Best Small Business Credit Cards
Choosing the right credit card for your small business is an important decision. Not only is your card a financing tool for business purchases, but the rewards and benefits your card carries need to fit your spending. You don’t want to apply for a credit card that’s too time-consuming to maximize or that doesn’t match your needs.
Banks offer an array of credit products for business owners, fitting practically every niche. If you want to maximize cash back, there are are cards for you. If you need repayment flexibility, there are cards for you. If you want to travel in luxury and style, there are cards for you.
To help you weigh your (many) options, here are the top small-business credit cards, by category.
Table of contents
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Cash Back
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Financing
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Frequent Flyers
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Stressed-Out Start-Up Owners
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for the Freelancing Nomad
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Businesses That Need Flexibility
- Best Small-Business Credit Card for Hotel Perks
- FAQs About Small-Business Credit Cards
Best Small Business Card for Cash Back: Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business
Cash back is perhaps the most low-maintenance rewards scheme out there. Each purchase earns a certain amount of cash back that you can redeem as a statement credit against future purchases. You don’t have to worry about trading in nebulous points for a future flight. Instead, your reward balance is displayed as a dollar amount, and you can redeem that amount immediately to reduce your credit card balance. It’s a great option for time- and cash-strapped business owners.
With the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, all your business purchases will earn you unlimited 2% cash back without a limit on how many you can earn.
- No rotating bonus categories to worry about. All purchases earn a steady 2% back.
- Your cash-back rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
- Annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
- No foreign transaction fees. If you use the card abroad, or with a foreign merchant, you won't be charged extra.
In addition to its rewards, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business credit card has other benefits customized for business owners. For example, you can download convenient quarterly and year-end purchase summaries to Quicken, QuickBooks or Excel spreadsheets.
- Annual fee kicks in after first year.
- There's no 0% intro offer on this card.
- No bonus reward categories -- rewards are capped at 2% back.
The Bottom Line
The Capital One Spark Cash Business card has a straight-forward rewards program. Instead of keeping track of rotating categories and worrying about maximizing your rewards, you can rest easy, knowing all your purchases are earning 2% back. This leaves you more time to focus on running your small business.
Best Small Business Card for Financing: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
This card offers a 0% introductory interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (after that, a variable 17.49%-23.49% APR applies).
Plus, this card offers rewards that match the spending habits of many business owners. The Chase Ink Cash® Business Credit Card offers 5% cash back on purchases of office supplies, cell and phone services, and internet and cable TV services (on combined purchases up to $25,000). You'll also earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on combined purchases up to $25,000) with 1% cash back on all other daily purchases.
- 0% interest rate for 12 months.
- No annual fee.
- Rewards don't expire, as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
- Variety of ways to redeem cash-back rewards (merchandise, gift cards, Amazon purchases, etc.).
Get additional cards for your employees and set individual spending limits. Plus, get protections and benefits while you're on the road, including rental-car coverage and roadside dispatch.
- 3% foreign transaction fee.
- Bonus categories limited to $25,000 in yearly expenses. After you hit those ceilings, you'll earn 1% cash back in those categories.
The Bottom Line
This card offers strong bonus rewards on common business expenses, as well as an interest-free period for business owners who need financing. The sign-up bonus is also high for a card with no annual fee, compared to other no-annual-fee cards. Currently, you can get a $500 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
Best Small Business Card for Frequent Flyers: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
With The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, you can earn a 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 on the Business Platinum Card within your first three months of Card Membership.
This card earns points in the Membership Rewards program. You'll earn 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases. You'll also earn 50% more points (1.5X points per dollar) on qualifying purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points per year). Points can be redeemed for travel, cash back, merchandise and more.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- $200 airline fee credit that you can use on your selected airline. This credit is good toward travel incidentals, such as checked-bag fees and in-flight food and beverages.
- Free Boingo Wi-Fi. Enroll in Boingo with your card, and get Wi-Fi access on up to four devices to more than 1,000,000 hotspots worldwide.
- Automatic Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest Program and the Hilton Honors program (which can get you perks like late check-out, complimentary breakfast and more, depending on the property).
- Lounge access. The Business Platinum has one of the most generous lounge-access programs in the credit-card business. The card provides complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, International American Express Lounges, Delta's SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, Airspace Lounges and Escape Lounges.
- Get a refund for your Global Entry application fee to expedite your arrival back in the U.S. if you travel internationally. Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck, meaning you can save yourself time in security lines every time you fly.
- Rental car privileges. Platinum members get Hertz Gold Plus status, Avis Preferred Club status and National Emerald Club Executive status. You'll need to enroll in this programs with your card details. Once enrolled, you’ll get access to these programs’ benefits, which may include expedited service, guaranteed upgrades, exclusive reservation lines and the ability to skip the lines and paperwork.
- 35% points back on any ticket with your selected qualifying airline.
- 35% points back on all first and business class flights though American Express Travel.
- No preset spending limit (it's a charge card). Your spending power adjusts with your use of the card and payment history.
The Business Platinum Card’s premium benefits include the American Express® Business App, which allows you to manage and track your expenses.
Simply enroll in the American Express® Business Appr for free, photograph your receipts and categorize the transaction based on your needs (for example, "travel" or "equipment"). You can also enroll in Connect to QuickBooks to automatically sync your expenses to QuickBooks online. This will allow you to accurately track your travel expenses so you can get the biggest tax deduction possible for your business during tax season.
- $450 annual fee.
- No 0% interest intro offer.
The Bottom Line
The Business Platinum Card's premium features include an exhaustive list of travel benefits. It's perhaps one of the most perk-heavy travel cards in the industry. If you're willing to pay the annual fee, you'll get access to the card's built-in benefits, including lounge access, automatic hotel status and more.
Best Small-Business Card for the Stressed-out Start-up Owner: Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
You've got a lot on your mind, and credit card rewards shouldn't be one of them. The Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card has a simple rewards system that runs in the background until you're ready to redeem. Just spend and know that you're earning rewards at a good rate with no annual fee and no need to worry about keeping track of spending categories.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business. Cash back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
- No annual fee.
Get additional employee cards at no additional cost.
- While 1.5% cash back is respectable, it's not the highest return you can get on your business spending. There are also no bonus categories that let you earn elevated cash back on certain purchases.
The Bottom Line
This card's rewards are simple. You don't need to worry about spending in specific categories. Whether you're buying equipment, phone plans or business cards, you'll get 1.5% cash back. However, your cash-back rewards are also Ultimate Rewards points, meaning you can redeem for gift cards, travel and merchandise if you choose to.
Best Small-Business Card for the Freelancing Nomad: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
You work for yourself, so you can work from anywhere. But you don't need all the lounge perks that the Business Platinum Card from American Express offers. The Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ is a good compromise, as it's a travel-rewards-earning powerhouse with a more reasonable annual fee of $95.
Use the card for your business expenses (from travel, to phone service, to advertising) and accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards points that have a variety of redemption options.
- Earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable services, phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
- Points can be redeemed for cash back, travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (where they are worth 25% more) or transferred directly to Chase's partner hotel and frequent-flyer programs (including IHG, United, Southwest and more).
- The card provides cellphone protection against theft or damage (up to $600 per claim) when you pay your phone bill with it.
- Use the card to pay for your rental car, and you get primary rental-car coverage. Primary coverage means you don't have to get your personal auto insurance involved if you damage the rental car -- go straight to Chase.
Get additional employee cards at no additional cost. You can set individual spending limits on each employee card.
- Point value changes depending on how you redeem, so you need to strategize, which takes time and effort. For example, by transferring directly to partner frequent-flyer and hotel-loyalty programs, you have the potential for getting the most value out of your points. But that requires you to research flights and rooms to maximize your point value. For example, perhaps your 50,000 points could get you a first-class flight on United worth a couple thousand dollars. Redeeming for cash back is much simpler, but your potential per-point value isn't as high. Chase caps your cash-back-redemption value at 1 cent per point, so your 50,000 points would be worth $500.
The Bottom Line
This card's rewards provide ultimate flexibility. Use them for cash back, or use them to fund your next travel adventure. While the card doesn't have luxurious travel perks, it does have a lower annual fee than luxury-travel cards. The primary rental-car coverage is also a boon for business owners who frequently rent cars.
Best Small-Business Card for Businesses That Need Flexibility: The Plum Card® from American Express
Traditional 0% intro periods on cards allow you to carry a balance without interest only for a certain amount of time right after you get the card. But growing businesses often need 0% financing after that to cover large purchases or temporary cash-flow issues.
The Plum Card® from American Express ($250 annual fee) from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, gives you a choice -- take 60 days to pay off your purchases interest free. Or, pay them off early and get 1.5% back.
- Get up to 60 days to pay with no interest, anytime.
- If you can pay early, get a 1.5% rebate. "Paying early" means paying within 10 days of your statement closing date AND paying at least the minimum. The discount will appear as a credit on the next billing statement.
- No pre-set spending limit (it's a charge card). Purchasing power adjusts with your use of the card, payment history and other factors.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Get additional employee cards at no extra annual fee. Employee cards also have the early-pay discount. With this card, you have the ability to designate an Account Manager (a trusted individual such as an assistant or business partner) to access your business card account. You'll get free access to the American Express® Business App, which lets you manage your business receipts and import transactions into your QuickBooks account.
- $250 annual fee.
The Bottom Line
If you need extra time to pay off a purchase, the Plum Card is there for you. If you have enough cash to pay off your purchases, the card rewards you for doing so.
Best Small-Business Card for Hotel Perks: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
If you're constantly on the road and sleeping in hotel beds, you want to maximize your comfort -- as well as your rewards earnings.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card ($95 annual fee) from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, is our pick in this category for many reasons, including the card's benefits as well as Starwood's merger with Marriott (which expands the number of properties you can redeem rewards at). This card combines Starwood's strong rewards program with automatic elite status.
- Welcome Bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Earn 6 points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels.
- Earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, as well as on wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. service providers, and on U.S purchases for shipping.
- Earn 2 points per dollar on all other purchases.
- Get Silver Elite status, which includes benefits like increased reward earnings on stays, late checkout, free Wi-Fi and more. Plus, because Starwood and Marriott are merging, get a status-match at Marriott properties by linking your Starwood and Marriott loyalty accounts.
- Access to Sheraton Club Lounge. At participating properties, get access to these exclusive lounges.
- Boingo Wi-Fi. Get unlimited Wi-Fi on up to four devices at Boingo hotspots worldwide.
- Points earned can be redeemed at Starwood and Marriott properties. Given the size of Marriott’s portfolio, this dramatically increases the reach of your points when it comes to redeeming them for free nights.
- No foreign transaction fees.
Get employee cards for no additional annual fee. Designate an Account Manager who has access to your card account. Get access to the American Express® Business App, which allows you to track receipts and import expenses to QuickBooks.
The Bottom Line
Starwood has a stellar reputation, as well as a rich loyalty program (which includes the ability to transfer Starpoints to partner airlines). The benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card only add to those. Plus, thanks to the merger with Marriott, you have more opportunities to earn points and use them at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties around the world.
FAQs About Small-Business Credit Cards
Whether you choose one of the above top business credit cards, or another entirely, there are some important things to know about business cards in general:
How do I get a business credit card?
If you have a small business you own and operate, the application process for small business credit cards is similar to that of a personal credit card. Find the card you want online, and click "apply."
There are a few differences. For example, you'll be asked for your business name (as you want it to appear on your card), your business address and your business phone number. The application will also request your business's legal structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.) and last year's business revenue.
You will also be asked for the business's Tax ID Number (TIN) or Employer Identification number (EIN). If you are a sole proprietorship, your own Social Security number will generally suffice.
Can I get a business credit without a business?
Technically, no. The application will ask you for business income, name and other details. However, many issuers are flexible on what they consider a "business." Maybe you're a freelancer or have an eBay side-hustle. Use your DBA (Doing Business As) as your business name and use your Social Security number to apply.
Am I personally liable for a business card?
You may be getting the card for your business, but you are also responsible for the debt, even if you close your business. Nearly all business card applications will require you to sign off on being personally responsible for the debt "both individually and jointly with the company." What this means is that, if your venture fails and you can't pay off the card, your failure to pay (and any collection accounts that result) will end up on your personal credit reports.
Issuers are simply trying to limit their risk. Unlike a store line of credit you might get for office equipment or building supplies, your business credit card can be used anywhere (entertaining clients, travel, etc.). If you close down your business (and many new businesses do fail), the card issuer doesn't want you to be completely off the hook.
Will the bank pull my personal credit reports when I apply for a business card?
Your business, if it's established, may have its own credit rating (based on your payment behavior with vendors and lines of credit). But, even if your business credit rating is stellar, expect the issuer to pull your personal credit reports (after all, you are personally guaranteeing the card). So, if your personal credit is not so great, you may be denied, even if your business is booming.
Applying for business cards can have other implications for your personal credit. Every time a bank checks your credit as the result of a card application, your credit reports get dinged with a hard inquiry. For example, say you're applying for a home mortgage. Lenders do not want to see you applying for credit in the midst of your mortgage-application process. You may not think that getting a card for your business could affect your chance at a new house but if you apply for a business credit card, that inquiry will hit your personal reports and potential mortgage lenders will be concerned.
Do business cards build personal credit?
Practices vary widely by bank. In most cases, however, general activity on your business credit card won't get reported to the personal credit bureaus. Bad behavior (i.e., delinquencies), though, often will be reported on your personal credit reports. Remember, you personally guaranteed the card, which means the bank is holding you personally responsible for debt.
In other words, you can't rely on business credit cards to build personal credit, as only bad behavior will be reported on your personal reports. So be sure to keep your personal credit history in good shape as well, by using loans and credit cards responsibly.
What's the difference between a credit card and a charge card?
The terms "credit card" and "charge card" often get used interchangeably, but they are quite different. Credit cards allow you to carry a balance (in exchange for paying interest), while charge cards require full payment at the end of every cycle. Credit cards have a set credit limit, while charge cards have an undisclosed spending limit that adjusts depending on your spending and payment habits.
Examples of business charge cards include the Platinum Card and the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express.
Examples of credit cards include pretty much all plastic from other issuers (including Capital One and Chase).
The Plum Card from American Express (mentioned above) is technically a charge card that allows you to carry balances for 60 days.
While charge cards may give you more spending power (thanks to their flexible spending limits), you need to be sure that you can commit to paying off the full balance every month. Credit cards are also a double-edged sword. While they let you carry a balance, do not rely on this too much or you'll pay dearly in interest.
The best-case scenario with both card types is to charge only what you can afford to pay back in full every month.
If I get cards for my employees, will they have their own credit limits?
If you want cards for your employees, issuers generally won't give you extra credit limits to cover those additional cards. In other words, if you're approved for a business credit card with a $10,000 limit, and you wish to give employee cards to two employees, all three of you are sharing that $10k limit. So watch everyone's spending closely. Some issuers will allow you to set individual spending limits on employee cards as well as alerts that flag purchases over a certain amount.
Do I need a business credit card?
Even if you don't care about rewards, business credit cards have advantages over writing a check or paying via debit. Credit cards come with various purchase-protection benefits, including:
- Extended warranty protection: Generally, cards will increase the manufacturer's warranty by an additional year.
- Purchase protection: New purchases are covered for a certain time period against theft or damage.
- The ability to dispute charges: If a product or service you bought isn't as promised or never arrives, you can dispute the charge with your bank. If the bank finds you're in the right, you'll be refunded.
So, if the office equipment you just bought gets stolen, something malfunctions the day after the manufacturer's warranty expires, or a service provider disappears after getting paid up front, you have the chance at recouping your losses if you paid with your credit card.
Can I use my business card for personal expenses?
Use your business card only for business expenses. Even if the card earns great rewards, resist using it to buy personal travel and other purchases, or you'll create a tax and accounting nightmare. Mistakenly classifying a personal expense as a business one can have expensive consequences if you're audited.
First published , last updated
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.