Having a line of credit handy is extremely important for a small business.
Honestly, you never know what kind of expense may creep up that you can’t cover with your cash flow at the moment. But it’s not easy or practical to get a business loan in a tight jam. What to do?
Enter small business credit cards.
Not only do they provide credit, you can also find benefits such as cash back, rewards, flexible payment terms, separate tracking for business expenses, and more!
Is a business credit card always the best option for you?
No. The CARD Act of 2009 put consumer protections in place for consumer cards but those protections aren’t mandatory for business cards. Also, if your business expenses don’t justify a line of credit then you may be fine without a business card. You may also find that you would be better off with a specific airlines miles card or travel rewards card that gives you better suited benefits than a card for your small business.
But if you are looking for a line of credit that’s separate from your personal cards or you are looking for a card that offers small business tools that will benefit you, like discounts or employee tracking, then a small business credit card can be a great choice.
Below are some of the best small business credit cards. See which one best suits your business needs.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card is a great card for those who travel.
Why do we like this as a great travel business card?
You earn Starpoints® towards free stays in the Starwoods Preferred Guest program.
Redeem your Starpoints® at over 1,100 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries. And the points aren’t just for hotel stays. You can also redeem your Starpoints for flights on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights, mostly on a one point to one airline mile basis. And the hotels and flights you choose all have no blackout dates.
You can earn at least 4 Starpoints for every dollar spent on hotels and resorts participating the the SPG program and 1 point for every other eligible dollar you spend with the card.
Do you frequently fly for business? If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to your favorite airline miles program (there are more than 30 you can transfer to) you can get 5,000 bonus Starpoints. Starpoints transfer on a one-to-one rate for airline miles.
As part of the American Express OPEN program, with this card you get 3-10% discounts, automatically, on purchases made at retailers like FedEx and Hertz®.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned that you also get American Express’ superb travel protection (like Car Rental Loss and Damage insurance) as well as their purchase protections and online account management (to track your expenses).
This card has a $0 introductory fee the first year, then $65.
SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express
The SimplyCash card gives you cash back on your purchases and it is automatically credited to your following statement each month.
You get 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchases from U.S. providers and U.S. office supply purchases; 3% back on automobile gasoline at stand-alone stations in the U.S.; and 1% back on all other purchases. There is no limit to the cash back you can earn with this card (though you only earn it on eligible purchases). [Purchases above $12,000/year in each category earn 1%.]
Add employee cards to your account and earn cash back on their purchases as well.
Besides cash back, you can also save up to 10% automatically on your business expense purchases at FedEx, OfficeMax.com®, Hertz®, and more with OPEN Savings® (this is automatic meaning you don’t have to buy through a special online store, you can buy anywhere for participating retailers).
You also get American Express’ protection when you shop and travel (when using the card for purchases). There are online tools to help you manage your expenses and track exactly where, when, and how company dollars are spent.
As this is a credit card you have the ability to pay over time. There is no annual membership fee for this card. Terms & restrictions apply
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Fly Delta for business? Take a look at the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express.
Here’s how you earn miles: 2 miles for every eligible dollar spent on Delta flights (with your card) and 1 mile for all other eligible dollars spent. When you redeem your miles, you can use them for any Delta seat with no blackout dates or restrictions, just use your Pay with Miles feature. There is no limit to the amount of miles you earn and your miles do not expire as long as you use the card.
Check your first bag for free. That saves you up to $50 round-trip on a Delta flight.
You get priority boarding with this card. Every year you renew your card you can receive a $99 companion certificate. You also get American Express’ travel protection as well as their online management tools to hep you manage your cards.
There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms and restrictions apply.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®
Fly American Airlines? The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® offers up a 30,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of cardmembership. You also get to take advantage of Group 1 Priority Boarding privileges as well as checking your first bag for free (and up to 4 companions on your itinerary).
You can earn 2 AAdvantage® Miles for every $1 spent when you make eligible American Airlines purchases and also at certain office supply, telecommunications, and car rental services. You earn 1 AAdvantage® Mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
When you renew your annual cardmembership you can earn a 5% AAdvantage® milage bonus based on eligible purchases made during the year. The annual fee is waived the first year and is $95 thereafter. This card is designed by Citi® for for businesses with an established credit history.
The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Note – the benefits of this card are changing Feb. 25, 2014. We will update with the new terms as soon as they are available.
American Express’ Gold Card – it’s what you think of when you hear “gold card.”
This business card from Amex is part of American Express’ Membership Rewards® program. Your rewards points are unlimited, meaning there’s no limit to how many you can earn. There’s also no expiration on your points.
You’ll earn 3X points on airfare purchased from airlines; 2X points on U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, gas stations, and U.S. purchases made directly from select computer hardware and software providers; and 1X points on other purchases. You earn bonus points on up to $100,000 in purchases per category per year (then 1x points). There are over one million rewards to choose from over 500 brands. [Note that points are only earned on eligible purchases. Bonus points limitations apply.]
Right now you can earn a bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in purchases with your card in the first three months of membership. AND you can get one year of Amazon Prime for free. You get this back as a statement credit after you sign up and meet the spending requirement for the bonus points. I use Amazon Prime and love it. This is a nice perk to have!
Do your employees need cards for expenses? You earn points on virtually all of their purchases when you add them to your account. Points can be redeemed for things like office supplies, gift cards, travel, charity donations, and more.
The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card is actually a charge card. This means you pay the balance off every month. This allows you to avoid and interest charges on balances and also gives you a flexible credit limit based on your spending and credit history.
You also get the features of American Express’ travel assistance, purchase protections, and preferred entertainment event access. Use the included tracking tools to see what your expense charges are and track employee cards on your account. You also have access to 24/7 support for anything from identity theft (nice to have help, if needed) to travel emergencies.
There is a $0 introductory annual fee for this card the first year, then $175. Terms & limitations apply. Make sure to check the offer term for details.
As you can see, the right business card for your small business will provide you much more than just a line of credit to operate with. There are countless benefits you can receive on top of various tools to help your business run.
Your turn: In your experience what’s the best small business credit card?
*As you always should, make sure you read through the card details to make sure this card fits your needs and you understand the terms and conditions. Be aware that the terms may change after this article’s publication.
“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.”
Dan Kauffman says
I like the Bank American Small Business Mastercard. You get 5% on purchases at office supply stores, internet services, and gas stations including store cards like Home Depot, Lowes, etc. 1% on everything else and no annual fee.
Do you mean Bank of America? Sounds like a nice card.
JT McGee says
How timely of a post! I’ve bookmarked this as I’m shopping for a small business credit card right now. I’ll scope out my current bank’s first, but this looks to be a pretty solid list. Ideally, I’d want to avoid a personal guarantee, but I don’t think I’ll find one of those.
Let us know what you decide on JT!
Kevin Yu says
It’s tough to get approved for a business credit card these days unless you have been in business for atleast 2 years. Otherwise, you will have to personally guarantee it.
Business credit cards are almost like personal credit cards in disguise!
Not even in disguise really. Truth is, just about anyone can get a business card in their name if thy wanted.
Even personally guaranteed, a business card is a great tool for a small business owner.
Is it possible to get a business credit card based off of your EIN only. I tried applying for one before and they asked for my personal info and I was declined. Any suggestions?
Mike Collins says
I haven’t applied for a small business credit card yet since expenses are pretty minimal and much of it goes through Paypal. But it would probably be a good idea to get one anyway to pay for and track other business expenses.
Glen Craig says
When I was a sole proprietor I had expenses through personal accounts but once I incorporated I made sure to get a business credit card to put expenses though. I need to make sure I keep my personal and business charges separate. It also helps having a separate card when I reconcile the account (separate statement). And I can track my spending on the card as well.
Mike Collins says
Good point. I formed an LLC last year so I have to keep everything separate too and using a personal card for business expenses isn’t a good idea.
This is a great summary of business cards. I have always looked into personal cards, but I have never really paid attention to the business ones. Thanks
Great post! Your artile just came in time. My husband is looking for a credit card for his business. Since our personal cards are already with Chase, I think Ink Cash Business Card or Ink Bold Charge Card will be good. We prefer cards with cash back and rewards than miles points because we rarely travel by plane. Thanks for sharing!