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Back in the day it was rare to see big welcome bonuses or generous rewards structures on business credit cards. That has changed, and nowadays we’re seeing card issuers place huge emphasis on business credit cards. This is obviously an area where they see a lot of opportunity and are hoping to grow market share.
That’s great news for consumers, since it means we’re seeing big welcome bonuses, creative new products, and more.
Business credit cards aren’t just useful for the welcome bonuses and the great return on spend, but they can also be a great way to separate personal and business expenses. So in this post I wanted to look at what I consider to be the best business credit cards, along with some general tips on applying for business credit cards.
The seven all around best business credit cards
In this post I wanted to look at what I consider to be the all around most compelling business credit cards, based on a variety of metrics. In no particular order, here are seven of my favorites:
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card – most well rounded business credit card with best bonus
Welcome bonus: 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Return on spend: 3x points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
This is probably the most well rounded business credit card out there. It offers the biggest welcome bonus of any credit card, as I value 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points at $1,360 (1.7 cents each), the card offers useful and well rounded bonus categories, it offers excellent travel and car rental protection, an amazing cell phone protection plan, and flexible points.
If I could only apply for one business credit card, this would be it.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel in Korean Air first class
Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card – best no annual fee card for everyday spend with no caps
Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $0
Return on spend: 1.5x points on all purchases
If used correctly, this is the single best business credit card for everyday, non-bonused spend, without any sort of caps. The Amex Blue Business Plus (which I’ll talk about below) offers a better return, though it’s capped at $50,000 of spend per year.
This card offers 1.5x points per dollar spent. If you use this card independently, then each point can be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have this card in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then you can pool points, and all of them can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.
If you have the Sapphire Reserve then points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, meaning that this card essentially offers a return equivalent to 2.25% (1.5x points per dollar spent, with each point being worth 1.5 cents).
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card – best no annual fee card bonus categories
Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $0
Return on spend: 5x points on office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services, and 2x points on gas stations and restaurants (on the first $25,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
This card offers the best bonus categories of any no annual fee business card, as you can earn up to 5x points.
Much like the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, if you use this card independently, then each point can be redeemed for one cent. However, if you have this card in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then you can pool points, and all of them can be transferred to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN – great bonus categories
Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 within three months
Annual fee: $175, waived the first year
Return on spend: Bonus points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, US purchases for advertising in select media, US purchases at gas stations, US purchases for shipping, US computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers (earn 3x points in one category, and 2x points in the other four categories, with a limit of earning bonus points on the first $100,000 of spend in each category per calendar year)
This is the best American Express business card when it comes to the bonus categories in which you can earn points. This card offers up to triple points in some categories that otherwise don’t offer bonuses, so this could be well worth it, especially with the good welcome bonus and annual fee waived for the first year.
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN – best business card perks
Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $10,000 within three months, plus an additional 50,000 bonus points after spending an additional $15,000 within three months
Annual fee: $450
Return on spend: 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to one million additional points per year)
Personally this is a card I’d get for the perks it offers, rather than a card I’d get for the return it offers on your spend. While the card has a $450 annual fee, it offers all kinds of great perks, including a $200 annual airline fee credit, access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day, a Priority Pass membership, Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, access to the Amex International Airline Program, which can save you a ton on premium airfare, a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry free credit, once every four years, and 10 Gogo wifi passes each calendar year.
Those are so many great benefits to this card, and for someone who travels even moderately, they more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion.
Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Business Platinum Card
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express – best return on spend of any card
Welcome bonus: 10,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months
Annual fee: $0
Return on spend: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent on purchases per calendar year
This is the credit card that offers the single best return on everyday spend. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, and you’re earning two points per dollar spent, so that’s a return of 3.4% by my valuation. The catch is that the card doesn’t have a huge welcome bonus, and also caps you at $50,000 of spend per calendar year, so for anything above that you’re earning just one point per dollar.
Redeem Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines business class
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business – best cash back business card
Welcome bonus: $450 cash back after spending $4,500 within the first three months
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Return on spend: 2% cash back on all purchases
If you’re not looking for travel rewards, then this is one of the best business cards out there. The card offers a flat 2% cash back on all purchases. The card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, and you get $450 cash back as a welcome bonus upon completing minimum spend. While I personally like to get outsize value out of miles & points, for someone who doesn’t want to deal with the complexity of points, this option is tough to beat.
Who is eligible for a business card card?
Eligibility for a small business credit card is easier than you might think. You don’t need to have a big company, and don’t even need to be incorporated. Even a small side business with limited business revenue makes you eligible for a business credit card, even if you’re just selling things on eBay or have a rental home, for example.
It goes without saying that you should always answer credit card applications honestly. You might be pleasantly surprised by how easily you’ll get approved.
How should you fill out a business credit card application?
It can be intimidating to apply for your first business credit card, though even if you’re a small business or sole proprietorship, you should be eligible. I wanted to briefly outline how you should fill out a business card application. Typically you’ll be asked the following questions, in addition to personal information (your income, Social Security Number, etc.):
- Legal name of business
- Business mailing address & phone number
- Type of business
- Tax identification number
- Number of employees
- Annual business revenue/sales
- Years in business
If you’re a sole proprietorship, how should you approach this? First of all, and most importantly, answer everything truthfully. I think the concern that a lot of people have is that they think they need an incorporated business, a separate office, etc., in order to be considered for a business card. That’s not the case:
- You can use your name as the legal name of your business
- The business mailing address and phone number can be the same as your personal address and phone number
- If you’re a sole proprietorship, you can select that as your type of business
- For the tax identification number, you can put your social security number
- For number of employees, saying just one is perfectly fine
- For your annual business revenue, there’s nothing with saying zero, or whatver the amount is
- For years in business, there’s no shame in saying that it’s new, that it has been 1-2 years, etc.
Card issuers are focused on business credit cards nowadays, and as a result we’re seeing some lucrative business cards, in terms of the welcome bonuses, the return on spend, and more. There has never been a better time to apply for a business credit card, so whether you have a longstanding business or just recently started a business, the above are some great cards to consider, depending on the type of rewards you’re looking for.
What’s your favorite business credit card?