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Last week I reviewed The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, which I consider to be the most well rounded premium Amex business card. In this post I wanted to look at The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which was just introduced a few months ago, in May.
I was shocked when Amex introduced this card, as it’s the single most lucrative card out there for non-bonused business spend, which I wasn’t expecting from a no annual fee card. So let’s take a closer look at the benefits:
Blue Business Plus Card sign-up bonus
The Blue Business Plus Card has no sign-up bonus at the moment. When the card was first introduced, it had a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points upon completing minimum spend. However, that bonus was pulled within a couple of weeks, and ever since, the card has had no sign-up bonus.
I’ve seen some reports of targeted sign-up bonuses, though I haven’t personally seen such an offer.
In general I wouldn’t apply for a card without a sign-up bonus, except:
- This card is so lucrative that I’m not sure Amex will bring back a public sign-up bonus on it
- You’re actively losing out on points every day by not having this card, so the longer you wait, the more points you’re forgoing
So everyone can decide for themselves whether they want to wait for a sign-up bonus on the card or not, though I’ll share more details on my “math” regarding that below.
Blue Business Plus Card annual fee
The card has no annual fee. You can also add authorized users to the card at no extra cost. You can’t beat the combination of a card having no annual fee and also being incredibly rewarding for spend.
Blue Business Plus Card return on spend
The Blue Business Plus Card has a very simple rewards structure. The card offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year, and then 1x points per dollar spent thereafter.
I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of 3.4% on the first $50,000 spent on the card annually, which is a fantastic return.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the single most lucrative card for non-bonused spend, whether we’re talking about personal or business cards. Based on my valuation of points, this is the only card that offers a return of over 3% on non-bonused spend.
Of course the catch is that you’re limited to earning those points on the first $50,000 spent annually. For some that’s not much of a restriction, while for others it’s severely limiting.
I should also mention that this card earns Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to Amex airline and hotel partners. There aren’t many no annual fee cards that are enrolled in the “full” Membership Rewards program, so that in and of itself is a reason to keep this card. You can read more about the Membership Rewards transfer partners here.
Blue Business Plus Card approval odds
While the Business Gold Rewards Card is a charge card, the Blue Business Plus Card is a credit card. Amex typically limits most consumers to having five credit cards, so that’s the major limitation with being approved.
For those with excellent credit, I find Amex business cards to be incredibly easy to be approved for. Anecdotally most people I’ve heard from have reported instant approvals on this card, so it really shouldn’t be very tough to be approved for, even if you haven’t gotten many business cards in the past.
Furthermore, since this is an Amex card, keep in mind that:
- Typically applying for Amex business cards won’t count towards Chase’s “5/24 limit,” so you can apply for those cards without it counting as an additional open account; along similar lines, many report not having a credit inquiry show when applying for this card
- In the unlikely event that you’re denied for the card, Amex typically conditionally approves people based on their existing customer profile with them, meaning you likely wouldn’t get a credit pull if you already have Amex cards
Blue Business Plus Card best complement
As I mentioned when I reviewed the Business Gold Rewards Card, I tend to think that the best business card complement to the Blue Business Plus Card is the Business Gold Rewards Card. While the Blue Business Plus Card offers a great return on the first $50,000 of non-bonused spend, the Business Gold Rewards Card offers bonus points in the following five categories:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases for shipping
- U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers
You can choose one category in which you want to earn 3x points, and then you earn 2x points in the remaining four categories. The bonus points apply to the first $100,000 spent annually in each of the five categories, so that’s potentially a lot of bonus points.
You’ll be able to pool the Membership Rewards points earned on both cards, so I’d recommend using the Blue Business Plus Card for the first $50,000 of non-bonused spend each year, and put the balance of the spend on the Business Gold Rewards Card.
Blue Business Plus Card best substitute
There’s not really a direct competitor to the Blue Business Plus Card. In terms of offering a great reward on everyday, non-bonused spend, I think the closest substitute would be something like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, which offers a flat 2% cash back on all purchases.
The card has a low $59 annual fee (waived the first year), and offers a sign-up bonus of $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. That sign-up bonus covers the annual fee for many years.
Another great business card for non-bonused spend is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which offers one Starpoint per dollar spent. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so that’s a great return on spend as well. The card has a $95 annual fee which is waived for the first year, and offers a sign-up bonus of up to 35,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend.
So while personally I think the return is better on the first $50,000 of spend for the Blue Business Plus Card, both of these cards are also rewarding for non-bonused spend.
The Blue Business Plus Card offers the single best return on non-bonused spend of any card, be it personal or business. Earning 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually for a no annual fee card is simply incredible.
The catch is that the card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus right now. The card had a 20K bonus when it was first introduced, though it was quickly pulled, as I think Amex realized just how generous the card was, and that they didn’t need a bonus.
So does it make sense to wait until the card has a public sign-up bonus, which may or may not happen anytime soon? The way I view the math, otherwise the best card for non-bonused business spend is the SPG Business Amex, which offers one Starpoint per dollar spent. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so to me we’re talking about a difference in return of ~1.2%.
There’s a direct opportunity cost to not having this card. For example, say you have $50,000 of non-bonused spend left this year, but are going to wait to apply for the card. If you got it now you could earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points rather than 50,000 Starpoints. The difference in the points you earn would more than justify the return of a sign-up bonus, should it ever happen.
Everyone will have to decide for themselves what they’re comfortable with, but the way I see it, there’s a direct opportunity cost to not having this card, so even if you think there will be a public bonus in the future (which I’m not convinced of), you should compare the value of that to the value you’re forgoing by not having this card right now.