It’s always important to set up a strong financial infrastructure for any business, as this crucial part of your business needs to be monitored and properly managed at all times. You’ll need to open a business bank account, set up your accounting system, and acquire a business credit card.
Not only is it vital to open a line of credit for your business by obtaining a credit card, but these cards can also provide some welcome rewards.
Depending on your company’s needs, you may prefer cards from different categories. For instance, you can find business credit cards with great offers for overall rewards, cash back, travel perks, airline or hotel deals, and building business credit.
It might be simple enough to choose one of those categories, but how do you determine the best options in each one? We spent many hours researching the fine details of dozens of different business credit cards (as well as LLC, incorporation, and registered agent services), and we managed to nail down two recommendations for each of these major categories. Which one is the right choice for you?
Before we dive into the details, let’s briefly discuss the different categories we used to recommend business credit cards.
Beyond these three main categories, we’ll also name one favorite in each of three subsequent categories: hotel cards, airline cards, and credit-building cards. Cobranded hotel and airline cards don’t really fit in our overarching “Travel” category because their rewards programs are too narrow and may not help business owners who can’t take advantage of a specific brand’s offers.
As for credit-building cards, it’s an unfortunate fact that not all businesses have good credit, or credit at all, for that matter. That’s why it can be helpful to have a secured credit card to help small businesses with unfavorable credit standings build a strong credit history. However, these cards will be entirely irrelevant to most business owners, and the various offers within the category often aren’t all that different from each other.
With the explanation out of the way, let’s dig into what you’re really here for — the recommendations!
In our opinion, this card truly earns its “Gold” moniker, as the American Express Business Gold card is truly the gold standard for business rewards credit cards. That said, the card does carry a relatively hefty $295 annual fee. As you might surmise from our ranking of this card, we think AmEx provides plenty of features and bonuses to make it worth the nearly $300 fee.
First off, this card has an outstanding bonus offer of 70,000 points, although it does have a somewhat high threshold of $10,000 in spending within three months of opening the account. When it comes to the ongoing earning of points, the Business Gold card has a rewards structure that can help you pile up the points in a big hurry.
You’ll earn one point per dollar spent on the card, except for your choice of two categories, in which you’ll earn a whopping 4x points. Your options for these categories are as follows:
The vast majority of businesses have significant expenses in at least two of these six broad categories, so we’re confident that your company can benefit from the bonus categories. It’s also worth pointing out that, regardless of which categories you choose, you’ll also receive a 25% points bonus when you redeem points with airlines.
The other details of this card include a flexible spending limit, free employee cards, and no foreign transaction fees. The American Express Business Gold card also provides some welcome travel protections that you don’t often find with general rewards cards, including baggage, trip delay, and car rental insurance.
Sure, the annual fee is pretty high. In fact, it’s higher than any other card in this guide. But it would be very surprising if you actually used this card regularly and still weren’t able to recoup the annual fee (and then some). For an overall business rewards credit card, it just doesn’t get better than AmEx Business Gold.
Our runner-up in this category is another AmEx card, albeit one with some stark differences from the Business Gold card. With the American Express Blue Business Plus card, you’ll find more perks than we’ve ever seen from any competing no-annual-fee business rewards card.
The lack of annual fee with this card is great, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the features of Blue Business Plus. The card has an easily achievable bonus of 15,000 points for spending $3,000 in three months. If you like to carry a balance from month to month (which is never advisable, by the way), Blue Business Plus has a low variable APR of 13.24-19.24%.
Instead of using bonus categories like the Gold card, Blue Business Plus instead provides 2x points per dollar on all purchases up to $50,000 each year, after which you’ll earn one point per dollar. In addition, cardholders can take advantage of a flexible credit limit and free employee cards. The Blue Business Plus card even includes the same car rental insurance you’ll find with the Gold card!
For businesses with lots of annual spending, we still prefer the AmEx Gold card by a comfortable margin. However, for smaller businesses that don’t want to pay a steep annual fee, the American Express Blue Business Plus card is an excellent choice.
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited card stakes its claim to our top spot in the cash back category, thanks to its lack of annual fee and unlimited 1.5% cash back offer.
This card is a great option for making a big early purchase as well, as its 0% intro APR lasts for 12 months. Even if you don’t pay it off in time, you’ll only have to pay a variable APR of 13.24-19.24%, which is definitely on the low side for business credit cards.
Business Unlimited also has an impressive array of other benefits, including an introductory bonus offer of $750 when you spend $7,500+ in your first three months as a cardholder. You can also enjoy free employee cards and extended warranty protection for your purchases.
In addition, you’ll receive access to a comprehensive selection of travel protections, including a car rental collision waiver, travel and emergency assistance services, roadside assistance, and more.
Another great choice for a business cash back card, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus card has an intriguing array of advantages and disadvantages compared to Chase Ink Business Unlimited. With Spark Cash Plus, you’ll pay a $150 annual fee, but this is offset by the higher cash back rate: an unlimited 2%.
The Spark Cash Plus bonus offer is a robust $1,000 — a very generous offer, especially considering that it only requires a $5,000 card spend in your first three months. If your company is a big spender on the card, you can get an annual $200 bonus for spending $200,000+ in a year. You’ll also get free employee cards, roadside assistance, and an extended warranty feature for your purchases. And it doesn’t even have any foreign transaction fees!
What’s the catch? We wouldn’t blame you for wondering because, outside of the $150 annual fee (which isn’t even that high), we haven’t mentioned any downsides yet. The Spark Cash Plus card does have one somewhat unique weakness: the fact that it’s a pay-in-full card.
This means that you cannot carry a balance over from one month to the next. In all honesty, that’s something any financially responsible business owner is already doing, but it does bear mentioning.
If balanced, all-around travel rewards are your company’s top priority, look no further than the Capital One Spark 2x Miles card.
This card has a reasonable $95 annual fee that’s waived for your first year as a cardholder, and you’ll earn two rewards miles for each dollar spent. There’s also a healthy welcome bonus of 50,000 points that requires only $4,500 in purchases in your first three months.
Frequent travelers will also love this card’s inclusion of a $100 travel credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry applications, and the fact that it has no foreign transaction fees. You can also get free employee cards, extended warranty coverage, roadside assistance, and more. It’s an impressively well-rounded offering from Capital One that stands alone as our top pick for travel rewards business cards.
A card that would also land a premium position on our “Most Needlessly Lengthy Business Credit Card Names” list, if we had one, the Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard is our favorite no-annual-fee travel rewards business card.
For a card that forgoes an annual fee, the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card packs in quite a few features. There’s a welcome bonus worth 30,000 points for spending just $3,000 in 90 days. You’ll also get 1.5x points for each dollar you spend on the card and 3x points for travel expenses booked through BoA Travel Center.
There are no transaction fees, a hallmark of any good travel rewards card, and a 0% intro APR for nine months. Finally, you’ll receive BoA’s travel accident insurance, a welcome safety net for frequent travelers. If you’re looking for a travel rewards business card with no annual fee, this is the one for you.
As we mentioned in the intro, there are a few other categories we wanted to briefly mention, with a recommendation for each. Take a look at our picks for the best airline, hotel, and credit-building business credit cards.
For what it’s worth, we like all of American Express’ Delta SkyMiles business credit cards to varying degrees, but this one is the most widely recommendable. These cards — especially the Gold — are extremely well-rounded with basically no weaknesses, giving them a leg up on credit cards from most other airlines.
With SkyMiles Gold Business, you’ll pay a reasonable $99 annual fee, which is waived for your first year as a cardholder. The welcome bonus is a generous 70,000 miles — paired with an additional $50 in bonus cash back — and all you have to do is spend $2,000 in your first three months! This is very easily the best welcome bonus we’ve discussed in any category in this guide.
You’ll receive 2x miles for all purchases with Delta, at restaurants, and on advertising and shipping. All other purchases earn one mile per dollar. The SkyMiles Gold Business card provides a free checked bag, a $100 flight credit, baggage insurance, car rental insurance, and no transaction fees — an excellent assortment of features for an airline card.
Finally, free employee cards and extended warranty coverage round out the many features of the SkyMiles Gold Business card. It’s quite the offer for just a $99 annual fee, after your free first year, of course.
There are plenty of good hotel cards out there for businesses these days, as we also really like Hyatt and Hilton’s cards. However, it’s tough to top the dizzying array of benefits you’ll receive with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card.
It all starts with a moderate $125 annual fee. However, you can quickly repay yourself for that fee with the card’s free night at a Marriott property every year! There’s also a great welcome bonus available, with 125,000 bonus points and two more free nights if you spend at least $5,000 in your first three months as a cardholder.
When it comes to earning points, you’ll get 6x per dollar at Marriott properties, 4x on restaurant, gas station, shipping, and wireless phone purchases, and 2x on all other purchases. Marriott will also give you complimentary Silver Elite Status, which means free wifi, late checkouts, 10% bonus points earnings, and more.
Like any good travel card, there’s no foreign transaction fee. The Bonvoy Business card also includes baggage insurance, car rental insurance, extended warranty coverage, and free employee cards. As we said, there are several great hotel credit cards available these days, but Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express is our favorite.
Secured credit cards work quite differently from typical cards, as a secured card requires you to put down a deposit equal to your credit limit. That said, a secured card can be an excellent way to build or rebuild business credit, enabling you to get the kind of reputation that leads companies to offer you better cards.
The Wells Fargo Business Secured card marries this concept with a rewards program that’s the most generous one we’ve ever seen for a secured business credit card. This no-annual-fee card provides cardholders with two options for rewards. You can opt for unlimited cash back at a flat rate of 1.5%. Or, the other option provides one point per dollar, plus 1,000 bonus points for each month that your card spend exceeds $1,000.
The other welcome features of this card include no foreign transaction fees and free employee cards. Wells Fargo will also periodically review your account automatically to determine if you’re eligible to upgrade to a standard unsecured business credit card. If you need to build or rebuild your business credit, the Wells Fargo Business Secured card is our top pick.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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