than 30 years of combined experience with credit cards. We’ve not only used them, we’ve studied them extensively. Yes, we’re the life of the party.
Seriously though, I examined 26 business credit cards in my research for this article. I’ve also used a business credit card for over a decade to run my business. We regularly talk to credit card issuers about their products and future products. And we keep abreast of the latest studies and research. (Did you know that a 1993 study out of Dartmouth found that small businesses with credit cards grow more rapidly than those without? We did.)
Yeah, we’re kind of a big deal when it comes to plastic.
List of the Best Small Business Credit Cards
Now let’s get to our picks for the top business cards.
- Signup Bonus: When you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months of card usage, you’ll get a $500 cash-back bonus.
- Everyday Rewards: Unlimited 2% cash back on purchases.
- Fees: The card has an annual fee of $95, which is waived in the first year. It doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
- Added Business Services: This card offers fraud alerts, purchase records that can be downloaded to Quicken, Quickbooks, or Excel, and convenient year-end summaries.
This is an excellent cash-back option for business owners who just want to carry one card. With 2% cash back with no rotating categories, you don’t have to worry about which expenses to put on this card. Use it for everything, and reap rewards year-round. This is one of the few cards on our list with no foreign transaction fee, as well. So if your business sends you or your employees overseas, it’s a good card to check out.
Best for: Easier accounting for small business owners. Being able to easily transfer your purchase records to your accounting books is a big bonus here. Come tax time, this feature will also be helpful.
Learn how to apply HERE.
The Ink Business Cash Credit Card is a no annual fee business credit card with excellent rewards. To start, you’ll earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Beyond the bonus, you’ll also earn up to 5% cash back on purchases:
- Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at the following retailers–office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year
- Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
The card also offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 12 months.
Best for: Earning excellent rewards on business expenses. 5% cash back is hard to beat!
American Express has upped the ante with its Business Platinum® Card from American Express. Simply put, it offers incredible rewards, including a welcome offer and ongoing rewards. You pay a hefty fee for this card, but if your business spending enables you to maximize the rewards, the card is well worth the price.
- Welcome offer: You can earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points. You’ll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first three months and another 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending an additional $10,000 in purchases; again during the first three months.
- Everyday Rewards:
- NEW: Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s 1.5 points per dollar, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- Plus, continue to get one point per dollar for qualifying purchases under $5,000.
- NEW 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back.
- NEW: You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
- Annual Fee: $450
- Added Business Services: The benefits are numerous, including no foreign transaction fees, airport lounge access, $200 airlines fee credit, purchase protection, and many others.
Best for: Businesses that charge a lot of expenses. The annual fee is worth it if you plan to put a lot of money on this card. The added American Express business service benefits like airport lounge access, airline fee credit, no foreign transaction fees, and purchase protection make this a desirable card.
Learn how to apply HERE.
If you’re looking for straight-up cash back with no rotating categories, this is a card to consider. The SimplyCash® Plus Business Card from American Express offers 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers; 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories and 1% cash back on other purchases; 5% and 3% apply to purchases up to $50,000 per rebate year then 1% thereafter. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement
- Welcome offer: For a limited time, new cardholders will earn a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months. After the intro rate expires, the ongoing APR becomes 14.49% – 21.49% variable.
- 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
- 3% on the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases.
- 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% thereafter. Cash back received is automatically credited to your statement.
- Fees: This card has no annual fee.
- Added Benefits: You’ll get access to the OPEN Savings network, which lets you get discounts with a variety of business retailers – FedEx, AirTran, Marriot, and more. You can redeem your earned cash back points for merchandise, dining, travel, gift cards or statement credit.
This is another great business credit card that I own. Take advantage of 15 months of interest free purchases as well as a great cash back rewards program.
Best for: Stocking your office supplies and simple rewards. When it’s time to furnish your office or stock the supply closet, this is the card you should use. These are big expenses and when you use this card at U.S. office supply stores you’ll get 5% cash back. Plus, there’s no annual fee, and no rotating categories. You get to earn rewards and decide how you want to spend them.
Learn how to apply HERE.
Comparing Business Credit Cards by Type
Nobody knows your business better than you. What might be a great card for my business, might not be the best for yours. So here’s a list of a few additional cards based on various spending patterns:
|Best for||Card Name||Details||More Information|
|Starting a new business||The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express||0% APR on purchases for 15 months.||Learn More|
|Lots of business travel||Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day.||Learn More|
|Lots of driving||The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN||Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories (one of which is gas stations).||Learn More|
|Heavy cell phone user||SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express||5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.||Learn More|
Haven’t found what you are looking for? Here’s a list of additional business credit cards to explore.
Choosing a Card
Choosing a business credit card can be even more challenging than choosing a card for personal use. There are plenty of options out there, all with their own benefits, rewards, and fees.
There are several things to consider when choosing a card:
- Spending Patterns: You’ll want to understand how you’ll be most likely to use it. Look at your past year’s expenses, or if you’re just starting your business, look at projected expenses. Will you spend the most on office supplies? Travel? Gas? The answer to this question will help you find the best options for your business.
- Payment Patterns: Will you pay off your balance in full each month, or will you carry a balance while you build your business? If it’s the later, focus on cards that offer 0% on purchases for a period of time.
- Signup Bonuses: Most issuers offer excellent bonuses for new card members. To get the bonus, however, you must meet various spending requirements. Make sure you’ll meet those requirements before choosing your card.
- Fees: Annual fees are always a consideration business credit cards come with an annual fee, often waived the first year. Assess whether the rewards will make the fee worth the cost.
- Interest Rates: The rates only matter if you won’t be paying off your card in full each month. If that’s the case, you’ll obviously want to consider the regular APR for each card.
Listen to the podcast on how to choose the best small business credit card: