I’ve run my small business for more than 10 years. During that time I’ve evaluated more than 25 cards from numerous issuers. Based on this research, here are my picks for the best small business credit cards.
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.
Our Top Picks
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card–80,000 bonus points
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, but the rewards more than make up for it.
Get more details and learn how to apply for this and other business credit cards here.
Capital One Spark® Miles for Business
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 $5,000 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.
You can get more details and learn how to apply online here.
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.
1. Capital One Spark® Cash for Business
If you want low fees and excellent rewards, this card is a top choice. The Capital One Spark® Cash awards a flat 2% cash back across categories, so it’s great if you’re never sure from year to year which category you’ll use the most. Plus, you won’t have to track rotating categories of 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.
Bottom Line: 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.
Learn how to apply here.
2. Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is a no annual fee business credit card with excellent rewards. To start, you’ll earn a $300 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 balance transfers and purchases for 12 months.in
3. Capital One Spark® Miles for Business
This is the business credit card I carry and is basically a miles-based version of the above card. Like the Spark® Cash, it offers set rewards across all spending categories. You’ll earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on business purchases, and you can use the miles with no minimum for redemption, no blackouts, and no seat restrictions.
- Signup Bonus: Spend $5,000 in the first three months of use, and you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles.
- Everyday Rewards: Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on purchases.
- Annual Fee: This card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.
- Added Business Services: This card offers the same business services as the Spark® Cash, including fraud alerts and a specialized service department for business owners. It also offers $0 fraud liability if your card is lost or stolen.
Bottom Line: For business owners with excellent credit, this card is a good option if you want to earn miles rather than cash back, but don’t want to fuss with weighted or rotating categories.
Learn how to apply here.
4. Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is arguably one of the most rewarding credit cards available today. Between 80,000 bonus points and up to 3 points per dollar spent, the card is hard to beat.
Starting with the bonus, you earn 80,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 on the card in the first 3 months. These points have a value of $1,000 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. I’ve booked travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and can attest that it’s very easy to use.
Beyond the bonus, you’ll earn either 3 points per dollar spent on the card or one point as noted above (remember, this card earned one of our two coveted top picks). There are also no foreign transaction fees charged.
5. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
American Express has upped the ante with its Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. 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: LIMITED TIME OFFER: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 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 50% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 50% of the points back.
- NEW: You can also receive 50% 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.
Bottom Line: For those businesses that charge a lot of expenses, the Business Platinum® Card from America Express OPEN is an excellent choice.
Learn how to apply here.
6. Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
This is another easy-to-use business card, especially for frequent travelers. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 2 points per $1 spent on Starwood hotel stays and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere. You’ll also get free Wi-Fi access at any Boingo hotspot and can avoid being charged for foreign transaction fees.
- Welcome offer: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
- Everyday Rewards: Earn 2 Starpoints for every dollar spent at SPG Marriott Rewards hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent on every other transaction.
- Fees: $0 for the first year, then $95 after that.
- Added Benefits: With this card, you can transfer your rewards points to other airline and hotel programs, including Hilton HHonors™, JetBlue, and the Starwood Preferred® Guest program. You can enjoy special savings through the OPEN Savings Program from companies like FedEx, Office Max, Hertz, Hyatt, and more.
Bottom Line: This is an easy-to-use card that’s especially great if your goal is to earn more points from spending a lot of time at SPG Marriott hotels. The upfront bonus is solid, and the Starwood rewards program is one of the best around. The annual fee is an obstacle, but if your business is in need of frequent hotel stays, then the rewards earned will outweigh the fee in a big way.
Learn how to apply here.
7. SimplyCash® Plus Business Card from American Express
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: You get a $200 statement credit by spending $5,000 or more within six months of owning this card. Plus, earn an additional $200 statement credit after you spend an additional $10,000 or more in qualifying purchases on your Card within the first year of Card Membership.
- 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.
Bottom Line: This is another good card to use if you’re planning a big up-front purchase. You can take advantage of the $250 statement credit bonus.
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:Topics: Credit Cards